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Technology Showcase: CCTV Dome Cameras

The latest cameras in security are IP-empowered with dual resolutions.

Technology Showcase:
CCTV Dome Cameras

Dec 1, 2006 12:00 PM,
By Jay Ankeney

The latest cameras in security are IP-empowered with dual resolutions.

Samsung SVD-4300

In a world of heightened security concerns in the post-9/11 era, attitudes toward security surveillance are changing. Increasingly, the idea of visually monitoring airport crowds, or knowing a closed-circuit TV (CCTV) camera is observing the area when we visit a darkened ATM or park in an unlit car lot, can bring an added sense of comfort to the unprotected. In response to our communal angst, and the very real economic impact of theft ranging from petty to grand, the security camera industry has been busy developing new technologies for the Department of Homeland Security, the military, law enforcement, schools, and various retailers.

The purpose of CCTV is to transmit a controlled observation signal to a limited set of monitors. Who watches those monitors is a question of security versus privacy, but the technology enabling it dates back World War II when the Germans set up an extensive CCTV system to view the launching of V2 rockets at their Peenemünde test site. In the 1960s, the British developed extensive public CCTV systems in response to IRA bombings in the United Kingdom, and their 1994 Home Office report titled “CCTV: Looking Out For You,” paved the way for a massive increase in the installations of CCTV systems.

Many modern American tourists are astonished at the number of closed-circuit cameras easily visible on the streets of most European cities. A 2002 working paper by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris of UrbanEye estimated that there are 400,000 surveillance cameras in private premises in London alone. In fact, the identities and movements of several of the subway bombers that hit London on July 7, 2005, were captured using CCTV cameras.

Axis 232D+


Regardless of national security and civil liberty considerations, the goal of companies making CCTV systems is simply to bring the pictures back to those monitoring them with clarity and reliability. Originally, the cameras were naked box-type installations that were vulnerable to both vandalism and the elements. But starting in the early ’90s, installers began housing them in semi-transparent domes, the kind that have become ubiquitous features in the ceiling of every Las Vegas casino. Domes not only make the camera more stealthy, but they are also easier to install because they require only a single mounting bracket.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has produced a set of standards referenced under IEC 60529 called IP or International Protection codes (not to be confused with the more common Internet Protocol acronym). The goal of the IEC’s IP codes is to classify the degree of protection provided by these enclosures by rating these domes’ ability to withstand environmental damage and what the IEC calls “ingress of solid foreign objects.”

IP codes have the format IPXX, where the X’s represent numerals from the coding scheme. The first X in the sequence signifies the degree of protection against solid objects ranging from 0 to 6. The second X represents the degree of protection against moisture and can range from 0 through 8. For example, IP23 means the enclosure can withstand solid foreign objects .5in. in diameter and larger and is protected from moisture as aggressive as spraying water. IP65 indicates the dome is dust-tight and protected from moisture challenges up to jetting water.

Beyond this, many CCTV manufacturers have made their domes “ruggedized” or “vandal resistant,” and although their claims for protection do not have universal standards yet, dome camera representatives talk about them being able to withstand the swing of a baseball bat or even a 10lb. sledgehammer. Clearly, a security camera is not really secure unless the camera itself is protected.

Elmo PTC-400C

Inside those domes there are two general types of CCTV cameras: fixed and PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom). As the name implies, PTZ cameras can be directed to oversee desired surveillance areas either by personal manipulation or by preset computerized control. To interpret the images these cameras capture, there has been rapid development in both motion detection software and what is increasingly being called “imaging analytics,” which can analyze movement on the screen based on pre-determined parameters.

Sony has come up with its own advance on analytics called Distributed and Enhanced Processing Architecture (DEPA), which divides the processing tasks by placing analytic capabilities in digital cameras matched with back-end processing capabilities at the networked recorder. The intent of DEPA is to minimize operator error by distributing processing power throughout the entire system. As an open development platform, DEPA-enabled products are available from several other recording system developers.

Because security violations often happen at night, many cameras incorporate dual-resolution image-capture systems that record full-color pictures in daylight, then switch to lower-resolution but higher-sensitivity black-and-white surveillance in the dark. Some even include their own invisible infrared illumination systems, which let them capture IR images when perpetrators think they are operating in total darkness. Even more elaborate image reception is made possible by the Digital Pixel System (DPS) developed by Pixim Technology and built upon technology developed at Stanford University in the 1990s. Pixim’s DPS non-destructively samples each individual pixel multiple times in a single capture frame. Several surveillance camera manufacturers use DPS to extend the dynamic range of their recordings.

