Bosch’s 3000i IR day/night bullet camera is a robust IK10, IP66-rated camera with a solid specification, including 5MP resolution, H.265 streaming, motorised zoom and focus, 30 metres of IR and Bosch’s Essential Video Analytics built in, allowing enhanced monitoring, automated event notifications and faster searches.

BOSCH’s 3000i bullet is part of the affordable 3000i family, which includes a number of other form factors such as dome, mini dome and turret. While the 3000i is described as compact in the literature, it’s a bit bigger than that. The camera is 101.5mm long x 307mm across and weighs a touch over 1.6kg. The sensor is ½.9-inch with a pixel count of 3072 x 1729 supported by a 3.2 to 10mm IR corrected, motorized lens with a moderately fast aperture of F1.6 at the wide end and around F4.0 at the long.

First impressions with the camera inside suggest excellent colour rendition, good control of backlight, low blooming levels, decent sharpness and lots of resolution in support of my favoured mid to long end. Out front, these impressions are underlined. It’s a windy day and there’s stacks of tree movement across 15 per cent of the frame – the sensor handles this well. We are at 25ips and there’s great sharpness and high levels of detail, no easily discernible noise and little in the way of tone mapping or motion blur, even in our very tough half deep shade, half 72,000 lux scene.

Thanks to that solid resolution, depth of field is a strength, and it keeps delivering as you wind in the optical zoom. I start off at the wide end but end up settling for 6mm, with the occasional tweak to 7mm. This camera goes to 10mm but for my street scene 6mm gives me a pleasing coverage that when combined with the strong resolution is hard to walk away from. I also find that at 10mm in this application I’ve zoomed to the road – great performance but not what I want for this test.

Backlight performance on the street is a strength of the 3000i. With most the street being blasted with 72,000 lux, there’s no question of losing faces and the overall image is tight and nicely balanced. Even in the areas that are in shadow there’s still good detail to be found all the way through to 20 metres – it would be easy for investigators to enhance this detail further using brightening tools. Performance in the face of backlight is free of processing artefacts you sometimes see when IP cameras are heavily stressed – there’s no over exposure and shaded faces walking towards the lens are distinct. When a scooter whizzes down the path there’s no sign of blur whatever.

Something I notice in the middle part of the afternoon with the scene sharply divided between 70,000 lux and deep shadow is that at times I lose plates and get them back. I decide this must relate to the camera automatically adjusting for the darker part of the scene – I have everything on auto, including WDR, and the camera is generally at default but for a sharpness setting of 10 on the slider. Once I alter zoom to a predominantly brighter part of the scene plates are back again. Fast moving plates at a bit over 20 metres from the lens and faces to a similar distance, are strengths at 6mm.

Another quality I appreciate with the Bosch 3000i is the way it highlights movement – a moving object is surrounded by an orange outline, while a green line tracks the object’s direction of travel. This is especially useful when events occur deep into the scene where an operator may not notice them, when there are multiple events taking place at the same time in a busy scene, or in low light.

In the late afternoon as it has all day, the 3000i bullet is doing great work with colour rendition – it’s not low contrast or over saturated, sharpness is strong, there’s good detail throughout, including deeper in, where I can see people and traffic moving up and down Albion Street around 100 metres from the lens. Skin tones are well rendered, too, which is important. Depending on my lens settings, faces are court admissible all the way out past 20 metres and there’s serious situational awareness to around 50 metres at a focal length of 6mm.

There’s some latency – maybe 400th of a second with my settings, which are 10 for sharpness with WDR on, while chromatic aberrations are well controlled and there’s about 8 per cent barrel distortion at the long end, which self corrects at 7mm. I notice the image stream tends to the warm side in variable scenes but evens out in the late afternoon and by 5pm, it’s lovely and uniform – the best I’ve had all day. However, at around the same time I lose faster moving plates, while retaining faces.

As the afternoon goes on, I notice there’s none of the smudgy blur around moving leaves I sometimes see. The image takes on a slightly warmer cast as the sun goes down and the camera hangs on grimly to moderately fast moving and slower plates, especially at the longer end. There’s a little processing noise creeping in – it’s barely perceptible in areas of movement. I also notice CAs in high contrast areas a little more as the light falls away – they look 7-8 pixels deep – not excessive.

