Testing HD PTZ Camera (IndigoVision 11000)

By Benros Emata, Published Jun 14, 2010, 12:00am EDT

Popular opinion contends that high definition (HD) will eliminate pan tilt zoom cameras (PTZs). However, what then, is the value of combining the two and providing HD PTZ cameras?

In this test, we examine a PTZ with HD resolution (IV11500) from IndigoVision integrated with their Compact NVR. Just like Indigovision's HD fixed camera [link no longer available] (refer to our review of the IndigoVision HD fixed camera), the HD PTZ has a fixed resolution of 1280x720, 30fps framerate, and H.264 codec support.  

We found interesting benefits and, in general, see value of upgrading standard definition PTZs to high definition PTZs.

Inside the review, we examine key considerations such as:

  • Joystick control and responsiveness of the PTZ
  • Level of detail of the HD PTZ versus a leading SD PTZ
  • Maximum range (distance) of an HD PTZ versus SD PTZ cameras
  • Bandwidth consumption of the PTZ at rest and in motion
  • The HD PTZ is scheduled for General Availability at the end of July 2010. There is no webpage on IndigoVision's website describing the product. In the physical overview section below, we review the key features/aspects.

    Price

    The MSRP of the HD PTZ camera will be $3,344 for standard recording (720p, 15fps recording max) and $4,009 for enhanced recording (30fps recording max). The camera is designed for outdoor use. The mount is sold separately.

    Key Findings

    On a technical level, we found:

    • Control of the camera was very smooth with virtually no visible delay in controlling the camera.
    • With the use of the serial IndigoVision keyboard, the PTZ had the smooth control of analog PTZs (a positive point).
    • The image quality and detail was strong - in line with IndigoVision's own HD camera and other HD cameras we have tested.
    • Bandwidth consumption was fairly modest even when the camera was being controlled - an average of 6Mb/s during the day with motion and 3.5 Mb/s at night with motion (720p with H.264 codec).
    • Compared to a Canon VB-C60, an SD camera that provides a 40x optical zoom, the Indigovisions' widest FoV is slightly narrower and the furthest distance visble is slightly smaller. However, it is fairly close, with the higher resolution offsetting much of the longer zoom of the SD camera.

    At its MSRP of about $3,500, the IndigoVision is relatively affordable and not much more than outdoor SD IP PTZ cameras. Given its relatively low bandwidth requirements and smooth control, it is an attractive offering.

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    The most serious limitation is the requirement of using IndigoVision's VMS. For deployments using only a few PTZs, this camera may not alone justify choosing end to end IndigoVision. However, for deployments with a high percentage of PTZ cameras, this could be an attractive and motivating option.

    Physical Overview

    The following screencast examines the physical form factor of the IndigoVision HD PTZ camera.

    Key points include:

    • Camera has resolution of  1280x720
    • 1/3" CMOS sensor
    • 10x optical zoom + 12x digital
    • 5.1mm to 51mm range lens
    • Carabineer affixes to mount as a safety wire
    • Be aware of the weathered seal, it may cause challenges when closing the housing if not properly seated
    • Camera requires a high power POE injector or switch for power
    • As an alternative, a 24V AC/DC power supply may be connected to the AUX port

    Image Quality Analysis

    We examine the image quality of the IndigoVision HD PTZ camera by exporting two video samples: One taken during a daytime outdoor scene, and the other during at night. 

    Download the sample video clips. The screencast below will reduce resolution/frame rate so if you want to see the 'native' quality, you should download the sample video clips.

    The results of our tests are explained in the following screencast.

    Key points include:

    • In the outdoor daytime clip, a lot of visible detail can be seen on the captured image from the HD PTZ
    • Good performance in dealing with variations in light within a scene
    • Minimal amount of noise artifacts in the outdoor nighttime scene
    • Viewing nighttime clip, video motion was smooth (running at default 25fps)
    • At night, auto focus took longer to set during PTZ movement

    Bandwidth & Framerate Examined

    In the following screencast, we used video quality analysis software, Elecard StreamEye v3.1, to examine and verify the stream properties of the two exported test clips.

    Key points include:

    • For the daytime and nighttime clips, confirmed the captured resolution of 1280x720 and framerate at 25fps
    • Daytime clip average bitrate was 5.8Mbps
    • Daytime clip scale measured approx. 100Kbytes, i-frames approx. 1Mbps, p-frames approx. 250kbps
    • By default, IndigoVision HD PTZ i-frame setting is set to 1 frame every 4 seconds
    • Confirmed that bandwidth consumption raised when PTZ panned and zoomed
    • Nighttime clip average bitrate was 3.5Mbps
    • Nighttime clip scale measured under 50Kbytes
    • Relative to the daytime clip, less details are being shown at night; therefore, less bandwidth is being consumed
    • Another factor contributing to low bandwidth at night is the lack of camera noise artifacts in the image

    HD PTZ vs. SD PTZ

    We posed the question, "How does an SD PTZ with a larger optical zoom and wider focal range compare to an HD PTZ with less optical zoom and focal range but higher resolution"? 

    To put this question to the test, we contrasted the IndigoVision HD PTZ with the Canon VB-C60 SD PTZ camera (Reference our test on the Canon VB-C60) . Both cameras were placed side by side and a common reference point was established in both images. We zoomed both cameras at their widest point, then zoomed in at the most telephoto point and noted our observations.

    Key points include:

    • The Canon VB-C60, with a minimum focal length of 3.4mm, had a wider field of view, compared to the IndigoVision PTZ, with a minimum focal length of 5mm
    • IndigoVision PTZ had a higher detail of images than the Canon
    • The Canon, with a maximum focal length of 136mm, could zoom in closer, compared to the IndigoVision PTZ, with a maximum focal length of 50mm
    • Although the Canon had a better overall distance, it was a modest difference compared to the higher resolution image of the IndigoVision
    • If max distance is a priority, the 40x, 136mm focal length of the Canon will see farther than the IndigoVision at 10x, 50mm focal length, but the difference is minimal

    PTZ Keyboard Functionality

    In our tests, we controlled the IndigoVision PTZ using their PTZ keyboard accessory.  We connected the keyboard via a DB-9 serial connection to our PC, and associated it with IndigoVision Control Center. In the following screencast, we overview the various functions of the keyboard.

    Key points include:

    • The keyboard does not support the programming of Presets, Sequences, or Guard Tours
    • To pan the camera, move the joystick left/right; To tilt, move the joystick up /down
    • Twist the stick clockwise to zoom in, twist counter clockwise to zoom out
    • To select a camera, use the keypad to press the camera number, then press the camera icon
    • To change the video layout, enter the number of columns, then enter the number of rows, then press the A3 button
    • To select an active monitor, select the monitor number, then press the monitor icon
    • The first five presets may be accessed via the five numbered keys on the bottom of the keypad

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