Megapixel Cameras Examined

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 26, 2009

Panasonic details its emerging IP/megapixel camera strategy in a recent ASMAG report. The strategy centers around the use of its "UniPhier" video imaging technology that Panasonic is using across its consumer and professional offerings. Online resources on UniPhier are scarce but the core specifications listed are H.264, HD 1080p, multi-streaming.

Specific to video surveillance, Panasonic emphasized its use of high profile H.264 in contrast to commonly used baseline (Arecont's choice, for instance). This is similar to the approach/positioning of Pelco for their Sarix line.

Panasonic claims that their approach will deliver "a full frame rate (30 fps) megapixel transmission at 4 Mbps, as opposed to the competition’s 11 fps and 11-Mbps bit rate."

This claim is inconsistent with our test results of megapixel cameras. 11 Mbs is way too high even for 1080p at high motion and low light. Also, Panasonic's statement of a single number rather than a range is technically misleading, unless they are using constant bit rate streams (which would be ineffeicient).

Most importantly, the first H.264 megapixel camera from Panasonic - the 'award winning' WV-NP502 is less impressive than its marketing hype. While it emphasizes 3MP resolution, the camera only supports H.264 up to 1.3 MP. 3MP is only available in MJPEG mode. On-line price for the WV-NP502 is about $900 USD.

[Update: Panasonic camera continue to be acceptable but not industry leading in any major metric (bandwidth, low light, WDR, breadth of featuers, etc.)]

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