IPcam: Testing new 4K (8MP) “2019” IP camera models from Dahua

In 2018 I made a video about 4K IP camera models from Dahua, since then my favorite model has been the HDW5831R. At the beginning of this year new 4K models became available in their “H265 Lite” line of cameras and I was curious how they would stack up, so, buckle up because this video is a long one!

The Video

And what a video it is this time, I tried to put way too much into it and it came out a little bit boring. But, if you are looking for information about these cameras and demo footage, you are certainly in the right spot! Take a look:

Shopping links

If you would like to buy one of these cameras I have some affiliate links, using these is voluntary but very much appreciated and helps me out greatly!

IP Cameras:
“Old” Favorite 4K Eyeball vari-focal: IPC-HDW5831R-ZE: http://geni.us/JxaSu

New Fixed Focus IPC-HFW1831E: https://geni.us/YR4v
New Vari-Focal IPC-HFW2831T-ZS: https://geni.us/yPu3I
New Vari-Focal IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS: https://geni.us/5KfCtLn (Adds external audio)

Mounts:
Wall mount boxes make it easier to make the cable to a solid wall and hide the cables inside of it!

HFW1831E: Wall mount box PFA121: https://geni.us/GfAB5Z
HFW2831T-Z(A)S: Wall mount box PFA135: https://geni.us/XRRSjd

PFB203W (for HD(B)W5831R-ZE) : http://geni.us/6fAwB
PFA137 (for HD(B)W5831R-ZE) : http://geni.us/1cYmiJT

Alternative shop:
Empire Tech is well known in the Dahua camera community and lots of people have had a good experience buying from him. I have personal experience with the shops listed above but dealing with Andy will also not disappoint: https://geni.us/9keJSO

Video Text Transcript

People have asked me to maybe provide a bit more text articles to go with the videos. I often make scripts of my video which I partially read and partially improvise off during shooting. As an experiment I’m going to include that script down below for people who really don’t like videos!

If anyone indeed finds this useful, drop me a comment to let me know, especially if you want me to do so more often in the video (also for other videos).

Transcript

Hey guys, welcome back to Intermittent Technology, I thought it was about time for an update video about 4K (8MP) IP camera’s. This time around I haven’t tested lots of different brands but instead I bought some newer Dahua models that on paper have interesting specifications and might dethrone my current favorite camera the Dahua HDW5831R.

So, let’s start with taking a better look at those newer models and see if they are better then the current champion.

[intro]

If you follow my channel you’ll probably have seen me tease my testings setup in a few videos already. I wanted to do a thorough comparison and thus wanted to use the cameras in a few different locations and situations.

These newer models I selected are this one and this one, specifically this is the HFW2831T-ZS which is a 8MP vari-focal lens model and then I also bought the cheaper HFW1831E that has the same sensor but has a fixed 2.8mm lens. They are from a different line from Dahua called their “H265 Lite” series. Sadly they aren’t available in my favorite eyeball model but I wanted to test them anyway because in the end, the housing is just that and the internals are most important to the image quality they deliver.

Let’s take a look at the paper specifications first and compare with my favorite model of last year. If you haven’t seen my video about that camera, you can check it out here.

I will have all models listed in the description below, if you want to help me and the channel out, using those links helps greatly with that and is very much appreciated.

So, let’s start with the biggest reason I wanted to test THESE cameras and that is the sensor size, as we can see here in the datasheet the sensor used in these new models is a lot bigger, the new cameras have a 1/1.8” sensor while my previously selected model had a 1/2.5″ sensor.

[sensor size comparison picture]

In theory that should mean that each pixel on the sensor is bigger and thus can receive more light. If that also translates to a better picture depends on the quality of that pixel, but that’s what we are going to see in the demo footage later on.

Next to the different size sensor the biggest advantage of these new cameras is that instead of 4K @ 15fps they can deliver 4K @ 30FPS making for a much more smooth motion. Although in general 15 FPS is considered more than enough for security purposes there are some purposes thinkable where you might benefit from a higher frame rate.

