Dahua HDW5831R-ZE review

Discussion in 'Dahua' started by wopi82, Feb 18, 2018.

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  1. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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    Hi everyone. This time I would like to present you a review of Dahua HDW5831R-ZE. This is my second security camera. The first one is HDW4231EM-AS the review of which can be found here. I purchased HDW4231EM-AS from official Polish reseller while the second one was bought directly from Andy, from China. I will highlight all pros and cons I observed during two weeks of playing with it.

    PACKAGE AND BUILD QUALITY

    The delivery took about 2 weeks from China to Poland. There was no branded box as in case of first camera, but that was quite obvious :)

    box.jpg

    Inside the box there was the camera, mounting screws, plastic parts for securing the plugs, CD with firmware, short manual and a sticker to match the holes for mounting. There was however no power supply. Luckily I had an original one from HDW4231EM-AS, as I exchanged it with 12V UPS, that keeps the camera working for over 3 hours if there is some power shortage.

    After unpacking I disassembled the camera to put the microSD card inside. This time it was much easier, because I had to unscrew only the main housing. In case of HDW4231EM-AS I also had to remove the circuit board to get to the microSD slot.

    disassambling.jpg

    This was also a good moment to wipe out some dirt from the front lens. I also noticed minor scratches on the front side glass and plastic, but these have no effect on camera functioning.

    scratches.jpg

    The wrench for unlocking the camera is a bit different from my previous one. It is a bit more bulky and didn't fit the screw that well, but eventually all went smoothly.

    wrench.jpg

    There are two IR LEDs above and below camera window, hidden behind black plastic. These are separated from the lens, so there should be no IR reflections during night. Overall the housing is identical to my HDW4231EM-AS turret which is all metal and very sturdy. The mounting is based on 3 screws as opposed to 4 screws in HDW4231EM-AS.

    WEB INTERFACE

    As to the web interface, it is identical to HDW4231EM-AS with exception to Dahua logo, which is replaced everywhere with "IP CAMERA" title.

    login-panel.jpg

    There are of course some additional features like zoom and autofocus, but this is dictated by functions available in camera. As soon as I logged to the camera, I've uploaded a new firmware (v2-622-0000000-18-r) provided by Andy in recent post. There were no changes with one exception. A new SSA option appeared in Backlight panel, which I thought was restricted only to Dahua’s Ultra series.

    It is worth mentioning, that HDW5831R-ZE sensor performance should be the same as in HDW5631R-ZE. That’s because they both have same pixel density. HDW5831R-ZE uses Sony’s IMX274 (see specification) while HDW5631R-ZE Sony’s IMX326 (see specification). Both sensors are Starvis and have exactly same specs. The only difference is that IMX326 has cut off sides giving a 3:2 aspect ratio image instead of 16:9. So assuming both cameras have same lenses with identical focal length, the spatial resolution will be identical, only HDW5631R-ZE will have significantly narrower horizontal field of view and slightly narrower vertical FOV.

    DAYTIME IMAGE

    At daytime the camera shines. There is really huge amount of detail it delivers.

    daytime.jpg

    There is however one thing I dislike. The amount of available bitrate. Dahua limits it to 10mbit/s, same as in case of fullHD. And while with fullHD it is totally enough, UHD is 4 times bigger. Such bitrate is simply not able to cope with that big image, and all details. Hikvision is limiting bitrate to 16mbit/s and that makes a difference. Surely, higher bitrate eats more space from hard drive/memory card, but if you multiply the resolution by 4, don’t expect to keep the same bitrate and get same coding quality. When I watch the video material, I clearly see that in some places the codec is not able to keep up with amount of detail. Especially, when there is some movement. Having 16mbit/s would be nice. Nobody is forced to use it. But it would be nice to have such option. There is also h265 available, however I was not able to use it with any software on Windows. Even Dahuas own SmartPSS Player is unable to play it. I’ve been already working with h265 from other sources, and it worked. But in case of Dahuas DAV files, I can’t watch or recompress them. So at this moment, h265 is totally useless for me.

