Vivotek MS9390-HV wide angle camera - in the big image the camera is pole-mounted with lovely clean stitching between the 2 images.

Vivotek’s MS9390-HV is a panoramic network camera that incorporates a pair of wide angle lenses, electronic image stitching, and high resolution sensors to deliver an 8MP 180-degree scene. This is a compact, robust and capable camera with an angle of view that covers our entire street scene from one end to the other with some to spare.

WE’LL be looking at hemispherics and wide angle multi-head cameras at SecTech Camera Shootout in May so it was with no small interest that I unpacked Vivotek’s MS9390-HV panoramic network camera and set it up over the street outside the office. In terms of feature set, there’s plenty going on here. Readers should note that Vivotek combines the specifications of the camera system.

The separate camera heads are not treated differently in the specification, nor managed differently in the browser, but we are talking about 2 camera systems with 2 lenses – the stitching takes place behind them. Reading the overall specification, it became clear the MS9390 has a wholesome design – the pre-stitched camera systems are not being asked to achieve the impossible.

Image sensors are 1/2.7-inch progressive scan CMOS with a maximum resolution of 4512 x 1728 pixels – that gives just under 8MP across both camera sensors. The focal length of each lens is 2.8mm, which is a nice length for a wide-angle CCTV camera – having a fast aperture of F1.2, a horizontal field of view of 180 degrees and a vertical field of view of 50 degrees. That vertical field of view is higher than usual and translates to more useful performance in the real world – more of the monitor is displaying the image making less of a letterbox presentation.

The camera delivers 30ips, has a minimum scene illumination of 0.05 Lux @ F1.2 in colour and 0.01 Lux @ F1.2 in monochrome – obviously, it’s 0 lux with IR activated. The camera has 120dB of WDR from Vivotek’s WDR Pro technology though it’s too gloomy today to show me much and there’s day/night functionality, tilt range of 20 per cent, 12x digital zoom with a 4x plug-in, and 20 metres of Smart IR range. That modest IR range is interesting in that it speaks of designer installation expectations. It’s also a testament to Vivotek’s honesty in terms of useful camera performance.

Compression options are is H.265, H.264 and MJPEG and the camera will deliver 4 streams simultaneously. There’s adjustable resolution, quality and bitrate, and configurable video cropping for bandwidth saving, as well as Smart Stream III. Image settings allow time time stamp, text overlay, flip and mirror, scheduled profile settings and there’s adjustable brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, white balance, exposure control, gain, backlight compensation and privacy masks.

Network capability includes support for 10 clients, there’s support for every protocol you could want, there’s Trend Micro IoT security support for the period of warranty, the camera is ONVIF compliant, there’s video motion detection with 5 windows, alarm triggers are motion detection, manual trigger, periodical trigger, system boot, recording notification, camera tampering detection, audio detection and MicroSD card life expectancy. There’s event notification and file uploads using HTTP, SMTP, FTP, NAS server and MicroSD card.

On the physical side, the camera is IP66 and IK10-rated, it’s compact at 165 x 119 x 100mm with sunshield, eats PoE Class 4 with a maximum consumption of 15.2W. The camera is relatively heavily built for its size, weighing in at a touch over 1.2kg – you expect that with an IK10 camera. On the audio side there’s a 1-way microphone and compression options are G.711 and G.726 the range is said to be 5 metres but typical for Vivotek, that’s understating the possibilities. I’m listening to conversations at 10 metres and I can hear traffic further out. It’s hearing the traffic that I prefer – it alerts me to look up during the night test. Operating temperature is reasonable at -20 to 50C and there’s a solid warranty of 36 months.

It has been designed to be directly wall mounted, including 20 degrees of internal tilt adjustment on the lenses to get the exact angle desired. I don’t install the camera – in order to get the sensors at right angles to the street with a slight downward tilt, use a piece of Blu-Tak to adjust the downward angle at the front and clamp it onto the wrought iron railing at the rear. There are plenty of fixing holes on the back of the camera plate and the cable has loads of room to exit through a port in the stern. The only accessory available for MS9390-HV is a sunshield, which is included with the camera – it’s compact shield and I leave it in place. The shallow cap of the sunshield makes me think the camera is meant to be installed on the slight forward tilt – and that’s where it ends up with me.

Something to note is that when I’m fiddling with the camera at the beginning of the test I walk close to keypad on a wall to see how close the focus goes – the camera then seems to white out on the monitor and only later when looking at the specs I notice that the electronic image stitching is designed to work between 3 and 20 metres. According to Vivotek, seamless stitching is improbable below 3 metres – I find I can get closer than 3 metres – but not closer than 1 metre.
In the hand, this seems compact and robust camera that seems well made and the design is an interesting one, without being too obtrusive, given the enormous coverage it delivers. While I’m out front of the office taking photos of the MS9390, a couple of pedestrians express their admiration for its looks.

