The Axis 2100 Network Camera

Jason reviews the Axis camera. It has a built in web server and runs Linux.
Viewing Images and Configuration

Images can be viewed straight through a customized web page or by uploading them to a remote FTP server. I didn't use the latter, but it can be configured to alert you, via e-mail, when a new image has been uploaded. Setting the camera to upload an image every five minutes could work nicely for home or office security. An adaptor on the back of the camera allows for hook up to devices such as motion detectors and doorbells.

All camera configuration is web-based, by using the “Installation Wizards” and the “Application Tools”. These are presented in GUI form and are used to define the system, set security preferences and tweak image and layout settings. Simply click on either link, which conveniently sit just to the right of the image(s) being displayed. The “Application Tools” allow you to modify anything from image resolution, to color, time, background color, image title and so on. The “Installation Wizards” is nicely organized into the following sections: security, date and time, image settings, focus, modem or network and TCP/IP. You are also given the option of uploading images to an FTP site.

Security and the FTP Daemon

By default, the camera is set to allow anyone access. This can be changed by registering the camera to a single user. That single user is then given the ability to set security permissions to individual users—requiring a user name and password for access. Similar to most Linux systems.

The 2100 has telnet turned off but does run an FTP daemon. To log into the camera, I FTP'd to the IP address of “my” camera's web page, then logged in as root, using “pass” for the password. Doing this allowed me to root through /proc files (see Listings 1 and 2). This is also the method for downloading upgrades to the camera, or uploading code, which is the coolest thing about this camera. Unlike most appliances running embedded Linux, you can go in and change things, if you are so inclined. As Jon Corbet writes (see Resources), “Axis makes available everything that is needed to do this: versions of the compiler and libraries (licensed under the GPL) are at the Axis developer site. It's mostly a matter of cross-compiling the code and FTPing into the camera.”

Listing 1. 2100 Cpu Info

Listing 2. 2100 Memory Info

Hardware and Specifications

There is a Linux port running on the Etrax 100. Axis ported Linux to their products in December 1997 (kernel 2.0.33) This port, along with their developers not wanting to spend time developing a new OS, made Linux an obvious choice to run the 2100 web camera. The source code to the Linux port is licensed under the GPL and can be downloaded from the Axis site. Here's the hardware, as listed in the user's guide:

  • ARPTEC-1 compression chip; ETRAX-100

  • 32-bit RISC

  • 100 MIPS CPU

  • 8MB RAM

  • 2MB FLASH PROM

The camera specifications, for those of you in the know:

  • Digital, 24-bit color

  • Image pickup device: 1/4'' inch HAD RGB progressive scan CCD

  • HxV: 659x494

  • Backlight Compensation

  • Automatic AGC

  • White balance: automatic, fixed indoor, fixed fluorescent, fixed outdoor and hold

  • Electronic shutter: 1/30s - 1/30000s, light condition adaptive

Requirements

High bandwidth is the place to start. If you plan to transfer files from the camera over the Internet, a DSL (or equivalent) connection is the way to go. To view images, Axis recommends a “PC, ideally Pentium 300 or higher, with a high-speed graphics card and 100MB Ethernet network card”. The only software necessary is TCP/IP and either Netscape Navigator (their recommendation) or Internet Explorer. You will also need an IP address, Ethernet cable(s) and a network hub.

A Cool Camera and Company

The 2100 network camera seems solid, as does the company producing it. Axis has been around since 1984. Headquartered in Lund, Sweden, they have more than 500 employees working at 28 offices worldwide. There Etrax-100 chip is a product in its own right and is used in numerous Axis products, ranging from cameras to print servers. Any product that can work with Linux, does. Axis makes source codes available on their developer site. This includes the code to their own Journaling Flash File System (JFFS), which the Axis site says is “aimed at providing a crash/powerdown-safe file system for disk-less embedded devices”. It allows the camera to be turned off and on without having to reboot—providing the necessary “always on” functionality.

I have spent the past week toying around with the camera, and I am still excited about it. I want one. Though it is designed for indoor use only, it does well with that. Images are crisp and quick. This is embedded Linux in action and the results are exciting. It's a Sunday, and I'm at work, playing with the camera. That should speak volumes.

Jason Schumaker (jason@ssc.com) is the Assistant Editor and a staff writer at Linux Journal. Outside of work he plays left field for the defending Core softball league champion Monkey Pub Pounders. Like you care. GO POUNDERS!

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Comments

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Nice review. I ordered an

Axis Network Camera's picture

Nice review. I ordered an Axis 221 Network Camera. looks good till now. But would still like to read a review. Can you please review it? I wanna be sure I bought the right camera. I ordered it online from here: Axis Network Camera

page formatting - low-contrast gray text

Anonymous's picture

Hey, who decided to make the text gray instead of simply black? Why reduce the contrast and make things harded to read?

The AXIS 2100 was a great

IP Camera Guru's picture

The AXIS 2100 was a great camera and is now replaced by the 210. The 210 also comes in many variations including POE, Audio and Wireless.

Tickets and information for

Nick Flip's picture

Tickets and information for all the hottest Prom Parties, After Prom, stories about prom, prom photos, prom transportation, and much more

Great Review!

Wes Fernley's picture

Hi Jason,

That was a great review for the Axis 2100 Camera. I wanted to let everyone know that I have created a website specifically for network camera reviews. It is located at www.networkcamerareviews.com. It offers reviews, ratings, articles and forums to help users learn and troubleshoot their network camera.

