Canon's IP Cameras Examined

By John Honovich, Published Oct 13, 2009, 08:00pm EDT

While Canon [link no longer available] is a $50 Billion USD company and a major supplier of digital cameras, they are not a major force in the video surveillance market. 

Canon is expanding their video surveillance offering. This report examines their product offering as well as strengths and weakness relative to competitors.

Canon Video Surveillance Background

In video surveillance, Canon's product line has 6 IP cameras including 3 PTZs, 2 mini-domes and a single box camera (see product brochure for overview). 

Canon likely has three key differentiators in video surveillance:

  • Higher quality, longer range zoom lenses for their PTZs
  • High quality imaging leveraged from their non-security video products
  • Multi-directional shock absorber for the Vandal resistant camera (see below)

Weaknesses

A number of weaknesses do exist:

  • No megapixel cameras, only Standard Definition
  • No H.264 codec supported
  • 3 of the 6 cameras only support MJPEG, the other 3 support MPEG-4
  • Limited support by 3rd party VMS software

Product Overview

Canon's IP cameras can be divided into 2 generations:

  1. The newer generation supports multiple streams of MPEG-4 and MJPEG and better low light imaging. They use Canon's DIGIC NET chip. Both mini-dome models and the VB-60 PTZ (40x zoom) use DIGIC NET.
  2. The older generation only supports MJPEG. This includes the one fixed box camera and the other two PTZs.

The vandal resistant camera uses 4 suspended springs allowing the camera to bounce inside and returns to its original position. This reduces damage to internal components.

Both mini-dome cameras support a 2.4x optical zoom (from a FoV width of 34 degree to 82 degree). This eliminates manual lens tuning and supports remote FoV optimization.

The fixed box camera supports a 26x optical zoom that allows for zooming to capture finer details in a fixed area.

All of Canon's cameras require an external housing for outdoor use.

Canon's IP cameras are supported by only a modest number of 3rd party VMS systems. Amongst those systems, only a few support MPEG-4 streams from Canon cameras (most notably Milestone/OnSSI).

Canon is a member of ONVIF and plans future support for the ONVIF specification (timetable for release to be determined).

Canon offers a VMS software package that supports only its own IP cameras. The software supports up to 64 channels per server (with a licensing option for 16 or 64 channels). The software provides basic monitoring and recording but does not provide advanced features like third party system integration, analytics, centralized management, etc.

Pricing

From Canon's MSRP price list [link no longer available], the VB-C60 40x zoom PTZ has an MSRP of $1,699 USD; the VB-C500D mini-dome is $899 USD and the vandal resistant version is $999 USD.

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Canon's IP video surveillance software has an MSRP of $999 USD for a 16 channel license (approximately $60 MSRP per channel).

Contrast to Other IP Camera Vendors

The vendor Canon is most similar to is Sony with both offering a limited product range and basic VMS software. However, Sony offers H.264, 1.3 megapixel and HD cameras.

In comparison to Axis, Canon's product range is far more limited. 

For the cameras that Canon does offer, the most important limitations to consider are (1) the 3 cameras that are MJPEG only and (2) the lack of 3rd party support. Even for standard definition camera, MJPEG only streams could increase storage/bandwidth use by 2-3 Mb/s per camera.

The two products that are most likely to stand out competitively are the (1) VB-60 40x zoom MPEG-4 PTZ and (2) the VB-C500VD vandal resistant mini-dome for their respective long zoom and shock absorption.

1 report cite this report:

Testing Canon's PTZ Camera (VB-C60) on Dec 27, 2009
While megapixel cameras are hot, PTZs remain an important part of video...
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