    GAIN / NIGHTTIME IMAGE

    The first thing I did, was assessing ISO sensitivity of the sensor while going through the GAIN scale. As in previous review, I used Canon 6D DSLR for comparison. I put both cameras in totally dark room with only a faint 0.3W LED lamp turned on. The HDW5831R-ZE was zoomed all the way out, to get f1.4 lens brightness. On DSLR I also used Sigma 35mm f1.4 lens. Then I compared images. Here is the result. It is not super precise, but it can give you an overall idea of sensor’s behavior.

    ISO-8MP-vs-6D-small B.jpg

    I was little surprised to find out, the HDW5831R-ZE gets brighter image than HDW4231EM-AS at maximum GAIN. In fact, due to 1 stop brighter lens, they equalize already somewhere around GAIN 50. The ISO diagram for HDW5831R-ZE is steeper and starts at ISO25 but they both end somewhere around ISO20000.

    GAIN-ISO-chart.jpg

    After ISO assessment, I took the camera outside to compare it directly to HDW4231EM-AS.

    ISO 8MP vs 6D outside small B.jpg

    As supposed, the brightness equalize approximately at GAIN 50. Than HDW5831R-ZE’s image becomes brighter, reaching finally ISO20000. It all sounds great, but there is one catch. Due to much smaller pixel size – 1.62um vs 2.9um – the resulting image from HDW5831R-ZE quickly becomes extremely noisy. Noise reduction is doing its best to remove grain, but the higher we go in GAIN, the more detail we lose. As you can already see from ISO assessment, power plug visible on images becomes significantly blurry from GAIN 70 up. Higher amplification might be good only for global situation assessment if there is really dark. Even GAIN 60 is already quite noisy, while HDW4231EM-AS stays clear until GAIN 80. On the other hand, in case of UHD camera, we’ve got 4 times the resolution of fullHD. I was curious, what would be the result of scaling the image down to fullHD and adding some sharpening. Here is what it looks like.

    2MP vs 8MP.jpg

    It turns out, that an 8 megapixel camera can reach the detail level of 2 megapixel starlight even at GAIN 85, which – together with f1.4 lens - gives equal brightness as HDW4231EM-AS set at GAIN 100. The noise level is much higher on UHD camera, but after resizing, it becomes less distractive.

    Only after finishing all tests and relocating the camera to its new destination, I came to the idea of using its internal algorithm to resize video with available video formats, and check how it looks. So here is the result, but with no direct comparison to HDW4231EM-AS, as it would be extremely hard for me to dismount any of the cams.

    zestawienie-roznych-rozdzielczosci.jpg

    FullHD resolution looks like a joke. It is totally deprived of detail and destroyed. Out of all available resolutions 2560x1440 looks best. The noise level clearly drops and there is still lot of detail. Also additionally we get 25fps and still 10mbit/s :) Unfortunately video settings have no schedule for night and day. I would be happy to have such option only for nighttime.

    Anyway I have to admit, the fullHD camera is just more pleasing to watch, out of the box at night. So please don’t get me wrong. You can squeeze out similar detail level out of HDW5831R-ZE, but it requires either lossless recompressing, resizing and sharpening in separate software or video format modification. And that’s cumbersome. Static images will look very similar. But when something is moving, like a passing car, the noise is still more visible on HDW5831R-ZE whatsoever.

    porownanie-jadacego-samochodu.jpg

    WDR

    WDR function works perfectly. It catches even wider dynamic range than HDW4231EM-AS. Notice blown out parts of the sky on 2MP camera in comparison to 8MP.

    WDR comparison.jpg

    In below scene it was hard to distinguish any details of shadowed area with naked eye, and the sun was dazzling so heavily, that I couldn’t see the color of the sky. But the camera had no problem.

    WDR sunrise.jpg

    The level control works the same on both cameras. And so, real WDR activates from level 45. Till 50 it looks good. With higher numbers the image starts to resemble wonderland scene. If you like such style, go ahead :)

    Due to higher resolution, the artifacts, that were not so distracting on fullHD, are 4x larger on 4K. If someone is planning to use such camera for license plate recognition, it’s better not to use WDR, as it can ruin image details. In such case I would recommend using BLC.

    WDR-artefacts.jpg

    I’ve also noticed, that a snapshot function in web interface doesn’t record a full dynamic range of the scene you see in the window. So after saving, some parts of the image can be blown out, even though they were not in the web viewer. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning.

