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High-resolution security camera releases ride HD trend

Makers are rolling out more 2 to 5MP security cameras capable of up to 1080p at 25fps.

The trend for high definition is shaping the megapixel surveillance camera sector in China, with 5MP 720p models breaching the mainstream. A growing number of makers are stepping up to 2, 3 and 5MP variants despite the continued dominance of 1.3MP types, which have a 60 percent share of aggregate output. Most 3 and 5MP counterparts and some 2MP alternatives can deliver 1080p at 25fps, greater than the 720p supported by 1.3MP counterparts.

Megapixel surveillance camera
The AS-LPHM1-42 model from Astr supports dual streaming at 1280x960/1280x720-pixel primary and 640x480/640x352-pixel secondary definition.

Further, the bulk of 3MP releases enable up to 2048x1536 pixels, and 5MP devices offer 2560x1920. Several suppliers believe 2 and 3MP will gradually replace 1.3MP cameras in the mainstream as prices drop. Meanwhile, 5MP variants will remain upscale, with a slight increase in market share from 5 to as much as 15 percent.

Output of high-resolution models was estimated to have risen 150 percent YoY in 2010 at 150,000 units, exceeding the 20 and 60 percent growth rates for standard and IP types. The first product’s market share rose from 0.36 percent in 2009 to more than 0.75 percent last year. The upturn is mainly attributed to rising demand, especially from the traffic and financial security management sectors. Declining prices is another reason. An entry-level unit has decreased from $200 to $300 to about $100, affordability that has accelerated acceptance and in turn spurred enthusiasm among industry players.

Future prospects for the line continue to be favorable, with interviewed suppliers foreseeing another doubling in output this year. By 2014, more than half of IP cameras shipped worldwide will have an HD or megapixel resolution, IMS Research predicted.

From the upstream segment perspective, enhancements in image sensor technology augur well for makers. CMOS providers, for instance, are improving the sensor’s low-light sensitivity. The type is increasingly eyed for 3 and 5MP surveillance cameras because its architecture allows for greater resolution with less technical and cost requirements. Even Sony, a leading CCD specialist, is promoting its Exmor series of CMOS sensors for HD cameras.

Many makers believe CMOS will completely take over CCD in the next two years. The former now has a 40 percent share of the aggregate yield of megapixel cameras. Most 2MP units and above are equipped with the imaging solution. Models delivering 1.3MP use CCD because it offers a good price-to-performance ratio in this class, although entry-level equivalents employ CMOS for its cost advantage.

Besides raising resolution levels, manufacturers are boosting encoding efficiency to compress data for better network transmission. Many cameras today deliver video streams of 720p at 25fps and 4 to 6Mbps through MPEG-4 and H.264 algorithms. Some even claim that they carry typical 720p streams with only 2Mbps. Other suppliers implement added measures to optimize bandwidth use in such areas as local storage and image quality.

The activeR&D is matched only by the expanding manufacturing base. The maker pool has grown from a small group of tier 1 players Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd, Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. Ltd and Tiandy to dozens of companies. Many are midsize operations.

Technology improvements and the rollout of more mature chipsets have lowered the line’s entry threshold. This is expected to put megapixel cameras in the mainstream selections of midlevel and large manufacturers in the next two or three years.

Standardization efforts
IP-based megapixel surveillance cameras
Taiwan: 1.3, 2MP IP models lead supply
Product gallery

Megapixel surveillance camera
Shenzhen Innoview’s 7200H model compresses images with H.264 and offers remote management and viewing via an IE browser.
Standardization efforts

The major challenge to the HD surveillance industry stems from its infancy. Hardware interface, control software and communications protocols vary from one vendor to the next, affecting interoperability and full-scale adoption. This is why manufacturers are in favor of pushing for standardization. Some companies, especially export-oriented entities, seek to participate actively in the groundwork, seeing it as an avenue to gain opportunities while ensuring users get what they need.

ONVIF, PSIA and the HDcctv Alliance are among the foremost consortiums engaged in establishing a unified industry standard for IP and HD surveillance systems. The first has a greater influence because of its larger market share, with more than 10 China enterprises having joined the group in recent years. The consortiums enjoy wide support in Europe and Asia. PSIA, which is popular in the US, has five local member suppliers.

Hangzhou Hikvision, Zhejiang Dahua, Ragile and Vimicro are some of the companies that collaborate with both alliances. This strategy gives them more flexibility in catering to target markets as they can offer fully compatible devices all around.

Unlike ONVIF and PSIA, the HDcctv Alliance is not IP-based, a disadvantage given this is regarded as a general security industry trend. There is currently no product in the market adopting this technology. As an uncompressed and nonpacketized HD solution, however, HDcctv leverages its use of coaxial cables, which saves on wiring costs and avoids any perceivable compression latency. This has helped the standard capture the attention of several major China players, which in turn has sparked projections that HDcctv-compliant devices will soon be released.

Among the makers actively participating in standardization efforts are IP surveillance leaders Hangzhou Hikvision and Zhejiang Dahua. Both are full members of ONVIF. The former is a PSIA board member, and the second an associate and venture member.

Top CCTV camera vendor CSST joined the HDcctv Alliance in 2009 as a voting member. Hisilicon has signed up as an adopter member to obtain priority release of HDcctv-compliant products.

