FOR those who’ve not seen them in action the concept of megapixel IP cameras can be difficult to comprehend but the fundamentals are simple enough. You capture a large, live scene at extreme resolution then mine that scene using what’s best described as a digital PTZ when you’re monitoring or conducting searches.If this sounds straightforward, it is and it’s not. Unlike a PTZ, these Arecont megapixel cameras dish up their wide angle views 24 x 7, they’re not stifled by ill-conceived presets or hamstrung by the skinny views inherent with traditional camera lenses. This means that as long as an event occurs in the megapixel camera’s monster field of view investigators will be rewarded with images of outstanding quality.Sure, you don’t get the mighty zoom capability of the best PTZ speed domes but in scenes like intersections and town squares, which combine wide angles and moderate depths of field, megapixel cameras are a superior solution because nothing in the scene is ever missed.Arecont’s AV3130 camera, which is distributed locally by Pacific Communications, is a case in point. With an image rate of 20ips, this multi-sensor day/night camera has an HDTV resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels thanks to Arecont’s MegaVideo parallel processing architecture. If you pareback that resolution to 1280 x 1024 – still well above 4CIF – you up the framerate to a much-more-than-enough 30ips. Rather than swinging an IR cut filter back and forth in the way traditional CCTV cameras do in the presence of low light, the AV3130 employs Dualband technology to seamlessly change to an optimized black and white sensor when a scene gets dim. What this means is that the camera does not suffer from sensitivity drop-off that’s inevitable with colour filters sitting in the path of available light, nor from the attenuation caused by designing in the ability to cope with a 10,000,000: 1 range of scene illuminations. One of the most impressive things about all Arecont’s cameras is their sharp pricing and the AV3130 is not exception to this rule. According to Arecont, the AV3130’s architecture means the camera can deliver HDTV for the price of PAL video. Part of the cost effectiveness of the solution comes thanks to its Power-over-Ethernet capability. PoE means the camera uses one Cat-5e cable for power and data, and there’s a reduction in installation time and cabling costs as a result. Also important from both an installer’s and end user’s point of view is the fact these cameras have no mechanical moving parts and that means there’s significantly less to go wrong in the medium and long term. A perceived challenge with high quality IP cameras is their impact on network performance but on dedicated surveillance subnets or Gigabit pipes, especially those deploying edge storage devices, the load is well worth it. This AV3130 streams live Motion JPEG at 45Mbps on the highest quality setting but there are 22 setting options, allowing live monitoring at more modest bandwidth with investigative searches conducted at maximum resolution when required. The performance of the technology means you can install a single megapixel camera sure in the knowledge you’ll get all the images you need – with fixed cameras or standard PTZs only multiple camera installations will cover a large scene and even then there will be chinks in your system’s armour.Additional features of the AV3130 camera include a minimum scene illumination of 0.01 lux at F1.4 (no mention of IRE in the specs), a very strong dynamic range of 60dB and a good signal to noise ratio of 45dB. Along with these solid numbers there’s a bunch a nice DSP features you’d expect from an IP camera of this quality.These include auto backlight compensation, auto multi-matrix white balance, digital pan/tilt/zoom, electronic image rotation, programmable blurring control for managing extreme low light; programmable resolution, brightness, saturation, gamma sharpness and tint, as well as picture-in-picture delivery of full field of view and zoomed images. This Arecont camera is nicely designed, with a smart, robust housing that doubles as a sink to dissipate the heat of the thinking going on, as well as CE and FCC compliance to assure installers and end users that the new AV3130 more than stacks up in the quality and design departments. John AdamsEditor, Security Electronics & Networks Magazine