H.265 IP cameras benefits (and drawbacks)

The new H.265 IP cameras are everywhere. Since video compression is essential and the H.265 CODEC is the ideal solution for high-resolution IP cameras, people are migrating to this new technology.

Read this article to better understand what are the benefits and drawbacks (yes, there are some) of using H.265 IP cameras in your CCTV project.

CODEC H.265

Hey, look at the graph below. See how H.265 (orange bar) is using much less bandwidth and storage than the other CODECs ? Let's talk about that. 

What is H.265 ?

The word CODEC is related to Encoding and Decoding, this means that it is a process involving two parts, where the first one will encode the video and the second one will do the opposite and decode it. This concept has already been explained in the article: How CCTV Codec works.

In a real situation the IP cameras send video to computers in a monitoring surveillance room. The process of video compression occurs in the IP cameras whereas the decompression occurs in the computers.

H.265 Compression and Decompression

In summary, H.265 is a mathematical algorithm used to compress and decompress video and works on both sides of the system. To date, it is considered the most efficient CODEC for IP CCTV cameras.

H.265 CODEC efficiency

Previously there were only analog CCTV cameras and it was necessary to use an encoder to convert the signals coming from the camera to the digital format that can be carried over the data network and the Internet.

The first encoders had an old CODEC called MJPEG that was not very efficient in reducing the size of the video. The CCTV industry started using the new CODECs such as the MPEG-4 available in the first encoders and first in the first IP camera created by the company Axis Communications.

Axis IP cameras have become increasingly efficient by using CODECs such as MPEG-4 and later H.264, and are now using the new H.265. Obviously this technology is not exclusive to AXIS, as it is a worldwide standard used by other IP camera manufacturers around the world.

With the CODECs evolution the bandwidth and space required for video storage are decreasing by about 40 to 50% as shown in the following chart:

CODECs

This reduction in network bandwidth and storage is a real revolution that can help to deliver more efficient products with lower prices to the consumer.

Save money with H.265 IP cameras

When using H.265 IP cameras or even DVR, NVR and encoders in your CCTV project, you are saving money with less costly IP infrastructure.

Since a H.265 IP camera reduces the use of bandwidth the price for Internet links will also reduce. You can also have substantial savings in the acquisition of hard disks and storage systems.

MPEG-vs-H264-vs-H265

The evolution from MPEG to H.265 can save up 80% of network bandwidth and storage while maintaining excellent video quality. Very good, right?

​Bandwidth and storage

MPEG
H.264
 H.265

How the H.265 CODEC  works

The technical name of H.265 is HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) which stands for High Efficiency Video Coding,​

The H.265 CODEC does a lot of technical complex stuff, but I will just talk the way it works in a simple way without going into too many technical details.

Assuming you already know how the CODECs work, let's compare H.264 with H.265. (There's a post in the blog: How Codecs Work​).

Just like H.264 CODEC, H.265 works with full and partial images, which means that complete images are captured and sent from the camera to the recorder or the monitoring station, and the difference between the images is also sent and to "assemble the video" on the receiver side.

One of the big differences however is that H.264 works only with fixed macro blocks of 16 x 16 pixels, whereas H.265 can vary and use macro blocks from 8 x 8 to 64 x 64 pixels to accomplish the job of sending differences from the image areas where there was some movement,

H.264 vs H.265

This work with macro blocks of different sizes makes H.265 more efficient because it can use less information to compose the image, especially in regions where there are pixels with the same color.

So H.265 can maintain the same H.264 quality using less bitrate, which causes a large reduction in video size.

H.265 IP cameras models

There are several manufacturers who have adopted the H.265 in their IP camera and recorders. See below some examples.

Hikvision DS-2CD3145F-IS H.265 IP camera

Below is an example of a 4MP Hikvision IP  camera that uses the H.265 CODEC for video compression, this camera can be used in projects where bandwidth savings and storage are critical,

DS-2CD3145F-IS  CODEC H.265

Dahua IPC-HDBW4431R-ZS H.265 IP camera

Example of an 4MP Dahua Dome IP camera that uses H.265 CODEC. This model is ideal for installations in places where discretion and bandwidth savings and storage are required,

Dahua H.265 IP camera

No firmware upgrade for H.265 IP cameras

If H.265 is more efficient than H.264 a firmware upgrade to switch from one CODEC to another would be interesting, right? But the answer to the question: "Can I upgrade my H.264 camera to H.265 via firmware?" is a resounding NO. The H.265 CODEC needs new hardware to work with, so there is no way to upgrade your old H.264 IP cameras using a firmware.

H.265 drawbacks

Everything too good to be true, isn't it? So far everything you've read leads one to believe that the H.265 CODEC is the best thing in the world. Let's see some of the drawbacks of using H.265 IP cameras.

You have learned that a CODEC works by compressing the image on the camera and decompressing it on the computer, and also learned that H.265 is more efficient. In fact it is, but the efficiency has a processing cost.

The more efficient the compression algorithm the greater the need for calculations and analysis and therefore the H.265 IP camera and computer processors will have to handle this extra processing.

See the example of tests performed by TechSpot comparing video playback with H.264 vs H.265, you can see a much higher processor usage with H.265

Tested with a Dell XPS 13: Core i5 5200U computer

The new H.265 IP cameras have more modern and powerful processors that are designed to withstand this kind of situation. however on the computer side the situation is more critical as it has to deal with a lot of IP cameras sending compressed video stream at the same time.

In summary, using H.265 IP cameras requires investing in more powerful computers to do the job of displaying images, this involves buying monitoring stations with fast processors and with modern video cards.

Recommended Hardware for H.265 IP cameras

The more processing, the better. Assuming you can afford monitoring stations with state-of-the-art processors such as Intel's i7 or i9.

To render the videos on the screen it is recommended to use graphics cards such as NVidia Geforce and others that are used by game players.

Powerful servers

Your CCTV project is certainly going to be more expensive with the need for powerful monitoring stations, so you have to be careful because you can save money with bandwidth and storage but spend more extra cash on IP cameras and extra powerful servers.

State-of-the-art video cards are ideal for rendering images from multiple IP cameras in a monitoring station.

GeForce Video Card

Example of a computer that can be used to display H.265 IP camera videos in a CCTV monitoring station.

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-7700K Quad Core Processor (4.2GHz) 
  •  Motherboard: Z270 chipset
  • Video Card: NVIDIA's Latest GeForce GTX 1070SLI 8GB GDDR5
  • Memory: 32GB DDR4 2400Mhz |
  • Hard Drive: 2TB (SATA) 7200rpm 512GB SSD PCIe

​See below some example of products you can find on Amazon

Final words about the H.265 IP cameras

Keep in mind that each CCTV project is different and specific to meet customer needs. In some cases it is worth using new technology such as H.265, but in other cases it is not interesting.

It really depends on the scope of the project, consider using the H.264+ (H.264 plus or H.264 Smart Codec) CODEC offered by some manufacturers as a cost-effective alternative.

Want to learn more ? 

If you want to become a professional CCTV installer or designer, take a look at the material available in the blog. Just click the links below:

Ultimate Guide V3

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Comments

    • Morris Musukwa
    • March 14, 2019

    Thank you so much Sir for sharing this information, I recently installed Hikvision H.265 IP Cameras but got confused I couldn’t view them on my HP 720s laptop.Woth this information I now understand why because laptop os too small.Thank once again

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