We asked a group of leading manufacturers about their leading 1080p cameras, what their standout features are and how they are better than the cameras of the opposition. 

MODERN manufacturing techniques make pinning down the contenders for best-of-the-best in 1080p cameras a convoluted task. Camera engines comprising CMOS/MOS sensors and associated processors are installed in multiple camera bodies across entire ranges these days. And while it's the manufacturers and distributors doing the talking, what's interesting to me is that it highlights which features the market is telling suppliers are most valuable to them. 

The challenge from an end user’s point of view is that certain key capabilities like low light performance become moot when the lens is surrounded by a dozen IR LEDs with a range of 100 metres and minimum scene illumination of 0 lux. Even so, it’s possible to assess the broad specifications of camera ranges so as to get a sense of where differences lie. 

Sony’s Mark Franklin says the Sony IPELA ENGINE PRO W Series cameras consisting of 4 rapid dome IP cameras is the company’s flagship range. The SNC-WR630 and SNC-WR600 are rated for indoor use with full HD and HD resolution. The SNC-WR632 and SNC-WR602 unitized models are IP66 rated for outdoor use with full HD and HD resolution.

“These cameras feature Sony’s latest CMOS Exmor Image Sensors for superior low light performance, coupled with the IPELA ENGINE bandwidth management system,” Franklin says. “At Sony, under no circumstances do we compromise resolution or image performance in changing light conditions.

“Sony’s IPELA ENGINE PRO W Series cameras feature the industry’s leading optical zoom (x30) at FHD, which makes it possible to capture high resolution video at wider ranges and further distances. And all Generation 6 W Series cameras are available in 60 frames per second in FHD, which is double the number of frames offered by conventional HD IP cameras. 

“At Sony, under no circumstances do we compromise resolution or image performance in changing light conditions" Mark Franklin

“60 frames per second provides smoother, more detailed video that is easier to analyze frame-by-frame,” Franklin explains. “Combined with 130dB of wide dynamic range, the cameras produce true-to-life colour and detail, providing exceptional images in all lighting conditions.

These cameras are quick on the draw, too. According to Franklin, the W Series pan, tilt and zoom capabilities feature continuous 360-degree pan movement at the industry-leading speed of 700-degrees-per-second to enable camera operators to quickly pan to areas of interest in a single, seamless motion. 

“Sony’s unique image stabilization technology with gyroscope sensors detects and correct camera shake, which often results from weather or other factors such as planes or cars,” says Franklin. “Additionally, Sony’s defogging mode increases image visibility in poor weather conditions such as rain, fog or smog.” 

Meanwhile, Sony’s Steve Charles has no doubt which areas Sony’s Generation 6 W Series dominate the opposition. 

“Our W Series cameras are the most advanced rapid dome cameras in the security industry, with all 4 featuring the highest-rated optical zoom, fastest pan speed, highest frame rate and widest dynamic range of any full HD camera on the market,” Charles says. 

“The W Series cameras are the first full HD cameras to feature 130dB of wide dynamic range, which delivers clear picture quality even in strong backlit environments. The W Series IP cameras have all the capabilities found in Sony’s IPELA ENGINE technology platform, along with new features such as gyroscopic image stabilization and image defogging.” 

According to EOS Australia’s Tooma Chong, the company’s leading 1080p camera is Samsung’s Wisenet III range, which is available in non-IR or with IR, motorized varifocal lens, manual varifocal lens, and fixed lens with wide angle. You get options of full body, internal dome, vandal dome, vandal IR dome, vandal flat dome, bullet IR, and the world’s first 1080P 32x Optical Zoom PTZ with housing or without housing.

Core specification of Wisenet III are definitely solid. The cameras have [email protected] 2MP 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution. Despite the solid specs, low bandwidth utilization means you only use 2.5Mbps at 30FPS in Full HD. Wisenet III has the latest SSNR 3 noise reduction technology (2D + 3D DNR), SSLE(Samsung Super Light Enhancer) giving 0.1 Lux without IR and there’s a very strong WDR number of 120dB at 30fps.

