The P1344 and P1346 are both static IP cameras from Axis Communications which can deliver security footage to HDTV standards. What does this mean? Well, HDTV standards ensure the cameras can deliver high-definition images at full frame rates together with high colour fidelity. The P1344 can deliver 720p footage which is 1280×720 resolution at 30fps and the P1346, 1920×1080 resolution also at 30fps. We are going to look at both and see how they stackup.
What do you get?
Let’s take a look what you get in the box with each camera
Fig 1: Axis P13 box contents
- Camera unit and lens
- Stand for ceiling or wall mounting
- Installation guide
- Connectors for power and alarm terminals
- CD-ROM including installation tools and Axis Camera Station One (free one channel recording software)
- Camera MAC address and serial number labels
What’s the difference?
|Max resolutions||1280X800 (1MP)||2048×1536 (3MP)|
|Lens||3-8 mm DC-iris varifocal lens||4-10 mm P-iris varifocal lens|
Table1: Key differences between P1344 and P1346
Apart from the main differences the cameras are very similar, they both come in the same zinc casing, have day/night functionality, and will work with Power over Ethernet or a DC power connection. Two-way audio is provided by the 3.5mm mini-jack sockets and the camera’s built-in microphone. One alarm input and one alarm output allows connection of external sensors and alarms.
P-iris (P1346 only)
The P1346 includes Axis’ new P-iris which offers precise iris control resulting in images with better contrast, clarity and depth of field. Whereas a DC-iris just maintains the amount of light entering through the lens, the P-iris in conjunction with the P1346 adjusts the iris based on the image quality and not just the light level.
Multi-view (P1346 only)
Both cameras include digital pan, tilt and zoom functionality but the P1346 includes multi-view streaming. This allows you to configure up to eight independent streams with full or cropped resolutions which can include digital PTZ control. This feature could provide multiple video windows inside Axis Camera Station and would allow you to concentrate your monitoring on only the important areas of the image.
One drawback to this is that in most camera management solutions each stream requires a channel licence meaning if you do want to use eight streams you would need 8 channel licenses.
Remote Back Focus and focus assistant
Axis have made these cameras easy to setup and install. As well as Power over Ethernet which allows both the power and data to share the same network cable, the cameras have Axis’ new Focus Assistant. This feature allows the camera to be roughly focused without the need to view the camera footage. The status light on the camera has three colours: red, orange and green, and the camera uses a combination of these to indicate the focus.
When the camera is roughly focused all the fine focusing can then be performed remotely by logging into the camera where you can automatically or manually focus the camera using the motorised remote back focus.
Configuring the cameras
Both cameras are simple to setup and come with DHCP enabled by default so they will be automatically assigned an IP address when connected to your router. Axis also provide their IP utility software which locates cameras on your network and can alter the network configuration if required.
The P1346 has three mutually exclusive modes of operation which you are required to select between when you first set up the camera, either: 3MP at 20fps, 1080p at 30fps or 2MP (4:3) at 30fps. If you wish to then change sensor modes after this point, some settings in the camera will reset (see the camera’s warning on this to the right).
In figure 2 and 3 you can see the sharpness of image quality for each camera, but look more closely (click pic to enlarge) and it’s clear that the P1346 image contains much more information and therefore image clarity and sharpness.
We tested both cameras with their HDTV resolutions to see the typical bandwidth required for streaming. Tests were carried out in MJPEG and H.264 at 30% image compression.
|Axis P1344 720p||Axis P1346 1080p|
|H.264 (minimum movement)||0.5 – 1Mbit/sec||1 – 2Mbit/sec||H.264 (maximum movement)||5Mbit/sec||10Mbit/sec|
Table 2: Test results for streaming video footage
Against MJPEG which requires a constant bit-rate, H.264 is adaptive and bandwidth consumption can vary more directly in relation to the proportion of movement in the video frame.
We tested the cameras in the same position we took the example snapshots from (fig 2 & 3). This scene has limited movement, though the occasional car or truck, but the cameras handled this with a bit-rate of around 1Mbit/sec for 720p and 2Mbit/sec for 1080p. To test the camera’s upper limits for bandwidth consumption with H.264 compression we physically moved the camera itself to replicate a large amount of scene activity. The results increased by up to 10x, but a statically mounted camera would be extremely unlikely to reach these upper limits. With H.264 compression on these cameras the bandwidth used will vary significantly depending on the scene, even with no movement in the scene.
We tested the cameras in a few different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome) for viewing both MJPEG and H.264 footage. H.264 ran smoothly on all browsers using ActiveX with Internet Explorer and a QuickTime plug-in with Firefox and Chrome. With MJPEG some of the larger resolutions from the P1346 struggled to stream smoothly in Firefox and Chrome but ran fine in Internet Explorer. Both Firefox and Chrome display images in MJPEG without using a plug-in while Internet Explorer uses ActiveX which allows it to stream the footage more effectively.
Both cameras have an SD card slot that allows the recording of footage when an event is triggered. Both cameras are highly configurable with a wide choice of triggers, however we noticed there is no trigger for network disconnection which would ensure the camera recorded in the case of network outages.
Footage on the SD card can easily be played back in a web browser and recordings can be downloaded from the camera with an FTP client. Information on how to download the footage from the camera seems to have been excluded from the user manual, and we had to contact Axis to find out how this is done.
Both cameras seem sturdy and well made with their metal casings: the cameras feel solid. With an Axis IP camera you get a very easy to use and intuitive user interface which makes configuring the camera simple. Axis have made these cameras easy to install and there are enough options to adapt them to any security application.
SD card recording is a new addition to Axis cameras, and it shows. The user manual shows you how to view the footage in the web browser but has no mention of how to get the recordings on to your computer. We found that you needed to access the camera with an FTP client to download the recordings, but the camera has a Linux file system and you need to know where to look to find them.
The image quality on both of these IP cameras can be easily seen from the example screen shots but what we cannot show you is the quality of the video streams. When streaming at 30fps both cameras deliver smooth TV-like motion and with H.264 they provide footage which is not that far from MJPEG in quality, but requires minimal bandwidth and storage.
The Axis P1344 delivers crisp, sharp 720p HDTV images at a reasonable price point and we would recommend it to anyone looking for more detail than a VGA resolution IP camera would provide.
The P1346 goes one further with 3 megapixel and 1080p resolutions which would be suitable for any application requiring high detail for easy identification of people or objects or to cover a large area and do the work of multiple IP cameras.