Home > TechReviews > Sprinkling More Megapixel Dust

Sprinkling More Megapixel Dust

OK, Comments on my last megapixel post show that there are strong proponents of the value of megapixel cameras, even for distributed deplyments.  The fact that I don’t understand yet, notwithstanding.

CoVi, Avigilon and presumably others –though CoVi seems to be the dominant presence — have efficient ways of storing hi definition video and preserving quality for viewing recorded images across a shared network.  So please help a slow learner like me get the whole picture (pardon the pun).

I understand that a single megapixel camera can take the place of multiple smaller-resolution cameras, espeically if you are only interested in very limited captured areas, like license plates. I also understand that real time viewing may only need low-resolution presented to the monitors, but investigations or forensic analysis needs access to a few hi-resoultion images, which in one way or another we can pull from the recording device as needed.

So I have one megapixel at the front of the store, or the entrance to the parking lot, or in the counting room at the Fed, and everything else is a "regular" camera.

That sounds pretty good.  But I sense from the marketing dollars spent by the megapixel producers that there must be more…  Unfortunately, those marketing dollars haven’t sent the message of the measurable value of megapixel solutions to me.  And assuming I am not quite the stupidest guy in the security business, let alone where I place among all possible camera "consumers," then I imagine that other people are not entirely persuded yet, either.

Time for the techies and marketing folks to step it up a notch, I’d say.

 

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  1. January 20, 2007 at 5:22 am

    I agree with your post. I actually get inquiries now and then asking why megapixel cameras are so beneficial. Like I mentioned in my comment on your other thread, it is good for high quality images when you can only view recordings. I find many people are confused with how a megapixel camera can benefit them. Like you said, the value of megapixel cameras is not being conveyed correctly.
    Considering most IP cameras have a resolution of 640×480 or even 352×280, it is hard to make out what’s going on within all the pixels. That is where you also loose some customers back to CCTV is because of the quality. Megapixel increases the quality and size of image that makes it comparable to CCTV in a way.
    Even still, you are loosing the FPS and increasing bandwidth consumption.
    Your post has compelled me to write an article on the benefits of Megapixel cameras. ;)
    Wes

    http://www.networkcamerareviews.com

  2. John Honovich
    January 21, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Hi Steve,
    Great blog – It is becoming a very exciting forum for the industry to discuss and exchange ideas.
    I agree with you that the marketing dollars are in front of the measurable value of megapixels.
    1) However, I think there are limited, yet very powerful ways, to currently employ megapixel cameras.
    2) The cost-effectiveness of components within megapixel architectures are increasing rapidly. Soon, the measurable value will exceed the marketing dollars.
    As an example, for the scenarios you mention such as “bad guys in casinos,” and “shoplifters at target,” recording is not a must for how my company employ megapixel cameras.
    Rather than using the recorded video stream as the basis for investigation, we use analysis to select representative image of the activity or faces of the people seen. Those are then organized in a storyboard where users can select them at full resolution, magnify them, etc.
    The video itself can be recorded at a low frame rate or even discarded if you desire. We have done tests with major retailers where storage for a megapixel camera, relative to traditional video recording, has been reduced by 85%. You obtain the benefits of megapixel quality without the significant storage penalties.
    The trade-off, here, is that our system has to receive the full resolution stream to deliver this. As such, I agree with you about the limitations for distributed deployments.
    However, a 1 megapixel camera (like Covi’s CVQ-2110 or Axis 206m) require in the range of 5 to 10 Mb/s for full resolution. So while the bit rate is significantly higher than NTSC, it is certainly manageable with today’s IP networks. Gigabit Ethernet is not always required. For instance, in banks, the megapixel camera(s) are generally only 50 feet from our system so it is a simple installation of a Cat5e cable and no meaningful impact on the network.
    The other benefit of megapixel cameras we have seen is increasing the maximum field of view where faces can be captured. Even with a 1 megapixel camera, which is the most inexpensive and basic of the megapixel cameras, horizontal pixels double from 640 to 1280. This doubles the field of view in capturing faces which has increased our accuracy rates and feasibility in large, open areas.
    Since we are not a mexapixel company, we do not spend a lot marketing megapixel cameras per say, but the people at Covi, iQeye, Lumenera, etc are improving our overall solutions.
    My other comment was that the cost-effectiveness is increasing rapidly.
    Camera manufacturer are moving from MJPEG to MPEG-4 to H.264 for megapixel cameras and as that does, that bandwidth load will drop considerably, making distributed deployments more reliable.
    Camera manufacturers are introducing intelligent megapixel cameras where we can port our analysis on to their cameras and only send page image that pass intelligent filters, making the bandwidth, storage and server side processing negligible.
    And with megapixel camera prices dropping and approaching NTSC camera prices (a 1 megapixel MSRP is now $750 or less from some manufacturers), the motivation to switch will become even greater.
    Thanks for the great blog, Steve. It’s exciting to have a place to exchange ideas with top people in the industry.
    Best,
    John