These cameras have built-in 3~8.5mm (2.8x) motorized varifocal lenses, multi-crop streaming, Face/Motion/Audio/Virtual line/Tampering/Enter & Exit Video Analytics, UPnP (Auto Port Forwarding), and a signal to noise ratio of 50dB – which means no discernable noise at all. There’s also Simple Focus, Defog and DIS support functions. 

According to Chong, the key areas where Wisenet III is superior to competitors are SSLE – which is Samsung’s trade mark, exceptional low light performance, bandwidth saving, smart analytics built-in with all of these functions available in all camera configurations

Meanwhile, Dahua’s Jane Yin says Dahua’s 1080p flagship is the DH-IPC-HDW4200C IR dome. This unit feature’s a 1/2.8-inch 2MP progressive scan Exmor CMOS, offers H.264 and MJPEG dual-stream encoding, and has a maximum of 25/30fps @ 1080P (1920×1080) resolution. 

“Areas where Dahua’s DH-IPC-HDW4200C is superior to the opposition include competitive price, metal case, IK10 rating against vandalism and inbuilt microphone” Jane Yin

There’s DWDR, Day/Night(ICR), 3DNR, AWB, AGC, BLC; multiple network monitoring, including web viewer, CMS(DSS/PSS) and DMSS; a 3.6mm fixed lens (6mm, 8mm lenses are optional), an IR range of 30m. There’s a signal to noise ratio of greater than 50dB and you get IP66, IK10 ratings for weather and vandal-proofing. 

“The areas where the DH-IPC-HDW4200C is superior to the opposition include competitive price, metal case, IK10 rating against vandalism and inbuilt microphone,” says Yin. 

Some distributors have a harder time than others identifying their top lines – that’s the case with QSS, which has a number of excellent solutions in its stable. 

“Which camera is best? That’s a tough one to answer,” says QSS’ Rob Rosa. “The QVS Alumia Net provides great quality in both low light and normal light applications and is very cost effective and also available in minidome, full body and PTZ (internal and external) models.

“But if I am going to talk about brand names then I would say that the Bosch Flexi Dome 5000 range of 1080p cameras is hard to beat. The picture quality in low light situations is without a doubt one of the best I have seen and day shots are totally crisp and clean. The overall feature set of the Bosch range of cameras is without a doubt market leader material.” 

“QVS Alumia Net provides great quality in both low light and normal light applications and is very cost effective and also available in minidome, full body and PTZ (internal and external) models” Rob Rosa

In terms of specification, the Bosch 5000 Flexidome range comes in 1080p (1920 X 1080) and can go as high as 5MP (2592 X 1944) indoor/outdoor with or without IR leds. There’s PoE and varifocal from 3-10mm with AES in fixed 1/30[1/25] to 1/15000. Dynamic range on the NIN and NII 500225 is 75db while the NIN50051 is 65db. In 1080p mode the sensitivity is 0.24lux (colour) 0.05 Lux (mono) and 0.0 Lux (IR model). These Bosch Flexidomes also come with the option of a built-in microphone.  

“Talking Bosch, these cameras are renowned for the low light performance and quality build,” says Rosa. “The Intelligent Dynamic Noise Reduction feature actively analyses the contents of a scene and then reduces the noise artefacts accordingly. This continues to allow the camera to deliver sharp clear pictures day and night. There’s the ability to do edge recording via an internal MicroSD card or utilise the cloud-based facilities based on time or alarm-event, with postings to up to 4 accounts.  

At Hills Pacom, Kieron McDonough says the flagship 1080p range is Panasonic. 

“Our flagship Panasonic 1080p range is the new fantastic Series 6 range,” McDonough says. “The range includes outdoor vandal, indoor and indoor vandal domes, and there is also a soon-to-be-released full-body 1080p camera. The very popular WV-SW598 covers the 1080p PTZ dome. When it comes to the specs, the frame rate for the new Panasonic Series 6 cameras is 60ips, which is double that of previous Panasonic cameras. 

“60ips is great where you need to capture for example a sleight of hand at a casino card table,” McDonough says. “There’s also clever Panasonic technology including the multi-process noise reduction feature which ensures camera noise is reduced to low levels. 

