Article Update: New side by Side comparision photos uploaded + both cameras have been in outdoor use continuous from around Oct 2014 ~ April 2015 (rain, hail, wind, snow, single digits temps) no issues with either.
First, why a 360 degree network IP camera? Because it provides a very wide angle and in some cases more flexible than a standard fixed lens camera. These cameras can be set up to stream "dewrapped" in various modes and wth one camera you can cover the entire front, side, or back of your home or inside a room. Beig such a wide angle camera zooming in on subjest is limited to the resolution as the lens is fixed. You lose some detail if you digitally zoom past a certain point and may pose some challenges in certain situations and that's why I use the camera as a secondary camera along side my corner cameras, giving me a view of everything on one side of the house. - nice.
I started with the the VIVOTEK FE8174V and upon arrival I unpacked the contents of the box and like most IP cameras they come with the tools you need to make the installation pretty fast.
Comparison between the Vivotek FE8174V and Axis M3027-PVE: Both cameras come housed in an all metal IP66 sealed housing. The Vivotek has a lower profile overall. The Axis is smaller in diameter and both are equally easy to connect to your network.
Attaching the cameras to your network:
- Axis implements the network cable into the camera body from the factory, and the user will need a straight through connector to connect the Ethernet cable to their cable. Funny Axis used this approach since the camera can be used outdoors and that will present challenges to the user concerning water getting into the connector. You will need to find a way to deal with that.
- Vivotek uses a pass through hole and a rubber grommet method, the user will need to push an Ethernet cable through, a grommet and then make the cable end and plug into the camera. I was able to cut the end of the rubber grommet off and apply some silicone and did manage to pass a complete Ethernet cable through, saving me time and frustration in building one - if you do this method use some silicone sealant around that connection.
Attaching the cameras to your house, ceiling, wall etc:
Both cameras come with templates for drilling. Axis in my opinion has a better design, mount the base, open the cameras with the wrench, then attache the cameras to the base with the included screws, then close the camera - DONE. Nice and secure.
Vivotek has a base that rotates onto the bottom of the camera but you need to screw in one very very tiny screw to keep the camera from being turned and removed by vandals. Too bad Vivotek did not include the tool for this screw, and with the screw being so small I suspect it will be dropped and lost at some point. Axis has the better solution in mounting.
Once the cameras are on the network finding them is straight forward if your network has network discovery turned on, both show up as a network device allowing you to right click and log onto the web interface to configure.
I use the embedded webserver to configure both cameras; AXIS has by far a superior interface, the best I have ever seen on a network camera. Allowing the user to configure any aspect of the camera features;
Vivotek has most of what you need but no way to adjust the color balance and mine show a slight yellowish tint. It does allow automatic or manual white balance but I keep it in auto.
What is in common: both allow the standard motion detection, privacy mask, different streams, email notifications, alarms, SD recording, As far as Software is concerned AXIS is tops and is much more refined by a long shot.
Both include a setup CD which I did not use.
Image Quality: Both cameras feature 5MP resolution sensors, but the Axis images are much cleaner and sharper with rich accurate color. The FPS are very similar, 15 and 12 fps in the fisheye view. In the panorama mode you get 30+fps, I prefer fisheye but if you do use pano you can access the digital PTZ features. but even with fisheye both cameras stream the video very well with acceptable smoothness.
- Vivotek has a 1/2.5" Progressive CMOS sensor with a 1.5mm f2.8 for a 2560 x 1920 resolution.
- Axis has a 1/3.2" progressive scan RGB CMOS with 2.8mm f2.0 lens 2592 x 1944
For image quality AXIS has a much better and cleaner image that holds up even in lower light.
Power: Both cameras have power over Ethernet and have worked without issues since the day I installed them. So, you will need a POE device or POE switch.
Neither camera has built in IR illumination but both have IR cut filters and use available IR light at night. You can buy an external IR light and connect it to the cameras if you wish. Both have adequate night vision but neither is stellar without the IR light.
Audio: The Vivotek camera comes with a built in mic, The Axis M3027 does not support Audio/Mic input. Note: Axis has upgraded the camera to the M3037 which now has built in Microphone, so if your out shopping you may want to consider the newer model.
Both camera offers the standard H.264, MPEG, JPEG streaming and both have ONVIF support which is a big plus for third party software support, both cameras fit perfectly with my other cameras.
Pricing: The Axis M3027-PVE will set you back nearly $750.00 while the Vivotek FE8174V runs around $600.00.
If you demand the best - Get the AXIS, if you don't mind the lesser image quality and dingy colors Vivotek may be an option.
The captured images below show various lighting conditions with both cameras set as close to the same settings as the software allowed.