This is the Axis low light champ with wide dynamic range. Has all the Axis buzzwords that translate to great low light sensitivity including “Lightfinder” and “Dynamic Capture (WDR)”. Lightfinder is their technology for providing a clear sharp color image even in very poor lighting conditions. Dynamic Capture is their technology ensuring that no part of the image is too dark or too bright, what most people call Wide Dynamic Range (WDR).
- 1280 x 960 resolution (1.2MP) or 720P at 30fps
- 1/3″ progressive scan RGB sensor
- 3-9mm F1.2 lens
- Outdoor-ready design with extended temperature range
- Easy installation with remote focus and zoom
- Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) with “Dynamic Capture”
- Multiple H.264 streams
- Day/night functionality
- Power over Ethernet
The P33 series is the top of the line for Axis fixed domes that includes all the features one could want like day/night IR cut filter, motorized focus and zoom, 3-axis manual lens adjustment and the Edge Storage feature with an SD card slot.
The camera’s unique features in the P33 series are Lightfinder and Dynamic Capture (WDR). They both work well at what they do, but the catch is that it’s an either/or feature. You can set the camera to Lightfinder or WDR, not both at the same time.
As other cameras in the Axis P33 series, it can be installed in a harsh climate, -40f to 131F or -40C to 55C. If this is your case, then this may be the camera to get.
This is what the web interface looks like when you first connect to the camera from a web browser. This is a very typical Axis interface which is comforting to know that from their lowest priced camera to their most complex and expensive camera, the interface remains familiar. What makes this unique is the two buttons below the word “Lightfinder” on top to toggle between the Lightfinder and WDR feature
Clicking Setup takes you to all the available camera settings. For example, in Basic Setup you can set the camera’s clock, the IP address and such. Below is where you tweak the camera image settings are under Video & Audio, Camera Settings. You can see here, under Wide Dynamic Range, your choices of “WDR On” or “Lightfinder Mode”
A nice feature is that this camera can be focused and zoomed from the comfort of your browser. Saves a ton of time pre-focusing and then re-focusing on the ladder trying to get the perfect focus and focal length. This feature worked the best out of any camera I’ve tested with this feature. You can also select the zone you want to use for focus which came in handy when I wanted to focus on the car, not the houses in the distance.
You can control Live View on this settings screen, for example to support other browsers beside Internet Explorer
Axis Edge Storage
The advantage of the camera being able to record to a local SD card or to Network Attached Storage (NAS) is that you can record without having to purchase a PC or Network Video Recorder (NVR) to record. It will record on its own and it works quite well. The only problem is that it’s not easy to find what you want and if you have several cameras, it can be tedious to log into each for forensic analysis or even to view activity in your home or business from all cameras at once.
To solve this problem, Axis came out with free Axis Camera Companion (ACC) software. It lets the cameras do the heavy lifting of motion detection, alerts and recording and they provide ACC to view and configure the cameras from any PC. Because the cameras are doing the heavy lifting, just about any PC can be used to run ACC and you only run it when you need to view the cameras, so it’s environmentally friendly as you don’t have to leave an NVR or PC running 24/7. Click HERE for more information on ACC.
Here’s a screen shot of ACC with the camera, looking at captured events
Now onto the images, how well does this camera perform. I mounted the camera at the front of my garage set the varifocal lens to near its wide-angle. As with my other reviews, click on the images below to see the full size image, straight from the camera.
This is a daytime shot, works well, nothing special to note
At night is when this camera comes alive. This is at night, with Lightfinder on with my three 13W compact fluorescent lights at the front of my house. The image is in color, looks crisp and clear and virtually no noise.
If I turn the lights off, just the street light and lights from surrounding homes and such, still very good usable image. Did not switch to b&w night mode yet.
I turned WDR on which turns Lightfinder off. Here you can see noise in color mode where it remained. This is noise you would see in a lower end camera and I don’t really see much advantage from it being in WDR mode. For me, I would leave this camera in Lightfinder mode all the time.
I changed some settings to force it to night mode in b&w at which point the adjacent IR illuminator reduced the noise and made for a very nice clear image.
The pluses for this camera are;
- Extreme low light sensitivity
- Wide Dynamic Range – Dynamic Capture
- Motorized focus and zoom for easy setup
- Extreme weather capabilities from a low of -40F to a high of 131F
- Edge Storage (recording to SD card or NAS)
- Free Axis Camera Companion Software
- Smartphone apps available
- Excellent Axis Customer Service and Support
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- 2-way audio
The misses on this camera are;
- Lightfinder or WDR, but not both at the same time
- While Lightfinder provides excellent low light sensitivity, there isn’t a dramatic difference than other P33 domes I tested without Lightfinder
Where I would use this camera is where you need to cover an area where there’s available light, like street lights, store front lights and you don’t want to use IR illuminators and you want color images at night. Since the WDR functionality can’t be used together with Lightfinder, I would recommend you also consider the P3364-VE and P3364-LVE that have Lightfinder without WDR. Also good in extreme weather areas.
Axis P3384 Camera spec sheet can be found HERE