Sony Launches 4K With 20MP Mode

By John Honovich, Published Apr 09, 2015, 12:00am EDT

After a year of talking about 4K, Sony is now announcing its first 4K surveillance camera.

In this note, we break down the 3 most interesting features and contrast how it will match up with 4K offerings from Axis, Bosch and other rivals.

Sony 4K Overview

Sony is starting with just one 4K camera - an outdoor dome with integrated IR, the SNC-VM772R. This camera will have a 1 inch sensor (EXMOR R CMOS). This is similar to what the popular Sony DSC-RX100 digital camera uses, though Sony says the sensor for surveillance might have modifications.

The 3 most notable features are:

  • Evidence mode: This will allow JPEG snapshots of 20MP to be taken, which is quite novel. The snapshots can be generated based off VMD, events, user input, etc. The key challenge will be seeing how this integrated with VMSes since it is not something that VMSes typically do / support.
  • 20MP MJPEG: Related, the camera is specified for 2.5fps 20MP MJPEG. However, Sony has not finalized whether this can be streamed at the same time as the H.264 stream, etc. Nonetheless, for those who really want max resolution and storage is no barrier, this is an intriguing option.
  • Multi-tracking: As part of their new 'intelligent coding', Sony support dynamic adjusting of compression levels for regions when movement is detected, allowing for bandwidth/storage savings on still areas. This is partially similar to Axis 'Zipstream' though Axis offers both adjustments based on regions and for I frame interval.
  • Intelligent scene capture: This will be the first Sony camera to "automatically adjusts and adapts picture quality (brightness and color) depending on time, weather and lighting conditions." This could be useful and is not something we have heard other manufacturer claim but it needs to be seen how well it works in practice.

For Sony's full pitch and other camera features, see Sony's 4K blog post.

True WDR

Unlike any 4K IP camera we have seen yet, Sony's 4K will have true dual exposure WDR. However, unlike Sony's Full HD cameras, they will not have 4 exposure WDR.

Low Light

Unlike Axis and Bosch's 4K cameras, Sony's has integrated IR, which we believe is important. Sony emphasized that even without IR on, that because of the large sensor, Sony is positioning its 4K camera to have the same color low light performance as its current Generation 6 cameras in color mode.

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Pricing and Availability

Update August 2015: The camera has now started to ship and the street pricing is in the $2,000 to $2,200 range.

Competitive Positioning

Unlike Axis, whose first 4K camera was relatively bargain price of sub $1,000 but had weak performance, Sony has taken the approach of building a very high end 4K camera. We think Sony's 20MP mode will be especially appealing as it provides an extremely high pixel count. Combined with the larger sensor, true WDR and integrated IR, this camera has the potential to be one of the best image quality surveillance cameras ever, if you can afford it.

On the other hand, compared to the $5,000+ Avigilon's PRO series, proprietary cameras, we believe this could help strengthen non Avigilon users and rival VMSes to offer very high resolution.

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