Parking Lot Shootout

Author: Antony Look, Published on Apr 24, 2011

Parking lots are one of the most important areas for using surveillance cameras. Thefts, assaults, vandalism, loitering and accidents are among the many common incidents that cameras can help solve or stop.

However, parking lots are particularly challenging to deploy. Cameras need to cover large areas over a variety of lighting conditions and are often costly to integrate.

In the last few years, parking lot surveillance options have increased with the proliferation of multi-megapixel cameras. However, what benefits do they provide and what can users realistically expect?

In this report, we share our extensive findings from a real world parking lot test. We went out to a public parking lot with a kit of 6 IP cameras (including SD, 720p, 2MP, 5MP from Axis, Bosch, IQinVision and Sony) to better understand the tradeoffs for ourselves. As the image of the location below demonstrates, we chose a moderately wide area to simulate common use:

We placed our camera kit underneath a light pole, as is typical in installations, and conducted a series of tests, from more than 200 feet away to right in front of the camera. The overhead image and map below show this:

Then we analyzed a series of scenes to see how performance varied across the cameras. The sample image below shows how we digitally zoomed each camera to the same level to see the differences. In the image below, the bottom row shows an overview with a red box over the area that is being analyzed / zoomed:

We then conducted our analysis across a dozen different scenes. They are:

  • Midday Even Lighting (Far Subject)
  • Midday Even Lighting (Near Subject)
  • Twilight Harsh Lighting (Far Subject)
  • Twilight Harsh Lighting (Near Subject)
  • Twilight Overcast (Far Subject)
  • Twilight Overcast (Near Subject)
  • Nighttime (Far Subject)
  • Nighttime (Near Subject)
  • Midday Even Lighting (Far Vehicle Profile)
  • Midday Even Lighting (Far Vehicle Profile)
  • Nighttime License Plate Capture (Tail Lights On)
  • Nighttime License Plate Capture (Tail Lights Off)

For each scenario, inside the Pro section, we share a full video export and a screenshot comparison along with our analysis and ranking of the camera's relative performance.

Using These Results

The primary intent of these results is for integrators and users to see how surveillance video will look in real world scenarios that they commonly use. For instance, if you want to cover a parking lot with a fixed camera, this report will show you wide and far you can realistically capture a face or a license plate.

To help you see the tradeoffs, we have picked different categories of cameras (by levels of resolution and day/night support) so you can anticipate the value of choosing one product tier vs another (e.g., color vs day/night or 720p vs 5MP, etc.). Since substantial price differences exist between each category, this can help you determine whether or not a premium tier is 'worth it' in this specific application.

While we disclose the models and manufacturers use, it is not our intent to show that one manufacturer is better than another. Indeed, we have a strict policy forbidding manufacturers to use our results as a testimonial or endorsement for their products. Products are choosen to be representatives of categories (e.g. 2MP color only or 5MP D/N). The model numbers (and settings used) are disclosed so readers can check for themselves and better understand any issues or tradeoffs in how we conducted our tests.

We strongly encourage you to use these results to set appropriate expectations for surveillance in a given real world scenario and to understand the tradeoffs of different types of cameras.

******* **** *** *** ** *** **** ********* ***** *** using ************ *******. ******, ********, *********, ********* *** ********* *** among *** **** ****** ********* **** ******* *** **** ***** or ****.

*******, ******* **** *** ************ *********** ** ******. ******* **** to ***** ***** ***** **** * ******* ** ******** ********** and *** ***** ****** ** *********.

** *** **** *** *****, ******* *** ************ ******* **** increased **** *** ************* ** *****-********* *******. *******, **** ******** do **** ******* *** **** *** ***** ************* ******?

