Varifocal Illuminator (NuOptic)

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Sep 06, 2012

While surveillance users are accustomed to picking varifocal lens for cameras and easily adjusting the FoV on the spot, this is not the case for IR and white light illuminators. Most illuminators require picking the angle before you order (10, 30, 60, etc.), sticking you with whatever the unit delivers even if it is too narrow and leaves dark spots or too wide and fails to cover the far side of the scene. Now, a new US manufacturer named NuOptic is releasing the "Varifocal Illumination System" or VIS. Inside, we examine its features, pricing and competitive positioning versus Raytec.

Key Feature: Beam Adjustability

The VIS line offers one key attribute not found in other products: the illuminator beam is mechanically and dynamically adjustable. Unlike other products that are fixed focus, or require manually swapping the aperture lenses to change 'throw' distance and diffusion angles, the VIS has a rotating lens that dynamically changes the dispersion of light. The manufacturer's marketing video below provides an example of how this feature works:

The dispersion angle can be changed remotely and internally within the unit, and multiple VIS units can be 'ganged together' to cover angles beyond 100º.  When joined in this way, the units behave as one single large illuminator, and the focal 'convergence' point of the illuminator's beams can travel across the total field of view - following a PTZ as it patrols within range. Alternatively, the units can be simply be hung 'unganged', as separate units, but in close proximity to increase illumination intensity within a fixed area. The manufacturer's video below shows how multiple VIS units can be used with multi-imager panoramic cameras to illuminate very broad areas, and ganged together for PTZ use:

Other notable attributes of the VIS line:

  • Available in both White Light and Infrared options (850nm and 940 nm wavelengths) with 'throw distance' up to 980'
  • Two wattage classes: 40 watt or 80 watt units - the units with greater wattage have increased throw distance
  • Non PoE Compliant: VIS Power Requirements are 20V-29V AC or 24V-36V DC, up to 2.5A
  • Fully controllable via RS-485 communications interface or Pelco D protocols
  • Cost: Prices range from MSRP $940 (40W, White Light) - $1580 (80W, 940nm IR)
  • 5 year Warranty, excluding motorized 'drive train' components

PTZ Integration

VIS is designed to remain stationary, which presents a design problem when used with PTZ cameras. In this situation, the manufacturer recommends two options:

  • Gang a number of illuminators together to cover 360º, requiring four or more units
  • Mount a single illuminator in a fixed position on a PT mount (see report for additional details), and use a non-PTZ camera to accomplish the same FoV.

Both of these suggestions introduce issues of cost, extra equipment, or complexity to and installation. Even though VIS permits a unique level of adjustment that can be used with PTZ cameras, implementation of that is far beyond simple 'plug and play' and will require configuration labor, perhaps hours of labor depending on complexity, of both the illuminator and camera/positioner unit. 

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Warranty 

The 5 year warranty excludes the drive train - the mechanism that moves the lens to focus the IR beam. Like a speeddome camera, the mechanical components are subject to wear and break over time due to normal use.

While the warranty exclusion is inline with similar mechanisms (e.g., PTZs on continuous tours are frequently only warranteed for 90 days), users should keep this aspect in mind especially if they plan to frequently refocus the IR beam.

Comparison

The closest comparable is Raytec's Vario line, although the feature sets are not identical. As we addressed in our Vario review, that product must be manually adjusted by changing lenses and the beam intensity is adjusted through an IR remote control unit on site, but not via a network. By contrast, the VIS can be adjusted through a serial interface with no need to change parts. Here's a comparison:

  • Raytec Vario I8: range up to 720 feet, adjustable diffusion between 10º  - 120º: ~$850 online
  • NuOptic VIS-1080 (850nm IR): range up to 980 feet, adjustable diffusion between  7º  - 100º: expected street pricing of $900 - $950

The NuOpic will likely have a modest premium as it will when comparing the NuOptic shorter range version to the Vario I4. The question then becomes whether this premium is worth the capability to remotely optimize or dynamically adjust.

However, NuOptic is clearly only a fit for those looking to spend a premium on illumination as its 'cheapest' offering has an MSRP of $940. By contrast, many IR illuminator providers have offerings from $100 to $400 that might not have long range nor adjustability but are more than sufficient for simpler, smaller Field of Views.

2 reports cite this report:

5 Low Cost IR Illuminators Tested on Sep 03, 2015
IR illumination has increased in popularity, with built in IR becoming a common feature in low-cost models. But when low light needs exceed the...
License Plate Recognition (LPR) Axis App Tested on Sep 08, 2014
License plate recognition (LPR) has historically been very expensive, requiring specialized hardware and software. An embedded LPR app from...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on IR

Axis IR Multi Imager Camera Tested (P3717-PLE) on Feb 18, 2019
Axis has released their first IR multi imager, the P3717-PLE, a repositionable model listing 360° IR illumination and flexible positioning,...
Hanwha Smaller Multi Imager Tested (PNM-9000VQ) on Feb 14, 2019
Hanwha's first repositionable multi imager PNM-9081VQ tested well, but was huge, over 12" wide and weighing in at over 10 pounds. Now, they have...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
8MP HD Analog Tested (Dahua / Hikvision) on Jan 30, 2019
HD analog has promised higher resolution for years, but has lagged substantially behind for years. Now, both Dahua and Hikvision have started...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Jan 28, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...
Camera Course Winter 2019 - Last Chance on Jan 24, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the Winter 2019 Camera Course. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
2019 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Jan 07, 2019
Each year, IPVM summarizes the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and...
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

From The Basement To Buried Behind Chinatown: ISC West Emerging Technology Zone on Feb 22, 2019
What does ISC West think about 'Emerging Technology'? Well, last year, they put those companies in the basement. This year, they moved them up to...
Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact