IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 22, 2017

How far have IP cameras come?

We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has improved.

For consistency across the long time frame, we bought these 4 Axis cameras:

[Note: if there is interest, we can do other combinations, different manufacturers across time, etc. Leave ideas in the comments.]

We shot these 4 cameras out in full light, low light, and WDR scenes to see the differences in performance.

Summary

Despite their age, Axis' VGA 2100 and 210 cameras still produced reliable subject details in well lit narrow fields of view (~10-15'), though notably less clear than more modern megapixel models (e.g., the P1344 and Q1615).

However, in anything other than well lit scenes, details of VGA models were poor, dim and/or noisy at night with extreme motion blur in the 2100 (with no exposure controls). The 1MP P1344 handled low light better, though still with more noise and fewer details than the Q1615. Additionally, even moderately bright backlight causing a drastic drop in details in WDR scenes in all cameras but the Q1615.

Finally, advances in CODECs, including smart codecs (e.g. Zipstream) are clearly demonstrated when comparing older, lower resolution models to the Q1615, which had far lower bitrates in this test, despite having the highest resolution.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Daytime Images

First, we shot cameras outside on a bright but overcast day, without significant sun glare, to see how they performed in well lit scenes (shown here from the 2100). Cameras were set to match the field of view of the fixed lens 2100 (4mm lens, ~48° AoV).

Despite their low resolution and dated imagers, the 15 year old 2100 and 10 year old 210 captured recognizable subject details in this scene due to high PPF levels. However, details were much more clear in higher resolution models.

However, moving to only 20' distance, recognition becomes difficult in the VGA models, with only 2 lines of text legible in the 210 and only the top line in the 2100.

At 40' distance, only the Q1615 provides solid recognition details, with the subject's face more pixelated in the P1344. Both the 210 and 2100 provide detection only.

Nighttime Performance

At night, performance differences become more significant, with the Q1615 and P1344 providing clear details of the subject and chart, while the 210 displays more noise and artifacting and no details of the background beyond the subject. The 2100, while much brighter than the 210, overexposes the subject and chart, providing few details, and exhibits significant slow shutter blur (below).

The 2100's bright images are due to long exposures, which are not controllable via its web interface. For example, this clip shows the camera in the same scene, with the subject walking across the FOV. Frames are dropped and the subject blurred across 5-6 feet, totally unrecognizable. No other cameras exhibited slow shutter blur.

Moving further from the cameras, differences become even more clear, with the Q1615 clearly displaying the subject while others provide few details. The 210 produces surprisingly clear images of the test chart to line 2, but no subject details.

Finally, even further (~40'), the subject is nearly impossible to discern in the VGA models, while the P1344 provides detection and rough details. The Q1615 produces some facial detail and multiple legible lines of the test chart.

Wide Dynamic Range

WDR performance on the 2100 and 210 was very poor, with subjects practically washed out with any backlight in the scene. The P1344 performed moderately better, with some facial details (with Dynamic Contrast on), though it still fails to adjust quickly as the door opens and closes and the subject moves through the scene.

Bitrate Comparison

The Axis 2100's bandwidth was by far the highest during the day, nearly 5 Mb/s, due to its use of MJPEG only. At night, its bandwidth dropped to 800 Kb/s, but so did its framerate, dropping to less than 1 FPS (seen above in slow shutter clip). Because of this, the chart below shows its extrapolated bitrate, ~8 Mb/s, to show a fair comparison against the other cameras which did not drop frames.

Because of its use of Zipstream, the Q1615's bitrates are far lower than either the 210 or P1344.

VMS Support

While the 210, P1344, and Q1615 use Axis' VAPIX API, the 2100 uses HTTP streaming, which is not supported by many VMSes. In our tests, Genetec and Milestone both functioned properly, with Axis 2100 drivers. DW Spectrum/Network Optix was also able to view the camera's stream as it supports HTTP streams. We were unable to view the camera in Avigilon or Exacq.

Versions Used

The following firmware versions were used in our tests. Note that firmware is still available for all cameras on Axis' website, except for the 2100.

  • Axis 2100: 2.43
  • Axis 210: 4.40.2
  • Axis P1344: 5.40.9.10
  • Axis Q1615: 6.50.1.1
Comments (30) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

History of Video Surveillance on Jul 19, 2019
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going from VCRs to emerging into an AI cloud era.  The goal of this history...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Vivotek Trend Micro Cyber Security Camera App Tested on Jul 15, 2019
Vivotek and Trend Micro are claiming five million blocked attacks on IP cameras, with their jointly developed app for Vivotek cameras. This new...
Axis ARTPEC-7 P1375-E Camera Tested on Jul 12, 2019
Axis claims the new P1375-E box camera with ARTPEC-7 chip delivers "clear, sharp images in any lighting condition." But how well does it do? We...
Last Chance - Camera Course Summer 2019 on Jul 11, 2019
Last day to register is Thursday, July 11, 2019. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology...
Network Optix / Hanwha Cloud Access Tested on Jul 02, 2019
Remote cloud access is becoming a bigger differentiator, as cybersecurity issues underscore the problems of port forwarding and many integrators...
FLIR Saros Visible / Thermal Analytic Camera Tested on Jun 26, 2019
FLIR's Saros claims "accurate, actionable alerts" with a combination of 1080p visible and dual thermal sensors along with IR and white light...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
Directory of 60 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Genetec Beats Milestone For IHS #1 on Jun 21, 2019
For years, Milestone has touted that they are the #1 VMS. Now, Genetec has beaten them in IHS rankings. But what is this? Even other manufacturers...

Most Recent Industry Reports

History of Video Surveillance on Jul 19, 2019
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going from VCRs to emerging into an AI cloud era.  The goal of this history...
Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision on Jul 17, 2019
$20 camera disruptor Wyze has released free person detection deep learning analytics to all of their users, claiming users will "Only get notified...
Anyvision Aims For 2022 Revenue of $1 Billion on Jul 17, 2019
Only 3 video surveillance manufacturers do a billion dollars or more in annual revenue - Hikvision, Dahua, and Axis. Now, Anyvision plans to join...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...
How To Troubleshoot Wiegand Reader Problems - Inverted Wiring on Jul 16, 2019
Wiegand is the dominant method of connecting access readers, but problems can arise for installers. In fact, one of the most difficult reader...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Motorola Acquires Watchguard, Adds to Vigilant And Avigilon on Jul 15, 2019
2 years ago, Motorola had no position nor relevancy to video surveillance. Now, they own major video surveillance, LPR and body camera providers...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jul 15, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact