Speco's IP Intensifier Examined

By Brian Rhodes, Published Aug 09, 2012, 12:00am EDT

Color images in no light... impossible claim? Not according to Speco, who recently announced an IP version of their Intensifier series [link no longer available]. In this update, we analyze how closely the new network version of this product matches the analog mainstay and compare it to other low light options.

Overview

Speco Intensifier series cameras are best known for their aggressive low-light color performance claims. The marketing video below demonstrates 'Intensifier' technology:

Specifications

Key technical details of the IP Intensifier 3 series include:

  • Repackaged: The IP version of Intensifier is an analog model with an integrated encoder module
  • External 12VDC power only: no PoE support
  • Color-only, no B/W nor WDR: Intensifier features color images in low light situation, and has no B/W mode, has no IR cut filter.
  • No Megapixel, SD Only
  • 3rd Party VMS support via ONVIF v1.02
  • Analog Out: Includes 1 composite video output
  • Price: Two models are currently available, online pricing is ~$500 USD for the Turret and ~$550 for the Bullet version

The IP version is currently available through standard distribution channels like ADI, Anixter, TriEd/Northern, and Scansource.

Analysis

Speco Is Widely Known: Speco is a widely distributed brand with no barrier to purchase or install, and Intensifier technology is recognized by many installers (typically lower end ones). Due to existing market awareness, the IP version will draw the immediate interest of a portion of the market.

Image Problem: While Speco claims their Intensifier remove noise and stops blur common with cameras that use slow shutter / sens up, we are skeptical of the nightime performance claims. Intensifier's most common complaint is blurry motion images and that incidental sources of light (ie: vehicle headlights, reflections) result in overexposed, useless images. Intensifier also generates significant amount of image noise, which can trigger false recording and consume high amounts of bandwidth. The image below, is taken from a recent CCTVforum.com thread, details this common noise issue and installer feedback on it.

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Analytics Incompatibility: Excessive motion blur and image noise in low light impacts applying video analytics to Intensifier cameras. For example, while VideoIQ generally supports day/night cameras, VideoIQ's Brian Karas discourages use of Speco Intensifiers with the company's analytic encoders, due to Intensifier image quality issues in low light.

Comparison

Compare to these cameras offering low light optimization:

Axis Q1602/Q1604: Axis's Q1602 provides excellent low light images with minimal noise, also at SD. The main downside is that it is twice the price of the Speco IP Intensifier. Additionally, the Axis Q1604, a MP camera, offers fairly strong low light performance (with WDR disabled at night). It too it is twice the price of the Speco but it provides WDR and megapixel, two notable benefits.

Bosch Dinon SD: Unlike the Intensifier, the SD features makes similar low-light claims, but includes WDR and Auto-Back Focus. Pricing for the Bosch is about 30% higher, with a street price of ~$700. For more details, see our full review of Bosch Dinion series.

Pixim Nightwolf: Earlier in 2012, Pixim announced Nightwolf, a low cost SD offering that combines enhanced IR imaging and WDR. As these camera start to ship, we expect them to be equal to or less expensive than Speco Intensifier.

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