Axis 212 PTZ review
Axis Communications is consistently working on new ideas for IP cameras, and the latest 212 PTZ adds a whole new dimension to your viewing experience. It delivers pan, tilt and zoom functions, but is the first of its type that has no moving parts, so it emits no noise and eliminates any delay. Axis has achieved this feat simply by using a 2.7mm wide-angle lens, which has viewing angles in the horizontal plane of 44-140 degrees and in the vertical plane of 35-105 degrees.
The 212 PTZ has a large 0.5in CMOS sensor, but in wide-angle mode it can only go down to 10 lux, so is of no use for surveillance in very low light levels. No moving parts mean you get only a 3x digital zoom, but the camera’s high-resolution sensor and the use of oversampling means that the top 640 x 480 pixel resolution is maintained. Sockets for an external microphone and speaker are provided, and the camera also has an internal microphone. However, a delay of slightly over one second for audio transmissions means audio will be slightly out of sync with the video feed.
The bundled IP Installer software makes light work of installation. The camera is also 802.3af PoE compliant, so it can be powered over the network cable from a suitable switch, or you can use the supplied 12V external supply. The homepage opens to a live view with control bars along the side and bottom of the image. The camera can also be controlled by pointing within the image, plus a useful joystick mode forces the camera to track your mouse pointer. On full wide mode, the camera is capable of showing a very large area, although the wide-angle lens does produce a fish-eye effect. The zoom is easily controlled, but with only 3x magnification to play with it can’t zoom in close to anything. As usual, Axis comes up trumps with excellent image quality and is still the one to beat. Focus is sharp, colour balance is good and motion is portrayed a lot more smoothly than much of the competition.
The camera offers a guard tour function, where you can save camera positions and add them to a list that the camera will follow. The motionless PTZ functions come into their own here, as we created six positions across the entire range of the camera’s reach and it was able to flick easily through them with as little as a one-second delay. Motion detection is particularly good, as up to ten custom areas can be specified within the image where motion is to be detected or ignored. You can decide on camera sensitivity and the length of the trigger once it’s been activated. Actions extend to uploading images at specific frame rates to an HTTP or FTP server, emailing them to multiple clients and setting off any devices attached to the camera’s output connector block.
This latest Axis camera puts an interesting new spin on PTZ operations, making it ideal for monitoring a large area. It doesn’t work in very low light and the zoom function could do with a higher magnification, but it still offers an excellent range of functions for the price.