The thinking has been that in order to get better low light performance you had to compromise on resolution. The Bosch Dinion Starlight 8000 MP is the game changer. This camera blows away anything I’ve ever seen for low light performance and does it at 5MP resolution with incredible sharpness and color accuracy.
- 1/1.8” 6.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor
- Outstanding wide dynamic range (97+16 dB)
- Exceptional low-light performance (0.0121 lux at full 5MP)
- Edge Recording including a MicroSD card slot (rated for 32GB, but worked with a 64GB card)
- In-camera playback of recordings
- 30fps @ 5MP in 16:9 (2992 x 1680) or 4:3 (2704 x 2032) or 1080P (1920 x 1080)
- Intelligent Motion Detection
- Intelligent Dynamic Noise Reduction
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- Powered by PoE or 12V
- Alarm Input/Output
- Audio Input/Output
This is the most amazing camera I’ve reviewed. The image sharpness, both day and night is extremely good. The camera is a box camera, meaning you have put in an outdoor housing for use outdoors. It also does not include a lens. I’m using their 4.1-9mm lens that has motorized focus and is extremely sharp. Because the sensor is larger than normal, 4.1mm is comparable to about a 2.8mm lens on a camera with a 1/3″ sensor that’s typical in the industry.
This is what the web interface looks like when you first connect to the camera from a web browser. The PTZ controls are grayed out as this is not a PTZ camera, but you control E-PTZ by using your scroll wheel in the Live display to zoom in and out. Then when you hover over the image, a white arrow appears and clicking and holding the mouse button pans the zoomed in display in the direction of the arrow. This also works in full screen mode which is activated by clicking on the 4 arrow icon below the image. The escape key returns to the normal display.
One of the first things I had to do was set the IP address. There may be a better way of doing this, but I had to do it manually. The cameras comes with a fixed IP address of 192.168.0.1 which happens to be my router IP address. I used a PoE injector to connect the camera directly to a laptop I set to 192.168.0.10, then connected to the camera via Internet Explorer, went to Network –> Network Access screen below to set the IP address I wanted. Then connected it to my PoE switch and all was good. It should be noted that it works with IE using an Active X control with an H.264 stream but I’ve used it Firefox and probably with any browser by selecting an MJPEG stream for live viewing. Because I recorded an H.264 stream, it would not Playback that video with Firefox.
Another oddity from Bosch is that it does not come set with a password, meaning as soon as you connect to it via the browser or NVR software, there’s no user or password to enter. You can set a password under General –> Password.
One complaint I hear often is that video motion detection is not very accurate. Bosch includes a feature called Video Content Analysis (VCA). It detects and analyzes changes in the picture using analytic algorithms that are more sophisticated than other cameras I’ve installed. The accuracy was excellent although can still be fooled by shadows, it’s much better than anything else. To show you how it works, I turned on “show Intelligent Tracking”. You can see the dog and person circled in yellow and the green line shows the path they took to get there. This displays on the browser display, but not in the recorded stream.
You setup the motion detect area by selecting Alarm from the menu, then VCA. You pick the Analysis Style, in my case Motion+
Click on Configure to setup the motion detect area where you can drag the points on the square to what part of the image you want to scan for motion.
Once motion detect is setup and you insert a micorSD card into the camera, you can set it up to record continuously or based on an alarm. I chose continuous, but it still marked lines on the timeline when motion was detect.
You can then click on Playback on the top banner, and it takes you to this screen. It worked quite showing a timeline where you click and drag to select the point at which to playback. You can easily control playback speed and direction. Exporting videos was simple and I used that to create the videos in this review. Although the specs say 32GB max size for the microSD card, I put in a Sandisk 64GB microSD card and it worked well.
You can also have it send you images via email using the Alarm –> Alarm E-Mail settings.
Some of the picture settings are setup in the Camera –> ALC page. This includes day/night switchover as well as image settings that are similar to WDR settings in other cameras. You can see the changes you make in a small window in the upper right. Clicking the arrow icon in the lower right of the image opens a new window with the live view so you can see how setting changes affect the image in a larger window.
