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ENEO CANDID JUNIOR VHP-1 & VHP-2 CAMERAS

 

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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 

 

PERFORMANCE

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.

 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

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.

 

PRODUCT ASSESSMENT

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                         ??                          

 

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ã R. Maybury 2002 2310

 


 

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