Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Guide

By: IPVM Team, Published on Dec 22, 2017

Multi-imager usage has been growing strongly over the past few years.

Now, a new segment of multi-imagers has taken off, with many manufacturers offering repositionable models enabling the user to pan and tilt the cameras to customize the field of views covered.

Below is an example of positioning one such unit:

Inside this guide, we explain the following key elements in repositionable multi-imagers:

  • Number of imagers
  • Fixed vs. varifocal vs. motorized lenses
  • Positioning/panning differences
  • Motorized positioning
  • Tilt limitations
  • Corridor mode support
  • Size tradeoffs
  • Resolution and FPS options
  • Advanced features (WDR, super low light, IR)
  • Comparison to single imager cameras
  • Comparison to fixed lens multi-imager cameras
  • Comparison of Arecont, Avigilon, Axis, Hanwha, and Vivotek repositionable offerings

Repositionable Multi Imager Introduction

Repositionable multi imagers consist of multiple camera assemblies (lens and sensor) mounted in the same housing, each typically with its own 2 or 3 axis gimbal for individual positioning.

There are three key variances in repositionable model coverage:

  • Number of imagers: Most commonly, four imagers are used, but three and two imager models are available from some manufacturers.

  • Fixed or varifocal: Repositionable multi-imagers may be either varifocal or fixed focal (with interchangeable lenses). Varifocal models are growing in popularity in the past ~12 months.
  • Motorized zoom/focus: Additionally, some manufacturers include motorized focus and zoom in their repositionable models, allowing users to aim cameras in the field and fine focus/zoom remotely.

Imager Panning Differences

How individual imagers are positioned also varies, with two broad categories:

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Comments (11)

Hikvision also about to release there versions so a growing market place for sure , they offer great flexibility using such a camera 

My Hik rep gave me an initial pricing for their units and it was 4x the price of the P3707-PE. It did have twice the the imagers, but that didn’t justify the huge price delta. 

I'm curious...The "limitation" of 15-20 IPS versus 30 IPS is commonly noted in camera evaluations. With the exception of gaming and perhaps ITS, does anyone in healthcare, manufacturing, education, etc actually record at 30IPS? Seems to me a vast majority of video applications are perfectly well suited by 10-15 IPS. 

The only ones recording at 30IPS that I know of are the ones left at factory default by the installer (whole different discussion!) and the ones specified by unknowing specifiers. 

Theater movies are (for the most part, I believe) are 24IPS. Smoothness of video at 15IPS is barely detectable by the human eye. 

Recording at 30IPS vs 15IPS requires (effectively) twice the storage for an exceptionally small marginal increase in evidentiary quality with the exception of high speed events including slight of hand. 

If off topic, I apologize, but just curious on thoughts of others. 

 

I'm curious...The "limitation" of 15-20 IPS versus 30 IPS

It's certainly on topic. It's not a deal breaker for most but it's worth mentioning.

Related, I edited that section to put the advanced features lacking to be in front of the fps so that it visually / structurally gives emphasis to that (i.e., WDR, IR, low light, etc.) which will more commonly be barriers for multi-imager adoption.

Having a maximum lower than 15FPS is indeed a limitation on cameras these days for a many reasons:

- with intelligent codecs, better motion detection algorithms, latest compression tech, dynamic I frames and FPS settings, 30 FPS using 2x the space and bandwidth of 15FPS is a false narrative.

- true WDR cuts your frame rate in half, whether or not the camera or spec sheet discloses it. A 7FPS multi imager now has lackluster evidence running 3-4 fps in most cases.

- Security threats are ever changing which means compliance, spec, needs, etc are changing. Why settle for minimum settings when you can offer future proof design with a multi imager that can handle more than 15 FPS?

- Environments can change. End users will often shift operations to different areas, build new structures or move cameras around. Why not use multi imager technology that can grow and change with the business and there will be no question of capability?

- of it comes down to court, 5 or 7 FPS can certainly miss evidence in all verticals. Fights, use of weapons, vehicles traveling at high speeds where they shouldn't, slip and falls, employee theft at registers, etc.

I agree with your overall points that 5-7 FPS output just isn’t viable for us. While we do often configure our installs at the 7-10 FPS range, I don’t like the idea of maxing out the capabilities of a camera. We have found that many models become unstable and sluggish as you reach their maximum frame rate. We try our best to avoid this. 

I will typically spec 30fps to filter out the junk. I want some headroom to actual need, not something minimally compliant. I don't want something that will struggle and drop frames or freeze in an active scene at 15fps. 

Or take a fisheye for example, do you think a fisheye that has 12fps max at full resolution can dewarp/PTZ as smooth as a 30fps fisheye running 12fps at the edge?

Also, as other poster mentioned, WDR.

Why do people use Cat6 when Cat5e is fine? Why do people use gig switches when 10/100 is fine?

Agreed its definitely worth mentioning. Thanks.

And yes, appreciate structural emphasis on imaging issues which are most times the most important. 

Not sure I remember reading it in the past but if it hasn't been done, a survey of integrators/end users on selected recording rates by vertical might be interesting. 

I really enjoy seeing these comparisons.  Are you planning on comparing the image quality on a single page?  Based on your early evaluation, the Hanwha camera looks impressive, but hopefully the size of these cameras will come down as technology evolves.

Any thoughts on the motorized pan on the Arecont? 

Geoffrey, thanks.

Are you planning on comparing the image quality on a single page?

We had not but it's a good idea. We / Ethan will have to think about how to present it, given the variance in AoVs involved.

Any thoughts on the motorized pan on the Arecont?

We have not tested the newer Omnis. Our main concern is the fate of Arecont. They have clearly been heading down (e.g., Troubles At Arecont VisionFailed Arecont China Acquisition) so one is taking a real chance with long-term support in that environment (this is especially problematic given Arecont's quality problems). I think it would be good for the industry if Arecont pulled through but given their ongoing problems I am not sure how likely that is.

Great article, do you have a chart listing out wattage consumption by these various models ?

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