Comparison of mini bullet HFW-4231E-SE with 3 other cameras

tigerwillow1

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These 3 posts are comparing a newly acquired 6mm HFW4231E-SE 2mp starlight "mini" bullet camera to the three camera types I already use. Two of them are widely available 4mp chinese region cameras, and the other is a 2mp starlight varifocal zoom (in the bullet format). As a spoiler, I really like this new camera and will likely fill out the system with a few more. For context, I'm not a chinese region camera hater. I've been using nine of them out in the rain and snow with temps from -20 to 100+, going on two years, with 100% reliability. I'm not attempting to encourage or discourage use of the chinese region cameras, just giving first-hand information. Since I bought the first camera the economics have changed with the cost difference in dollar terms between the chinese and international cameras having narrowed, and we've gained a reliable supplier for the international cameras at reasonable prices. With these four camera models it's a clean tradeoff between image quality, features, and cost, with all of them having had (so far) excellent reliability. A big factor in my attraction to the mini bullet is its smaller size compared to the other models.

General info for all the comparisons:
- The camera's own IR is in use unless otherwise noted.
- The zoom cameras are set to the same FOV as the 6mm mini bullet.
- All exposure settings are at their default.
- The chinese region cameras are using english firmware 2.420.0000.22.R hacked to run on the chinese region hardware.
- All cameras are running at their maximum allowed fixed bitrate, so the 4mp cameras need more storage space.
- The mini bullet camera has a micro SD card slot, the lower cost chinese region camera models don't.

The first comparison is with a chinese region HFW-4431M-I2 6mm fixed focus camera. First, daylight shots, the mini bullet first. The mini bullet has a larger FOV because of its larger sensor size.

day-4231.jpg

day-4431M.jpg

These are crops of the daylight image. No surprise that the 4mp camera's image is a bit sharper with good light. Mini bullet image first.

cat-4231.jpg

cat-4431M.jpg


Night shots. The mini bullet's image is obviously sharper with less noise. Mini bullet first.

night-4231.jpg

night-443M.jpg

These images are with no IR light and a bit of moonlight. There's a bit to see in the mini bullet's top image. The 4431M's image shows nothing.

noIr-4231.jpg

noIr-4431M.jpg

The size comparisons:

sizeSide-4431M.jpg

sizeFront_4431M.jpg
 
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tigerwillow1

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This post compares the HFW-4231E-SE 2mp starlight international mini bullet with the chinese market HFW-4431R-Z 4mp varifocal zoom camera. I've thought for a while that the prior post 4431M's image was sharper than the 4431R-Z's image. After looking at these pictures I think they're pretty equivalent. The first pictures are full daylight, mini bullet first.

daylight-4231.jpg
daylight-4431R.jpg

Crop of the tiller shows the 4431R-Z has a sharper image, mini bullet first.
tillerDay-4231.jpg
tillerDay-4431.jpg

The same tiller crop in low light daylight still shows the 4431R-Z (second photo) with a sharper image.
tillerLowday-4231.jpg
tillerLowday-4431.jpg

The tables are turned in the dark. The 4231E-SE (first image) not only has a sharper image, but more even IR coverage.
ownIR-4231.jpg
ownIR-4431R.jpg

A crop of the tiller shows the mini bullet (first photo) having a sharper image with less noise.
tillerOwnIR-4231.jpg tillerOwnIR-4431.jpg

With all IR off, the 4231E-SE (top) picks up distant security lights. The 4431R-Z registers nothing.
cropHouseLights-4231.jpg
cropHouseLights-4431.jpg

Size comparison. The 4431R-Z is smaller than the 4431M, but still pretty big compared to the mini bullet.

sizeSide-4431R.jpg sizeFront-4431R.jpg
 
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tigerwillow1

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This post compares the HFW-4231E-SE 2mp starlight international mini bullet with the 5231E-Z 2mp starlight international varifocal zoom camera, the bullet equivalent of the highly recommended starlight varifocal turret camera. In addition to zoom, the 5231E-Z adds audio input, audio output, and external event trigger lines. (Plus a higher price and larger case). Which gives a better image? You can see for yourself. After comparing the images for too long, my take is that the 5231E-Z is, overall, very slightly better. A close call, however.

These first images are at low daylight, within 10 minutes of the automatic morning switch from b-w to color. Mini bullet is the second image. When I look at high resolution versions, the 5231E-Z image is just a wee, itty-bit sharper.

firstLight-5231.jpg
firstLight-4231.jpg

These night images are with external IR lighting, mini bullet second. When I look at higher resolution versions the exposure is fairly different between the cameras. I tried to make them look the same with editing software and did not succeed. Hard to say which one is better, they're just different. Mini bullet is 2nd picture.

extIR-5231.jpg
extIR-4231.jpg

These images are using each camera's built in IR. As with the previous night images, the exposure is just different. The mini bullet, 2nd picture, looks to have more even IR lighting.

ownIR-5231.jpg
ownIR-4231.jpg

This is a crop of a passing visitor, with the mini bullet on the right. The IR for both cameras was on when the skunk went by.

skunk-5231.jpg skunk-4431.jpg

Finally, the size comparison.

sizeSide-5231.jpg sizeFront-5231.jpg
 

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seaton

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Amazing post. I am surprised there has not been more comment on it. looks like a nice little camera, nice to see them side by side.