** **** ******, ** ***** *** ********* ******** **** * real ***** ******* *** ****. ** **** *** ** * public ******* *** **** * *** ** * ** ******* (including **, ****, ***, *** **** ****, *****, ********** *** Sony) ** ****** ********** *** ********* *** *********. ** *** image ** *** ******** ***** ************, ** ***** * ********** wide **** ** ******** ****** ***:

** ****** *** ****** *** ********** * ***** ****, ** is ******* ** *************, *** ********* * ****** ** *****, from **** **** *** **** **** ** ***** ** ***** of *** ******. *** ******** ***** *** *** ***** **** this:

**** ** ******** * ****** ** ****** ** *** *** performance ****** ****** *** *******. *** ****** ***** ***** ***** how ** ********* ****** **** ****** ** *** **** ***** to *** *** ***********. ** *** ***** *****, *** ****** row ***** ** ******** **** * *** *** **** *** area **** ** ***** ******** / ******:

** **** ********* *** ******** ****** * ***** ********* ******. They ***:

  • ****** **** ******** (*** *******)
  • ****** **** ******** (**** *******)
  • ******** ***** ******** (*** *******)
  • ******** ***** ******** (**** *******)
  • ******** ******** (*** *******)
  • ******** ******** (**** *******)
  • ********* (*** *******)
  • ********* (**** *******)
  • ****** **** ******** (*** ******* *******)
  • ****** **** ******** (*** ******* *******)
  • ********* ******* ***** ******* (**** ****** **)
  • ********* ******* ***** ******* (**** ****** ***)

*** **** ********, ****** *** *** *******, ** ***** * full ***** ****** *** * ********** ********** ***** **** *** analysis *** ******* ** *** ******'* ******** ***********.

Using ***** *******

*** ******* ****** ** ***** ******* ** *** *********** *** users ** *** *** ************ ***** **** **** ** **** world ********* **** **** ******** ***. *** ********, ** *** want ** ***** * ******* *** **** * ***** ******, this ****** **** **** *** **** *** *** *** *** realistically ******* * **** ** * ******* *****.

** **** *** *** *** *********, ** **** ****** ********* categories ** ******* (** ****** ** ********** *** ***/***** *******) so *** *** ********** *** ***** ** ******** *** ******* tier ** ******* (*.*., ***** ** ***/***** ** **** ** 5MP, ***.). ***** *********** ***** *********** ***** ******* **** ********, this *** **** *** ********* ******* ** *** * ******* tier ** '***** **' ** **** ******** ***********.

***** ** ******** *** ****** *** ************* ***, ** ** not *** ****** ** **** **** *** ************ ** ****** than *******. ******, ** **** * ****** ****** ********** ************* to *** *** ******* ** * *********** ** *********** *** their ********. ******** *** ******* ** ** *************** ** ********** (e.g. *** ***** **** ** *** */*). *** ***** ******* (and ******** ****) *** ********* ** ******* *** ***** *** themselves *** ****** ********** *** ****** ** ********* ** *** we ********* *** *****.

** ******** ********* *** ** *** ***** ******* ** *** appropriate ************ *** ************ ** * ***** **** ***** ******** and ** ********** *** ********* ** ********* ***** ** *******.

[***************]

[********: ***** **** ******* **** ******* **** *** **** ********. A *** *********** ******* ****** ** ******* *******.]

Key ********

*****, *** **** ***********, ** ********* *** **** ** *** screenshots *** ***** *** ***** *******. *** ****** **** ** see *** ******** ** ********** *** *********** *********.

**** *****, * *** ************ *** ***** ******* ***:

  • *** ********* ******** ** ********* **** **** *********** ****** ** the ****** (****** *** ******* ** *****, ******* ****** *** cars). ***** *** ********* ******* ********* ******** * ****** ***** at ******* *********, *** ******** ******** **** ******* ** *** objects ******** **** '****' ****, ******* ** ******.
  • ***** *** *** ***** (**** **** ****** ********) ************* ******* and, ** **** *****, ********** *** ******* ******** ** ********* over **.
  • *** **** ********* ********* ** **** ******** ******** ****** (***** and ******) *** ********** ****** ** **** ******** ******. *** theory ** **** ****'* ******** *** ************ ********** ******* *** ability ** ******* ******* ** '*****' ******.
  • *** *** ***** ****** **** ********** ********** ******** *** **** details ****** *** *** *** *** ***** ****** *** *****.
  • ********* ******* ****** ** **** **** ***** ****** ** *** very ********* **** ******* ******** (********** ** *** **********).

