AFTER 20 years at the forefront of CCTV camera design
Panasonic designers continue to impress, with the company’s latest network dome
camera, the WV-NF302 fixed dome camera delivering strong performance across a
number of areas.

Features of the camera include a built-in 2.8-10mm
varifocal lens with independent and lockable focus and tele/wide adjustments,
Focus Assist, high resolution of 1280 x 960 and a 1/3-inch progressive scan CCD
with adaptive black stretch (it involves twiddling gamma correction) to improve
dark areas in a scene without impacting on lighter elements. Minimum scene
illumination is claimed to be 0.6 in black and white and around 1.5 lux in
colour.

One of the great strengths of megapixel IP cameras is the
clarity of their images and this latest release from Panasonic is no exception.
In terms of compression options, the NF302 has both MPEG4 and JPEG compression
capability and it delivers
both at 30ips. The camera has a 4-zone motion detector, an 8-zone privacy mask,
camera title, time and date display, event, scheduled and off-line recording to
SD card, bi-directional audio, FTP upload, email notification, as well as alarm
and recording log.

There’s an Ethernet port, and external microphone and
speaker, 4-way terminal for alarm connection and bayonet mounting. Panasonic’s
cameras have excelled aesthetically for a long time now and the NF302 is no
exception to that rule. The body of the camera is metal and the dome itself is
rugged polycarbonate. There’s no doubt this is a camera built to handle tough
conditions. Inside the housing there’s a neat 3-way mounting that allows
installers to tilt, pan and rotate the camera to select the appropriate field
of view.

Operationally, the camera comes with an Activ X camera
Viewer applet on a CD as well as stored in the unit’s CPU. It’s targeted at
Windows environments so you’ll need XP or Vista
as well as Explorer Version 6. The way you use the camera obviously depends on
your application but you can drive the unit simply by sticking in the camera’s
IP address and hitting enter – this opens a viewer and you can monitor a live
image.

The main viewer allows the user to adjust things like
compression, zoom, snapshot and display layout but you need a password to get
into setup and menus. With the NF302 the menu covers time and date and camera
onscreen displays, including a resizable and positionable title and time and
date stamp; status display, alarm status and switches for the automatic viewer
download.

There are a another couple of tabs for access to the SD
memory card controls and file settings and locations for the various alarm,
system and communications logs.

The Image/Audio menu looks after image frame rate (0.1 –
30fps in 12 steps), image capture size (QVGA, VGA or 1280 x 960), image quality
(super-fine to low in 9 steps) and MPEG 4 and JPEG configuration. There are
also controls for image and exposure (black stretch, light control mode,
backlight compensation, privacy mask AGC, slow shutter. Then there’s Colour/B&W
mode, white balance, chroma gain, aperture and pedestal levels), and setup for
the 8-colour coded privacy zones.

Audio tab has switches for enabling the audio link,
microphone input level, output volume and permission level, while MultiScreen
is used when viewing multiple cameras and determines camera position on the
selectable 2 x 2, and 4 x 4 layouts.

An Alarm menu covers motion detector setup, alarm image
capture, compression level and quality, output terminal setup and on-screen
displays while the Notification tab is used to setup email addresses and image
attachment. User Management is the camera’s security centre, responsible for
setting up user access, passwords and access level (Administrator, Camera
Controls or Live View only).

With the Focus Assistant function you press the button on
the unit to call up a horizontal bar showing what the camera determines to be
the optimum focus setting, based on an unquantified measurement called Peak
Hold.

Other features include PoE and built-in video motion
detection (VMD), providing progressive output for clear moving images. An RGB
filter is also incorporated for superior colour reproduction along with focus
assist, an in-screen optimal focus adjustment.

 

“The way you use the camera obviously depends on your application but
you can drive the unit simply by sticking in the camera’s IP address and
hitting enter – this opens a viewer and you can monitor a live image”