    In some descriptions on the Internet, WDR function is said to enhance color image at night. In case of HDW4231EM-AS after WDR activation, the image becomes washed out and more noisy, but also gathers some crispness. Or at least it retains its brightness level.

    WDR-at-night.jpg

    In case of HDW5831R-ZE, WDR function only drops the camera brightness way down.

    The SSA function I got after firmware update seems to work exactly the same as WDR, only with no level control. Just instant wonderland.

    ssa.jpg

    Turning WDR on, subtracts one frame from the framerate which is sad, because the camera has a maximum of 15fps, and that’s not much. And so, we end up with 14fps. When the resolution is dropped to say 2560x1440, 25fps option is available. But with WDR turned on, the framerate drops to 20fps. On HDW4231EM-AS there is no FPS loss.

    LENS, ZOOM AND AUTOFCUS

    Firstly I checked the zoom range. It is almost as stated in specs. 107 – 39 degrees fov.

    FOV2.jpg

    FOV1.jpg

    When zooming in, the lens is going slightly upwards and to the right. Zooming through the whole range is pretty fast, but than an autofocus comes in. Not only it’s slow but it’s inaccurate occasionally. I had quite a few situations, where I had to correct it manually. Two or three times, at night it was unable to get sharp image at all, even though the scene was lit by a street lamp. The zoom slider in web interface is awkward. It ranges from 0 to 1345 which tells the user absolutely nothing about lens FOV. It shows the number only when you rollover the slider knob. There is no visible scale. In other words, going from one precisely set view to other and back is based on trial and error, and you have to wait for autofocus (which freezes whole interface for a few seconds) every time you touch zoom slider. The most efficient way to use zoom is: set it once, and never touch it again.

    I’ve checked how much the lens brightness drops when zoomed all the way in. After comparing images with fixed parameters, my assessment is 1EV. So at wide end it is f1.4 and long end is around f2.0.

    The lens itself exhibits some problems with sharpness. Sometimes, when autofocus finishes its job, I have half of the frame ideally sharp, while the other half or one-third is blurry. Than I have to go manually one or two steps forward and backward with focus slider to correct it. Looks like the lens is occasionally shifting in reference to sensor’s plane.

    focus-problem.jpg
     
  2. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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    Flares are another issue. Look at the examples below.

    flary.jpg

    The most nasty one is the faint sparkle, which occupies at least 1/3 of the frame opposite to light source. It is visible even on my ISO/GAIN test images and WDR sample. My HDW4231EM-AS has no such problem whatsoever.

    AUTO IRIS

    Now, this is a function I don’t see any particular reason for turning on. Auto Iris, closes the iris if there is too much light hitting the sensor. Seems logical, but in case of such small pixels it is better not to stop down the aperture, because diffraction may ruin the image. If you want to know more about diffraction effect, read this article Diffraction Limited Photography: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks. That’s why most digital compacts have maximum aperture of f8. And here is, how it looks like on HDW5831R-ZE.

    auto iris test.jpg

    Higher aperture resolves the problem of vinietting and makes DOF more shallow. But it also makes the image look soft. Here I forced the camera to shrink the aperture, by using long exposure during daylight. Then I doubled the exposure to force the camera to close the iris twice more. On the middle image you can see, that the dark grey railing at the bottom becomes slightly sharper due to shallower DOF. But there is already some amount of softness visible through the whole image. The right image is totally soft.

    I also wonder, what situation would trigger the iris to close. The camera has exposure range from 1/3s to 1/100000. At 1/100000s even a midday scene with full sun overhead is dark. You would have to capture an atomic explosion flash to make it work ;)

    PERFORMANCE

    The overall performance of this camera is good. Compared to HDW4231EM-AS, it is dropping a bit more frames while viewing live or at recorded material. The time lag between real action and what you see on screen varies from 2s to 8s with an average of around 4s. With HDW4231EM-AS the time varies between 0.3s to 1s. Changing settings takes around the same amount of time on both cameras. There is a problem with motion detection area setting on Chrome. It freaks out, setting other boxes than you click and then it cannot save it. But on IE it is ok.

