Testing $29 ONVIF IR IP Chinese Camera

By Ethan Ace, Published Jan 08, 2014, 12:00am EST

The #1 IP camera problem is cost, as unique IPVM survey results show. Rectifying that is critical.

Last month, we received a (spam) email offering IP cameras, with integrated IR and ONVIF support for $29.90 from Wodsee [link no longer available].

We get hundreds of Chinese manufacturer spam emails monthly but this was, by far, the lowest price we have ever seen for IP cameras. Too good to be true? Perhaps, but too cheap to not try.

Wodsee immediately upsold us to the PoE version for $10 more but still at less than $40 for such a camera, it was hard to pass up so we bought 2 of them - the 720p version for $39.90 and the 1.2MP one for $49.90. Add in $33 to ship it directly from China and a week later, we had them.

Here's what they look like in our test setup (from left to right, Dahua, Wodsee 1.2MP, Wodsee 720p and Hikvision):

The cameras worked, not perfectly, but far better than we expect for being so cheap.

Here are specific key findings from the test:

  • Image quality in full light and dark with IR on comparable to low cost IR cameras from Hikvision and Dahua, with no notable issues.
  • Effective IR range of about 15m ("20-30m" is claimed on specifications), with significant hotspotting in the center of the image.
  • IR power does not automatically adjust to compensate for subjects in the scene. However, autoexposure is adjusted, preventing subjects from being washed out at close range.
  • While the camera offered a clean, simple web interface, it lacked many professional settings. Users may only selection resolution, framerate, VBR or CBR, and I-frame interval. No compression adjustments are available.
  • ONVIF integration only worked on half the VMSes we tried. While the cameras are functional when connected to Milestone XProtect and Video Insight, neither Exacq nor Genetec coulc. Further, neither camera is listed on the ONVIF conformance page. RTSP streaming is also available.
  • Bandwidth consumption lower than other low cost cameras in full light, and similar in low light with IR on. Compression was lower than average (good), about 24 on the quantization scale in full light and 26 in low light.

Technical Support

Users should not expect much, if any, technical assistance from Wodsee. We contacted Wodsee's technical support in two ways, via email and via phone. We have yet to receive a response to our phone call. By email, we asked for support in adding the cameras via ONVIF to a VMS. Instead, strangely, we received instructions on how to manually forward ports for remote access. 

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Pricing

Wodsee cameras may be purchased directly from the manufacturer. They have no distribution or online sales. Pricing is as follows:

  • WIP100 [link no longer available]: $39.90 USD
  • WIP130 [link no longer available]: $49.90
  • Dahua IPC-HD2100N [link no longer available]: $142.00 online [link no longer available]
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I [link no longer available]: ~$260 online

Recommendations

Considering their pricing, a fraction of even low cost competitors, Wodsee's cameras may be attractive to many users, especially considering their acceptable image quality and if they can be made to integrate with one's VMS.

Obviously, though they remain a risk, with minimal support and track record. If you really care about super low price, we think it is worth trying out but be careful in assessing long term risks and costs of using them. 

Physical Overview

This video covers the physical construction of the camera. Users should note two key issues:

  • The camera's Ethernet/PoE connector is exceptionally large, and may be challenging to hide during installation.
  • There are no ports or connectors other than PoE and 12VDC power, such as audio, I/O, etc.

Teardown

Below is a teardown of the camera, performed after the IR cut filter got stuck after about a month of operation:

This image shows the effects of the filter being stuck:

Configuration/Integration

This screencast reviews the web interface of the Wodsee cameras. The web interface is simple, with few configuration options:

  • No CODEC settings are available aside from resolution, framerate, and CBR/VBR options. No compression options are provided. 
  • Some settings, such as WDR and time sync options, simply did nothing.

This screencast reviews the cameras' ONVIF conformance and integration with third party VMSs. The manufacturer claims ONVIF conformance, and ONVIF Device Manager reports it has implemented version 2.0, but it is not listed by ONVIF. Integration to VMSs is buggy. The camera can be added to both Video Insight and Milestone, while attempting to add it to Exacq or Genetec results in continuous reboots of the camera and no streaming video. RTSP streaming worked fine in all VMSs.

Image Comparisons

In full light, with a HFOV of ~24' (~53 PPF), both Wodsee cameras perform comparably to low cost IR models from Dahua and Hikvision, with no notable issues. Colors are displayed differently on each of the Wodsee cameras, with the WIP130 warmer with slightly truer color.

 

In low light, with IR on, the Wodsee cameras again perform similarly to Dahua and Hikvision. In this case, the WIP130 is slightly clearer, with lines on the chart easier to read, though the bottom lines become washed out around line 7.

IR Performance

Specified IR range on both Wodsee cameras was listed as "20-30m." We found ~15m to be the actual effective range:

Illumination was weak at 20m, with the subject much more difficult to spot:

Finally, illumination was practically nonexistent at 30m:

IR Pattern

Both Wodsee cameras' IR patterns were much stronger in the center than at the edges of the FOV, as seen in this comparison. 

However, subjects at close range were not washed out. This due to exposure adjustment, not a weakening of IR power, as seen in the video below. While it is positive that subjects at close range are not overexposed, the background of the image is lost when exposure is adjusted, obscuring activity or subjects there.

Bandwidth

Both Wodsee cameras' bandwidth was lower in full light than both Dahua and Hikvision. The WIP100 was lower than the other cameras in low light with IR on, while the 130 was approximately the same as Dahua and Hikvision. Note that there is no user control of compression in Wodsee firmware. When analyzed, both cameras averaged about 25 on the quantization scale (which is relatively low compression - industry average is 27-30, higher compression levels).

Test Parameters

Cameras were tested using default settings. These are the firmware versions used for this test: 

  • Dahua HDW2100N: 2.210.General 01.0R
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I: 5.02 build 130805
  • Wodsee WIP100-S20: 1.2.1.227383
  • Wodsee WIP130-S20: 1.2.1.227383

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