Pros and cons of Internet protocol and HD-CCTV systems reviewed
The Washington Metropolitan Police Department uses CCTV to keep watch over high-crime areas. The CCTV security segment steadily is going digital in large part because of the advent of Internet protocol megapixel and HD-CCTV (also known as HD-SDI) technology; but that has led to an ongoing spirited debate over which is better. The irony is that analog still rules. So how is a government video procurement officer supposed to decide?
IC Realtime is a manufacturer of video surveillance systems, and nearly half of IC Realtime’s security system business is still analog, according to Matt Sailor, the company’s CEO. However, three years ago analog cameras comprised about 80 percent IC Realtime’s business. Despite manufacturing analog, HD-CCTV and megapixel equipment, Sailor sees IP megapixel eventually taking over the market.
One leading reason for that is many buildings are being constructed with built-in computer network infrastructure; but image quality is the main consideration. Sailor says 1080 resolution on many HD-CCTV cameras translates to 1.3 megapixels. “This is just slightly greater than the lowest megapixel camera made,” Sailor says, “When you go into a basic megapixel system you have seven times more clarity than HD-SDI.” The most appropriate description of HDCCTV is HD-SDI or serial digital input.
“The biggest benefit of megapixel is that you can zoom in and hold image quality because there are that many more pixels in the shot,” Sailor says. “You can grab a picture of a suspect, outline his face and bring it in crystal clear.”
An analog camera converts its image to National Television System Committee standards, and a digital video recorder converts it to digital. Analog or HD-SDI cannot produce an image that can be enlarged without a loss of resolution.
Since IP cameras generally are streaming to computer networks through CAT-5 cable, those cameras stand alone.
The cable pushes power to the camera with the same CAT-5 that pushes video and communication. One wire controls everything. The IP or megapixel camera is viewed over the Internet without the need for a DVR. An analog or HD camera has to run back to a DVR, and the DVR is accessed for the image.
“With IP the DVR becomes nothing more than a storage box,” Sailor says, “If you choose not to store it and just stream it live, megapixel and IP cameras have SD cards that will hold very short images directly on the camera.”
For those who want a more complex system, a network video recorder can be used to pull all available image streams and make them searchable.
The HDCCTV Alliance, headquartered in Holgate, Australia, is a non-profit industry association that develops, manages, and promulgates the technical interface specification for HDCCTV. It has more than 70 HD manufacturing members, including 15 chipmakers.
Todd Rockoff, executive director of the alliance, not surprisingly has a different point of view about the efficacy of megapixel camera systems. “People buying IP cameras are spending three times as much,” but “are they getting three times the value?”
“IP camera advocates are really proud of the fact that IP camera revenues are approaching 50 percent of all world-wide camera revenues,” Rockoff says. “They are slower to point out that IP camera sales are only 17 percent of worldwide units shipped.”
Rockoff says an IP megapixel camera has to compress the signal, and the signal has to be transmitted over the Internet and be decompressed before it can be viewed. That leads to some delay and the camera image being somewhat distorted. And on occasion, he says, “packets get dropped on networks, which results in stunted or dropped video. You wind up, sometimes, with worse forensic evidence.”
Further, IP systems require expensive experts to install and maintain them.
Rockoff says HD-SDI delivers stunning live views with no delay or signal degradation and takes advantage of the efficiencies of CCTV. That means that HD-SDI can use the coaxial cable that was originally installed for an analog system.
Another reason to choose HD-SDI is it is manufactured to a standard that the alliance helped develop, Rockoff says. The alliance developed a collection of standards and specifications with SMPTE.
That is the origin of the SDI label that means that, unlike IP megapixel equipment, all HD-SDI components are compatible no matter the manufacturer.
“We are just finishing our next version of the standard that runs over CAT-5,” Rockoff. “The cable itself is not analog or digital. It’s just a cable.”
In addition, an installed IP camera provides an access point to a sophisticated hacker, which is “something that an IP camera guy has to worry about and a regular security guy doesn’t have to worry about,” says Rockoff. Unless users can hire computer science experts with advanced degrees who can configure everything, as well as spend money to get the right switchers and manage the bandwidth, they are going to face compromises in video quality, be it delayed images, dropped frames and motion artifacts even in the live views, he said.
Sailor agrees that IP megapixel systems are costly, but expects the price to drop. “I predict that within two years, the cost of megapixel will come down to around the price of HD-SDI and that business will disappear quickly,” says Sailor, “It’s not that clients don’t want more resolution, it’s that they can’t afford it.”
