IPVM Camera Testing Procedures

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 08, 2013

The foundation of IPVM's camera testing procedure is simultaneous, head to head comparisons, like so:

This is unique among surveillance industry publications.

Each camera is placed side by side, with the same FoV, connected to the same VMS and recorded at the same time and place. The setup looks like so:

We perform a few adjustments:

  • Firmware is upgraded to the most current version.
  • Minimum shutter speed is set to 1/30s to eliminate any slow shutter tricks.
  • Cameras are re-focused prior to testing.

However, unlike manufacturer demos, we do not 'tweak' cameras to optimize for individual scenes. Rather, we keep the same settings for all tests, to keep it fair, consistent and true to the most common real world uses.

We conduct tests in 3 fundamental areas:

  • Even light - this is the 'ideal' test when all cameras do the best.
  • Low light - measured at 0.2 lux
  • WDR - in an open door way back light

They look like so:

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

We typically run a series of pre-tests to get a feel for performance and identify any abnormalities. If the image quality looks excessively poor, we will re-check settings and/or request feedback from a manufacturer engineer. The multiple pre-test runs works out issues and increases the level of confidence that the test results accurately and fairly reflect performance.

Finally, we release test reports that are centered on a series of 5 - 15 image comparisons of multiple cameras head to head; again, like so:

The best way to understand relative performance is to properly setup and test simultaneously. Unlike looking at cameras individually, where it is easy to overestimate performance, the IPVM approach makes it clear which cameras have advantages in specific scenarios.

Bandwidth / Quantization / Compression

We typically measure bandwidth levels for each camera in each scenario. Some camera manufacturers attempt to game quantization / compression levels. We will measure those levels using a DRF analysis tool that allows us to understand if there is significant variances. This is especially important for manufacturers claiming to deliver super low bandwidth who typically do so by increasing compression levels but failing to disclose. We will report this and make adjustments in testing as appropriate.

Test Reports

See our directory of 160+ surveillance test reports. Recent favorites include our WDR Shootout, Panoramic Shootout and Axis vs Bosch Low Light Shootout.

Feel free to ask questions and we are happy to expand on this reference document.

Comments (10) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

IP Camera Cable Labeling Guide on Sep 14, 2018
Labeling cables can save a lot of money and headaches. While it is easy to overlook, taking time to label runs during installation significantly...
Vivotek 4MP Camera Tested (FD8379-HV) on Sep 13, 2018
Next in our series of updated 4MP testing, we bought and tested Vivotek's FD8379-HV, and entry level 4MP model claiming "top-notch quality video in...
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,...
Dahua Low-Cost 4MP Camera Tested (N44CL52) on Sep 10, 2018
4MP use continues to increase, especially in low-cost models, according to integrators in our 2018 Resolution Usage Statistics. We bought Dahua's...
Hikvision Value Express IP Cameras Tested Poorly on Sep 05, 2018
Even lower cost Hikvision products? Their new Value Express line is marketed for applications where "budgets are limited and performance is...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 04, 2018
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet it is commonly ignored. The drain wire offers protection for readers...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 28, 2018
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety codes the world over, and become integral parts of electronic access...
Inputs/Outputs For Video Surveillance Guide on Aug 24, 2018
While many cameras have Input/Output (I/O) ports, few are actually used and most designers do not even consider them. However, a good understanding...
Backup Power for Large Security Systems Tutorial on Aug 24, 2018
Choosing the right backup power system depends on system size. While small and medium systems greatly benefit from using UPS battery backup...
SNMP / Network Monitoring For Surveillance 2018 on Aug 21, 2018
Surveillance systems typically rely on the the VMS to report issues, but this most often just means knowing a camera is "down" with no warning or...

Most Recent Industry Reports

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...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...
Chinese Government Praises Hikvision Following Xi Jinping on Sep 17, 2018
The Chinese government council responsible for managing China's state-owned companies praised Hikvision’s obedience to China’s authoritarian leader...
Amazon Ring Spotlight Cam Tested on Sep 17, 2018
Amazon's Ring has released their latest camera entry, the Spotlight Cam, which we bought and tested in our Consumer IP Camera Analytics...
European Mega Security Firm Verisure Pushing Security Fog on Sep 17, 2018
The European mega security firm Verisure (Securitas Direct), with a reported 2 million customers, is pushing security fog, as shown in this BBC...
IP Camera Cable Labeling Guide on Sep 14, 2018
Labeling cables can save a lot of money and headaches. While it is easy to overlook, taking time to label runs during installation significantly...
Favorite Intercom Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 14, 2018
Intercoms are certainly increasing in popularity, driven by the integration of video and IP networking. But who is the favorite? On the one side,...
Vivotek 4MP Camera Tested (FD8379-HV) on Sep 13, 2018
Next in our series of updated 4MP testing, we bought and tested Vivotek's FD8379-HV, and entry level 4MP model claiming "top-notch quality video in...
Ascent / MONI Faces Lender Lawsuit and Debt Crisis on Sep 13, 2018
ASCMA, aka Ascent, aka Brinks Home Security, aka MONI, aka Monitronics is being sued by a group of their lenders who allege: As of June 30,...

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