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DSR 1252 MONOCHROME CAMERA

 

STANDFIRST

It’s back to basics with this sturdily-built, general-purpose monochrome camera

 

COPY

It hasn’t quite reached the stage where you need a degree in rocket science to install a CCTV camera, but it’s getting that way... The DSR-1252 is a welcome respite, it’s a no-frills, low-light monochrome camera, that you can have up and running in a matter of minutes, without recourse to any special equipment, tools or skills. Even the instruction book is written in a form of English we’re familiar with, though the one supplied with our sample was clearly out of date as it failed to mention a couple of quite important back panel controls.

 

The 0.3-inch CCD has an array of 512 x 582 pixels (effective), with a low-light sensitivity of 0.2 lux (F1.2); resolution is claimed to be in the order of 400-lines. Externally the layout is entirely conventional, the cream-coloured case is formed from two steel shells, with cast alloy end caps. Without the lens it measures 66 x 60 x 130 mm. Standard 1/4-inch UNC mounting threads are built into the top and bottom halves of the case. At the front there’s a threaded collar configured for a C-mount lens, a CS-mount adaptor is supplied. Back-focus adjustment is carried out by slacking off two recessed Allen grub screws, using the key provided, and screwing the collar in or out as required. It’s a little crude by current standards, but it works, and there’s little or nothing to go wrong.

 

On the back panel there is a single BNC socket for the video output, a standard square 4-pin socket for an auto-iris lens and a screw terminal for the power supply connections. Our sample -- featuring automatic line-lock -- required a 24 volt AC input; 12 VDC and 240 volt AC versions are also available. There are two mini DIP switch banks, the upper one has two switches, one for the electronic shutter (fixed 1/50th sec or auto 1/50th to 1/100,000th sec); the other is for switching backlight compensation on or off. The lower bank, (not mentioned in the instructions), also has two switches, one for selecting DC or video control, for the auto-iris lens, the other one is unused. There are two pre-set trimmers: V-Phase is for setting line-lock, for multi-camera installations; the other -- also omitted in the instructions -- is for setting the level for a DC controlled auto-iris lens. Both trimmers, mounted on a PCB behind the back panel, were slightly out of alignment with the access holes; some care needs to be taken, to avoid damaging the pre-sets.  A green LED indicates power on.

 

Inside the case there are four PCB, all but one of them using surface mount components. The main video board on our sample was very slightly bowed, suggesting a rather tight fit. It’s unlikely to cause problems, but like the mis-aligned adjustment holes, it does suggest a little more care could have been taken during final assembly. Dominating the interior is the power supply transformer. The standard of constructions is generally satisfactory, all of the boards are securely mounted and the interconnections are neatly laid out. A weatherproof housing is required for an outside installation.

 

PERFORMANCE

It’s a simple camera, both to install and set-up. Low-light sensitivity and resolution are close to the manufacturers specs. The auto exposure systems are smooth and responsive -- the shutter can cope with fairly fast changing light levels with ease, making an auto iris lens unnecessary in most situations. The image is clean throughout the normal operating range, grain and noise only become noticeable when light levels approach the lower limit.   

 

CONCLUSION

There were only a couple of small niggles. The instruction book is in need of an update and a little more attention to detail wouldn’t go amiss, if our sample was anything to go by. Otherwise the DSR-1252 is a sturdy, well-built little camera, ideally suited to a wide range of  surveillance applications, where low-light capabilities and the facility to deal with changing light levels are important. Image quality is generally good and resolution is pin-sharp, down to very low light levels.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

 

Type                             general purpose, low-light monochrome camera

Pick up device            0.3-inch interline CCD

Min. Sensitivity            0.1 lux (f1.2)

Pixel array                     512 x 582 effective

Resolution                     400-lines

Features                       C/CS Mount (adaptor supplied), auto/fixed shutter, backlight compensation, DC/video controlled auto-iris

 

Synch system               internal/line lock

Shutter              automatic, to 100,000th sec

Connections                  video out (BNC), auto iris (std 4-pin),  power in (screw terminal)

Dimensions                   66 x 60 x 130 mm

Weight              860g

 

PSI RATING

 

Product

Product design              8

Build quality                              7

Electronics quality               8

 

Installation

Ease of installation                     9

Set-up functions             8

Instructions                               8

Manufacturer’s support ?