    IR

    IR LEDS range is similar to HDW4231EM-AS, reaching around 25m. At wide angle it is covering mostly central part of the frame, leaving corners in darkness. I’m not using IR LEDS due to two reasons. Firstly, it illuminates all sort of things in air and triggers motion detection. Even regular fog becomes “alive” with hundreds tiny particles floating in front of the lens like a plankton. Secondly IR LED creates nasty reflections in the front glass. It looks, like the lens inside is somehow catching IR light, and is reflecting its shape in the glass.

    IR-flare.jpg

    I haven’t noticed any significant problems with IR/COLOR focus shift. The image is indeed slightly soft in BW mode, but even after refocusing (automatically or manually) it is still that soft. I was worried that the softness will be significant at UHD resolution but it’s not the case. The shift is comparable to HDW4231EM-AS. Anyway it is not as bad as some of the examples we have seen on this forum.
     
  3. 0blar

    0blar Getting the hang of it

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    You have very good skills for review
    I wish to do the same but unfortunately i don't have your talent

    Great job !
     
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  4. Al*_*

    Al*_* Young grasshopper

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    WoW! Incredible job you did with your review(s). From an objective point of view non biased over whatever settings.

    I like to believe you invest a nice amount of time before deciding which system/camera fits you best. What made you decide for these turrets over a bullet or even ptz. Looks your cams are quite some distance from poi. I guess distance was why you opted for the 8mp. Me myself like the turrets because they look not to intrusive but I can see advantage over a bullet or ptz when poi is further away. I guess for even better quality the next step up for Dahua is to use L-glas ;)

    Thank you for this excellent review!
     
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  5. c hris527

    c hris527 Known around here

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    That's a review and a half, nice job on the detail.
     
  6. aristobrat

    aristobrat IPCT Contributor

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    It takes a lot of time to do a review this thorough. Nicely done!
     
  7. suddenstop

    suddenstop Getting the hang of it

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    Nice review! Do you think using h.265 would work better with the 10mbit limit? Would the quality look any better?
     
  8. spankdog

    spankdog Getting the hang of it

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    Excellent review. Thanks for sharing!
     
  9. gemgem

    gemgem n3wb

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  10. giomania

    giomania IPCT Contributor

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    Your reviews are spectacular, and listed as "Required Reading" in the cliff notes. :goodpost:
     
  11. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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    Thanks giomania :D

    @suddenstop h265 will surely reduce size of the video on the hard drive, but it will not make it look any better. In fact, when switching from h264 to h265 the limit drops to 8mbit/s. I've compared both codecs watching live view from my cams, and honestly there was not much difference.

    @Al*_* I like turrets just like you, because of their compact size. There is no certain POI for me. These cams serve just for general overview of sourrounding area. I'm a weather enthusiast, and always wanted to have the ability to see what's going on at my area, when I'm not home. That's why these cams are orientated partly to the sky. I had to fight with my own thoughts, whether to point them up (weather reason) or to tilt them down (security reason). It was a tough decision :D
     
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  12. Walt Dockery

    Walt Dockery n3wb

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    Nice review. Beginner question, why the ZE vs. the Z that seems to be more common here, is there any practical difference?
     
  13. giomania

    giomania IPCT Contributor

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  14. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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    Very certain reason. ZE supports WDR (DOL) while Z only supports Digital WDR. That's strange, because they both use same sensor.
     
  15. tangent

    tangent IPCT Contributor

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    Not sure what specific products you're referencing. AFIK, the HDW5831R-* only has a ZE version. The HDW5231R-Z does support WDR.

    The main differences with the HDW5231R-ZE are ePoe support and some differences in the design and optics. Some people have gotten HDW5231R-ZE's with manufacturing defects.
     
  16. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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    I'm talking about the difference between HDW5830R-Z and HDW5831R-ZE
     
  17. giomania

    giomania IPCT Contributor

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    What is DOL?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
  18. wopi82

    wopi82 Getting comfortable

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  19. tangent

    tangent IPCT Contributor

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    thanks for clarifying.
     
  20. Spooling

    Spooling Young grasshopper

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    Any idea where the WDR settings are in the camera menus? I can't seem to find them. Maybe I need to update the firmware?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018