Hikvision DS-2CD4A26FWD-IZS 2MP Darkfighter Smart IR Bullet Camera – Review

Introduction

Welcome to our review of the Hikvision DS-2CD4A26FWD-IZS 2MP darkfighter varifocal bullet, the 4A26 is part of Hikvision’s powerful darkfighter range and as the name suggests these cameras are designed to achieve excellent night time performance. The camera features adaptive smart IR LEDs for an IR range of up to 50m as well as 120dB WDR, IP67 rating, 60fps frame rate and a 128GB microSD slot. With all these smart features our expectations of this camera were pretty high, but with only a 2MP sensor we were still hesitant to jump the gun before seeing the camera’s performance for ourselves.

Performance

This is going to be a shorter review than usual as we are just going to jump straight into talking about the camera’s performance. So first off we have to look at the 4A26’s daytime performance, which at first glance is pretty impressive with clearly rendered details and colours, but on closer inspection a lot of the daytime scenes were actually quite oversaturated making the blacks very black and everything else incredibly bright, all of which makes the images hard to look at and greatly reduces the clarity of the images especially the smaller details like facial features.

When the daytime scenes get darker with more shadow falling across the scene the detail rendering gets worse with some small details becoming completely unrecognisable. What is important to point out though is that this is with the default settings out the box and these default settings are setup to achieve the best performance at night, not in daylight, but you could improve the daytime performance by manually adjusting the settings. This isn’t great though, as from our years of experience the majority of end-users do not have a very good understanding of what to do when it comes to changing any settings on their cameras.

Now after this poor daytime performance we arrive at the night time scenes and we get to see if this darkfighter technology is as impressive as Hikvision says. At first glance it really is impressive with the combination of smart IR and low light darkfighter technology producing one of the clearest, most detailed IR images we’ve ever seen, the darkfighter technology is so powerful it can actually achieve a colour image in almost total darkness. It should be said though that this colour image is heavily pixelated and full of noise, due in part to camera’s sensor straining to pick up any light in the scene, so with such an impressive IR image, we would suggest sticking with the IR.

The other big plus of the 4A26’s IR performance is the distance it can achieve and how small details are over that distance, we did a walk test where we placed a person roughly 20m from the camera as a benchmark (most IR cameras can perform well up to 20m) and then did the test again with the person roughly 40m from the camera (10m short of the camera’s spec for IR distance). At 20m the IR is incredibly clear for a 2MP camera, you can make out very small details like the dark colour of the hair and the slight differences in material and colour of the clothing the person is wearing, all of this is very useful for identifying potential criminals. More importantly at 40m things do get a little mushier and unclear, but the hair and clothing details are still easily identifiable which is really impressive as very few cameras can achieve this level of detail over such distance.

It was at this point that we actually remembered this was a motorised zoom camera, so we zoomed to the max 32mm focal length and the resulting night time images were incredible. The detail and resolution just seem to skyrocket, all the previously mentioned details are even clearer and more in focus than before, but what really blew us away was how much more detail was visible at this focal length especially as the person in question was still 40m from the camera.

Summary
In conclusion, the DS-2CD4A26FWD-IZS is very much a 50/50 camera, its default daytime performance is pretty poor for a camera that costs more than two 8MP turret camera, but on the other hand, its IR performance blew us away with sharp focus and tons of detail, all from a camera with only a 2MP sensor. Altogether it is a very mixed bag of a camera, but if you already have mini bullets or turrets in your setup that perform well during the day but you have a specific requirement for better night coverage, like the example in our video of a shed or garage too far from the house for most IR ranges, then the DS-2CD4A26FWD-IZS is the camera you’ve been looking for.
Good
  • Excellent night time performance thanks to smart IR LEDs
  • Achieves a colour image in the dark, which suits locations with a lot of ambient light at night
  • Performs great across the entirety of its focal range
  • Well built with all the design features you could want (MicroSD slot, Audio I/O, Junction Box, etc...)
Bad
  • Poor default day time performance (can be improved with manual adjustment)
  • Even with adjustments the cameras 2MP sensor just doesn't come close to the 3, 5 & 8MP models we've tested
7.5
Good
Day Performance - 5
Night Performance - 9.5
Design/Build Quality - 8
Ease of Use - 7.5

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