xis 233D Network Dome Camera review

Price when reviewed

Axis has always been at the forefront of IP camera development, but with its 233D it’s truly launched the daddy of all network cameras. This ceiling-mounted dome PTZ camera is fast with a pan speed of 450 degrees per second, but what makes it stand out is its 35x optical zoom. Not only that, but the camera can drop rotational speed down to only 0.05 degrees a second, allowing moving objects to be easily tracked.

xis 233D Network Dome Camera review

The 233D is big (170 x 209 x 170mm, WDH), but Axis provides solid mounting plates to ensure it’s stable in either hard or drop ceiling environments. You also get a choice of smoked or clear polycarbonate domes. Image size isn’t as good as Axis’ megapixel cameras, but the 1/4in CCD offers resolutions up to 704 x 576 pixels, while frame rates go up to 25fps. The camera also has three, eight-pin I/O connector blocks, allowing a wide range of additional alarms and external devices to be added.

For installation, the bundled IP Installer utility searches for the camera on the network and presents it ready for configuration. Image quality is up to the high standard we’ve come to expect from Axis, with the 233D demonstrating sharp, clean focus and good colour balance. The lens mount can be controlled directly with sliders or by pointing in the live view and dragging the view to where you want to go. The longer you make the drag line, the faster the camera goes and, as with Sony’s IPELA SNC-RX550P (web ID: 117868), you get continuous 360-degree panning. Unlike Sony, however, the 233D also offers a full 180-degree tilt action, and if you’re following movement it will automatically flip the image when your subject passes under the camera.

We have no reservations about the zoom function, as it’s quite superb. Using the mouse wheel while pointing in the live view allows you to zoom in and out easily, and the level of detail at the limit of the optical zoom is remarkable. We were able to read a number plate on a car parked some 100m away. And with the camera placed at one end of a 25m corridor, we were able to clearly read 1cm-high lettering on the front cover of a book at the other end. Once the optical zoom limit has been reached, the camera switches to the digital zoom, but, as expected, image quality drops, making this of limited value.

Axis’ motion detection is impressive, and you can define up to ten areas where motion is to be detected or ignored. A real-time graph helps fine-tune the trigger sensitivity, and you can decide whether motion or the lack of it will cause an event. When activated, you can download images to an HTTP or FTP server or send them via email. You can also use triggers to cause the camera to move to a preset PTZ position. The guard tour function also uses these and can move the camera through selected preset positions.

The 233D delivers the best range of features we’ve seen on a PTZ camera. The price is high, but the huge optical zoom makes it ideal for long-distance, discrete surveillance.

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