This is Hikvision’s larger bullet and includes additional features over their mini bullet. First and most important is the 2.8mm-12mm lens allowing for a wider view than available with the mini bullet with a 4mm lens. It also had a microSD card slot for in-camera recording. Another feature is the bright IR LEDs with about twice as many as the mini bullet. The “S” version also had audio and alarm inputs and outputs.
- 1/3” 3 Megapixel CMOS sensor
- H.264 dual-stream encoding
- 30fps @ 1080P (1920 x 1080) or 20fps @ 3MP (2048 x 1536)
- 2.8-12mm vari-focal lens
- Built-in Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot, up to 64 GB
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- IR LED advertised working distance 30m
- IP66 Rated Outdoor Bullet
- Powered by PoE
- 3D DNR & DWDR & BLC
- Smartphone apps available
Overall, this is an impressive camera with very good image quality and good low light performance, well-organized menus, typical of what we have come to expect from Hikvision.
Installing it is only slightly more complex than their mini-bullet. There’s 3 set screws on the base for each rotation axis. You have to loosen all 3 with the included wrench and as you aim it, tighten each of the screws to hold the camera in place. It’s very sturdy when put in place and can’t be easily shifted as you can the min-bullet.
The first impression of this camera, especially compared to the smaller fixed lens cameras from Hikvision is that it’s big. It really just seems that way next the mini bullet, but next to other brands or types of cameras, it’s average. Here it is next to a Hikvision ds-2cd3332-i eyeball camera.
To get at some of these features, you have to remove the sun shield by loosening the small screw on top and sliding the cover off. Then unscrew the front section off by the lens to reveal the insides. There’s a reset button and an SD card slot. To set the focal length you want, unscrew the focal length wand about half a turn and move it to about where you want, for example, if you want it to be 12mm, move the wand toward the “T” and if you want 2.8mm, move it toward the “W”. Tighten that wand and turn the focus wand about a half turn to loosen. Move that around until you get as sharp an image as possible. Careful tightening the screw so that you don’t shift the focus. When all is adjusted the way you like, screw the front cover piece on tight until the red lines align.
What’s different in the user interface over previous Hikvision camera reviews has to do with Hikvision’s latest firmware, 5.23. I’ll point out any differences during the review but the first thing that hits you, and I love it is a requirement to change the default password of 12345. Clicking Cancel allows you to keep it a little longer if you are in a rush, but it will keep prompting you each time you log in.
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 you can chose the aspect ratio which should be automatic, but it’s not, not even with 5.23 firmware but it’s closer. For example, if you chose 1080P, then you have to click on 16:9, if you chose 3MP mode, then click on 4:3. The default is sort of in between.
As with the other Hikvision cameras I’ve reviewed, the IP address comes from the factory set to 188.8.131.52. They include a program on a CD called SADP that you run, finds the cameras and you can change the IP address to one that’s appropriate for your home network.
I’ll go over some of the setup screens of interest. After setting the IP address in SADP, you can change it again under Network. There’s many network options here including changing port numbers if you need to under ports, setting up DDNS updating, email configuration if you want to camera to email you alerts and so on.
Under Advanced Configuration, System, you can upgrade firmware, set time and DST, daylight savings time for those in the U.S. that do not live in Hawaii or Arizona.
Select the Time Settings tab to set timezone, NTP automatic time synchronization or a fixed time.
Clicking on Storage under Advanced Configuration allows you to format the SD card if you are using one or connect to a NAS device. The latest versions of the firmware started including TEST buttons to make sure it can connect. A big time saver. You can record video to an internal SD card or a NAS.
To do in-camera recording, you need to setup Events. This is where 5.2.3 has changed in that it broke up Events into Basic and Smart events. This is also under Advanced Configuration. You setup up motion detect events now under “Basic Events”. Click on Draw and use your mouse to draw the area you want to use for motion detection. I set sensitivity at 20 or 40 to get motion detection. The lower the number, the less sensitive it is. You can check Enable Dynamic Analysis to test out the motion detection. Green squares will show up in Live View showing where motion has been detected. The green squares do not show up in recordings. If you are going to record in-camera, check the box that says “trigger channel”. If you are setting this up to use with NVR software like Milestone XProtect, check the box that says “notify surveillance center”. The others like FTP and Email are self explanatory.
