Pelco Criticizes Arecont's Multi-Imager

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 10, 2015

Pelco is rolling out their new multi-imager line and they are taking aim at Arecont.

In their new promotion, here is the comparison they offer:

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Comments (46)

I like the word from our end users, lets do a side by side shoot out. Things go truly wierd then. Real life venues and real life applications.

If this was an accurate comparison against Arecont, at least one Arecont image would have the cut filter stuck and another image flipped.

Not totally accurate. What I can gather from both the flip and filter reports is that while the cut-filters will stick on any number of imagers, the 180 flip occurs on all imagers or none . So your mixed-orientation image above wouldn't be expected from the result of those two defects.

Perhaps the most jarring, yet technically feasible image would be this:


This is a great Friday article. I will be laughing all weekend. Those two images should be both sides of a business card. That would surely get your customers thinking.

The accurate comparison part of the article is hilarious!

I wonder if Pelco is not being more aggressive because of concerns about potential litigation. I am far from qualified as a lawyer, so I don't know if there is a risk of that occuring. I would say Pelco could put up a pretty strong defense against any defamation litigation for this particular product.

I do not know how much a concern the legal aspect is for Pelco.

In general, manufacturers seem to focus on the (1) the tactfulness of doing so (i.e., it's 'bad form' to say negative things about competitors, even if they are true) and (2) wanting to maintain relationships for future deals (e.g., opportunities with Arecont cameras and Pelco VMS).

As for the 'defamation' risk, I suspect there are straightforward ways to minimize such risk. For example, Pelco takes video from an end user who had Arecont's multi-imager and switched to them. Pelco could easily and factually say "Here's an example of a poorly performing Arecont installation and how we improved it."

The other is, Schneider / Pelco has far deeper pockets than Arecont, especially after Arecont took the $80 million debt financing last year.

Wait, let me see if I understand this. We're being criticized for being too polite?

Great article John, and the comments were similarly entertaining (and educational).

"We're being criticized for being too polite?"


Think of it that you are helping your customers to avoid painful mistakes, tell them the full truth.

It's good advice John.

While I do agree with John here, they are tip toeing through the daisies, so to speak. But, I think it is a fine line between passive-aggressive nice guy and over the top slamming of a competitor in poor taste. This is maybe even more so for a large industry giant like Pelco. If it were the other way around, David slaying Goliath, then I think you could take it further, as being the underdog lends you more sympathy.

"large industry giant like Pelco"

Wait, what year is this? :)

That said, I agree with your overall point though, in the multi-imager segment, Arecont is the 'giant' or at least clear leader, if only because of previous lack of competition.

Regardless of Arecont's segment dominance, Pelco is not going to be viewed as an underdog, so Pelco has to be cautious of looking like a bully.

It's better for them to show some restraint with their claims and not press every point to its maximum inflection.

It's better that someone would think to themselves, "yeah, that ain't the half of it!" instead "well, I wouldn't quite go THAT far."

An interesting case would be if Microsoft released an enterprise class VMS and went on a full-tilt offensive against Milestone.

Who would get the Underdog status there?

I have to say that the blending of images on the Pelco camera is not significantly better. Literally as the narrator says the phrase "no duplication" at 1:41, a person is duplicated moving between sensors in the middle of the scene.

I do like the ability to interact with the the overall panorama as a single stream.

I wonder what Arecont camera that is exactly?

The fps looks to be at least 2, not a lot though more than you typically get in the real-world out of Arecont multi-imagers.

I'm jealous.

But the Pelco's FPS doesn't look much faster then the Arecont

What's your estimate of both? I'm thinking 2.5 vs 5, but just a guess...

Max framerate for the Optera is 12.5 fps @ 12 megapixels.

That clip doesn't look anywhere close to 12.5 FPS. Am I missing something?

12.5 fps max

12.5 could be at 0 lux/no IR/AGC off

Arecont reportedly doubles frame rate under low-light, apperently because it's got nothing better to do then pump out frames since there is so little actual image data...

Edit: Arecont's low-light frame rate increase may be due to binning, which reduces the effective resolution.

Pelco's response:

"This video was captured during the development phase of the Optera camera using screen capture software. This software dynamically modulates frame rate based on scene complexity and is not operating at the frame rate the camera was operating at.

Optera cameras do indeed capture at up to 12.5 FPS. "

Interesting that Pelco claims the problem with the Arecont image is one of white balance, not mentioning anything about stuck IR cut filters.

Which is weird because, it most likely is due to both the imagers on the left having their filters stuck open. Because

  1. The loss of contrast and telltale purplish tint
  2. The softer image on the left, due to the slightly different focal length of IR
  3. The fact that the two on the left match, and the two on the right match
  4. Arecont has settings available to match color among the imagers.
  5. We know that Arecont has this problem.

