IT’S not often as a reviewer that a
product impresses you as much as this Axis Q1755 managed to. It’s not just the
feel of the hardware with its reassuring weight and superb finish. The Q1755 delivers
magic images in an eye- friendly 16:9 format at HDTV quality.

How good is HDTV as delivered by the
Axis Q1755? It’s very good. The image stream pouring out the back of this 2 megapixel
camera is the same quality as you’d get from a DVD movie with zero jagged edges
around moving objects giving excellent clarity of movement.

By the time I arrive to play with the Axis
Q1755 day/night colour network camera it has been running for about three
quarters of an hour but the body of the camera is barely warm. This is a good
sign – especially in a camera that sports such a high powered chipset.

As soon as we start looking at the
playback the immediate impression is that we’re watching a movie – it really is
that good. The second impression is the power of the Q1755’s 10x optical zoom.
Yes – that’s right 10x optical. Having quality glass at the front of this
camera really takes the Q1755 to another level, allowing operators to shunt the
focal length far off into the distance. It makes attaining facial recognition
and number plates from a couple of blocks away absurdly easy.

I like Axis’ decision to go with SMPTE
compliance on this camera. The beauty of SMPTE compliance is that it allows
installers and end users to have some surety that the product being installed
meets the quality standards of an independent authority.

What guarantees does SMPTE compliance
give you? For a start it guarantees HDTV resolution of 1080i or 720p – select
one and that’s what you’ll get. Second, it guarantees full frame rate – the
engineers haven’t clipped the rate knowing you’re not equipped to check it –
that’s an issue with some megapixel cameras.

In order to ensure the camera meets its
SMPTE obligations, the Q1755 comes with a 10x optical lens – you don’t have to
run around looking for one – or risk an unscrupulous dealer or installer
blinding the camera with the wrong lens selection. If you think it doesn’t make
a difference – check out the pictures.

Axis Communications’ Wai King Wong is
happy with his new baby and not without reason.

“This is the first SMPTE compliant network
camera – it’s a camera that offers guaranteed performance to HDTV standards,”
he says. “If you look at megapixel camera technology there are a lot of people
who make megapixel cameras but whether they offer colour co-ordination or whether
they perform in real time – that’s something integrators and users need to look
into.

“How good is HDTV as delivered by the
Axis Q1755? It’s very good. The image stream pouring out the back of this 2
megapixel camera is the same quality as you’d get from a DVD movie with zero
jagged edges around moving objects giving excellent clarity of movement”

“Once a camera is SMPTE compliant there
is a guarantee that the camera meets fixed performance specifications – those
specifications are the specs for HDTV 1080i. We think that’s the standard of
the future. Megapixel might give you high resolutions at 5-6 frames per second
but with HDTV you get full frame rate for live monitoring at the highest
possible quality.”

Wai King says Axis went for SMPTE because
it puts camera performance beyond question.

“None of our competitor’s cameras have
passed SMPTE compliance,” he says. “This camera is a step up in image quality
and performance. It’s designed to meet the needs of casinos and high security
sites that need full frame rate, excellent colour coordination and high
resolution. The Q1755 offers this performance and we’re not just claiming that
on our sales brochures. The performance of this camera is assured.”

After poking around the camera for a
while we have a look at another replay, this one from a Q1755 camera installed
in an airport. The resolution is excellent – it’s instantly noticeable that
this is DVD quality and the busy airport scene serves to enhance my earlier impression
that viewing Q1755 image streams is like watching a movie.

When Wai King changes the display to full
frame on a 110cm LCD screen there’s no attenuation of the image – it’s a great
picture even though the light is not perfect. The colours also seem to have
more natural hues without the commonly exaggerated reds and greens.

Of course it’s not all about the
picture. There’s also a software feature called Gatekeeper that allows an area
to be set and if any movement is detected in that area the camera will zoom in
on it using that 10x optical zoom. The Q1755 also has an SD card on board giving
32GB local storage so if there’s a problem with the network or if you don’t
want to send video across the network then you can record about 4 days of HDTV
at the camera. You can lock some images into the card so they can’t be
over-written. 

“Part of the reason the camera comes
with a quality optical zoom lens is that it’s hard to find a good megapixel
lens and megapixel lenses are expensive. It’s better, we think, for us to put
everything in – to make a full camera with all the performance users will ever
need.

“This Q1755 like the other Q cameras in
our range is one of our top end units,” explains Wai King. “When it comes to
SMPTE compliance we have started with this camera but we plan to include this
compliance in our other Q megapixel cameras – obviously we don’t want to create
overkill but this compliance is a great feature.

“Customers love the product – with HDTV colours
are so true,” Wai King says. “The way we see it is that TV meets this HD
standard and so does Blu-ray. It makes sense that if there is a CCTV standard
it will conform to these other widely accepted standards of video quality.”

According to Wai King, with HDTV the
difficult part is the chipset.

“Getting HDTV right is all about pushing
out H.264 in the right way,” he says. “Because we designed and developed our
own chipset we have been able to control how we handle the video – that’s the
biggest thing. The Q1755 chipset has 3x the processing power of our earlier
chipset but is only half the size.”

Fact file:

Features of Axis Communications Q1755
network camera

* Day/Night with IR cut filter

* 10x optical, 12x digital zoom

* SMPTE compliance to HDTV standard

* 1080i or 720p resolution options

* PoE, H.264, Motion JPEG

* SD/SDHC memory slot

* Video motion detection

* Audio detection

* Smart tamper/masking functions

* Gatekeeper zoom on scene activity

* HTTPS, IEEE 802.1X, IPv4/v6, QoS