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Integration is the key feature on the Panasonic WV-CS600 mini-dome combination camera. Traditionally camera systems of this type are built using components sourced from a variety of manufacturers, which may or may not have been designed to work with one another. That is not an issue with the WV-CS600, the low-light colour camera, its motorised mount and the WV-CU151 controller blend together seamlessly, functioning as a single entity with no suggestion of compromise or corner-cutting, either operationally, or in terms of performance.


The clearest evidence, that the camera and controller were designed to work together, is the comprehensive set of camera adjustments, that can be remotely accessed from the WV-CU151. Once the camera is in position itís unlikely there will ever be any need to take the lid off, (not that itís an option -- it is incredibly difficult to dismantle), which has to be good news for busy installers. Available adjustments include setting up the camera ID, exposure system, backlight compensation, high-speed shutter, automatic gain control, low-light sensitivity, external synchronisation, white balance, motion detection, auto focus plus a range of specialised camera functions.


It is a compact and relatively discreet design, measuring just 130 x 195mm, the transparent dome accounts for around one third of itís height. The rest of the housing is made from die-cast alloy, giving it considerable strength and offering a high degree of protection against impact and mechanical shock. Inside the dome the camera and motorised pan/tilt mount -- apart from the lens -- is hidden from view by a black dome-shamed shroud.


The camera is supplied with a quick-fit ceiling mounting plate -- held in place by four fixing bolts -- that locks the camera into position with a simple twist-fit action. A fall prevention cable fits between the camera and mounting plate, to support the camera in the event it becomes detached from the mount. There are two external connections, that feed through a large hole in the centre of the mounting plate. These are for the mains power feed, and the video output cable, which also carries telemetry, to and from the control unit.


Under manual control the camera pans through a full 360 degrees, (3 degrees per second), there are no end stops, at least none that we could find. The lens tilts through 90 degrees, moving at 1.5 deg/sec. There are no blind spots, the camera covers the entire field of view from a ceiling-mounted position. The camera has auto/manual focus, and a 10:1 power zoom. It uses a 0.3-inch CCD that has a low light sensitivity of 2 lux; this reduces to 0.6 lux in the low-light setting (integration or slow-shutter mode), in 12 pre-selectable steps. Resolution on the 752 x 582 pixel array is quoted at 480-lines.


Motion sensing, backlight compensation and auto-tracking white balance set-up are carried out using a 8 x 6 reference grid of squares, each of which can be enabled or disarmed, so that it acts as a sensor, for each particular function. Manual white balance adjustment has presets for fine-tuning red/blue balance and the high-speed shutter can be set to one of 8 speeds, between 1/50th and 1/10,000th second. The motion detector option has a test mode, that shows activity (change in brightness) by blinking the affected squares on the grid, sensitivity can be adjusted, and the VCR recovery time -- if enabled -- set between 1 and 60 minutes. Camera idents are assembled from a standard uppercase international character set, with letters and numbers selected one at a time. Needless to say itís a slow and tedious business.


The WV-CU151 system controller is housed in a sloping cream-coloured console. The top panel is dominated by a centre-biased joystick, mounted on the right side. Next to that thereís a numbered digital key pad, and on the left side thereís another bank of ten buttons covering focus, zoom, plus various control and set-up functions. The main power on switch is located in the to left hand corner. On the back panel there are four BNC sockets for the video/telemetry feed to the camera, monitor video out, and external video genlock in/out. Next to that thereís a switch to enable the built-in alarm sounder, and a four-way connector block, for the alarm connections. The entire connector panel can be removed, and replaced so that it faces downwards, to simplify connections when the console is mounted in a rack or desk. A captive mans lead emerges to the left of the BNC sockets.


A large number of control options are available from the WV-CU151, in addition to all of the camera set-up functions, including manual or automatic panning. Up to 64 positions can be memorised for up to two cameras. Each position can be given a separate designation or ident. As well as pan/tilt position, it also stores zoom and focus information, exposure settings and a dwell time, used when it is in the auto-pan mode. To move the camera to a preset position a one or two digit number is entered into the keypad, followed by the Ďposií button. Under programmed control pan and tilt speeds are increase dramatically, to 240 deg/sec and 120 deg/sec respectively. Auto panning moves at the more sedate manual control pace. The cameraís Ďhomeí orientation can be any one of the 64 memorised positions. Camera data -- for two devices -- can be uploaded and stored in the controller. Manual pan/tilt, via the joystick, is proportionally controlled; very small, fine movements are possible with gentle pressure on the stick


Alarm functions, activated by the cameraís motion sensor, causes a display to appear in the top right hand corner of the monitor screen;  this is also the default position for the camera ident, so care needs to be taken with its positioning. The alarm display text can be changed, (white with black border or black with white border) using a DIP switch behind a panel on the base of the console. Additionally this sets the alarm reset contact (O/C or pulse) for a recording VCR. The alarm output terminal is an open collector, rated at 16V DC/100 mA or less. The fourth alarm contact is for the recover signal, from a time-lapse VCR.



With all of the camera and control functions centred on the WV-CU151 the initial set-up should be very straightforward, however, the menu-controlled on-screen display systems can be quite hard going, and itís easy to make mistakes. Itís not particularly responsive, and some operations appear to be somewhat convoluted. Itís not especially intuitive either, though with practice it becomes easier. Fortunately, once the installation has been completed it will need only occasional fine-tuning. Nevertheless, itís worth bearing in mind that presetting and naming more than half a dozen camera positions, defining backlight compensation, white balance and motion sensor zones can easily turn into a job for life...


Normal day-to-day operations are a lot easier, though some functions appear to be very slow, Ďrelaxedí might be a better word for it. Manual iris adjustment, for example, takes an age -- over 30 seconds from full open to fully closed. However, the focus and zoom functions are very responsive; the servo motors are fairly quiet in operation, though there is a constant whine from a cooling fan inside the camera housing.



The camera, or at least its operating system, is reasonably familiar territory, and performance is in line with similar Panasonic models weíve seen in the past year or so. Resolution on our very well used test sample was within a whisker of the stated 460-lines, it seems fair to assume that on a good day, under ideal conditions, it should perform as advertised. Low light sensitivity is good too, in fact the only blot on an otherwise spotless copy-book is white balance. The auto mode doesnít cope at all well with tube lighting, producing a distinct green-yellow caste. Manual adjustment can help but colour fidelity under artificial light is always something of a compromise.  In good natural light the auto white balance system performs well.


Colour accuracy takes a dive in poor light, though at and around the minimum sensitivity figure all colours merge into a murky grey. In the gain-up and low-light modes the image becomes very grainy indeed, slow-shuttering produces a characteristic slow-refresh, jerky image. 



The initial set-up routine is quite laborious, though it does cover a lot of ground, and considering it will normally only have to be carried out once, itís not a real concern. Build quality is outstanding, it looks and feels like a precision instrument. Normal operation is faultless and installation should pose no problems whatsoever. Video performance is well up to the kind of standard weíve come to expect from Panasonic; all together a most impressive piece of kit




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                         ****                         




R.Maybury 1997 183



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