Mobotix P25 Camera Tested

By Derek Ward, Published Aug 04, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Low-cost from Mobotix?

With MP prices plunging to sub $100 levels, Mobotix's historic ~$1,000 price points are hard to justify.

Now, Mobotix has a new series of cameras that cost ~$500. Moreover, Mobotix has doubled resolution from 3MP to 6MP and claim much better low light performance.

We bought a Mobotix P25, shown below:

We tested it against 5MP cameras from Arecont and Bosch as well as other leading brands. Here is a low light preview:

Key findings from this test include:

Solid Low Light Image Quality

Image quality in low light (2 lux and below in our tests) is solid, better than the 5MP Arecont camera, though moderately worse than the Bosch 5MP starlight model due to increased digital noise.

Full Light Image Quality

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In full light, ~160 lx, image quality was similar to the 5MP models tested, with additional details not seen in 1080p HD cameras.

High Bandwidth Consumption

At default settings (MxPEG, "High" image quality), the P25's bandwidth consumption was higher than all other cameras tested regardless of light level. Bitrates were nearly 3x that of the Bosch 5MP in our ~0.03 lux scene, and 4x at ~2 lux. Lowering quality to "Normal" reduced bitrates somewhat, without noticeable visual impact, though they remained higher than other cameras in dark scenes.

Low Frame Rate

At full 6MP resolution, the P25 has a maximum frame rate of 8 FPS. However, in low light, 6MP frame rate drops to only ~2 FPS. Even setting the P25 to 1080p, maximum frame rate is only 17 FPS, low compared to even cheap 1080p models, typically capable of 30 FPS.

VMS Integration Limits

VMS integration performance varied, with Video Insight the only VMS supporting this camera via MxPEG. The P25 integrated to both Avigilon and Genetec via MJPEG. Exacq does not support any Mobotix cameras. Milestone supports some, but the P25 was not listed as supported and did not connect.

Complex Web Interface

The P25 web interface, like other Mobotix cameras, is significantly different from other IP cameras, with more controls, many nested menus, and layouts which may be confusing for all but the most regular Mobotix users. Users must also save changes manually or they are lost on reboot, a requirement not found in most IP cameras.

Price

The Mobotix P25 sells for ~$430 USD online, not including lens, an additional ~$100. 

This is comparable to the 5MP Arecont AV5115DNAIv1, which sells for ~$385, and the 6MP Hikvision DS-2CD4065F-A (~$420), neither of which include lens.

Conversely, pricing is significantly lower than the Bosch 5MP starlight NBN-80052-BA tested here, which sells for ~$1,000, including lens.

Recommendations

For those invested in Mobotix end to end systems, the P25 and its new 6MP sensor provide solid performance in low light and full light, better than past Mobotix cameras, at a lower price point, making it an attractive option.

However, for those using 3rd party VMSes, the camera's high low light bitrates, lack of H.264 or MxPEG integration to many VMSes, and complex configuration makes other cameras preferable.

Physical Overview

The bulk of the P25 camera housing is installed above the ceiling, held with spring clamps, with only the bottom section containing the imager exposed.

Note also that the area around the imager becomes very hot when the camera is operating, too hot to handle with bare hands. Mobotix actually warns of this in their manual:

In this video, we examine the physical construction of the Mobotix P25. 

To illustrate physical size of the camera, the image below shows a side by side comparison of the Mobotix P25, Axis M3005 and Axis P3354.

Web Interface

Below is a screencast overviewing the Mobotix P25's web interface. Some things to note:

  • Complex web interface: The Mobotix web interface has significantly more options than most other IP cameras, with many nested menus, on screen controls, etc. Users may easily get lost or be unable to locate settings without frequent use.
  • Saving required: Unlike most IP cameras, Mobotix requires users to store settings to flash when making settings changes, in addition to simply pushing the "Set" button on each page. Changes which are not stored will be lost on reboot.
  • Odd Default Settings: The P25 defaults to a resolution of XGA (1024 x 768) with a slow shutter of 1/5 second. Users should be sure to change these settings.

Those interested in more in depth review of Mobotix configuration may see our Mobotix Camera Configuration Tested report. Though it uses an older firmware version, most options remain unchanged.

Image Comparisons

We tested the Mobotix P25 in our standard conference room scene, and the ~22 HFOV used for testing can be seen below. As a side, default white balance was used for all cameras tested.

Full Light

In full light, the Mobotix P25 washes out the bottom portion of our test chart past line ~5-6, similar to that of the Bosch and Arecont cameras tested. Our subject is easily identifiable in all of the comparisons in this scene, however we notice slight noise surrounding our test subject viewable on the wall.

Low Light

Lowering the lights down to ~2 lux, the color only Mobotix P25 is able to identify our subject and able to read down to line ~6 of our test chart, though it is moderately more noisy than the Bosch 5MP starlight.

Dark

At ~0.01lux, the Mobotix is able to read lines ~2-3 on our test chart, but digital noise obscures subject details. The Bosch 5MP starlight camera is still able to produce some subject details at this light level. Other cameras are unable to produce usable images.

Bandwidth

In low light, P25 bitrates are significantly higher than the Arecont and Bosch 5MP cameras, especially considering frame rate drops to only 2 FPS vs. 5. 

In full light, the P25's bandwidth consumption was moderately higher than the Bosch 80052 and much lower than the Arecont AV5115DNAIv1.

MxPEG vs. MJPEG

Though bitrates were higher than H.264 cameras using MxPEG, they were drastically higher when switching from MxPEG to MJPEG in the P25. In full light, for example, bit rate jumped from about 2.2 Mb/s to nearly 20 Mb/s. At ~0.03 lux, MJPEG bitrate was over 30 Mb/s. Users of VMSes which only support MJPEG in the P25 should beware these huge bandwidth numbers.

Methodology

We conducted our test using  the following camera firmware versions:

  • Mobotix P25: MX-V4.3.4.43
  • Arecont 5115DNAIv1: 65225
  • Avigilon 1.0-H3M-DC1: 2.6.0.92 (13177)
  • Axis M3005: 5.50.5.3
  • Bosch NBN-80052-BA: 6.10.0127 (27010610)

Exacqvision version 7.0.3.82314 was also used for testing.

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