Sony SNC-EP521 review

Price when reviewed

There are plenty of pan/tilt IP cameras that support Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), but if you want powered optical zoom as well, you need to look at those using the high-power PoE+ specification. Sony’s SNC-EP521 camera is one such product.

However, it goes one step beyond the rest. Along with a 36x optical zoom, it has a 12x digital zoom, which combine to give a magnification of 432x.

Sony doesn’t include a power supply, so you’ll need a PoE+ injector or a compliant switch. For testing, we used a TP-Link JetStream TL-SG3424P PoE+ and a PowerDsine HiPoE 9001G injector (around £70). Once connected, Sony’s SNC Toolbox software discovers the camera and provides quick links to its web interface and live view.

Sony SNC-EP521

Disappointingly, there’s no HD video. Its maximum resolution is 720 x 576, and picture quality is a mixed bag. At the widest angle, there’s a lack of detail, poor contrast and distant objects are blurred. Start zooming in, however, and quality improves.

The optical zoom is impressive: number plates on cars more than 250m away can be read clearly. Sony’s digital zoom is also superior to other IP cameras we’ve tested, and we were able to fill the entire viewing area with only the contents of a number plate.

Facial recognition won’t be a problem for this camera. Neither will motion, with up to 30fps supported in all modes.

Sony SNC-EP521

Controlling the camera via the live view interface is a snip, too: simply click in the viewing area to move the lens, and draw a box to make it zoom in on that area. There’s a keypad alongside, and a panoramic strip below to quickly move the lens anywhere in its range.

Multiple pan, tilt and zoom positions can be saved as presets, and there’s a patrol mode to scan through them. For this price, we would have expected a megapixel resolution, but Sony’s SNC-EP521 offers many useful surveillance features, and its huge zoom is a top performer.

Thanks to Network Webcams for supplying the Sony SNC-EP521 for review


Warranty RTB years1


Sensor type1/4in EXview CCD
Video frame rate30fps
Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
Power over Ethernetyes
Compression schemeH.264/MPEG4/MJPEG
Motion detectionyes


Web interface?yes
Software suppliedSony SNC Toolbox, Video Player and RealShot Manager Lite software

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