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SANYO VCC-6975P 1/3-inch COLOUR VIDEO CAMERA

 

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For what is undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated CCTV cameras on the market today, the Sanyo VCC-6975P gets off to a somewhat inauspicious start. Admittedly it’s probably not a good idea to draw too much attention to this device’s special talents but the designers clearly thought it necessary to go out of their way to make it look as ordinary as possible.

 

From the outside there’s comparatively little to see. Physically it is of average appearance and proportions measuring 136 x 67 x 54 mm and it tips the scales at 470g. The only thing that looks slightly out of place is the detachable top or bottom fixing threaded mounting bracket, which seems a bit like an afterthought. The unusual miniature joystick control on the side and the busy back panel are the only signs that it’s not a bog-standard, general-purpose surveillance camera, but we’ll begin with the basic bread and butter features.

 

The VCC-6975 is billed as a high-resolution colour camera. It’s based around a 1/3-inch CCD image sensor with a 795 x 596 (752 x 582 effective) pixel array. Claimed resolution is in the order of 480-lines and minimum low light sensitivity is an impressive 0.05-lux, though this is with the camera in gain-up (slow shutter) mode; without electronic assistance the low-light figure is a more conventional 1.4-lux. This particular model operates from a 12VDC or 24VAC power supply, it can be externally synchronised and there’s a S-Video (Y/C) output in addition to a regular composite video output.

 

Lens options include fixed/manual, DC or video controlled auto-iris types with C or C/S type fittings. The camera has a fully automatic exposure system with manual overrides for iris, white balance and electronic shutter (8-speeds up to 1/10,000th sec), and it has switchable backlight compensation.

 

Now we come to the interesting part. Sanyo has made extensive use of digital video processing systems of which the electronic gain-up facility is only a small part. It has a useful digital zoom that magnifies the image by a factor of x8, either in fixed increments, or by a variable amount and this is tied in with an electronic pan/tilt function. The headline feature, however, is the Dynamic Digital Motion Detection (DDMD), that takes on-board camera motion detection to a new level. When activated the DDMD can be set to trigger an external alarm or an on-screen indicator; we’ll take a more detailed look at DDMD in more detail in just a moment.

 

INSTALLATION

All of the VCC-6975’s many and various functions are controlled from a set of menu-driven on-screen displays – that’s where the miniature joystick comes in – however, more importantly all functions can be accessed externally, either via the video connection or by using a built-in RS-485 serial communications link. The two external control options are a dedicated handheld battery powered camera control unit (VAC-60) that duplicates the on-board set-up controls, or it can be connected to a system controller, such as the Sanyo VSP-7000, which can operate up to 128 devices, including cameras multiplexers and time-lapse VCRs.

 

In all cases the menu display is superimposed on the camera’s video output and is called up by pressing and holding the Set button on the side of the camera or on the remote control unit (or Menu button on the VSP-7000 system controller). The first page opens with a choice of eight items: Language, Camera ID, Sync, Iris, White Balance, Shutter, Motion and Option; we’ll look briefly at each one in turn.

 

Selecting Language brings up a sub menu with a choice of English, French or German for the on-screen menu displays. The Camera ID option allows the installer or user to compose and position a single line of up to 8 characters. The Sync setting has three options, internal, line-lock or external. The Iris menu item has two selections, AI, for use with an auto-iris lens, and EI or Electronic Iris, for use with fixed or manual iris lenses. Sub menus with settings for lens type, level adjustment and sensitivity become available according to the lens type selected. This menu also has the settings for Backlight Compensation (BLC). In both instances (multi-spot or section photometry) the relevant sub menus lead to ‘masking’ and ‘weighting’ windows, that allow the installer to specify which parts of the screen will be evaluated or ignored. The windows are based on a grid of 8 x 4 blocks or zones, or a moveable and variable aperture. The gain-up or Sensitivity setting can also be found on the Iris menu however it’s worth noting that this facility, which increases low light sensitivity by increasing shutter speed (5-steps, x2, x4, x8, x16 & x32), can only be used when motion detection is switched off.