“Our flagship Panasonic 1080p range is the new fantastic Series 6 range. The range includes outdoor vandal, indoor and indoor vandal domes, and there is also a soon-to-be-released full-body 1080p camera” Kieron McDonough

“Low light is down to 0.04 lx (Color), 0.01 lx (B/W) at F1.3 for the 1080p dome cameras (without IR). Bandwidth requirement is also improved compared to earlier models. Full HD bandwidth at 30ips can be as low as 3Mbs – it’s 4Mbs at 60ips at Panasonic’s Super Fine quality.”

Another strength of Panasonic is dynamic range.

“Super Dynamic range has now doubled to 133db,” says McDonough. “This means you can now get a lot of detail in both the dark and bright parts of an image in high contrast scenes. Plus there is a host of other new features including HLC highlight compensation. Fog compensation, Lens distortion compensation, dual SD card slots the ability to add apps, plus many more.”

According to McDonough, the 2-3 areas where Panasonic trumps the opposition include the 2 pivotal areas of low light and WDR. 

“Low light performance in now incredible, colour reproduction and the doubling of the Super Dynamic range are a huge quantum leap forward; it’s really noticeable when compared to previous cameras and other brands,” he says. “In one independent test I saw recently against other brands, Panasonic was head and shoulders above all other cameras.”

At Hikvision, Michael Bates, Oceania sales director, says Hikvision’s Smart IPC 4 Line range is the company’s flagship 1080p camera range. The range comes in full body, indoor IR dome, outdoor IR dome (IP66, IK10), outdoor IR bullet (IP66), outdoor IR array bullet (IP66, up to 100m IR range) and outdoor vandal-proof IR array bullet (IP66, IK10, up to 150m IR range).

“Hikvision’s R&D team has developed enhanced H.264 that is typically 30 per cent more efficient than our competitors’ compression protocols” Michael Bates

Each of these options housing configurations comes in 1.3MP, 1.4MP, 2MP and 3MP models, with the 2MP delivering 1080p at 25fps with an average bandwidth of 3.5MB. The range also includes a 60fps model at 720p. The low light number for the 1080p 2MP models in the range is 0.027 [email protected]

“Hikvision’s R&D team has developed enhanced H.264 that is typically 30 per cent more efficient than our competitors’ compression protocols,” says Bates. “Combined with our Smart Edge features, this efficiency allows Hikvision to produce outstanding images while utilising less bandwidth. 

“Hikvision’s 120dB WDR is one of the highest in the industry and delivers outstanding performance in harsh lighting conditions. Taking these capabilities into account, Hikvision’s Smart IPC 4-Line range represents the best value for money of any top line camera on the market today.”

At Sylo, Peter Jeffree says the flagship is the company’s vandal resistant, PTZ speed dome from 3S Vision. This PTZ offers superior performance at 1080p, is high speed, breathable as well as being IP67 + IK10 vandal resistant. 

“This 3S Vision 1080p vandal resistant PTZ is quick, with high speed pre-sets at 450deg/second, and the internals boast the latest Sony WDR sensor with 20x optical zoom,” says Jeffree. “IP67 and IK10 ratings coupled with its unique breathable skin, ensure the unit remains vandal and weather resistant in the most extreme environments. 

“This 3S unit includes all the standard features you’d expect in a camera of this quality and performance, such as dual H.264/MJPEG streams at 30fps, digital I/O, a Micro SD card slot, 2-Way audio and analytics. 
According to Jeffree, the 3S Vision camera is superior to the opposition in terms of its performance in extreme heat and cold (-40C to 55C), as well as wet conditions thanks to its IP67 waterproof rating. 3S Vision also offers great IK10 vandal resistance and high speed presets at 450 degrees per second. 

“This 3S Vision 1080p vandal resistant PTZ is quick, with high speed pre-sets at 450deg/second, and the internals boast the latest Sony WDR sensor with 20x optical zoom” Peter Jeffree

From the point of view of Hills Lan 1’s Basil Delimitros, IP CCTV business manager, says Axis Q1615 full body camera with 1080P, WDR-Forensic Capture and Lightfinder is the company’s flagship 1080p camera. 
According to Delimitros, the camera offers HDTV 1080p at 60fps, Axis’ WDR Forensic Capture to optimize video for forensic purposes by enabling an extremely high level of detail to be visible in both dark and bright areas of a scene. 

