Testing 5MP Pelco Sarix IRBy Derek Ward, Published on May 15, 2014
Integrated IR has become a common solution for low light problems, but resolutions have remained relatively low, usually 1080p and below. Now, 5MP bullet cameras have become common, but this brings up two key new questions:
- Does this increase in resolution come with a practical gain in performance at night?
- Will this jump in pixels kill my bandwidth and storage?
To find out, we tested Pelco's new Sarix IBP519-ER [link no longer available], a 5 megapixel integrated IR bullet claiming 25m illumination range.
Here are our key findings from this test:
- Moderately better details of test chart and subject in narrow fields of view (~25' and under) compared to 1080p/3MP cameras in both full light, as well as dark (~0.1 lux) with IR on.
- No practical gain in details when using 5MP in dark scenes with IR on (~0.1-0.2 lux) compared to 1080p at wider fields of view, 50-100'.
- IR illumination range was longer than specified, reaching ~35m vs. 25m specs.
- Illumination was not even across the full field of view regardless of zoom level, with moderate weakening at the edges of the image.
- Adaptive IR adjustment functioned slowly. Full adjustment took 20-30 seconds as our subject approached the camera at close range, washing him out in the meantime.
- Bandwidth was competitive with or lower than 1080p/3MP integrated IR cameras despite the camera's higher 5MP resolution. This was done with normalized quantization levels and frame rate.
The IBP519-ER sells for ~$950 USD online. This is about equal to the Avigilon 5MP H3 bullet (~$925 estimated street price, based on MSRP), though higher than 5MP integrated IR bullets from Vivotek (IP8372, ~$730 online) and Hikvision (8283FEIZ [link no longer available], ~$780 online).
The IBP519-ER has strong IR performance with longer range than other cameras we have tested in its focal length (though Avigilon's 9-22mm bullet reached ~60m). Its increased resolution provides moderate increase in details at wider fields of view in full light, as well as in narrow fields of view in dark scenes with IR on. However, those looking to cover very wide areas, 50' and above will still find they are better served by covering the scene with multiple cameras.
This video reviews the physical construction of the IBP519, fairly typical for integrated IR bullet cameras:
In this screencast we review configuration of the IBP519. The web interface is generally the same as other Pelco Sarix models, though includes remote focus and zoom options, and few IR controls.
We found the IBP519's IR illumination to be effective to about 115'/35m, greater than its 25m specification. This video shows our subject walking form ~150', where he cannot be seen against the background, all the way to our camera.
Indoors, we tested the camera's integrated IR at multiple zoom levels to see how evenly the field of view was illuminated. Zoomed in, there is moderate dimming at the edge of the field of view, with details of the subject and chart less visible.
Zoomed out to its widest range, illumination is more uneven, with a brighter center notable dimming at the edge of the image.
We tested adaptive IR in this scene, as well, with our subject walking from ~25' from the camera to about 5'. As he approaches, IR washes out his face. After the camera adjusts, ~20-30 seconds later, he is clearly visible. Walking through the scene from side-to-side resulted in no visible adjustment.
We tested the IBP519-ER against other integrated IR cameras from our tests to get a baseline of image quality in our controlled environment. In this field of view, ~25' wide, there are limited gains when using 5MP resolution, essentially only in the lower lines of the test chart (seen below each image). Subject details are clearly visible in the 1080p/3MP models.
In the dark with IR on, the same is true, with lower lines of the chart more legible in the IBP519. Details of the subject are again close to the same in other cameras.
Outdoor Wide FOV Comparisons
Outdoors, we widened the horizontal field of view to 50'. At this width and range, there is little benefit to 5MP resolution, with no real gain in details of our subject.
At a 100' HFOV, the same is true. Detection is modestly easier in the 5MP camera, though no additional details are delivered as PPF is simply too low.
When standardized to 10 FPS and ~28 quantization, bandwidth of the IBP519 is fairly close to the Avigilon 1080p bullet camera, and well below Hikvision and Vivotek integrated IR models, especially interesting because of its higher resolution.
Camera settings were left defaulted except for compression (standardized to ~28 Q), frame rate (standardized to 10 FPS), and exposure (standardized to maximum 1/30s). Below are the firmware versions used for each camera tested:
- Avigilon 2.0W-H3-B01: 22.214.171.124
- Hikvision DS-2CD2232-I5: V5.1.2 build 140116
- Pelco IBP519-ER: 03.28.01
- Vivotek IP8371E: 0100j
ExacqVision Pro version 126.96.36.199050 was used.