By industry convention, security cameras are divided into either analog or digital, depending on what kind of signal they transmit. Cameras outputting an analog signal are useful when the system has to interface with legacy routers, switchers, and CRT displays from the days before bits and bytes. Digital cameras have either onboard servers with their own IP address or dedicated ancillary digital processing capabilities to turn their images into computer-friendly data that can be transmitted via Ethernet and displayed on an authorized laptop. These IP-enabled cameras can be monitored from anywhere in the world via a web connection with software encryption.

GE Legend IP

A recent development in IP empowerment is Power over Ethernet or PoE technology, standardized in 2003 as IEEE802.3af, which lets the Ethernet connection provide enough electrical power to run the camera over the same Cat-5 cable that transmits the data. A company called PowerDsine has been a leader in developing PoE technology, having pioneered it in 1998. PowerDsine’s technology is marketed in private-labeled midspans (PoE injectors) offered by more than 16 vendors, in addition to its own midspan (PoE injector) products sold under the PowerDsine brand in Europe and North America. As well as working with more than 70 vendors, PowerDsine has independently tested and certified more than 100 PoE-compliant network devices to ensure conformance with the IEEE 802.3af standard. On Oct. 24, 2006, Microsemi, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance integrated circuits and semiconductors, announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire PowerDsine and its PoE technology.


Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm covering the video surveillance market, estimates a growth rate of 8.4 percent in domestic security camera sales in 2006, topping $1.7 billion in North America alone, while estimating $3.2 billion worldwide. With the rise of U.S. government and private investment in domestic security systems, products from Asian producers have burgeoned beyond counting. Following is a sample of the most interesting dome camera systems from leading manufacturers who have a major presence in the United States. Recognizing that each company offers an extensive variety of surveillance systems, a representative of each brand was asked what was the latest and most exciting in their CCTV dome camera line.

Providing simultaneous Motion JPEG and MPEG-4 compression, the Axis 232D+ network dome camera from Axis Communications has a built-in web server and features an 18X optical zoom and auto focus lens. The Axis 232D+ has a removable IR-cut filter for superior day/night surveillance capability, which can be boosted with an ancillary solid-state LED IR illuminator. The Axis 213 PTZ network camera has a built-in IR illuminator and provides wide coverage with its ability to pan 340 degrees. In addition, the 0 212 PTZ uses an ultra-wide-angle lens with a three-megapixel sensor to cover a 140-degree area without any moving parts. The PTZ function is controlled by the observer’s selection of viewing area.


The weather-resistant EnviroDome camera systems from Bosch are IP66-rated and operate with privacy masking and sector blanking. EnviroDome cameras are remotely configurable (Bilinx, Biphase, RS-232, RS-485), and can be fitted with an AutoTrack motion tracking option for hands-free operation, even while the camera is moving. The Bosch AutoDome indoor systems come in day/night or color and B/W versions with 26X (day/night) capabilities or 18X optical zoom range plus a 12X digital zoom. Both of these analog cameras from Bosch can be fitted with A/D converters for digital IP operation while simultaneously providing an analog signal.

The Altitude 9440 is the most recent addition to DVTel’s line of MPEG-4-based IP cameras using the Pixim DPS with 1/3in. format CMOS imager. MPEG-4 lets the Altitude 9440 provide both high-frame-rate and high-resolution video while maintaining significantly lower file sizes that require less bandwidth. The Altitude 9440 Mini-Dome camera uses IGMP Snooping (Layer-2 multicasting) technology, which enables a single stream to be transmitted to multiple viewers on the network simultaneously. The Altitude 9440 is fully compatible with the Adaptive Visualization Technology (AVT) SceneTracker application, which permits multiple video streams from separate cameras to be “stitched” together.

The PTC-400C from Elmo (a name whose heritage comes from the Electric Light Machine Organization projection systems) is a day/night PTZ dome camera with 470×360 TV lines of resolution (410,000/380,000 pixels) and more than 49dB S/N ratio. It features a 12X powered optical zoom, 80-degree tilt with angle-adjustable image flip, and +/-175 degrees (350 degrees total, max speed 100 degrees/sec) pan. Elmo also offers the TND 4204VX vandal-resistant all-weather color dome camera with 480×350 TV lines of resolution, 50dB signal/noise ratio, and a flicker-correction setting for smooth images.

