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- Testé: DF3000A-DN
The bench test: Boxing clever
16 May 07, Source: www.security-installer.co.uk
What our experts say…
Video surveillance cameras are becoming increasingly specialist in nature and that's clearly illustrated by the instruction manual that accompanies the Dallmeier DF3000 A/DN 'Colour Box Camera'.
It covers all of the variants of this compact day/night colour camera including the intriguingly designated 'Casino Versions'. Sadly the opportunity to test that model in its natural habitat didn't arise and the one we have been looking at is the 'standard' version, though that's hardly a fair description for what is actually a very sophisticated piece of kit.
Dallmeier is particularly proud of its proprietary Cam-inPIX® technology, which in turn is based on DPS* (Digital Pixel System*) processing, though having re-read the explanation several times we're no clearer about how it works ('…the picture information of each individual pixel is converted digitally at the point of capture and processed in the most optimal way'). However, as we shall see, the on screen results are clear, particularly in difficult lighting conditions.
Manual or auto day/night
The more tangible features include manual or automatic day/night switching with a servo-controlled infrared filter that flips out of the way in monochrome Night Mode. It comes equipped with a DC controlled auto iris aspherical lens (2.8-8mm, F 0.95, other types optionally available). The 1/3-inch CMOS image sensor has a 720 x 540 pixel array giving a claimed resolution of 540 lines and low light sensitivity down 0.04 lux (in night mode).
There is also an extensive list of secondary features. The video output is switchable between PAL and NTSC; it has automatic and manual white balance, backlight compensation, user adjustable AGC, Gamma Correction, brightness, slow shutter, sharpness, saturation, switchable progressive scan and a range of picture presets labelled Universal (maximum dynamic range), Details 1 & 2 (optimised for scenes with wide contrast and strong backlighting), Indoor/Shadow (improved details in shadows), Indoor (optimised for medium contrast situations), Fluorescent (indoor scenes with low contrast, flicker compensation) and Low Light (low light, slow moving objects - variable slow-speed shutter).
Incidentally, the main difference between this model and the Casino Version are the picture presets, which for the record are: Poker Table (optimised for differentiating between red and black playing cards), Gambling (for identifying chips), Wheel (configured for roulette wheel numbers) and Slot Machine (for displaying symbols).
To round off the list there's a user set and positionable camera title, horizontal flip and a digital zoom with 'virtual' pan/tilt controls. The camera's various settings are adjusted using an on-screen display, controlled from a pair of buttons. It can also be remotely configured using a custom in-line 'UTC' control unit or via a compatible Dallmeier digital video recorder.
The supplied lens has a CS mount and this is normally attached to the threaded collar on the front of the camera. Otherwise, apart from the very small size (the housing measures only 45x45x108mm) there's little else to see on the front or sides, apart from standard ¼-inch mounting bosses on the top and bottom panels.
Moving around to the rear there's a BNC socket for the video output, a standard 4-pin socket for the auto iris lens, a screw terminal for the 12 volt DC/24vAC power supply connection, two buttons, or rather a button and a four-way joyswitch for navigating the on-screen menus. It has a blue power on LED and an interesting looking five-pin connector labelled RS232, though this turns out to be unused.
Inside the case, which is a square-section alloy extrusion plus two plastic end caps, there are two pairs of PCBs at the front and rear, connected by a ribbon cable. The standard of construction appears to be very good, though we did experience a small technical difficulty with our sample; more on that momentarily.
Setup and operation
Once the lens back focus, main focus and any necessary tele/wide adjustments have been made - and the small size of the lens assembly does make this quite fiddly – it's time to enter the setup menu. This appears when the Enter button on the back of the camera is pressed and held for at lest 2 seconds. The first menu screen opens with four options: Presets, Basic Functions, Image Functions and Save/Exit.
Selecting Presets launches a sub-menu with selections for the previously mentioned picture presets and adjustments for brightness, gamma correction, sharpness, saturation and white balance offset. (The Casino Version also has extra settings for Range Bias and Gain Limit).
On the Basic Functions menu there's the Camera ID setup (1 line 8 characters), ID position, CCTV System (PAL or NTSC), horizontal flip, lens select (DC controlled auto or manual iris), Colour (on/off) and Day/Night Setup. The latter leads to a sub-menu for switching Night Mode on and off and setting maximum gain limit.
Image Functions cover Progressive Scan (on/off – for improved resolution, though only in scenes with stationary or very slow moving objects), Backlight (on/off, user defined), Digital Zoom (on/off and pan/tilt controls), and White Balance (Auto, Auto Tracking, WB Offset). Finally, the Save/Exit menu, which has the option to store changes or load factory defaults. Most of the menu options are reasonably intuitive and easy to adjust, though it is worth bearing in mind that unless the remote control unit or DVR is used the positioning of the camera could make in-situ adjustment – via the rear buttons – rather difficult.
Whatever the contribution of the various flowery-named enhancements, the end result is a crisp, clean image with lots of fine detail and resolution close to the manufacturers figure. With all of the picture settings on the factory defaults it copes admirably with extreme and constantly changing lighting conditions, however, the key feature is the wide range of manual adjustments and overrides, which basically means it is able to deal with just almost any situation.
Low-light (night mode) operation works well and compares favourably with mid-range low-light cameras, producing a sharp, bright image down to near dark conditions. The Day/Night switchover point was a tad early for our liking, and the servo mechanism is quite noisy but these are very minor irritants, compared with the overall impressive performance.
So far it's all good news but our sample did have one small surprise in store. After two days of continuous operation, and before we had a chance to introduce it to the SI rubber mallet, the OSD failed and it was no longer possible to call up the menus from the rear panel button.
Fortunately it seems to 'failsafe' and all of the changes that had been made were retained, so in normal use it wouldn't have caused any serious problems.
Judging by the overall build quality we are reasonably hopeful that this was a one-off failure, nevertheless users would be well advised to periodically check the OSD function.