 

Operation

Functions                                  7

Ease of use                               9

 

Performance

Colour fidelity                 n/a

Resolution                                 8         

Low light                                   8

 

---end 1---

 

HEAD

YC-09 COLOUR CAMERA

 

STANDFIRST

This slim-line colour camera is designed for a quick, easy installation with a range of exposure options, to cater for most routine applications

 

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The word ‘digital’ emblazoned  on the side of the YC-09 created a stir of interest, until we discovered that it was employed in its loosest sense. It refers to the more or less standard digital video processing and control microchips, used in pretty well all video cameras these days. The YC-09 has no special digital functions, unless you count the involvement of the installer’s own digits to operate a pair of set-up control buttons on the side of the case.

 

It’s a neat-looking design, unusually slim with the case only slightly thicker than most standard lenses. It uses an 0.3-inch interline CCD image sensor with an effective pixel array of 500 x 582; the manufacturers resolution figure is 330 lines, and low light sensitivity is just 1 lux, in the gain-up mode. The camera requires a 230 volt AC supply, which is also used for switchable line-lock synchronisation with other devices in a multi-camera system.

 

The construction is simple and reasonably robust with ABS plastic end-caps and steel shells, top and bottom. The two-tone grey-black case measures 55 x 50 x 148 mm. A mounting block with a standard 1/4-inch threaded boss can be bolted to the top or bottom of the case

 

Inside it is quite cramped, with four surface mount component printed circuit boards in the front half and rear of the case, and the mains transformer taking up most of the back section. All boards and component are securely mounted to a substantial-looking steel chassis. Weather protection is minimal.

 

On the front there’s a CS mounting collar. There is a back focus adjustment but it’s very fiddly. The collar slides, or rather it can be wriggled in and out, by undoing a locking screw on one side, and jiggling an adjustment screw on the other. The whole assembly is rather tight and requires some effort to achieve a fine setting. On the right side of the body there’s a standard 4-pin socket for an auto-iris lens; a small three-position slide switch immediately below the socket sets DC or video control, the centre position is for auto-electronic shutter exposure control. Next to that is a switch for selecting internal or line-lock synchronisation.

 

On the left side of the body are the main set-up controls. A four-position side switch selects each function, from left to right they are: white balance, brightness, sharpness, and backlight compensation. The adjustment for each function is carries out by a pair of tiny ‘up-down’ buttons. Lastly there’s a slide switch for selecting the gain-up mode, which gives a 10dB increase to the video signal. The back panel has a single BNC socket for composite video output, a green power-on LED, a recessed trimmer for adjusting line-phase, and the captive mains supply cable.

 

PERFORMANCE

The adjustments have a fairly narrow range -- it’s hard to spot any change with the brightness setting -- and it’s important to remember not to hold any button down for longer than a second as it cycles back to the factory default. The sharpness function is more or less redundant, any setting below peak softens the image, resulting a loss of detail. The auto-exposure systems have difficulty dealing with bright lights in the scene area; backlight compensation selects pre-defined areas of the screen, but the effect is limited and sometimes it’s easier, and a lot quicker, to re-align the camera. The camera favours auto-iris lens operation, the internal automatic exposure systems have difficulty coping with large variations in lighting levels. Gain-up is only useful if light levels remain low; there’s a marked increase in grain, that persists when light levels increase. Colour fidelity and noise levels are both satisfactory on well-lit scenes, resolution is as advertised at a little above 320 lines.

 

CONCLUSION

Provided lighting levels do not change too much the YC-90 works reasonably well, though we feel it will give its best when used with an auto-iris lens, rather than depending on the internal auto-exposure systems. Image quality in undemanding situations is good, general operation, installation and ease of use are all adequate.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

 

Type                             compact colour camera

Pick up device            0.3-inch interline CCD

Min. Sensitivity            1 lux (f1.2)

Pixel array                     500 x 582 effective

Resolution                     300-lines

Features                       CS-mount, backlight compensation, manual WB, brightness, sharpness control

 

Synch system               internal/line-lock

Shutter              automatic, 1/50th to 1/20,000th sec

Connections                  composite video out (BNC), power supply (captive 2-core mains cable)

Dimensions                   55 x 50 x 148 mm

Weight              690g

 

PSI RATING

 

Product

Product design              8

Build quality                              7

Electronics quality               8

 

Installation

Ease of installation                     7

Set-up functions             8

Instructions                               8

Manufacturer’s support ?

