Examining Scallop Imaging Panoramic Analog Camera

By John Honovich, Published Oct 17, 2010, 08:00pm EDT

Scallop Imaging [link no longer available] has announced a panoramic analog camera called the A7-180 [link no longer available]. While the camera combines mutliple megapixel sensors (effective 6.5 MP), it only transmits video via analog (NTSC/PAL - 640 x 480). It is much different than available offerings but with important trade-offs.

The key to the camera is that users can dynamically select multiple areas (up to 4) from the 6.5MP captured (5120 x 1280) and then stream those areas as panes or subsections of the NTSC/PAL (640 x 480) output. The camera has an RS-485 output and supports Pelco D protocol commands.

The image below shows a sampling of options:

[link no longer available]

One option not shown that we consider important is the 2 x 2 matrix that allows users to select 4 different areas and stream them effectively as CIF video 'segments' inside of a 640 x 480 overall stream.

With this approach, Scallop aims to replace multiple fixed and/or PTZ cameras.

With 5120 x 1280 resolution, the camera captures about 8 times wider and 2-3 times higher area than a traditional analog camera. Within that area, the user can select up to 4 subsections and generate 4 'virtual camera'. The downside is that these 'virtual cameras' will each have a maximum resolution of CIF and 15fps.

Relative to PTZ cameras, the A7 allows viewing and recording multiple distinct areas simultaneously (not possible, of course, with mechanical PTZs). One 'pane' could be positioned at an entrance while a guard could be controlling a second pane to track a suspect throughout a lobby. The downsides of lower resolution and frame rate remain. An additional downside is that the effective pan and title range (especially tilt) will be far more constrained than even low cost indoor PTZs.

The A7 camera has an MSRP of $1195. Compare this to an analog fixed camera that would likely have an MSRP ranging from $200 - $400 or an indoor PTZ with 8-10x optical zoom with an MSRP in the $1000 - $1500 range.

We think the A7 could replace 1 PTZ or 2 fixed cameras regularly and in certain niches 3 fixed cameras. Limitations in angles needed or visual obstacles will usually constrain replacing more cameras.

Given the significant cost premium over analog fixed cameras and cost parity with analog PTZs, we think the business case will be modest. However, for those looking for a unique/new analog product, this will be an attractive option.

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