“Axis Q1615 with WDR Forensic Capture applies advanced algorithms to optimize image quality and includes the ability to seamlessly transition between WDR and Lightfinder mode,” Delimitros explains.

“The unique Lightfinder technology makes the camera extremely sensitive to low light, effectively allowing it to see in dark conditions. Wide Dynamic Range Forensic Capture allows homogeneous images, without too dark or too bright parts.

“There’s also Electronic Image Stabilisation and shock detection for smooth video, WDR of up to 120dB depending on scene, auto-rotation and barrel-distortion correction.”

“Axis Q1615 with WDR Forensic Capture applies advanced algorithms to optimize image quality and includes the ability to seamlessly transition between WDR and Lightfinder mode” Basil Delimitros

Delimitros says that if he had to pick a couple of class leading characteristics of the Q1615, the key descriptor would be versatility. 

“Rather than looking at the image quality when under the best case scenario, we look at its performance level when put to the test under challenging conditions such as harsh lighting and high contrast scenery being compensated for by Forensic Capture which is the latest evolution of our WDR technology,” he explains.

“The camera also excels in poorly lit locations thanks to our Light-Finder feature. There’s adaptability, too, because the Q1615 is capable of switching between Forensic Capture and LightFinder modes based on ever shifting lighting conditions from day to night.”

According to Delimitros, the Q1615 is also clever enough to know when it’s being tampered with through the built-in shock sensor hardware, is able to cope with environmental conditions such as strong winds through Electronic Image Stabilization and offers an interchangeable CS mount lens.

At Canon Specialised Imaging, Ben Crosariol, product & new business development manager says Canon’s flagship model is the VB-H41, which is available in black or silver. 

“Our Canon VB-H41 is a full HD PTZ with a 20x optical wide angle Canon zoom lens,” Crosariol says. “Seeing is believing with Canon – this model has unrivalled picture clarity, colour accuracy and faster focusing speeds than any other model in its class. In the VB-H series we also have an IP66-rated VE fixed dome an indoor dome and a full body, all with ultra-wide angle Canon lenses.”

Under the bonnet, the Canon VB-H41 has dual processors; one for imaging (D!GIC DV III) and one for fast networking (D!GIC NET II); allowing this model to do 30fps at 1920 X 1080. Canon’s VB-H41 is also capable of multi-streaming and has an impressive minimum scene illumination of 0.01 lux in colour and 0.001 in black and white, which Crosariol puts down to Canon’s expertise in superior optics.

“Seeing is believing with Canon – this model has unrivalled picture clarity, colour accuracy and faster focusing speeds than any other model in its class” Ben Crosariol

“If I had to pinpoint 2-3 key areas where I believe Canon’s VB-H41 is superior to the opposition, I’d say image quality, focusing speed and colour accuracy,” Crosariol says. 

Bosch’s Steve Malesevic reckons the company’s IP 7000 cameras are the Bosch flagship, and one of the market leaders in 1080p HD. 

“We have many top-line 1080p cameras that cover configurations including FlexiDome IP 7000 dynamic VR as a dome, Dinion IP 7000 dynamic HD as a full body camera, AutoDome IP 7000 HD as a PTZ and MIC IP 7000 HD as a rugged PTZ – and each of these come in a variety of permutations,” Malesevic says.

When it comes to specifications, the FlexiDome IP 7000 dynamic VR has a frame rate of 30 ips, an S/N ratio of >50dB, and a minimum scene illumination of 0.25 lx in colour and 0.08 lux in monochrome. Typical bandwidth is 1600 kbps. The Dinion IP 7000 dynamic HD has the same general specifications. 

“I think the key areas Bosch excels are low light sensitivity, our CBIT Technology – which uses iDNR and iAE to reduce bandwidth in low light and harsh lighting conditions – and our Adaptive Bitrate, which is a mixture of VBR and CBR” Steve Malesevic

Meanhile, AutoDome IP 7000 HD has a frame rate of 30 ips, an S/N ratio of >50dB, and a minimum scene illumination of 0.041 lx in colour and 0.00129 lux in monochrome. Bandwidth demand is 2500Kbps in standard scenes or 4500Kbps in busy scenes. Bosch’s rugged MIC IP 7000 HDR has the same excellent specifications as the AutoDome IP 7000. 