Once again this was a great review. :)

Wes

wtf?

Anonymous's picture

what do you people think this is, technical support? this is an informative review written to provide, from one person's perspective, an un-biased report on a product. this isn't a support page.....

anyways, enough of that......a well written article Jason, thanks for the straight forward info. your information provided has helped me make a final decision on a camera to purchase. i thank you for your effort and time in writing this article/playing with a cool device. }:)

Re: wtf?

Anonymous's picture

try http://www.mobotix.com

very nice outdoor cam

Nice but...

Anonymous's picture

They're VERY expensive, the cheapest model is about $1K US compared to about $300 for the Axis 2100.

4XEM 2100 comparable to Axis 2100

JT's picture

I wanted to buy an Axis Communications 2100 Network Camera but found out they are disco'd. After searching PC Connection I found the 4XEM W-2100 and lower than $300. I guess this is a new camera they just released but it is comparable to the 2100 by Axis with a few added features.

So far it is working great. I got it up and running fairly easy and got it working online so I can view it from wherever I am. I even figured out how to view snapshots on my cell phone, which I thought that was cool.

Compared to the Axis 2100, I think this camera beats the Axis version because of all the additional features and better quality image. Some of these features included a max resolution of 704 x 480 pixels where the Axis 2100 has 640 x 480, a higher frames per second of 30fps where the Axis camera had 10fps, better light sensitivity, motion detection (which I got working to ftp so I can view on my cell phone), free software that you can run up to 4 cameras (which is great if I ever want to get more, we will see ;)) and its a heck of a lot cheaper than the Axis 2100 - especially with the free software included which Axis doesn't include.

As for the camera itself, it has a great image quality and an easy to use interface. Getting it working online with FTP was even a breeze. Also another good selling point for me was the free software included. It allowed you to use up to 4 cameras.

The only downside of this camera I found is that it has no audio. I guess the Axis 2100 had an add-on you can get but it looked to be a bit expensive.

All-in-all, network cameras are really cool and I would highly suggest the W-2100 by 4XEM. About a week ago I know anything about them and thought they would be really confusing to get running. But after talking to the 4XEM support staff they helped me understand how network cameras work and what features to look for when purchasing them.

IP Camera Purchase

Anonymous's picture

I ended up buying one of these cameras as well. It works great for users viewing the camera in Internet Explorer and FireFox. I found a great resource for information about these cameras. The website was NetworkCameraReviews.com. They have a forums that helped me connect the camera to my network.

Where to Buy

Anonymous's picture

That is a good site. Another good one is Network Camera Store. They list locations to purchase these cameras so you can find the best price.

Another Good Online Store

Jeff's picture

We have purchased multiple IP cameras from Network Webcams. They also have a store located in the UK.

Re: Product Review: The Axis 2100 Network Camera

Anonymous's picture

I really appreciated your review, especially about the "obvious" things to be aware of such as a RJ45 that really worked. Your descriptions were clear and useful.

I almost wish you would have made more mistakes so I could learn more from your article. I am trying to run my camera from behind a linksys router, and tough the flashing green light suggests I am connected, I cannot view a picture for the life of me (yet.) John263@aol.com 954-772-8776

thanks again for your article 1/30/02

Re: Product Review: The Axis 2100 Network Camera

Anonymous's picture

John, if you have NAT gateway in your router, you need to address the cameras with your external IP address (given to you by your ISP) and not the internal (192.168.x.x). The way to do this is to assign a port number to the camera, such as 81 (done in the network setup of the camera) and use that to address the camera from outside the router. For instance 123.123.123.123:81.

If you dont' have a fix external IP address you need to do some DNS-tricks, contact the cool Axis-guys at support@axis.com and they will help you out.

Re: Product Review: The Axis 2100 Network Camera

Anonymous's picture

I am testing them for a larger application, but I have two running behind a netgear router. I allowed DHCP to assign it an IP addie and check the DHCP table in the routers' menu. I typed in the IP and no problem it was up and running.

good luck

D. Hulse

Re: Product Review: The Axis 2100 Network Camera

Anonymous's picture

Feb 6, 2002

Dear Mr. Schumaker,

I would appreciate it if you could advise me.

Less than a year ago, I bought an ATI capture card (Radeon VIVO) and installed it on one of my computers. I also bought micro camera (resolution at least 400 lines, and luc .05). I was able to see live (no delay) images through the micro camera attached to the camera care.

I have an intranet at home, seven computers attached to Linksys 8-port router, using Windows 2000 Professional. Using Microsoft NetMeeting I was able to do video conferencing LIVE from one room to another room, using my home intranet. The images and sound are live (no delay). I could see my three year old daughter singing in the other room, and she got a kick out of it.

But later, I could not make NetMeeting work anymore. I learnt from ATI that Microsoft has changed the format and that is why I could no longer use NetMeeting for video conferencing. I do not remember details regarding name and nature of the format.

It was so good. Do you have any suggestion how I can do video conferencing using NetMeeting or any other similar software.

The video servers and web camers do not have the flexibility that I was able to do, and my way was so cheap.

I would appreciate if you have any suggestions.

BO Gyi

TEL : 909-353-4014

email : CCBGSTG@EARTHLINK.NET

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