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High performance, small size, low light and low price. Just some of the claims being made by C&K Systems for their Intellisense series cameras, weíve been putting an IV 380-C through its paces, to find out...



The IV-380-C is full of surprises. The first one comes when you take it out of its packaging, itís a most unusual shape. In cross-section the extruded alloy casing looks a bit like a large keyhole. Itís compact too, and designed to operate in a wide range of environments, from -10 to +50 degrees; the manufacturers also say it has good resistance to vibration and physical shock and is unaffected by strong magnetic fields, weíll be putting some of those claims to the test later on. Inside thereís another surprise; we fully expected to find an off-the-shelf board camera module, instead there are no less than three double-sided glass-fibre PCBs; more about those in a moment.


By contrast the rest of the specification is fairly routine, though the low-light sensitivity figure is quite impressive. The 1/3-inch CCD has an array of 542 x 582 pixels (512 x 582 effective) and minimum illumination is rated at 0.1 lux (f/1.4). The exposure system is fully automatic; when fitted with a fixed iris lens it uses a electronic high-speed shutter that varies from 1/50th to 1/100,000th second, and thereís provision for direct-drive auto-iris lenses. Horizontal resolution is quoted at 380 lines; gamma correction is fixed at 0.45. 



The unusual shape doesnít appear to serve any serious practical purpose, other than to distinguish the top from the bottom. It could just have easily been cylindrical, or square, but it does make it stand out from the crowd, so itís off to a good start if youíre looking for a small camera that will get noticed. Both end caps are made of cast alloy, which makes it look and feel very rugged, moreover it affords the electronics inside a high degree of protection against dust and moisture. The only holes in the case are for access to the top and bottom mounting threads, theyíre moulded into substantial lugs that form part of the front end cap. The holes are sealed with adhesive pads, to protect the one thatís not being used.


The lens mount is configured for C-mount lenses but it comes supplied with a CS mount adaptor, plus a 1.5mm hex wrench, and blank auto iris and DC supply plugs. The hex wrench is for adjusting back-focus, slackening off the tiny grub screw on the lens mount releases an internal threaded collar. This is not particularly convenient as it involves rotating the whole lens assembly, which can upset focus and/or manual iris adjustments.


On the back panel there is a female BNC connector carrying the composite video output signal, a socket for the DC supply (12 volts DC in the case of this model, 24 V AC and 240V AC versions are also available), a standard square 4-pin socket for an auto-iris lens, and a two-position slide switch for enabling the electronic high-speed shutter. The only significant omission is a power-on indicator or tally light.


Inside the three PCBs are held rigidly in position, the board at the front which supports the CCD image sensor is bolted firmly to the lens mount casting, whilst the two other boards slide into channels moulded on the inside of the case. All three PCBs are quite densely populated, (mostly with surface mounted components); as a matter of interest the main video processing chips are manufactured by Sharp.



Ten wires link the sockets and switch on the back panel to the boards, using a mixture of miniature plugs and direct soldered connections. On our sample the wires were held together by a pair of cable ties, one of which had fallen off and was found to be rattling around inside the case. Fortunately the remaining one remained in firmly in place and the integrity of the connections had not been compromised.


Overall the quality of construction appears to be very high and although not specifically billed as an outdoor camera it looks as though it should be able to survive in a damp or dusty atmosphere. There are no internal or external user or installer adjustments, apart from selecting the high-speed shutter mode if itís to be used with a fixed iris lens.



The manufacturers figures for low light sensitivity and resolution were right on the button. Image quality in poor light is very good, needless to say noise levels are elevated but the image remains stable and cohesive, with plenty of detail, even when the only source of illumination is a street lamp. Bright lights in the scene area do cause a degree of flaring but the auto exposure systems usually manages to find a reasonable compromise. In good light the AE system copes reasonably well with strongly backlit subjects, though itís better to avoid the situation in the first place. The high speed shutter responds quite quickly to variations in overall lighting level, though it can be  fazed by strong light sources.


Shock resistance is excellent. The image remained rock-solid when the camera was subjected to ritual abuse with a rubber-tipped mallet; it also survived an accidental drop of a couple of feet from the work-bench without any ill-effects...



Overall the IV-380 did very well, the low price and small size coupled with very respectable performance and rugged construction definitely count in its favour. It lost a couple of points for not having a power-on indicator, and the back-focus adjustment is a tad cumbersome. The shape? Well, thatís a matter for individual preference, if nothing else itís distinctive.    



Image sensor                             1/3-inch CCD

Sensor element             542 x 582 pixels (512 x 582 effective)

Minimum illumination            0.1 lux (f/1.4)

Synchronisation             internal

Gamma correction                      0.45

Electronic shutter              1/50th to 1/100,000th second

Video output                              1 volt p-p, 75 ohm

Power supply                             12 VDC, 160mA

Operating temp.             -10 to +50 degrees C

Dimensions                               52 x 57 x 88.5mm





Product design            8         

Build quality                  9

Ruggedness                  9



General functions            7         

Ease of use                   9

Instructions                   8

Manuf. support            8                     



Picture quality            9

Picture stability            9



R. Maybury 1996 2803









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