Testing Hikvision High End Camera

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 27, 2014

Chinese manufacturer, including the two mega ones, Dahua and Hikvision, are best known in the West for super low cost, entry level cameras.

However, how well do their 'higher end' ones one work?

We bought a 3MP WDR, Integrated IR Hikvision dome (the awkwardly named DS-2CD4132FWD-IZ), based on Hikvision's recommendation for a model positioned against top entries from Western manufacturers.

We tested it against Avigilon, Bosch, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony models across indoor and outdoor scenes and for competitive IR and WDR performance.

Here is a preview of the ~1 lux scene:

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Comments (49)


It would be great for next time: if you can please test the "behaviour" of the camera streaming under the iVMS-4500 mobile app using iPhone iOS/Android. I think one of the main complains and dissatisfactions (as far as my experience goes with my end users) is the sloooow video motion when accesing the LIVE VIEW of Megapixel cameras under 3G / 4G cellphone providers like Sprint, Verizon, etcetera....

for high end I was expecting DS-2DE5186 or something like that

That model is a PTZ. Overwhelmingly today, fixed cameras are used. Among them, domes are the most popular (see: IP Camera Statistics 2014).

We rarely do PTZ shootouts as there is less overall interested, reflecting lower overall usage.

I am curious about your perspective on the build quality of the product when compared to Axis, Bosch, Pana, Sony. Aside from sensor /ISP combo's that may be similar among cameras, did you notice an improved build quality (fit/finish) that could justify the higher prices of the other cameras? For example using Japanese lens versus Chinese lens, smoothness of gimbal movement etc. I know this may be subjective but part of the reason for choosing some of the other brands at premium prices would be the reliability of the product over an extended period of time

In general, the 4132 feels solid. It doesn't feel like say, a $30 Alibaba special. I actually had to think about this for a minute, but I'd say the most telling thing is while doing one video I had this camera, an Axis P33 and a Sony 6th gen dome in my hands, and I don't think one felt significantly higher or lower quality than the others.

The gimbal was clicky, but it was easy enough to aim. It wasn't sticky like some where you have to over-rotate it because it snaps back a couple degrees. I can't comment too much on lens quality or tell you what it's using because it's a motorized lens hidden under a shroud. We didn't see any issues with it, though.

The Hikvision lens is an IR corrected, aspherical glass lens designed by Hikvision and manufactured by a quality lens manufacturer. The lenses are designed to match the requirements of the sensor. This includes the 2.8-12mm used in this test as well as the 8-32mm motorzied lens which is used in the outdoor dome and bullets.


Just curious why Samsung has such significant improvement in low light compared to Bosch and Sony. Is it because SSNR was turning off in the previous test?

Samsung Test -- Less Than 1 lux.jpg

Integrated IR vs non-integrated -- Large.jpg

It's likely due to new firmware. Samsung has released new firmware for the 6004 since that previous test (and actually a new version again since this test was done). We'll double check and update the Wisenet III report accordingly.

Hi Guys, Thanks for the report. Very interesting. One question please. My team advises me that the 3MP camera by default runs at 2MP and looks great. However, if you actually switch it to 3MP (which it is publicised as such but defaulted to 2MP), the camera's performance deteriorates. As it is a 3MP camera, this may be misleading? Your thoughts and did you test this?


At 3MP the only difference we saw was framerate, which drops to 20 max instead of 30. Can you expand on what performance you saw deteriorate?

Dear IPVM crew, thanks a lot for all your work. It's amazing how easily you bring myths down.

It's also surprising low light performance on Panasonic SFV631 model, as it is supposed to be new line high end camera.

You think it's because unchanged default settings are not the best?

It does look worse in the 100' range shots, simply because the IR range is not as long as Avigilon or Hikvision. It's specified for 30m, as they all are, but it's weak at that range.

If you look at the interior low light test shots, where there are more reflective surfaces, the Panasonic looks quite good, possibly better than the other two.

You also forget to mention the built in analytics in the 4 Series cameras which other cameras at similar price do not have.

F, you are the first person to mention Hikvision analytics to us. As you know, in general, lots of manufacturers offer built in analytics but typically they don't work well enough to make a difference.

Ethan, however, will take a look at Hikvision's analytics to get a better sense specifically.

Ethan- I agree our model numbers are long but you just need the secret decoder ring. CD (camera, digital); 4 - 4-series; 1 - Indoor; 32 - 3MP; FWD - true WDR; I- IR; Z Motorized Zoom.- See- it is easy :)

We will also have a 1080p WDR version coming out soon.