 

Operation

Functions                                  8

Ease of use                               8

 

Performance

Colour fidelity                 8

Resolution                                 7         

Low light                                   7

 

--- end 2 ---

 

HEAD

JVC TK-C1360 COLOUR CAMERA

 

STANDFIRST

Performance, flexibility and versatility are the key features on this highly sophisticated  colour camera from JVC

 

COPY

At first glance the JVC TK-C1360 doesn’t look significantly different to most other similarly-sized colour video cameras but a closer inspection reveals a couple of clues to its real character. On the side there’s a small label announcing the fact that it has an 0.5-inch CCD, and the well-populated back panel gives the impression that this a serious camera, capable of dealing with difficult or awkward situations.  

 

The half-inch CCD image sensor is the heart of the camera, and the key to the impressive resolution figure of 470-lines. It also helps with the low-light performance, which extends down to 0.95 lux, (in gain-up mode), however, what really sets this camera apart from the crowd are the extensive range of exposure facilities and set-up options, which can be controlled using a comprehensive menu-driven on-screen display system. These can either be set from the camera, or remotely, using a built-in communications facility.

 

JVC have opted for a conventional-looking design, it has a two-part steel case, with a cast alloy front cap and plastic rear panel. A mounting block with standard threaded boss fits to the upper or lower case halves. The lens collar will take C or CS optics; a large thumbwheel protruding through the top of the case sets back-focus and lens type. There are four PCBs inside the box, heavily populated with surface mount components. The main boards are attached to a cage-like chassis; it feels solidly built, to JVC’s customary high standard. Apart from a 4-pin socket for DC-controlled auto iris lens on the right side of the body, there’ s little to see, until you get around to the back panel.

 

There are two BNC sockets, one for composite video output, the other is for external synchronisation. Top centre there’s a mini DIN socket for external communications, and on the right side there are two terminals, one for a video-controlled auto-iris, the other is for the power supply. This can be either 12 volts DC, or 24 volts AC; the latter provides the camera with line-lock synchronisation. In the middle of the panel there are five push-buttons for the on-screen display, arranged in a diamond pattern.

 

Pressing the centre button brings up the main menu display; there are four options and the exit/store function. Item one is ‘Synch Adjust’, this calls up a sub-menu with half a dozen further sync-related options and settings. Menu item two is for the manual video presets, these include iris, colour saturation, pedestal, enhance and hue. The third menu page covers creating and displaying a camera ident, AGC mode (0, +9 or +18dB), Super AGC, shutter speed, (32/50th sec slow shutter to 1/100,000th sec in 11 steps), backlight compensation (four fixed areas, 2 user-definable), average value/peak value contrast setting, white balance adjustment and highlight inversion (3-level). The fourth menu page deals with communications protocols. 

 

PERFORMANCE

The range and variety of exposure options means that there are few circumstances when the TK-C130 won’t be able to produce a watchable image, using a standard lens. However, the image sensor makes the most significant contribution to picture quality, within the normal range of daylight and interior workspace lighting conditions, the image is crystal clear and very well defined. Colour depth is excellent and there is very little noise. Our sample easily managed to resolve in excess of 450-lines and in spite of not having a separated Y/C (S-Video output), cross-colour effects were minimal. Colour accuracy is maintained under a range of lighting conditions, even when the primary source is fluorescent tube. Rapidly changing lighting levels caused the camera no problems whatsoever, and even in very poor light, it was still able to build up a clear image, using one or a combination of exposure modes (slow shutter, Super AGC, gain-up).

 

CONCLUSION

The remote control facility makes this highly versatile camera even more flexible, enabling adjustments to be made on the hoof, on the rare occasions when the auto or pre-set systems run into difficulties. A remarkably well-equipped, high performance camera, that comes in to its own in awkward or problematic lighting situations, where it’s vital to maintain image integrity.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

 

Type                             High performance colour camera

Pick up device            0.5-inch interline CCD

Min. Sensitivity            0.95 lux (f1.2), gain up

Pixel array                     752 x 582

Resolution                     470-lines

Features                       C/CS mount, menu-driven on-screen display set-up, external communications terminal, backlight compensation, highlight inversion, camera ident

 

Synch system               internal/line-lock

Shutter              automatic, to 1/100,000th sec

Connections                  video out & synch in (BNC), remote control (mini DIN), AC/DC power (screw terminal), auto-iris lens (spring terminal & square 4-pin)

Dimensions                   155 x 65 x 68mm

Weight              660g

 

PSI RATING

 

Product            

Product design              9         

Build quality                              9         

Electronics quality               9         

 

Installation

Ease of installation                     7         

Set-up functions             9         

Instructions                               9         

Manufacturer’s support 8

 

Operation

Functions                                  9

Ease of use                               8

 

