As you probably know GEN supply IP CCTV systems to businesses around the UK and we generally use Samsung or Sony camera's to provide to highest quality picture and stable video, however, we though it would be worth checking out some cheaper chinese camera's to see how they compare price/performance wise and here's what we found:
Test 1: The Foscam FI9828W
This Wifi (not that anyone would use Wifi) enabled camera comes without POE and audio (although audio can be added separately). Its listed as having 1.3 Megapixel (1280x960p) resolution, H.264 video compression and frame rates of up to 25 fps. On the face of it that sounds ok, but whilst it has a 360 degree pan/tilt it only has a 4 times optical zoom which is about as much use as windows 10. We had no real issue connecting it to the system although we did have issues with frame rates above 15fps on variable bandwidth. Setting it to constant bit rate of 4k solves that issue. The picture quality was, well, poor at best and the colour rendering was pale and unexciting. The pan/tilt speed was acceptable but we found we'd ofter overshoot and have to come back which made operating it cumbersome. Setting patrols seemed to work for a short time but the camera would drift out of sync and the patrol positions would therefore move until a camera reset restored operation. The Infrared night vision was extremely poor suffering from reflections from inside the dome and we found no way to turn off the IR LED's but keep it in IR sensitive mode as you would always expect to be using a separate IR source anyway.
So in summary, the Foscam FI9828W is ok for domestic use, but no where near the mark for commercial use. We ordered two, and one came with duff optics but despite several phone calls, and email's we were unable to get Foscam UK to exchange it despite their promises to the contrary. As a side note we also ordered in FI9805E which packed up working after about 2 weeks and once again support was non-existent.
Test 2: HIKVISION DS-2CD2132-I
This is advertised as a vandal resistant external dome camera with a 4mm lens, and it is all that for sure, but once again night vision suffers really badly from internal reflections from the dome. The configuration was more flexible and we could disable the IR LED's but keep the sensitivity which resolved that issue. The picture quality is pretty good although the compression could have been implemented better. We found a frame rate of 12fps, with constant bit rate of 4k produced the best video feed but again the colours were wishy washy and the camera suffered badly in sunlight and would clearly require additional housing if used in an area where sunlight was an issue. We mounted one vertically and one horizontally and found the vertically mounted camera suffered from rain on the dome which we mitigated to a reasonable extent with some RAINX.
So in summary, the HIKVISION DS-2CD2132-I makes a good attempt at being a quality camera, but the actual picture quality and lens lets it down. It would be fine in a domestic setting but not really in the game for commercial use especially in low light or fast motion. It has to be said that both HIKVISION cameras worked out of the box and during the testing which took several months without issue so we were unable to experience the support channel which was unfortunate.
So there you have it, are they really worth the hassle? Well, a typical 3MP sony IP Dome Camera is going to cost you around £600, and a HIKVISION 3MP IP dome is going to be around £120, but on a price performance basis the Sony wins hands down with crystal clear video, vibrant colours and excellent low light performance. In a large installation you could save 20K on camera's if you can put up with the issues but you will soon be eating into that 20K saving with replacement camera's on a regular basis as well as service charges and so on.
Anyway, if you found this interesting then let us know? If you want us to test a specific camera, let us know?
But you do have to factor in the costs of camera failure in the real world and the liability that it creates. In the real world, using cheap camera's then you would need twice as many to ensure that even if one failed there would still be coverage, and that's when the 'saving' starts to become far less.