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BAXALL CDSP 9713 & 9752 VIDEO CAMERAS

 

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WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...

There's an instant sense of deja vu with these two cameras from Baxall. The CDSP  9752 and 9713 look almost identical to the Baxall CD9252 and CD9312 cameras that we reviewed a little over two years ago. They're an identical configuration: one is colour (9713), the other is black and white (9752) and both are mains powered (12 volt DC and 24 volt AC variants are also available). The similarities continue, right down to the fact that the average power consumption for all cameras -- 1996 and 1998 models -- is 5 watts. There are differences however, and some of them are quite significant, though the designers clearly have a lot of faith in the old maxim, that 'if it 'ain't broke, don't fix it'!

 

But first the basics, both cameras are built inside in cream coloured housings measuring 123 x 67 x 60mm. The only distinguishing features are an extra BNC socket on the rear of the 9752 (for external genlock) and the 9713 has a multi-coloured flash on the side, denoting it is the colour model (the 9752 has a grey stripe). On the right side of both cameras there is a hinged flap that opens to reveal a rotary adjustment -- for video level setting on an auto-iris lens -- and a 10-way miniature DIP switch. This is one of the very few external differences between this and the 96 vintage models. They had two separate DIP switches, the new arrangement has no apparent operational or ergonomic advantages, but it must help with the manufacturing costs.

 

To the right of the control flap there's a square 4-pin auto iris socket. The front, top and bottom halves of the case is made from lightweight alloy castings and extrusions; the front cover and end cap are moulded from ABS plastic. Threaded mounting bosses are fitted to the top and bottom case sections. The quality of construction is very good and the assembly is remarkably strong. The case parts fit together neatly but there has been little or no attempt to protect the housings from moisture, dust or airborne contaminants, so they are only suitable for indoor installation, in a reasonably clean, camera-friendly atmosphere. The lens mount is a multi-format (C or CS) type with an elaborate back-focus/lens type adjustment that can be set from the top or the side. On the rear panels there are BNC sockets for the video output, a spring terminal for direct-drive auto iris lenses, a green power on LED, a recessed preset adjustment for line-level phase and the captive mains power cord.

 

The DIP switches cover a wide range of functions. Positions 1 and 2 are for not used on the 9752 but on the 9713 they're for setting white balance; the options are full auto, indoor, outdoor and fluorescent. On both models SW 3 is for gamma correction, the choices are normal (0.45) and linear (1.0). SW4 enables the AGC, SW5 switches between fixed or adjustable line-level phase, SW6 toggles between line level or internal synchronisation. Switches 7 to 10 are concerned with the electronic shutter and iris modes. When SW7 is in the down or off position switches 8, 9 and 10 are used to select a shutter speed between 1/50th of a second to 1/10,000th sec, in 8 steps. When SW7 is in the up position SW8, 9 and 10 select electronic iris, backlight compensation and flickerless modes.

 

Two years ago, when we reviewed the CD9252 and CD9312, we noted that there were marked internal differences between the colour and monochrome cameras, this time around they're much harder to spot. Inside both cameras there are four printed circuit boards. The power supply board lives on the bottom of the case, it supports a mains transformer that accounts for almost a third of the internal volume of the camera. The board on the back panel handles the sockets and switches. Almost all of the video processing is carried out by board number three on the right side of the camera, the same board (with some differences in the chipset) is used in both cameras. The designers have made more extensive use of digital processing circuitry, to reduce picture noise levels and increase the amount of detail in the image, but more about that in a moment.

 

The PCB at the front holds the CCD image sensor; this is connected to the main board by a short ribbon cable. Both CCDs are 1/2-inch Sony Hyper HAD  types, the colour model has a stated resolution of 480 lines and a low-light sensitivity of 0.8 lux (F1.2). This is another change from the previous model, which has a low light sensitivity of 2.5 lux (F1.2) and a resolution of 460 lines. There's a difference in the performance figures for the 9752 and its predecessor. This time low light sensitivity is quoted at 0.08 lux, (compared with 0.1 lux for the 9252); resolution stays the same, at 580 lines.

