Normalize Exposure Settings for IP Camera Comparisons

Author: John Honovich, Published on Dec 22, 2009

We recommend all surveillance camera comparisons be performed with normalized exposure settings to ensure fairness and eliminate 'games'. Starting immediately, we will use 1/30th and 1/8th second exposure times as standard settings to test and compare cameras. This is especially critical in the assessment and measurement of low light performance.

Why This is Important

In testing a wide range of cameras, it has become clear that manufacturers select a wide range of default maximum exposure settings. While there are valid uses for different settings, those manufacturers who choose longer defaults for maximum exposure settings are viewed unfairly as having superior low light performance. For background on this issue/trick, review our testing and analysis of exposure's impact on low light video quality.

Maximum exposure settings can have a dramatic impact on 'visible' image quality because changing it from 1/30th to 1/8th or 1/2th can increase light captured by 400% to 1500% - a dramatic difference that overshadows practically any other setting.

Comparing still images from one camera with 1/30th s exposure to a 1/2 s exposure will always be unfair and almost always lead to the 1/2 s exposure camera being viewed as better (because manufacturers will show still objects hiding the problem of motion blur).

Here's a clear visual on image tradeoffs from varying exposure settings that you would almost never see from a manufacturer:

Why 1/30th and 1/8th Second Exposure Settings?

1/30th second exposure matches the maximum frame rate and is a commonly used setting by manufacturers. It's also generally the shortest maximum exposure setting we find in IP cameras that we are testing.

1/8th second exposure provides a significantly longer exposure increasing both the 'brightness' of a dark scene and the risk of motion blur. We think 1/8th is a good intermediate point - much lower and motion blur is guaranteed to be strong.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Limitations

Not all cameras allow for direct setting of their maximum exposure time. Some only allow indirect qualitative settings.

Other cameras offer special modes for very long exposures - 1/2s or even 1s exposures.

We will make note of either circumstance and provide additional, clearly marked tests of such modes.

Conclusion

We believe clarity on exposure settings and testing normalization will provide fairer testing that more accurately demonstrates real-world use and relative trade-offs.


2 reports cite this report:

Readers Respond: 134 Votes, 25 Comments Examined on Feb 14, 2010
Over 100 people voted and more than 25 left detailed comments to our recent question/discussion. In this post, we review and respond to the...
Testing IQinVision's 4 Series and PSIA Integration on Feb 02, 2010
IP camera standards are a hot topic. Determining how, when and with whom these 'standards' will work are key questions. IQinVision was the first...

Related Reports on Low Light

Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
October 2018 Camera Course on Sep 13, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
Axis First IR PTZ Tested (Q6125-LE) on Aug 21, 2018
Axis is very late in releasing IR PTZs. While competitors such as Hikvision and Dahua have offered them for years, Axis has just released their...
Hikvision PanoVu Mini Tested (Multi-imager + PTZ For ~$500) on Aug 07, 2018
Hikvision has released their first PanoVu Mini multi imager, the PanoVu DS-2PT3326IZ-DE3, with four 1080p imagers, including a PTZ and integrated...
Panasonic 9MP Panoramic Fisheye Tested (WV-X4571L) on Aug 02, 2018
Panasonic has released their latest fisheye camera, the WV-X4571L, with 12MP sensor and 9MP resolution, claiming "extreme image quality" under...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...
Hikvision 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (DS-2CD63C2F-IV) on Jun 14, 2018
Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F-IV is their flagship panoramic camera, with a 12MP imager, 15m integrated IR, smart codec, and more. We tested the 63C2 in...
Introducing Effective PPF (ePPF) - Improving Video Surveillance Designs on Jun 11, 2018
Pixel density (PPF / PPM) is the best metric the industry has to define and project video quality. It allows simple communication of estimated...
Hanwha Low-Cost 4MP Camera Tested (QNV-7010R) on Jun 11, 2018
4MP usage is increasing noticeably, as IPVM 2018 resolution statistics show. And low-cost, fixed focal cameras, are popular for budget...
Hikvision PanoVu 20MP Flexible Camera Tested on Jun 01, 2018
Hikvision has released their first repositionable multi imager cameras with integrated IR included, atypical in competitors. We bought and tested...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Genetec Takes Aim At 'Untrustworthy' 'Foreign Government-Owned Vendors' on Sep 24, 2018
Genetec is taking aim at 'untrustworthy' 'foreign government-owned vendors'. This is not a new theme for Genetec as nearly 2 years ago, Genetec...
4MP Camera Shootout - Axis, Dahua, DW, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Sep 24, 2018
4MP usage continues to climb, especially for low cost fixed lens models. To see who was best, we bought and tested seven 4MP models from Axis,...
Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...

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