Sharpness, BLC, Noise Reduction and Defogging are done in the Enhance page.
Lastly, in the Color page, you can set the typical image settings like brightness, contrast and white balance.
Once last menu item I wanted to show you is under Service –> Maintenance. Many times I get asked where to get firmware updates or what’s the latest firmware. Bosch made this simple. Click the Check button and it checks to see if you have the latest. If you don’t, you can download it directly from this page and apply the firmware. This worked quite well for me, giving me the latest firmware available for this review.
Now onto the images, how well does this camera perform. I mounted the camera at the front of my garage and in my backyard. For the driveway I set the varifocal lens to wide-angle at 4.1nnm. This was too wide a shot in my backyard to I backed it off somewhere halfway between the 4.1 and 9mm. As with my other reviews, click on the images below to see the full size image, straight from the camera.
Started off with the backyard as that has the most detail and interest. This is a daytime shot taken mid-day with the highest contrast potential. The camera did great, good color accuracy, good detail in the 5MP image, sharp but not in an artificial way as some cameras do as they process the video. You can click on the image to see it 5MP mode but you have to click again when it opens the image to see it full size. All video and still images were taken in 5MP 16:9 mode.
At night is when this camera comes alive. This shot was taken when it was dark outside, but my landscape lights are on.
In B&W, I took this picture with landscape lights off, but left the IR on the adjacent Hikvision ds-2cd3332-i.
In comparison, this is the Hikvision in the same setting. You can see Bosch image is much cleaner, crisper with more detail.
In the interest of science, I turned off the Hikvision IR by putting in Day mode. At this point, the backyard is pitch black to the naked eye. To me this is amazing . I would not be able have walked back there safely without tripping over something because of the darkness.
In comparison, this is what the Hikvision saw which is what I saw. Not blaming Hikvision as this model is not advertised with having low light sensitivity but more to show you what it looked like to me when I captured the images.
I moved the camera to the front at the usual spot. Same settings, but I readjusted the lens for it’s widest shot. As you can see, this looks similar to the field of view from 2.8mm cameras that have 1/3″ sensors. But having a 1/1.8″ sensor, the magnification factor is different and this is what it’s widest setting of 4.1mm looks like. They sell different lenses for this camera, but I’m using this one as this covers most home or small office situations.
As with the backyard, the color accuracy, image quality, low compression artifacts are excellent even when set at the medium “balanced” setting which is what the camera was set to for all images and videos.
At night, with my 2 9W LED porch lights and the street light across the street, this camera did not have to go into B&W mode to do it’s magic. This image looks clearer at night than most other cameras I reviewed with IR LEDs.
I uploaded day and night videos to YouTube. The best resolution I could uploaded in was 1440P and to see them in that resolution, you must click on the gear icon and select 1440P quality and then click on the icon with 4 corners to see the video full screen. There is no option in YouTube to see the video in the recorded 5MP resolution. The videos were exported from the microSD card on the device.
This camera has such great clarity and one of the best for low light performance, good color accuracy and overall great image quality, even at 5MP and 30 fps to boot. I found the camera currently for as low as $1,189.99 with free shipping from Wrightwood Surveillance, it’s definitely worth trying one out if you want the best. There’s a two lens choices, but the lens I’m using runs $159.99 from Wrightwood Surveillance. If you want to mount this outdoors, the Bosch outdoor housing is not too expensive for a quality housing.
I compared this to the next best 5MP cameras I tested, the Axis P3367-VE which is a great outdoor dome and Bosch pricing is not far off considering you get better low light performance and more than twice the frame rate with the Bosch.
The pluses for this camera are;
- Extremely good low light performance in color
- 5MP resolution at 30 frames per second (not common)
- Amazingly good video motion detection algorithms
- Ability to record in-camera to a microSD card and playback from the camera
The shortcomings for this camera are;
- Can be pricey to some
Click here to go to the company web page for the camera.