Testing Honeywell HD WDR IP Camera

By Derek Ward, Published Feb 25, 2014, 12:00am EST

Honeywell is a huge name, but not one well respected in video surveillance, unless you are an alarm dealer.

The company was late into IP but now offers their own IP camera line, including their high end positioned HCW1F [link no longer available], a 720p HD WDR ONVIF camera that they claim "adapts to varying lighting conditions to ensure the highest picture quality even in extreme low-light conditions."

We bought an HCW1F and put it to the test against Axis, Bosch, Sony and Samsung cameras.

Here's a sample, unmarked comparison in low light

And here's the outside part of a WDR scene:

Here are our key findings from this test:

  • WDR performance against is similar to top WDR cameras but depends significantly on level selected (max, medium or low) as those settings trade off capturing darker vs. lighter areas. Note that this is the highest resolution WDR camera in the Honeywell line (no 1080p WDR).
  • Low light performance at 0.1lx was the worst of all cameras in this test and failed the low light TVL line test.
  • Full light (~160 lux) performance was on par or better than other 720p WDR cameras tested, providing notable details of our subject and chart in this test.
  • The Honeywell HCW1F's regularly dropped while connected to Exacq and DW Spectrum. Axxon Next, Milestone, and Video Insight did not have any issue.
  • Adding the camera via RTSP instead of ONVIF to Exacq and DW Spectrum worked fine, with no connection problems.
  • Downloading firmware updates requires users to log in as a Honeywell partner, while most other manufacturers do not.

Price and Availability

ADI is the only authorized distributor of Honeywell's cameras, though they may be found online at inflated prices. For example, based on ADI pricing, the HCW1F has an estimated street price of about $500 USD (no lens included, ~$130, but online, it sells for about $700+, at least $250 more. Note that Honeywell's recommended varifocal lens, the 3-8mm HLD3V8MPD [link no longer available] is a relabeled Computar AG3Z3112FCS-MPIR, which sells online for about ~$70 less than Honeywell street pricing.

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At a total of ~$630 for camera and lens, the HCW1F is less expensive than many mainstream models, such as the Axis Q1604 (~$850) online and Sony SNC-VB600 at (~$850). However, it is moderately more expensive than models such as the Samsung SNB-5004, ($500: ~$400 online + $110 lens) or Arecont WDR models.

Recommendations

For those seeking a solid WDR performer at a lower than average price, the Honeywell HCW1F may be a good fit. On the other hand, inferior low light performance is a problem. Additionally, users should beware of ONVIF streaming issues, which may be problematic depending on which VMS is used.

Physical Overview

In this video, we briefly examine the physical construction of the Honeywell HCW1F box camera:

Configuration

This screencast reviews the web interface of the HCW1F:

Indoor Comparisons

We compared the Honeywell HCW1F to the Axis Q1604, Bosch NBN-733V, Samsung SNB-5004, and Sony SNC-VB600, competitive 720p WDR cameras.

Full Light

In full light, ~160 lux, the HCW1F provides better color fidelity and facial details of our subject than most cameras in the test. Text on the chart is clearly legible to line 5.

Low Light (~0.5 lux)

Lowering light to ~0.5, the HCW1F is much dimmer than all other cameras in this test, with subject details nearly indiscernible. The test chart remains legible to line 3/4, while other cameras can discern line 5. Note that Honeywell does not market this camera as a low light model.

Dark (~0.1 lux)

At very low light levels, 0.1 lux, the HCW1F is unable to produce usable images.

TVL Tests

We tested the camera in both full light and low light to check TVL. In full light, it delivered about 450 TVL, about average for 720p cameras. In low light, the camera is unable to capture the chart at all.

WDR Comparisons

We also tested the HCW1F's WDR performance against a strongly backlit overhead door, seen here:

With the HCW1F's WDR set to maximum, our subject is clearly visible in the brighter scene, but when our subject moves to the darker portion of the scene, it becomes harder to make out line 6 on our test chart and some of our subjects facial features such as expression and facial structure.

The comparison below shows the different WDR settings of the HCW1F. On High, performance against strong backlight is best, but lowered in the darker area next to the door. Medium and Low both decrease performance in bright sections, but improve imaging in darker areas. Users should try these settings if dark areas are a key concern.

Bandwidth

Below are bandwidth measurements of cameras used in this test. We standardized the cameras at 1/30s exposure, using H.264 codec with default compression for each camera. 

The HCW1F had some of the lowest bandwidth consumption in this test in full light, and by far lowest in low light. However, below 1 lux the camera's image was nearly black, accounting for much of this difference.

Test Parameters

The following firmware versions were used for the test:

  • Honeywell HCW1F: 40.0.6
  • Axis Q1604: 5.50.3
  • Bosch NBN-733V: 98500590
  • Samsung SNB-5004: 1.13_131218
  • Sony SNC-VB600: 1.9.2

Test Your Knowledge

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Take Honeywell Camera Quiz

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