Hikvision Darkfighter X

WHEN I pull the Darkfighter X out of its crate and install it on a heavy-duty dome camera pendant tripod, my first impressions are its size and heft – this is a robust PTZ camera designed for serious work in external environments.

Features of Darkfighter X include ½.8-inch dual optical and IR CMOS sensors, integrated 200m IR array, 25x varifocal zoom lens with F1.5 4.8-120mm range with autofocus, -20 degrees to 90 degrees of tilt (Auto Flip), 120dB wide dynamic range, 1080p resolution, IP66 rating, optical de-fog, smart detection functions; and H.265+, H.265, H.264+, H.264 and MJPEG compression options. Minimum scene illumination is 0.001lux at F1.5 in colour and 0.0001 lux at F1.5 in monochrome.

Bear in mind that this camera is designed to shine brightest in the lowest light and I’m undertaking my first test drive in daylight with considerable backlight – the idea is to get a sense of the optical quality of the camera and to assess the performance of the camera engine in daylight conditions – later on tonight I’m going to take a look at night performance and add my findings here.

Just abaft of full zoom here. Very low noise, low blur and true colourisation – note the brown paper bag blowing mid-air.

My first impressions of the camera in largely default settings (I’ve activated WDR) are relatively low contrast with natural colour tones, excellent sharpness, superb optical quality – there’s limited barrel distortions, no chromatic aberrations, almost no flare or ghosting. This camera delivers an excellent chase of the zoom function by the autofocus – a vital quality for operators working in real time. The angle of view of Darkfighter X is relatively long at the wide end and the reach at the long end is up with the very best.

Rendering a scene like this in 80,000 lux is not easy for a CCTV camera – some flower detail is lost as the camera engine exposes for the shaded parts of the scene but on the whole a very balanced image indeed.

There’s virtually no noise, there’s almost no discernible digital rebuild artefacts – this is a superior camera engine to anything I’ve seen before from Hikvision – we’ve not conducted a full review of a Hikvision camera for more than a year but the improvement in quality is marked. Latency is very low and in good light there’s no evidence of stepping or motion blur.

This image highlights the optical excellence of Darkfighter X at 20x zoom – there are no CAs along that foreground powerline. Colour tones are very natural and there’s none of the exaggerated saturation you sometimes see. Look at the subtle colour variations in the chimney pots – that’s almost exactly how they look to the naked eye.

When it comes to low light performance, Darkfighter X fires up its dedicated IR sensor, as well as the Smart IR functionality to manage the array based on depth of field. How good is it? Well, low light performance in colour at the long end is already very strong. The Smart IR function combined with the new dual sensor design is something else again. Images tell the story best. The chimney pots are around 40m from the lens – light at the lens is sub-1 lux. IR performance is best described as punchy.

Read the full review here!

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