Hikvision DarkfighterX 4MP PTZ. Note person in top image - this image is half native res.

Hikvision’s DarkfighterX 4MP PTZ combines an excellent sensor engine offering solid low light performance and high resolution with a brilliant 35x optical zoom lens and long-range IR to create a surveillance tool of unprecedented power.

The 4MP DarkfighterX PTZ (the model number is DS-2DF9C435IH-DLW) effectively doubles the resolution of the previous model, which had excellent performance in its own right. I’ve got the big PTZ set up out the back of the office – it’s the biggest view we have – with district views out to several thousand metres if your PTZ can tilt up towards the horizon, as this one can. As soon as the camera comes up on the monitor, I can see it has typical strong Hikvision contrast when facing 70,000 lux. It’s a camera that exposes for the brighter part of the scene in default when challenged by WDR, so dark areas are shaded – you need to get into WDR settings to balance these characteristics.

There’s barrel distortion at the wide end but it’s very mild at around 4-5 per cent. There aren’t any chromatic aberrations, even when you are pixel peeping, the lens shows no discernible purple fringing throughout my test, which is rare in a big PTZ. Of course, the first thing I do is zoom all the way into the World Tower, which is about 1000 metres from the lens on the corner of Goulburn and George Sts – that’s in Haymarket, not Surry Hills. Just as I’m flicking through past images from other cameras trying to decide if this is the best view I’ve had of the WT, a person walks out onto the roof of the building and takes a look around.

What can I identify at this range? Fair skin, medium build, near shoulder-length hair, beard, wearing backpack, wearing sunglasses, wearing a black or blue polo shirt with white stripes or tabs on the shirt sleeves. After a few minutes the backpack is taken off. I’m able to discern gait, apparent mood (relaxed, probably waiting), using a smart phone, and a habit of pushing back hair. This isn’t the sort of detail we’d usually get into because this isn’t the sort of performance we usually get.

These 2 shots show the capability of the 35x lens – images here are half res, have been re-sized and the clock is 2 hours behind. 

Performance as light falls is very consistent, too. Detail continues to increase. This camera disengages from reality as night sets in – when it looks dark outside to the naked eye, there’s no sign of gloom on the monitor. Something that still happens is the camera displays a bias to managing over exposure, so if you have too much comparatively bright sky in the scene, the buildings will be in shadow.

It’s when I start driving the zoom in near dark and full dark that things get interesting. The reach is incredible. I scope from wide angle all the way into some one’s office down on Elizabeth St – that’s at least 350m away – and get face recognition. IR – which I can’t disable in night mode via camera settings – also has great reach and teamed up with the excellent zoom lens and low noise, you’re able to get fine details throughout this busy scene that would not be available with other cameras.

Check out the full review of the Hikvision 4MP PTZ in the November issue of SEN.