Many manufacturers have released new generation 5MP / 6MP cameras that tout super low light, WDR and other features historically typical in 1080p but not 5MP / 6MP. In our recent series of tests we tested four of these models from major manufacturers against their own comparable 1080p version:

Now, in this shootout, we put them head to head and report on how they compare. Inside we report on:

  • IR performance
  • Color low light performance
  • WDR performance
  • Full light image quality
  • Price comparison
  • Physical comparison
  • Advanced features

Summary

Based on our tests, there are three key takeaways from this shootout:

  • The Axis Q3517 performed best in all scenes tested, included more advanced features than others, and consumed less bandwidth, but was most expensive by several hundred dollars
  • The Hanwha XNV-8080R was solid, but lower performing than Axis in low light and WDR, but at a much more reasonable price.
  • The Dahua N52BM3Z performed poorly in low light, with the shortest specified and actual IR range, but performed well in WDR scenes tested, and was drastically less expensive than other models tested.
  • Finally, the Hikvision 4565 performed only slightly better than the Dahua camera in low light (IR and color mode) and performed worst in both WDR scenes due to its lack of true WDR (found in other cameras tested)..

Note that resolution varied in cameras tested, with manufacturers adopting different 5-6MP resolutions in their corresponding models:

  • Axis Q3517-LVE: 5MP 16:9, 3072x1728
  • Dahua N52BM3Z: 5MP 4:3, 2592x1944
  • Hanwha XNV-8080R: 5MP 4:3, 2592x1944
  • Hikvision DS-2CD4565F-IZH: 6MP (3:2), 3072x2048

Horizontal field of view width was matched for testing, to show differences in performance across the same field of view, including differing PPF due to these imager differences.

Vs. Avigilon, Bosch

Note that Avigilon's H4 series 5MP and Bosch's 5MP starlight were not included in this test, as both are 2-3 years old as of this test. We will test any new generation 5MP models claiming improved low light, WDR, or IR performance as they are released.

Price Comparison

Pricing of cameras in this test varied widely, from a high of ~$1,200 USD (Axis Q3517-LVE) to a low of ~$300 (Dahua N52BM3Z). However, Dahua and Hikvision lacked advanced features found in the Axis and Hanwha cameras, such as digital image stabilization, leveling assist, shock detection, or audio analytics, and the Hikvision 4565 included only digital WDR.

IR Performance and Range

In low light with IR on (~0.12lx and below), the Axis Q3517-LVE provides much better detail than any other camera in this test, with clearer subject details and text and an overall brighter image. The Hanwha XNV-8080R provides some usable facial details of the subject and legibility near that of the Axis camera, while only rough details and limited text are visible in the Dahua and Hikvision cameras.

At longer distance, the Axis camera again provides clearer images, with the subject difficult to see on other cameras, especially the Dahua N52BM3Z.

Axis Most Even IR Coverage, Others Dim At Edges

The Axis Q3517-LVE provided the most even IR coverage of test scenes, with a slight decrease in details at the edge of the field of view compared to the center.

However, the subject was very dimly illuminated at the edges of the Dahua, Hanwha, and Hikvision models, and difficult to see, shown below.

Color Low Light Performance

Testing color low light performance (~1-4lx) outdoors, the Q3517-LVE and XNV-8080R perform similarly, with overexposure present in both and similar subject details. However, as in the IR low light tests, the Dahua and Hikvision models perform worst, with limited subject details and almost total overexposure of the test chart.

Results were similar at other ranges, as well, shown below at 60' distance, with the Axis and Hanwha cameras again best.

Exterior Door WDR Performance

We tested WDR performance starting at an exit door scene with extreme variance (~45lx inside compared to ~9,000lx outside), with the cameras forced to adjust to rapid change in light.

In this scene, the Axis Q3517-LVE most clearly displays the subject at all points, with clear images of the subject and background as he first opens the door (below). The Dahua N52BM3Z provides details at this point, as well, but both Hanwha and Hikvision overexpose his face and the background. Note that the Hikvision 4565 is not a true WDR camera, using digital WDR only, while all others use multiple exposures.

Once inside the door, the Q3517 and Dahua models provide better facial details than others.

Warehouse Door WDR Performance

We also tested WDR performance in a less challenging scene, a warehouse with open overhead door, varying from ~90lx inside to 12,000lx outside.

In this scene, the Axis and Dahua cameras provide the best details of the subject, with Hanwha close, but slightly less detailed. The digital WDR Hikvision camera again performs worst.

Full Light

In a well lit outdoor scene, the cameras provide roughly similar subject details at short range (~50-60PPF), with the Hikvision 4565 displaying slightly reduced detail on the test chart.

Relative performance was similar at longer ranges, with all cameras displaying similar details.

Axis Bigger Than Average/Dahua Smaller Than Average

Of cameras tested, the Axis Q3517 was the largest, 1-2" larger than the Hanwha and Hikvision models, typical size for outdoor domes. By contrast, the Dahua N52BM3Z was much smaller than average, closer to indoor minidome size. The four cameras are shown side by side below:

Physical / Installation Differences

Aside from size, physical features of the tested domes were similar, with these key differences:

  • Axis/Hanwha box mounting: Both Axis and Hanwha include integrated holes in the dome house for mounting to standard electrical boxes, e.g., single, double, octagon, etc., shown below in the Axis Q35. Box mounting requires additional parts when using Dahua and Hikvision.

  • Hanwha difficult gimbal: The gimbal of the Hanwha XNV-8080R was difficult to adjust for level, requiring users to adjust it using a small ring on the back of the gimbal, instead of the front as was typical in other models.

  • Dahua no I/O or audio: Finally, the Dahua N52BM3Z did not include I/O or audio, while other models all included both.

Axis/Hanwha Advanced Features / Dahua/Hikvision Basic

Additionally, the Dahua and Hikvision cameras lacked advanced features found in the Axis and Hanwha models, such as electronic image stabilization, leveling assist, shock detection, or audio analytics. See our tests of the Q3517 and XNV-8080R for details on operation of these features.

Note that all models include some form of analytics, generally intrusion and crossline at a minimum. See individual test reports for them: Axis VMD4 Analytics TestedDahua Intrusion Analytics And VMD Tested (Poorly)Hanwha Wisenet X Analytics and VMD Test and Hikvision VMD And Intrusion Analytics Tested

H.265 Support

Of cameras tested, only the Dahua and Hanwha models support H.265, with Genetec and Milestone supporting these streams for both. Exacq and Network Optix (and Wave/Spectrum) also supported the Hanwha camera's H.265 stream, but not Dahua.

Axis Lowest Bandwidth

The Axis Q3517-LVE had the lowest bitrates of cameras tested in all scenes by a notable margin, lower than, less than half the bitrate of Hikvision H.264 (next closest) in full light and 100-200 Kb/s lower than Dahua and Hanwha's H.265 streams in low light. Note that all cameras increased in low light except the Dahua N52BM3Z, which decreased due to its dark, unusable images with IR on.

Firmware

The following firmware versions were used for this test:

  • Axis Q3517-LVE: 7.15.3.1
  • Dahua N52BM3Z: 2.460.0000.15.R build date 2017-09-07
  • Hanwha XNV-8080R:1.11_171129
  • Hikvision DS-2CD4565-IZH: 5.4.41

Test Parameters

The following adjustments were made to cameras in this test:

  • Cameras were all set to 1/30s shutter or faster. None were allowed to use slow shutter.
  • Cameras were all set to max resolution, 10 FPS.
  • Compression was standardized to quantization of 28-30 (prior to activating smart codec dynamic compression).