** *** ***** *****, ** ******* *** **** *** *** findings:

?***:********* ****** = *** /-->

Midday **** ******** (*** *******)

** **** ********, ******* *** ********* ****** **** ******** ~***** out ***** *** ********** *** (****) ** ~*****. *** ***** subjects *** *** ******* *** *** ***** ** *** ********. Note **** ******** ** **** *** *** ************ ***********.

***** ** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** *****-**** (******) ******** *** ******* ***** ** ****** at **** ***** *** ******** **********. *** *** ***** ******** less ****** *** ** **** * *** *****-*******. ** **** wide **** (~*****) *** *** ****** ~* ******/** *** *** subjects ****** **** ***** ***** *** *** (**** *****) ****** roughly ** ******/**, *** * ****** **** ***** **** ** the *** (******) ** **** ********. ** *** ** (***** NBN-498) *** ***** ******* ******** ******* ** *** *** ** barely *************** **** *** *** ******.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (******); *** */* (**** *****)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Midday **** ******** (**** *******)

** **** ******** ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ******* **** *** ***** *** **** ** ~****. *** lighting ** ****, *** *** ************ ***********.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** *****-**** (*******) ******** *** ******** ***** ** ****** on *** ***** *******. *** ******* ** ********** ***** *** the ******** ** *** ******* *** ** ********** **** **** certainty. *** *** */*, ****** *** **** **** ***** ** subject *******, *** ** ******** *****-******* *** *** ********** ******** in *** *******'* ****** *******. *** **** */* (**** *****) and **** */* (**** *****) *** ******* ** **** ***** given **** **** **** ******* * **** ****** ** ****** details. ** *** ** */* (***** ***-***) ******* ******* *** not **** ****** *** *** ******* ***** ******.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (******); *** */* (**** *****)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Twilight ***** ******** (*** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ~***** ***, **** * **** ** ~*****. ****** ******** (~40K ***) **** *** ******* **** * ************ ******** *********.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

** *** *** *****-**** ******** *** ***** ******* ** ****** distinguished ******* *** *********** ********. ** ***** ********, *** ** D/N *** *** **** */* (**** *****) *** ** ******* in ******* **** *** ***** ******* ** *** **** ********** in ***** *********. *** ***** **** */* (**** *****) *** the *** */* ***** **** ******* ******** ** *** *** color-only ******, *******, ** ******* ** ****** *** ***** ******* amongst *** ******** ** ********. **** **** *** *** */* struggles ** ******* ******** *** ** ***** *****-*******.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (******)
  • ******* - *** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***); **** */* (**** *****)

Twilight ***** ******** (**** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ~**** ***, **** * **** ** ~****. ****** ******** into *** ******* ***** * *********** ******** *********.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** *****-**** (*******) ******* ***** *** ******** ***** ** details ** *** ***** *******. ** **** ******** *** ******** of *** ********** *** ** ******* ** **** **** *********. The *** */*, ******* ****** ******* ** *** ****** ** pixels/ft. ** *** ******** ******** ************ **** ******* ** *** subject **** *** *** *****-****. ******, *** *** ***** ** struggle **** ******** *** ******** ****** ** **** ***** ******** environment.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - *** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****); SD */* (***** ***-***)

Twilight ******** (*** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ~***** ***, **** * **** ** ~*****. *** ***** cover (********) ******* *** ********* ** *** ******** *** **** the ******* ******** ***** ** * ******.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

** ********** ** *** ******* *** ***** *******, **** ******** scene ******** * '**********' ******** ***********. ** * ******, **** of *** ******** ******** ******* **** ********** ** **** **** eliminated ********** *** *********, *** *** *** ***** ******* ** detectable ** *** *******. *** *** *****-**** ******** *** **** details. *** **** */* (**** *****) ******** **** ***** ********** or ************** ** *** *******. *** *** ******** * ****** crisp *****, *** ***** ****** ******** *** ** ******** *****-******* as ****.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); *** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Twilight ******** (**** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ~**** ***, **** * ************* **** ** ~****. ***** cover ******* *** ********* ** *** ********* ****** ******** **** the *******.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

** ******** ** *** ***** ******** **** (**** *******), **** overcast ******** ******** ******* ****** *******. *** *** *****-**** (*******) produces *** **** ******** ***** **** ****** *** ********** *********. Suprisingly, *** *** */* (**** *****) ******** ************* **** **** D/Ns ******* ******** ****** ***** *** ****** ** ******/**. (** pixels/ft ** ** ******/**).

