Testing March MegaPX Domes

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 04, 2014, 12:00am EDT

March Networks has been one of the bigger names in video surveillance recorders for a decade, with significant adoption especially in banking and retail.

For a number of years, since the Cieffe acquisition, the company has offered IP cameras as well.

In this report, we share test findings of the 3MP outdoor MegaPX MicroDome [link no longer available] and the 1080p indoor MegaPX MiniDome Z [link no longer available]. Both are 3-9mm varifocal, show below:

These are our key findings from this test: 

Imaging

  • Microdome full light performance on par but Minidome below other 1080p cameras tested.
  • Below average low light (~1 lux) performance, with no details of our subject and poor legibility of test chart. No integrated IR to compensate / offset this.
  • Moderately below average WDR performance compared to true WDR 1080p WDR cameras, similar to Samsung SNB-6004 and Bosch NBN-932V, though outperformed by Avigilon's H3, Hikvision DS-2CD4132, and Panasonic WV-SFV631L in both light and dark areas.
  • WDR setting "Max" should be used instead of default "Auto" for best performance in bright and dark areas.
  • Though marketed as WDR, March's WDR is not multi-exposure.
  • WDR does not turn off when cameras switch to night mode, but no negative impact on low light performance was observed.
  • Cameras use 'Archived' ONVIF 1.02 and would not connect to Profile S VMSes such as Exacq or Milestone XProtect Enterprise. VMSes using 1.02 such as Video Insight and Avigilon worked without issue.
  • Higher than average bitrates, with poorer quality, in low light (~2 lux) and dark (<1 lux) scenes, especially in the MegaPX MicroDome, which averaged 2-3x higher than the MiniDome Z.
  • Microdome is one of the more compact outdoor HD IP domes in our testing.

Pricing

MSRP pricing for the MegaPX MicroDome is $915 USD, while the MiniDome Z has a price of $695. The online price of these cameras is relatively close to MSRP:

  • MegaPX MicroDome: ~$850 USD
  • MegaPX MiniDome Z: ~$600 USD

However, given March's limited availability and traditional security manufacturer (deeper) discount structure, dealers might be able to command higher markups or offer lower pricing than that.

Strictly on online pricing, March's cameras pricing is less than many but not all bigger brands:

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The same is true of the MicroDome, which falls below average among outdoor 1080p models:

Recommendations

Overall, these March cameras are moderately below comparables at moderately lower costs. They also come with greater difficulty of 3rd party VMS integration (due to the older ONVIF version and limited direct integrations).

Their best fit may in March end to end solutions with March's own VMS / recorders. 

Physical Overview

In this video we review the physical components of both the MicroDome and MiniDome Z.

This video shows the size of both cameras compared to common indoor and outdoor options. The MicroDome is notably smaller than other outdoor options, such as the Panasonic 6 series shown here.

Configuration

In this video we review configuration options for both March cameras.

Full Light

First, we began with full light tests in our indoor conference room, ~160 lux, seen in the field of view below.

The March MicroDome performed modestly better than the MiniDome in this scene, with truer color and clearer images, while the MiniDome was dimmer, slightly dull looking.

 

Dark

In the dark, ~1 lux, neither March camera produces a usable image of our test subject, nor did the Avigilon, Bosch, or Sony cameras. However, the chart is legible to line 3/4, despite increased visible noise, and the license plate visible in the MicroDome. The Hikvision DS-2CD4132 and Panasonic SFV631L are included to show the performance gap between these cameras and those including integrated IR, an accelerating trend.

 

WDR

We moved the cameras to our warehouse test scene, shooting our subject against both the strong backlight in front of and shadowed area next to the open door.

 

WDR Settings

Both March cameras default to the "Auto" WDR setting. We found that this was significantly outperformed by the "High" setting.

In the image comparison below we can see the difference between High, on the left, and Auto, on the right, with far more detail of our subject's features and the test chart in the images using High.

Beware, going from 'auto' to 'max' seems to lengthen the exposure, improving the lighting / clarity of the nearer darker subjects but oversaturating the leaves and the cars in the background. This could be a problem in some scenes.

WDR Comparisons

For our comparisons, both March cameras were turned to 'max'.

In the darker area beside the door, the MiniDome outperforms the MicroDome, with better visibility of the subject and test chart. Both are outperformed by competitive cameras from Avigilon, Hikvision, Panasonic, and Sony.

Bandwidth

In low light, both cameras consume more bandwidth than average, with only the Bosch NBN-932V running in the same range as the March MiniDome. In full light, the MicroDome's bitrate is below average, among the lowest in the scene. However, at over 2 Mb/s, the MiniDome is more than double most tested cameras.

Test Methodology

All cameras were tested using default settings except exposure, which was standardized to 1/30s max, and CODEC, which was standardized to H.264, 10 FPS, Q~28.

These are the firmware versions used in each cameras:

  • Avigilon 3.0W-H3-B2: 2.6.0.18
  • Bosch NBN-932V: 5.92.0090
  • Hikvision DS-2CD4132: 5.2.0
  • March Networks MegaPX Microdome: 1.10.5
  • March Networks MegaPX Minidome Z: 1.10.5
  • Panasonic WV-SFV631L: 1.52
  • Samsung SNB-6004: 2.22
  • Sony SNC-VB630: 2.1.2

ExacqVision 6.2.63216 was used for recording.

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