I work for a hardware manufacturer so I seldom have the chance to go out on the field to witness/take part in the installation of security cameras. What are some of the challenges that you have faced and what type of solutions have you seen to these issues? I know some manufacturers have put out creative solutions to solve common install problems; I'd like to know more about them and how they've affected your workflow. This question is mainly geared towards integrators because we want to know what we can do, as hardware manufacturers, to make your lives easier.
IndigoVision was able to connect to the Axis cameras using either their Camera Gateway or ONVIF but to configure the cameras' ONVIF stream, I had to use IndigoVision's "ONVIF Configuration Tool". The Ganz camera was an issue, though. By the time we started testing it, IndigoVision had uninstalled the Camera Gateway from their NVR because they felt there was a conflict that caused the Axis cameras to zoom all of the way out each time they were rebooted or disconnected and reconnected to the network. They explained that the Camera Gateway is normally installed on a separate server.
That did fix the Axis cameras' zoom issue but the vendor feels that Ganz's ONVIF stream is not fully compatible with IndigoVision's ONVIF interface. We could see the Ganz's video at full frame rate but recordings had major issues with dropped frames. Odd! According to the vendor, the Ganz cameras work well using IndigoVision's Camera Gateway but we were unable to test that assertion.
There are two factors here. One is whether the camera supports full configuration via ONVIF and the other is whether the VMS does. ONVIF created Profile S as a stronger 'certification' that full functionalities and configuration is supported. Review the Profile S product support list - many Axis cameras are on it (including the P3364) but neither Dallmeier nor IndigoVision VMSes (from what I can see today).
My guess is that this is a VMS limitation/issue. If the Axis stream is 20+Mbps, it's likely MJPEG but that points to a Dallmeier issue because their VMS should be easily able to request an H.264 stream.
Speaking of which, one of the mysteries I've noticed is compatibility of cameras to VMSs. On the IndigoVision system, the Ganz camera, for instance, had to be connected via their ONVIF tool. When I was testing the Axis cameras that way, I noticed that I could use the cameras' web interface to change certain settings, like IP address, etc., brightness/contrast/saturation and lens functions but any changes made to the codec in the web interface had no effect on the ONVIF stream, including resolution, bitrate, GOP, etc..
Axis confirmed this and said the ONVIF stream must be configured via an ONVIF tool. That begs the question: what if the VMS can supposedly access any RTSP stream but has no ONVIF configuration tool? It appears that is the case with Dallmeier. Although we are waiting on them to bring a new client computer because the one they brought was broken (and they insist on using their own only so a new one had to be shipped from Germany ;>(
According to the Dallmeier sales rep, he was able to access the ONVIF stream from the Axis P3364 but it was pumping out >20Mbps; which sounds like MJPEG. How do you change that without an ONVIF Configuration Tool?
Yes, it has XP SP2 but no one ever upgraded IE on it. I could've taken it home and updated it here but technically, that could be an issue if someone wanted to complain - my taking home their property. Anyway, I called IT to do it. They aren't too thrilled that I know how to join computers to the domain in the first place...
ToteVision doesn't say what version but the source that turned me on to the device mentioned it.
I guess I'll just have to get one and test it, if I can. I don't care about VMSs; just need to be able to access the camera and obtain an image for aim/zoom/focus. All other settings can be done either preset via laptop (IP address, etc.) or set once the camera is connected to the domain.
Yeah, odd. I tried the link yesterday and it took me off IPVM to a totally unrelated site (can't remember what). Now it works.
Anyway, are you pondering what I'm pondering? Just use Internet Explorer to web into the cameras? It's my understanding the device comes with IE7, but I can't find out for certain. Speaking of IE, I tried to access the Ganz camera via our laptop yesterday (the same Ganz that the razberi wouldn't display) and got a message saying our laptop contained a version if IE that is too old. It has IE6. Of course, I couldn't install IE8 because I'm not an Admin.
If the ToteVision comes with IE7, which is my understanding, is that modern enough or will I have to update it to IE8? IE9? And what about all of the web interfaces that require ActiveX controls and/or Java, QuickTime, or whatever? Add the oddball camera tools - Axis required .NET 4.0 - all of a sudden 32GB SSD looks rather meager.
