First ImmerVision Powered Minidome (Brickcom)

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Apr 22, 2013

Nearly a year after ImmerVision announced the world's smallest panomorph lens, Brickcom has designed it into a new line of compact minidomes, the MD-300/500 series. Historically, ImmerVision has been respected but the form factor/price point of its CS mount lens created barriers. In this note, we review this dome, its competitive positioning, and future prospects for other ImmerVision Enables dome cameras.

Overview

The first available camera in Brickcom's panomorph series will be the MD-300Np-360-AP, with the following key features:

  • Uses current ImmerVision panomorph SDK for client-side dewarping, enabling integration with VMSs which currently support immerVision [link no longer available], including Exacq, Milestone, Video Insight, Axxon, and more.
  • Up to 3MP resolution, 20 FPS.
  • 1/2.8" Sony Exmor image sensor (most use smaller 1/4" or 1/3" sensors)
  • No cut filter at all, IR light can pass at all times (which might be helpful for night time - IR sensitive - but problematic for day time)
  • Compact dome (~4.3" x 2"), IP67-rated.

The MD-300Np-360 is planned to be available in Q2 2013, through distribution. Its MSRP is $672 USD, with an estimated street price between $550-600.

Versus Existing ImmerVision Options

The MD-300Np is only slightly more costly than the currently available ImmerVision IMV1-1/3 [link no longer available] lens (~$525 online). Considering that users of the lens must then add a camera, buying the minidome is far more cost effective. Aside from price, there are several other advantages to the integrated minidome:

  • Less installation time: Since the MD-300 it does not require the lens to be mounted and fine-tuned. We have found mountng IMV1 can be a finicky, time-consuming process, as the lens must be manually aligned over the camera's sensor, or it will not dewarp. This is eliminated when using the dome.
  • Better aesthetics: Aesthetics of minidomes are generally preferred to using a box camera with ImmerVision lens, which must be mounted vertically, striking many end users as bulky and odd. This image of our panoramic testing rig shows an Axis Q1604 next to two minidomes close to the MD-300's size (Axis M3007 and Panasonic SF438) for comparison of size and appearance: 
  • Higher resolution: The current IMV1-1/3 lens is rated only to 1.3 megapixel, vs. 3MP in the MD-300Np. Brickcom has also announced 5MP versions using this form factor. Practical quality differences will have to be tested, however.

The key advantage to using the IMV1 instead of the minidome is the ability to choose whichever camera the user feels fits the scene. This may be important in WDR and low light situations, where top performing cameras could be used in conjunction with the lens.

Versus Other Panoramic Minidomes

In the past year, a number of mainstream brands have released minidomes with integrated lenses, such as the Vivotek FE81XX series, the Panasonic SF438/458, and the Axis M3007, each with different featuresets. The first, and key, advantage the MD-300Np has against these models is in VMS integration. Since it uses the existing ImmerVision SDK, the camera can be used with any VMS which currently supports it. By contrast, all of these other options require integration of some kind, whether it be via client side dewarping SDK or integration to secondary streams for those dewarping on camera.

Aside from integration, price is an advantage, as well, modest versus Axis and greater versus others. The Axis M3007-PV sells for over $600 online, and Panasonic and Vivotek's models both sell for $800-900. 

These factors combined, the MD-300Np is worth further consideration.

Future Impact

ImmerVision tells us that this is only the first model using the new M12 lens to be released this year. They claim a half dozen announcements will be seen in 2013 from "major manufacturers", but could not name names at this time. If this is accurate, we believe this new form factor could do much for ImmerVision's positioning in panoramic cameras. Further, if costs on these future models remain low, the combination of cost and existing integrations may help to increase acceptance of panoramic cameras in general.

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