ENEO CANDID JUNIOR VHP-1 & VHP-2 CAMERAS
WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...
The shape, design and even the cosmetics of general-purpose video
surveillance cameras have changed comparatively little in the past quarter of a
century. True, they’ve become progressively smaller, lighter and even more
reliable, but the rectangular box layout has somehow survived in the face of
major technical changes. Indeed, we’ve now reached the somewhat absurd
situation where a lot of cameras nowadays are mostly filled with nothing more
technologically advanced than air, with the camera and lens assembly occupying
only a fraction of the available space. Fair enough, there is a good case for
CCTV cameras in public places to be conspicuous but surely they don’t have to
look as they were designed at the same time as the Ark or clash so violently
with modern décor?
Over the years a few brave manufacturers have managed to prove that style
and function can be combined and that seems to be the thinking behind the Eneo
range of Candid Junior cameras. The two models we’ve been looking at are the
VHP1 & 2 and they both fulfil the basic requirement of being highly
visible, even if one of them isn’t instantly recognisable as a camera,
nevertheless the eye is immediately drawn to the shape, and it’s almost
guaranteed to be a hit with interior designers but the big question is, are
they up to the job?
Despite the radically different layouts both cameras share a number of
common design features. Inside the silver-finished cylindrical alloy housings
there is a colour or black and white board camera module and lens, mounted on a
circular plastic chassis. This fits snugly inside the tube and on both models
the rear cover is held in place by an elegantly simple circular end plate and
rubber ring that expands to provide a rigid watertight seal when a central
locking bolt is tightened.
A range of colour and black and white camera modules are available for
the two housings based around 1/3 and 1/4-inch interline transfer CCD image
sensors with low light sensitivities of 0.1 lux (F2) for the B&W models and
0.5 or 2.5 lux for the colour types. The two mono cameras have claimed
resolutions of 380 and 500 lines respectively whilst the colour cameras are
rated at 380 and 470 lines. There’s also a choice of lenses, the basic options
are F2, 2.9 & 3.6mm, and F2, 4-8mm tele/wide; others types are available on
request. The modules are fully self-contained with no user or installer
settings nor are there any exposure or white balance adjustments, both of which
are handled automatically.
The VHP-1 housing is the more conventional of the two, with a domed rear
end and a sealed feed-through for the single captive cable that carried both
power (10 –15VDC) and the screened video output. The cable is approximately one
metre in length and unterminated. On the underside of the VHP-1 there’s a
threaded mounting block; a universal wall/ceiling stand with adjustable head is
supplied, along with some mounting screws and an Allen key.
The VHP-2 housing has the same cylindrical ‘front end’ as the VHP-1 (but
without the mounting block) and in place of the domed rear end there’s a simple
double axis elbow joint, approximately 7.5cm in length. This is fixed at the
other end to a circular alloy mounting plate. A flexible ribbed rubber gaiter,
which gives the whole assembly a more solid appearance, surrounds the joint –
it could easily be mistaken for a bendy spotlight -- and it provides some
additional weather protection. The joint allows the camera to rotate freely
through 360 degrees and bend through approximately 220 degrees. The
video/supply cable emerges from the rear of the mounting plate. On both models
a toughened glass cover, sealed to the inside of the cylindrical housing,
protects the lens. Incidentally, both types of camera housing are close to
being hermitically sealed and appear to be very well protected against ingress
of moisture or dust.
SETUP AND OPERATION
Due to the lack of any controls or adjustments there are no
preliminaries, apart from mounting and orientation. The VHP-1 is very
straightforward, fitting the VHP-2 takes a little longer due to the elbow joint
and rubber gaiter getting in the way of the mounting plate; we found it easiest
to detach the mounting plate by slackening off the clamp holding the joint together.
It is possible to access the lens on the VHP-2, should it be necessary to
fine-tune the focus however this proved to be unnecessary on our sample. The
VHP-2 lens proved to be a lot harder to get at, which is unfortunate as we
suspect that mid field and distance focus may well have benefited from a minor
tweak. The bare power/video cable and
the requirement for a nearby junction box adds a little to the installation
time and it’s possible that the meagre one metre length could pose problems in
some circumstances but overall
The colour camera module in the VHP-1 worked well. In spite of some
misgivings concerning focus we were able to conduct our usual range of
near-field resolution tests and our sample achieved well in excess of 400 lines.
It has a broad contrast range, noise levels were below average and in good
natural light colours were solid and natural looking. Low light performance was
also impressive, producing a useable image in surprisingly poor conditions,
though inevitably at the expense of much higher noise levels. Given the
simplicity of the exposure system it copes well with changing light levels
though it lacks any serious backlight compensation so it’s best to avoid bright
lights or windows in the scene area. The image sensor on our sample had several
faulty pixels, normally it’s not a problem when they are near the edge of the
image area but a couple of these were quite prominent in dark scenes and near
to the centre of the screen. The B&W module in the VHP-2 also gave a
reasonably good account of itself, resolution was well above 450 lines and the
image remained crisp and with comparatively low levels of noise down to near
dark conditions. The dynamic range is reasonably wide, though the exposure
system is quite lively and tends to over-compensate when there’s a bright light
in the scene, occasionally resulting in a noticeable loss of detail in dark
corners and shadows.
No instability problems were apparent during the traditional assault with
the Bench Test rubber mallet and the video outputs on both cameras remained
rock solid despite a good pounding.
Video performance on these two models is average to good and they’re both
capable of operating in a wide range of conditions, though some care should be
taken with siting and orientation, to avoid putting too much pressure on the
camera’s fairly rudimentary exposure systems. However, it’s the styling and
cosmetics that will get these camera noticed, both by those being observed, and
designers looking for an eye-catching and contemporary alternative to all those
little standard issue cream-coloured boxes.
Design and design features ****
Circuitry and components ****
Ease of installation and wiring ***
Range and variety of functions ***
Accompanying instructions ***
Technical advice and backup ??
Value for money ??
ã R. Maybury