 

OPERATION

The design and layout is very conventional and we cannot foresee any major installation problems. The only minor difficulty concerns access to the DIP switches, once the camera is in position. It's fiddly at the best of times, the switches are microscopic and a tiny screwdriver is necessary to make any adjustments. It will be even more awkward if the right side of the camera is positioned close to a wall. The initial set-up is straightforward and mostly concerned with fitting and adjusting the lens and selecting the appropriate exposure compensation mode (electronic iris/auto shutter, DC control or video level auto iris). On the colour camera there's a choice of white balance control, with auto-tracing for lighting conditions that change and three fixed settings, to suit different types of light. The other options are mostly concerned with configuring the camera to work with different types of switching systems.

 

The instructions are fairly brief but all of the information most installers will need is there and easy to find. Baxall have tried to make the installer and end user's life as simple as possible and the design of the camera is such that there's likely to be very few questions but just in case, they've thoughtfully printed their Helpline number next to the DIP switches.

 

PERFORMANCE

Low-light performance on the 9752 is most impressive, and significantly better than its predecessor. It really shows up in marginal conditions; in poor light, when the noise level in the images produced by most comparable monochrome cameras start to climb. In these circumstances the 9752 is getting its first wind, and will continue to produce a usable picture long after most other cameras have given up. That alone would be enough to justify this camera in demanding applications but there's more. It copes equally well with changeable conditions and scenes with a wide illumination range or spot lighting. Resolution is as advertised, under typical daylight/interior lighting levels the picture is very crisp with lots of detail and a broad contrast range. Picture noise levels appear to have been reduced, not that they were particularly bad to begin with, however the image does appear to be slightly cleaner and fine detail is rendered more clearly. The manual exposure adjustments are there if needed for really tricky situations, but if our sample was anything to go by, they're unlikely to get much use as the auto settings are able to compensate for all but the most extreme situations.

 

Increased low light sensitivity also happens to be the key feature on the 9713 colour camera. It's a big increase too -- when compared with the CD 9312 -- putting it on a par with a lot of mid-market mono cameras. As the lighting level approaches the lower end of the cameras range the images changes to monochrome, and there is a rapid increase in grain and noise but the picture remains coherent until it disappears. In normal natural light colours are crisp and well defined, the auto-tracing white balance system works well and colour fidelity is very stable. The fixed WB indoor settings work fine in tungsten light, the fluorescent mode produces a very slight yellow tint but it's not enough to be concerned about. Noise levels are also down and this is immediately apparent in areas of high saturation. These can tend to look quite 'busy' with significant dot agitation. There is still some slight 'fizz' with this camera but it is nowhere near as pronounced, compared with most comparable models. The auto iris/exposure systems on the two cameras respond quickly to changes in lighting and changes in shutter speed are sufficiently numerous and well spaced to prevent 'stepping'.

 

Both cameras were mechanically stable with no picture disturbance whatsoever when subjected to our standard intermittancy test (a series of hard taps with a small rubber mallet…). The back focus adjustment is pretty solid too and unlikely to drift, even if the camera is subjected to a high level of vibration. Both of our test samples ran quite warm -- the transformer actually gets quite hot.

 

 

 

 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

The designers have taken an evolutionary approach with this range of cameras and it has paid off. Last time around we commented that they were functional, solidly built with an impressively wide range of exposure and lens options. We're please to report that nothing has changed. The differences between this years models and the class of 96 are mostly to do with performance and they are clear to see, with markedly better low light sensitivity plus some worthwhile tweaks to resolution and picture noise levels. The result is a clearer, sharper image under a wider range of conditions. The cameras are easy to install and although the set-up could be simpler, it shouldn't create any problems in the vast majority of cases. The specification and features list isn't as extensive as some comparably-priced models but what they lack in bells and whistles, they make up for with better than average picture quality and flexibility.

 

PRODUCT ASSESSMENT

Design and design features                      4

Circuitry and components                5

Ease of installation and wiring            5    

Range and variety of functions            4   

Accompanying instructions              3          

Technical advice and backup            4     

Value for money                         3                            

 

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Ó R.Maybury 1998 0607

 


 

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