Testing Pelco's Surevision Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 09, 2012

Undoutedbly, Pelco was a leader in analog CCTV. Years ago, integrators would have likely choosen Pelco as the most respected company in the industy. Yet times have changed.

In the last decade, with a sharply shifting industry and a company in transition, Pelco's prominence in the market has clearly fallen. During that time, Pelco was acquired by international conglomerate Schneider Electric while IP camera adoption has surged. Equally troubling, Pelco's initial efforts into IP have not been especially impressive and many, including us, have been disappointed with their existing offerings.

Pelco's New Effort - SureVision

Starting in 2011, Pelco refocused its efforts on a new IP cameras technology called SureVision humbly calling it a "revolutionary approach to video security", a "new era of image quality" that "set the bar for best image quality." Specifically, Pelco claims that SureVision "combines Wide Dynamic Range along with Low Light and Anti-Bloom capabilities into one highly intelligent technology." Suffice to say, Pelco is going all out on this one.

Testing SureVision

Given the (self) hype, we decided to test SureVision against previous generation Pelco cameras and some of the best existing cameras in the industry. From Pelco, we tested the 1.2MP SureVision camera (IXE10LW) and the previous generation IXE20DN. We tested them against leading performers from Axis, Bosch and Sony.

We tested 3 primary scenarios:

  • Low Light - at ~0.2 lux, we compared details captured and overall brightness of the 3 Bosch cameras against 6 competitor's cameras
  • Wide FoV Daytime - at ~80 foot wide FoV, we compared details captured of all cameras
  • WDR - in a loading dock facing the sun, we compared details captured of all cameras at both a narrow darker area and a wider brighter area

Our test results show that SureVision is a big step forward from Pelco's historical efforts and is competitive in many areas yet still suffers from notable usability and artifacting issues. We dig into the images, video and analysis inside.

Key Findings

Here are our key findings from the Pelco Sarix test:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • The Surevision's combination of strong WDR and low light performance was competitively impressive and rare.
  • The Surevision outperformed the non Surevision (IXE20DN) model in nearly every meaningful dimension (including cost).
  • The Surevision was the brightness megapixel camera we have tested at night yet it also displayed an extraordinary amount of visible noise. This noise level cannot be reduced as no user controls over gain levels are provided.
  • The Surevision demonstrates some abnormal image artifacting especially with sudden changes in lights or wide contrasts in lighting at night.
  • The Pelco Sarix cameras have a number of usability issues that might be problematic or ignorable depending on user preference.
  • The bitrate of the Pelco Sarix cameras hardly varied from the set target bit rate and acts essentially as a CBR only stream. 'True' VBR is not available.

Recommendations

The Pelco SureVision 1.2MP camera should be considered among the top tier of megapixel cameras. With a fairly reasonable price point (~$750 w/o lens) and strong WDR plus low light performance, it is a strong all around performer. However, given the potential image artificating, usability concerns and streaming limitations, some users may find issues in using this camera.

However, for those choosing Pelco, we strongly recommend the Surevision 1.2MP camera over the previous generation IXE series. In our head to head shootout of the Surevision 1.2MP camera with the 2MP IXE version, the Surevision had significantly better overall imaging performance and only slightly worse at very wide FoV (where the adidtional resolution would most likely create an advantage). Moreover, the Surevision 1.2MP is actually less expensive than the 2MP IXE model by $100-$200.

Usability and Configuration

We saw a number of potential usability problems in the configuration and use of the Sarix cameras. Here they are:

  • Accessing video via the web interface requires separate installation of QuickTime and/or the Pelco Media Player. This can cause delays and problems in displaying live video. This is significantly more cumbersome than even the common requirements of installing ActiveX controls (which are not available for Sarix).
  • The cameras refocuses quite frequently and the sound it makes when refocusing is quite loud. Watch and listen to the video to see for yourself.
  • The cameras do not offer manual gain control optimization. This can be an issue for advanced users who want to turn off or limit the gain level (e.g., no higher than 12dB, etc.) to reduce noise generated. Given the camera generates a lot of visible image noise, this should be kept in mind.
  • No integrated help is available on the web interface. One needs to manually access the camera's user manuals to get information on commands / setting options.

The video shows these elements in action. I strongly recommend you watch to better appreciate:

Pelco vs Pelco: Surevision vs IXE20DN Camera

Our first image comparison is between the two Pelco cameras tested. Pretty much, you can see in each comparison that the Surevision 1.2MP delivers superior image quality to the IXE 2MP:

The last image comparison in the bottom demonstrates a weird issue with the IXE model we saw continuously. When faced with even moderately bright direct lighting, the IXE tended to be oversaturated.

