High definition cameras have been hot products in the security industry recently. Demand for higher resolution images propels technology development, with vendors actively improving low-light performance. Recent spikes in megapixel camera sales reveal that there is more than meets the eye. Sunell is a Chinese supplier dedicated to developing megapixel network cameras. A&S China Best Buys talks to Martin Yang, Technical Director of the R&D Department at Sunell, on the company's plans for high definition cameras.
When it comes to high definition, there are several issues waiting to be solved, such as bandwidth, network transmission, recording performance and playback. Martin Yang, Technical Director of the R&D Department at Sunell, believes high definition cameras are more like concept products. High definition cameras must address technical issues to enhance their real-life performance.
Many vendors currently offer advanced 3-megapixel cameras or even 5-megapixel cameras. In Yang's opinion, actual performance is a practical concern, as most displays do not support video resolution more than 2 megapixels.
Actual usage is a deciding factor in camera development. "When it comes to typical video surveillance applications, post-event viewing, quality and image integrity are what matter," Yang said. "The current high definition monitors provide no higher than 2.1-megapixel resolution."
CCD image sensors are another factor in propelling product innovation, Yang said. So far, CCD solutions for megapixel are not as functional. Their prices are not yet affordable for a cost-effective solution.
Therefore, many vendors deploy CMOS image sensors, which have poor performance under low-light conditions. "I would say that so far, only 1.3-megapixel cameras are mature products ready for mass production," Yang said.
On top of that, Yang recommends using megapixel lenses for megapixel cameras, as they play a critical role in transmitting and refracting light.
Core High Definition Technologies
Sunell is focused on the research and development of 2-megapixel cameras. To provide a state-of-the-art and practical high definition camera, the company will address key technical issues.
"First, we will invest more into developing a robust decoding array," Yang said. "Only through a strong high definition decoder can image quality be ensured."
Secondly, as more megapixel cameras are integrated into surveillance systems, they bring interoperability challenges. "Every technological leap should be combined with continual updates of management platforms," said Yang. "We would like to develop software which can effectively lower streaming and facilitate network transmission. A robust software structure prevents megapixel cameras from falling short of interoperability expectations and their full potential."
Lastly, the company would strengthen its image compensation algorithms. Yang believes that the "Three A" algorithms — auto focus, auto backlight compensation and auto white balance — are most critical for high definition cameras. Sunell intends to develop its own high definition camera module, lowering cost and making products affordable to end users.
Sunell's new H.264-SVC network camera features video streaming at 30 frames per second, and 1.3 megapixel resolution. The camera offers G.723 audio codec as well as optional M-JPEG compression. It supports different options for output resolution and frames rate with its outstanding bit rate. Video analytics are embedded in the camera, along with wireless transmission and 10/100 Ethernet.
The best advantage of H.264-SVC is it can automatically adapt to various network environments, and different client can retrieve the apporiate video stream they need.
The company expects to launch its first 2-megapixel speed dome at ISC West in March. It will be a network camera featuring a High Definition Serial Digital Interface (HD-SDI) port, which allows high resolution transmission through coaxial cables or fiber with no compression. Other high-resolution solutions include a speed dome integrated with four 1.3-megapixel cameras, to replace fish-eye cameras.