Panasonic WV-S1550L Bullet Camera.

PANASONIC’S WV-S1550L is a robust IP66/IK10-rated bullet camera with a H.265 compression, 120dB WDR, self-learning region of interest, a 1/2.8 type CMOS image sensor with 2560 x 1440-pixel (5.1MP) resolution, a 2.9-9 mm F1.3 lens delivering 34–106 degrees horizontal degrees of view and encrypted streaming to FIPS 140-2 Level 1 standards.

The camera features iA (intelligent Auto), colour night vision (0.0044 to 0.07 lx), H.265 smart coding, auto shutter speed control for moving vehicles, region of interest, BLC and HLC settings and easy to navigate camera settings via Panasonic’s EasyIP setup and viewing software.

The S1550L is relatively compact at 377mm long, 133mm wide and 133mm high and it weighs 1.6kg without the adaptor box. In the hand the feel is good – the body is diecast aluminium and polycarbonate in Panasonic silver, fixings are coated stainless and there’s a clear poly resin front panel protecting the front element of the lens, which looks to be coated in Magnesium Fluoride targeting the 550nm centre of the visible spectrum.

We are testing using SEN’s Optiplex 9020 server running as a dedicated Gigabit network with nothing connected but the server, a Netgear GS108P and a single uplink cable to the internet via a Meraki switch/firewall.

Shaded face has a little blur and a faint trail but plate is clear at 30kmph.

First impressions with the WV-1550L bullet camera out the front in daylight (65,000 lux from the front) are interesting. This camera manages the variable light in this scene by exposing for the closer shade in our application – that means the shutter speed drops. I notice some tailing behind fast-moving objects in darker areas of the scene. It’s a windy day and there’s loads of tree movement with bamboo leaves showing partly as blur. The same effect is not seen in the same way around other branches. Later on I wonder whether it’s a product of camera settings or minimum shutter speed, which is default at 1/30sec. I try 1/100th of a second but still can’t dial it out.

Plates at the longer end – this one around 50kmph.

The quirk is that this doesn’t seem to apply to faster moving plates in the brighter parts of the scene – even when the camera is severely stressed by backlight I am getting fast moving plates on the street. Getting pedestrian trails in shadow and fast-moving plates in the sun from the same scene is not what I was expecting. Something to note is that I have dialled in moving targets as a priority in camera settings and this function clearly works. I make a mental note to explore settings such as self-learning region of interest further as the test proceeds.

Contrast is relatively low with colours slightly muted yet discernment with tones, there’s good balance between light and dark areas of the scene and no signs of over exposure. There are some longitudinal chromatic aberrations, but they are not widespread. Barrel distortion is well controlled at the wide end and disappears completely when I tweak it in camera settings.

And a static face – bear in mind all these images are reduced in resolution – the originals are 1920 x 1080 and 2MB.

Resolution is strong and the 2560 x 1440-pixels (5.1MP) give me good digital zooming at the wide end or the long – you roll the mouse wheel to zoom digitally and click to either side and up and down to pan and tilt. Digital zoom gets me deeper into the scene teamed up with with the solid optical zoom.

A strength of this camera is the functional side. It has good focal range for street applications and using the optical zoom I can wind in and out of scenes quickly and easily. The re-focus is quick, too, and I use it after the camera has gone from night into day mode in the morning.

Read the full review of Panasonic’s WV1550L bullet camera in the September issue of SEN!