  3. Anonymous
    January 22, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Steve,
    John is getting it. More pixels are always better for recognition. However all of those pixels are not needed for the full scene for every frame. Adding some intelligence to the process can reduce the storage requirements by several orders of magnitude.
    Using the brute force technique, more pixels pushes the boundary of video coverage in the direction of goodness. In small fields of view the good old 640 X 480 image is good enough. For medium fields of view multi mega pixel cameras are much better. For long/wide views even multi mega pixel cameras are not enough.
    Since I’ve been watching, the balance between imagers, CPU speeds, disk storage, and network speeds have been going up at different rates. The balance of those recourses affect the design trade off’s to create a state-of-the-market system.
    For what it’s worth, human perception doesn’t use maximum resolution for tracking objects and doesn’t track while recognizing. Also the human eye puts most of the “pixels” near the center of the field of view. It just seems like we can see the whole scene around us and keep track of movement without losing detail. It’s all mental smoke and mirrors.
    This is all too visual to get clear with dry words.
    Please see http://www.kidzuku.com/PixelsOnTheTarget.pdf for an illustration of these concepts.
    Maurice Garoutte

  4. June 3, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I have evaluated many MP camera solutions and they are getting better all the time. Crime deterrence can be from several sources. With conventional CCTV, most criminals don’t care since they know the resolution is so bad, that it will rarely be the only convincing eveidence of their guilt. Regular CCTV’s are about as effective as dummy cameras. All you do is deter the crimes of opportunity. Most of my cameras are now MP. I have a few specialty CCTV cameras for very close work. I use Gigalan, and GIGA lan routers and PC’s. No problems, turnkey operation. I successfully use them in my vehicles. I can successfully stream live color MP video while my vehcile is moving. The data is stored on an HDD in the vehicle, and all activities in EXCELLENT quality images can easily be observed. I found I do not need 30 FPS. For my use 1 FPS is fine enough. There is not much someone can do in less than a second. I am using a high bandwidth cellular telephone network for my uploads to the observer. I also run synched audio. I can put these cameras anywhere. My smallest is a 1.3 and that is gerat fro mobile use. I also use 3 MP and 5 MP for fixed use.
    The streaming MP video would be great for public transportation or law enforcement.
    Check out our site at http://www.megarecorder.com

  5. June 3, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I have evaluated many MP camera solutions and they are getting better all the time. Crime deterrence can be from several sources. With conventional CCTV, most criminals don’t care since they know the resolution is so bad, that it will rarely be the only convincing eveidence of their guilt. Regular CCTV’s are about as effective as dummy cameras. All you do is deter the crimes of opportunity. Most of my cameras are now MP. I have a few specialty CCTV cameras for very close work. I use Gigalan, and GIGA lan routers and PC’s. No problems, turnkey operation. I successfully use them in my vehicles. I can successfully stream live color MP video while my vehcile is moving. The data is stored on an HDD in the vehicle, and all activities in EXCELLENT quality images can easily be observed. I found I do not need 30 FPS. For my use 1 FPS is fine enough. There is not much someone can do in less than a second. I am using a high bandwidth cellular telephone network for my uploads to the observer. I also run synched audio. I can put these cameras anywhere. My smallest is a 1.3 and that is gerat fro mobile use. I also use 3 MP and 5 MP for fixed use.
    The streaming MP video would be great for public transportation or law enforcement.
    Check out our site at http://www.megarecorder.com

  6. Dr Bartoloi
    July 15, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    We recently upgraded our cctv system to 5 Megapixel day/night cameras. The upgrade was too simple. The installers disconnected the old system, remounted the new cameras and replaced the old 24VAC wires with small Cat5e cable. The cameras are powered from the CAT5 cable, no other power supplies or “wall warts” required. The new system freed up a lot of 110VAC outlets which we use for other things. We didn’t buy a standalone DVR but instead picked up a Megarecorder which is eesentially a fast and Tiny, low powered PC (65 watts) specifically designed for Megapixel video networks. It has internal and external HDD’s for 5 Terabytes of data (4 months worth). See them at http://www.megarecorder.com No separate router was required, and the recording software was free with the megarecorder.

  7. Moshe Assis
    July 23, 2007 at 7:08 am

    What is the price of the CVQ-2110 camera of COVi ?

  8. July 24, 2007 at 4:32 am

    I don’t have any prices from CoVi, Moshe. Frankly, I can’t remember who any of CoVi’s resellers are to ask them. sorry.
    On another note, how about the guys from megarecorder.com and other “blog warts” find their own marketing site and stay off mine!

  9. Mica Millbach
    September 26, 2007 at 3:06 am

    Steve,
    Avigilon delivers the goods, 16MPs of goods. The security industry is always looking to maximize efficiency through integration and standardization. I suggest we all take a good look the goals of security, and find real problems that can be addressed by this amazing increase in power. Our view of security must be holistic, and we must use the strengths of one technology to overcome the weaknesses of another–defense in depth. There is no holy grail of security. No one solution is going to do it all.
    I hate sexy marketing. Selling lipstick is one thing, but selling security is a different game. Of course if you focus too much on the ‘tech’, like Cisco does, you end up with a very boring and uninspiring proposition. MP cameras are exciting. The marketing is doing a great job of explaining the power of the technology, but they are not an alternative to traditional video. Rather, they stand to improve the overall efficiency of the security system.

  10. ye
    November 2, 2008 at 1:16 am

    COVI crystal HD Surveillance suite software

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