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Multi-sensor cameras triumph over fisheye cameras?

Multi-sensor cameras triumph over fisheye cameras?
The use of fisheye panoramic or 360-degree cameras in security applications have steadily gained popularity over the past few years due to its many advantageous qualities. One big plus being the wide range of view it offers the operators, allowing them to gain better situational awareness and decrease blind spots.

However, the technology has its limitations. After undergoing the "dewarping" process, the resulting image's resolution is usually compromised and images may appear distorted. Additionally, the shape of the fisheye lens itself can lead to lower quality images as it can cause significant differences in resolution at the edges of the sensor compared to the center, which can lead to lower resolution images or even gaps in the yielded images.

Thus, companies were challenged to come up with a solution that can still provide the same wide angle view offered by fish-eye camera but without its shortcomings. And multi-sensor cameras were developed as a result.

What are multi-sensor panoramic cameras?
True to its name, multi-sensor cameras feature several sensors/cameras in one unit. The idea behind this is that three or four cameras, when used in concert, can create 360-degree panoramic views that can be as good as, or even better than that of, a fish-eye camera.

Since the unit stitches together images produced by all these cameras, the resulting image is seamless and gap-less. Many models even align the cameras to create a slight image overlap to further ensure that no gaps would appear in the image.

Another good thing about having three or four cameras used at a time is that it yields better resolution and more detailed views. The Optera Series Panoramic IP Camera from Pelco by Schneider Electric even allows users to zoom in to view important details.

Since fixed IP cameras are typically used for these units, operators can obtain PTZ views using the system's video management software (VMS). However, what appears on the monitor might differ slightly depending on the brand. With Arecont Vision's system, if the camera zooms in or focuses in on an event with one of the cameras, the image will fill the entire screen; thus, preventing the users from viewing the images from the other cameras at the same time. On the other hand, Pelco's VMS, can show both the zoomed-in image as well as maintain the images from the rest of the cameras on the screen.

Are multi-sensor panoramic cameras right for me?
Although it might seem that multi-sensor cameras would be ideal for any type of installation, it might not be right for everyone. As these cameras come with a pretty hefty price tag, it might not be appropriate for smaller installations such as a store or a private residence. These type of cameras would be ideal, though, for bigger installations in malls or stadiums and for areas that are more at risk for terrorist attacks, such as airports, which need intensive video surveillance.

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Comments ( 2 )
  • asmag
    2016/03/07 18:40
  • Hello Niall! Thank you very much for leaving a comment. This article wasn’t sponsored by any camera supplier. The brands mentioned in the article were examples used to point out features of multi-sensor cameras that are out in the market. Since that was the focus of the article, lenses and blind spots were not really discussed. You are right that most VMS options allow for multiple image streaming but, according to our source, this might not be true for many brands when it comes to hardware.
  • Niall
    2016/03/04 17:03
  • I presume you work for or market Pelco cameras? It is strange that you state flaws in competitor systems when they are clearly not true. Using most VMS options you can stream multiple images, playback and select different views from both Pelco & Arecont Vision plus Avigilon, Axis and other 180 or 360 surround video products allowing you to select the multiple views you need; and to be able to zoom in on one area whilst viewing the complete overview of the same camera.

    What you should be stating is that using a 360 camera with four sensors, requires lenses that provide 90 degree field''s of view, however with the lens mounting it creates a problem of overlap or blind spots on a 360 camera. Therefore a fish eye may give better information at short range without blind spots, whereas the 360 x four sensor camera will provide better resolution at a longer distance because of the sensor used and the lens range of view when comparing a 1.8mm lens to a 4mm lens. it may well be better to use 2 x 180 degree cameras to give a seamless 360 view using 4 x 6-8mm lenses each?