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******)
  • ******* - **** */** (**** *****, **** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Nighttime (*** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ****** **** * ***** ******* ~200ft ***, **** * **** ** ~*****. ** **** ********* shot, ******* * *** ** ************ ** ******** ** ********** lighting ** *** ******* ***. **** **** *** *** (*******) camera ** *****-**** ** ** ********* ** ** ** ********.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** *****-**** (*******) ****** ***** **** *** ********* ** produce *** **** ** ****** ***** ****. *************, *** **** of *** ***** *** ****** *************** **** **** ***** ******* their ********* **************. *******, ** *** ** ****** **** *** 5MP */* (**** *****) ******** *** ***** ***** ** **** particular '****', *** ******* ***** *** ** '****' ********. ****, the ** */* (***** ***-***) ******* ******** *** ***** ****** of ******, *** ** ****** ** **** ********* ** ********* terms ** *** ***** ****** ********** *******.

  • ******** - ****
  • ******* - *** */* (**** *****); **** */** (**** *****, Sony *****)
  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******); ** */* (***** ***-***)

Nighttime (**** *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ***** subject ~**** ***, **** * **** ** ~****. ** **** nighttime ***** ~** *** ** ************ ** ******** ** *** surrounding ********** ******. **** **** *** *** (*******) ****** ** color-only ** ** ********* ** ** ** ********.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** **** */* (**** *****) ******** *** **** ***** ** detail ** **** *****. ** ** ******* ******* **** *** other ******** ** ********* ** *** ******* ** *** *******'* clothing ***** ******* ***. ************, ** **** ****** **** *** 5MP */* (**** *****) ******** ********** ******** ** *** ***** lower ********** */**, ******* ****** ~** ******/**. ** *** ********. Moreover, *** ** */* (***** ***-***) **** **** ~** ******/** appears ****** **** *** *** */*.

  • ******** - **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); ** */* (***** ***-***)
  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******); *** */* (**** *****)

Midday **** ******** (*** ******* *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ******* subject ~**** ***, **** * **** ** ~****. ******** ********** are **** *** ******* ** '****' **********. *** ***** ** the ******** ** ** *** ******* *** *** ******** (*.*., driver *** ********* *******).

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

********* ** *** *** *****-**** (*******) *** **** */* (**** P1344) ****** *** ******** ****** ** *** ***'* ****** *** interior. **** **** **** ***** *** ******* ******** *** ****** color ********* (**** ****** **** ******). **********, *** *** ******* allow ** ** *** ******* (**** **** ********* *** ****** side *******) ** *** ***** **** ** *** *******'* ********. The *** */* (**** *****) **** ******** ********** ******, ** we *** **** ******* **** ******* ** *** ***** ****, but * **** ** ******** ** *** ******'* **** *** a **** **** **** ***** ************** **** ** ******** **** competitive ******* *** *** *****-*******.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******* - *** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Midday **** ******** (**** ******* *******)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * ******* subject ~**** ***, **** * **** ** ~****. ******** ********** are **** *** ******* ** '****' **********. *** ***** ** the ******** ** ** *** ******* *** *** ******** (*.*., driver *** ********* *******).

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** *****-**** (*******) ******** *** ******* ***** ** ******* of *** *******'* ****** *** ********. *** ****** ******** ** the ******* ** ************ *********** ** ********* **** * **** level ** ********* *** ****** ** ********** ******* (** *** present). ***** *** *** */* (**** *****), **** */* (**** CH140) *** **** */* (**** *****) ******* * **** ****** of ******* ** *** ****** *** ********, ** ****, ******* performance ** *** ** ****** ** *** *** *****-**** ******. For ********, *** *** */* (**** *****) ** * *** under-exposed ** *** ******** ******* ** *** *******.