General Electric Security’s new Legend IP dome camera is the first PTZ camera to incorporate GE’s SilkTrak direct-drive technology for silky smooth, jerk-free operation. A 26X optical zoom with 12X digital zoom gives the Legend IP a 312X total zoom. It comes with a built-in MPEG-4 decoder that presents D1 resolution at a full 30fps over a 10/100Base-T Ethernet network. The encoder also provides a data channel that allows control and programming of the dome over the network connection. The Legend IP’s 16 shadow tours can store a total of 20 minutes of pan, tilt, and zoom operation.

Panasonic WVNS-202

For indoor applications, GE Security has its 2in. Mini-View Dome discreet dome camera, which can be rotated 360 degrees and tilted 90 degrees for the most desirable viewing angle. The Ultra Line camera inside the Mini-View delivers 480 TV lines of resolution and is senstive to 1 lux.

The HD6 series of PTZ dome cameras from Honeywell Security & Custom Electronics provides fluid pan-and-tilt movements with day/night capability thanks to a built-in IR cut filter and slow speed shutter (down to 1/4 second) for low-light color performance down to .15 lux. Honeywell Security’s HD3VC4SHR mini-dome camera offers 540 TV lines of horizontal resolution with a minimum illumination of 0.7 lux. Its Automatic Backlight Compensation (BLC) and Auto Tracking White Balance (ATW) ensure crisp color images in dark or backlit environments.

JVC’s new TK-C215VP12U vandal-resistant mini-dome camera with a 12X lens is IP66-compliant. The TK-C215VP12U offers Super LoLux sensitivity at 1.1 lux (color), 0.6 lux (B&W) and is capable of 540 TV lines of horizontal resolution based on JVC’s experience in building broadcast cameras. The TK-C215VP12U comes with a 12X variable-focal-length lens and an alarm input interface. When an object appears in the field of view, an alarm signal is activated from the installed alarm sensor, and the camera engages to automatically zoom into the center of the image.

At September’s American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) convention, JVC also previewed its upcoming VN-V215V4U IP-network-based fixed dome camera with built-in web server, a 3.6X variable-focal-length iris lens (2.8mm-10mm), and PoE. The VN-V215V4U features a high-speed frame rate of up to 30fps in VGA (640×480) mode and dual-stream mode for multicasting (JPEG/MPEG-4). It should be available early in 2007.

The Panasonic WVNS-202 is the first PTZ IP dome camera that can run with either DC 12V or PoE (IEEE802.3af compliant). It uses both MPEG-4 and JPEG compression and has a SD card memory slot to back up its networked images. With Super Dynamic III, the WVNS-202 has 768×494 (H×V) effective pixels, can achieve a dynamic range of 52dB, and rivals day/night cameras with minimum illumination of 0.7 lux. Panasonic’s WV-CW484 vandal-resistant analog dome camera also has Super Dynamic III, PoE, and features the industry’s first Auto Back Focus (ABF) mechanism in a dome camera using a motorized gear assembly to align the CCD receptors for superior day/night resolution.

Pelco Spectra Mini

As the largest manufacturer of security products in the world, Pelco is protecting people — and property — in a million locations around the globe. After 10 years of Spectra dome camera installations, its latest Spectra IV SE series of PTZ camera systems was just released at the ASIS convention. It features 540 TV lines of resolution, 128X wide dynamic range, motion detection, and electronic image stabilization. The Spectra IV offers horizontal and zone blanking, onscreen compass and tilt display, and password protection. In addition, Pelco’s Spectra Mini incorporates many well-known features from the full-size Spectra III dome system into a cost-effective, small form factor.

The new SVD-4300 vandal-resistant dome camera from Samsung is a high-performance model available in flush or surface mount, which comes equipped with a built-in autofocus 10X optical zoom lens (f 3.8mm-38mm). The SVD-4300 achieves high-resolution color images of 500 TV lines during the day and equally high-quality images at night, high sensitivity of 0.7 lux at F1.8 in color, and outstanding low-light operation — as low as 0.0007 lux using its Sens-up function. Featuring Samsung Super Noise Reduction (SSNR), the SVD-4300’s dust- and rain-resistant design meets IP66. Samsung’s SPD-3300 PTZ camera has a powerful 30X optical zoom (f 3.3mm-99mm) and 520 TV lines of resolution.

