Sentry360 Panoramic Test 2013By Ethan Ace, Published on Jun 21, 2013
A 10MP panoramic camera? While 3MP and even 5MP cameras are increasingly common, a 360 degree 10MP offering is rare. In this report, we share test results of Sentry360, a panoramic specialist, that offers 3MP, 5MP and 10MP panoramic cameras. We tested them side by side as shown in the image below:
These are the key findings from our tests:
- The 10 megapixel FS-IP10K provides moderate gains in performance over lower resolution models, with facial details easier to discern. However, the camera handles lighting variations poorly, resulting in overexposure on our test chart.
- Performance of the 5MP Pro Series camera (FS-IP5000) was on par with competitive models in full even lighting. The Mini Series 3MP FS-IP3000 lagged behind others in our tests.
- In very low light, <1 lux, the FS-IP5000 was one of the top performers in our comparisons, one of few cameras to produce any usable image.
- Below 1 lux, 5 and 3 megapixel Sentry360 models provided no usable images, similar to most competitive cameras.
- Image adjustment features found in the Mini Series web interface, such as WDR, backlight compensation, and noise reduction have little effect.
- When using automatic white balance in the Pro Series, moderate desaturation occurs. This may be corrected through manual white balance.
The FullSight series prices out as follows:
- FS-IP3000-M Mini Series: $800 USD MSRP
- FS-IP5000-M Mini Series: $900 MSRP
- FS-IP5000 Pro Series [link no longer available]: $1,800 MSRP
- FS-IP10K Pro Series [link no longer available]: $2,500 MSRP
The Mini Series is IP66 rated, while the Pro Series requires an additional housing for outdoor mounting.
If covering a very large area, especially evenly lit indoor applications, the higher resolution of the FS-IP10k may provide more extra details compared to lower resolution cameras. These gains are reduced as light lowers, where the FS-IP5000 outperforms it, and competitive cameras.
Compared to other panoramic cameras, the Sentry360 Pro Series performs well, while the Mini Series performed below average. However, both Pro cameras are priced above competitive models. For example, the FS-IP5000 has an estimated street price of about $1,300-1,400. By contrast, the Mobotix Q24 sells for ~$900 online, includes I/O, audio, and is IP66 rated, features not found in the FullSight series.
In this video, we review the form factor and physical features of both of Sentry360's panoramic lines. Key points include:
- Mini Series gimbal may be adjusted for off-level mounting and angle of view.
- Mini Series ships with an M12 mount fixed panoramic lens. Pro Series cameras ship with CS mount manual iris lenses. Cameras ship focused from the factory, but we suggest refocusing in place after installation.
- Neither series includes connectors such as I/O or audio, common on other cameras in our shootout. Ethernet (and 12VDC power, in the case of the Pro Series) are the only connections on the camera.
In this video, we review the Sentry360 Mini Series web interface. Users should especially note some camera defaults which should be adjusted:
- Camera defaults to CBR, but may be adjusted to VBR with a cap by unchecking one box.
- By default, the camera slows the shutter to 1/4s in low light.
- WDR and backlight compensation options are essentially ineffective.
We review the Pro Series web interface in this screencast. This web interface offers little in the way of configuration, with the following the main points of note:
- Max shutter speed is set in microseconds (µs), instead of milliseconds (ms) as is typical, and defaults to 200,000µs, or about 1/5s. Users should increase this to prevent motion blur (33,333µs = 1/30s shutter).
- White balance modes may result in seemingly washed out video. Manual white balance may be preferred.
- Cameras may be run at resolutions lower than maximum, but bugs in dewarping may occur. 16:9 aspect ratios cannot be used.
VMS Integration and Operation
Finally, this screencast reviews configuration and operation of Sentry360 cameras in the VMS, using Video Insight as an example. This video shows two key points:
- Sentry360 offers dewarping parameter configuration as part of their SDK, allowing users to adjust the dewarped image size and geometry. Other panoramic cameras do not offer this.
- VMS view modes include overview, single dewarped window, quad dewarped view, and 360-degree panorama. Dewarped views are most common, as users may find panoramas disorienting and difficult to navigate.
In full light, around 160 lux, at 6' from the camera Sentry360's Pro Series 10 and 5 megapixel cameras show good details of the subject, including hair color, facial hair, and clothing, but the chart is difficult to read due to some overexposure. The 3MP model was one of the lowest resolution cameras in our test, and shows lines 1 and 2 of the chart, but the subject's face is difficult to identify.
At our furthest tested range, 18', the 10MP FS-IP10K shows more details of the subject than all other cameras in our test. The 5MP model shows facial details on par with competitive models. All three Sentry360 cameras suffer from overexposure, however, makin the chart more difficult to read than in other cameras.
3 Lux Comparison
At much lower light levels, ~3 lux, the Sentry360 models begin to suffer from noise and dimmer images than other models. Details of the subject are still visible at 6'. The chart is more readable in the Pro cameras at this light level than full light, since overexposure is no longer an issue.
At 18', as in our full light comparison, the 10MP Sentry360 camera displays more details than competitive models. The 5MP model is on par with the Vivotek FE8172V, and slightly edged out by Axis and Mobotix.
Low Light Comparison
In very low light, below 1 lux, the 5MP Sentry360 is one of the top performers in our test. Though very noisy, the subject can be detected, and the chart seen. The 10MP and 3MP cameras produced no usable image.