Testing Pelco Sarix IL10

By 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.

Recommendations

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.

Physical Overview

In this video, we review the physical construction of the IL10. Users should especially note the following:

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  • 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. 

Indoor Comparisons

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.

 

However, lowering the light level to 30 lux, we can see the IL10 becomes noisier compared to the other cameras, obscuring details of the subject and chart:

 

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.

Slow Shutter Comparisons

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:

Users may download motion clips of all three cameras at 1/5s and 1/30s shutter speed for comparison.

Bandwidth and Compression

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.

1 report cite this report:

Pelco IP Camera Price Cuts on Jul 24, 2014
Starting July 1, 2014, Pelco has made significant price cuts across their mid...

Comments (28)

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What's the market for these super economical cameras? The are almost getting cheaper than a camera connection license for an upper tier VMS.

I think there's a big market, specifically for people who don't want to pay for an upper tier VMS license ;)

~$200 and less cameras are going to become more common (even Axis has a half dozen in that range now). Plus VMS licensing costs have been going down for a while as well!

There will be still those who value $1000 IP cameras and $300 VMS licenses but those will, statistically be, the elite.

True. I might be a little handicapped as I mainly deal with larger systems. I haven't seen much downward movement in camera connection licensing prices from the bigger VMS players.

What are users typically connecting these types of economical cameras to? NVR's? Alarm Systems? Hosted video? I would assume Axis' low cost cameras are marketed in conjunction with their free Axis Camera Companion software. Milestone has a free VMS download for small camera installations but the features are somewhat limited. Are Pelco or other manufacturers coming out with a similar freebie basic VMS offerings? What low per camera cost VMS'es are good candidates for these type cameras?

It doesn't make sense to connect a $150-200 camera to a VMS platform that costs $150-200 per camera connection license so I wouldn't expect to see many of these cameras connected to the bigger name VMS platforms. Maybe the lower cost cmaeras will drive license prices down.

I'm guessing the goals/markets for these cameras are: Substitute for analog. Smaller systems market. More coverage for the buck. A market response to Ubiquiti and ACTI. I just hope it doesn't become a race to the bottom and further commoditize the IP camera market.

On the enterprise / large system level, the downward movement is typically negotiated (i.e., the MSRP is $250 but we'll give a 55% discount for this 500 camera deal we want, etc.). However, Milestone's new Interconnect offering clearly and structurally reduces price.

As for what to connect a $200 camera to...

As you mentioned, there are free VMS versions offered by the camera manufacturer as well as a number from third parties. Beyond that, there are now a number of ~$50 VMS versions even from bigger manufacturers - Milestone Essential, Exacq Start, etc.

I don't think it will be a race to the bottom. It will simply mean that higher end cameras will need to continue to innovate with advanced features - auto focusing, smart integrated IR, improved WDR, higher resolution, panoramic imaging, multi-imagers, video analytics, etc. However, generic HD cameras are certainly being commoditized.

I think that manufacturers should focus on low light performance at higher MP for the high end and they will be able to keep the high end prices they want. I don't see that being a challenge from the low end market for quite some time.

Pelco does offer a free VMS with four licenses for Pelco cameras. Third party camera licenses can be purchased separately. The software can be downloaded from the Pelco website, www.pelco.com and is included on a disk in the camera box.

John you don't mention the price of the Axis camera. I looked online and it's over $500. It also looks like the Axis has a double image in several of your pictures. Is that accurate to what you saw live? You may also want to look at these cameras in a WDR scene. I know they aren't marketed for that use but one of our employees did a demo and the IL10 surprised us.The ACTi camera suprised me for a $130 camera. How well do they hold up?

Why did Pelco decide to make these so darn ugly?

To be honest, this is a "budget camera for pelco". What I mean by that is its stripped down of many features of what most budget buyers want.

- Not outdoor rated
- No IR

- Only goes up to 720p

Undisclosed, I actually disagree with your notion that connecting a $200 camera to a $200 VMS channel is pointless. If a $200 camera (this one or otherwise) serves the purpose, why would you get a $400 instead? Best example to me is interior hallways in 24/7 facilities. There are a lot of color-only cameras that are low cost and will work fine in that environment, so why pay more?

Moses, thanks for pointing that out.

Alan, the Axis camera is more expensive, yes. It was included as a sort of baseline of color only performance, so readers had a more familiar reference point for the other cameras in the test. I'll add in a note about the other cameras. Also can you explain what you mean by double image? I'm not seeing it.

Sean, I actually think the aesthetics are better than a cube camera, which is what these are mainly competing against. It is definitely a budget camera. It might not be what you see budget buyers asking for, but it is much lower cost than Pelco's other Sarix cameras. So, it's at least a step into the "value" world for them.

It looks like the IL10 economy box camera has more available video options than their IM10LW10-1 indoor dome that I was experimenting with in my lab last week.

The IM10LW10-1 appears to only have a max frame rate of 12 ips, and has only one resolution option, 1280x720.

Ethan look at the 30Lux picture around the eye chart. There is a halo effect.

I pointed out the Axis price because you listed the Sony as the upper end in this catogory at $300 and you didn't include it in the testing.

As for where this camera fits in the market. It's not likely going in a casino or industrial setting but at half the price of the Axis it would fit well in the same interior locations we sold color only analog cameras for years.

