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ACM-1231, surprised (naively?) at mediocre performance


 
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olof
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Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject: ACM-1231, surprised (naively?) at mediocre performance Reply with quote

I'm looking to install 1-2 outdoor day/night IP camera's around my house.

Given the largely positive reviews on the Acti ACM-1231 I was set on getting it.

However, I stumbled across this YouTube demo which left me somewhat underwhelmed;
- at times blurry when people move across the screen
- hence no clear facial recognition during the day, let alone at night

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHtYD4ZzfiA&NR=1

1. Is this the quality to be expected from the ACM-1231 even at approx. 12' / 4 meters distance?
2. If so, what would be the next step up? Messoa is not available over here in Holland. Perhaps the new Geovision I've been reading about, BL320D? I suppose the Mobotix M12 would do, but the price is a bit steep for domestic use (and a bit ugly in appearance, to be honest)

My ideal: day/night outdoor IP camera capable of facial recognition at about 25' (8 meters)

Thanks in advance for any insight
Regards,
Olof
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skane
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Joined: 04 Jul 2011
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The lead in to the video states shutter @ 1/5 sec. If that's true, motion blur is not surprising.
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buellwinkle
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I set all my 1231 camera at a max shutter of 1/30th of a second but the default is 1/5th from the factory. Any camera will motion blur if you don't set the max exposure short enough for the type of motion. The other issue is that side motion is much worse than towards/away motion. So if you want the least motion blur in that sitituation, it's best to have the angle of the camera set so it's more directly in the path of motion. The last thing is the closer the subect is, the more motion blur can happen.

This is not an ACTi issue, this above is just physics, same thing happens on my $1,300 Nikon DSLR or $1,500 Mobotix surveillence cameras given the same circumstances.

The next thing is image quality, can you recognize a face, hmm, you have a camera that's capable of 1280 by 1024 resolution but you are watching it at 360 lines, or 1/3rd of what its capable of, not to mention any compression artifacts introduced by the youtube conversion from mjpeg to flash.

So what's a step up or step down you ask. To me, the price leader from Taiwan is Vivotek, the quality leader is ACTi. Speco, Messoa, Geovision and Vivotek to me aer a step down, not so much in image quality, but in software bugginess, poor support, poorer customer service, consistancy between models and such.

As for facial recognition, in Axis training, they recomend that a person's face is at least 80 pixels tall to be recognizable. Distance mean nothing as I can get good or bad depending on focal length. Of course even that is under the best of circumstances, minimal compression, good lighting, no motion blur, hat/cap is not creating a shadow.

Two ways to achieve this, buy a higher resolution camera or zoom in and narrow your field of view. On the acm-1231 you have a 3.3-12mm manual zoom (almost 4x), use that to achieve the desired facial recognition. Also, a camera with WDR will give you better facial recognition because it will mitigate the issue with someone wearing a cap in bright sunlight and creating a high contrast split in his face. The TCM-1231 has WDR, costs a few bucks more, has 18 fps and h.264 compression which gives a better image than mjpeg or mpeg.

Not sure if Mobotix is more expensive, just seems that way on the surface, but consider you don't need a PC to record, all the NVR software is built into the camera. What I do for good night vision is get a D12 dome, put two night sensors in it, you end up with 2.5MP of B&W across a nice wide screen view. So it's like having 2 ACM-1231 cameras but you save on wiring two cameras. Factor in all the costs and quality, and the Mobotix is actually a good value.
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olof
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Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gents,

Thank you for the detailed explanation.

So if I understand correctly, the ACM-1231 (with WDR) would still be the correct camera IF:
- I can find a camera location in which expected motion is more towards/away instead of side motion
- field of view is restricted in order to capture min 80 pixel size faces. Mainly to be achieved by zooming in
- shutter set at 1/30th
- the ideal balance is found between resolution size / fps / compression. I take it that this cocktail of settings is situation-specific and I'll have to play around with it?

The alternative you mentioned sounds interesting, (M12 double-night sensor) but in addition I would still have to find a decent day outdoor camera + a decent location to put a dome camera.

Regarding PC & NVR, I figured (wrongly perhaps) that my Synology NAS + Blue Iris on a Acer Aspire D255 would we enough. Have this hardware laying around anyways.

Thanks again.
Olof
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buellwinkle
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ACTi makes two models of the 1231, the ACM is less expensive, the TCM has WDR and faster frame rates. WDR (wide dynamic range) lets you see detail where you have extreme contrast situations, the downside is the image looks dull when it kicks in, less contrast.

Yes to your questions, it's up to you regardless of the camera to make sure you have mount in the optimal place to acheive your goals and spending days fiddling with camera settings, especially when you are not familiar with the nuances of their interface is expected.

