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PANASONIC WV-CS300

 

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The unitised approach to remotely controllable video surveillance cameras is hardly new but Panasonic have refined the concept with the WV-CS300, and it is clear that it has been largely purpose-designed, from the ground up, rather than assembled from existing components.

 

What then is the CS300, and how does it differ from similar products? The vocabulary of video surveillance has still to catch up with the CS300; Panasonic simply call it a unitised surveillance device, which fails to tell the whole story. In fact the CS300 is an intregrated, ceiling-mounted  colour video camera and pan/tilt mechanism; integrated in this context means the camera and platform have been configured to work together, so in effect they're a single entity.

 

That philiophy extends to signal handling and control systems, which share a single coaxial cable. We can only presume that Panasonic would have preferred the system to be line-powered as well, though that was probably unreaslistic in view of the power demands of a pan/tilt mechanism, and the inevitable trade-off with shorter cable runs, so there is a second lead emerging from the CS300, for connection to a local mains supply. Incidentally, the maximum recommended cable length, between the CS300 and the camera control unit (CCU) is 1,200 metres. Applications include the usual commercial and industrial security and surveillance roles, though Panasonic believe it has a wider market and include AV training in the list of possible uses.

 

There are obvious pitfalls to this off the peg approach, not least the loss of flexibility when it comes to camera performance, which in the absence of any factory options, has to be a real Jack-of-all-trades. The one used in the CS300 has a f/1.4 lens with a10x zoom giving a field of view that extends from 33 degrees (tele) to 44 degrees (wide). Minimum scene illumination is in the order of 3 lux and the 0.5-inch CCD sensor has a quoted horizontal resolution of 430-lines. The camera has automatic backlight compensation as well as automatic white balance and exposure functions, which include highlight compression and aperture correction. Panasonic have made extensive use of digital signal processing (DSP) circuitry in this camera, which reduces the effect of colour noise and improves colour fidelity.

 

It's difficult to talk about the pan/tilt head as a seperate component, when the camera so much a part of it. Nevertheless, it is a very compact design and will blend in well withg most types of decor. It's primarily intended ceiling mounting -- various bracket designs are available -- it could conceivably be wall-mounted, though the rotation angles and image orientation would be all wrong. It's also worth stating that it is meant for indoor operation only, no attempt has been made to weatherproof the housing, though it seems fairly well protected against the ingress of dust or dirt. The CS300 has a maximum pan angle of 350 degrees, limits are set using a pair of moveable adjusting screws around the rim; the maximum tilt angle is 90 degrees. The motor speeds are fixed at 11.4 degrees/sec for panning, and 5.7 degrees/sec for the tilt motion.

 

We can't talk about the CS300 without mentioning its camera control unit. It has been designed to work with eithert the WV-CU101 or WV-CU254 system controllers, the 101 is a single-camera device, the 254 can control up to four cameras. The CS300 can be used on its own, or in combination with any of the other compentns in Panasonic's System 200 or 300 CCVE set-ups. The 101's controls include a joystick for pan/tilt movement and buttons for selecting random or auto panning, tele/wide zoom, near/far focus. There are also buttons for iris open/close and two auxillary functions, though currently these are not supported on the CS300.

 

PERFORMANCE

Pan/tilt operation is responsive and reasonably fast, the mechanism on our admittedly well-used evaluation sample made some grinding noises when tilting but the there was no interaction between control and video signals, and several functions can be invoked at once without problems. Zoom and focus functiosn were similarly efficient, focus in particular is smooth, a little on the slow side, perhaps but that also means there's no tendancy to overshoot.

 

Horizontal resolution was well in excess of 350 lines on our monitor, that was using a cable link of a little over 500 metres. The accompanying Panasonic monitor experienced a last minute glitch so we were not able to assess the systems using all Panasonic components. Nevertheless, picture quality was very good, the image clear and bright with minimal noise, even in highly saturated colours. The auto white balance system coped reasonably well with a mixture of natural and artifical light, though colours were a little muted though, especially at lower light levels. In dimly-lit surroundings there's a marked increase in grain and noise, though the image remains viewable down to near-dark conditions.

 

OVERALL ASSEMMENT

The CS300 has been well designed and

 

 

 

 

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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R.Maybury 1994 2502

 

 


 

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