On the razberi, their rep did say that some cameras won't display on the device via ONVIF. It either displays error messages, or as was the case with the Ganz, just a white screen. Oddly enough, the razberi has settings in one menu for .mp4 / MJPEG / h.264 but all options except MJPEG were greyed out and unselectable, as were other connection options (can't remember the options but included RTSP, etc.).
Well, I gave up on it. I can see if you only install cameras from the manufacturers listed above how it might be useful but someone steered me towards the Tote Vision MD-1001 and it looks like that product shows more promise:
Exclusive Security Camera Setup Software • Automatically detects cameras from over 80 top manufacturers
LCD Display: 10.1” with LED backlight Resolution: 1024 x 600 CPU: Intel Atom N455 Memory: 2GB DDR3 1333MHZ Storage: 32GB SSD (solid state drive) Video Card: Intel GMA 3150 Wireless Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 Wired Connectivity: Ethernet with RJJ5/USB dongle Control Input: Resistive Touchscreen USB Ports: x2 USB2.0 Mobile Communication: 1x SIM port, 3G(UMTS) / GSM, 850/1900MHz SD Card Port: Supports Micro SD Card
Now, we need to mate that with a battery operated POE supply. Any suggestions?
Yes, the timeout problem is only when operating on internal battery. I've found that once the battery is charged, the razberi provides continuous power when connected to its external power source (and, I assume, to POE). Still, it has severe limitations. I'm looking at ruggedized computers as an alternative but they tend to be darned expensive.
By the way, the Dynacolor DT-1 supports the same limited selection of IP cameras:
ACTi Arecont Vision AXIS D-Link DVTel DynaColor Diva Protocol GE IQinVision Level One Optelecom-NKF Panasonic Sanyo Sony VivoTek Planet
Yes, Dynacolor OEMs all the units listed, but they do not sell directly to US markets.
The DT-2 supports High PoE, and has a higher resolution display. This difference in DT-1 and DT-2 is incidentally what you find in the Axis T8412 and T8414. It sounds like Razberi tweaks the firmware somewhat, which is what I was alluding to with my 'PoE doesn't behave in that way' comment.
Sure, but I'm looking at either a Netbook or some other device with a web interface; which would allow us to access camera menus, etc. (including power zoom/focus) and perhaps a battery powered POE inserter. Whatever we get has to be armored. I don't want to have to keep replacing laptops when they are roughly handled or dropped.
Well I've spent at least 4 hours futzing with this, to no avail.
1. First, the package contains a "razberi Utilities" disk that is unreadable (tried in 3 different computers).
2. The list of supported IP cameras contains some recognizable names, like Axis, Arecont and ACTi, but some real oddballs: autoIP, DIVA Protocol, e-vidence, Level One, OpenEye and Safety Vision.
3. The menus are impossible to navigate. Even the selection list of cameras is buried in only one of 3 camera menus and that's hidden if you have the keyboard popped up.
4. I have yet to get it to connect to any camera with ONVIF selected. That theoretically should work with the three camera brands we've tested that are not on razberi's list, since all three manufacturers swear their cameras are ONVIF-compliant.
5. On battery power for POE, it shuts off POE after a maximum of 60 seconds. Almost every camera we have tested won't even boot up in much less than that (and some take much longer). So by the time the camera should be ready to aim/focus, etc., it loses power and the installer has to start from scratch. This is apparently not a problem if you insert the IT-5000 into a POE line but the installer has to get that done first.
What a P.O.S.. It's getting sent back. Meanwhile, any other suggestions?
Not yet. I've been trying to find the time to fully test it myself, hoping I can come up with simple step-by-step methods for them to use it. I did confirm, however, that it could not connect to either the IndigoVision or the Ganz cameras. Neither brand is in Razberi's brand list and neither was accessible through its ONVIF stream.
That is sort of what I expected because we also had trouble accessing the Ganz camera's ONVIF stream through the IndigoVision VMS and I don't think IndigoVision cameras themselves are fully ONVIF compliant. It's my understanding that IndigoVision has ONVIF conversion for their devices stored away and guarantees purchasers the right to run a program to "open up" their system, or something like that.