Bob, if there was a little tool (dare I say app) that you could pop a Hik part code into and it would list out the specs, it would be quite useful.

Especially if it covered all cameras and DVR's. Simple enough to do in HTML/JS.


I do find the Hikvision (they should change the name :) ) cameras extremely good in term of image quality. IMHO this camera has better image than all of the others. notice the quality of the letter on all the pictures .. no smearing in good lighting , same with lowlightin , dfintion is preserved.

In my personla experience they work extremely wellbut it seems that QC is not the best, i have ahd some fail very quickly in the field a few hours or days after install. I am looking seriously to standardize on these as they provide a superior Picture Quality IMO for a good price this camera for example has IT integrated and great WDR ... beter than all the other cameras not the euphemistic "In full light, the 4132 provides details similar to other cameras in this test with no major issues.". it is not similar it is clearly better, the chart is legible up to line 7 and the licnse plate very clear... Clors are off but so are the others and in the absence of a clear color reference we can't tell.

Let me say that I am now a fan of this brand. They are posied to dominate, with such results and price this is the direction in which they are headed.

Thanks for the usual great reviews

I think their QC is getting better, when we first started selling them I would get one out of every 20 or so that had an issue but it was addressed quickly. We standardized on these about 6 months ago, dropping Bosch and Axis. I recently did a couple of marijuana dispensaries, when the inspectors came through and looked at the cameras they were blow away by the image quality and said it was a significant improvement over their previous install that used axis cameras. We have been working with these customers for about 25 years and using (mostly) Bosch equipment in their other pharmacies, the customer is also blown away.

One of my most promising features of these cameras, that wasn't addressed is their embedded video analytics. I have one of the value series cameras on my desk right now testing it, it works well. Hikvision tells me its not quite ready but will be soon. I have seen a lot of improvements over the last 2 or 3 firmware updates.

On the Value cameras, so DS-2CD2112 , DS-2CD2712, DS-2CD2732 etc etc there is firmware version 5.2.0, this enables 1 transversing line and 1 intrusion area so not as much as the 4 series cameras but still very powerful and there very good analytics for the price, look for the firmware and give it a go its excellent

One of the main selling points to me was the accuracy, even on the lower end models, of their motion algorithm. In many other brands, it just does not work and you end of insuring your project with more storage and continuous recording. I have to admit that their low light pro outdoor dome (1.3 MP) provides stunning images (without agc and slow shutter) and a project last week with a bunch of Hik PTZ via wireless in a city brought ooohs and ahhhhs at night ($750 exterior HD PTZ??). (I know the drug dealers will destroy them eventually).

Thanks for test results. However I thnik you should to compare box vs. box or dome vs. dome cameras rahter than dome vs. box. I am talking about the lens which is very importand at MP cams - comparisions should be done with the same lens model.

Does 2,8-12mm lens used by HIKVISION dome cams has spartial resolution siutable for 3MP sensor??

"Comparisions should be done with the same lens model."

David, most manufacturer sell their cameras and lens as kits / combos. In the case of domes, you typically don't have any choice at all as the lens is integrated.

Our approach is to test with the manufacturer's recommended or integrated lens because that reflects typical use.

"Does 2,8-12mm lens used by HIKVISION dome cams has spartial resolution siutable for 3MP sensor??"

Presumably so, but even if it didn't, there's no other reasonable alternative. Are we going to tear their integrated lens out and replace it with our own?

Domes have always lens bulid-in but it is more precise to compare between vendors dome vs. dome rather then dome vs. box.

Regarding spartial resolution of the lens - I just wanted to know whether your tests showed 3MP image (details of the image) form HIK camera is the same useful like form 3MP cams of other vendors.

"Showed 3MP image (details of the image) form HIK camera is the same useful like form 3MP cams of other vendors."

Can you clarify what you mean by 'the same useful like form"?

I mean the image contain the same or similar level of details.

Hi John,

Excellent testing. Will it be possible for your team to do a similar testing on Dahua models?


Regarding testing similar Dahua models, that's a good idea. We'll check for an appropriate model, availability to buy in the US, etc.

What about the network side? Did you do a scan, did the camera crash? Did it "phone home" like a lot of other Chinese cameras?

No! They don't phone home.. They just work. For the price, they are worth testing on one's own lab. Once you see the results the price will shock you. You will be hard presseed to pay more for the so-called high-end cameras. These high-end manufacturers better step-up their games. The challenge is that serious IMHO. Have a look at their DS-CD-2132 and prepare yourself for <$200 to be seriously impressed even when compared to High End cameras plus now they have analytics built-in ..