 

The White Balance menu has three main options: automatic, white balance lock, and manual setting, there’s also a facility to mask out bright lights in the scene area using the same 8 x 4 grid featured in the BLC mask setup. The shutter menu has two choices: short – for settings from 1/50th to 1/10000th sec -- for reducing the blur of fast movement, and long, which is basically a slow-speed shutter, that effectively increases low-light sensitivity in 5 unspecified increments (x2, x4, x8, x16 & x32). Again this can only be used when the motion detection system is disabled.

 

And so we come to the Motion detector. This uses an 8 x 8 sensitivity grid, with variable sized target blocks and sensitivity levels. However, this system goes a good deal further than most others with some interesting extra facilities. These include a movement direction setting, whereby the motion detector will only trigger when an object or subject moves in a specified direction (left, right, up, down). The size and shape of a trigger can also be specified, and there is the usual option to mask out or ignore specified areas of the scene. Trigger or sensitivity parameters include adjustments for the amount of speed of movement, brightness (to avoid spurious triggering by picture noise), or a change in brightness (erroneous triggering by lights switching on and off). Additionally the alarm can be set to ignore movement inside a specified time frame – i.e. how long the subject is on the screen before the alarm is triggered. The motion detector can also be tied into the electronic zoom so that when triggered x2 magnification is engaged, and the screen will follow the subject or object as it moves. As well as triggering the external alarm output, via a set of contacts on the camera’s back panel, the alarm function can also be set to flash the camera ID.

 

The last menu is called Option and this covers a range of settings and camera housekeeping functions. They are Aperture, AGC, Gamma Correction, Zoom, Mirror, RS-485 and Initial or return to factory defaults. A couple of those warrant further explanation. The Zoom sub menu has the facility to set a fixed zoom (x2, x4 or x8) or variable value, and manual controls for the electronic pan/tilt. The Mirror setting changes the orientation of the image by inverting it horizontally, or vertically, or both.

 

In addition to the menu settings the camera has a concealed 8-way miniature DIP-switch for setting the camera’s address, when used in a multi-camera setup or with a system controller.

 

Build quality is satisfactory, the outer case is fabricated from a one-piece steel cover; there’s been no attempt to weatherproof the camera so appropriate precautions need to be taken if it’s to be used in a hostile environment. Inside the case the image sensor is mounted on a sliding bracket, to provide back-focus adjustment and there are three large and densely populated PCBs attached to a sturdy metal chassis.

 

PERFORMANCE

The standard of construction is very good and the video output on our sample didn’t miss a beat when subjected to the PSI intermittency tester (a few good whacks with a rubber mallet…). Resolution on our sample was as advertised, using an Y/C connection to the monitor, there was tiny reduction in detail using a composite video feed but it was so small as to be virtually insignificant. With all of the digital processing systems switched out picture noise levels were very low indeed, colours are crisp and natural looking, though it can take a fair amount of fiddling to achieve satisfactory white balance when the scene is lit by artificial or mixed lighting. It copes well with difficult lighting condition and changing levels. In short video quality is excellent, however, arguably the most impressive feature is the versatile motion detector system, which rivals that used in advanced stand-alone systems and multiplexers.

 

SUMMARY

Considering the complexity of the design it is remarkably easy to install, thanks mainly to the design of the on-screen display system. Whilst the on-board controls are reasonably accessible we definitely recommend the external remote control unit on single camera set-ups. The VCC-6975 is an accomplished and unusually flexible high performance colour camera, it is designed to be used in the most challenging and sensitive situations and in that context should more than justify the extra cost and time taken to setup its many advanced features.

 

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATION

 

Power supply              12VDC/24VAC 50Hz

Weight                        470g

Dimensions                 136 x 67 x 54 mm

 

PSI RATINGS

 

Product                      

Product design             9

Build quality                           9

Ruggedness                            8

 

Operation                  

General functions                     9

CCTV functions                     10       

Ease of use                             8

Instructions                            8

Manuf. support                        8         

Performance                           9

Video quality                          9

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000 0409

 


 

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