Making it a white balance issue seems weaker. One might think that the Arecont could be fixed with some adjustments, which it can't, assuming it's the cut filters.

Jason, any thoughts?

A well experienced end user will not even consider this info as 100 percent set in stone fact. Proper side by side testing would have to be done. Testing both low light and true WDR scenes, as well as some standard network monitoring for bandwidth performance and a look at any video archiving issues as well. As an end user this is the kind of testing we do before committing to any purchases.

"A well experienced end user will not even consider this info as 100 percent set in stone fact."

No one should consider any info '100 percent set in stone fact.' That's an incredibly high bar.

The value of any marketing is setting expectations / raising concerns. For example, Axis's Zipstream claim: "lower bandwidth and storage requirements by an average 50% or more." Axis benefits from making a specific claim. It would be foolish to accept it '100%' on face value but making a specific claim let's buyers and critics focus on what to evaluate / consider. Then you can do your own testing and see how well it does.

What rings so true of the Arecont criticism here is that many have used those units and experienced even worse than what Pelco is claiming here.

Arecont just won an award from a magazine! Independent awards should always be given the highest priority I would think.

Oh, you're funny.

And here's actual voting - Worst Manufacturer Support 2014

This is a joke, right?

When I visit that link I just get a bunch of ads and can't see any mention of the award or Arecont Vision. I tried it on both Chrome and IE and got the same result.

I did chuckle at "1st Annual". Because there's no such thing as "1st Annual". It's not "Annual" until it happens the following year. The correct term is "Inauggural" and then when (if) they have it the following year, it becomes "2nd Annual" etc.

It's splitting hairs, but it's also directly out of the AP Style Guide, which I would expect an esteemed trade magazine like Security Sales & Integration to be familiar with.

But even if it is true that SS&I gave AV that award, the results of IPVM's poll have MUCH more credibility than a trade publication pandering for advertising dollars.

Talking about low quality marketing. It is very easy to take an old model of Arecont, screw up a few settings, reduce the framerate, exposure, ore even tamper with the camera itself and than bring your best camera, configure the best settings for a perticular scene and there you go.


Would it be possible for Arecont and Pelco engineers to do a stand off at your labs? This way each engineer will be able to configure the best setup and copare images.

Lets not forget about latest softwares and tips and trick for getting the best imatege.

At the end of the day is all right balance - quality/cost


We have seen the same problems with Arecont in our testing and in our lab (as cited above including the cut filter stuck, image flipped).

As such, whether or not your insinuation that Pelco sabotaged the image / video in their marketing, our results are consistent with what they demonstrate.

As an end user with just under 20 of the Arecont multi-imager cameras in service, I can agree with some of the criticisms put forth in the Pelco video: stuck IR cut filters, widely varying brightness between imagers, and image alignment issues being the most prevelant for us. Low image rate and high latency are other issues we regularly encounter. We have not seen the flipped image issue.

That said, the Areconts met a need we had when we replaced several legacy analog PTZ cameras that were set on constant tours, and they have served us well in those and other similar applications. The newer line of the SurroundVideo Omni so far (with my one test unit) appears to have overcome the IR cut filter issue. Since the imagers are independently adjustable, the alignment issue isn't really an appropriate point of comparison for that line.

I'll be curious to see how well the Pelco integrates with other VMSs (we use Avigilon). I really dislike having to go to the browser when needing to adjust most camera settings on the Areconts. We tested a Pelco Sarix about a year ago and saw the same lack of full integration with our VMS. (but don't know if it is the VMS, the cameras' hardware/firmware, or some combination of the two that hinder the full integration)

"I'll be curious to see how well the Pelco integrates with other VMSs (we use Avigilon)."

I think it's highly unlikely that Avigilon provides any depth of integration with Pelco's multi-imager considering Avigilon just released their own new multi-imager line. The Pelco full integration requires a special SDK that Avigilon would have to custom integrate. Surely they could technically do it, but with their own offering that they likely believe is better, I doubt it would be a priority.

"The newer line of the SurroundVideo Omni so far (with my one test unit) appears to have overcome the IR cut filter issue."

We were hoping that but our Omni had the IR cut filter issue recently.

Disappointing news on the reported recurrance of the IR issue in the Omni series. I like their flexibility and lens configuration options. The new Avigilon series is good - I have one test/evaluation unit in service now and plan to purchase more - but in some applications the added flexibility of the Omni would make it a good fit. In some applications, the vari-focal capability of the new Avigilon series is overkill, and they don't offer the level of flexibility of imager placement that the Omnis have.

