Panasonic WV-U1542L Bullet Camera Review
Panasonic’s WV-U1542L is a 4MP varifocal lens outdoor bullet network camera with a 2.5x built-in motorized zoom and motorized focus lens, iA (intelligent Auto), Super Dynamic 102dB, minimum scene illumination at night in colour of 0.019 to 0.3 lux, H.265 Smart Coding, 20m of IR, and IK10 and IP66 ratings against vandalism and weather.
NEW from Panasonic, and distributed locally by BGW Technologies, is the WV-U1542L bullet camera, a compact and robust 4MP surveillance solution that’s designed to be fast and simple to install, with a zoom range that conforms with typical applications. This camera features auto shutter speed control for fast moving vehicles and pedestrians in day or night, Super Dynamic 102dB for backlit situations involving headlights and shadows on night streets, and self-learning ROI encoding (Auto VIQS), which detects movement within an image and compresses areas with little motion in order to reduce transmitted data, while maintaining the quality of the image.
The WV-U1542L has excellent build quality, including a metal chassis under its poly skin, a compact and well-balanced profile, and a relatively light weight. The sensor is a 1/2.7 CMOS delivering 4MP (2560 x 1440 pixels) at up to 30ips. Minimum scene illumination is 0.12 in monochrome with IR off, 0.3 lux in colour and 0 lux with IR activated. The lens has an aperture of F2 and a range from 2.9mm to 7.3mm – that’s 2.5x zoom. There’s a horizontal field of view from 44 degrees at the long end to 103 degrees at the short end, which is ideal for the street.
This day night camera incorporates Super Dynamic functionality, as well as backlight compensation, high light compensation, digital noise reduction, auto back focus, auto focus and focus assist. There’s also corridor mode, 8 privacy zones, intelligent auto and intelligent VMD. Video Codecs include H.265, and JPEG, with transmission modes being H.265/H.264, along with Panasonic Smart Coding. There’s also constant bit rate, variable bit rate, and best effort, with resolution choices being 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360 and 320 x 180.
GOP controls include advanced/mid/low/off, and there’s auto VIQs and a range of networking options for IPv4 and IPv6, the latter being TCP/IP, UDP/IP, HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, DNS, NTP, SNMP, DHCPv6, RTP, MLD, ICMP, ARP, IEEE 802.1X and DiffServ. The camera is capable of supporting up to 14 users, there’s compatibility with microSDXC/microSDHC cards and H.265 recording including manual recording, Alarm recording (pre/post), scheduled recording and backup upon network failure. There’s also VMD alarm, SCD alarm, command alarm, local memory card recording, E-mail notification, HTTP alarm notification indication on browser, and Panasonic alarm protocol output. The camera is standard PoE and has low power draw.
The housing is 112.5mm wide, 112.5mm high and 262mm long, and the camera weighs only 800g, which really highlights what a slender unit it is. This WV-U1542L Bullet has an i-PRO white polycarbonate outer shell over an aluminium die cast chassis with stainless steel outer fixing screws and a clear poly resin housing window with ClearSight rain wash coating. The camera is IK10 vandal resistant, and IP66/Type4 and NEMA4X rated against weather. Operating range if -30 to 50C in up to 100 per cent humidity.
Test Driving Panasonic’s WV-U1542L
A neat feature which doesn’t pop up in the specification is an opening on the side of the packaging that allows pre-commissioning to be undertaken – IP addresses, camera settings – without removing the camera from its box. The first thing that strikes you when unpacking is that this camera is compact, streamlined and comparatively lightweight. A few minutes later and I’ve discovered it’s also very simple to install and access across the network – I’m viewing the camera on the usual SEN Dell Optiplex 9020 server.
On initial power up in the office, I notice good colour rendition, excellent performance against backlight, and mild barrel distortion at the wide end. Set up over the street there’s solid resolution and slightly low contrast image streams in variably lit daytime scenes with the settings I choose. My camera settings are near default and it’s possible that warmer tones could be introduced with some tweaking but there’s also the likelihood that what I’m seeing is the camera balancing a scene with bright and dark parts.
Strengths on the street include depth of field, colour rendition, low noise, low chromatic aberration, and the ability to snare faces and plates with ease when faced with strong backlight. At the wide end, pixel spread leads to a slight softening of detail further in which can be tightened using optical zoom. Regardless, out past 30 metres there’s considerable detail of clothing, hair and shoe colour and more, while closer in, the camera has no issues with facial ID.
