AS we all know, there are now multiple delineations when it comes to HD video so before we start talking about Sony’s Z Series hybrid range, it’s a good idea to resolve the issues surrounding SLOC technology. SLOC stands for Security Link over Coax. The technology was created by Intersil Techwell’s engineers and Sony’s new hybrid cameras are the first third party cameras in the industry to be equipped with IC chips that use Intersil’s SLOC technology. 
The core functionality of this technology is the ability to transmit analogue CVBS video and digital IP video over a single coaxial cable simultaneously. This means megapixel IP cameras can be deployed on existing coaxial infrastructures and operate at distances between 300 and 500m unamplified, depending on the quality of the cable.
Other strengths of the technology include the fact the analogue stream is latency-free live monitoring and PTZ control and it can also be used for local spot monitors in retail environments. 
In terms of design, there’s a SLOC chip installed inside the Sony camera and a SLOC chip in an encoder at the end of each coaxial cable run. The chip outputs a dual stream of analogue HD and IP video down a single coaxial cable. When it reaches a receiver, H.264 HD IP video can be pulled from one output of this receiver and directed to a head end via a switch, while analogue HD can be output and viewed on a local video wall. 
Importantly, all Sony’s IP network cameras offer advanced graphics processing functionality such as improved visibility of images with light/dark contrast through composition/auto correction and motion detection. These capabilities carry through to the hybrid Z Series cameras. That’s important for anyone who uses the neat features of modern HD IP cameras. 

A quick demo

I got a quick run through of the new Sony Hybrid camera at Sony’s North Ryde HQ with Sony test pilots product manager, security solutions, Mark Franklin, and sales and marketing manager, security solutions, Steve Charles.  
The Sony boys are pretty chuffed with their new technology and it’s not hard to understand why. Here are cameras that give all the quality and all the functionality of IP video with no latency and on existing coaxial cable plants and with a simultaneous sideband of IP video. 
Given the fact all legacy sites are cabled with coax – including vast industrial, commercial, retail and entertainment complexes – it’s easy to see the attractions. Sony Hybrid gives you everything – no latency analogue, flexible, functional IP – and all over existing infrastructure. 
To begin with Franklin shows me the new SLOC camera, which is a pre-production sample. It’s a box camera but there’s a PTZ and a minidome are on the way. It looks the same as Sony Ipela 720p HD IP video cameras, say I. 
“Yes, this Sony Hybrid box camera has the same form factor as our Ipela 720p HD camera – even the optics are exactly the same as the Sony HD IP camera optics,” agrees Franklin. “But there is a major difference – what looks like an analogue output is in fact IP-over-coax.
“This is an H.264 HD video stream that’s ONVIF compliant – on this camera there’s a choice of transmission technologies – you can use the BNC for IP over coax or there’s a 10/100 Ethernet port for future infrastructure upgrades. 
“Here in our demo room we have the camera running over 300m of RG59 to show the exceptional range of the technology. With Cat 6 IP video you get 90 or 100 metres from a typical cable run. For some applications that’s fine but for really long cable runs it’s not practical and you need to put a mid-span in there. With Sony Hybrid there’s no need for that.” 
Installation is simple. Coax ports to the camera BNC. At the other end of the 300m cable run is a receiver box (later there will be a blade solution). You simply install the receiver at the equipment rack and from this device you get an analogue split for low resolution real time monitoring on a video wall, with standard ONVIF compliant H.264 HD sent over Ethernet to head end for storage or network access. 
Franklin points out that a big strength of the technology is this ONVIF compliance.
“This means that any ONVIF compliant NVE/DVR or any of our Sony head ends will support these cameras Sony Hybrid cameras,” he says. “Compresed video from the encoder is ONVIF-compliant H.264 so it’s no different to the stream that comes out of any of these cameras.
According to Franklin, the technology is ideal for existing coaxial cable plants in heritage listed buildings, or where it is difficult / impossible to replace the coax cable. 
“It’s 12/24 volts so you connect the existing supply and away you go -there’s a definite infrastructure advantage. And you also get all the things you are used to getting with an IP camera – that’s motion detection, tamper, analytics, audio, dual streaming of HD. It’s not just raw HD video.” 
Next we have a play with the new SNC-ER580 Full HD ‘Rapid dome’ from Sony. The zoom range of the camera and it is awesomely good. The depth of field is huge – there are blades of grass in the background 100 or so metres from the lens. Low light performance is also great – there’s colour by carpark light. 
The optical performance of the Z Series Hybrid is exactly the same as the rest of the Ipela HD range. And that’s very good indeed. I’d not looked at images from Sony’s Ipela gear in quite this way and I was impressed. 
“In terms of display on screen, the analogue signal is a pseudo PAL layout – not exactly 4 x 3 – it’s somewhere in between,” explains Franklin. “This PAL component is a big advantage. If you want a local monitor in a shopping centre then you can do that. It’s low latency compared to IP – yet with simultaneous HD IP you have the double whammy.” 

Fact file:

Sony’s Z Series Ipela Hybrid HD cameras:
* Enable digital IP camera functionality on existing coaxial wiring infrastructure with no disruption of existing CCTV services
* Have embedded analog CVBS video enables latency-free live viewing and controlling of digital IP cameras
* Require no new wiring or cable modifications providing significant cost and resource savings.

“And you also get all the things you are used to getting with an IP camera – that’s motion detection, tamper, analytics, audio, dual streaming of analogue and HD. It’s not just raw HD video.”