SightLogix Thermal SightSensor Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Mar 23, 2013

With the release of its Clear24 image enhancement feature, SightLogix claims "the most detailed thermal image possible, 24 hours per day", as demonstrated in their marketing video.

We put it to the test against Axis, DRS, FLIR, and Pelco to see just how accurate this claim was. This report covers SightLogix's image quality only, with a test of their analytics coming in a future series.

This is the fourth in our series of thermal camera tests, following results on FLIR, DRS, and Pelco. Next up: Axis.

Key Findings

These are our key findings from our tests:

  • Very high contrast: SightLogix's proprietary contrast enhancement does indeed greatly increase image contrast, without requiring any configuration by the user.
  • Some detail lost: We found that the increase in contrast did not result in an increase in detail, however. At long distances, the SightSensor is quite capable of detecting subjects, but their movement is harder to distinguish than in some competitive cameras, and thus harder to classify as human or animal, etc.
  • Motion stabilization: The SightSensor features image stabilization processing which kept video stable while other cameras shook when buffeted by wind gusts.
  • Integration issues: The SightSensor integrates to VMSs either by emulating an Axis 211 (MPEG4/MJPEG) or via RTSP (MPEG4). VMS support can be touchy, however, with only MJPEG supported by Exacq, and quirky NTP issues. The lack of H.264 is unusual, but less impactful than in megapixel cameras due to the SightSensor's lower (320x240) resolution.
  • No web interface: The SightSensor does not have a web interface as nearly all other IP cameras do. Instead, users must configure all parameters via SightMonitor, SightLogix's configuration/monitoring tool.
  • Physical installation concerns: Installers used to mounting traditional cameras may find the SightSensor more difficult to install due to its weight and MIL-SPEC connector, not typically concerns when mounting cameras. Additionally, the enclosure is pressurized, adding an additional step to installation and maintenance.
  • Price: Thermal SightSensors are priced from $4,995 USD MSRP for the wide-angle (60° HFOV) version, through $19,995 for the long-range (7° HFOV) model.

Note that this test is of SightLogix's imaging only. We will release a separate report testing their analytics in an upcoming series.

Recommendations

Because of these integration, configuration, and installation issues, we see the SightSensor as best for trained, experienced integrators. Those with less technical and mechanical aptitude may find these factors challenging.

For those able to manage these issues, the SightSensor (and its sister product, the non-analytic Clear24 thermal camera) potentially offer better detection than competitive cameras, albeit with a reduction in detail.

Physical Overview

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In this video, we provide a physical overview of the SightLogix SightSensor. Especially of note are the lack of standard Ethernet and power connectors, and the inclusion of a locking MIL-SPEC multi-pin connector for all signal. This connector is used instead of standard connectors because SightLogix's cameras are sealed, tested, and filled with dry nitrogen at the factory and require no other internal maintenance. SightLogix points out that moisture will eventually migrate into unpressurized thermal cameras and degrade performance.

Configuration Overview

In this screencast, we review the administration and configuration of the SightSensor via SightMonitor. While this differs from many IP cameras in that no web interface is used, note that SightLogix provides no image quality controls to the user. Instead, they say their cameras automatically adjust for changing climate conditions. Cameras which require manual adjustment of contrast, equalization, and other settings may become less than optimal over time as seasons and conditions change, requiring re-optimization. We were not able to test the impact of such automatic adjustments.

Contrast Enhancement

The SightSensor's proprietary contrast enhancement provides better contrast between hot and cold objects than many competitors. In this example, with the subject at 150', we can see the difference in temperature not only between the cool (~40 degrees F) background of the field and the human subject, but we can see the difference in temperature in his clothing as well, with a vest distinguishable from his pants, sleeves, and face. Only the Pelco TI335 (bottom center) provides this contrast, as well. Users may click the image for a full-size version:

At long distance, around 1800', the SightSensor best shows our subject against the tree line, by far (top center). Others lose contrast between the subject and the trees, with some barely visible at all.

This increase in contrast comes with some noticeable tradeoffs, however. The SightSensor produces visible artifacts in the form of "blocking" in the image, where other cameras do not. Warm objects also appear somewhat hazy in comparison to other cameras. Both of these factors are visible in this clip:

Because of these imaging issues, subjects viewed by the SightSensor can, at times, be more difficult to make out as human or otherwise. In our tests, this is an issue only at long distances, where a user can clearly tell something is moving in the image, and likely would dispatch response regardless. It was moderately easier to distinguish our human subject as human using other cameras at long distances, since they did not appear as blurry. This is a key tradeoff to using SightLogix, as the increase in contrast definitely provides better detection.

Image Stabilization

All SightLogix cameras feature image stabilization, which uses a dedicated DSP to reduce or eliminate the effects of vibration from wind or traffic. In the example below, you can see this feature compared to a competitive camera. In this case, both cameras were mounted on a tripod and shaken, with the heavier SightSensor mounted further from the center of the tripod.

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