I did run brief tests on the Axis cameras and was able to access the stream but couldn't find a way to work the cameras' power zoom and focus via the Razberi, making it somewhat useless for power zoom/focus cameras.
If we can't use it easily, I'll have to look for another solution so they can set up cameras in the field. I hesitate to try a laptop or netbook because they tend to be fragile and will probably not last very long in actual use.
On another note, we picked up a Razberi IT-5000. So far, my Techs hate it, saying it is difficult to program and it doesn't seem to work with either the IndigoVision, Dallmeier or Ganz cameras we've tested it on. The only cameras we've been able to view images from are the two Axis cameras. ONVIF my butt!
Focus and zoom were not adjusted as a PTZ; they are set in Axis' configuration web page. I don't recall seeing an option to disable those functions, but when I can, I'll check that again. The thing is, there are three options in Axis configuration utility: "Restart", which isn't supposed to affect any settings, "Restore" which resets all parameters except boot protocol and/or static IP address and "Default" which is a full reset to factory defaults, including IP address.
Every time it zoomed/focused, every other setting stayed where it was: codec, resolution, VBR/CBR, bitrate caps, brightness/contrast/saturation - everything except zoom/focus. Weird!!!
One point I should bring up is that the Tech is on a ladder or lift anyway to install, connect and aim the camera. We set our aim very "tight", meaning withing a couple of inches either way on a gaming table, for instance. It is impossible to get aim proper when a camera is zoomed all of the way out, so the Tech would still have to stand on the ladder/lift while someone remotely zooms and focuses; then have to re-touch aim for optimum FOV. That's what we had to do with the Axis cameras, so I see no real advantage to remote zoom/focus.
Carl, I don't know if this would help in the case of Axis/IndigoVision, but I've had a couple of instances where I accidentally changed the FOV on a camera with Exacq. Once on an Avigilon zoom camera, and another on a thermal camera which integrated digital zoom via the PTZ controls. The solution for me was to remove the PTZ protocol from the camera. In Exacq you can simply turn off the protocol ("none", instead of "Axis", for example.). In Genetec you can disassociate the PTZ from the video unit. Those are the only two I've done it with, but it might work if you run into future problems.
I have to say, it was a hell of a thing to get my FOVs all set and ready for testing only to wreck them by bumping things like that. I kicked myself hard.
Yes, Axis and the VMS company's tech rep did something that stopped it but the system is gone now so there's no way to test the theory. The VMS uses a "Camera Gateway" to access third party cameras and during the course of testing, they felt that the gateway may have caused issues since it was installed on the NVR and not on a separate server as would be done in a production environment.
Whatever the cause, we will be testing two more VMS's with the Axis cameras and will keep a close eye out for a recurrence. Still, considering the possible consequences of having a camera that should be zoomed in on an area zoom out on its own (or with a little unexpected help), I would go with manual varifocal, or even fixed lenses, any day. The slight increase in my Techs' installation time will be more than compensated for by the still larger increase in my restful sleep time. ;>)
On a related note: I wish either lens manufacturers or some genius company would devise a method to make focusing varifocal lenses less "touchy". On most lenses, it's very difficult and time-consuming to optimize focus - move it slightly one way and it's out of focus in one direction; slightly the other way makes it out of focus in the other direction.
Carl, there should be a simple way to test this, no? Disconnect the Axis dome from the VMS, then disconnect/reconnect the camera's power. If it still zooms fully wide, it's Axis's fault. Otherwise, it's IndigoVision's.
Remote focus (and zoom) are still big question marks here, a point that has only been exascerbated by recent testing of Axis P3364 and P3384 cameras during VMS system evaluations. To the point, the Axis cameras tended to zoom fully wide and refocus in that FOV after disconnecting/reconnecting them from POE and also after rebooting them (not full reset).
This was so disconcerting to us that we are very close to eschewing all fixed cameras that have power zoom/focus. We can't have that happening in a production environment. Neither Axis nor the VMS manufacturer have come up with a verified explanation of the problem - Axis feels that the VMS sent out "reset" signals upon regaining acquisition of the stream while the VMS manufacturer cannot verify that and prefers to point to the Axis cameras as the culprits.