Sony Next Generation Cameras (IPELA Engine)

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on May 30, 2012

It has been a few years since Sony introduced their fifth generation series, begging the question of when a new release is coming. In the interim, their major competitors have all released major new lines. Now, Sony has (pre-) announced the IPELA Engine, the core of its next generation cameras, promising performance gains in multiple categories. In this note, we look at the claimed improvements, how they compare to both Sony's existing models and current cameras from competitors.

[UPDATE 2013: Sony 6th Generation Test Report is released.]

Overview

Sony is claiming a handful of improvements in the IPELA Engine in this release:

  • Increased WDR performance for 1080p cameras, 130dB for IPELA engine vs. 90dB for current 5th generation cameras.
  • 60 FPS at 1080p resolution, vs. 30 FPS in current models.
  • Improved low-light and DEPA Advanced analytic performance, the details of which are not yet public.

Sony has stated that its next generation of cameras, using the IPELA Engine, should be shown in Fall 2012, in time for ASIS. However, it is not clear when these cameras will actually ship. Given the long lag between their hybrid series promotion and release, the sixth generation cameras might not ship until 2013.

Analysis

Overall, this release appears to be an incremental upgrade, intended to regain some ground Sony has lost as competitors such as BoschAxis, and Pelco have improved performance in subsequent generations of cameras.

WDR: Sony's V Series cameras (140/180 and 240/280 models) remain among the best WDR cameras available. Assuming the IPELA Engine increases WDR performance as claimed, Sony's next generation 1080p cameras should perform even better in these scenes than current 720p models.

Low Light: Actual low light performance will be very important. Increasingly, Sony's 5th generation cameras lack the low light capabilities of cameras released in the last 12 months, most notably the Bosch 1080p, Pelco Surevision and the Axis Q1604.

Analytics: Based on this release, it is impossible to predict what effect the improvements to Sony's DEPA Advanced analytics will have. Sony provides only this vague wording:

"The functions for detection of moving objects, humans and any objects blocking the view among others have been enhanced through an alarm detection function using image processing."

This may indicate that Sony is trying to improve these analytics as a key differentiator, as few competitors provide on-board analytics at no additional charge. Past generations have included DEPA or DEPA Advanced analytics, as well, deployment has been limited.

Sony's Preview Video

This 50 second marketing video from Sony on the IPELA Engine is amazing in its ability to convey zero information wrapped around a series of special effects:

[UPDATE 2013: Sony 6th Generation Test Report is released.]

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