Pelco Optera 270° Camera Tested

Published Sep 06, 2016 15:45 PM

Multi-imager cameras are typically 180° or 360°.

Pelco has released a fixed 270° versions of their Optera intended to cover exterior building corners, such as this typical view:

In this report, we test this new model, compared to a repositionable multi imager, the Avigilon HD Multisensor, as well as a fisheye panoramics (the Hikvision 12MP IR Panoramic) to see its pros and cons and whether it improves coverage in this application.


The Pelco Optera 270 is a solid option for monitoring building exteriors in corner mount configuration, with its preconfigured 270° FOV containing no overlap and leveled images, not found in other multi imager models. Additionally, its low light sensitivity was better than other cameras tested, providing better detection at longer ranges.

However, image quality was moderately worse than the Avigilon HD Multisensor in our tests in full light, with overexposure of the test chart. Users should test in place where possible if these issues may be present in their scene.

Overall, multi imager cameras in 270° configuration likely provide a better option for monitoring wide exterior areas than using multiple fixed cameras, as they require only a single cable and wall penetration, reduced installation, and potentially one VMS license instead of 3-4.

Key Findings

Here are our key findings from this test:

  • The Pelco Optera's stitched and flattened 270° view provided moderately increased usability over the Avigilon HD Multi Sensor in 270 configuration, eliminating overlap and off-level images.
  • Panomersive SDK integration simplified monitoring when using supported platforms (Milestone XProtect and Genetec Security Center), with immersive controls throughout the 270 FOV, plus only a single tile was used, instead of four in non-integrated VMSes.
  • Using tiled mode, integration worked without issues in Avigilon, Exacq, and Network Optix / Digital Watchdog, but the 270° layout may be awkward for users, as three streams must be viewed side by side and one placed below. 
  • The Optera 270 provided images similar to the Avigilon Multisensor in full light at close range, but fewer details at 30'+, with more overexposure.
  • In low light (~0.1 lux), Optera provided moderate increases in detection compared to the Avigilon Multisensor, but no practical gains in details.
  • The Optera 270 produced drastically better details than 12MP fisheye panoramic in full light and low light due to much higher PPF.
  • Optera's bandwidth consumption was moderately to significantly higher than Avigilon's and dramatically higher than the Hikvision fisheye which supports H.264+


The Optera 270 sells for ~$1,500 USD online. This pricing is similar to Arecont's SurroundVideo line (~$1,300-1,600) and Avigilon's HD Multisensor.

Physical Overview

The Optera 270 is physically identical to other Optera models aside from its sensor arrangement. We take a look at its physical features in this video:

VMS Integration

As with other Optera models, there are two methods to integrate the camera to VMSes:

  • Panomersive SDK: Pelco offers a "Panomersive" SDK which VMSes may use to integrate the full multi-imager panorama with immersive viewing (virtual PTZ) into a single layout tile. Currently, this is supported by Genetec and Milestone (via plugin) as well as Pelco's own Video Xpert VMS.
  • Tiled multi-stream mode: Added in more recent firmwares, those VMSes which do not integrate the Pelco Optera SDK may use tiled mode, which outputs multiple streams similar to other multi imager cameras. The number of VMS licenese this requires varies by platform, with some using only a single license per IP address, and others requiring one per channel.

Panomersive Plugin

Using the Panomersive SDK, users may pan and zoom throughout the full panorama image. This allows for simpler monitoring, as users do not have to view or digitally zoom multiple camera panes to follow subjects as they would in typical multi imager use.

This example shows the Panomersive SDK used in Genetec:

Tiled Full Field of View

In tiled mode (four stream output), the Optera 270 operates similar to other multi imager cameras, with users needing to line up images next to each other in VMS client layouts. However, since the Optera stitches and flattens these streams prior to output, there is no overlap and the entire 270° panorama appears level, seen here:

By contrast, in multi imager models such as the Avigilon HD Multisensor, the left and right imagers covering the 270° view appear off level, with some overlap. These imagers essentially cover the same area, but are somewhat more difficult to monitor due to these issues.

Image Quality Comparisons

We compared the Optera 270 to the Avigilon Multisensor (in 270° configuration) as well as the Hikvision 12 MP IR panoramic to see how they compare in a typical corner mount.

Daytime Comparisons

At close range, ~15' from the camera, the Pelco Optera provided subject details similar to the Avigilon HD Multi Sensor, though text was more legible in the Avigilon camera. The Hikvision 12MP panoramic camera provided rough details of the subject due to its lower PPF, and washed out much of the test chart.

Doubling distance, the Avigilon Multi Sensor provides slightly better subject detail than Pelco, with the test chart almost totally washed out in the Optera. The fisheye panoramic provides almost no details at this distance.

Finally, at ~50' from the cameras, the Multisensor is again best, with only vague subject details (similar to the Optera) but line 1 of the test chart mostly legible.

Nighttime Comparisons

At night (~0.1lx), the Optera produced brighter images than the Avigilon Multisensor, though details are roughly similar at close range. Despite its integrated IR, the Hikvision panoramic camera provides no usable details of the subject, though text is moderately more legible.

At ~30', neither multi imager camera provides usable images of the subject or test chart.

Finally, at ~50', the Optera is moderately brighter, making destection of the test subject easier compared to Avigilon, while the fisheye panoramic displays no image of the subject at all.

Bandwidth Comparison

The Pelco Optera 270's bandwidth consumption was significantly higher that the Avigilon H3 Multisensor day and night. Both were drastically higher than the 12MP IR panoramic, at least in part due to its inclusion of Hikvision's H.264+ smart codec, which neither multi imager camera offers.

Test Parameters

All cameras were tested using default settings, unless otherwise noted. The following settings were applied to all cameras:

  • H.264, 10 FPS, ~28 quantization was used
  • 1/30s maximum shutter speed

Firmware versions used in this test: 

  • Pelco IMM12027:
  • Avigilon 12W-H3-4MH-DO1: (11805)
  • Hikvision DS-2CD63C2F-IV: 5.4.14 build 160427
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