From around 5pm onwards in the shadow under the towers I have no moving plates but plenty of detail of moving vehicles – colour, make, model, accessories, occupant attire when in the field of view. Pedestrians remain clear and court admissible and there’s loads of detail – shoes, bags, clothing, hair colour – even nail polish when subjects are within 8 metres of the lens – everything that makes investigations easier when trying to establish course of events. By about 6pm fast moving branches have blurred – there’s a Sydney southerly blowing at around 25 knots and things are wild outside. Pedestrian details remain discernible deep into the scene at 20-plus metres.

There’s a point around 7pm where the camera is nearly getting plates and there’s a high level of detail in moving traffic even though the slowing shutter speed now means there’s some blur behind fast moving cars. While there may be a hint of tone mapping at this point, fast moving objects are tightly managed with everything but plates in high relief. I notice the camera does a bit better with yellow and black plates than with higher contrast black and white plates in this application.

At around 7.15pm, moving faces begin to blur – I still have considerable detail at this point and faces are still court admissible, but they are losing sharpness and they continue to do so as light falls faster. Having said this, even at 8pm I have excellent detail of slow-moving vehicles and pedestrians who are further from the lens and moving less quickly from the perspective of the shutter, are shown in high levels of detail – we’re talking at least 30 metres away. Clothing, accessories like shoes and bags, hair colour, general facial features that would allow family or friends to easily identify the subject, are all still there.

As the evening goes along, light levels fall away, and the shutter speed steps down to its lowest setting, 1/25th of a second. Cars are pulling tails at this point and there’s tone mapping around them as they quickly move through the scene. Regardless, make, model and colour are still discernible. At all times during the process I’m enjoying the way the Bosch 3000i indicates movement and direction of travel. At 9.15pm I measure sub-4 lux at the lens – light is probably a bit lower than this. Something worth pointing out here is that I am still at 6mm – that means the aperture is stopped down from F1.6 at the 3.2mm wide end to maybe F2.5-3.0 so at this focal length I’m costing the camera low light performance.

Spending some time playing with the camera in full dark I notice something about the 3000i’s night performance that was evident during the day – there are times when thanks to ambient light, colour of attire, skin tone, walking speed or some other variable, camera performance in sub 4 lux is better than the general rule. This is particularly evident when at 9.15pm a blonde haired, fair skinned person in a white shirt walks down the path. Thanks in part to reflectance, the image I get of this person is court admissible, showing shape of mouth, nose, cheeks, ears, gait and more.

Monochrome performance with IR activated is also interesting. Fast moving vehicles exhibit some blur, though make and model can be identified, and generalisations can be made about colour. But there’s no flare from faces, even within 10 metres of the lens, and when a pedestrian with dark hair, a hat and dark clothes comes by, I’m again convinced they could be very nearly identified from the image I snare. This feeling is strengthened when at 10.39pm 3 people come down the path side-by-side and even though the image is not sharp, there’s no question of them not being identifiable to friends or family, or comparable to reference images.

Conclusion

Bosch’s 3000i bullet camera is a strong performer, considering its part of the company’s affordable range. It’s not at the cutting edge in the way the latest 1-inch sensor CCTV cameras are, but the camera engine and its firmware contrive to make the most of what the sensor offers. The strong resolution gives good detail edge-to-edge at the wide end, albeit with some barrel distortion, but in my street application focal lengths of 6-7mm are the real winner. I find bitrate sits under 5Mbps for the most part, which I rate highly, considering my framing and the crazy wind conditions – moving foliage is around 15 per cent of my image, remember.

At these mid-focal lengths I’m limiting pixel spread, enhancing depth of field and taking advantage of the camera’s generally good performance across vectors like sharpness, contrast, balanced colour rendition, moderately low blur, low noise, excellent WDR performance and resistance to blooming. At night, this camera manages to give levels of detail I did not expect – I don’t get moving plates after dark but within 10 metres of the lens at 6mm I manage to get court admissible faces in colour and in monochrome in full dark. For all these reasons, and for its rugged build, the Bosch 3000i bullet is well worth a look.

Features of the DINION IP 3000I IR:

* Fully configurable H.265 multi-streaming
* 1/2.8 inch CMOS Sensor
* 1080p and 5MP resolutions
* Built-in Essential Video Analytics
* Easy to install with zoom/focus lens
* Built-in IR illuminator with 30m range.
* 3.2 to 10mm IR-corrected F1.6 lens
* Vandal-rated IK10, weather-rated IP66.

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