Low Light Performance

In the first of the group comparison, we show a full screen view in low light conditions:

The main thing that strikes us is how bright the Surevision camera was. It is brighter than the Bosch SD camera in some sections of the image.

However, the advantages are not as significant when we digitally zoom into the subject's faces:

When looking up close, the increased digital noise of the Surevision camera obstructs viewing facial details, allowing the Bosch SD and 1080p to deliver slightly more details. That noted, the Surevision still captured more details than any of the other megapixel cameras.

Wide FoV / Long Range Performance

In this scene, we had a subject 80 feet away from the camera at an ~80 foot wide FoV:

This is the one scene where the Pelco IXE 2MP is slightly better than the Surevision. However, both the Pelcos are in line with the performance of the 720p cameras in the group but behind that of the 1080p Bosch and the 3MP Sony.

WDR Performance

Here we have a WDR scene in a narrow field of view / dark region:

The Surevision does quite well with only the Sony CH140, the 'winner' of our previous WDR shootout in the same performance level.

Here we have our subject move farther back in a brighter region at a wider FoV delivering similar performance as the first scene:

Image Quality Artifacts

In the final section of this report, we look at some image quality artifacts that we have seen periodically with the Surevision camera. The patten we saw is that the artifacts are most significant when dealing with bright light sources (like lamps or headlights) or when lighting levels change rapidly.

The images below show some examples of outdoor night image quality.

In the first row, notice how street lights strangely turn blue and the road turns reddish/pinkish. We believe the road color is due to blurring of cars taillights. In the black and white image in the first row, you can see how the rendering of the street lights creates an artificial looking scene.

The last row is likely the most representative of an outdoor shot. Here we avoided street lights and had an angle of incident that did not allow vehicle headlights to shine into the camera directly. While you see some artificating on the sign and the headlights, overall it's quite modest.

Here is a video that shows some of the issues we saw in action. This is worst case scenario and represents an uncommon camera setup with the camera directed straight on to oncoming traffic. This does capture some potential issues to be aware of:

1 report cite this report:

Pelco Sarix SureVision Examined on Sep 19, 2011
In this note, we examine Pelco's announcement of SureVision - examining how the feature set compares to existing Pelco Sarix cameras and how it...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
2019 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Jan 07, 2019
Each year, IPVM summarizes the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and...
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...
Axis Tailgate Detection Tested on Jan 04, 2019
Axis is aiming to tackle tailgating, one of access control's biggest issues, with the Tailgating Detector ACAP application. This camera app claims...
Camera Course January 2019 on Jan 03, 2019
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
8MP / 4K Fixed Lens Camera Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, TVT, Uniview on Dec 17, 2018
8MP / 4K fixed lens models are now common in lower cost lines, with nearly every Chinese brand and their OEMs now offering multiple options. To...
Ubiquiti $79 Flex IP Camera Tested on Dec 07, 2018
U.S. Manufacturer Ubiquiti has released a 1080p, integrated IR IP camera, selling it directly for $79, making this one of the least expensive IP...
Hanwha L Series Lowest-Cost Camera Tested on Dec 04, 2018
Hanwha has released their lowest-priced IP camera line ever, the L series, that competes on price with low cost competitors Dahua and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Access Control Records Maintenance Guide on Jan 16, 2019
Weeding out old entries, turning off unused credentials, and updating who carries which credentials is as important as to maintaining security as...
UK Fines Security Firms For Illegal Direct Marketing on Jan 16, 2019
Two UK security firms have paid over $200,000 in fines for illegally making hundreds of thousands of calls to people registered on a government...
Access Control Cabling Tutorial on Jan 15, 2019
Access Control is only as reliable as its cables. While this aspect lacks the sexiness of other components, it remains a vital part of every...
Avigilon Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 15, 2019
Since IPVM's 2017 Avigilon favorability results, the company was acquired by Motorola and has shifted from being an aggressive startup to a more...
Gorilla Technology AI Provider, Raises $15 Million, Profiled on Jan 15, 2019
Gorilla Technology is a Taiwanese video analytics manufacturer that recently announced a $15 million investment from SBI Group, saying this...
2019 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 14, 2019
The new IP Networking Book 2019 is a 285 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security...
Arecont Costar Layoffs on Jan 14, 2019
Arecont Vision, a Costar Company, has laid off more than 10% of their workforce in a move the company described to IPVM as a result of "important...
The False SCMP Story on Hikvision NYC AI on Jan 14, 2019
In the past week, one of Asia's largest publications, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), posted an article about "Chinese [facial recognition]...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact