There’s no denying it – Pan, Tilt, and Zoom security cameras are cool. The ability to move a camera from literally anywhere in the world, reposition, and view multiple areas add to their appeal without a doubt. One of the new ‘players’ on the field is the Axis Communications M5013/M5014 series IP cameras. These cameras are powered by a single (Ethernet) cable and provide for relatively easy installation because of this, and their size. Speaking of size, these cameras are extremely compact for for IP PTZ cameras; just take a look at the Axis site (http://www.axis.com/products/cam_m5014/) they literally fit in the palm of one’s hand. You might think that this probably makes huge sacrifices in terms of included technology and resolution; and you would be wrong. The M5014 – the one I’m focusing on in this review – is a 720p HD camera with H.264 streaming for bandwidth saving image transfer. So without further ado, let’s get into the details – the good and the bad – of this camera.
The (Physical) Camera:
The camera is constructed of a white plastic with a clear dome, and measures about 5 inches wide and 2.2 inches in overall thickness. It has a single Ethernet cable comes out the back and a spot for a micro sd card for storage of images and video events. It ships with a mounting plate and some plastic hardware pieces for attachment to the bracket. There is a small cutout on the front for the internal microphone as well (see photo – under the thumb). Overall it’s what you’d expect from a dome camera, small and discreet.
Don’t let me bore you with the details – I know what you really want to see – image quality samples. Below are full quality images taken at various time throughout the day, outside of course (this is an indoor camera but more about that below*). Click on the images to enlarge them. As you can see there is plenty of resolution for identification of cars, people, etc at this resolution. Axis has a nice guide on what distance and pixel requirements are needed for proper identification (http://www.axis.com/edu/identification/resolution.htm).
Note the camera can capture images with limited blur as in the photo above where the car is traveling at 20-30mph. Video does become more noisy as the amount of light decreases.
As you’ve noticed I have my M5014 mounted outside. This camera is meant for strictly indoor use and has an IP-51 rating against dust and dripping water. I chose to mount mine outside because the rating sounded exactly like our weather – dusty and (rare cases of) dripping water [rain]. It is mounted under an eve of a house and is covered with tape that has been painted the color of the house. So far it’s done fine, I’ll be sure to update this post with any changes. NOTE – FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS INCLUDED WITH YOUR CAMERA – PLAZOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES.
The M5014 was extremely easy to set up and install, much more so than the Mobotix (no surprise) or any Foscam. It truly was plug and play simple. Below are some screen shots of the settings menus which are similar on all axis cameras. The main login screen can be accessed with or without a password, or allow guests to view the image without changing the view. Inside the menu are all the various adjustments you could want. There are setting for video/audio streaming, PTZ presets, motion/audio detection, event recording, and more. Axis also supplies software for viewing/configuration which is available on their website (http://www.axis.com/products/cam_companion_software/index.htm). One can pan/tilt the camera by simply clicking on the image in the direction they want the camera to recenter on, i.e. put the red cross-hairs on. It should be noted that this camera only does DIGITAL zoom, no optical zoom; in other words your zooming in on the image and it becomes more grainy.
Axis cameras are supported by many DVR/NVR/Software recording products for archive of footage. Personally I use a Synology NAS with their Surveillance Station software which has proven to work great. However there are plenty of other options, or you could simply record events/video to the micro sd card you insert into the camera.
The Good…And The Bad:
After using this camera for over 6 months I feel that I can give a good honest assessment of it and its overall performance. Let’s start with the positives.
+$400-500 Range For A Name Brand, HD, PTZ IP Camera
+Quality Construction And Quality Software
+Compatible With Many NVR Boxes/Software
+Internal Storage (Via MicroSD Card)
And the Negatives…
- IP-51 But Not Fully Weatherproof
- Very Noisy Pan/Tilt!
- No Infinite Panning
- Huge Ethernet Connector On End Of Cable
- Poor Night Vision
If Axis fully weatherproofs this camera and makes some minor tweaks for *official* outdoor use, this will be an excellent product. If indoor panning/tilting at high resolution is what you want, the M5014 delivers, however the loud panning noise (which can be heard when standing below the camera) may make it more visible to customers or people walking by. In addition, in low lighting conditions the camera does begin to struggle and the image becomes rather noisy.
**Be sure to watch in HD for true resolution.**
*Top Image Courtesy of Axis Communications AB. All rights reserved.
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