It has become customary to just dismis the Chinese manufacturers .. Remind me that back in the 60s "Made in Japan" was synonimous with "Bad Quality" ... No more ...

[IPVM Note: Poster is an Axis employee]

John, in the mail from IPVM listing the topics of discussion and links to them, this is the link to this test/discussion:

Testing Hikvision High End Camera vs Axis

If you are not going to test against Axis, why do you use Axis brand? In the same way you don't allow using IPVM contents for third party marketing purposes, you shouldn't use manufacturer's brand to attract readers (if that is the aim).

On the other hand, and from my point of view, I would discuss what is considered as high end camera, is that because of the 3MP? Then is resolution what defines what is high end? In Axis our top line cameras are included in the Q-line series. I understand you have to compare apples to apples but why is the key point the resolution? could it be better image quality with 2MP, or HDTV 720p? Why not comparing adaptive IR cameras?

When comparing image quality you show a good sort of test captures, why when you are asked about how solid is / looks the hardwar you just reply with a pesonal impression: "I don't think one felt significantly higher or lower quality than the others." (Ethan words). Why don't you show actual images of the hardware and let the readers have their own perception?

Despite of many of my colleagues and partners who have historically claimed about IPVM biased treatment to Axis, I have always defended the right of IPVM for doing independant and external analysis, and I have found several times good comments from you about Axis as a market leader and products or features being considered as competitive or high quality offer. However, this article / test looks more a "promo" to position Hikvision in the so called "high end" segment rather than a fair comparison of features or products whic has been an appreciated practice in IPVM during years.

Alberto, The Axis reference is my mistake. I thought Axis was included in this test.

However, this is a test against Avigilon, Bosch, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony. Your allegation that this a 'promo' and not a 'fair comparison' is ludicrous given that we tested Hikvision against high-end models from 5 of the biggest manufacturers in the world.

What makes this Hikvision model high-end? It has true WDR, integrated IR, motorized varifocal. That's high end even for Axis and you know that.

This is also wrong:

"Why don't you show actual images of the hardware and let the readers have their own perception?"

We have 2 videos that show the hardware in the report. Scroll up and you'll see them. Videos are even better than images to allow members to judge.

Listen, you have one good point. I admit I made a mistake in the email. I fixed it for the rest of the newsletters going out, noting that it is: Testing Hikvision High End Camera vs Avigilon, Bosch, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony which is a completely accurate description.

To conclude, Alberto, do you think a test against Avigilon, Bosch, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony is unfair and a promo for Hikvision?

Thanks for your reply John, I understand mistakes as I do also some of them more often than desired. Anyway, if Axis is not included in the comparison, it shouldn't be also mentioned in the price positioning as well since price has to be linked to performance otherwise it could be considered..... say unfair?

Regarding the concept of high end, it is of course very subjective to everyone's criteria. Yes, WDR, motorised lens and built in IR may indicate that is high end, it is not entry level at all, but the way they perform and how they are built is also important to se how "high" is the positioning of the camera. In Axis, we have those features in the P-line products, which is not our highest performance line of products.

On the other hand, if those are the points to qualify the camera as high end, then the side to side comparison and in depth details should focus on that. It's the case in some way for the WDR test, but I can'ts see the same level of benchmarking for the other topics respect to the selected competitors.

The videos show the Hikvision product hardware, but not the competitors', only in the size (pure external look) comparison. I think the question posted was about differences in robustness of the whole product with the competitors.

Once it is clarified that the test is not against Axis, I wouldn't want to judge about how fair is it respect to the other competitors since that's the job for them. However, as a reader, it would have been interesting to know comparison details such as streaming performance (there's a comment about reducing quality when using 3MP), type of lens (is it P-iris?, how fast and easy is the autofocus?). What's the MTBF for the leds being used?, What's the anti vandal protection rating? things like that I guess may be relevant when playing in the "high end" league.

My impression is that the tests put the eye on features where Hikvision has filled the gap with higher quality competitors while skipping others where there's still some way to catch up. That's usually a kind of "promo" .But of course this is again subjective.


"What's the MTBF for the leds being used?"

How would we know this for Axis, Hikvision or anyone else, short of repeating what they tell us? This is not fair question for a test.

"What's the anti vandal protection rating?"

Hikvision rates it for 'exceeds IK10'.

"is it P-iris?"

Sorry, that's Axis propaganda. Show me proof that P-iris is better than anyone else's. We've tested repeatedly and differences are minimal to none.

