Sony IPELA SNC-DF80P review

Whether we like it or not, public surveillance is here to stay and has actually had some high-profile successes in recent months. Sony has traditionally offered a modest range of IP cameras but now ups the ante with its latest mini-dome family that looks to offer a classy solution for internal and external monitoring.

See also:

Axis’ 225FD external dome camera

The SNC-DF80P is clothed in a solid aluminium vandal-resistant chassis with its fixed lens sitting snugly behind a clear polycarbonate cover. It’s designed for 24-hour operations as it can handle light levels as low as 0.06lux where it automatically drops into a mono mode.

All the usual suspects are on its feature list which includes two-way audio, simultaneous support for MPEG4 and M-JPEG compression and motion detection. For the last of these, the camera employs Sony’s IMD (intelligent motion detection) and IOD (intelligent object detection), which aims to improve trigger and recording capabilities.

For physical installation the body has to be mounted using the supplied steel backplate and the cover removed to access the lens, internal ports and the CompactFlash media slot.

All cabling is fed through the holes in the back or the side and there’s an internal connector block offering inputs and outputs for monitoring things such as door bells or doors being opened and triggering an alarm. Power could be a problem as Sony doesn’t include a supply, leaving you to source your own.

We didn’t let a minor detail like this get in the way of our hands-on testing as we simply connected the camera to the lab’s HP ProCurve 2626-PWR PoE switch where it worked perfectly.

The lens is positioned manually as required and there’s a handy S-Video port next door so you can plug a monitor in and view the feed. The IP Setup utility makes light work of network installation as it displays all available Sony cameras where you can modify their IP address and HTTP port access while network bandwidth restrictions can be applied.

The browser home page opens with a live view and the DF80P doesn’t disappoint in the quality stakes as it offers a clean, sharp picture with good colour balance. Up to 25fps is supported at the maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and we found motion was conveyed well as this speed.

Motion detection features are rather cool as the camera stores a background image for reference and then decides whether to trigger recordings if a new object appears and remains on the scene for a specified amount of time.

Alternatively, you can trigger recordings if a static object in the reference image exits the stage and goes missing for a set period. For moving objects you can decide how big they should be before they trigger a recording.

If a trigger is activated you can set the camera to record images internally to local memory or CF card, an FTP server or email address and if you really want to scare an intruder three different voice recordings can be played through a speaker connected to the camera.

We’ve watched Sony’s IP cameras gradually getting more sophisticated and the SNC-DF80P moves the bar up yet again. We recommend checking out Axis’ 225FD external dome camera as it’s better value and has a superior image quality but it can’t beat Sony’s sophisticated motion detection and trigger systems.

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