Uniview Starlight Camera Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Apr 28, 2015, 12:00am EDT

The company claims $263 million in 2013 revenue and to be the third largest Chinese surveillance manufacturer (after Hikvision and Dahua).

Despite being owned by American investment firm Bain Capital and spending hundreds of thousands on an ISC West 2014 booth, Uniview [link no longer available] is not well known internationally.

However, given their size and the strong interest IPVM members have in Chinese cameras, we decided to test a Uniview camera.

We tested their high-end 1080p box camera, IPC542E-DU [link no longer available], claiming both super low light and true multi-exposure WDR performance. The camera has a 1/1.9" imager which is one of the largest we have seen in 1080p cameras. Despite these features, the pricing was extremely low.

Competitors tested against the Uniview included high-end models from:

Below is a preview of our WDR test showing how each camera did in the outside / bright area vs the inside / dark area:

In this report, to determine how Uniview matches up against major competitors, we answer these questions:

  • How does the IPC542 perform in low light and WDR scenes?
  • How well does it integrate with VMS platforms?
  • How does bandwidth consumption compare?
  • What sales and support channel exists?

Key ********

**** *** *** *** findings **** **** ****:

  • ****** *** ***** ***********, one ** *** **** non-IR *** ***** ****** tested.
  • ********* *** ***********, **** among *** ******* ** this ****, ********** ** dark ***** ** *** scene, ***** *** *******-** produced **** ******* ** the *******, *****, *** surroundings **** ***** *******.
  • *** ********* *********** ******** to ***** ***** *** light/WDR *******, ***** **** all ***** ***-** ******* in *** ***** *** dark.
  • *********** *** *********** *** ONVIF ******* *, **** some ***** (*******, *****) working ****, *** ****** connecting *** *** ********* (Avigilon, *********).
  • **** ********* ****** ** all ***** ******* *****.
  • ****** ***** ****, ********* back ***** **********, **** no ********* *******.

*******

*** *******-** *** ** estimated ****** ***** ** ~$500 *** (*** ********* lens) ***** ** ****** cost *** ******** *******.

[******: **********, ** ****** the ********* ****** ***** as ~$*** ***** ** the ****** ***** **** originally **** **. *******, they *** **** *** the ****** ****** **** for *** ***** ***** be ******, ** ** are *** ********** ~$***.]

**** ** ************* **** expensive **** */*" ****** super *** ***** ****** from *********** **** ** the**** *****(~$**** ******) ******* ********(~$****), *** **** ******** less **** ***** ***********' 1/3" *** ***** ******.

Channel / ************

******* ******* *** *********** on ************ ** **** are ***** ** *** process ** ******** ***** channel.

**** ******* *** ** North ******** ***** ***** or ******* *****, ** those *********** **** ****** account *** **** *********** and ****** ** ******* versus ************* **** ***** operations.

*********

***** *** *** ***** and ****** *********** ** low ***** *** *** scenes, ***** **** *** bitrates, *** ******* *******-** is * ****** ********* against *** ****** **** big **** *************.

**** ***** ****, *******'* lack ** * ***** American ***** *** ******* structure ****** ***** ********* for ********, ** **** integrators *** *** ***** may ** ****** *** by ***** ******.

Physical ********

*** *******-** ** ****** unremarkable ** *** ******* go, **** *** ******** array ** ***** ** the ****: ********, */*, audio, ** *******, ***. Note **** *** ****** includes * ****** **** focus **********, *** ** option *** ****** ***** through *** *** *********.

****** **** **********

**** ********** ***** *** difference ** **** ******* the ******* */*.*" ***** sensor *** * ******* 1/3" ****** **** ** competitors:

*************

*** ******* *** ********* was ****** ** ***, with ******** ********* **** out ** ******** *****. Most ************* ******* *** found ** *** ***** (exposure, ***** ***********, ***, etc.) *** ***** (***** settings) ****.

VMS *************

*** ****** ** ***** Profile * *********, ****** uses ***-******** **** ** to *******. ***** **** port, *** ****** ********* and ******** *** ***** to ***** *** ******* without *** ******, ****** no ******** ******** **** as ***, *****, */* worked. *** ****** ***** to **** ******** *** Milestone ********, *** ** video ********.

**** ********* ****** ******* any ****** ** *** platforms.

Image ***********

** ***** ****** *** Uniview ****** ******* *********** from ****, *****, *********, and ******* ** **** interior ********** **** ***** of ****, **** ~*** lux **** ** *.**.

**** *****

** **** *****, *** IPC542 ****** ******* *** subject, **** ** ******.

****

** *** ****, *** Uniview ****** ** ***** the **** ***-** ******* tested, ******** ****** *** Samsung ***-****, ****** ****** than *** **** ***** and ***** ***-****. *** chart ** ******* ** line */*, ****** ******* details *** ********.

**** *******

****, ** ****** *** performance ** **** ********* scene, ******* ****** ******* backlight ******* ** **** overhead ****, *** ** the **** **** **** to *** ****.

** **** *****, *** IPC542E *** *** **** performer, **** ***** ********** of *** ******* *** chart ******* ****** *********, and ************* ******, ******** images ** *** **** area ****** *** ****, with ******* ******* ******* visible.

