AXIS M1054 M5014 720p HD Cameras
by Security Electronics and Networks | @Articles Product Reviews | August 28, 2011, 7:00am AEST
BOTH these cameras are designed with the cloud in mind – that means they can be linked to Axis AVHS hosting software allowing hosted offsite recording with simple access rights for authorised users. Cloud-based surveillance is perfect for retail, small commercial and domestic applications. Either of these cameras could easily be used as highly affordable video verification of alarm events and simple guard tours.
Axis has made these cameras very easy to install. There’s no mucking about – they are as plug and play as it’s possible for a video surveillance camera to be. Of the two, the M1054 is smaller and at under $500, it’s lower in cost. This little PoE camera is housed in compact rectangular form and can be mounted on its extendable-armed base or wall-mounted in a corner, depending on your needs.
According to Axis’ Wai King Wong, the M1054 has a bundled IP Utility which searches for the camera across the internet and the easy to navigate web interface opens with live images from the camera. Set up is super easy. At our demo at SE&N’s office, Wong took about 3 minutes to set the camera up. It really was a matter of plug and play.
The browser-based software is easy to navigate around and you can set things like motion detection and camera tamper are simple to set.
“Basically this means I can just take this camera anywhere in the world and plug it in and it will work,” Wong explains. “The hosting software and the camera find each other – the whole idea being to make installation easier.
“So there’s no need for an IP address. All I need to know before installing the camera is that there is an internet connection. It’s that easy. I plug the camera into a switch and almost immediately I have access to images from my authorised workstation or notebook.”
Instant video is not the only thing the M1054 offers. Axis is staying ahead of the game by optioning its solutions with more features than you can poke a stick at and in the case of this camera you get a microphone and speaker for live audio applications, an integral high intensity LED for 24-hour applications and built in video detection.
“Basically this means I can just take this camera anywhere in the world and plug it in and it will work. The hosting software and the camera find each other – the whole idea being to make installation easier”
There’s also an onboard PIR so where you’d traditionally use a standard PIR in a corner, you just replace it with this unit. There’s also input/output ports for additional alarm reporting or controlling lights. The M1054’s PIR is effective to 8 metres – plenty for most retail and domestic applications. An especially cool feature is sound-level monitoring that sends images to email addresses or to HTTP or FTP servers. You can also use the inputs/outputs to activate lights or sirens.
The chipset in these cameras is the same so with both the M1054 and the M5104, you’re getting robust Axis 720p SMPTE standard HD technology in a small form factor. And the imaging fundamentals of this camera are thoroughly proven.
You’re getting 720p HD with a 16:10 aspect ratio at 30 images per second and the camera is dishing up dual streams – H.264 for network streaming and MJPEG for higher quality local viewing or higher res recording. You can select compression on the fly from the live viewing screen.
According to Wong, the standardisation of the chipset relates to the way the Axis business functions.
“The way we prioritise and design, we have a chipset ready to go for the next generation of cameras and it’s a matter of changing the camera form to get many new releases all with excellent performance,” Wong explains.
“This development model has a lot to do with our CEO Ray Mauritson who has been at Axis nearly ten years and was product manager previously.
“Mauritson understands Axis products and he is a different CEO to those of other companies – he understands the business so well and this has an impact on the way we work.”
For our demo, we view the cameras on an Acer notebook with true 1080p HD rendering and with both, image quality was great. The ability to handle backlight also showed the measure of Axis’ 720p chipset. Optics were good, too. The engineers at Axis have obviously chosen a good lens for this camera – it gave a rounded field of view with plenty of peripheral vision – perfect for the retail applications it’s designed for.
Axis’ small cameras generally have their optics set for a midpoint to allow the best average performance across a range of applications. This means you get your best focus further into a scene than some other small cameras and that sweet spot carries further than usual. I thought depth of field on both cameras was surprisingly good – even given the cameras’ 1MP native resolutions.
Image quality is also good. Set low with patchy coverage from our office downlights, they gave excellent colour rendition and there was no sign of blooming. When we played with the audio settings there was latency demonstrated by an echo effect of perhaps three hundredths of a second but it would not be noticeable in a real world application. In this case we had the camera and the workstation side-by-side – not an ideal test situation.
Distinct from the fixed M1054, the M5014 is a compact mechanical pan/tilt ceiling-mount camera with digital zoom. This unit is designed for residential and small retail and would likely spend most the time looking at a target area like a POS or high value goods, or an entry, and occasionally pan and tilt when users are away on holiday or on weekends.
The M5014 is affordable at $699 and has the same resolution of 720p. These cameras are IP51-rated so they can handle sprinklers and dust and they have a built-in microphone. There’s also a MicroSD slot in the rear of the camera giving up to 64GB if you really needed it. That’s a lot of storage for a single channel. Other features include mechanical pan/tilt, and digital zoom.
Same as the M1054, the 5014 is plug-and-play – there’s no need to mess around configuring IP addresses. You just connect the unit to a network switch and the Axis software handles the rest. As part of the demo we went through the very simple and comprehensive performance settings menu and checked out things like backlight compensation and white balance. All very easy to set and reset. The M5014 comes with auto settings and works great out of box but you can customise performance if you like.
“For retail clients needing one camera the M5014 is ideal,” says Wong. “It’s a low cost solution that gives Axis the ability to support retail clients.
With a diameter of about 5-inches and a height of a little over 2 inches, the M5014 is compact but it has a same chipset of its more expensive HD brethren and offers equally impressive performance numbers. The 360-degree panning ability and the tilt make this a really neat unit. It’s probably the most compact pan and tilt camera I’ve seen from a big manufacturer.
Important from the point of view of remote monitoring, there’s the same ability to generate alarms when noise is detected, as well as having motion detection functionality. Compliance with PoE IEEE 802.3af means network connection is too easy. Same as the M1054, the M5014 is designed for the cloud while giving end users greater functionality and the ability to remotely adjust their field of view to meet changing needs.
“At the moment the cloud service is hosted in the U.S. and what’s nice about it from the end user’s point of view is that the cost is low,” says Wong. “The opportunity cost is also reduced because there’s no need for a dedicated server, for space, power, backup, air conditioning, maintenance – there’s no need for any of those requirements.”
According to Wong, when the NBN kicks in, costs for cloud surveillance services in a retail environment will be less than 100 per month – that’s very affordable.
“There is a new video management platform that will be embedded in the cameras later this year that should be very popular,” Wong explains.
“We think the introduction of this video management platform will change the way people use video surveillance solutions in the industry.”