Avigilon HD Multi-sensor: First Varifocal Multi-Imager Cameras

By John Honovich, Published Apr 15, 2015, 12:00am EDT

2015 is the year of multi-imager cameras, with Axis unveiling a 33MP model, Pelco announcing DragonFly and DW coming out with a 48MP model.

However, all of them are fixed focal only.

Now, Avigilon is introducing multi-imager cameras that not only are varifocal but remote zoom too.

In this note, we examine the key features, pricing and competitive positioning of this line.

Overview

Avigilon is releasing HD Multisensor, with 9MP / 3 imager and 12MP / 4 imager versions (ergo each imager is 3MP). Each imager is true WDR including a 2.8 - 8mm varifocal lens with remote zoom / focus.

The cameras look a little like shower heads with imagers / 'nozzles' that can be repositioned.

Multiple video feeds are sent out over a single network connection. With Avigilon's own VMS, it only requires 1 license. Other VMSes, like any multi-imager, will depend on the VMSes multi-imager licensing policy.

Third Party Support

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Unlike the previous generation Avigilon multi-imager (fixed focal 180 / JPEG2000), the new series will have ONVIF / 3rd party support.

Pricing

Street pricing is projected to be similar to the Arecont Omni in the $1500 - $2000 range.

Availability

Shipping starts this month.

Competitive Positioning

The clear novel element is the varifocal / zoom capabilities. The more challenging question is when those are needed / valued.

Clearly, there is a lot of desire / demand for fixed 180 cameras, with each imager fixed / set at 45° each, giving a panoramic of an area. By contrast, the upside of varifocal / zoom would be to customize / tailor what parts of the scene one wants to cover, whether that would be 150° side by side or 2 imagers wide, two imagers zoomed in to cover specific areas of high interest, etc.

Compared to the Arecont Omni, the closest comparable, given that they both allow for adjusting imager position and focal length, Avigilon has two distinct advantages. Arecont Omni is designed similar to a construction set, where the tech needs to manually attach / detach imagers plus swap out fixed focal lenses (see our Arecont Omni test results). By contrast, the Avigilon multi-imagers have the imagers and lenses all built-in, allowing for simpler adjustments (e.g., no need to buy different lens lengths, swap them out manually, manually fine focus, etc.).

Too Low Resolution?

One downside is that these are relatively speaking 'low' resolution. If one has learned anything from years of Avigilon marketing it is that more pixels are always better. For example, one of the new Axis 33MP models could replace about 3 of these Avigilon units (according to Avigilon logic). Now, of course, even as Avigilon has recently acknowledged, there is more to cameras than pure pixel count. However, for large outdoor areas, more pixels are often useful. To that end, there is risk that the Axis model, in the same price range, could provide significantly wider maximum coverage area.

Versus the PRO Cameras?

One upside relative to Avigilon's own PRO series cameras is that these multi-imagers will be 60% to 80% less than their 8MP to 30MP PRO cameras. However, in wider scenes, the multi-imagers may provide better overall coverage, at much lower price, since the multi-imagers can be optimized and combined to target the most important areas of a scene.

Overall, we believe this is a solid innovation that provides a new tool / option in designing surveillance systems.

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