The D12 (not M12) can be outfitted with any lens/sensor combination you chose and each lens can be pointed independantly of each other, like having two cameras in one. If you chose 2 night sensors like I have, they work perfectly in the day time, the only issues are that it's a) B&W, not color, b) the color sensors are 3MP, the B&W are 1.25 MP. But if color is not important, get two B&W sensors, point them each where you want coverage. The M12 has fixed, glued in place lenses, they both point the same way. In the M12 dualnight camera, you get one color 3MP sensor, one B&W 1MP sensor and they switch automagically at dusk & dawn. The D12 is a better deal because you can change the sensor/lenses yourself and each sensor/lens is independantly aimed and both can be viewed individually or together and price is the same.

If you chose Mobotix, no software or PC is needed, the cameras can write directly to NAS (NFS or CIF mount points) or to it's SD card slot. You can use any browser to configure and use the camera and recordings, even an iPad or Android tablet.

If you chose ACTi, they provide their Enterprise NVR software for free and it's actually quite good. Then you use Internet Explorer to view the cameras, manage recordings, etc. It works pretty well as uses the camera's motion detect capability instead of burning up computer cycles to do this, but still does require a computer to record, unlike the Mobotix. They provide training on youtube on how to use the software and it's worth viewing as it can get complex with users, permissons, views, motion detection, shedules and such.
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olof
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Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buellwinkle,

Tx for taking out so much time to explain all this to me!

It looks like I have homework to do; scouting out a good place to put camera('s), the specific area within field of view I want facial recognition, what type of recording set-up I want (PC w/ Acti or NAS/Mobotix).

BTW, it looks like the Mobotix D12 has been replaced by the D14
http://www.mobotix.com/eng_US/Company/News/News-2011/New-DualDome-Camera-D14-from-MOBOTIX-with-6.2-Megapixels

This is not a bad hobby to get into!
Olof
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buellwinkle
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not regretted any Mobotix or ACTi purchase, can't go wrong. Actually, compared to competitors, Mobotix and ACTi don't often come up with new models. If anything, ACTi is discontinuing most if not all their VGA and D1 resolution camera and will concentrate on megapixel cameras and will expand their 4MP cameras by early 2012.
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Sportplumber
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Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buellwinkle,

Curious if you have any opinion on the Sanyo HD-3300 which seems to be in the same price range as the tcm-1231 but offers on board recording and a 4MP imager?

Thanks
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buellwinkle
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Same camera at the same price, I don't think so because it's not the same camera. ACTi also makes box cameras that are 4MP, but I don't compare the 1231 to those because it's not the same type of camera.

Unless I'm wrong, are you talking about the VCC-HD2300? If so, consider this, you have to mount it in an outdoor enclosure, it does not have illuminators, it doesn't even come with a lens, let alone a MP varifocal lens. When all is said an done, it will probably cost you $800 to have the camera, lens, illuminator and decent enclosure.

For outdoors I like bullet cams because they are simple, comes with a varifocal lens, it comes with IR Illuminators, it comes ready to use outdoors in a reasonably small package.

If you want comperable to the 1231, a bullet cam, not a box cam, but want higher resolution, check out Sony and Geovision, both make a 3MP bullet cam. Messoa and Vivotek both make a 2MP bullet cam. Don't know of anyone making a 4MP bullet cam, but I'm sure one is in the works somewhere.
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Sportplumber
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Joined: 10 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually it is the VDC-HD3300 I was interested in. Dome and ip-66 rated. Street price looks to be just over $600.

The appeal to me is the SD card recording in case connectivity fails. I tried a Vivotech and was not impressed.

Thanks
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skane
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Joined: 04 Jul 2011
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Sanyo 3x00 domes and 2x00 box cams have great image quality. I've used Arecont, Stardot, Vivotek (including Supreme series), Messoa, Acti, and Sanyo, and if judging only on daylight image quality, I'd say the Sanyos win. Low light sensitivity is not great though, you'll need IR or white light for good night scenes.
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buellwinkle
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For example, I have an ACTi acm-3511, dome like the Sanyo but is only 1.3MP but has has built in illuminators. I like to have it all together, just me. Also, half way decent illuminators can run a few hundred bucks and you will need wiring to power the illuminator and the power supply. I love built in illuminators, clean look, less wiring, but also use external ones as needed.

As for ACTi, yes, they also have 4MP domes with built in SD card slots, the tcm-7111 and 7211. But I rather have the built in IR illuminators than the higher resolution, but that's just me. The 7211 is kinda cool because it has a zoom lens, a little nicer than having just a varifocal lens, especially if you ever had to focus a varifocal lens on a ladder while adjusting the focal length, not fun.
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Sportplumber
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Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You make some great points, as usual.

I think for my application which is recording vehicles coming and going at the entrance to my property, I will go with the Acti tcm-1231.Interested in capturing license plates as they enter the gate. I know it will not have the local SD record but that may not be an issue. I am using Ubiquity 5.8 links to get connectivity and they seem quite solid.

Then it will probably be Blue Iris running as a service on an HP ex-490 WHS. We'll see if that works out. I am sure I will be asking more questions here!

Thanks.
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