Ubiquiti Micro HD Camera Tested

By Derek Ward, Published Jul 13, 2015, 12:00am EDT

With nearly $600 million in revenue, Ubiquiti has become a major force in wireless networking and a very common one for wireless video surveillance deployments.

Back in 2011, Ubiquiti came out with the industry's first $100 HD IP camera line, which was groundbreaking at that time (see IPVM's test results).

Now, Ubiquiti has released the HD Micro camera. We bought one, shown below:

Here are key findings from our test of the Ubiquiti Video Camera Micro:

  • Low light image quality was poor compared to low-cost IR bullet cameras, with a very bright central IR hot spot and dark around the edges.
  • Full light image quality, given only 720p resolution, was modestly below 1080p competitors, plus distortion may be seen at the edges of the field of view, stretching objects horizontally.
  • Low light bandwidth consumption was very low, only ~80 Kbps, though this is likely due to the Micro's poor low-light performance, with much of the field of view dark.
  • The UVC Micro does not integrate directly with any third party VMSes via ONVIF or RTSP, only with Ubiquiti's own NVR software.
  • RTSP may be sent to third party VMSes via the NVR, though performance was unreliable.

Price/Availability

Ubiquiti's UVC Micro has only a 720p version, below the 1080p or even 3MP models commonplace in today's market.

The Ubiquiti Micro sells for ~$100 USD online. While this price point is low, users may easily find 1080p IR bullet cameras in this price range, with longer IR range and third party integration, such as the Dahua IPC-HFW1200S and Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I.

Recommendations

The only true advantage to the Ubiquiti Micro is its size, smaller than even compact bullets and minidomes, and its novel magnetic mount which allows easy installation and positioning. However, due its poor image quality, bright IR hotspot, and lack of third party VMS integration make it a poor choice generally.

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Physical Overview

The Ubiquiti Micro's most novel feature is its size and form factor, less than a third the size of typical compact bullet cameras.

The camera itself is held to the mount magnetically, with power transferred through this connection. The mount itself is magnetic, as well, or may be mounted via two screws (flat or corner). The Micro's power adapter includes a coil to hide slack cable, useful for improving installation aesthetics. However, the cable itself is very thin, only about 1/8" thick, and easily tangles.


Limited Configuration

Configuration of image quality and CODEC settings are done via the UniFi NVR, not the camera's web interface. However, these options are limited, with no control of compression settings, only a max bitrate for each stream, and basic image quality settings, with no control over shutter speed (though the camera does not suffer from slow shutter motion blur).

Unlike most cameras, the UVC Micro's web interface contains only basic settings, such as network information and user accounts/passwords:

Competitive Comparisons

We tested the Micro's image quality against compact bullets from Dahua and Hikvision in the same ~$100 USD price range. Note that, as stated above, for the price of the UVC Micro, 1080p bullets are readily available (with increased IR range and third party integration), hence our camera selections for these comparisons.

Low Light Performance

The Ubiquiti Micro's IR illuminator performance was poor, with a very bright central hotspot overexposing the subject and chart, while the edges of the image remained dark.

The practical difference is seen in the image comparisons below. The UVC Micro completely washes out the chart beyond line 3, while details of our subject are obscured.

 

Full Light, ~160 lux

In full light, image quality was similar to other cameras, though unsurprisingly less detailed due to the Micro's lower PPF compared to the 1080p bullets.

However, unlike other cameras, distortion was present at the edges of the FOV in the UBNT Micro, stretching objects such as the plants and podium below. This distortion was not seen in the center of the FOV.

VMS Integration

The UVC Micro does not directly integrate with third party VMSes, only Ubiquiti's UniFi NVR software/appliance. Those wishing to use it (or other UBNT cameras) with other VMSes may restream RTSP for one or more streams from the NVR, found in camera settings:

However, in our tests, this support was spotty, with Avigilon able to capture this stream properly, while it simply did not work in Exacq.

Bandwidth Consumption

Most notable in our bandwidth tests was the UVC Micro's low light bitrate, only ~80 Kb/s, drastically lower than other cameras tested. This is due in part to its lower 720p resolution, as well as its poor low light performance, which much of the FOV dark and unusable.

Firmware/Software Versions

The following firmware/software versions were used in this test:

  • Ubiquiti UVC-Micro: V3.1.0.36
  • Ubiquiti UniFi NVR: 3.1.1
  • Dahua IPC-HFW1200S: 2.420.0001.0.R
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I: V5.3.0

Avigilon ACC 5 version 5.4.2.22 and Exacqvision version 7.0.1.81035 were also used for testing.

 

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