Auto Back Focus (ABF) Preference Statistics

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Nov 26, 2011

Auto back focus has become a more common feature in the past couple of years, with many, if not most, new IP camera offerings containing this capability. Manufacturers claim that auto back focus reduces installation time and makes focusing cameras easier, especially at megapixel resolutions. How do integrators, the ones actually using (or not using) the technology really feel about it, however? As part of our Fall 2011 survey, we aimed to find out.

The Question

We asked the following question of over 80 integrators, "How important is auto back focus / auto focusing capabilities?" Their response breakdown:

The Responses

Integrators overwhelmingly preferred auto back focus. Nearly 55% of respondents said ABF was strongly preferred, with 41% answering that it's a nice feature to have. Only about 3.5% responded that ABF was not important. Those answering that ABF was preferred cited two main reasons:

  • Installation savings
  • Ease of focusing megapixel cameras

Installation Savings

The first, and most commonly cited, reason integrators answered that they preferred ABF was savings on installation and maintenance of cameras. This is most often purely time savings, since the technician sets the camera's field of view, and pushes the auto back focus button. However, rental of lifts for cameras which can't be reached by stepladders is also a factor. 

  • "If it's cold outside it's hard to focus a camera without shaking. Wearing gloves and focusing is hard to do. I know thats not the purpose of ABF but it's a handy way of geting the object in focus without wasting time."
  • "Because our client hates calling a technician to focus cameras every bit as much as we hate sending them for that. Every consumer point and shoot in the world can focus itself, and they don't see why a $1000 piece of commercial grade hardware can't."
  • "Auto back focus saves time and provides reliable, consistent results. VERY important when you have to rent a lift to go back and tweak a camera because the tech didn't quite get it crisp enough."
  • "The system does the focusing both better and faster usually."
  • "Big advantage when working alone with a camera that is difficult to access."
  • "We can install the cameras so much faster and the customer can adjust the FOV for their needs when they see fit."
  • "No matter how many times you think the camera is ready, it still needs that little 'tweak'"

Focusing Megapixel Cameras

The second reason integrators preferred auto back focus was for ease of focusing megapixel cameras. Focusing cameras above standard definition can become difficult. Using composite outputs, which many megapixel cameras are equipped with, it's difficult to adjust fine focus with a handheld monitor, due to its small screen size. Carrying a laptop, which has better resolution and a bigger screen, up a ladder is also a hassle, leading many integrators to use two men to manually focus cameras, which can also be difficult to manage. 

  • "With the higher MP cameras the margin for focus error is very small. Significantly weighting this capability for camera specifications and purchases in 2012."
  • "Love auto back focus! Ever try focusing a 5mp mounted 20ft up on a pole?
  • "Anything that speeds the focusing process is a god-send, especially above SD."
  • "During night and while setting up camera, megapixel are impossible to do on a loptop."
  • "This is a must-have especially with how difficult it is to focus a mega-pixel lens."

Since focusing megapixel cameras was mentioned numerous times, we expected that those deploying more megapixel than SD cameras would more strongly prefer ABF. However, the percentages between these two groups were nearly identical, which would suggest those deploying SD cameras appreciate the benefits of ABF as much as others.

Trends Based on System Size

ABF preference increased significantly among those integrators deploying more than 32 cameras per site. Among these integrators, 71% strongly preferred ABF compared to only 39% for integrators typically deploying less than 32 cameras. While any labor savings is beneficial, even on small systems, it stands to reason that those deploying large systems would realize greater benefits than those only installing a handful of cameras at each site. It can also reduce the amount of time rented lifts are required on site, resulting in further savings.

Conclusions

Auto back focus has become a more and more common feature in IP cameras in the past 1-2 years, with manufacturers both major and minor adding it to the new products. Based on this feedback from integrators, we would expect this trend to continue or strengthen, with ABF becoming less of a nice feature to have, and more of a standard feature expected of all new IP cameras.

3 reports cite this report:

Top Features For Easy Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 05, 2018
Camera installation is the most fundamental and common task for video security technicians. Because of this, camera manufacturers market their...
Lowest Priced Auto Focus Cameras on Aug 06, 2015
Auto-focus has historically been regarded as a high-end feature, found on expensive cameras. But with prices trending ever lower, is this still the...
Surveillance Statistics Survey Directory Vol 1 on Jan 03, 2012
In this report, we aggregate and present dozens of statistics about how surveillance is being used in the real world. Recently, we conducted an in...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
The Dumb Ones: PSA's Bozeman On Cybersecurity on Jun 15, 2018
The smart ones are the hundred people who flew to Denver and spent $500+ on a 1.5-day conference featuring Dahua as a 'cyber responsible partner',...
Four Major Outdoor Camera Install Problems on Jun 14, 2018
Over 140 integrators told us the top four camera installation mistakes that lead to unexpected problems and failures. Their comments often...
Avigilon H4 Multi-Sensor Adds 32MP, H.265, Analytics on Jun 13, 2018
Avigilon has announced the H4 Multisensor, the successor to their repositionable multi imager line, adding features like H.265, integrated IR,...
Worst Features for Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 07, 2018
4 clear worst features for installing were identified by 140+ integrator respondents to: What feature(s) make a camera hard to install? The...
Top Features For Easy Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 05, 2018
Camera installation is the most fundamental and common task for video security technicians. Because of this, camera manufacturers market their...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Amazon Ring Alarm System Tested on Jul 16, 2018
Amazon Ring is going to hurt traditional dealers, and especially ADT, new IPVM test results of Ring's Alarm system underscore. IPVM found that...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...

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