Testing Pelco Sarix IL10By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jun 12, 2013
Value / budget cameras are becoming increasingly important for even 'professional' oriented manufacturers and are viewed as a key means to expand IP to the lower end of the market. This spring, Pelco joined this trend with its IL10 series Sarix cameras [link no longer available].
In this report, we share our test results of the IL10 box model, which we matched up against the ACTi D11 and Axis M1114, other 720p budget cameras supporting the same FoV. Here's the cameras side by side:
Here's a preview of the image comparison:
Here are our key findings:
- Imaging in well lit scenes comparable to other low cost color only cameras, despite smaller 1/6.9" imager.
- Performance began to degrade at moderately dim light, ~30 lux, with increased noise obscuring details.
- Low light imaging without slow shutter is poor, providing detection at 2 lux, but only a black image at 1 lux and below.
- Slow shutter option (1/5s, turned on by default) results in severe motion blur.
- CBR only encoding with limited options for stream configuration.
- Default bitrate is 5 Mb/s, which is too high for most applications, but with minimal compression artifacts. We recommend changing this to 3 Mb/s or 1 Mb/s, depending on framerate and motion in the scene.
- Simplified web interface, which may be attractive to inexperienced users, but limited to more advanced installers.
- Price: The Sarix IL10 sells for ~$250 online. Low cost color only options vary widely in price, from ~$100 (Ubiquiti Aircam) to ~$300+ (Sony SNC-CH110), placing the IL10 in the middle/high side of this range.
Compared to other low cost cameras, The IL10 performs well, with solid performance in well lit scenes, but lacking in low light (like others in its range). However, it is priced $50-100 above many competitive cube models, including the ACTi D11 in this test (~$160 online). On the other hand, many dislike the cube form factor and may prefer the look / aesthetics of this 'mini-box'. The IL10 is similar to the Sony SNC-CH110/210 in this way, but notably less expensive.
In this video, we review the physical construction of the IL10. Users should especially note the following:
- First and foremost, due to the IL10's much small 1/6.9" sensor, the lens is much smaller than most commonly used surveillance cameras.
- The camera's is compact overall, smaller than the body of a standard box camera.
- No rear connectors other than Ethernet, such as I/O or audio.
Configuration / Camera Web Interface
See our screencast overviewing the Pelco IL10 web interface. Users should note the following key points:
- Simplified web interface, with fewer options than typical Pelco cameras.
- 1/5s slow shutter ("multi-frame exposure in low light") is enabled by default, causing significant motion blur.
- H.264 encoding is CBR only, and does not allow for fine grained control of CODEC settings. Instead, users may select between framerate (10, 15, 25, or 30 FPS) and high, medium, and low "presets" which vary between 5 Mb/s and 1 Mb/s bitrates.
In a well lit scene, between 250-300 lux, the IL10 performs comparably to the ACTi D11 cube, despite Pelco's smaller imager. Both are outperformed by the Axis M1114, which provides greater detail of the subject's face, and slightly better readability of the test chart, down to line 5.
Lowering lights further to 2 lux, the IL10 is noticeably dimmer than the D11, though both provide approximately the same level of detail, useful for detection only. The Axis M1114 still provides general details of the subject and a number of lines readable on the chart, despite increasing noise.
Finally, at 1 lux and below, the IL10 provides practically no image, nor does the D11. The M1114 provides detection at this level, but little detail.
By default, the IL10 slows the shutter from 1/30s to 1/5s in low light. As we've covered previously, this results in brigther overall images, but with danger of motion blur.
For example, with shutter speed set to 1/5s, at ~2 lux, the IL10 provides still images nearly on par with the M1114 set to 1/30s:
However, note that in our scene below 1 lux, even using slow shutter, the IL10 provides no image, where the M1114 provides detection:
However, as is common when using slow shutter, motion blur is severe, obscuring almost all details of the subject, who is clearly visible in the M1114.
Finally, this comparison shows the IL10 using both 1/5s and 1/30s shutter speeds for comparison between these two extremes:
The IL10 uses CBR encoding only and forces users to select between presets of 5, 3, or 1 Mb/s, with framerates of 30, 25, 15, or 10. Because of this, there is no way to directly test bandwidth performance, since the ACTi and Axis cameras use VBR. However, we tested each bitrate in a dark scene using a stage laser to create a high amount of motion, in order to see how each handled compression:
At 30 FPS, we found the following average quantization levels (on a scale of 0-51):
- Pelco IL10, 5 Mb/s: ~21
- Pelco IL10, 3 Mb/s: ~27
- Pelco IL10, 1 Mb/s: ~39
- ACTi D11: ~28
- Axis M1114: ~29
Based on this, in high motion scenes, at 30 FPS, 1 Mb/s is not recommended, applying too much compression, while 5 Mb/s is overkill, with a compression ratio well below others without much visible increase in quality.
However, we tested the IL10 using a 1 Mb/s stream at 10 FPS in the same high motion scene, and quantization dropped to ~28 average. Since most surveillance systems use this framerate or below, users are likely safe using this bitrate in typical scenes.