Panasonic is one of the leaders in surveillance cameras and has cameras that fit all budgets. The Panasonic i-Pro HD WV-SC385 network camera is their mid range PTZ camera with a street price of about $1,100. The camera can be mounted outdoors with a Panasonic outdoor dome housing.
It’s main selling point is the HD (720) or 1.3MP resolution at an affordable price. There aren’t a lot of
competitors for an HD PTZ camera but you check out my review on the Axis P5534 which would
provide a good comparison.
• 720p HD images up to 30 fps
• Newly developed 1.3 Megapixel double speed MOS Sensor
• Multiple H.264 and JPEG streams
• Up to a 1,280 x 960 image in 4:3 format or 1280 x 720 in 16:9 format
• 18x optical zoom in all resolutions (36X in VGA mode)
• Adaptive Digital Noise Reduction: 2D-DNR and 3D-DNR
• Panning with auto flip function can be performed 0 to 360 degrees
• Tilt from -30 degree upward to 90 degress downward
• Auto tracking: Pans/tilts to follow a moving subject
• 64 preset positions
• Face detection function detects the position of human face
• Privacy Zone can mask up to 8 private areas, such as house windows and entrances/exits
• Full duplex bi-directional audio
• SDHC/SD Memory card slot for manual, alarm and backup recording upon network failure
• Still images (JPEG) can be viewed on mobile phones via Internet.
Overall this camera is impressive. The images are crystal clear during the day and the noise reduction produces noise free images in low light. The camera has a slow shutter feature that allows it to capture images down to ~1/2 second.
This provides very clear, noise free, bright images in low light, albeit a moving subject may appear blurry. When that feature is turned off, the maximum shutter goes to 1/30th of a second and noise remains in check, but a lot more light is needed to get an equivalent image. I’ll highlight images with both the slow shutter feature on and off.
This camera like many works solely with Windows and Internet Explorer. This is in the spec sheet but I tried Chrome and Safari to no avail. This is is what the web browser interface looks like when you first log into the camera.
The overall interface is clean and intuitive. This is a screenshot where you would setup image settings
This is where you would adjust image settings, for example, shutter speed and white balance.
This screen is where you set the settings to setup the home position and presets. With 64 presets, you won’t likely run out.
Now onto what really matters, the images from the camera. First I’ll start off with a typicaly daylight shot taken on a cloudy day (rare in California but it does happen). Click on the images below to see the full sized image straight from the camera.
This is the 1280 x 960 resolution (1.3 MP) that’s in 4:3 format with no zoom (1X)
This is an image taken in the 720P HD 16:9 format. In this format you lose about 30% of the pixels available in the 1.3MP format above.
Started to play with the zoom, afterall, that’s what this camera is all about. The pan/tilt/zoom is actually pretty quick. Making a 180 degree sweep, going from 1X to about 10X zoom and tilting down a bit took about 3 seconds.
We saw a suspicous looking item on the ledge of one of the pillasters. We zoomed in 5X to see what it is
We are not sure, is it a hairbrush or a gun, we zoom in 10X and start getting pretty good detail
Still not sure, we zoom to the maximum optical zoom for HD resolution which is 18X. The focus seems to be soft here. I tried to manually focus but this is the best I could get.
This is another daytime shot, more of a wide distant view. I love the ominous clouds and yes, it did rain shortly after this despite rumors that it doesn’t rain in California.
Zoomed in at the maximum extended zoom of 36X you can see a house in the distance that was barely a dot in the photo above.
Here’s a shot of a nearby bush that was zoomed in 34X so you can see the fine level of detail that you can get from this camera.
Lastly, I wanted to show you how this camera performs in the darkness of night. It appears to do very well at first because the maximum exposure is set at a long and unusual 16/30th of second. The noise reduction for such a long exposure shows how well this camera deals with noise and is pretty good.
This is the same image but taken with the slow shutter feature turned off, meaning it’s now at 1/30th of a second. In this case, with the poor lighting, the image is worthless as it’s nearly black.
The compromise may be setting it to 4/30ths to get detail while providing a faster shutter speed.
To use this camera to capture moving subjects effectively, additional lighting may be required.
Some things I was not able to test are the SD card recording, facial recognition and the auto tracking.
The pluses for this camera are;
• 720p HD resolution or 1.3 MP for those that prefer a 4:3 format
• Affordable HD PTZ. I know that’s a bit much for some, but certainly a bargain next to the competition.
• Very good image quality
• Good noise reduction
• Internal SD card slot that can save video during a network outage
• Can send event alerts as emails or ftp
• Powered by PoE
The shortfalls of this camera are;
• Wide angle not as wide as I would like at 4.7mm
• Low light capability is not great at 1/30th max exposure
• Requires an optional housing for outdoor use
• This camera works well for surveillence where high definition resolution, fast pan/tilt capability and long powerful optical zoom are needed. This is probably the best value in the market for an HD PTZ camera.
The Panasonic spec sheet for the WV-SC385 can be found HERE