American Dynamics’ Illustra 625 from QSS features 1080p resolution, 20x optical zoom, 512-degree per second pan speed, 0.4 lux low light performance in colour and real time auto continuous focus. 

WITH a ½.8-inch Sony Exmor chip, giving strong WDR performance and a quality lens running the show, the AD Illustra 625 is a great performer. The camera is well built in aluminium and has a full suite of features, including Day/Night with slow shutter and low latency drives.  But what impressed me during this demo was the outright performance. 

Let’s look at the specifications, first. With the Illustra 625 PTZ camera you can choose from indoor, outdoor and vandal dome. We are looking at the indoor unit in this review but the build quality is outstanding. It’s not a lightweight at 6.6kg but that build quality means a long life. 

Illustra 625 is the fastest HD PTZ in the industry and features a combination of souped-up DC servo motors and braking designs to deliver not only strong pan and tilt performance but accuracy that AD says surpasses the maximum speed and return to position accuracy of all competitive PTZ cameras. 

When using programmed presets and tours, the Illustra 625 fizzes into position at a head-spinning 512-degrees-per-second. And when using the camera in automated modes, it delivers HD video from scene to scene in fractions of a second. According to AD, the sophisticated PTZ control mechanisms mean ultra-low latency performance so the camera tracks with the precision and accuracy of an analogue PTZ camera.

Strengths of the camera are accuracy and precision. Processing hardware and precision direct motor drives combine to give smooth control. With an accuracy of +/-0.25 degrees, the camera will continually return and deliver video of the scenes that are set. By using the freeze frame feature between presets, and tours, the camera minimises network bandwidth use and storage costs by automatically eliminating unusable video of a scene created when the camera moves between presets. 

The camera uses ZAP (zoom adjusted program) technology that automatically controls the pan and tilt speed of the camera in proportion to the amount of zoom used. There’s H.264 compression that AD says using a fraction of the bandwidth of competitors. This camera offers multiple digital streams in H.264 or MJPEG at 30ips and it supports ONVIF 2.2 profile S specification allowing integration with compatible recording solutions. 

And the camera is future proof – the hardware platform can be updated with firmware including analytics and feature enhancement as they become available – including motion detection, advanced heath monitoring and edge recording. 

Compact and sleek 

From an installer’s perspective, easy installation is another attraction with a number of mounting options, the camera is compatible with Illustra 600 Series mounts and many existing IP speed dome outdoor mounts – this means installers can use mounts already in place. The 625 has a twist and lock ring. When installing the unit you insert the camera into the mount, twist and it clicks into place. 

According to Tyco Security Products regional sales manager ANZ, Darren Banks, American Dynamics is the industry’s best kept secret. 

“The AD 625 is an excellent PTZ camera with strong features,” he says. “It’s 1080p, 2MP, has 20x optical zoom, 96 presets, a Sony Exmor chip and 517-degree per second pan speed on preset. There are internal, external and vandal resistant versions and price is in line with competitors.” 

The boys set up the camera for me to view – first internal scenes in the big warehouse at QSS’ big Laverton facility. Light internally is very strong – I measure it between 650-900 lux EV under the lights. Under the lens I measure it at 900 lux – both measurements are at 100 ISO. This is a bright application so it’s hard to get a sense of low light capability but it’s a great opportunity to see how well the camera’s WDR solution does with buckets of backlight.

First we look around inside. There’s good light in this space and the 625 laps it up – offering great colour rendition and strong contrast throughout the scene. Although it’s a big warehouse, as soon as we get the zoom into action it’s clear this camera isn’t even breaking a sweat. The only challenges to complete coverage are the towering warehouse racks. We entertain ourselves searching a spider web to see if its owner is home – this process shows the excellent focus of the camera.

Next, we swing the 625 around and peer out through the open roller door into the bright sunlight – outside my Sekonic reads 20,480 lux at 100 ISO – it’s painful glare to the naked eye. The external scenes look across the QSS carpark into an adjacent carpark and a conveniently located group of gum trees at a distance of around 75m.

Full wide…

About half zoom…

Digging deep now….note the chromatic abberation in high contrast areas but still excellent sharpness and contrast.

The images really tell the story. We are getting excellent performance from the inside to the outside and peering deep into the scene. Number plates are effortless. It’s good imagery at 75m, too. The fine detail of the leaves is outstanding. I’m impressed. We are viewing the scene on the integral camera browser. It’s doing really well – perhaps there’s a little bit of work discernable with leaf movement and passing traffic at full zoom and there's the telltale purple fringing of chromatic abberation around vehicle roof tops but the integrity of the image is great considering how much backlight we have. Excellent colours, strong contrast giving us every detail. Zoom performance is smooth and strong. 

It’s a fine camera. Having been subjected to affordable fixed lens all-rounders lately, I really re-appreciate the glory of quality optics when spending some time with this AD 625 PTZ. We take a range of still shots to indicate WDR from the widest to a zoom – viewed on a monitor these images are excellent – printed images aren’t an accurate translation – nor are the images you see here – all these files are under under 200Kb. 

Having watched the techs set the camera up I can attest to the simplicity of its mounting design. A couple of minutes and the camera is on the bracket, powered up and ready to go. In the hands the AD 625 feels nicely made, with its aluminium housing and poly camera head. In my opinion it’s an excellent unit with smoking preset speeds that make it ideal for a range of applications. My lasting impression of the AD625 is high image quality in trying conditions. 

By John Adams

Features of AD Illustra 625 include:

* Low latency for camera tracking control
* Fastest HD PTZ in the industry at 512 degrees per second
* 2MP with dual streams at 1080p 30ips resolution
* Freeze frame between presets to save bandwidth and storage
* Real time continuous auto focus
* Outstanding colour reproduction
* 20x optical zoom – 662 horizontal pixels per degree
* Day/night with slow shutter technology
* Wide dynamic range 
* Auto and manual white balance modes.

"It’s 1080p, 2MP, has 20x optical zoom, 96 presets, a Sony Exmor chip and 517-degree per second pan speed on preset. There are internal, external and vandal resistant versions and price is in line with competitors"