I was curious about cameras like the IPC-HDW4631C-A, it is supposed to be starlight and shows good lux numbers.

Does the Chinese really matter short of support / upgrades ? I mean at $60 as long as I get some use out of the camera for some time. They would be great to have a good starlight in areas like the garage that aren't high value, but still have visibility.
 

seaton

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well seems I can only find that one in up to a 3.6mm so far, so might have to go with something like you just kindly demonstrated for us for anything that isn't a broad view camera
 

awsum140

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Can the IR be shut off on the 4231E-SE? For the price and size it looks like a pretty decent camera and if auxiliary IR can be used to keep the bugs away from the lens, it would fit my needs perfectly.
 

tigerwillow1

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Can the IR be shut off on the 4231E-SE? For the price and size it looks like a pretty decent camera and if auxiliary IR can be used to keep the bugs away from the lens, it would fit my needs perfectly.
Yes, the IR can be shut off.
 

seaton

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Tiger, my understanding is that on of the strengths of the starlights are low light with no IR at all. Do you have any shots from them without IR ?

Thanks
 

fenderman

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Amazing post. I am surprised there has not been more comment on it. looks like a nice little camera, nice to see them side by side.

I was curious about cameras like the IPC-HDW4631C-A, it is supposed to be starlight and shows good lux numbers.

Does the Chinese really matter short of support / upgrades ? I mean at $60 as long as I get some use out of the camera for some time. They would be great to have a good starlight in areas like the garage that aren't high value, but still have visibility.
that is because bullets are a poor design choice...
IPC-HDW4631C-A, it is no starlight, its a china hacked camera...even the intentional/us region cameras that are 5mp labeled starlight perform poorly compared to the 2mp...
stop chasing megapixels...
 

seaton

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Thank you both. Odd how the 5mp labeled starlight with starlight specs aren’t.

Still these look useful in the right deployments
 

tigerwillow1

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Tiger, my understanding is that on of the strengths of the starlights are low light with no IR at all. Do you have any shots from them without IR ?

Thanks
There's one no-IR picture in each of the first 2 posts of the thread. I can't think of any way to convey how good the camera is with no IR, the pictures just show that in the conditions I had, the starlight camera gave a little bit of an image while the 4mp non-starlights gave nothing at all. The comparison pics in the 2nd post don't show date and time because I cropped them. They were "snapped" withing a few seconds of each other.
 

awsum140

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I took the plunge and ordered two 4231E-S from Andy on Sunday. Paid the invoice on Monday and got the cameras today! Outstanding service, yet again, from Andy. These are really small but seem to deliver great video, so far. After a Homer Simpson moment, "DUOOOOH", I got one configured and have it set up for a test over night. It's looking out my office window with the IR shut off, but there is a big auxiliary IR lighting up the back yard already. The daylight video is crisp and sharp. I'm waiting for it to cut to BW as dusk turns to night, right now. So far I'm very happy and may get a couple in 6mm as well.
 

awsum140

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Here's a comparison of the 4231E-S versus an SVC3 (don't ask) and a "no name" 4mp. Basically same fields of view but the BIG difference is that the 4231E-S are running with their onboard IR shut off and no auxiliary IR. The SV3C and no-name are both running with their onboard IR on. I didn't bother with daytime pictures because they again show a much better image quality.

I'm really very satisfied with these cameras, especially since I don't need their onboard IR. I was constantly going out to clean away spider webs with those other two, not to mention the vastly superior video quality. I know the bullet is not the best form factor, but in this case, mounted on trees and being able to keep the onboard IR shut down, they work really well for me.

SV3C. Note the bright spot in the tree on the left, it's the 4MP. Also note the "pool" of light on the right side about 2/3 of the way up the frame. That's a Tendelux 6 watt IR illuminator I'm fooling with.

FY_E_04-29-18.JPG

4231E-S, same view, onboard IR shut off. Again, note the "pool" of light about 2/3 of the way up the right side of the frame. I've got to lower the angle and get that street light out of the frame. Also notice no spot light in the tree on the left, there's a 4231E-S now.

FY_E_05-04-18.JPG

4MP no-name. Note the clock is off, it keeps rebooting and defaulting back to Beijing time. Also note the bright spot light of the SV3C on the upper left. The onboard IR is on with this camera, no way to shut it off.

FY_W_04-29-18.JPG

4231E-S. No more spot light of another camera and no onboard IR running at all. The only lighting is the streetlight about 100 or 150 feet away, behind the camera.

FY_W_05-04-18.JPG

PS - No need to comment on the "lawn".
 
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