Other specifications are pretty comparable meaning lens angle and other capabilities. The reason I have two models is because one has a fixed focus lens and the other has a vari-focal lens. In my previous testing I noticed that models with the vari-focal lens deliver much sharper images then the fixed focus models so that’s why I bought both to see if that was the case again.

Well, after that I guess we should dive right into what most people want to see and that is the demo footage. Specifications are nice but in the end the only thing that matters is picture quality. Now I want to be clear up front, the next part will be filled with my personal opinions on the images and results. Image quality is in part always subjective I think but before people are offended, yes, these are my opinions on the cameras, I’m showing you the original unedited footage so if you have different opinions, that’s perfectly fine. 🙂

Oh, I will not be offering the original footage as a download. I’m using some special techniques to make the quality loss from YouTube’s compression as low as possible so what you are looking at is pretty close to original quality coming out of the camera directly. All shots were recorded with the cameras set to 10MBit in H265. In theory that could give the 15FPS camera an advantage in regards to recording quality but I wouldn’t run either of these cameras with that high a bit-rate normally anyway so for a comparison that should work fine.

I have selected 3 scenarios and we’ll look at each during a light and during a dark period. In most cases in the dark periods I have disabled IR except for on the camera being tested, otherwise all cameras would start regulating IR output and all kinds of changing lighting scenarios would appear.

Each time the order will be “old” favorite model from last year, then the fixed lens version of the new cameras and then the one with the varifocal lens. But the current camera will always be displayed in the top right of the screen.

The first scenario is an inside one and that in my office. My office is mostly only dimly lit using artificial lights. Let’s take a look:

[show footage, each time 10 seconds, overlay camera type in right top corner again]

Ok, after looking at that footage the new 30FPS is certainly apparent. I have tested the cameras mixed either in auto settings or in set modes using the lowest shutter speed for the equivalent FPS. The demo footage you just saw was with everything in the auto setting and all images came out pretty comparable in regards of brightness. [Insert shots while talking] My opinion is that the 30FPS is noticeable on the newer cameras but that the old favorite seems to provide a bit more sharpness, this is most notable on the sides for instance where my QuinLED PCB’s are stacked up. The fixed lens makes a horrible mess of this so downgrades quality a lot.

Ok, let’s move on, the next testing scenario is here, in my garage! At that point I made a single wooden board which was the 2 testing cameras on it with my older model to the side.

For this test I’ve set the camera to manual mode and set it to their lowest shutter speed equivalent to their FPS with a max gain of 50%. That means for the older model that’s 66.6ms and for the newer models that’s 33.3ms since they have twice the frame rate. That means the newer models get a bit darker. Setting them to the same 66.6ms as the older models brightens this up a little bit but surprisingly not to the level the old camera has. But since this makes the higher framerate unusable I decided to test with 66.6ms which is the lowest you can go while keeping 30FPS.

[show manual camera settings]

[Transition to dark demo footage of 3 cams, then to light demo settings]

Here we kind of see the same again. The 30FPS is very noticeable but the old favorite camera seems to produce a better image quality, at least to me.

[overlay old and new cam same settings] Also interesting is that when set manually the old favorite camera seems to produce a lighter image then the new cameras even with the same settings. I played around with this a little bit and changing the FPS and shutter speeds to match, the old favorite was still able to show and produce a brighter image. So although the newer cameras have a much bigger sensor currently I don’t see them as much better in low light situations. The only advantage they show is that their noise pattern is a bit better but the image isn’t brighter or less smudged.

Moving on to the third scenario and we’re back in my garden, I basically just nailed the board to the wall, next to the camera that was already hanging there and used a 1x POE input 4x POE output switch so they could all run over the same cable. Check out my video about running multiple IP cameras over a single cable in the description.

But here in the garden we have moving subjects in the form of chickens!

