The growth in demand for 4K UHD cameras has been accelerating in recent months, and with the technology increasingly being deployed in other sectors, awareness of the benefits of higher resolutions is focusing interest on devices that are compliant with the standard. Despite many seeing the technology as something for the future, the reality is that despite fewer developments in terms of management and recording systems, cameras can be used today. The use of regions of interest as ‘virtual cameras’ makes the devices attractive. The latest entrant to this market is Hanwha Techwin with its PNV-9080RP P-Series camera.
In recent times, the video surveillance sector has seen significant interest from end-users in 4K UHD systems. Much as was the case when HD TV first arrived, the demand is being driven by the use of technology in other sectors, including the consumer market. Many leading video surveillance manufacturers have started to introduce 4K UHD devices, and just as was the case when HD was in its infancy in the security market, the current emphasis is upon the production of cameras.
The use of 4K UHD cameras makes much sense in a wide range of applications. These devices not only deliver superior video quality and high amounts of detail for forensic examination, they also enable the use of virtual cameras and regions of interest to create a higher level of flexibility for many end-users. An additional benefit is that the vast majority of end-users understand that 4K UHD video is superior, is a standard that will have longevity in the market, and that it carries a price premium which is worth investing in.
Much as was the case with HD, 4K UHD video is based upon a standard created outside of the security industry. Because of this, manufacturers must ensure that any device marketed as 4K UHD must meet specific performance criteria. If it does not, then it simply cannot be sold as being 4K UHD compliant. In the past the surveillance sector has seen a number of products marketed as HD compliant which did not meet the standards. More often than not, this was due to the fact that they did not deliver real-time video. It is vital that installers and integrators remain aware that any 4K UHD video device must not only offer the correct resolution (3840 × 2160 pixels) but must also do so at frame rates of 25fps or higher.
Whilst the surveillance sector has seen a slow introduction of 4K UHD compatible recording and management devices and displays, this does not mean that 4K UHD cameras cannot be utilised today to introduce additional benefits to surveillance systems. Experts from the audio-visual arena have stated that 4K UHD video streams viewed on HD 1080p displays will typically include a higher degree of detail. For installers and integrators however, the ability to stream an overview of an area made up of the complete field-of-view, coupled with regions of interest from within the scene streamed as full HD images, can be a significant benefit thanks to multiple streaming capabilities of most cameras.
Hanwha Techwin is the latest manufacturer to introduce a range of 4K UHD cameras. Its P-series is based upon the WiseNet III platform. As such, it includes many of the proprietary technologies that installers and integrators expect from Hanwha Techwin products. The PNV-9080RP is a 4K UHD vandal resistant static dome camera. Benchmark took a closer look to see what level of performance it offered.
The PNV-9080RP has a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels, with a 4000 × 3000 pixel maximum image size. It can operate in both 12 megapixel and eight megapixel modes; the maximum frame rate for the former is 20fps and 30fps for the latter. The eight megapixel mode will deliver 4K UHD compliant streams. Multiple streaming is supported, with a maximum of three streams.
The camera includes integral infrared illumination, and has a quote sensitivity of 0.3 lux (F1 .6). The camera makes use of a 1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor. Video compression is H.265, H.264 or MJPEG. The day/night camera is fitted with a 4.5 – 10 mm motorised varifocal lens which supports P Iris functionality and a simple focus feature to enhance ease of installation.
Other features of the camera include intelligent video analytics, motion detection, privacy masking, wide dynamic range, defogging, edge storage (SD, SDHC and SDXC cards are all supported) and dynamic encoding to enable flexibility when managing bandwidth requirements. This latter feature, billed as WiseStream, is a new addition to the WiseNet III platform.
Many of the traditional WiseNet III functions such as SSNR and SSDR are present.
With regard to intelligent video analytics, supported rules include virtual line crossing, enter or exit a detection zone, object appear or disappear, digital auto tracking with metadata, scene change and defocus detection. The camera also supports audio detection. There is a physical alarm input and output, and triggering can be generated by the I/O, IVA, audio detection or network disconnection.
Other features and functions include two-way audio, image flip and mirroring, corridor mode and support for a pixel counter. Power is PoE; 12V DC and 24V AC supplies are also supported. The camera is rated to IP66 and IK10.
The camera is supplied with a paper quick guide which covers the physical installation, an advice sheet on cable waterproofing, a mounting template, and a mini CD which includes the full manual and the installation software. There are also connectors and cables to allow the addition of traditional low-power supplies, audio inputs and outputs and composite video output for setup purposes.
Physical installation of the unit is straightforward. The cover is secured with three hex head bolts; a driver is included. Inside the unit is an RJ 45 connection for the LAN and PoE; there is also a plug-in connection for traditional low-power should you choose to use that. A socket is provided for composite video output and the camera features a miniature joystick for menu control should the process not be carried out over the network. There are also the required connections for audio and the microSD card slot. Cable entry and exit can be achieved through the rear of the unit or the side of the housing. There is also a reset button.
For our test we opted to use PoE as the power source. Once the unit is powered up and connected to the network, then the supplied IP Installer utility can be used. This automatically discovers any compatible devices on the network, and allows configurations to be set. The utility does not need to be installed and can be run from the CD itself. It will find devices even if they are not on the same network subnet as the server.
Once the devices have been discovered, there are options to manually or automatically change the network configurations. Changing the IP settings is a straightforward task, and if you have not previously connected to the camera the default password is used to complete the process. The actual change happens almost instantaneously, and allows swapping between subnets if required.
