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Evaluation: Axis M1054 IP Camera

January 4th, 2011 by Greg Innes

Axis M1054 HD security camera, integrated light and PIR sensor and PoE compatibility

If you take a look at Axis’ IP camera line-up this year you will see a High-Definition-variant at every price level, from high-end pan/tilt/zoom domes to entry-level fixed models. They are taking the drive for better image quality seriously and they are not limiting this to their high-end models.

Launched in the spring of 2010, the Axis M1054 is the successor to their top-selling 207MW. This camera becomes the flagship model in their M10-series, boasting the same stylish design and robust performance of the M1031-W but offering a more security-centric set of features. Let us explain…

Summary of Key Findings

The camera is compliant with HD standards, offering up to 720p HD video at full frame-rate. The increased resolution and horizontal viewing angle provides greater levels of detail. There is a slight fish-eye effect on the lens and we noticed the focus was a little soft, especially towards the corners of the image, but overall it provides more detail than other models from Axis’ M10-series.

The M1054 is ideal for applications in small- to medium-sized enterprises, with a wealth of features designed for serious security applications. The software on the camera is mature and provides a lot of flexibility when designing your system.

So what has it got?

How about HD video? The M1054 supports 720p HD video streaming at up to 30 frames per second, offering greater levels of detail than the other cameras from the M10-series. This allows for up to 21 resolution settings available from the camera interface, starting at 176×144 up to 1280×800 pixels in three aspect ratios.

They’ve dropped MPEG-4 support in this model and shipped it with MJPEG and H.264. This is probably no bad thing – H.264 is the format of choice for HD video as it uses significantly less bandwidth over the other two formats. MJPEG compression continues to be supported for maximum compatibility.

An integrated light and PIR sensor. The camera’s high intensity LED has a range of 6 m but this is increased when the light bounces off walls and surfaces. The PIR sensor detects heat and can be used as an alarm trigger so any intruders who approach the camera in the dark can be spotted. The camera can then be instructed to activate the LED and send images by email.

A built-in microphone and speaker. This allows for 2-way communication without having to use/purchase any additional equipment, making the M1054 a low-cost solution for video-conferencing set-ups or for warding off intruders.

Wireless connectivity has been removed and replaced with Power over Ethernet support, but Axis supplies a regular PSU and not a PoE injector. If you want to run it PoE and you do not have a PoE-enabled switch, you will need to purchase a separate injector.

Unique to the M10-series, the M1054 also includes a 4-port terminal block. These are used to provide one input and one output trigger for external devices, giving you the option to customize the camera’s capabilities. Examples of this would be when the camera is set up to open a door from the web interface, or to sound an audible alarm if movement is detected.

Included Items

Axis M1054 HD security camera - included accessories

  • Axis M1054 IP camera
  • Power supply
  • Stand
  • 100 mm extension for stand
  • Clamp
  • Installation guide
  • CD with installation tools, recording software and user manual
  • Windows H.264 decoder (1-user licence)

There is no denying that the Axis M10-series of cameras are some of the most stylish on the market today. The M1054 is no exception. Its sleek, contemporary design would fit into any modern office environment.

However, we have to question the inclusion of a regular power supply when the camera’s wireless connectivity has been removed in place of PoE support. This will result in users in having to run two cables to the camera if they do not have, or have not purchased, a switch. We feel it’s probably a question of cost as some of Axis’ higher-end models include a PoE injector, so look out for pack-ins when you purchase one of these cameras. Some sellers (including ourselves) can supply a reasonably priced PoE midspan with your purchase.

Image Performance

Images below are taken from the Axis M1054 in varying light conditions using MJPEG snapshot at 30% compression. Click images to enlarge:

Axis M1054 - example shot during daylight hours

14:00 – Daytime 1280×800 (16:9) – daylight at approx. 2000 lux

Axis M1054 - example shot in artificial light

23:00 – Evening 1280×800 (16:9) – artificial light at approx: 4 lux

Axis M1054 - example shot at night with minimal illumination

23:00 – Evening 1280×800 (16:9) – camera LED off – dark at approx: 0 lux

Axis M1054 - example shot at night using camera's built in light

23:00 – Evening 1280×800 (16:9) – camera LED on, room at approx: 0 lux

We found the images from the Axis M1054 to be much more detailed than the previous M10-series models due to the 1 MP 1/4” CMOS sensor. The horizontal viewing angle is also considerably larger at 84 degrees (compared to 47 degrees) which allows more of the scene to be captured at once.

Colours were very natural on default settings, but as ever with Axis there are plenty of options to adjust so you can fine-tune image quality/exposure to get the optimum image for your scene.