Under Smart Events are the analytical events like Line Crossing and Intrusion Detection. This is a sample of what it looks like when you setup line cross detection. You click on Draw Area like with motion detection, but instead of drawing boxes, draw a line that when crossed triggers an event. You can chose the direction of travel used for triggering the event.
To set resolution and video quality, go to the Video/Audio section of either Basic or Advanced configuration. You can set the resolution you want for each stream, in my case, I made it 3MP in the example below.
One misunderstood tab selection is for Video/Audio under Advanced Configuration is ROI. This is what’s called a Region of Interest where you want a portion of your image to have higher quality, lower compression. If you are bandwidth challenged, like a internet connected camera, you can chose a lower bitrate that gives higher compression, but set aside part of the image to be higher quality, lower compression. You draw a box after clicking Draw and then click Stop Drawing when done.
This is the typical Image settings screen on Hikvision cameras. This is where you set options related to the image like brightness, contrast, exposure, white balance. Also Day/Night switching is done here.
Backlight Settings is where you can set WDR, a popular choice. I set mine to 20 to get about the right level of contrast in shadows. The downside to setting this higher is at night, you’ll get more noise. I try to set this off where I can, and only use it in high-contrast situations.
Another setting that’s useful is Noise Reduction Level under Image Enhancement. Noise reduction takes noise and smooths it out. Too much and it compromises detail, too little and the image looks grainy. One issue I’ve seen out of setting this high is that you get traces on moving objects. For this review, I set it to 50.
Now onto the images. I mounted the camera with the lens set at 2.8mm wide angle and 12mm full telephoto under the eave of my garage. Also mounted in my backyard and set the lens about half way up the range at about 6mm. As before, you can click on the image to see the full size 3 megapixel image straight from the camera. Also as before, I set the max exposure time to 1/30th which is a good compromise between low light performance and movement.
This is a day shot in the backyard, color balance is quite good and it’s a clear and sharp image.
At night, with WDR turned off, the larger illuminators help light up the area pretty well. Coverage is good at the ~6mm lens setting.
With WDR set to 20, it brightens up the image at the expense of slightly more noise. I normally set noise reduction to 100 but found it causes tracing of moving objects, so I kept it at the factory defaults where this is not an issue. You can reduce noise further by increasing this setting.
In the driveway, with the lens set to 2.mm and WDR turned off, the image quality is good.
Turning WDR on helped a little, but not in significant way. Slightly more detail in the shadows.
Just wanted to show you the camera in the rain and also see what a 1080P image looks like as the above images are in 3MP mode.
Also took one image in 12mm mode which provides a nice close-up of the left side of my home. The mailbox is about 50′ away. This way you can compare an object 50′ in both 2.8mm above and 12mm below. What I like about varifocal lenses is the ability to experiment and see the trade-offs between having a nice wide view but poor pixel density to a narrow shot with a better change of being to ID a person or vehicle.
At night, the image is pretty good with my only complaint is that at 2.8mm, while the IR illuminator overall has wide coverage, there’s a definite spotlight effect in the center of the image not noticeable at 6mm. I believe what they did is create 2 different lighting areas with the 2 LED rings. One set for wide, one for narrow which is brighter. Sort of how Dahua manages near and far LEDs on it’s IR PTZ cameras that I previously reviewed but with both sets of LEDs on full time.
At night with the camera set in Day mode, so you see color, the brightness and noise is decent. If you have an area with some lighting, in my case the street light across the street and a pair of LED porch lights, you may want to leave in color mode.
I uploaded day and night videos to YouTube. You must click on the gear icon and select 1080P quality and then click on the icon with 4 corners to see the video full screen. The videos were extracted from Milestone XProtect NVR software.
For a full featured varifocal bullet, this camera has good clarity, decent low light performance, good color accuracy. I found the camera, the upgraded “S” version for as low as $259.99 with free shipping from Wrightwood Surveillance, it’s definitely worth trying one out.
The pluses for this camera are;
- Price & Value
- Local SD card storage for recording
- Very good low light performance in color
- 3MP, 1080P or 720P resolution
- S version has audio and alarm input & output
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- Ability to record to NAS and playback from the camera
The shortcomings for this camera are;
- IR LED coverage could be better for wide angle lens settings
Click here to go to the company web page for the camera.