Sony has announced the expansion of its Network Video Camera lineup with the introduction of the SNC-DF70N, a day/night, IP66-rated rugged mini-dome network camera that features bidirectional audio transmission thanks to its external microphone input. The SNC-DF70N can run with both AC24V and PoE for its built-in web server, and it uses MPEG-4 and JPEG compression formats. Sony has also announced the SNC-RX550N multi-codec 360-degree PTZ network camera employing its latest 1/4-type Exwave HAD CCD for exceptional picture quality and with a minimum illumination level of 1.0 lux at F1.6. In October, Sony Electronics made its Distributed and Enhanced Processing Architecture (DEPA) platform available for IP-based security systems to integrate cameras and recorders for improved workflow with enhanced analytics.

The vandal-resistant HT-650IRVFHQ weatherproof color dome camera from Speco Technologies boasts 540 lines high resolution and 22 infrared LEDs for up to 65ft. ranges in total darkness. Rated at IP67 for extreme weather applications, the HT-650IRVFHQ has multi-function dipswitches for precise camera adjustment. For low-light surveillance requirements, Speco’s HT-INTD3 dome camera has an intensifier that amplifies and maximizes existing light to generate pictures where other cameras can’t by capturing the maximum amount of ambient light, and it has DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) to reduce video noise in low-light situations.

Sony SNC-DF70N

Toshiba offers its IK-WR01A vandal-resistant network dome camera, which combines a rugged vandal-resistant design with hybrid network/analog capabilities to meet the needs of schools, prisons, stadiums, and other areas subject to vandalism. It offers PoE, Motion-JPEG network compression, an IP66 environmental rating, and 480 horizontal lines of TV resolution (NTSC out). The IK-WR01A’s has day/night (Color Cut) sensitivity, and its super heavy-duty metal enclosure comes with tamperproof screws.

Tyco Fire & Security offers its video surveillance products under the American Dynamics brand. Its SpeedDome Ultra VII Day/Night dome camera with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) provides 230X total zoom (23X optical and 10X digital) and reduces vibration of the image without loss of resolution. The SpeedDome Ultra VII conserves hard drive space when digitally recording by freezing an image when moving to a preset. In addition, the company’s Discover series of fixed mini domes delivers a vandal-resistant camera solution at a non-vandal resistant price. The Discover wide dynamic range (WDR) Mini-Dome, rated at IP66, uses more than 504 lines of resolution and a pixel-by-pixel shutter speed that lets you see more detail in areas where both very bright and dark areas exist.

The IP Network PTZ Mini Dome from Vaddio has a server built into it, so it can be directly plugged into an IP network. Featuring a 1/3in. Sony IT Super HAD CCD Image Sensor, the Vaddio IP Network PTZ Mini Dome has more than 480 TV lines of resolution (410K pixels), uses MPEG-4/JPEG compression, and has a 3X digital zoom. The company also offers the IP Network Mini Dome with a 3mm to 9mm Varifocal lens with DC auto iris, IP66 rating, and built-in OSD (On Screen Display) for camera setup and control.

Vicon SurveyorVFT

Vicon’s SurveyorVFT (video, fiber, twisted pair) line of PTZ dome cameras now can be equipped with an onboard IP daughter-board. The VFT cameras benefit from the company’s ViconNet Digital Video Management software within the ViconNet system, where video is streamed directly from the dome to ViconNet workstations and recorders. For enhanced speed performance, the SurveyorVFT’s all-new belt-drive design takes advantage of the latest technical improvements in motor belt technology that eliminates stretching and wear. The Vicon SurveyorVFT-M impact-resistant camera dome series has a metal housing and polycarbonate lower dome to protect the camera from impact and vandalism.

Vitek calls its VT-PTZ26 an “Xpress Dome with 26X Optical Zoom” with a maximum manual speed of 360 degrees/sec when the Turbo key is pressed. With an automatic IR cut filter, the VT-PTZ26 provides enhanced nighttime surveillance. Its 248 presets can combine patterns and scans into eight tours. Eight alarm inputs with 0-8 priority can alert the observer when specific security enclosure contacts are tripped. Vitek also offers the VTD-VPH series of 5in. vandal-resistant color dome cameras offering 480 TV lines of resolution, electronic shutter, and three-axis camera mount adjustment.

For More Information

Axis Communications




Frost & Sullivan

General Electric Security

Honeywell Security & Custom Electronics

International Electrotechnical Commission




Pixim Technology




Speco Technologies


Tyco Fire &




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