Panasonic WV-NP1000 review
It's expensive, but Panasonic's new megapixel IP camera delivers superb quality and a good range of features.
Review Date: 17 May 2007
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: exc VAT
The next big thing with IP cameras this year is megapixel resolutions, with a number of vendors claiming firsts with their respective products. Axis stepped up recently with its tiny 207MW, and now there's the mighty Panasonic WV-NP1000.
The NP1000 is clearly designed to see and be seen, so this isn't for discreet surveillance setups. Weighing in at nearly 1kg, it's larger than the 207MW, and for a number of reasons. The camera body holds an internal power supply, an SD memory card slot, an internal microphone and simultaneous support for digital and analogue feeds. Aimed at high-visibility surveillance duties, the NP1000 also accepts a variety of lenses, although at the time of review only the WV-LZA62/2 varifocal lens was available.
The camera is well built and the lens screws easily on to the front of the body, with the power cable plugging into the side. At the rear, there's a Fast Ethernet port, coaxial cable socket and an I/O contact block for adding devices such as recorders or to link to external alarms. The bundled software makes light work of installation, but the supplied Viewer software must be manually installed on all systems before they can access the live view. Axis makes the process easier with its ActiveX control that's loaded directly from its cameras. Nevertheless, it's clear that Panasonic has been working on its web interface, as it's more accessible than previous efforts.
The homepage opens with a live view, but you'll need to adjust the lens focus and zoom settings first. It's also abundantly clear that image quality has improved dramatically, rivalling that offered by Axis' cameras. Once the focus had been set, the picture was pin sharp with a far more natural colour balance (the blue tinge evident with its predecessors has gone). Movement is also conveyed smoothly, although this will depend on whether full or partial scanning is selected. The former uses progressive scanning to deliver the top resolution, but frame rates drop to 12.5fps. If you want 25fps, you'll have to select the interlaced partial scanning that drops resolution to 960 x 720 pixels. Note also that these apply to JPEG mode, as MPEG4 supports a maximum of only 640 x 480 pixels.
Motion detection is on the menu, and you can define up to four areas within the viewing window where motion can be detected or ignored and sensitivity tweaked for each one. You can even select a direction of motion and, when activated, the camera can send email notifications and directly upload images to an FTP server. The multiscreen options allow you to view the input from four cameras simultaneously. Most impressive is the camera's ability to cope with very low light levels: down to 0.06lux in mono.
At around five times the price of the Axis 207MW, it might seem that this is a camera to avoid. The 207MW offers excellent image quality and both wired and wireless networking, and - like the Panasonic - you can connect alarms and other devices. However, the Panasonic is much better in low-light conditions and is a neater installation thanks to the internal power supply, while the analogue output could come in handy as well.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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