Debunking Arecont's PTZ Elimination Claim

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 23, 2011

Arecont Vision, manufacturer of only megapixel cameras, is contending that megapixel cameras 'virtually eliminate the need for mechanical PTZ cameras.' In this note, we debunk this prepostoerous claim and explain why this is a dangerous approach to designing real world surveillance systems.

Here is the full Arecont Vision MP vs PTZ claim [link no longer available]:

"The superior resolution provided by megapixel cameras enables highly detailed and accurate digital PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) of live and recorded images. As a result, megapixel cameras virtually eliminate the need for mechanical PTZ cameras, which are often costly and feature mechanical parts prone to failure."

In English, virtually is generally accepted to mean "for the most part; almost wholly; just about." By contrast, no more than a fraction of locations using PTZ cameras would benefit from switching to Megapixel cameras. Indeed, far more would be better off considering MP PTZ cameras that combine both of the technologies.

Image Quality Not Close

We've tested SD PTZ vs megapixel camera comparative performance. The range of an SD PTZ's optical zoom produces far more details at far greater range than anything a megapixel camera can deliver.

Here are two summary comparison shots from the report that shows the contrast. First, daytime performance:

Here's night time performance:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Only in very narrow FoV ranges (~50 degrees, 50 feet wide FoV) can megapixel cameras even come close. Any further out or wider and megapixel cameras can simply not compete.

The problem here is that most PTZ users want the capability of seeing more than the limited coverage area a megapixel camera can deliver.

Here's the difference in potential coverage area between a 5MP camera and a PTZ from our tests. It is massive:

Other Challenges with Megapixel Cameras

Arecont Vision's cameras nicely demonstrate two other important problems with megapixel cameras:

  • Challenges in handling light variations: In test after test, Arecont Vision image quality suffers with bright lighting. Essentially, the WDR performance is weak. By contrast, when zooming in with a PTZ, lighting variation problems are minimized as the lighting levels in smaller areas tend to be more even.
  • Massive bandwidth spikes: In test after test, Arecont Vision's bandwidth consumption explodes whenever lighting decreases (a few Mb/s during the day, 10Mb/s+ at night). This can have a major negative impact of networks and storage consumption.

Finally, we find it ironic that Arecont Vision criticizes PTZ failure when they have the worst reputation in the industry for reliability.

Megapixel Replacement for PTZ

Megapixel does have advantages against PTZs: (1) per camera, cheaper by ~$1,000-$1,500, (2) covers the full area at all times, (3) lower MTBF (in general).

On the other hand, the huge negative remains: optical zoom and mechanical control delivers a massive increase in coverage relative to megapixel cameras. It's just not close.

In small, generally indoor areas, where PTZ have traditionally been overkill, replacing with megapixel cameras is worth considering. This, though, is just a small fraction of overall PTZ use.

We understand why a company that only sells fixed megapixel cameras would promote that category. However, the megapixel replaces PTZ sentiment does a disserve to 'virtually' all security managers.

2 reports cite this report:

Top 5 Disruptive Surveillance Companies 2012 on Dec 15, 2011
What companies are driving changes in the video surveillance industry? What...
Arecont 20MP Camera Examined on Apr 05, 2011
Arecont Vision has announced a 20MP camera. This would be the highest...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30...
Micron 1 TB SD Cards Aim To Eliminate NVRs on Apr 08, 2020
Micron has boldly proclaimed their latest 1TB microSD "eliminates the need...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Sony Launches AI Camera Sensors on May 18, 2020
Weeks after exiting the branded video surveillance business, Sony is making a...
Opgal ThermApp MD Thermal Screening System on Apr 21, 2020
Israeli thermal provider Opgal claims they were first on the market detecting...
Clinton Public View Monitor (PVM) Mask Detection Tested on Jul 09, 2020
Face mask detection, or more specifically not wearing one, is expanding...
Vivotek LPR Camera Tested on Apr 15, 2020
Vivotek has historically sold license plate capture cameras but not LPR. Now,...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the...
Mobotix Thermal Detection Camera Tested on Jun 09, 2020
For years Mobotix has struggled but now sales are surging driven by Mobotix's...
Sunell Panda Cam Body Temperature Measurement Camera Tested on May 14, 2020
Sunell is far less well known than its gargantuan domestic competitors Dahua...
FLIR New Coronavirus Prioritized Temperature Screening Camera Examined on Apr 03, 2020
FLIR has announced a new series of thermal cameras "prioritized for entities...
Phone Camera Calculator Released on Mar 10, 2020
IPVM has released the first-ever Phone Calculator, video surveillance design...
Cisco Acquiring Fluidmesh on Apr 09, 2020
Cisco announced it is acquiring niche wireless manufacturer...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
K3 Wall Mounted IR Temperature Gun Tested on Jun 12, 2020
Is this the solution to not spending thousands of dollars on fever...

Recent Reports

VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Dogs For Coronavirus Screening Examined on Aug 06, 2020
While thermal temperature screening is the surveillance industry's most...
ADT Slides Back, Disappointing Results, Poor Commercial Performance on Aug 06, 2020
While ADT had an incredible start to the week, driven by the Google...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all of the...
SIA Coaches Sellers on NDAA 889B Blacklist Workarounds on Aug 05, 2020
Last month SIA demanded that NDAA 899B "must be delayed". Now that they have...
ADI Returns To Growth, Back To 'Pre-COVID Levels' on Aug 05, 2020
While ADI was hit hard in April, with revenue declining 21%, the company's...
Exposing Fever Tablet Suppliers and 40+ Relabelers on Aug 05, 2020
IPVM has found 40+ USA and EU companies relabeling fever tablets designed,...
Indian Government Restricts PRC Manufacturers From Public Projects on Aug 04, 2020
In a move that mirrors the U.S. government’s ban on Dahua and Hikvision...
Directory of 201 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Aug 04, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Dahua Loses Australian Medical Device Approval on Aug 04, 2020
Dahua has cancelled its medical device registration after "discussions" with...
Google Invests in ADT, ADT Stock Soars on Aug 03, 2020
Google has announced a $450 million investment in the Florida-based security...
US Startup Fever Inspect Examined on Aug 03, 2020
Undoubtedly late to fever cameras, this US company, Fever Inspect, led by a...
Motorola Solutions Acquires Pelco on Aug 03, 2020
Motorola Solutions has acquired Pelco, pledging to bring blue back and make...
False: Verkada: "If You Want To Remote View Your Cameras You Need To Punch Holes In Your Firewall" on Jul 31, 2020
Verkada falsely declared to “3,000+ customers”, “300 school districts”, and...