Testing HD Lipstick Camera

By Derek Ward, Published Aug 15, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Miniature IP / HD cameras are a growing trend.

One of the downsides has been the addition of a 'head' or 'base' unit to do the encoding, often large or cumbersome enough to create installation challenges.

We bought a new Vivotek 'lipstick bullet (the IB8168C), shown below, to see how it performs against other compact cameras.

Here are our key findings from this test:

  • Performance in full light is on par with other low cost cameras with fairly true color fidelity and no notable issues.
  • Low light performance for the color-only IB8168 is on par or slightly worse than the Axis M3005, with increased digital noise obscuring subject details.
  • In dark, <1 lux scenes, the IB8168 produced no usable images.
  • Compact form factor, smaller in diameter and more compact than typical bullet cameras
  • Average bandwidth consumption in full light scenes, while also having the lowest bandwidth consumption of all cameras tested in low light (~2 lux) scenes.

Pricing

The color-only Vivotek IB8168 is available online for ~$170 USD. This price is much lower than other compact cameras such as the ~$275 Axis M3005. However, low cost integrated IR cameras such as the Dahua IPC-HFW3200S (~$175) and Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I (~$180) include IR at similar price points.

Recommendations

For well lit (>2 lux) indoor areas where such a form factor is a key concern, the ~$170 Vivotek IB8168 1080p camera may be a strong choice. However, if low light is a key concern, integrated IR bullets are a better choice at a similar price point.

Physical Overview

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The most notable feature of the IB8168 is its compact size, seen below compared to a Dahua integrated IR bullet, about twice the diameter.

In the video below we cover this and other notable points:

  • Compact size, about 4.5" x 1" diameter, slightly larger in diameter than a US quarter.
  • No ports other than Ethernet/PoE.
  • Smaller than typical bullet cameras.

Screencast

The web interface of the IB8168 is similar to other Vivotek models, with nothing new of note. This video reviews key settings:

Conference Room Comparisons

We compared the Vivotek IB8168 to the Axis M3005, Dahua IPC-HFW3200S and Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I. Cameras were set up to have the same FoV width.

Full Light

In full light, the IB8168 our subject is well lit, with minimal artifacts visible. 

Low Light

In a low light ~2 lux scene, the Vivotek IB8168 has the most digital noise of cameras in this test, reducing visible details in our subject's face slightly compared to other cameras. However, the chart is legible to line 6, similar to the Axis M3005 and Dahua HFW3200S.

Dark

At less than 1 lux, the IB8168 is unable to produce a usable image, as is the Axis M3005. The Dahua and Hikvision cameras benefit from their built in IR.

Office Comparisons

We set the cameras up in an open office to show the differences in FOV and resulting PPF due to the cameras' differing fixed focal length lenses. Below are the fields of view for the three bullet cameras used for testing.

As our subject comes around the corner from ~15' away from the cameras, our subject is well lit, and all cameras are able to distinguish some details of our subject, such as clothing and build.

Bandwidth

All cameras were normalized to 1080p resolution, 10 FPS, 1/30s shutter speed, using H.264, while Q levels were ~28-29.

The Vivotek IB8168 has the lowest bandwidth consumption of the cameras tested in low light, as well as the second lowest bitrate in full light, only .03 Mb/s higher than the Axis M3005 on average.

Methodology

Cameras were tested using default settings with shutter speed standardized to 1/30s max, and frame rate set to 10 with quantization ~28-29.

Firmware versions of these cameras were used for testing:

  • Axis M3005: 5.40.5.7 
  • Dahua IPC-HFW3200S: 2.420.0000.0.R
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I: 5.1.2
  • Vivotek IB8168: 0100e

ExacqVision version 6.2.7.63216 was also used to conduct our test.

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