With the network configurations finalised, initial login to the camera can be carried out. The web viewer used for camera setup is not compatible with versions of Internet Explorer prior to IE 11. For some installers and integrators, this may be an issue, as many retain of IE 10 for device setup. The reason for this is that many cameras from a large number of manufacturers use ActiveX elements for viewing during configuration. Whilst ActiveX is a Microsoft technology, the company has been taking active steps to push it into the background. The result is that IE 11 can create compatibility issues when used with ActiveX controls. If you’ve taken such an approach, you will need to upgrade Internet Explorer when configuring the Hanwha Techwin P-series cameras.
On initial login you are presented with a screen to change the default administrator password. Hanwha Techwin has a secure password policy, and the permissible combinations of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters is dependent upon the length of the password. The secure password policy also prohibits repeated and consecutive characters or numbers. Whilst the menu does identify special characters that can be used, our experience would be to opt for a longer password as some special characters cause problems in ONVIF-based systems.
For any installers and integrators familiar with Hanwha Techwin products, or even Samsung Techwin products before them, the graphical user interface and menu structure will be immediately familiar. There have been a few tweaks to enable a more flowing layout, but generally everything is where it should be and most engineers will have little trouble in optimising the camera for varied conditions.
First impressions of the image quality might not be what you expect, but the camera defaults to MJPEG encoding, with 4K UHD resolution at one frame per second and a maximum bit rate of 6Mbps. If you wish to view the video in H.265 format, an additional plug-in needs to be installed. This happens automatically and the browser will need to be restarted.
With a few basic tweaks to optimise the video profile, you do get a sense of the video performance possible from the camera.
With an allocated bit rate of 20Mbps and using H.265 compression, you are arguably giving the camera a bandwidth it requires to stretch its legs. The image is very clean with sharp detail, no visible signs of processing or compression, smooth motion and a high degree of colour fidelity. Even in inclement conditions, the colour accuracy is obvious with no bias towards warmer or cooler tones.
Even with fast motion in the scene, there is no obvious blur or smearing. However, if there is a high degree of motion across a large percentage of the image, you will spot the very occasional dropped frame. This isn’t a deal breaker, because whilst this is evident during configuration, once the camera was added to a VMS we did not see the issue replicated.
Dropping the maximum bit rate to 15Mbps doesn’t show any obvious decline in image quality, and this indicates that the compression is well implemented and complementing the dynamic encoding. A further decrease in bandwidth to around 10Mbps will show the first signs of image degradation, most notable in tonally bland portions of the image. This is quite impressive given that in previous Benchmark field trials the majority of high quality HD cameras required bit rates of 10Mbps to deliver consistently high quality streams. While many manufacturers like to theorise that they can deliver 4K UHD streams without a greater bandwidth demand than HD streams, Hanwha Techwin has proven the point.
The camera does boast a high degree of functionality, and it’s important to remember that overdoing things whilst also streaming high-quality 4K UHD video will undoubtedly result in some degree of artefacting. So long as you make judicious use of the features, you are unlikely to see adverse effects from the camera.
The WiseStream dynamic encoding function has previously been assessed by Benchmark. During that test we achieved bandwidth reductions varying between 50 and 65 per cent without any noticeable degradation in the image stream. The combination of H.265 compression and dynamic encoding does deliver high-quality 4K UHD video stream at similar bit rates to those required for HD1080p images. As such, this enables installers and integrators to deliver 4K quality video without a significant impact on network requirements.
The IVA rules are easy to implement, and are effective in a wide range of applications. They do lack the depth of configuration and flexibility typical of dedicated video analytics programs, but as an integral function will be more than enough for the majority of mainstream requirements. If an application has a need for more specialised tools or specific rules, the P series cameras do support Hanwha Techwin’s open platform apps. These are available from a wide range of partners, but are beyond the scope of this test.
Low light capabilities are good and there are a number of options with regard to switching. This can be automatic, scheduled or triggered by the I/O. Schedules can be set as a single period or can be altered depending upon the day of the week. It is also possible to only allow external switching during scheduled periods if required. The unit does include integral infrared illuminators, and whilst these will not match the performance of dedicated units, they are good enough for many applications so long as the range (quoted as 40 metres) is not exceeded.
Adjustment of low light switching is via two menu options: dwell time and duration. Dwell time, which is adjustable for periods between 5 and 60 seconds, specifies the duration for which light levels must fall. Setting this correctly ensures that the camera does not hunt during periods of dawn and dusk. Light levels are set via the duration value; Hanwha Techwin specifies this value as the ‘interval of lighting mode conversion’. In previous camera menus the duration setting has adjusted the intensity of light for automated switching. It’s not made much clearer as the options are very fast, fast, normal, slow and very slow. You won’t see a huge variance in the switching point, but during our test the very fast setting tended to see the camera switch earlier.
A careful balancing of gain control and noise reduction does deliver surprisingly good quality colour images down to light levels of around 2 – 3 lux. As always, we suspect that the majority of installers and integrators will opt for external triggering to insured day/night operation is optimised for each site’s individual requirements.
The PNV-9080RP is the first of Hanwha Techwin’s P series cameras that we’ve had a chance to test. If initial results are anything to go by, the series will build on the established WiseNet III platform. Many of the well-established features and functions are present, and work as well as they always have done. The introduction of dynamic encoding together with H.265 compression ensures that the cameras 4K UHD performance can be realised without any obvious impact on the network.
The real change in this camera over previous models using the platform is the delivery of 4K UHD video. In terms of image quality and video performance, the camera ticks all the right boxes for the vast majority of applications. Detail is high, motion is relatively smooth, and colour fidelity has a high degree of accuracy, even as light levels fall.
Low light performance is good considering the high pixel density of the chipset. Smart functionality such as IVA and dynamic encoding delivers benefits for installers and integrators, as well as end-users. This, coupled with a simple and straightforward installation and setup, will undoubtedly make the camera a favourite with those seeking higher resolution images in a flexible and cost-effective device.
As such, the PNV-9080RP has to be recommended.