I wasn't looking for full "Panomersive" integration with the Pelco devices. It would just be nice to be able to adjust certain settings from within the VMS rather than having to log into the device via browser and make adjustments from there. Same with the Areconts . . . and Axis . . . It may be an Avigilon issue of not wanting to make it too easy to use other manufacturers' devices, the manufacturers not wanting to make it too easy to use some other VMS, or (most likely) both. Why can't we all just get along?

Back on topic though, I am interested in the Pelco as a potential alternative to the Arecont SurroundVideo line. I will anxiously await the IPVM side-by-side comparison. :-)

We have been replacing all of our problem child Arecont cameras with Avigilon's ONMI cameras. For the money that it costs us to replace/RMA Arecont I have just been eating the cost to replace them with Avigilon's cameras.

The customer is extremly happy and my service team is very happy once we swap them out. Win win for everyone.

....I have just been eating the cost to replace them with Avigilon's cameras.

Assuming that even the problem units have a couple or more imagers still working, what do you do with them?

  1. Send them back Arecont for whatever credit you can get?
  2. Donate them to science?
  3. Combine all working imagers into single Omni-stein units?
  4. Three point play into dumpster?

or option 5 :)

For a large number of failures, option 6 gives the most bang for the buck:

I haven't touched an Arecant camera in years, and it's incredible they still have ALL the same problems they had back when I did, and yet people keep on buying them! John, your replies to other people's posts can be very entertaining.

"yet people keep on buying them"

Not too long ago, Arecont was growing 60%+ per year. Now, they are lucky to grow at all.

The big thing that has held them up is the multi-imager line, which until this summer, they had a near monopoly on. Come 2016, when all these competitors are ramped up with multi-imager, it is going to be very hard on Arecont.

Surprised no one has mentioned the other ridiculous nuance of the Arecont 180's. The multi imagers number themselves in a nonsensical manner. They look fine in the browser, but when you go to add them to a VMS you have to number them from left to right: 4-2-1-3. Arecont's explanation is that they are randomly assigned camera numbers in the order that they identify themselves, however I've found them all to be in this order described above. Very frustrating. Have also seen VMS/Arecont confusion where a duplicate image may show up on 2 feeds even though the cameras are correctly numbered. Only solution was to uninstall/reinstall in the software.

Yeah, I will never understand that, either. I actually never noticed that they always came up as 4-2-1-3, thinking they were random, but now that I think of it, they do seem to always be in that order. It's a silly argument, considering tons of 4-channel encoders function essentially the same way without random camera numbering. It doesn't take long to figure out, but it's just one more added annoyance stacked on the others.

I haven't seen the duplicate feed issue, though, either at my last job or testing with IPVM.

Arecont's engineers have told customers that their multi imager cameras spit out as many frames per second as they can per second, and that the order in which they are sent is random...sort of a first in first out process. I realize this wasn't your point, but I think its an interesting tidbit that indicates there isn't an exact scients to how many frames per second each imager will consistently provide.

"isn't an exact scients to how many frames per second each imager will consistently provide."

And failing to meet the specified fps is an ongoing problem for these units. And forgot about trying to send multiple streams simultaneously from the camera.

Now Arecont is saying they are doubling frame rates but that comes off very low starts - 3pfs, 5fps 'spec'ed', etc.

...their multi imager cameras spit out as many frames per second as they can...

What more could anyone ask? ;)

After attending Pelco's (borint)'webinar today about their Optera Line, I was lefy with teh sensation that this is the SOS. Event their short video displays some of the errors that they critizice on Arecont

Thanks for the feedback Alex, and it's good to see you're still around. It was stated in the webinar that the sample video that was used had to be compressed significantly to keep the bandwidth and webinar file size down, so it's not representative of the actual use video. Others have discussed this already above.

When you say "some of the errors" can you be more specific?

Ryan had mentioned one above:

Literally as the narrator says the phrase "no duplication" at 1:41, a person is duplicated moving between sensors in the middle of the scene.

Jason, is there any (even minor) adjustment possible to the individual sensors FOV's?

Is it even theorectically possible to have zero gap and zero overlap, at all distances from the lens simultaenously?

I think it's important to note that overlap is absolutely impossible to avoid due to spherical fields of view. That overlap also helps in the stitching (any stitching software app you use on your phone or camera today uses overlap to perform the stitching) and that overlap helps in the blending of images as well.

I know our Engineering team has spent a considerable effort reducing object duplication and will continue to make improvements on the product.

As far as your question goes, imager positional indexing is performed and calibrated at the factory, and is not field-adjustable.

There was some discussion early in development about allowing re-calibration to be done in the field. This isn't my product line (I'm the Analog Camera and IP Accessories Product Director), but if I recall, it was found to be too complex a calibration to be performed reliably in the field. That's not to say at some point that won't be made available, but I believe right now we're not providing for such field-calibration.

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