"My impression is that the tests put the eye on features where Hikvision has filled the gap with higher quality competitors while skipping others where there's still some way to catch up."

That's your bias as an Axis employee. These are the same standard tests we do for each camera test. If you'd like us to test other elements, happy to consider them but don't start by saying that we are biased against the company who pays you your salarly.

MTBF would be interesting. We don't need MBTF numbers to think about MBTF. It has been >15 minutes< since I saw a random person post on ipvm.com about Arecont Vision failures. I don't need an MBTF spec sheet to work that out. P.s. IMO Axis dealers are sometimes fantastically trigger happy about swapping out units (implying they think Axis has a bad MBTF in general) when in fact they should do a firmware update. See other threads on this topic.

John, take it easy, I have my own responsibilities in Axis Southern Europe that do not include to make propaganda in IPVM, I'm not paid for making Axis promotion at IPVM. I'm participating as IPVM subscriber and of course as part of the IP video industry, isn't it the aim of the blog? If all professional being paid by manufactures cannot make comments or are not credible, I don't think there will be many left to continue with the blog.

Just to complement information for the IPVM subscribers, P-Iris, although first introduced by Axis (like some other video features being used by most of the competitors) is not Axis proprietary nor an Axis patent and it is currently maketed by Axis' competitors like Samsung or Vivotek and lens manufacturers like Computar among others. Therefore it is in no way Axis propaganda.

I haven't claimed P-Iris is better or worse than other technology John and as independant analyst you may consider it with no value after your test. There are many web sites and blogs with different discussions and opinions in the net about this. I was just saying that it might be interesting to know if the type of lens Hikvision is using is of that type or not.

Regarding the test, as in any other industry I think they should have some differences when applying to different product positioning, as the expectation and request from the buyer is supposed to be different as well. That's my point and I have just dropped some topics that could be tested or reported at least. Anyway you run the tests and I give my feedback, just in the same way Axis makes the products and you judge them.

Please read again my post, I haven't said you are biased against "the company that pays my salary" (Axis), I have started by saying that once the test is not against Axis I cannot judge how fair it is. My feed back has been instead that in my opinion it is some favourable to Hikvision compared to the other participants in the test (Axis is not in the test).

The only part where I have repeated the term "unfair" after your recognition of the mistake referring Axis is when I suggest to remove a price reference in test report without the correspondant performance reporting, and I still think this is something to avoid in future analysis.

Your feedback: "this article / test looks more a "promo" to position Hikvision in the so called "high end" segment"

You are insinuating that we have been paid off by Hikvision to position their products. How else should I take this?

This is not some generic comment about features or performances, which are perfectly fine.

And you really think a single line price reference to Axis out of 4+ page report makes it unfair?

And the iris type is less relevant since we did real tests and shared real results for people to see the actual image differences.

Axis vs Hikvision High End Shootout

Here's what we are going to do. We will do an "Axis vs Hikvision High End Camera Shootout"

Axis will get to pick their 'best' camera. Hikvision will get to pick their 'best' camera. We will buy whatever those cameras are.

Each manufacturer will be allowed to pick 5 testing scenarios / features that best represents their unique strengths.

Each manufacturer will be invited to send a representative to our Pennsylvania office to setup / review the test results.

I'll be in touch with the respective manufacturers to set this up.

It says something when other manufacturer's have to put Hikvision down, the fact Hikvision have taken the market worldwide by storm and offer an astonishing range is quite breath taking to be honest ( and no i dont work for Hikvision)

I am genuinely surprised that anyone at Axis would publicly acknowledge Hikvision's (or IPVM for that matter) existence.

My impression was Axis marketing strategy is to publicly ignore all criticisms and competitors, lest they actually give them any indirect exposure or recognition.

Ah the IPVM.COM speech. Here's how it goes:

mfg: we never read ipvm.com, but we heard they said X in a post 3 days ago.

me: why don't you suck it up and buy a subscription? There's useful signal in there. Yeah, John *might* be "shrieky" but there's lots of signal there!

mfg: oh but it's so sensationalist! My boss would never pay for that!

me: name 3 other information sources on the web that people should read instead of ipvm.com. Explain to me how your marketing intelligence organization is so good if they refuse to look at ipvm.com as -A- data source.

mfg: (silence)

me: find me technical details at an integrator level cheaper than an IPVM.COM subscription, useful for training.

mfg: (silence)

me: ok, fine, I'll keep reading ipvm.com and doing IMO a responsible mix of using the good info and suggesting to others they check it out. You manufacturers have a good time trying not to look surprised at useful information/dialog it provides.

mfg: (silence)

(Integrators watching the conversation discreetly record the URL for later study...)

