Testing Varifocal Minidome (IQeye)

By Derek Ward, Published Jul 02, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Minidomes are increasing in popularity, as IPVM statistics show. However, the most common objection to using minidomes is the lack of varifocal lenses.

In this report, we tested the IQinVision Alliance-Mini, specifically the IQD52WV-B7 that integrates a varifocal lens.

 

Here are our key findings:

  • The IQD52WV-B7's varifocal lens is uncommon for compact minidomes. However, zooming and focusing the lens can be difficult, given the small size.
  • In full light, artifacts are noticeable, leading to reduced image quality compared to other competitive cameras.
  • In low light with WDR off, image quality is above average compared to other tested models due to the IR cut filter, while other cameras typically use electronic day and night.
  • WDR does not switch off in night mode, greatly reducing details in low light. This feature is currently in beta firmware testing for public release soon, according to IQinVision.
  • Better performance in WDR scenes than other tested cameras with better details of both subject and test chart.
  • Due to the larger varifcoal lens, size is moderately larger than competitive compact minidomes, though substantially smaller than full size domes.
  • Range Limitations: The IQinVision's 3-6mm range is narrower than typical full sized domes that generally have a 3x range from~3mm to ~9mm. Those that what a narrower FoV may not find the lens long enough.

Price

The IQinVision IQD52WV-B7 is more expensive than most compact minidomes, selling online for ~$500 USD online. For example, compare to the Axis M3005 (~$350 Online) and Bosch Flexidome Micro 5000 (~$360 Onlne). However, few competitive minidomes include features such as the varifocal lens, movable IR cut filter, and true WDR, included in the IQD52WV. 

Compared to full size domes such as the Axis P3354 (~$540 Online), Samsung SND-6084 [link no longer available] (~$480 Online) and Hikvision DS-2CD755F-EZ [link no longer available] (~$520 Online), the IQD52WV's ~$500 price is average.

Recommendations

Few minidomes offer the combination of features (varifocal lens, true WDR, true day/night) found in the IQD52WV, and users seeking these options in a compact form factor may find it a good fit. Also, with WDR off, its low light performance was some of the best of 1080p minidomes tested.

However, it is expensive compared to most compact minidomes, making it less cost effective for everyday use where these features are not required. Additionally, increased artifacting in full light scenes compared to other cameras may be an issue.

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Physical Overview

The video below reviews the physical construction of the IQD52W-B7, including:

  • 3-6 mm varifocal lens, and the possible difficulty zooming and focusing lens.
  • SD card slot becomes obstructed when an ethernet cable is plugged into the camera.

Mentioned in our physical overview video, the IQD52WV is comparatively larger in size than standard minidomes, but noticeably smaller than full sized domes, as seen in this comparison to two common Axis options:

Configuration

In this video we review the web interface and configuration of the IQD52W

Image Comparisons

We compared the IQEye IQD52W-B7 to the Axis M3005, Bosch Flexidome Micro 5000, and Canon VB-S800D. Cameras were staggered to compensate for differences in FOV. 

Full Light

In full light, the IQD52W has a grainy image, with artifacts present in our subject's face and test chart.

Low Light

In low light (~2 lux), we can see more details on our subject's face than on either the Axis M3005 or Bosch Flexidome, such as his eyes and hair style. However, the IQD52W is unable to distinguish past line 3 of our test chart, whereas line 4 in the M3005 and Canon VB-S800D is legible.

Dark

At less than 1 lux, the IQD52W is unable to produce a usable image. Only the Canon VB-S800D is able to detect our subject and chart.

WDR

For our WDR scene, cameras were shot against an exit door. The IQD52W outperforms the 3 other tested cameras, and allows us to see our subject, chart, and the background clearly, due to its true WDR capability.

Anti-Banding vs. Standard WDR Modes

We found that the IDQ52WV's standard WDR mode (simply "enabled") resulted in increased artifacting and discoloration in our test scenes compared to their other WDR setting, named "anti-banding." We saw no disadvantage to using anti-banding vs. standard WDR in any scene and recommend it be used.

WDR Low Light Impact

WDR is turned on by default in the IQD52W with no way to switch it off in night mode. With WDR on, increased noise and artifacting is present throughout the image, obscuring details of our subject. With WDR off, we can clearly see our subject and lines 1-3 on our test chart.

Bandwidth

Normalizing all cameras to 1080p resolution, 10 FPS, 1/30s shutter speed, using H.264, the IQEye IQD52W-B7 with WDR Off has the lowest full light and low light bandwidth of all cameras tested. Q levels were ~27 to ~29 for all cameras.

Methodology

Cameras were tested using these firmware versions:

  • Axis M3005: 5.40.5.7
  • Bosch Flexidome Micro 5000: 5.90.0126
  • Canon VB-S800D: 1.1.0
  • IQEye IQD52W-B7: V4.0/092

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