Testing Messoa 3MP LPC Camera

By Derek Ward, Published Apr 02, 2015, 12:00am EDT

License plate recognition has historically required specialized cameras with limited general surveillance use.

Messoa is aiming to change that with the LPR606 [link no longer available], a higher resolution 3MP claiming scene overview and capture in the same camera.

We tested the Messoa camera as part of our Milestone LPR test, looking for these key issues:

  • Does the LPR606 reliably capture plates out of the box?
  • How did performance vary from day to night?
  • How well did it integrate with popular VMSes?
  • Can it really capture overview and plates in a single camera?

Below are excerpts from our test:

The Messoa LPR606-N2-MES [link no longer available] is a specialized license plate capture camera with the following key features:

  • 3MP resolution, 15 FPS.
  • D/N with mechanical IR cut filter (most LPC cameras are monochrome only).
  • Integrated IR LEDs, specified max range of 30m (~98').
  • ONVIF Profile S [link no longer available] conformant.
  • PoE 802.3af for camera operation, 24VAC required for heater.
  • Pricing: ~$1,000 USD online

Key Findings

Key findings from this test include:

  • Out of the box, at 3MP resolutions, using "Preset to LPR" defaults (day/night, 1/250s fixed exposure), the LPR606 had no issues capturing license plates on vehicles moving up to 40 mph day or night.
  • Higher resolution allowed wider field of view, ~15' HFOV, while still providing sufficient PPF for capture, allowing better vehicle overview than many LPC cameras.
  • Daytime color operation provides vehicle color information, impossible with many specialized LPC cameras, which are monochrome only.
  • Manual focus only via knobs on bottom of camera, no autofocus. Manually focusing proved challenging at times due to high amounts of motion and high resolution in outdoor LPC scenes.
  • Manual IR power adjustment via web interface was required for optimum plate contrast in nighttime scenes, as default setting (0 of 30) did not properly expose the plate.
  • No issues connecting and streaming via ONVIF to Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec Security Center, and Milestone XProtect Corporate.

Pricing

The LPR606 sells for about $1,000 online, on the lower end of license plate capture camera pricing, which ranges from about $800 (Geovision LPR Hybrid 10R) to $2,000 (Bosch Dinion capture 5000). However, most of these models are suited for capture only, not overview and capture, requiring a second camera be installed if vehicle/scene information is desired.

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Recommendations

The Messoa LPR606 provides capture and vehicle overview at a price lower than most dedicated capture cameras which lack overview, making it a good choice for these applications in low to mid speeds (40 mph and below). 

However, at its ~$1,000 price point, advanced users may find passable performance in lower cost cameras, such as full size or low cost bullet models. Though these models may require substantial trial and error and exposure adjustments for proper capture.

Physical Overview

In this video, we review the physical construction of the Messoa LPR606:

Physical size of both the Messoa LPR606 compared to a similar full size IR bullet and mini IR bullet in length:

And diameter:

Configuration Overview

There are two key configuration options to note in the LPR606:

Preset to LPR

The "Preset to LPR" button loads a group of settings which adjust exposure to 1/250 of a second for both day and night and reduces the manual IR illumination control to 0, Messoa's recommended settings for capture.

Manual IR Illumination Control

The Messoa LPR606 camera allows users to manually alter the amount of IR illumination output, not commonly found in integrated IR cameras. This may be used to adjust illuminator power for best contrast, improving license plate capture (especially key when used with license plate recognition systems), without overexposing the plate.

The image below shows examples of low, medium, and high power, with medium settings optimum in this scene and range, with characters clearly legible, while higher power washes out the plate.

Configuration Screencast

We review the above settings and more in this screencast:

Image Overview

The image below shows the full field of view used in our tests of the Messoa LPR606 for one lane of traffic. Due to the LPR606's higher resolution (3MP/15FPS or 1080p30 vs. VGA or 1.3MP in most LPC cameras), sufficient PPF for reliable capture can be achieved while keeping the FOV wide enough for vehicle overview.

In the animation below, we can see full details of the passing car (~35 mph), a gray Honda Accord, license plate 5328S. Note that these images were captured using default 1/250s exposure, at 5 FPS (as part of our Milestone XProtect LPR test).

At night using the preset LPR settings, plates are again captured consistently. Due to the fast exposure (1/250s and up) used for capture, only reflective surfaces and lights are visible, with no vehicle overview as we had in daytime. Those looking for nighttime vehicle overview must add light to the scene or use a second camera.

The animation below (also from our Milestone LPR test) shows a vehicle at night. The plate is clearly legible (FBA-7077) in multiple frames, but no vehicle information may be obtained.

Performance With LPR Software

As part of our Milestone XProtect LPR Test, the Messoa LPR606 accurately recognized >95% of plates during the day (color, 1/250s exposure), and ~90% of plates at night (monochrome, 1/250s exposure), with few outright missed vehicles or issues reading non-plate items such as lettering, car grills, or foliage.

Methodology

This test was conducted using the following firmware versions:

  • Messoa LPR606: 00.19
  • Avigilon Control Center 5.4.0.30
  • ExacqVision 6.8.4.76415
  • Milestone XProtect Corporate 2014 9.0c
  • Genetec 5.2 SR9

2 reports cite this report:

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