Test Driving the MS9390-HV

When I first sit down in front of the monitor during commissioning, I’ve got the camera sitting in the office looking from back to front and I’m pleasantly surprised by the performance. It’s way too much camera for my internal application, which is only 4 metres wide. But coverage is absolute. There would be many internal applications – shopping centres, hospitals, universities and airports – where a combination of monster angle of view and solid resolution would really come to the fore.

Once I’ve got the camera set up out front overlooking the street, I can see there’s distinct barrel distortion in the wide image – the street falls away to left and right. It’s a gloomy afternoon – around 1500 lux in bright moments at street level. Colour rendition in these conditions is even, sharpness is strong, and I’m pleased with contrast and tone. I can see some chromatic aberrations on the sunny side of the scene – they seem to be latitudinal and longitudinal, but I don’t find them until I use digital zoom.

The image grows brighter as the light fades and the image stays tight without much noise or overt pulsing. The afternoon goes into evening and the MS9390 stays in colour until full dark without switching over to night mode, even though the camera is set to auto. At this point, the image shows noise and there’s no face recognition, though situational awareness is strong. As is often the case, there’s more detail in the live stream than I get from snapshots.

I can see the stitching line in some of my images it’s not intrusive. Initially, I decide it must a subtle variation in colour temperature between the 2 sensors but talking with Farshid from Vivotek I find it comes down to my very tight application, which has a light grey wall and orange bricks a couple of metres to the right of the right-hand camera – in a real world application you’d never install the camera as close to walls as this. There’s an auto image alignment facility in the camera under image settings and you tweak this to the closest scene option like (Near-Medium-Far) to get the best stitching result.

This camera when set to default is prone to mild blooming at night. Motion blur is quite well controlled and low light performance in the static parts of the scene is solid, too. Variable light is managed well and handling of WDR is seamless. Overall, the performance of this camera tends to the upper end of what’s possible out here on the street.

In my application, the IR is reflected from branches in front of the office – no doubt this is causing the smart IR to moderate its power. The image has virtually no noise – it’s very clean. As usual in my applications in this street scene with between 4 and 10 lux, I prefer monochrome performance over IR. With the IR reflections removed I have a more balanced image thanks to the ambient light on the street. There’s less blur but I still have the blooming – the slow shutter speed and the sensor design are playing a part in this. Contrast is good and there’s a lot of tonal detail in this night time scene, despite the fact amplification noise is non-existent to my eye.

In the morning with the sun to the left of the scene at more than 70,000 lux and delivering strong side and backlight, I notice veiling flare in the part of the image exposed to direct sunlight. Colour rendition is very strong – reds and blues are nicely done. It’s early enough in the morning that there’s considerable variation in light levels between light and dark sides of the street and the MS9390 is doing well managing that dichotomy. I don’t have over exposure and I don’t have deep shade – there’s a little blurring of fast-moving traffic that suggests shutter speed is slow-ish.

I spend time drilling into the scene using digital zoom – it’s faster hopping with clicks than trying to pull the image around. As you’d expect with such a big angle view there’s a limit to how far digital zoom gets you – at 4MP it’s a lot further than at 1080p. I find I can set the camera up to snare faces and plates out towards 16 metres and when you consider that this applies to the left and right of the scene, as well as across the street, this is very good performance indeed.


I was impressed with this camera’s performance – its ability to limit motion blur, the quality of colour rendition in very grey conditions and the strong resolution – 4MP per side. All this contributed to my positive response. But the grand master of this solution is the gigantic angle of view combined with resolution high enough that you can mouse wheel in and out. This combination makes for very pleasing performance.

Having H.265 and Smart Stream III to control the bitrate is excellent, too. After SecTech Camera Shootout pre-commissioning, it was clear that Vivotek’s H.265 compression is the best in the business – we saw sub 1Mb bitrates from 4 cameras heads with the Rotakin running – with the 9390, occasioning bit rate drops under 600Kb. A 3-year Trend Micro cyber security IoT SW license hard-coded to the chipset to maximise the cyber-attack protection is handy, too.

My initial feelings during setup were that SEN’s application would be too limiting – it was in some ways – impinging on stitching performance. However, I found in other ways the MS9390 was close to perfect for the job – it handled the entire view from one end of the street to the other, leaving nothing out. This camera is a solid performer – it’s robust and flexible and offers much better close work than you’d expect from a camera with such a wide view. Vivotek is an old hand at IP CCTV and the company’s cameras do the basics well – this MS9390-HV is no exception. Camera performance and the interface are highly polished.

For applications requiring 180-degree coverage from a single camera point, the Vivotek MS9390-HV panoramic is a solution that’s hard to go past.

Fact File:

Features of the Vivotek MS9390-HV Camera

* 8MP resolution
* H.265 compression
* 180-degree angle of view
* 30fps @ 4512 x 1728 pixels
* Smart Stream III, WDR Pro, SNV
* 20 metre IR Range
* Rated to IP66 and IK10
* Trend Micro IoT security.