SONY SNC-VB642D bullet camera is an affordable IP66 and IK8 bullet camera with a motorised 3-9mm F1.2 lens, a 1/2.8-inch type Exmor R CMOS image sensor and XDNR processing, which Sony says improves low-light performance, delivering a minimum scene illumination of 0.006 lux (30 IRE) in colour mode at up to 60ips.

The camera has a WDR range of 90dB with built-in infrared illumination that’s coupled with Advanced IR technology to capture near and far-away objects without overexposure. The SNC-VB642D can clearly capture objects in total darkness at distances up to 100m (30 IRE) from the camera. There’s also analytics controlled white light, which has a range of 11m and is ideal for use around building entrances – as I find out during the test, this capability allows the VB642 to get moving license plates and other details in sub 2 lux, something we’ve never seen before.

All my settings are very close to default but with the brightness and sharpness up a couple of stops. My first impressions are that the camera is a little soft at 3mm but it immediately tightens up as you zoom. The SNC-VB642D seems to be unusually good with license plates from about 5mm onwards. I notice a little pulsing of the images stream in good light, as well as some mild tone mapping – it’s too bright out front to be a matter of shutter speed. Interestingly, none of this seems to have any impact on the camera’s ability to jag fast moving plates. There’s occasional stepping of the image stream, too, which might relate to buffering of the processing engine.

The zoom is solid – even though it’s only 3-9mm, it really makes a difference. Re-focus is on the good side, too. Not as fast as the fastest auto focus functions we’ve seen but in the top cluster. The camera’s ability to handle variable light is excellent –  shaded areas are very well handled, and the bright areas remain extremely consistent with no over exposure. Many expensive cameras cannot manage variable lighting as well as this one can. Colour rendition is also very good. There are no discernible chromatic abberations. There’s barrel distortion at the wide end – about 8-9 per cent – but by the time I’m at 5mm, it’s gone.

Read the full review of the SNC-VB642D in SEN’s February issue!