  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******)
  • ******* - *** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******** - ** */* (***** ***-***)

Nighttime ******* ***** (**** ****** **)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * *******'* license ***** ~**** ***, **** * ************* **** ** ~****. The ***** ** **** ******** ** ** *** ******* ** read ******* ****** ***** *** ****-****** *** **.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*******, ****** ******** **** *** ****-****** ** ******** ** *** the ******'* ****** *** *** **** */* (**** *****) *** 2MP *****-**** (*******). *** *** */* (**** *****) ******** ************ extreme ****** ** ********, ***** *** ******** ** * ******* is ****** **********. *** *** ******* **** ******* ****** ******* of *** ******** ******, *******, *** ***** ****** ** ******* enough ******* ** *** ******* ***** *** *******.

  • ******** - ****
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); *** *****-**** (*******)
  • ******** - *** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****); SD */* (***** ***-***)

Nighttime ******* ***** (**** ****** ***)

** **** *****, ******* *** ********* ****** **** * *******'* license ***** ~**** ***, **** * ************* **** ** ~****. The ***** ** **** ******** ** ** *** ******* ** read ******* ****** ***** *** ****-****** *** ***. **** **** lighting ******** ******* ******* * *** ** ************.

**** *** *** ********* **** *** ******* (******** *** **** ***** ****):

*** *** */* (**** *****) ** ******* ********* *** **** level ** ****** ** *** ******* *****, ***** *** **** D/N (**** *****) ** **** **** ** ***** ** *******. However, ** **** ******* *** ****** ****** ** *********** **** absolute *********, *** * ****** **** '*****' *** ** ****, especially ** *** *** */* (**** *****). ** ********, *** remaining **** ******* ** *** ***** * ********** '*****' ** to *** ******* *****'* **********.

  • ******** - *** */* (**** *****); **** */* (**** *****)
  • ******* - **** */* (**** *****); ** */* (***** ***-***)
  • ******** - *** *****-**** (*******)

***********

*** ********* *** *** *** (*) ******* **** ** *** 'Parking *** ********':

  • **** *****(****** $****) - *** */*; */*.*" ****; **.* ****;*.** *** (B/W)
  • **** *****(****** $***) - **** */*; */*" ****; **.* ******** ; 0.05 *** (*/*)
  • ***** ***-***(****** $***) - **** */*; */*" ***; **.* *****; *.* Lux (*/*) [******* **** ***** *******]
  • ***** ***-***(****** $***) - ** */*; */*" ***; **.* *****; *.** Lux (*/*)
  • ********** *******(****** $***) - *** *****-****; */*" ****; **.* ********** ;*.* Lux (*****)
  • **** *****(****** $***) - **** */*; */*" ****; **.* *******; *.* Lux (*/*)

**** ** *** *** ******* **** ************** ******** ** ** Exacqvision *** ****** **** (*) *** ******** *********. *** ******* are *** ** ***** ******** ****** **** *********.

**** *** *** *** ******* ******** *** **** ******:

  • ***** ***-*** - */*** *******; ****** **; *** ** '**'
  • ***** ***-*** - */*** *******; ****** **; *** ** '**'
  • **** ***** - */*** *******; ****-**/** **; *** '******'
  • ********** ******* -*/** *******; *****-****
  • **** ***** - ******** ***** '**'; ******** ******* '*********'
  • **** ***** - ******** ***** '**'; ******** ******* '*********'

**** *** *** **** (*) *** ******** ********* ** ********:

  • ****** **** ******** - **** ********; ~*** ** ~*** ***
  • ******** ***** ******** - *** - *** *** ******** **** cameras
  • ******** ******** - ***** ***** ******* *** ***** *** ******** intensity
  • ********* - ********* ******** ****** **** ~*.* *** ** ~** lux

********** **** ******** ********, **** * ******* (******* ****** - Gold) *** ***** ******* **** ********** *** ***** ** * choreographed *** ***-********** *******. *** ***** ******* ****** **** * position *** **** *** ******* (~*****) *** ********** ** * mostly ******** **** ******* *** ******* (** ****** ~****). *** vehicle ****** * ******* ********** *** **** *** ******* (~****) and ****** ** * **** ********** *** ******* *** ******* the *******. *** ******* **** ***** ** * ***** **** the **** ** *** ******* ******** ****** *** ******* (~****). Another ******* (***** *** - ******) **** ******* ********** ********** the ******* ** ****** *** ****** **** **** *** '******' vehicle (~****).

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