Let’s take a look at some daytime footage

[daytime footage of all cameras]

Here you can clearly see the different image angles of all the cameras. The fixed focus from the new camera model had the least wide view while the vari-focal version had the widest view. Oddly enough, in height all where pretty comparable, which I didn’t expect since the new vari-focal models shows a much wider image. [overlay still shots to illustrate].

Again, the sharpness of the old favorite model impresses here and shows a much clearer 4K image then the new models seem to be able to produce. I tried refocusing, even manually and playing with other settings but it just doesn’t seem to be able to match the same image quality.

Let’s see how they compare in this scenario but then at night.

[show demo footage of three cameras]
These shots where again taken with manual settings so that the camera cannot go below a shutter speed for the 30FPS framerate. For me immediately apparent is that the old favourite camera again manages to produce a much brighter image. Smearing and noise however seem to be a bit better on the newer cameras but I would have expected a much bigger difference between the older and new models since the new models have this much bigger sensor.

Let’s move to my last test scenario and that is again our large indoor LANparty. Although it’s indoor there is basically only a single scenario here and that is pretty dark. 😉

[show camera comparison footage]

Again, 30 FPS is nice, but the old favorite model seems to produce a lot sharper images and nicer colors in my opinion.

And well…. that kind of brings me to my conclusion. Should you buy theses newer big sensor models which offer 30FPS over the older favorite with only 15FPS? Well, even after using these cameras for a few months now, that’s a tough question to answer.

To be honest, although it depends on the situation, I think my answer in general would be no….. The older model offers a much nicer form factor, a microphone but in my opinion also a higher image quality in regards to sharpness and even night visibility. Although the new models have a much larger sensor and should receive more light, the sensitivity and other qualities of the sensor seem to be less than the older sensor used in the HDW5831. Yes, partly that is because it wants to show 30 FPS so has to use a higher shutter speed but even with that compensated away the older favorite model still produces a better and much sharper quality picture in my opinion.

I guess this is also why the older favorite model is part of Dahua’s Pro line while the new models are positioned in their Lite camera line. The Lite cameras have come down in price and the fixed focus is now around 100$ and the vari-focal is around 160$ while the HDW5831R remains around 200$.

But again, with that said, this is my opinion. If you value frame rate above all else, these new models aren’t bad cameras and I haven’t had any issues using them, they’ve been stable and worked well. They also have their positive sides for instance their web interface felt a lot snappier then it does on the older models which is definitely a plus.

[show mount footage]
The vari-focal version even changed my mind on this style of camera because the included mount is better than any I’ve seen on this type of camera because of the way the foot can be positioned.

Also I’ve recently used the vari-focal model for streaming a livestream where I used it as my PCB soldering camera and for that it worked really great. Check out my QuinLED-Dig-Uno soldering video, it was fully shot using this camera!

So it’s not that I don’t recommend this camera, they are pretty good, I just think that the old model offers a better image quality for most situations for about the same price. So unless you need 30FPS or a specific other feature, my advice would be to still get the HDW5831R over the newer Lite camera models. If you however like the form factor, 30FPS or newer platform better they are certainly not a bad buy either!

Again, if you would like to buy one of these cameras and this video helped you, consider using my affiliate link in the description, you can choose between Amazon and Aliexpress and I link to shops with which I personally have had a good experience on Aliexpress so you can get the best price on the net.

And well, that’s it really for this video. If you have any questions regarding the cameras, please let me know in the comments. The channel also has a Discord server and if you like the topics my channel, come hang out with us on there!

Thank you for watching, I know these are long videos to get through and I hope to see you back in a next video, bye bye! 🙂

Ending remarks

This was quite the video to make, especially because my video editor of choice Magix Vegas Pro just didn’t want to finish rendering the video in the end. I had to jump through hoops FOR DAYS to get something final out of it.

If you want to use Vegas Pro for 4K60, please reconsider, right now, at this point, there are too many bugs to do anything semi complex. 🙁

I even made a forum topic about it here, trying to let others know and sharing some tips on how to try and salvage their project.

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