Testing Pelco's Sarix Megapixel Cameras (IXE20DN)

By: John Honovich, Published on Dec 05, 2009

While Pelco is a leader in analog surveillance cameras, they are not even in the top 10 for 2008 global network camera sales. Pelco aims to rectify this with their Sarix family of IP cameras [link no longer available] supporting both megapixel resolution and H.264 processing.

We tested a Pelco IXE20DN [link no longer available] (firmware version 1.3.7.9081-A1.3199) using Milestone Enterprise's 6.5f software [link no longer available] with Device Pack 4.5. The test was conducted using H.264 resolution at 30fps. The test included filming indoors and outdoors during the daytime, night time and under measured low lux scenarios. We also tested at multiple bit rates to examine the impact of adjusting bandwidth consumption.

Our key findings include:

  • Day time video quality had sharp focus and fairly true to life colors
  • Low light (under 1 lux) video tended to be dark with minimal motion blur and low visible noise (using default settings)
  • Integration of Sarix and Milestone was unstable, suffering from various problems
  • Limitation of supporting 3rd party VMS systems can block use
  • Relatively high H.264 bandwidth consumption with 3rd party systems should be considered
Compare to our other megapixel camera tests including: Axis Q1755, Arecont Vision 3105, Basler's 1.3/2MP cameras, Sanyo VCC-HD4000Stardot SD500BN, and Vivotek IP7161.

Product Overview

The Sarix IX line of 'box cameras' support the following key features:

  • H.264 encoding, 1080p resolution at 30fps (prior to the current firmware version, the maximum frame rate was 15fps for 1080p)
  • Auto-focus capability triggered by physical button on side of camera and through web interface
  • Support for baseline, main and high profile H.264 encoding (with baseline being the least bit rate efficient and high being the most - see overview [link no longer available]). Use of these profiles depends on VMS support.
  • Defaults: Maximum exposure setting of 1/30s during the day and 1/8.3s during the night.
  • CBR only streaming (no VBR) with default bit rate of 6.5Mb/s for H.264 baseline, 30fps, 1080p
  • Note: The lens is sold separately from the camera. For this test, we used the Pelco 13M  2.8-8mm Auto-iris lens [link no longer available].
  • The IXE20 series offers multiple models supporting both ObjectVideo's analytics and Pelco's own analytics.
For full details, review the product datasheet [link no longer available] and the installation/operation manual [link no longer available].

Pricing

The IXE20DN, the 2 Megapixel Day/night version with no analytics is available on-line for about $1200 USD. The Pelco 13M 2.8-8mm lens is available on-line for approximately $130 USD.

Image Quality

Below is our screencast commenting and showing Sarix's image quality.  More importantly, is a ZIP package of video clips for you to review yourself.

Download the package of Sarix test video clips and image snapshots [link no longer available] (266 MB total).

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

In general, we though the video quality was solid both day and night. What stood out was that night time performance was achieved using the defaults. By contrast, some cameras were quite poor in low light (like Sanyo) or defaulted to an unrealistic 1 second exposure time (like Basler) which transformed moving objects into 'ghosts'.

Watch the screencast examining video quality:

Physical Setup

From a physical perspective, the camera offers a modest number of features including auto-focus, service jack for analog video/servicing and an SD card slot. Note: the auto-focus on the camera only performs a 'quick focus'. The 'full focus' functionality, important for cameras that are significantly out of focus must be performed from the web interface.

The screencast below overviews the physical elements of the Sarix IX camera:

Software Configuration

The screencast below describes the general software configuration process:

The key software challenge we had was integrating the Sarix camera with Milestone's VMS software [Note: We did not test this with Pelco's NVR/VMS systems. 3rd party VMS support is limited currently with Genetec being the only other option recommended by Pelco].

We spent over 8 hours troubleshooting this with multiple phone calls to both Pelco and Milestone technical support. They were unable to resolve.

We were able to establish a fully functional connection for multiple times during the two week testing period. However, periodically, video stopped displaying. [This happened with the VMS running on multiple machines and with the Sarix camera reset to factory defaults].

One issue we suspect is impacting integration and video display is Sarix's current requirement to use an old version of Quicktime (7.5.5). According to Pelco, Quicktime's most recent release caused problems with video decoding. For instance, when we first started our test, we could not see any H.264 video until we 'rolled back' our Quicktime version. Quicktime, by default, automatically attempts to upgrade to the most recent version. This may have been a factor.

Bandwidth Consumption

Bandwidth consumption is a key consideration for the use of Sarix's cameras. While Sarix supports multiple H.264 CODEC profiles (baseline, main, high), Milestone only supports baseline for Sarix cameras (which is similar to the profile used in other H.264 cameras). Significant bandwidth savings may be possible by using main or high profiles. However, these may only be available through Pelco's own VMS systems.

A key practical matter is selecting the target bit rate for the CBR stream. When configuring using the web browser, Pelco offers a range of acceptable bit rates. For H.264, 30fps, baseline encoding, the lowest rate in the range is 2.488 Mb/s and 6.5 Mb/s was the default.

Pelco does not support a quality scale that allows you to adjust encoding quality. In our tests, we found that setting lower bit rates acted as modest quality scale but nowhere near as extreme as we thought would occur.

We tested at both 2.5 Mb/s and 6.5 Mb/s to examine variance in image quality. At 2.5Mb/s , most of the videos were as clear and fluid as the 6.5 Mb/s videos. There were a few exceptions: (1) the daytime indoor video at 6.5Mb/s showed slightly more details than the 2.5Mb/s. (2) A few of the low light/night time videos, though set at 2.5Mb/s, streamed at closer to 5Mb/s.