On the downside, due to the wide angle lens there is a definite fish-eye effect present with no means in the software to correct for this. We found the images to be a little softly focussed and felt happier cranking the sharpening setting up to full and the contrast up a notch to add a bit of depth. We also felt the images lost a bit of focus at the corners of the picture.

We’re nitpicking though – the image quality from this camera is outstanding given the size and price and the frame-rate never drops below 30 fps across the local network at any given resolution/compression format.

Findings

H.264

The downside of having H.264 support as the only alternative compression format to MJPEG is that it requires more processing power on the computer doing the decoding. However, most modern computers have more than enough power to cope. We tested using a standard netbook (1.6 Ghz, 2 GB RAM) and it was fine pushing out 30 fps at 1 MP in H.264. One thing to bear in mind is that if you are planning to have a large system with many cameras running at H.264 then you should consider the specification of your monitoring PC more carefully.

For most users this is of no concern. The bandwidth savings alone more than make up for the slightly increased demands on the viewing PC. Take a look at the following graphs from one M1054; the top shows traffic using MJPEG while the bottom is using H.264. Remember there is very little difference in image quality between them:

M1054 bandwidth data using MJPEG video compression

MJPEG traffic – Graph shows approx: 40% bandwidth use

Axis M1054 bandwidth data using H.264 video compression

H.264 traffic – Graph shows approx: 5% bandwidth use

LED/PIR

We have one word of advice: don’t look directly into the LED or it will burn your eyes off! Seriously, it is bright. It is a high intensity white light LED which not only illuminates a reasonably sized room but can act as an effective deterrent too.

Used in conjunction with the Passive Infrared sensor, the light can be made to switch on when movement is detected. The PIR works based on heat so it can detect movement in the dark.

The system works very well and you can set different levels of intensity and even have it strobing for a set period of time (we can only assume to accompany an alarm warning noise).

Mic/Speaker

We found the microphone and speaker to be perfectly adequate for their intended use. It’s not CD quality but it is clear enough to be understandable.

You can also use the speaker to play warning messages based on alarm triggers. The camera comes with four pre-loaded sounds (such as a dog barking or an intruder warning) but you can also record your own custom sounds.

One downside is that we found the speaker wasn’t particularly loud and could be drowned out if the camera is placed in a room with a lot of background noise. However, we think that the inclusion of a built-in speaker in a camera at this price should be considered a bonus feature.

PoE

The camera operates to IEEE802.3af standard as a Class 2 device (max. 6.5 W). This means that any PoE midspan/switch which operates to this standard will be able to supply power to the camera through a standard Ethernet cable.

We tested using a PowerDsine 1-port PoE midspan in the office and found it powered the camera with no problems.

Market

The feature-list for this camera suggests that it is being targeted firmly at business users rather than the residential market. Features such as PoE connectivity, anti-tampering alarm, 4-port I/O terminal, and integrated light with microphone and speaker are all features fit for serious security camera applications and are unlikely to be needed in the home.

The lack of wireless connectivity alone will discount this as an option for many average home users, but it’s not to say that the camera shouldn’t be used in the home at all. The higher resolution and increased viewing angle would be welcome features. After seeing the benefits of HD, we would find it very difficult to settle for a VGA camera.

Conclusion

Axis has really been pushing HD this year with their new camera releases and we reckon this is the right move. Higher levels of detail coupled with full frame-rate video meets the needs of a demanding industry.

The M1054 is a compact, stylish camera with a wide range of flexible features and excellent 720p HD image quality. It is ideal for any security application for SMEs and, to a lesser extent, home owners. The camera design is very attractive and wouldn’t look out of place in any business environment. With its small form factor (the camera is only 95 mm high) it’s easy to forget it’s there.

For any small- to medium-sized business that wants to add high resolution security cameras to their system, we recommend the M1054. It is a fine complement to the Axis’ M10 line up.

13 Responses to “Evaluation: Axis M1054 IP Camera”

  1. Dave Smith says:

    Hello,
    Nice review. I’m looking for a fixed HD IP camera to monitor a small inside room. I’ll also need an outside camera sometime in the future. The only broadband available at my location is Verizon 3g (4g maybe next year). I have a 5GB usage limit each month so I’ll have to setup some sort of local storage. I’ll have motion detected email alerts activated when I’m traveling. I’ve been trying to locate a small HDSD networked storage unit (or something else) to which the camera can store its video. Any suggestions for the Axis M1054? The camera doesn’t have local storage.