If Pelco develops a NVR appliance to support this class of cameras it would make a nice system for installers still on analog.

Alan, the Axis used in this test was varifocal while the Pelco IL10 is fixed focal. That is a notable difference and one of the drivers in higher price.

We choose that Axis model because we wanted a 'value' line camera but also wanted to match up the FoV width (and with the M114 could do so).

Undisclosed the IM10LW does offer 30 Images at a lower resolution you just have to go to the A/V Streams tab to select a customized resolution and frame rate.

Gotta love that fine print!

The low frame rate for max resolution has been a problem for many of the early Pelco Sarix cameras.

Thanks John

The M1114 comes with a F1.2 or F1.4 lens depending on the varifocal. The ACTi and Pelco appear to have a fixed F2. Ignoring the shutter for a moment, the Axis standard lens would let in twice the light of the other two. I'm not trying to be picky but the ACTi and Pelco seem to be comparable products but the Axis is in a different group connected to the other two only by resolution.

The low end IP market is growing and I appreciate the test. I'm surprised by what the ACTi can do for a $130 pricepoint. I never liked the "pack of cigerettes" form factor but it did a decent job with enough light.

Yep, that Axis model is better in low light but costs more money. We didn't downgrade / judge the Pelco model because of that.

We wanted to have 2 cameras - one less expensive, one more expensive, to give readers a range of comparison.

Moses - Maybe I'm missing something...

I can't select a frame rate setting higher than 12 ips or a resolution other than 720p while in the A/V Streams tab, Video Configuration page regardless of what compression or bit rate settings I use.

I think what you are missing is that you have to lower the resolution to get 30ips. In other words, it's not possible to get 30ips at 720ps but it is at lower resolutions.

John - I'm not able to lower the resolution. The only resolution setting in the dropdown box that isn't grayed out is 1280x720.

Undisclosed you need to clear the secondary stream first and then you can make changes and also add the secondary stream back if you need it after the change.

Moses - That worked, thanks! I can get 30 ips at 640x480 resolution now. I figured there had to be some way of doing it that I was missing.

One minor annoyance I have with the Pelco cameras is that there is no help file built into the camera configuration software like Axis and other manufacturers have. When you click on the "Help" link, it refers you to the main Pelco website and you have to naviagate through the site to find the document you need, which can time consuming if you don't know where to look. The lack of a help file could be a problematic if a technician is troubleshooting or reconfiguring cameras on a closed system without an internet connection and they don't have the CD-ROM or instructions that came in the box (the installers are pretty good at chucking those in the dumpster before they even hang the camera). :)

I still find it strange that the $250 economy box camera can go 30ips/5kbps at 720p resolution, but their $650 dome in the same family is capped at 12ips/3kbps at 720p, albeit is has a few more features. I guess there are always trade-offs. The stream configuration settings in Ethan's video seem cleaner on the $250 IL camera.

Undisclosed you will see some new cameras coming out that should resolve these issues in the near future, thanks for your input.

Gary,

I concur with your thoughts on low light at the high end.

I find it funny that most of my (residential) clients in the high-end bracket will pay top dollar for a system, yet don't seem interested in spending $800 or whatever to install much needed light resulting in a good COLOR picture. No, they rather spend $600 on an Axis T90C!!

I find the Axis P33 and T90C to be a good combo. Wondering if there may be a better option out there.....anyone??

Cheers!

In relation to this camera discussion......I have installed several BRICKCOM

  • WCB-100Ap 1.2MP WiFi cams (PoE available) (~$200) Cigarette box it is, but what a great camera.  Excellent picture, Excellent 2 way audio.  Has an IR good for a small room (10' X 10') at a push. 2.8mm lens giving a 90FoV and A free 64CH VMS in the box too!!
    •  Compact and Streamline Design
    •  Built-in PIR Sensor and Illumination LED
    •  Built-in MIC and Speaker
    •  EasyConfig for Easy Set Up and GUI Integration
    •  Built-in Micro SD/ SDHC Memory Card Slot
    •  MPEG-4, MJPEG and H.264 Triple Codec Compression
    •  802.11a/b/g/n Wireless Connectivity
    •  WPS Supported for Easy Wireless Network Setup

    They also have a 3MP and 5MP cigarette box and of course a host of other cameras that I have not tested just yet!

The low frame rate for max resolution has been a problem for many of the early Pelco Sarix cameras."

Hi John, I don't think there is a "problem" with early Pelco Sarix. They offer 2.1MPx / 30IPS since the first Sarix release. Most models can't go max resolution @ 30IPS, but can make HD @ 12 to 25 IPS.

I mean, it's not a "problem", just were designed that way.

Regarding free Pelco VMS, DS-NVS can be installed in a third party PC and have 4 free licenses for more than 200 specific models (Pelco and third party) as well as ONVIF compatibility.

Also you can manage several PCs from a centralized workstation.

"Low cost" or customer's existing PCs probably can be used as NVRs with Pelco's DS-NVS because will record only 4 cameras. It's not the ideal project, but can be part of a migration schedule for some customers...

Well, it's a problem for anyone who wants the max resolution at high frame rates. Plus, Pelco's competitors had been offering better fps/resolution combos for years.

I see the point, but still is not a problem for me: when my preferred brand doesn't have the specific option needed, I add another brand and model that is compatible or just switch to another "backup" brand.

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