Dallmeier Panomera 51MP Camera Examined 2011
Dallmeier's Panomera Megapixel camera series [link no longer available] announcement likely drew the most interest of any new product introduction at the IFSEC 2011 show. The two most novel claims Dallmeier made was that (1) the Panomera provided up to 51MP resolution and (2) that the Panomera camera could deliver the equivalent of up to 215 MP of resolution. These would far outstrip any offering in the marketing. In this note, based on an detailed discussion with Dallmeier, we examine the features, pricing and positioning of the Panomera camera series.
Let's start with the basics:
- Panomera is a multi-imager camera systems that uses multiple cameras inside of a single housing. This is not simply one, super 'big' camera like the Avigilon 16MP.
- Panomera uses rows of MP cameras inside the housing. The lowest resolution version provides 3 cameras in a row. Other versions offer 3 rows of 4 cameras (total 12). The maximum resolution version incorporates 17 3MP cameras providing the maximum 51MP.
- Dallmeier claims, "If you tried to achieve this quality with a conventional megapixel camera, you would have to use a camera with 215 megapixels"
- Supports H.264 resolution, 1080p/30fps and 3MP/14fps.
- The first generation of the series, currently shipping, does not offer a mechanical cut filter. The second generation, scheduled for Q1 2012 will add this.
- Currently, no 3rd party VMS sytems support the camera. However, Dallmeier says that Panomera uses an open API and that several manufacturers plan to integrate with it in the future.
- The pricing ranges from 3,500 Euros for the entry level to 30,000 Euros for the high end model. That's roughly $5,000 to $50,000 in USD.
- Panomera states that their decisive advantage is: "completely novel lens and sensor concept. For conventional HD or megapixel cameras, this means that the indicated resolution, let’s say, 12 megapixels, is evenly distributed on the entire viewing angle. The farther you now 'move to the back'of the scene, meaning, zoom into the picture, the higher the loss of detail, causing the picture to become blurry. By contrast, with innovative geometric construction principles, Panomera uses its megapixels such that even objects that are farther away can be displayed with the same resolution as objects in the foreground of the picture." We believe that Dallmeier is using different focal length lenses for the individual cameras within the 'box' to achieve this and the 'equivalent' 215 MP resolution.
We believe that this series may find a niche for very large scale areas such as stadium. However, we believe this offering is overhyped and can generally be substituted with simpler, cheaper commonly available alternatives.
Here are the specific weaknesses that constrain use:
- Without a mechanical cut filter, we would anticipate very poor low light performance. This is a real problem because the outdoor environments where this camera is most likely to be used almost always suffer from low light challenges. When the second generation version is released (planned for Q1 2012), this should be resolved.
- Without 3rd party integration, it will be hard for most anyone to use this camera. It could take a year or more for other systems to support.
- The cost is fairly high - even for the entry level version. There are many multi-megapixel camera offerings available for $1,000 or less.
- Most importantly, we think most users could achieve the same basic results by mounting a few megapixel cameras on a pole (or using an existing multi-imager camera such as the Arecont or Avigilon units). At some level, it appears that this is basically want Dallmeier has done - mounted a variety of megapixel cameras with different focal length lenses into a single housing.
On the positive side, if you really need to cover a very large area or cover it 'densely', we think Panomera may be a more elegant solution than trying to hack one's own multi-camera setup.
Last, and perhaps most strongly in favor of Dallmeier, people love big numbers and higher resolution (e.g., the IFSEC award [link no longer available] and buzz). Many, many people will equate the higher resolution with being the best, which is certainly powerful from a marketing perspective.
We think this is overhyped and most users should look to building their own that has a mechanical cut filter, supports their existing VMS and is a cheaper (perhaps substantially) than Dallmeier's.