It's not obviously my case.

Rodney, that's an interesting conversation :)

On the manufacturer level, senior people at essentially every manufacturer read IPVM weekly. For example, Malmo Sweden averages 500+ IPVM.com visits a month.

That said, I am pretty sure many manufacturer's discourage their employees from reading IPVM, for the understandable reason that it's critical of them.

John, you are more than welcome to run the type of tesst you find interesting. Again, Axis and other manufacturers build cameras and you make tests, we are subject to third party judment as so you are.

If my perception is that a test looks favourable to Hikvision (in this case) it doesn't mean at all you are paid by Hikvision, don't put those words in my mouth. In the same way it is clear and public that I'm paid by Axis, the only thing that is clear for me is that IPVM (you) is paid by the subscribers (i.e. me) nothing else. As a sales man in your previous life, you know that there might be many other professional or personal motivations to do things or favor a brand, starting from just a wrong approach without any further intention.

I use to read the test produced by IPVM and find them very often of high value in my job, but when they don't like me, I just say it. I will continue to read tests as long as they interest me involving Hikvision or others and hope to find them as intersting as usual.

I wouldn't like to make this an Axis - Hikvision fight (we already compete with them in the market as with many others) rather than a critic to a singular job issued by IPVM that I feel allowed to do.

For that, if you want to run specific tests between Axis and Hikvision, I guess that some other maufacturers would like to have the same chance and publicity. But that's up to you and your strategy in communication.

Looking at your plans, I see some concerns in defining "the best camera" since as you know that will depend on "what for". We are daily runing benchmarking comparisons at customer sites against many manufacturers and even with our "best champion camera" sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. It always depends on customer's expectation and request for a specific aplication. Anyway I undersatand you have to perform generic test about specific features and performances and issue the results. That's fine if the test are adequated to the type of camera and product positioning, but one of my personal advices is to actually test some of the specs in the manufacturer's datasheets because many times there are very different ways to understand how a spec is being measured.

In response to F Distributor, it has not been me to focus the discussion on Hikvision, it was just that the article / test of IPVM was titled Hikvision vs. Axis.

Hikvision is a strong competitor to Axis as there are others and there have been others in previous years. If they have taken the market or not, is a question for analysts and research institutes.

"Looking at your plans, I see some concerns in defining "the best camera" since as you know that will depend on "what for"."

That's why I asked Axis (and Hikvision) corporate. They can pick what camera they want (or multiple cameras if they feel so inclined).

The most common high end camera type is conventional varifocal, i.e., not thermal or panoramic. So I would presume it would come from that area. Again, this is why I have reached out to Axis corporate and have invited them to tell us what they think is appropriate.

IF they have taken the market or not???????

The market place shows they have run away with it, hence why there the largest in the world in cctv manufacturer, you dont get there without numbers

Numbers are always tricky to deal with. They can be the largest in cctv if you say that, but considering what? (revenue, number of channels, including all cctv products, just cameras, analog, IP, in all countries, including China, etc).

Anyway, this is a "piss contest" I've played so many times in the past with other brands before, it is quite useless, but I understand people like this topics.

"it is quite useless"

Lol, come on :) Axis touts that it's the #1 and the world leader every chance they get (or at least until Hikvision started to beat them).

Hikvision is now literally 4x larger than Axis (annual sales). That said, I am totally with you that Hikvision's numbers are skewed way up because of their unique domestic advantage / government connections / partial ownership. Even if you extremely discount the Chinese market, Hikvision has gotten very big and is still growing very fast.

Net / net though, the real discussion should be on the performance and value of the competitors. Ergo, more testing.

Completely agree John, Axis has used it for years and I found it as useless as today in a professional discussion. It has however a big marketing interest ( I guess). I've been working for Axis since 2003 and of course in those early years Axis was not claiming that, but competition with other brands was as tough then as it can be today.

Yes, the growth of Hikvision is impressive, but as the market has shown before that could change rapidly because of many reasons, one of them could be the impact of new players if they play the same game but in a better way (i.e. price driven markets).

The annual revenue criteria is also very tricky since it should be broken down by product category, services and market place. Look, it may happen (it's quite likely) that very soon Axis's revenue will be incorporated to Canon's global results as "imaging technology" and then, it will be more difficult to find out actual revenue comparisons between the brands.

With that all, I have already read you in other posts discussing about this and I share most of your points of view.

Good John. I look forward for that shootout. I'm sure my colleagues will do their job in the US.

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