Megapixel surveillance camera price guide
IP-based megapixel surveillance cameras

China makers offer box, dome and speed dome megapixel cameras. All releases adopt digital encoding and IP technologies. Mainstream models generally feature a 1.3, 2, 3 or 5MP CMOS or CCD sensor. These incorporate an ASIC or DSP chipset, HD lens and RJ-45 network interface with a 10/100Mbps rate.

The cameras typically deliver 720p resolution at 25fps, 0.1lux minimum illumination, MPEG-4 or H.264 compression format, and auto exposure and white balance. They support an adjustable compression bit rate of between 32Kbps and 8Mbps, dual-stream encoding and multiple Internet protocols. Wi-Fi or 3G W-CDMA or CDMA2000 provide wireless connection options. Products run on 12/24VDC or Power-over-Ethernet.

Releases also have SD card slots, and USB and audio/alarm I/O ports. Some makers add a local video output, including basic BNC or HDMI. Many accept customized requests on form and appearance, motorized zoom lenses, IR illumination and other requirements.

The key components are the sensor and chipset. For the former, enterprises source from Micron subsidiary Aptina and OmniVision for their CMOS needs, with the MT9P031 and OV9710 as popular choices respectively. CCD equivalents are mainly from Sony, and the 1.3MP 1/3in and 2MP 1/1.8in models are typically used.

Powerful chipsets are regarded as the foundation of highly effective compression. The most sought-after video processing solutions are TI’s DM3xx and DM646x, Hisilicon’s Hi3515 and Hi3511/3512, Grain Media’s GM8180/8126 and Ambarella’s
A288S series. SoCs are preferred for their lower costs and simple design. Makers utilize TI’s DaVinci platform and equivalents from Hisilicon.

Entry-level models list at about $100. Midrange units range from $300 to $500. High-end releases are above $1,000. A megapixel speed dome camera usually surpasses $1,500.

IR day/night bullet camera
The PL621E model from Pixord is an IR day/night bullet camera with motion detection and digital PTZ functions.
Taiwan: 1.3, 2MP IP models lead supply

Taiwan manufacturers of surveillance cameras are pursuing megapixel models to offer better video resolution and quality. The mainstream supply is dominated by 1.3 and 2MP variants, with the latter taking up a large share of the output. Most units are network-enabled and run on 10/100Mbps.

The island has close to 100 suppliers of surveillance cameras. Most IP makers release 1.3 and 2MP varieties, while others are developing up to 5 or 10MP. Although CCTV companies can not offer high-resolution units, they are turning to HD CCTV cameras to address the problem of data loss during image compression. This emerging solution uses serial digital interface to allow uncompressed images in the data center and transfer compressed digital data via IP network if necessary.

Taiwan makers are developing panoramic view to avoid dead space. One of the methods adopted to achieve this is the fish-eye lens, which enables 360-degree vision.

Mainstream models support 720 and 1080p resolution, and CMOS and CCD sensors. They come in bullet, box, dome and speed dome form factors. MPEG-4 and H.264 are the major compression technologies. IP versions have WDR, PTZ and multistream features.

Other variants are equipped with a web server, UPnP, SD slots and IP66- or 67-rated housing.

IP camera
Product gallery

Appro Technology Inc.

Model: LC-7451
Description: IP camera, superwide dynamic range; 1/3in Sony CMOS, 1.3MP; TI DaVinci DM365 platform; H.264, MPEG-4, M-JPEG video streaming; day/night function, 0.01lux minimum illumination, realtime; 2-way audio; 30/25fps; UPnP

3G megapixel IP camera

ASTR Industrial Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: AS-IPHM2-11
Description: 3G megapixel IP camera; SoC Arm9 processor, Hisilicon Hi3512; H.264
main profile@level 3; 1600x1200-pixel resolution; built-in web server for viewing, management; mobile wireless remote control; SD card; dynamic IP address, LAN

Megapixel surveillance camera

Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: DS-2DF1-572
Description: 1/3in Sony CCD; up to 1.3MP resolution; ±0.1-degree preset accuracy;
360-degree endless pan, -5 to 90-degree tilt range; H.264 video codec; 18x optical
zoom; IP66 rating

HD CCTV camera

Mintron Enterprise Co. Ltd

Model: HD CCTV SDI camera
Description: HD CCTV camera; 1.3MP CCD or 1.3MP/300,000-pixel CMOS; DSP; HD SDI 720/1080p via BNC, YUV 4:2:2 16-bit via camera module; CVBS NTSC/PAL output, YUV 4:2:2 16-bit , SMPTE; 260M/295M/274M/296M; built-in OSD, image distortion, WDR, 3D digital noise reduction, digital zoom; RS-232 port

Network dome IP camera

Pixord Corp.

Model: PD636E
Description: Network dome IP camera; 2MP CMOS sensor; 360-degree fish-eye panoramic lens; H.264 multiple streaming; built-in web server; day/night function, mechanical IR cut filter; 2-way audio; event management, multiple user-defined display layouts, advanced e-PTZ, hardware distortion compensation; PoE

Megapixel surveillance camera

Shenzhen Innoview Science & Technology
Co. Ltd

(mainland China)

Model: 7100BH
Description: 2MP CMOS sensor; PAL, NTSC; H.264 video codec; multiple network remote upgrades, dynamic IP address, LAN, Internet; video block, motion detection


Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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