The Risk of Skewed IP Camera Comparisons

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 11, 2009

One of the most misleading and common problems in evaluating IP cameras is drawing comparisons to less functional alternatives. This results in the evaluator saying that the IP camera is just as good or as inexpensive as the alternative.

Take 2 examples:

IP Cube vs Analog Box

Siemens recently claimed that, "a number of reputable manufacturers have now started to supply IP cameras specifically designed for entry-level applications. These cost no more than a low-end analogue camera." From the context of the article, it is clear that Siemens is comparing IP cube cameras to analog box cameras with CS mount lenses.

Comparing cube cameras to box cameras is a bad comparison. In our testing and use, IP cube cameras almost always produce far poorer image quality than analog box cameras. Moreover, since cube cameras have fixed lenses, it is very difficult to optimize the field of view, usually resulting in compromised coverage.

That is not to say that IP cube cameras are bad. They are quite popular, especially in residential and SMB applications because of the combination of low cost and remote monitoring without a DVR. However, it's grossly misleading to compare the two. If an IP to analog "apples to apples" comparison is made, it should be IP boxed camera to analog boxed camera. IP may be "better" but it's still significantly more money.

Entry Level IP PTZ vs Speeddomes

A second example comes from the Editor of SIW who earlier this year praised Cisco's WVC200 PTZ camera, saying, "this camera is largely the same as we're seeing with the 'professional grade' cameras." This for a camera with no optical PTZ, only a 2x digital zoom, a 1/5" CMOS sensor, minimum illumination of 2 lux at F2.0 (simply horrible) and a pan range of only 134 degrees.

As those specifications show this camera is poor for a consumer class PTZ and not even close to a professional 'speeddome.'

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