21
Jun
13

ACTi E44 1080P IR Bullet Review

This is one of ACTi’s newest bullet cameras and its differentiator is “Superior Low Light Sensitivity”. The noticeable difference between this and all previous ACTi bullets is the integrated wall/ceiling mount. This is new for ACTi and is following an industry trend to make wiring less vulnerable and less visible. It’s a nice looking camera, albeit on the larger side.

Main Features

  • Progressive Scan CMOS with Superior Low Light Sensitivity
  • Day and night function with mechanical IR cut filter
  • Minimum illumination 0 lux with IR LED on
  • Built-in f2.8~12 mm / F1.4 Megapixel vari-focal lens
  • 30 fps at 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Selectable H.264 HP, MJPEG compressions with dual streaming
  • Video motion detection
  • Basic WDR
  • Weatherproof IP66 rated casing
  • Powered by PoE Class 2

Overall the camera performed well. This is the bullet in their lineup with the best low light performance but not as good as their KCM-5611 outdoor box camera. The only problem I ran into is that the built in IR illuminator does not provide full coverage at wide lens angles. It includes “basic WDR” which works pretty well.

Installing the camera is different from any camera I’ve ever installed. The camera uses a pigtail as just about all cameras do that have integrated mounts and has a male RJ45 connector which is unique. They provide a waterproof adapter that you can put over the existing cable from your switch and the camera. There’s no instructions and installation is not intuitive so they provide a YouTube video that helped out a lot (LINK). One thing to note is that if you use this, it’s quite large, over 1″ diameter so you have to drill a hole large enough to accept this. Then you attach a ring to the wall or ceiling/eave with 3 screws. The camera attaches to this ring with a large collar. This seems like extra work but two things to note, this is the first bullet with integrated mount that a) has a waterproof Ethernet connection, b) by separating the part that uses screws into the wall, it makes installation easier with less risk of dropping the camera or the camera getting in the way while you drive the screws in.  It’s its a very sturdy mount, set screws need to be loosened to aim the camera and tightening them up locks the camera in place, a much sturdier design say compared to Dahua which for me tended to sag over time no matter how tight I made it. What’s nice is this camera uses all Phillips screws in contrast to some with varying sizes of allen or torx screws and when you are up on a ladder, it’s nice to know one screwdriver is all you need.

As with all ACTi cameras, you are entitled to you use their NVR software for free for up to 16 cameras and it’s pretty good with features people expect from commercial grade NVR software. They also have a free IOS app available.

This is what the web interface looks like when you first log in. There’s options to take a snapshot, manually record, chose a stream and more and typical of their newer cameras.

Here’s the first screen I usually go to and setup a fixed IP address for the camera. It’s under IP Settings – Connection Type. If you need to change port numbers, it’s under Network – Port Mapping.

Clicking on Video gets you into a screen with tabs for all the video related functions including resolution/frame rate, motion detection, day/night functionality and exposure. As always, I set the slowest auto shutter speed to 1/30th.

Motion detection zones and sensitivity is setup here. You can watch activity and set the settings and size of motion detect zones appropriately. If you use their NVR software, this is where you set this up and the NVR software uses this.

Now onto the images, how well does this camera perform. As with other tests, I set this camera up with a maximum exposure of 1/30th of a second. This is fast enough to capture motion yet still provide decent low light images.

I mounted the camera at the front of my garage, under the eave. With the lens set at it’s widest setting, it was perfect for viewing the entire driveway. It was very effective at being able to ID people in my driveway, or about 20′. As with my other reviews, click on the images below to see the full size image, straight from the camera.

This image is during the day and has WDR off. The image has nice contrast and color accuracy.

This is with the WDR set on high and captures more detail in the shadows. There’s a higher setting called “highest”.

This is in my backyard, nice even accurate color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At night, I put in day mode so you can see what the sensor can do with available light. This is my normal lighting with a streetlight across the street and porch lights in the front of my garage. The image is an improvement over the E32/E33 recently reviewed.

This is in night mode, switches to B&W and you can see the pattern of IR illuminator in the center. First I though this may be IR light bleed halo, but it’s not, that’s the IR pattern. In this image, WDR is turned off

In this image, WDR is set to “high”. Better detail in the shadows, like the tree on the left. The trade off, and this is true of just about every WDR capable camera I tested is additional noise.

I mounted the camera in my backyard with all lights off. As you can see, the IR illuminator’s limitations are pronounced here. The lens is set on it’s widest setting. Using a more telephoto setting helps. In contrast, the KCM-5611 widest lens setting is 4.7mm and this camera is 2.8mm. Setting this camera closer to 4.7mm would provide more even coverage.

If IR illumination together with a wide view angle is important, this camera falls short and I would recommend the E32 instead. I will update you if ACTi is able to resolve this issue.

I took a day and a night videos using the BlueIris software and posted on Youtube. One thing to note, when I set this up as an ACTi camera on BlueIris, the recordings had weird artifacts, when setup as RTSP it worked well. View it at the highest resolution you can which is 1080P.

In comparison to other ACTi bullet cameras I’ve tested, the low light performance is an improvement. Combined with effective noise reduction, makes for good image quality in poor lighting. In no light situations, the IR illuminators are adequate lighting at longer focal lengths but not when set to wide viewing angles.

The street price on this camera is about $600-700. If you need a decent outdoor low light capable camera and you have some available light, this cameras does well.

The pluses for this camera are;

  • Good low light capability with noise reduction
  • Day and night function with mechanical IR cut filter and IR LEDs
  • HD 1080P resolution
  • Dual streaming

Drawbacks for the camera are;

  • IR illuminators are not designed to work at wide lens angles
  • Low light capability not as good as the KCM-5611, room for improvement

Recommended for those needing to protect their homes or business that need a high quality professional camera with good low light capabilities.

Spec sheets, manuals, overview are available here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments on "ACTi E44 1080P IR Bullet Review"

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Greg
Greg
2 years 11 months ago

I would love to see a review of the E47 when it comes out.

frank d
frank d
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for the review NetworkCameraCritic.

Any updates on the IR illumination?

I was looking at lots of specs & reviews bullet cameras (IP, 2MP or better, WDR, under eve mount and towards 0F capable) and had high hopes that the Acti E44 would be the value ticket I was looking for (compared to some other brands), but that IR illumination falls well short of acceptable or even usable.

Dan
Dan
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks for showing these cameras in full darkness. It’s super useful to really know what the IR portion of the camera will really do. I’m kind of stunned that the dahua/qsee bullets have such amazing and even IR dispersion and this falls so short. I have flash lights that do better! How could an expensive camera hit the market with such an obvious weakness? At this point, leave the IR out completely and just market it as low light sensitive. Head scratch, this one. Thanks for your great reviews, as always.

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