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

Dirty Dome Camera Test on Nov 28, 2016
Dome cameras are the most widely used type professionally but many note that dirt, dust, rain, and scratches can cause image quality problems,...
Samsung Wisenet Q 4MP Tested on Nov 03, 2016
The 4MP trend continues, now with Hanwha Techwin / Samsung in their latest Wisenet Q series. We bought one of these models, the QNV-7080R, to see...
Sony 35mm Super Low Light Camera Tested on Oct 31, 2016
Sony is making a big push for their SNCVB770 camera, touting its low light capabilities that they claim can deliver true color in pitch black...
IR Camera Reflection Test on Oct 17, 2016
All that might stand between good video and bad in your IR dome is a ring of foam rubber, keeping infrared from reflecting into the lens....
Bosch First Starlight 1080p Camera Tested on Oct 13, 2016
Bosch has released their first 'Starlight' 1080p camera, the Flexidome IP starlight 7000 VR. We tested this new dome against competitive super low...
4 Biggest Low Light Problems on Oct 10, 2016
100 integrators told IPVM what their biggest problems were with low light images. The most commonly cited themes were: Limited IR Range Uneven...
Samsung 'Q' Low-Cost 1080p Dome Tested on Oct 10, 2016
The most competitive part of the market is for low-cost cameras. Hanwha Techwin / Samsung has released its new low-cost Q series to go after this...
Axis 4MP Camera Tested (M3046-V) on Sep 28, 2016
Axis has brought 4MP to its camera line in the new M3046-V, the highest resolution model in their revamped M30 series. We bought and tested this...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Camera Course September 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Knightscope - $122,509 Revenue, $2.5 Million Loss Seeks $20 Million Investment on Dec 09, 2016
The robot that ran over a child, Knightscope, wants money and they need it. Investors can invest as little as $1,000 to participate and...
The Russian SMP Security Robot on Dec 08, 2016
A Russian manufacturer, SMP, has a commercially available outdoor security robot, at a lower price and with much less marketing than their main...
How Hikvision Beats Its OEMs on Dec 08, 2016
Hikvision GM declared that they are not aggressive with their competitors. But some of their own OEM partners disagree. Inside, we reveal a key...
Dahua Discontinuing H.264 Only Products on Dec 08, 2016
Dahua has taken a stand for H.265 and is discontinuing its H.264 only products. We examine the shakeup inside this...
IP Networking Course January 2017 on Dec 08, 2016
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Hikvision vs Dahua Mobile Apps Tested on Dec 07, 2016
With smartphone use and low-cost video recorders surging, many user's main interface to their surveillance system is their phone. With mobile video...
Paxton Drops US Reps, Plans Major Expansion on Dec 07, 2016
Paxton is gearing up to make a big run at  US access control success. The first step they have made is to cut all US Rep Firms, in anticipation of...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered on Dec 06, 2016
A backdoor has been uncovered in ~80 Sony IP camera models, attackers can remotely enable telnet on the camera, and then potentially login as root,...

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