    Thanks,
    Dave Smith

  2. Greg Innes says:

    Dave,

    You could try a NAS box which has FTP access. You could get the camera to FTP images to that on alarm. Will just be still images though…

    Trouble is that the M1054 won’t be able to send video files like that. The only way to store video (and allow a meaningful search facility of your stored video) is to use a recording application such as the free Axis Camera Station One which comes with the camera. You would need a PC to run that though which would be on 24/7.

    Another alternative is a web-based CCTV solution. We have a web-based app called SecurityStation which will support the M1054. This app records your video events based on motion detection and stores to the cloud allowing you to access your surveillance footage from anywhere in the world. It also has iPhone interface. (see http://www.securitystation.com for more details). This is currently available in the UK but we will be rolling this out to the US and other regions soon.

  3. Alex says:

    I would look into buying a synology diskstation. They have a surveillance setup in them that works very well.

  4. Harold Maupin says:

    The statement “The PIR sensor detects heat and can be used as an alarm trigger so any intruders who approach the camera in the dark can be spotted. The camera can then be instructed to activate the LED and send images by email.” is simply not true. In order to use the PIR sensor or any other trigger to turn on the LED requires extensive coding in the Axis proprietary scripting package. AXIS support also advises not using the LED for long periods as it will burn out.

    The speaker is not audible in normal work environments, which makes the barking dog a joke.

  5. Greg Innes says:

    Hi Harold.

    Thanks for your comments. Let me explain a bit further.

    The M1054 has a built-in PIR sensor. This detects movement and can be used as a trigger in the camera for events. Because it’s a Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) it also can detect movement in complete darkness, which is ideal with a camera which has a built-in light.

    It’s very easy to set up the PIR sensor to act as a trigger. Simply set up a new event in the ‘Event Types’ option in the camera and choose the PIR sensor as the method of triggering. It’s simple to set up and there shouldn’t be any need to delve into any complex scripting for this functionality. It’s all there in the camera!

    I do agree with your point on the LED. It’s not meant to be on permanently overnight, it’s designed more for coming on suddenly when someone walks by to act as a deterrent.

    If you have any more questions let me know.

  6. Hi,

    Thank you for a great review!

    I’m considering the M1054 for personal usage, and it seems to suit my needs perfectly.

    However, I’m running an all-Mac environment and I’m not ensured that the AXIS cameras are Mac OS X compatible. The information given on the AXIS web site isn’t quite clear.

    Do you have any experience on running AXIS cameras on a Mac, or do you know their compatibility with Mac OS X?

    Best regards,

    Martin Bekkelund
    Norway

  7. Gordon Wood says:

    For MAC users, you will have problems.
    The AXIS cameras require IE for full capability.
    For example, if you use FireFox you will not be able to see all of the video but you will not have sound or sound controls.

  8. Jason says:

    That’s assuming you are using the Axis software correct? My home network consists mostly of Macs and I would most likely use this camera with my Synology box and use their surveillance package instead.

  9. Ken J says:

    I recently installed a 3367 for parking surveillance and am reasonably happy with it. The M1054 looks like it would work well as an entry camera, but I’m not sure it could be used outdoors. Although it would be mounted in a covered sheltered entry and not exposed to rain or direct sun, the temps will drop below 32F in the winter can occasionally drop below 0F overnight. Any suggestions?

  10. Thomas James says:

    I have a previous model of this camera and have had nemerous positive experiances with the unit during my travels to third world countries where security is always required at hotels . In any event, I await I am sold on the idea and await with anticipation the prospect of obtaining the new and improved model on an urgent basis. Please advise.

  11. Ruben.cc says:

    I am looking into implementing various AXIS network cameras for a small company. I had some questions about their Camera Station software and very unreasonable licensing system. I send these directly to AXIS using their support form. So far I am still waiting for an answer. Since it has been a few days now, I’ve had time to look around for a company that DOES respond to pre-sales questions and found various brands that give better support (read: quick response) than AXIS does (read: ignoring new customers). I think that support is as important as the product itself and AXIS doesn’t seem to get this.

  12. tom says:

    Hi,

    I stumbled on this page trying to find more info on this camera.
    I currently use cheap foscam camera’s and they work quite good for their price.
    However I would love a camera with mic that starts to record when triggered. ( movement or/and heat)
    So not just ftp pictures but video and more important sound.
    Especially during working hours.
    The video and sound needs to be in sync and send to the cloud or I could keep it local.
    I then could check on our employees or let our girl at the hardware desk hear what happens in the pickup yard. Currently I run a UTP cable across but I’m not sure if this camera can store sound and video when triggered. Also how good is the mic ?

  13. Ken says:

    I have used Axis cameras on Macs by running the Station One software within VMware. I ran it 24/7 on an old MacBook and it ran flawlessly.

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