“When it comes to our range, I think the key areas Bosch excels are low light sensitivity, our CBIT Technology – which uses iDNR and iAE to reduce bandwidth in low light and harsh lighting conditions – and our Adaptive Bitrate, which is a mixture of VBR and CBR.”

At C.R. Kennedy, Phil Viggiano, sales manager surveillance products, says Dallmeier’s current 1080p cameras fall into 2 families, 3MP with fully motorised lenses and 5MP with CS-mount for versatile lens choice. 

“Dallmeier’s 4820 series domes and full body cameras are shipped with either 3-9mm or 10-23mm lenses,” Viggiano explains. “These integrated lenses feature P-IRIS functionally, motorised zoom and automatic back focus. They stream at 25fps 1080P and 15 Fps at 3MP resolution  with a light sensitivity of 0.5lux at F1.2, 50IRE.

“Dallmeier’s new 5200 series 1080p cameras feature new low light sensors that deliver sensitivity down to 0.05 lux and frame rates up to 120 frames per second.” Phil Viggiano

“Meanwhile, the 4920 series domes and full body cameras are shipped without lenses,” he says. “This allows us to take advantage of the latest lens technology, for example the ultra-wide THEIA 1.8-3mm lens. This ultra-wide fully corrected image was previously impossible to obtain in a compact domes camera design. Dallmeier 4920 series domes stream at 25fps at 1080P, 15fps at 3MP, and 10fs at 5MP resolution  Light sensitivity of 0.3lux at F1.0, 50IRE.”

Viggiano says the new 5200 series Dallmeier cameras will be launched in the next 2 months. 

“Dallmeier’s new 5200 series 1080p cameras feature new low light sensors that deliver sensitivity down to 0.05 lux and frame rates up to 120 frames per second – more details will be coming soon.”

Along with its Dallmeier range, C.R. Kennedy also carries the latest range of LG dome cameras which are motorised. 

“The LG range of 1080p HD cameras features, PTZ and focus for the easiest installation and setup process ever,” says Viggiano. “These cameras stream up to 50fps at 2MP, and deliver up to 108dB of wide dynamic range with low light sensitivity down to 0.05 lux at f1.2 IRE50.”    

Vivotek’s Stacey Lien, department manager, International Sales Department at Vivotek says the company’s flagship 1080p camera is the network speed dome camera, the SD8364E. Vivotek’s SD8364E is a 1080p Full HD speed dome network camera. It contains several new features, such as a 30x zoom lens, image defog and electronic image stabilization (EIS) technology.

“The SD8364E is designed with a 360-degree continuous pan and 220-degree extended tilt range, which effectively alleviates dead angles,” Lien explains. “In addition, the upgraded 30x optical zoom lens enables the SD8364E to capture images in even greater detail at higher quality. This renders the SD8364E especially ideal for monitoring wide open indoor and outdoor spaces, where high-level reliability and precision under challenging surveillance conditions are always required.” 

Thanks to WDR Pro technology, Lien says the SD8364E is capable of coping with challenging lighting conditions and generating image quality close to the capabilities of the human eye. 

“The IP66- and NEMA 4X-rated housing protects the camera body against rain, dust and corrosion within a wide temperature range between -40°C to 55°C,” she explains. “This feature ensures operation under extreme weather conditions and hazardous environments.

“And our newly-added image defog feature enables the SD8364E to capture clear images under foggy conditions, exponentially enhancing operational performance. The incorporation of EIS technology further enables the SD8364E to mitigate the effect of camera vibration due to wind and ensure a stable image. Together, the newly-added features of the SD8364E guarantee the retrieval of high-quality images in the harshest outdoor environments.”

What are the SD8364E’s stand-out characteristics, according to Lien? Strengths include that powerful 30x zoom lens and the 360-degree continuous pan and 220-degree tilt.♦

By John Adams