GIVEN Axis developed its 20MP APS-C CCTV camera for detailed surveillance over long distances in cities, airports, transport hubs, stadiums and the like, it makes good sense to test this 1kg lump on the 56th floor of the MLC Centre with a view clear across Woolloomooloo, the naval base at Garden Island and up Sydney Harbour across Bradleys Head. 


Bushfire on Bradley's Head had an impact on our long shots, just as you'd expect it would…

There are dual elements of compression to cope with in our application – the first being the compression applied by the elevated view, which shrinks perceived distances – it's 1000 metres from the MLC Centre to Otto Restaurant at W Wharf but even before looking at the images telescoped by the middle and the long end of the big Canon zoom it feels almost as though you could reach out and touch it. We’re viewing in full daylight – putting some haze into the scene is considerable drifting smoke from a back-burning operation going on at Bradleys Head. 

We’re viewing the scene starting at 200mm and then reaching out to 400mm with this full frame EF-mount Canon zoom lens. But the angle of view is actually tighter than this, thanks to the crop factor of the APS-C sensor in the Axis camera. The crop factor makes our apparent viewing angle the equivalent of 150mm-600mm on full frame. At the long end, the angle of view is quite tight when we focus on Wolloomooloo Wharf. We also take a look at a number of other scenes, including a busy intersection and people playing in the Domain. 


Here's the district courtesy of a Nikon 85mm prime on FX…

How is performance with this camera? It’s strong. Colour rendition is good, WDR is solid – no over exposure here – motion blur is low in most of our test but at the f/5.6 long end, when there’s some shadow falling on the intersection, I start to see tone mapping trails on fast moving cars. The overall levels of detail are enormous. This is a big view. There are not too many cameras on the planet that can get court admissible clothing details at 1000 metres but this Axis camera can. And the Canon lens is excellent. No CAs, perhaps a little pincushion distortion at the long end. Colour reproduction is strong. I get no ghosts, no blooming and no flare. 


…And here's the full reach of the Axis Q1659 and Canon USM 100-400mm. Image quality and colour rendition impacted by smoke and double window pane

The Q1659 has Axis Zipstream storage technology, which reduces bandwidth requirements by 50 per cent and even with a 20MP sensor at the long end with more of the frame in motion, the streams we see at full resolution are under 2Mbps at 8 images per second and between 4.5-6Mbps at 25 images per second. For a 20MP camera, either of those numbers is simply outstanding. 

Don’t miss the full review in SEN’s November issue and be sure to check out the Q1659 on the Axis stand at Security and Government Expo in Canberra November 3 – register here! ♦