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

The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Sony 61MP Surveillance Sensor Examined on Sep 04, 2020
For a decade, the highest resolution single-imager surveillance cameras have...
Single Frame Gait Recognition From Michigan State and Osaka University Examined on Oct 01, 2020
Gait recognition has the potential for accurate identification at a distance,...
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...
AVTech ~$70 IP Cameras Tested Vs Dahua and Hikvision on Dec 04, 2019
Taiwanese manufacturer Avtech is taking direct aim at low cost leaders Dahua...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Oct 14, 2019
Camera focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can significantly...
Opgal ThermApp MD Thermal Screening System on Apr 21, 2020
Israeli thermal provider Opgal claims they were first on the market detecting...
Quantum Dots Potential for Surveillance Cameras Explained on Sep 08, 2020
Quantum dots are starting to be used in TVs for better images, but how will...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with...
Arcules CEO Retracts False GDPR Claim + Dahua and Milestone Claims Examined on Dec 03, 2019
Arcules CEO has retracted a false claim about his organization being a "fully...
2020 Video Surveillance Cameras State Of The Market on Jan 03, 2020
Each year, IPVM explains the main advances and changes for video surveillance...

Recent Reports

GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Dahua Revenue Grows But Profits Down, Cause Unclear on Oct 20, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue was up more than 12% in Q3 2020, a significant...
Illegal Hikvision Fever Screening Touted In Australia, Government Investigating, Temperature References Deleted on Oct 20, 2020
The Australian government told IPVM that they are investigating a Hikvision...
Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic i-PRO presented its X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...