Can old analog PTZ and matrix infrastructure co-exist with high resolution IP cameras?
- By Robert Wegner
- Jun 01, 2019
Although IP-based network cameras are the prevailing
standard for new installations, it wasn’t
that long ago that analog cameras, and the complex
infrastructures required to support large
numbers of them, were the only way to accomplish
the job. For example, casinos have relied on thousands of
analog cameras for more than 20 years and due to the sizeable investments
in infrastructure required to control and operate them,
many of them are still in use. In some states, the gaming commission
has allowed casinos to utilize network-based cameras as
the image quality and frame rate have met or surpassed that of
Casinos usually have large investments in coax and control cable
infrastructure, using complex matrix systems to route all the signals.
A good operator can follow suspects around with a joystick and matrix
controls using muscle memory as they know where every camera
Skilled operators controlling hundreds of PTZ cameras might be
reluctant to switch to an IP-based system, citing that even today, nothing
can compete with the pure instantaneous control and zero latency
of analog infrastructure when operating at an enterprise scale. Analog
cameras have guaranteed 30 FPS and real-time serial data going to
cameras. IP cameras have rapidly evolved beyond analog to provide
much higher resolution and detail with 1080p HD and 4K images.
Analog PTZ Performance and Matrix
Compatibility with IP High Resolution
Recognizing this type of hybrid need, Hanwha Techwin makes many
of its network pan and tilt cameras capable of serial control with
RS-422/485 and popular control protocols for maximum compatibility
with these legacy systems. For the same reason, many Wisenet
cameras have traditional RS-170 NTSC analog outputs so as to be
compatible with existing analog matrix environments.
The advantage for large-scale enterprise owners is that they can
upgrade their recording infrastructure to HD or greater resolutions
while using existing analog signal paths for live monitoring and precise
control with no latencies. A hidden and somewhat exclusive feature
to Wisenet cameras, it can be the only way for organizations to
take advantage of IP and high-resolution full color recording technology
while continuing to reap the advantages of an existing analog
Using High-quality Optics and Legacy
PTZ Control in an IP World
Another scenario where the analog and IT camera world might like
to co-exist is where a traditional box camera and separate lens have
been deployed. In these cases, a high-quality glass lens is coupled to
an analog box camera with a C or CS-mount. There is nothing wrong
with the lens and it can represent a significant investment in quality
glass optics. What if the organization wants to update to a state-ofthe-
art VMS system and upgrade to high resolution IP cameras?
For such an installation, it might be highly desirable to repurpose
the lens and any existing PTZ control system. Hanwha makes highresolution
IP-based box cameras, such as the XNB-6005, which have
excellent low-light performance and onboard analytics, and can connect
to the existing C or CS-mount lens. These cameras can take IPoriginated
PTZ signals from popular VMS systems and emulate the
RS-485 protocol to drive legacy PTZ receivers from Pelco, American
Dynamics, Bosch and others.
This enables a significant update to image monitoring, recording
quality and control while retaining the value of quality optics and
existing PTZ hardware. For organizations that want to retain their
existing analog matrix for real-time monitoring, the cameras also
support analog output as well.
Working with Bandwidth
Limitations of IP Cameras
Whereas analog systems can be routed to multiple locations with matrix
switchers and splitters, IP cameras understandably have a different
approach when it comes to routing multiple video streams to different
destinations. With a typical VMS, an IP camera might be asked
to provide multiple streams—one for recording, one for live view, and
maybe a stream for alarm recording at high-resolution.
While the cameras themselves might be happy to accommodate
these multiple stream connections (Wisenet cameras provide up to 10
simultaneous streams), there is always a finite amount of bandwidth
and onboard resources available that must be shared. A single camera
might have a total bandwidth capacity of 30MBps. If you have
a VMS and mobile devices that have five streams open on a camera
during an event, each asking for 10Mbps connections, this is beyond
the camera’s capabilities, so something has to give.
In this case the camera will automatically reduce the quality and/
or framerate in an attempt to supply images to all devices with the
resources available. When it comes to a gaming commission mandate
for 30 fps for a casino, this could mean a camera is suddenly not
compliant on its recorded stream.
To solve such a potential issue, Hanwha Techwin has developed a
new feature, which was implemented in a recent firmware update for
Wisenet X-series cameras. Called Frame-Lock, this feature allows the
user to select a camera profile and guarantee that it will always deliver
a preset frame per second output, regardless of additional demands it
may receive. It then reduces other streams as appropriate to maintain
that. This was designed for the casino market where 30 fps was mandated
for recording, but it can have value in multiple use cases where
recorded fps needs to be consistent.
These unique features can sometimes be forgotten as we continue
to talk about all the latest and greatest analytics and multi-sensor
technologies, however, sometimes, it’s exactly these little-known
features that can make the difference when bridging old and new
technologies and giving the client exactly the right solution for their
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Security Today.