Why Multi-Sensor Megapixel Cameras Work
Today’s hot technology has traveled quite a distance to reach the digital world
- By Scott Schafer
- Dec 01, 2015
Video surveillance technology has come a long way from the days
when analog CCTV cameras dominated the market. The best security
cameras available today deliver single and multi-sensor HDquality
video, or higher, at fast frame rates in varying light conditions
with many important built-in features. This is the result of
significant advances in key technologies, including image sensors, image processing,
video compression, network bandwidth use, data storage, and VMS. Security
cameras improve overall surveillance system capabilities and provide other valueadded
benefits that expand beyond conventional security applications. An excellent
example of this concept in action is the multi-sensor panoramic megapixel
camera. Arecont Vision introduced this technology to the market in 2006.
A PTZ camera mounted in a hallway intersection is capable of capturing images
down the length of each hall, one hallway at a time. Multiple single-sensor
cameras could be deployed, with one camera covering each of the four hallways
Only a multi-sensor megapixel camera is capable of viewing all four of the
hallways simultaneously while providing outstanding resolution and image quality
across the each scene. As a result, multi-sensor megapixel cameras provide a
higher level of overall situational awareness and security in this and many other
Additionally, multi-sensor technology provides significant operational improvements
for surveillance systems. For example, a 180-degree multi-sensor
panoramic camera integrates seamlessly in most VMS platforms, which allows
operators to easily see and better comprehend. Studies have addressed how many
cameras a single operator can view and still be effective. A 180° multi-sensor
panoramic camera lines up four fields of view as if it were from a single camera.
This allows operators to effectively view significantly more area, increasing
overall situational awareness, and it improves the ability of the operator to view
multoiople areas of concern or interest.
Here are five of the top reasons why multi-sensor panoramic megapixel cameras
are vastly superior to single-sensor fixed or PTZ cameras:
TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP (TCO) AND RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)
The appropriate use of multi-sensor megapixel cameras is an extremely cost-efficient
solution. Because one single multi-sensor camera can replace multiple singlesensor
cameras, systems can usually be designed with fewer cameras to cover the
complete area of interest.
Multi-sensor megapixel panoramic cameras can significantly lower the total
cost of ownership and generate a higher return on investment by reducing the
number of cameras, fewer VMS licenses, lower installation costs, fewer network
switches, and less long-term maintenance.
COVERAGE WITH LESS EQUIPMENT
With multi-sensor megapixel cameras, each sensor can be individually adjusted
to focus on areas of interest in 180°, 270° or 360° ranges. This design allows one
single four-sensor panoramic megapixel camera to provide the same detailed coverage
as multiple single-sensor megapixel cameras.
For example, a multi-sensor camera can be configured to provide 270° panoramic
coverage using three sensors with 90° lenses, with the fourth image sensor
looking straight down. This configuration is ideal for placement on the corner of
a building to achieve detailed wide area coverage with specific focus on the building’s
A multi-sensor panoramic camera can be deployed at the center of a parking
lot to provide 180° coverage of the entire area with excellent image quality.
Neither of these example configurations can be supported by a single-sensor
camera or a PTZ without loss of coverage and situational awareness.
The ability to capture high-resolution images using megapixel video is one of the
main benefits of IP-based video systems. The greater amount of information captured
in these images supports additional functionality and benefits for system users.
For example, automated real-time intervention and post-incident video investigation
are possible with the features found in megapixel cameras, including forensic
zooming, region of interest viewing, image cropping, motion detection, and
panoramic views. Multi-sensor panoramic megapixel cameras virtually eliminate
the need for PTZ cameras in most environments. With multiple sensors capable of
operating independently of one another, multi-sensor megapixel cameras increase
the capability and value of megapixel video fourfold.
A vital element of security is real-time awareness of an environment. This is critical
to identify a developing or active incident and understand how best to respond.
While all surveillance video provides some situational awareness, multi-sensor
megapixel cameras have several advantages.
First, by providing a constant video feed from every direction, multi-sensor
megapixel cameras ensure that there is never a moment when the camera is pointed
in the wrong direction. Next, the high resolution delivered by megapixel imagers
enables viewers to zoom in to the recorded image to view extreme detail. Finally,
the same high resolution makes it possible to clearly see events and individuals
even at great distances. Together these factors significantly improve situational
awareness for multi-sensor megapixel camera users.
VARYING AND LOW LIGHT LIGHTING SITUATIONS
Two of the most important criteria for surveillance cameras is their ability to
produce usable images in dimly lit environments, and adapt to changing lighting
conditions 24/7 within a scene while maintaining high-quality video streaming.
For example, a camera monitoring a parking lot is subject to constantly changing
illumination levels during the course of the day. Adding to the challenge is the fact
that the scene may be subject to a wide range of varying light levels within different
areas of a single scene caused by headlights, shadows or adjacent buildings. Most
cameras fail to provide adequate image quality in these lighting conditions due
to inferior processing and control capabilities. However, there are advanced new
imaging solutions that overcome these longstanding lighting issues:
Wide dynamic range (WDR) technology provides a dynamic range of 100dB
at full resolution without lowering frame rates. By combining long and short exposures
in the same field of view, WDR maximizes the amount of detail in both
bright and dark areas of a scene. The WDR performance of Arecont Vision cameras
represents up to 50dB improvement (300X) in dynamic range compared to
Pixel binning provides users with maximized image usability in low light applications
by combining a cluster of pixels into a single pixel. This technology
increases the surface area and the amount of light that hits each pixel, vastly improving
the signal-to-noise ratio to increase low light sensitivity.
Low-light technology, such as Arecont Vision’s STELLAR increases low-light
performance by reducing motion blur, noise and storage requirements while also
enhancing contrast and allowing color imaging in near complete darkness.
Arecont Vision offers a variety of multi-sensor megapixel cameras that incorporate
some combination or all of these innovations in various configurations to
satisfy virtually any application where challenging lighting conditions exist.
Multi-sensor panoramic megapixel cameras are the superior choice over singlesensor
fixed or PTZ cameras for use in a wide range of installations.
The increased capabilities, higher performance, and lower total cost of ownership
these cameras deliver all add up to a winning combination
for both integrators and their end user clients. With
the many benefits provided, it is easy to see why multi-sensor
panoramic megapixel cameras are so desirable by security professionals
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Security Today.