Sailor maintains that the only reason HD SDI exists is because of the cost-prohibitive nature of IP Megapixel systems. He also predicts that someday there will be limits to how much information can be sent over coaxial cable.
Rockoff agrees that there are times when IP megapixel technology is suitable, but with reservations. “The United States is leading the world in the purchase of IP cameras,” Rockoff says, “That means the U.S. is measurably wasting taxpayers dollars by subsidizing the IP camera companies without providing any measurable benefit.”
“The eventuality is that everyone with DVRs is going to be in the same spot five years from now,” says Sailor, “Everything is going to the network and communicating remotely, and IP has a definite advantage.”
Among the many HD-CCTV systems that can fills an organization’s needs are:
IC Realtime’s 700N For those inclined to megapixel technology, IC Realtime offers the 3 megapixel ICIP-3000CCD-W with TI DaVinci Series DSP, embedded Linux, simultaneous remote monitoring, local recording and remote control. It offers a large array of network functions and requires only 10 watts of power. Remote operation includes monitor, pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) control, playback, system setting, file download, log information, maintenance and upgrade.
IC Realtime’s compatible NVR, the 700N series, has a choice of four-, eight- and 16-channel platforms. The unit can be connected directly to a network and that can be managed remotely through a local area network (LAN) or over the Internet. Scheduled and triggered recordings can be performed at a resolution of 720p for 16 channels or 1080p on four channels. It supports multiple brands of network cameras with simultaneous real-time playback, GRID interface and smart search. It features mobile phone access and a built-in Web server.
The Canon VB-H610 is vandal-resistant and equipped with a Remote Adjustment Function that enables PTZ and rotation, and focus to be set from a remote location after installation. The 111-degree wide-angle lens and 2.1 megapixel sensor were designed to maximize the camera’s low light performance in color and black and white.
Also offered are on-board video analytics with a number of set triggers, including moving, removed and abandoned object detection and passing detection. The camera is designed for ease of installation. Canon also offers an array of monitoring and recording software.
EverFocus’ Endeavorx4 For those deciding on HD SDI, EverFocus offers the new EBH5241 Outdoor Ball Camera featuring A 3.6 millimeter megapixel lens that captures a 74-degree wide horizontal field of view producing 2.1-megapixel- real time 1920X1080 HD video. In addition, 20 long-life infrared (IR) light-emitting diodes (LED) provide a range of more than 60 feet. It is weather-resistant with IP66 rating for outdoor applications and vandal-resistant to prevent tampering and damage.
The EverFocus Endeavorx4 16 Channel Real Time DVR has an online Web interface that allows 10-users to simultaneously view images online from a browser. A free MobileFocus mobile device monitoring app for Iphone, Android or Blackberry is included. There is real-time recording and playback for each camera and independent channel controls. Recording resolution can be changed for different times of the day. Features include SnapShot Search, Smart Search, Express Playback and Search and Express Setup. There is also Local and network onscreen PTZ control.
PESA’s HD CCTV Matrix Switcher PESA recently joined the alliance because “security and surveillance products are migrating from analog devices to the digital world,” said Dan Holland, the company’s vice president, product marketing. In addition, PESA recently joined the alliance because “security and surveillance products are migrating from analog devices to the digital world,” said Dan Holland, the company’s vice president, product marketing. In addition, PESA has developed its HD CCTV Matrix Switchers based on alliance specification, Holland said.
PESA’s HD CCTV Matrix Switchers are available in two formats, 16×16 and 32×16, and they are “compliant with all the other HD CCTV devices out there,” Holland said. Such compliancy “makes it very attractive for the end user to know that our switchers will work with a DVR or recorder’ that is also compliant, he added.
Designed specifically for HD video over coax, the switchers feature a compact 1 RU enclosure, local or remote network control options, and a redundant power supply and control card option. With a single RG-59 coax cable for each port, users can connect up to 16 HDcctv-compliant video cameras to the PESA HDcctv matrix switch and output up to 16 individual coax connections for HDcctv DVR or display devices. With the 1.5 gigabytes per second enabled transport for each port, video resolutions for 720p and 1080p are evenly distributed without compression.
Shany’s SSC-WD2311MDN The Shany SSC-WD2311MDN Full HDcctv Box Camera is an HD 1920x1080p (3G-SD) color camera with a 1/2.8 inch Sony 3.0 Megapixel Progressive Exmor CMOS Sensor. Designed for indoor use, it features simultaneous SDI/HDMI/Composite BNC video output and onscreen display menu control. Fog reduction and 2D noise reduction are joined with sense up functions to produce slower shutter speeds to allow extra light into the camera in low-light conditions. Shany offers optional two way audio.