Sentry 360 Panoramic Cameras

By Ethan Ace, Published Feb 14, 2012, 07:00pm EST

In this update, we will examine the panoramic camera offerings of Sentry360. This camera line differs from competitors in key ways, with a broader line, increased resolution, and wider VMS support. We will look at these features, pricing, and how the Sentry360 product line compares to competitors Mobotix and Immervision.

Overview

Sentry360 offers two camera series: FullSight, a line of single-sensor panoramic cameras, and InSight, a fixed megapixel camera line.  The FullSight Series is divided into two groups:

  • FullSight Mini: This series is built into a compact dome form factor (similar to the Axis M31 series or Panasonic's recent compact minidomes). H.264 and MJPEG compression are supported, at maximum resolutions of 1.3 and 2.0 megapixel. Both models are day/night. Maximum framerate is 30FPS at the camera's maximum resolution.
  • FullSight Pro: The Pro series is available in 5 or 10 megapixel, currently, with plans to add 14MP in the future (based on their 14MP InSight series camera). These cameras are available in day/night versions and support H.264 and MJPEG streaming. Maximum frame rate is 14FPS at 5MP, and 6FPS at 10MP. Unlike the Mini series, the Pro series is a compact box form factor camera, with various dome options available separately. 

Sentry360 claims better handling of low-light and wide dynamic scenes than other panoramic cameras, a notorious tradeoff when selecting panoramic technology. This is in part due to a feature they call Owl Eye, which adjusts dark areas of an image to compensate for lighting variations. In addition, recent changes to their firmware allow users to set three predefined image quality settings, and push these settings to the camera at predefined times in the day. This would allow settings to be changed during twilight, day, and night, for example.

Pricing and Availability

All of the above cameras are currently available, with MSRP prices as follows:

  • FS-IP 1000 1.3MP Minidome: $900 USD
  • FS-IP 2000 2.0MP Minidome: $980
  • FS-IP 5000 5MP Pro Series Camera: $2,400 ($2,500 day/night)
  • FS-IP 10K 10MP Pro Series Camera: $2,950 ($3,050 day/night)

The substantial price jump from 2.0MP to 5MP is due to larger sensor sizes and lensing. While the Mini dome cameras use board mount lenses and 1/3" and 1/2.7" sensors, the Pro series uses larger 1/2" sensors and CS-mount lenses, increasing cost. Sentry360 uses specially made multi-megapixel fisheye lenses from Sunex.

Sentry360 sells through distribution (Tri-Ed/Northern, CSC, and others), as well as to integrators, not directly to end users. Sentry360 uses a traditional security dealer discount structure, offering deep discounts to integrators. On-site and online installation and configuration training is available.

VMS Integration

The FullSight line is currently integrated into a number of VMS platforms, most recently Genetec Security Center 5.1., NICE, VideoInsight, Axxon, and others also appear on this list, with others currently in development. Notably missing are Milestone and OnSSI, which have supported ImmerVision for the past few years. All VMS integrations include software dewarping of live and archived video, as well as ePTZ functionality.

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[Update: Integration with Exacq has been removed.]

Competetive Options

The most likely comptetive options for the Sentry360 line are the Mobotix Q24, and ImmerVision's Panomorph lens series. Both have specific advantages and disadvantages. The Q24 has limited third-party support and is available only in color or monochrome versions, with no day/night option. ImmerVision has wider third-party support, but is sold as only a lens, meaning integrators must supply and integrate a separate camera. Sentry360 has neither of these disadvantages, with a longer (though largely different) VMS integration list than ImmerVision, and turnkey camera systems.

These three options compare in price as follows:

  • Sentry360 FS-IP 2000: $800 USD street price (estimated based on MSRP and approximate dealer discount)
  • Mobotix Q24: ~$800 USD online
  • ImmerVision + Full HD fixed box camera: ~$1,600 (~$500 for lens, ~$1,100 for camera, such as Sony CH240)

Using these prices, the FS-IP 2000 is roughly equivalent to the Q24 and much lower than an ImmerVision lens plus camera. The Q24 does have a potential resolution advantage, though, since it is color or monochrome only, not day/night, as the Sentry360 model is. 

For the 10MP FS-IP 10K-DN, we estimate street price to be around $2,500. This is far higher than both the Mobotix Q24 and the ImmerVision option. Though, once again it has the advantage of being day/night over the Q24, and resolution is much higher than both these options.

Positioning

Overall, Sentry360 has some advantages over competitive options:

  • Resolution: With 5- and 10-megapixel options, Sentry360 offers higher resolution than other panoramic cameras on the market. Though testing is required to verify, this sheer increase in pixels may help to overcome the lack of pixel density as you move towards the edges of the image. This was one of the fundamental problems we saw with panoramic cameras in our testing.
  • VMS Integration: With a longer list of VMS integrations than most competitors (only ImmerVision comes close), Sentry360 simply has better chances of adoption due to compatibility. Genetec especially is an advantage for Sentry360, as it is the first panoramic camera to be integrated to Security Center. The addition of Milestone/OnSSI would further this advantage.
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