License Plate Capture 4K Test

By Ethan Ace, Published Jan 11, 2016, 12:00am EST

License plate capture is one of the most popular surveillance applications. IPVM has done extensive testing in this area already including:

With 4K becoming widespread, how does this impact LPR performance. Can wider areas be captured? Does the increased resolution really help?

We tested 4K cameras across low, mid, and high price points, with built in IR and external to see how they compare to 1080p for license plate capture.

The cameras / products we tested were:

We tested the cameras in low speed and faster speed scenes, both day and night, shown here:

Inside we answer these questions and more:

  • Can I capture plates across a wider area with 4K than 1080p?
  • What settings must be changed for proper capture?
  • How does nighttime performance compare to 1080p?

*******

** **** ******, ** cameras ******** *** ********** over ***** *** ******* plate *******. *** *********** of ****** ******* ****** required *** **'* ****** low ***** *********** (**** with ****** ** ************) reduces ** ********** *** advantages ** ********** **********, with *** *********:

** ************ **** ****** lighting (******** ** ** illumination), ** ******* *** allow ******* **** * wider ****, ** ** twice *** ********** ***, reducing *** ****** ** cameras ****** *** ******** lanes.

*******, ** ***** **** advantage ** **********, ** the ****** ** ******** IR ************ ******** *** nighttime **** *** ************ likely ********* *** **** of ***** ********, ***** cost, ***** ********** *******.

Key ********

** ****** ** ****** was **** ** ******* plates ***** ******* ******** (1/30s ******* ***), *** or *****, **** ** slow ******. *** ****** 1080p ******* **** **** and **** ***** (******** H3 *******, ******* ***-****, Hikvision **-*******-*, ***** ********) were **** ** ******* during *** *** ***** defaults.

**** *** ********* ** cameras **** **** ** reliably ******* ****** ****** the *** ** ****** from *-** *** ***** */***** shutter. ********* ******* ******** 1/1000s ******* *** ********* gain, ********** ** ******* speed. 

***** ** ***-***** *** unreliable *** ******* ********** of ******* *** **** settings, ******* *****, *** or *****.

** **** *** ******* scenes, **** *** ********* 4K/12MP ****** **** **** to ******* ****** **** roughly ***** *** ********** FOV ** * ***** model ** *** ******, 60-80' **** (********* ** mounting *****). 

** *****, ** ******** no *** ***** **** 1080p *** ** ****** low ***** ***********, **** with ****** ******* ******** IR (***** ****** ***** IP). 

***** ** ** ** both *** ***** *** Panasonic ** ******* *** too **** ** ******* proper ************, **** ** slow ****** ***** ******** FOVs, *** ** ~**' target ********, **** ****** specified ** ***** ** both *******.

*******

****** ******* *** ****** in **** ****: 

The ****

*** ** ******* ****** were ******** ** ********* various ******** ** ** options: *** **** ********** IR (*****), *** ***** (Axis), **** *** ********** IR (*********). ** ****** these ****** ******* *** 1080p ******* ***-****, ************** of ***** *** ***** models.

******* **** ****** ***** both ***** ** ** for ***** ***** ******** it (***** *** *********), and ** ******** ** illuminator, ********* ** ***** **. *** *****'* *************** lenses ******* *** ************ pattern ** ****** ***** the *** *** **** scene.

******* **** ****** ** two ****** ** **** low ***** *******, **** about *-** ***, *** higher *****, **-** ***, using **** ****** **** (1-2 *****, ~**' ****) and ***** (** ** 80').

Results ********

** **** *****, ** review ******* ** *** testing, ******** **** ******* capture, ******* *********** ******* default ******** *** **** shutter, ** **** ** the ***** *** ******** when ***** ** *******.

** **** ****** *****, we ****** ****** ******** during ********* *******. 

No ******* ***** ******* ********

** ** ****** **** able ** ******* ****** using ******* ********, *** or *****, ********** ** speed, ****** ***** ********** models, **** ** *** 1080p ******* ** **** test *** ******* ** our ******* ***** ******* ******** 2014.

**** ***** ***** *** 4K ******* *** ******* 1080p ***** ******* ******** at *** ***** (~*****) during *** ***. ** show *** **** ** the *** **** **** camera ** ********** *** motion **** ********, ** well ** * **** of *** ******* ***** to **** *** ***** of **********, **** **** the ***** ******* ****** capturing *** *****.

** *****, ****** *** simply ****** *** ** taillights, ******* ** ****** 1/30s ******* ********, *** noisy *** ** ********* gain.

Fast ******* *******

** ***** ** ******** capture ****** ** *** speed, ******* ***** ****** to ** **** ** 1/1000s ** *** ** cameras, **** ***** **** setting, *** ***** ** camera *** ***** ****** to ******* ****** ********. By ********, *** ***** Samsung ***-**** ******** ******** plates ***** */**** ******* at **** ******* ****** (<20 ***), *** */**** at ****** ******.

*** ******* ** */***** shutter ***** *** ***** below, ***** **** *** faster ***** **** ***** (though ********** **** ** slow ******).