Performance

Colour fidelity                 9

Resolution                                 9         

Low light                                   8

 

---end 3 ---

 

HEAD

SONY SSC-C108P COLOUR VIDEO CAMERA

 

STANDFIRST

This deceptively simple-looking colour camera can operate in a very wide range of conditions, producing a bright, clean image, even in poor light

 

COPY

The Sony SSC-C108 colour video camera is full of surprises. The first one was a worrying rattle from inside the case. This turned out to be a tiny loose screw, one of two used to hold a circuit board in place. The second surprise was an uncharacteristic instability; when the case was tapped, even quite lightly, the picture lost lock and tore across the top of the frame. We never did find the cause, though it seemed to be centred on the power supply module.

 

Under normal circumstances this would be quite worrying, however, we put both aberrations down to the fact that our well-used sample showed clear evidence of having led a tough life. Sony standards of construction and quality control are normally exemplary. Surprise number three was altogether more welcome. In spite of what seems like a fairly basic specification, it performed at least as well, and in some respects, better, than more sophisticated cameras. This was evident in low-light conditions, and there’s an added bonus, it is unusually simple to install and set-up.

 

This particular model is a mains-powered design, though it weighs only fractionally more than rival cameras with an external power supply. Part of the reason is the lightweight construction, the use of plastic mouldings for the front and rear panels, and a thin gauge steel for the top and bottom outer case shells. Nevertheless, Sony haven’t compromised on strength or rigidity, and all major components are bolted to a sturdy metal sub-chassis. The lens collar will accept both C and CS types, back focus adjustment is carried out using a large thumwheel, that protrudes through slots in the top and bottom of the case. 

 

On the right side of the body there’s a standard 4-pin socket for an auto-iris lens, the DC/video selector switch is next to it. On the rear panel there’s a single BNC socket carrying the composite video output signal, and a miniature 4-way DIP switch, for selecting AGC on/off, normal or turbo mode AGC, backlight compensation on/off and CCD-iris function. Two presets -- one for iris level, the other for setting V-phase -- are situated next to the captive mains supply lead.

 

Because of the camera’s inherent simplicity there are few preliminary adjustments to bother with, other than selecting the correct mode for an auto-iris lens -- if used --  and setting the DC level control. The SSC-C108 has automatically selected internal or line-lock synchronisation, again there’s only one preset to be concerned about. The exposure options are mostly concerned with operating in poor or problematic lighting situations. The backlight compensation setting is quite rudimentary, though it works reasonably well if the light source is off to one side and occupies no more than 20% of the screen area. The various AGC options are configured to do most good in very poor light, especially the turbo mode. This takes low light sensitivity down to remarkably low levels, albeit with some increase in grain, though even that is significantly below what we have become accustomed to on many other mid-market low-light colour cameras

 

PERFORMANCE

The Hyper HAD CCD clearly has a lot to do with this camera’s impressive low-light capabilities, though the well designed video processing circuitry has an important role to play as well, judging by the very low levels of picture and colour noise.

The exposure system is able to handle a very wide range of illumination levels, from near dark to bright sunlight, without any manual intervention, even when fitted with a simple lens manual/fixed iris lens. Colours are bright and richly detailed, they’re generally accurate too, especially in natural and mixed light. The auto-tracing white balance system has the common problem of a slight yellow colour caste, when dealing with predominantly tube lighting.

 

CONCLUSION

Apart from the puzzling intermittency problem on our sample, which we’re reasonably satisfied is a one-off, the SSC-C108 has few if any vices. Picture quality is good in almost all lighting conditions, and it adapts quickly to change.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

 

Type                             low light colour camera

Pick up device            0.3-inch hyper HAD CCD

Min. Sensitivity            0.9 lux (f1.2)

Pixel array                     512 x 582

Resolution                     380-lines

Features                       C/CS mount, auto tracing white balance, turbo AGC, auto backlight compensation, video/DC auto-iris

 

Synch system               internal/line lock

Shutter              automatic

Connections                  composite video out (BNC),  auto iris (standard 4-pin)

Dimensions                   135 x 70 x 55 mm

Weight              500g

 

PSI RATING

 

Product

Product design              8

Build quality                              7

Electronics quality               9

 

Installation

Ease of installation                     8

Set-up functions             8

Instructions                               -

Manufacturer’s support 8

 

Operation

Functions                                  8

Ease of use                               8

 

Performance

Colour fidelity                 9

Resolution                                 8         

Low light                                   9

 

---end---

Ó R. Maybury 1997 0112

 


 

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