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

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...
Stats: Upgrading Cameras Far More Common Than Replacing Failed Cameras on May 30, 2018
The old saying "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" does not apply here. New IPVM statistics show that 60% of cameras that are replaced still work but...
Oncam 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested on May 29, 2018
Oncam has made their name since the early 2000s as a fisheye specialist, focusing only on panoramic cameras. To see how this specialist stacks up...
Dahua 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (NK8BR4) on May 16, 2018
Continuing our coverage of 12MP sensor fisheye cameras, we bought and tested the Dahua NK8BR4, examining: Default vs. Optimized...
Vivotek 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (FE9391-EV) on May 08, 2018
Next in our 12MP fisheye camera evaluation, we bought and tested Vivotek's latest generation FE9391-EV, a new model claiming improved smart IR...
Last Chance - May 2018 Camera Course on May 03, 2018
This is the last chance to register as the course starts next week. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Avigilon 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested on May 03, 2018
12MP fisheye cameras have become mainstream, with nearly every major manufacturer offering their take on this segment. To see how these new higher...

Most Recent Industry Reports

IPVM Vulnerability Scanner Released on Jun 18, 2018
IPVM is proud to announce video surveillance's first and only cybersecurity vulnerability scanner. This tool allows quickly and simply...
Hikvision Corrects False Cybersecurity Announcement on Jun 18, 2018
Hikvision has corrected a false cybersecurity announcement that claimed a British government-sponsored program endorsed the cybersecurity of...
July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 16, 2018
The last chance to save $50 on registration is this Thursday, June 21st. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
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',...
Amazon Ring Launches $10 Monthly Professional Alarm Monitoring on Jun 15, 2018
Amazon's Ring has announced an alarm system with 24/7 professional alarm monitoring for $10 per month, a fraction of the $30+ per month traditional...
Axis Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...
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...
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...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jun 14, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...

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