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Providing security on site is a top priority for facility managers in Alberta, and part of getting that job done means having the right tools in the right places. Given how ubiquitous security cameras are in major cities like Edmonton or Calgary, you probably know that security cameras are the most common tool security teams rely on. And, you can probably guess that there is a range of options to choose from, depending on the environment being monitored.
We looked at a few different camera types in a previous blog, but in this one, we’ll look at Fisheye cameras. If you’d like to talk to someone about camera options or security solutions, you can always Contact Us. Or, you can keep reading to learn more.
Features and Benefits
Discreet, Panoramic Surveillance
Fisheye cameras get their name from both their shape and their ability to offer 180° and 360 ° panoramic perspectives of the area they are monitoring. Generally, the camera is small, making it a useful tool if discreet surveillance is preferred over the obvious deterrent that bullet cameras can provide. For example, casino managers may use a mix of bullet cameras and fisheye cameras: the former to provide security and deterrence, and the latter to catch cheaters in the act. Having that kind of information would help managers bar cheaters from entering the casino in the future and prevent unnecessary losses. As you can see from this image to the right, retail store owners can use it for a similar purpose, targeting shoplifters rather than card cheats.
If bullet cameras were to be used, then three or four might have to be installed to provide the same level of coverage. A PTZ camera could provide 360° of coverage, but not in a single view. And, while multisensory cameras could provide both, their feature set puts them at a price point that smaller operations may not be able to afford.
Pan, Tilt, and Zoom in Live or Recorded Footage
One neat feature of omnidirectional cameras, like the Avigilon H4 Fisheye, is the ability to pan, tilt or zoom through live feeds and pre-recorded footage. This is made possible, in part, because of the panoramic view they can offer in a single frame.
This means security staff can zoom in and pan around to search for evidence when investigating an incident or simply to examine subjects of interest more closely, whether the footage is live or recorded. Once finished, your security team can return the camera to its original settings and capture the full panorama.
Simple and Cost-Effective
Fisheye cameras have a relatively simple design. They have fewer sensors than multi-sensor cameras, meaning lower maintenance costs. What’s more, footage and images captured by multi-sensor units have to be ‘stitched’ together to create a true panorama. Doing this could require special software and training, making effective operations more complex. By comparison, fisheye cameras create the panoramic image automatically, saving time and training costs.
Disadvantages of a Fisheye Camera
There are drawbacks to using fisheye cameras, and one of them is the warped image that they produce. To view these images normally, specialized video management software has to be used to flatten, or de-warp, the image.
Unfortunately, de-warping can only occur on stored footage or images (e.g. after they have been recorded). While doing this will create a ‘flatter’ image that can be thoroughly investigated, it will require training and add time to your investigation process. The NVR (network video recorder) will also need to be capable of supporting de-warping. This could add the expense to your hardware budget.
Fisheye cameras often come with lower resolution options than their multi-sensor counterparts. The imagery is still usable, however. For example, Avigilon’s H4 Multi-Sensor has a maximum resolution of 32 MP, where the H4 Fisheye tops out at 12 MP. 12 megapixels will likely be enough for identification, but you might miss finer details when you zoom in to inspect events.
Also, activity at the outer edges (in the severely warped portion of the view) will be more distorted than activity at the center. Redirecting the lens or de-warping the image will address the issue, but it’s still one your team will have to deal with.
Planning your security camera installation is important if you are to get the best return on your investment. When it comes to cameras with panoramic capabilities, you want to make sure you can take advantage of the feature. That means you can’t – or at least, shouldn’t – mount them in corners. Doing that will immediately reduce the field of view from 360° to 90°, assuming the walls stand at right angles. Mounting fisheye cameras to the ceiling in the center of the room is an easy way to maximize your coverage area.
Unfortunately, it’s also the easiest way for your camera to get spotted. As discreet as they are, they aren’t invisible. You’ll also have to find the balance between coverage and aesthetics if the latter is a priority.
Fisheye security cameras can be a cost-effective way to get panoramic coverage of your facility. While specific software and NVR’s are required to de-warp the images, you may find that the overall cost-savings make fisheye cameras the optimal security solution. Knowing for sure will require a security plan that factors in your budget and objectives. Tridon is here to help you execute that plan or, if you need, build it from the ground up. Our Engineers, Service Technicians; and Account Managers are here to help you build a futureproofed plan from the design and procurement to implementation and long-term maintenance. We’re here to help.
Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA. Our Engineering, Service, and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections, and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.