This camera is the latest addition to the Vista range from Norbain and shows that there is still a commitment to developing analogue technology for the CCTV industry. Its unobtrusive appearance will blend in with most environments and will be compatible with most analogue systems. However to gain the maximum image benefit it will need to be used with one of the 960H standard digital video recorders.
It gave a good clean image out of the box with its default settings in both natural and fluorescent lighting.
The camera is based around the Sony IMX238 1/3” CMOS sensor which has a 1305(H) x 1049(V) effective pixel count. The 2MP IR corrected varifocal lens has a range of 2.8 to 12mm giving a horizontal field of view from 81.2° to 22.6°.
Sensitivity is good but in many cases the camera will use its inbuilt IR LEDs for low light observation. A 3-axis internal camera mount allows the unit to be ceiling or side wall mounted.
A conventional BNC video connection lead and power lead terminated in a clearly identified terminal block are both around 85cm long. Cables are fed through the base of the camera but a removable side plate allows for a side entry conduit connection.
The clear dome is removed by way of 4 x Torx screws and is connected to the base by a small plastic strap allowing it to hang down for set-up when installed.
A small printed circuit mounted “Tact” switch is used to turn on the on-screen menu and acts as a joystick to navigate through the menu structure options. There are ten main menu options with some leading to further sub-menus. The 20-page manual provided with the camera gave limited details for some of the menu options and noted that some were “not applicable” or “do not use” so this may lead to confusion and inadequate settings for some installations.
The main menu options are as follows:
- Focus adj: an aid that provides three vertical bars that indicate when focus is maximised. While these are quite helpful if working with a small test monitor, the focus and zoom adjustments themselves are very coarse and you need small fingers or careful screwdriver adjustment to move and lock them precisely. There is no mention of any method to adjust the focus for low light operation so the use of neutral density filters or a late commissioning visit will still be required. There was a slight de-focussing when the bowl was refitted but this is probably to be expected with such a small diameter bowl.
- Lens: either ALC (default) or ELC.
- Exposure: this has a sub menu to adjust brightness, shutter, Sens-Up and AGC. The Sens-Up has a range from zero to 50 in 6 steps with x2 being the default.
- Backlight: this is set to WDR by default and this has adjustable weighting settings from Low, Middle (default) or High. The alternative settings of HLC or BLC can be chosen with a selectable window zone. It should be noted that some of the advanced features cannot be used while WDR is enabled.
- Day & Night: this was set at extern by default which appeared to mean that the camera switch-over would be controlled by the light sensor on the LED array as there are no external inputs available. This mode did tend to operate at too high a light level and in certain scenes could result in the LEDs flashing as they were at the changeover threshold resulting in a flickering monochrome image. The second option of IR LED OFF or ON didn’t initially turn off the LEDs but after a power cycle did, so this may be something to watch out for. Other sub options included AGC Threshold, AGC Margin and Delay. Two additional options for Anti-Sat and Extern S/W were controllable but referred to as “Not applicable”.
- White Balance: Auto (default), Auto Ext, Preset and Manual with Low, Middle and High (default) temperature settings and R and B gain controls.
- Image: this options sub-menu includes Sharpness, Gamma, Pedestal, Colour Gain, Mirror and Flip modes (these last two to reverse or invert the image).
- DNR: this noise reduction mode is set to Middle as default but can be turned Off, Low or High to suit recording and display requirements.
- Special: this includes D-Zoom (allowing the image to be zoomed in up to eight times in 0.1 increments), ACE (not explained), Defog (to increase image detail if weather is poor), Shading (noted as “Do not use”), Privacy (this feature has up to 16 privacy boxes that can be changed in size and position and given different colour and contrast) and finally Intelligent that has options to set Motion sensing, Alarm (not available as no inputs on camera) and Quick Zoom. These latter modes allow the camera to track movement within the scene and to zoom in for a defined period on an area of movement. With limited information available, these features are difficult to use and gave unreliable results.
- System: the available options are COM (again not available), View Angle (Wide 4:3 (default), Wide 16:9 and Normal), CVBS (Pal or NTSC), Language, Cam Title and Reset.
The number of options is unnecessarily wide particularly for a fixed camera that has no external inputs or method of remote control. This means that features such as Defog would have to be permanently enabled and may impact on other features of performance. Menu options that have no function or should not be used should not be available to the user and should have been omitted from the devices menus.
The camera is claimed to have a resolution of 1000TVL colour and monochrome but as this is based on a sensor with just 1305 horizontal pixels and using PAL encoding with a composite video output, there will be plenty for engineers to discuss at length regarding Lines v TVL and limits of resolution.
The reality is that the camera can resolve significant detail but much of this will be lost in any system using RG59 type coaxial cables. Perhaps the advantage of having a high pixel count in an analogue camera is the capability to digitally zoom into an alarmed area however this can only be an advantage with real time detection and a significant time would need to be spent on configuring this camera for suitable results.
This camera appears to be trying to provide features that are now the norm for IP based models that can be readily remotely configured. It will be dependent on the installer getting the configuration right first time and therefore will be unlikely to be fully optimised in the majority of cases.
Score: 6.5 out of 10