Testing Sanyo's HD Surveillance Camera (VCC-HD4000)

By John Honovich, Published Dec 01, 2009, 07:00pm EST

Sanyo is making an aggressive push into the IP video surveillance market introducing a broad line of HD cameras [link no longer available] in 2009. Sanyo is positioning high video quality at relatively inexpensive prices.  Their 'flagship' model is the VCC-HD4000 [link no longer available]. See the vendor's overview video below.

In this test, we examine the VCC-HD4000 [link no longer available] testing it in indoor and outdoor scenes under daylight and low light (sub 1 lux) conditions).

Our key findings include:

  • Daytime video quality was high with life-like images that looked more like a professional digital camera than a surveillance camera
  • Night time video quality was problematic at under 1 lux
  • Setup was difficult with various limitations and issues on configuration and 3rd party VMS integration

The Sanyo HD4000 has a lot of features (see product brochure [link no longer available] for a list). Compared to other megapixel cameras, here are a few that are less common and more important to consider:

  • An integrated lens eliminates the need for focusing the camera.
  • The integrated lens is varifocal and provides a broad 10x optical zoom. There is no pan or tilting so the camera can only zoom straight ahead to the middle of the Field of View.
  • The camera has many physical inputs and outputs - audio, HDMI, SD card, eSATA, coax, dry contacts, etc. Note the SD card does not have much practical use as it is not integrated with any VMS systems.
  • The camera has limited 3rd party VMS support including Milestone/OnSSI, Luxriot, Alnet, NUUO and Avermedia (see compatible NVR list [link no longer available]). NUUO and Avermedia however do not support the H.264 stream.
  • The maximum resolution is up to 4MP but only in MJPEG mode. In H.264, 1080p is the highest resolution.

Pricing

The Sanyo HD4000 is available on-line for about $900. See a representative list of pricing for the HD400 as well as the entire Sanyo HD line [link no longer available].

Testing Setup

We tested the HD4000 with firmware: MAIN Ver : 1.04-00 <090514-00> and SUB Ver : 1.00-03  <090302-00>. Defaults for imaging/camera settings were used for all tests.

We tried the test with LuxRiot, Milestone, NUUO and Avermedia. H.264 support was only offered by Milestone and Luxriot. The published test results were done using Milestone Enterprise Version 6.5f with Device Pack 4.5. Earlier in our testing, we used Device Pack 4.4 but could not get H.264 streaming to work.

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Image Quality Analysis

Our key observations on the Sanyo's HD4000 image quality include:

  • Daytime video quality was impressive. Resolution was high and color fidelity was life like. This was probably the best aspect of the camera's image quality.
  • Under low lighting, video quality degraded significantly. Under 1 lux, the video quality was almost useless even in black and white mode. Under .5 lux, the video was essentially all black and produced no image of the scene.
  • For outdoor night time use, color mode 'looked' better than black and white mode. Black and white mode was extremely blurry.

Most importantly, you should view the captured videos and screenshots to make your own decision. Download the package of Sanyo test videos and snapshots (warning: 200MB ZIP file)

The screencast below provides analysis and commentary on the test videos and their quality.

Setup and Configuration

The screencast below overview the physical features of the camera:

The screencast below demonstrates and examines the software configuration of the camera:

Important notes on software configuration:

  • The web user interface is disabled when a VMS system is connected to the camera. As such, we were not able to view or change configurations to the camera from the web UI when Milestone or Luxriot was recording the feed.
  • Firmware upgrade requires inserting an SD card into the camera's on-board slot. You cannot upgrade over the network.
  • When changes to the configuration were performed using the Milestone administrator, the camera would not be available for viewing on the client software, sometimes for extended periods of time.
  • The camera connection with Milestone's software was not stable with the camera routinely dropping.

Bandwidth Consumption

The Sanyo's bandwidth consumption was generally about 6 Mb/s for 1080p, H.264 30fps. This was fairly constant even when VBR streaming was set in Milestone and through various conditions - day, night, indoors, outdoors, etc. Note: as an average bandwidth consumption, this is quite high. Also, we believe that the artifacting and loss of detail in low light is due to insufficient bandwidth (competitor camera's bandwidth consumption rises significantly in low light).

The screencast below shows bandwidth consumption of the camera in real time.

Comparison to Axis Q1755

The Axis Q1755 is the closest comparable camera to the Sanyo HD4000. Both are 2MP cameras with integrated lenses, 10x optical zoom and a number of physical inputs and outputs.

The key differences include:

  • Price: The Sanyo HD4000 is $600 less than the Axis Q1755 (Sanyo - $900 vs Axis $1500 based on current online pricing).
  • Bandwidth: On average, the Axis Q1755 is likely to consume far lower amount of bandwidth/storage than the Sanyo, especially in daytime and moderate motion conditions. While the Sanyo bandwidth consumption remained about 6 Mb/s, Axis was as low as 1.5 Mb/s in daytime, moderate motion conditions but as high as 8-10Mb/s in low light/high motion.
  • 3rd Party Support: The Q1755 has much greater support than the Sanyo. Users may not be able to use Sanyo or may be faced with limitations or issues in the implementation of support for Sanyo.

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