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At a time when surveillance video camera manufacturers are vying with one another to see who can come up with the smallest and lightest models it is quite refreshing to come across a model range that makes no concessions to size or weight. Indeed Ikegami appear to have used 'brick outhouse' design principles for the ICD-36E and ICD-503P black and white and colour cameras. They look and feel really tough, and one look inside the cream coloured case shows why. Both cameras are built inside an exoskeleton steel chassis, and for good measure the outer case is made from steel too, in short they're virtually bullet-proof!


Both models are mains powered, the internal transformer contributes quite significantly to the overall weight (just under 1kg) but it too is a steel-cased and adds to the rigidity of the chassis. For the record Ikegami also manufacture 24V AC and 12V DC powered models; the simpler power supplies knock off between 200 and 500 grams from the overall weight.


Before we move on to the main points of interest on the feature list a few words about the quality of construction. The standard is very high. Both models have a glass-fibre main board bolted to the bottom of the chassis, one or two daughter boards and a camera board with the CCD image sensor mounted on the front. In fact the CCD panel is bolted to a moving back-focus assembly, this is set using a screwdriver through a hole on the left side of the camera body. The adjustment moves the image sensor back and forth, however the range of movement is relatively shallow and an adaptor ring is necessary for C-Mount lenses.         


On the right side of the cameras there are standard 4-pin auto-iris socket and next to that there's a deeply recessed switch for selecting DC or Video auto iris control. The rear panels of both cameras are almost identical. Video output is handled by a BNC socket, below that there's a green power on LED. In the middle of the panel there are three recessed rotary presets for line-lock phase, backlight compensation and iris level adjustments. In the top right hand corner there is a miniature DIP switch. The one fitted to the ICD-503P (colour model) is a 3-way design with settings for the auto-electronic shutter (AES), backlight compensation (BLC) and automatic gain control (AGC). The ICD-36E additionally has a switch for selecting internal or line-lock sync. The captive mains lead emerges from a protective grommet on the right side of the back panel. On the top and bottom outer casing shells there are standard 1/4-inch UNC mounting threads. The case offers a fair degree of protection but it's by no means moisture or even splashproof and unsuitable for use outdoors or in a hostile (dusty or humid) atmosphere without a protective housing.


The ICD-36E (monochrome) features a 0.3-inch CCD with an effective 752 x 582 pixel array. Minimum illumination is quoted at 0.2 lux with a F1.4 lens, (standard illumination is 18 lux), horizontal resolution is a stated 560 lines. The ICD-503 also uses a 0.3-inch interline transfer CCD, this time with a 512 x 582 pixel array. Resolution is down to 330 lines and the illumination range is given as 1.5 lux/F1.4 (minimum) and 2200 Lux/F8 (standard). Additionally the ICD-503P has a fully automatic through the lens (TTL) white balance system.



You can take it as read from the limited number of controls and adjustments that set up is very straightforward. The instruction manuals that accompany both cameras are well presented and easy to follow; all of the information most installers are likely to need is included and accessible, it's even written in proper English; whatever nextů?


The higher than average weight of the cameras means a little extra care needs to be taken with the choice and location of mounting hardware. The three presets and DIP switches on the back might be a little awkward to get at once the camera is in position, otherwise we can foresee no serious problems and suspect that most installations will go without a hitch.  



The manufacturers stated performance figures were within a whisker of our own findings, though we think Ikegami might be over stating the standard illumination requirement for the ICD-503, our sample performed very satisfactorily at significantly lover levels. Resolution on the ICD-36E is impressive; the image has a good contrast range with plenty of fine detail and very little noise. The AES system works very well indeed and ably copes with slow and rapid changes in scene illumination. In spite of the lack of any installer or user colour balance adjustments colour accuracy on the ICD-503P was steady across a wide illumination range. It only falters when the scene is lit exclusively by fluorescent tubes; this produces a slight green caste in the image.   



We can confirm that the ICD-36E is exceptionally sturdy. It survived an accidental tumble from the test bench -- a distance of some two and a half feet on to a wooden floor -- without so much as a scratch. It happened to be wired up and working at the time (it was the weight of the mains lead that dragged it to the floor), and by a stroke of luck we noticed that the image on the monitor didn't so much as twitch. (We did think of trying the same thing with the colour model but decided that was probably pushing it a bitů). Nevertheless it illustrates how solidly built these cameras are, and highlights the kind of application they'll be well suited to. Picture performance is very good indeed, the operating ranges of these two cameras limit their use to reasonably well lit locations but if said location requires a tough and dependable black and white or colour camera, the ICD-36E and ICD-503P are definitely worth shortlisting.     



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                                                    



Ë R. Maybury 1998 0511



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