Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2014

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 17, 2014

Panoramic cameras have been around for more than a decade but only in the last 3 years has there been an explosion of vendor support. Now, nearly every camera manufacturer offers panoramic cameras.

What has that done to adoption?

In this note, we share unique IPVM survey results on what percentage of panoramic cameras are used, why they are being used and what reasons integrators have not to use them.

Panoramic camera use is very low, coming in at just 4%:

On the other hand, 3 years ago, panoramic was certainly under 1% as only a few niche vendors offered them.

For every integrator surveyed, panoramic cameras were a niche, with no one saying they used panoramics more than 20% of the time:

That we expect to largely remain, given their unique pros and cons. However, since ~75% have not used panoramics ever, there is a lot of upside yet.

Camera Replacement

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Camera replacement was the main stated advantage of panoramic cameras:

  • "Parking lots and larger lobby's they allow the elimination of PTZ and the views can allow the following of subjects with ease."
  • "I have used panoramic cameras as replacements for PTZ cameras and in areas where a couple of cameras would be needed to cover the required areas."
  • "The panoramics allow us to install one camera where we would typically us 2, 3 or 4 fixed box. At corridor intersections, building corners etc."
  • "10% of my cameras are panoramic - mostly because it is a replacement to the PTZ which i rarely design anymore."

Resolution / Detail Deficiencies

Of course, camera replacement is not magic. As other integrators mentioned, there are issues with the detail that panoramics deliver:

  • "The trade-offs of using a fisheye (quick detail breakup) and/or multi-imager (frame rate, bandwidth) ultimately do not meet their demands for image quality. I always preface the panoramic showings by immediately trying to temper their expectations that this is finally CSI."
  • "We found that picture quality, especially for digital zoom of recorded images are not as beneficial as installing additional cameras to provide similar field of view."
  • "It needs to be installed in a smaller area. If you need to view something that is ~30 feet or more away, the resolution just doesnt exist for the details you'd like to get from a 5MP imager."
  • "Rarely produce any usable video. (Low resolution past 10' from the camera.)"

The detail problems are a simple geometry issue. The FoV of panoramic cameras are routinely 3 to 10x wider than traditional cameras. The upside is capturing a wider area, the downside is less details at any specific spot in that area.

Here's the detail at just 12 feet away from the camera with panoramics:

See more in our Panoramic Camera Shootout

Arecont Problems

Arecont is, by far, the largest provider of multi-imager panoramics. Their main upside is that they combine multiple imagers in a single unit instead of just a single one with a super wide FoV. However, integrator's comments here mirrored findings in our 2014 Worst IP camera survey, with respondents noting:

  • "I like the concept of the multi-imager cameras but have not fully embraced Arecont due to reliability issues."
  • "We have deployed a number of Arecont 180 cameras. Unfortunately, the reliability of these cameras is lacking."
  • "RMA'd Arecont Surrond cameras. Lost confidence."

Integrators Bullish About Expanding Use

The most common theme of integrators on panoramics was about how they were going to use more panoramics in the near future:

  • Panoramics are picking up steam.
  • We have been working a lot towards panoramic cameras though and it will only be a matter of time until the percentage of installed panoramic cameras increases considerably.
  • I think this will double in the next 6 months as more VMS systems are able to dewarp 360 type cameras.
  • With the newer fisheye cameras out I can see deploying these in connivence stores in the future. Recent tests on this site have sold me on their concept.
  • 15% and growing. I am starting to see more and more need/want for these. they are really good for hallway intersections or for a square room where 360degree coverage (general overview) is needed. 
  • We are not currently using many panoramics, but I anticipate that this will also grow substantially in the next 2 years.

Low Light

Only one integrator noted the low light problems of these cameras. However, we believe as panoramic use grows it is going to be an increasing problem. It's essentially inevitable to have poor native low light since panoramics combine high F stop lenses (f/2.0 or higher typical) and higher resolution cameras (5MP or higher is increasingly common). This is why we believe integrated IR for panoramics is an attractive growth area for manufacturers (e.g., see Hikvision IR Panoramic Camera Tested).

1 report cite this report:

Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2017 on May 08, 2017
Panoramic camera usage (including fisheye and multi-imagers) continue to rise rapidly. However, the race to the bottom is hindering even stronger...
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