When I go pixel peeping, I find the camera’s ability to snare moving plates is better than my initial impressions. In good light and in variable light out to about 25 metres at the wide end, the camera manages well. In the middle of a bright blue and grey day there’s some very slight over exposure deeper into the scene as the camera engine juggles deep shadow and full sun – this is typical for our application. On the shaded side of the street, skin tones are accurate and there are low levels of blur as the afternoon wears on – this combination makes for excellent face recognition to about 20 metres at full wide.
At around 4pm, as the shadow between the towers gets deeper, I lose fast moving plates – there’s still plenty of light at 70 metres but the camera is now exposing for the near shade. Regardless, I still have slower moving plates, as well as plenty of detail deep into the scene. When I zoom in, even with the slower F number, I have face recognition to 30 metres at least, with excellent detail of accessories, clothing, and the compression association you get at a slightly longer focal length.
Right up until 5.10pm I retain clear faces, though fast moving vehicles become less distinct, and around 5.15pm moving faces start to exhibit signs of softness as the shutter slows a bit more and a tiny bit of amplification noise creeps in. Regardless, depth of field remains strong and there’s plenty of detail to be had, even of faster moving cars.
In the 20 minutes between 5.50pm and 6.10pm, night falls and shutter speed drops further still. The camera hangs on in colour, moving faces are no longer clear but there’s still considerable detail of pedestrians, especially in static moments. Fast moving cars and motorcycles are subject to blur but it’s still possible to discern make and model, as well as colour.
The night scene goes on darkening – by 9pm there’s a yellowish colour cast at the far end of the street and there’s a little more amplification noise pushing through. Regardless, there’s no sign that this camera is going to go over into black and white and after 9pm, I force it over with IR activated. Starting at the wide end, the spread is good, reach is good, too, and this combines with that strong depth of field to deliver solid situational awareness in this street scene.
As is typically the case, I don’t have plates or fine details of moving vehicles at this point, but there’s still useful detail in this image stream. I certainly still have make, model and the tone of cars, and when it comes to pedestrians, I can see details of hair, attire, accessories, and interactions. Faces are not distinct but a known person could be discerned, or an identity clarified in support of additional evidence from mobile phone pings or a camera operating nearby with more ambient light – we are sub 4 lux at the lens, which is challenging for a sensor of this size.
Something I note is that the IR array is not as powerful as others I’ve worked with in this application and I’m quite happy with that. There’s less flare from nearby foliage and building facades, as well as license plates, yet the IR still enhances images to about 20 metres, doing its best work inside 12 metres.
When I grab a couple of snapshots in monochrome in sub 4 lux with subjects walking towards the camera, I’m not getting clear faces at this time of night – by now it’s 9.42pm. Regardless, I can still see attire, gait, accessories, including shoes, as well as the shape of faces and hair colour, etc. All these details enhance situational awareness and would support a case in court – it would be readily possible to confirm an identity based on the image stream.
Next morning, I have more of a play with WDR performance in the face of 70,000 lux direct sunlight, with the camera tilted slightly downwards. Performance is solid – there’s excellent colour rendition, great face recognition, I have moving plates past 30 metres when wound in on the zoom, static plates to 40 metres, and there’s no suggestion of overexposure, chromatic aberrations, blurring, or some other of the nasty characteristics that can creep into an image when stressed by strong light sources.
Along with all of this, depth of field remains excellent – I’m able to see all the way up to Albion St and watch traffic and pedestrians moving around at 100 metres. As the morning wears on, the camera manages the changing angle of light very well, with bright points nicely controlled, no skewing of tones and sound contrast delivery.
Panasonic’s WV-U1542L bullet camera is a competent all-rounder with a robust build and a compact form factor. The camera performs well day and night in street applications, with its handling of WDR being a particular strength. Faced with backlight, I get more pleasing colour rendition, face recognition and ID of plates than at other times – this may come down to my settings, but given I’m mostly default, it seems a particular strength of the camera engine.
Setup is simple – the camera is designed to assist installers and integrators by being as low touch as possible. For applications requiring strong street performance and useful reach, especially when the scene is stressed by backlight, this WV-U1542L is well worth a look. n
Features of Panasonic’s WV-U1542L bullet camera:
* 4MP images up to 30fps
* 2.5x built-in motorized zoom and motorized focus lens
* iA (intelligent Auto)
* Super Dynamic 102dB
* Colour night vision (0.019 to 0.3 lx)
* H.265 Smart Coding
* Corridor mode (90 degrees or 270 degrees in image rotation)
* IK10 and IP66 ratings against vandalism and weather.