I recommend that integrators carefully consider the bit rate to use.  It is likely that the bit rate can be set significantly lower than the defaults, resulting in much lower bandwidth consumption.

Camera Comparison

Contrasting the Sarix to Axis' Q1755 and the Arecont Vision AV2105 can illuminate tradeoffs. While there are many H.264 megapixel cameras, these 2 represent relative highs and lows for on--line pricing with the the Q1755 at about $1400 (lens included) and the AV2105DN at about $650 (without lens). With lens, the AV2105 will be about $750-$800 and the Sarix IXE20DN will be about $1350.

Contrasting Axis Q1755 and Sarix IXE20DN

Prices are similar. However, Axis has much broader 3rd party support and a built-in 10x optical zoom that not only provides auto-focusing but simple adjustment of the FoV. Axis supports VBR with much more bandwidth consumption during the day and similar consumption during the night.

Contrasting AV2105DN and Sarix IXE20DN

Pelco is $500-$600 more expensive than Arecont. Pelco does provide a setup jack and auto-focusing providing easier setup and potentially sharper video over the long term than the Arecont Vision. On the other hand, Arecont's H.264 cameras have much broader 3rd party support than Pelco's. Arecont supports VBR which provides much lower daytime/low motion bandwidth consumption but much higher consumption for low light and night time.

Image Quality Comparisons

While we have tested each camera individually, we have not tested them at the same time in the same scenes. As such, while image quality is key, we cannot offer an educated opinion at this time.

5 reports cite this report:

Pelco - A Decade of Decline on May 16, 2016
Pelco's 2007 acquisition for $1.5 billion USD remains one of the largest video surveillance deals ever, even including the industry's recent wave...
Pelco's Sarix Competitive Price/Positioning Examined on Sep 07, 2011
Pelco entered the megapixel market moderately late and with a relatively limited lineup. Now, with the release of their WDR / low light optimized...
Megapixel Camera Comparison 2010 on Feb 22, 2010
Megapixel cameras are clearly 'hot' - the fastest growing segment in the industry for multiple years now. Which should you use? What makes one...
Top 5 Reasons Analog Cameras are Easier to Install than IP on Jan 15, 2010
While IP has many advantages over analog, ease of installation is not one of them. IP cameras are far harder to install even if the installer has...
Examining Pelco Sarix Megapixel Cameras on Mar 03, 2009
While Pelco is the largest analog camera supplier, its existing IP offering have been limited and sales modest. In an effort to close that...

Related Reports

Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Glossary / Acronyms for Video Surveillance on Feb 10, 2020
This directory provides definitions and explanations for over 70 common video surveillance industry terms, including links to related IPVM...
Bandwidth Fundamentals For Video Surveillance on Jan 13, 2020
Bandwidth is the most fundamental element of computer networking for video surveillance systems. Because video surveillance can consume an immense...
False Verkada 'Unrivaled' Low Light Performance Claim Removed on Jun 12, 2019
Verkada falsely claimed that it delivered 'UNRIVALED LOW LIGHT PERFORMANCE' until IPVM questioned. In fact, Verkada's low light performance is...
Smart CODEC Usage Statistics 2019 on Jun 03, 2019
Smart codecs are now nearly a standard feature in IP cameras, but our statistics show integrator adoption has not increased at the same rate. In...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on May 02, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...
H.265 Usage Statistics on Apr 19, 2019
H.265 has been available in IP cameras for more than 5 years and, in the past few years, the number of manufacturers supporting this codec has...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Proxy Presents Mobile Credentials For BLE Devices and Access on May 29, 2020
Proxy presented Mobile Credentials For BLE Devices and Access at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...
ISC West 2020 Moves To The Basement on May 29, 2020
The twice cancelled/postponed show will now not only be held in a different month (October) but on a different floor, moving down to the...
Integrators Avoiding Coronavirus Air Travel on May 29, 2020
IPVM asked integrators if air travel is part of their 2020 plans to see how significantly Coronavirus will impact future...
Viakoo Presents Cyber Hygiene for Cameras on May 28, 2020
Viakoo presented its 'Cyber Hygiene' and 'Service Assurance' products at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A...
Seek Scan Thermal Temperature Screening System ReTested on May 28, 2020
Now that IPVM has tested Dahua, Hikvision, and Sunell, we are returning to Seek, the first blackbody system we tested and retested it with our...
Directory of 110 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on May 28, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers to help you see and research what options are available. There are...
Fever Cameras Are Medical Devices, Per The FDA, Dahua, Feevr, Hikvision, InVid Contrary Claims Are False on May 28, 2020
Fever cameras are medical devices, despite what euphemisms various sellers use. The US FDA clearly categorizes them as medical devices and...
Wyze Raises $10 Million And Seeks Services Expansion on May 27, 2020
Wyze has raised $10 million, the company's first disclosed raise since the $20 million announced at the beginning of 2019. Inside this note,...
"Fever Camera" Show June 2020 Next Tuesday on May 27, 2020
IPVM is excited for the world's first "Fever Camera" show, to be held next Tuesday June 2nd and Wednesday the 3rd from 11am to 3pm EDT, giving you...
Startup Videoloft Presents Cloud Storage on May 27, 2020
Videoloft presented offsite cloud storage at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Videoloft including IPVM...