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

Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
48MP 180 Camera (Digital Watchdog) Test on May 10, 2017
Camera resolution continues to advance, with Digital Watchdog offering the MegaPIX PANO 48MP 180° camera, the highest resolution mainstream camera...
Hanwha 9MP Fisheye Camera Tested (PNF-9010R) on May 09, 2017
12MP sensor fisheye panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly common. We have tested Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F as well as Panasonic's SFV481 4K...
Axis Lowest Cost Outdoor IR Camera M2025-LE Tested on Apr 24, 2017
Axis has lagged offering low cost IR cameras while their Asian competitors have made IR standard even in their most entry level cameras. Recently,...
Ring Floodlight Cam Tested on Apr 20, 2017
Ring has released their latest entry, the Floodlight Cam, calling it the "Evolution of Outdoor Security", touting motion activated floodlights,...
Hanwha Lowest Cost WiseNet X Camera (XND-6010) Tested on Apr 13, 2017
IPVM bought and tested the lowest-cost WiseNet X model, the indoor 2MP fixed focal XND-6010 dome, continuing our testing of Hanwha's new WiseNet X...
Pelco Surevision 3 Tested on Apr 12, 2017
Pelco has released generation 3 of its Surevision cameras, claiming improved performance in both super low light and WDR performance. We bought...
Hanwha Wisenet X Tested on Mar 27, 2017
Hanwha has released their latest generation, the Wisenet X series, powered by their new Wisenet 5 processor. This new series claims improvements...
SimpliSafe Camera Tested on Mar 07, 2017
SimpliSafe is one of the most controversial companies in the industry, as they have become the symbol of the DIY threat to traditional alarm...
Vivotek 3MP 180 Wall Mount Camera Tested on Feb 28, 2017
Purpose-built wall mount panoramics have become an attractive niche to cover entranceways. In 2013, we bought and tested Vivotek's 1MP...

Most Recent Industry Reports

H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial 2017 on May 25, 2017
Since 2013, video surveillance professionals have talked about the potential for H.265. Now, in 2017, H.265 is starting to gain mainstream...
Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Most Respected Manufacturer Competitors on May 25, 2017
Manufacturers told IPVM what competitor they most respected. In terms of total revenue, Hikvision, Dahua and Axis are certainly tops but would...
CyPhy 'Unlimited' Flight Time Security Drone Examined on May 25, 2017
Drones face several issues as commercial security platforms - legal restrictions (e.g., in the US, the FAA), costs, and limited flight durations...
Milestone Entry Level Mobile Password Vulnerability Disclosed on May 24, 2017
While many manufacturers have only addressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities after public disclosures were made (or threatened), Milestone has...
How Integrators Use IPVM on May 24, 2017
150 integrators explained how they use IPVM and how it helps them stay informed and improve their business.  The 4 main uses integrators cited for...
Alarm Supervision Guide on May 24, 2017
Burglar alarms can constantly monitor the health of attached circuits, sensors, and devices to ensure that they remain operational. This is known...
Arlo Go Cellular Cloud Camera Tested on May 23, 2017
Totally wireless surveillance cameras are growing but almost all typically depend on a hub and local Internet access. However, many outdoor...
Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Hikvision Marketer Caught Spamming, Fails at Coverup, Fired on May 23, 2017
A Hikvision marketing employee was caught by IPCamTalk trying to surreptitiously disparage IPVM and IPCamTalk. This is an outgrowth of Hikvision's...

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