*****

** *****, ******* ** the ** ******* *** proper ******* *** **** difficult. **** **** ********** shutter ***** ** */*****, plates **** ********* ** discern *** ** ***** and ***** *****.

** ****** ***** ****** and ******* *******, ** reduced ********* **** ********, setting *** ** "***" in *** ********* ******, and * *** ** 24dB ** *** **** P1428-E. **** ******* ******** the *****, *** ********** blooming *** ******* ******* noise, ******** ****** ** be ******** ********.

** ****** ****** (**-** MPH), capture *** **** ********, seen ** *** ********** below. *** ***** ** camera *** ****** ** capture ****** ** **** speed, **** ***** ********** so ******* **** *** barely **********. ******* ******* in *** ********* ** camera, ****** ********** *** still *******. 

Wider **** ******** ** ****** *****

** ******* ******, ** were **** ** ******* plates ****** ***** **** with *** ** *******, up ** ***** ** wide. 

*** *******, ** **** able ** ******* ****** across * ~**' *** using *** **** *** Panasonic ** *******, ******** to ~**' ** *** Samsung *****:

FOV ***** **** ** *****

****** ******* ******, ***** **** were ****** *** ******** at *****. **** **** using *** ****** ***** illuminator **** * **** angle (** ******) ****, ******* were ****** *** ********* enough **** ***** */***** exposure ** ******* **** contrast ** *** *****.

** ** ******** **** adding **** ** ************ to *** *****, ** closer ** *** ******* point, *** ******* ***********, but *** ***** ******* (in **** ***** ** much ** ** **** than * ******) ****** outweighs *** ******** ** using * ****** ** camera ******* ** ******** 1080p ** *****.

Integrated ** *** ****

** ***** *** ********** IR ** **** *** ***** and ********* ******* *** weak ** ******* ********** illumination *** *******, ********* a **** ******** ******** IR *********** *** ****** capture.

*** *******, ** **** scene, using */***** *******, ******** IR *** *** **** at ~**' ****** ******** to ******* ****** ************ to ******** *** ******* reduction ** *****, ******* its ********* *** ** range. *******, ***** *** Raytec ** ***** **** a ~** ****** ****, the ***** ** **** illuminated *** ****** ******* (right).

Test **********

******* **** ****** ***** varying ******* ****** *** gain ******** ** ***** above. ****** **** *** to *.***, *** ***** rate (** *** ** Axis/Samsung, ** ** *********, and ** ** *****), with *-***** ******** ******** framerate.

*** ********* ********/******** ******** were ****:

  • **** *****-*: *.**.*.*
  • ***** ***-********: *.***.****.*.*, *****: 2015-02-03 
  • ********* **-*******: *.**
  • ******* ***-****: *.*********
  • *********** **********: *.*.*.*****

Comments (7)

Thanks for this enlightening er - illuminating test IPVM. Which leads me to ask how well do you think any of the 360 or 180 degree 4 & 6MP "corrected" devices perform at night - outside - unaided without IR? One of my competitors is in love with these and loves to tell clients 'All you need is one on each corner'. I'm sure with a super slow shutter he's producing beautiful static images.

One of my competitors is in love with these and loves to tell clients 'All you need is one on each corner'. I'm sure with a super slow shutter he's producing beautiful static images.

When you just want to read the plates of parked cars in a parking lot, the slow shutter would be acceptable. Even in that case though I doubt the resolution would be sufficient for more than a few dozen cars...

Got some installers in love with 4K 360 ° in pendant position with embedded IR and factory settings..., placed at each corner of residential buildings to cover parking ... it' s perfect for contextual day/night monitoring to cover a great FOV without dead areas, only for detection and recognition because it does away objects.. And to identify plates, they are also using dedicated 1080p LPR cameras (specific firmware with Shutter & Gain control limits, no Dnr, no WDR and even Black/White switch at 600 lux !) So as we say in France, it's very difficult to get "Fromage et Dessert " with the same device, better use two.

Cameras don't like Sunrise / Sunset :

the worst periods of the day for all cameras (2MP or 12MP) are just before sunrise and after sunset, when cameras are in color mode / Day profile... but with very low lights too much light to remain in Black/White, 5 lux, 10 lux... (sunrise) or the contrary, no more sunlights but still too much light to switch to BW...and no IR !

So best is often to force the camera to switch BEFORE the sensor decides to, so you can use IR external proj with less noise and a faster shutter

Some vendors can, some others can't , so you need an external light sensor to remote control the night profile.

Some vendors can, some others can't...

And some vendors don't...They dont ever switch out of IR mode.  

This seems the most consistent way to handle it, if a bit pricey, if your camera is going to be dedicated to the task.

Ethan,

I may have missed it, but I am wondering about also the throughput numbers of the video streams, comparing each manufacturer. I know your focus was more about the single best image that was captured, but we would usually be recording the entire video event. I would think these cameras and images have to be require a large amount of storage.

John,

Would love to see you use the Plate Smart LPR cameras and software for this test and see how that product compares to the units you tested.

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