*********

*** *******-** *** **** of *** ****** ******** seen ** **** *****, and *** ****** ** any ***-** ****** ** this **** ** *** light (~*.***) *** **** (~0.01lx), **** ** *** chart *****. ***** ************ were ***** ***** *.***, 10 ***, **** ************ standardized ** ~**.

Firmware ******* ****

*** ********* ******** ******** were **** ** **** test:

  • ******* *******-**: ****
  • **** *****: *.**.*
  • ***** ***-****: *.**.****
  • ********* **-**********: *.*.*
  • ******* ***-****: *.**

***** *** ******** **** used *** *******:

  • ******** ******* ****** *.*.*.**
  • *********** *.*.*.*****
  • ********* ******** ********* **** 9.0c
  • ******* *.* ***

Comments (15)

Thank you for a great review.

As I wrote before we had a very bad experiance with UniView.

The cameras are OK but the service is horrible.

We still have 2 samples and 1 NVR that we do not have much to do with.
I know how I sound and I rarly write warning to other people but, there is such a big difference between the company products and the company behaviour that I feel I should warn IPVM readers.

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Itamar, thanks for the feedback.

As we mentioned in the post, at least in North America, Uniview definitely lacks the support infrastructure that many/most have come to rightfully expect (local sales, local tech support, local inventory, etc.).

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Hi Ethan, thank you for your very interesting report. The performance of this camera looks great regardless of price.

I note that the rest of Uniview's 1080p cameras use imagers with a size of 1/2.8" or 1/3". Why do you think Uniview only have the one model of camera with the 1/1.9" image sensor? Did you get one of their other "true WDR, low light" camera models (with the 1/2.8" or 1/3" imager) to compare their performance? Thank you!

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We just got one box camera, as we were not even sure going in if they were any good at all (given their limited track record outside of China). We will see if they expand their sales/support and if so, will consider future tests.

Why do we think Uniview only has one model with 1/1.9"? Why do you think they should have multiple models? Across the board, most manufacturers have few, if any, very large size imager 1080p models.

Btw, we are going to test a Uniview Laser IR PTZ next month, since they claim 500m IR range.

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Why do you think they should have multiple models?

Sorry if I was unclear. I wasn't suggesting that they should have multiple models. I was simply wondering why they had a very large size imager 1080p model and how it performed compared with their other models with traditional size imagers.

Btw, we are going to test a Uniview Laser IR PTZ next month, since they claim 500m IR range.

Fantastic! I was just about to ask you for that so thanks very much. I was previously only aware of Dahua advertizing the Laser IR technique but Uniview already seem to have it. Are you aware of other manufacturers using Laser IR? I haven't noticed them yet.

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I have not studied the market for laser IRs, but from what I can tell, in the past there only used to be a handful of expensive niche brands offering laser IR and now it seems the Chinese manufacturers are starting to roll their own, much lower cost versions out.

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Any news on the laser IR PTZ test yet?

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Thanks John. I'll be fascinated to see if the PTZ cameras can keep focus on distant people as they move closer and further from the camera. Given the quoted 500m range, the IPVM test crew are going to get their exercise compared with walk-testing cameras with a mere 100m IR range!

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We (Hikvision) have a few options at 1080p. The DarkFighter DS-2CD6026FWD-A would be a better option to compare as it has a 1/2" sensor vs the 1/3" of the 4132FWD.

You can also disable the IR in the 4132 to do a non-IR comparision.

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Thanks, Bob. That camera is going to be part of an upcoming test, so we'll update things accordingly then. We didn't disable IR in this test, as we don't in others, simply because a lot of competitive models are coming with IR at prices at or near non-IR cameras.

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One question that the video under "Configuration" seems wrong, the video content is hardware but not configuration.

Per my understanding, this kind of camera are named " star light" which probably used IMX185 Image sensors, there are handful vendors to provide this kind of products now includes Tiandy(http://en.tiandy.com/index.php/Product/show/pid/146) , Dahua, Uniview and Hikvision. Maybe if you are interested, you can purchase those 3 cameras to compare as all of them has starlight series.

Tiandy is probably the top 5 in China, We are selling Tiandy's product in China before, but Tiany now hope to put more resource on oversea market too.If you are interested in it, I can apply a sample from Tiandy for you in your next test for starlight. ^^

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One question that the video under "Configuration" seems wrong, the video content is hardware but not configuration.

I am confused. Here is that section. The video is clearly on configuration and goes through the web interface. Copied below.

Configuration

The Uniview web interface was simple to use, with settings logically laid out in multiple menus. Most configuration options are found on the Image (exposure, image adjustments, WDR, etc.) and Video (CODEC settings) tabs.

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OK, maybe it is because my computer issue, now is ok for the video clip. Thanks John.

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Following the positive test review of the Uniview camera with the 1/1.9" imager, today I received an email from Dahua announcing three "Starlight WDR" models of 2MP cameras with a 1/1.9" imager. I wonder if 2MP cameras with 1/1.9" imagers are the next big thing from Chinese camera manufacturers? If so, it will be interesting to see what impact the new models will have on the traditional high end camera models with super low light performance and WDR.

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Luke, thanks for sharing!

I wonder if they are all using the same sensor :)

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