Swann PRO-620 & PRO-640 Long Range Security Cameras - Reviewed

Written by Joe Baker on . Posted in Digital Cameras

PRO_620_Swann_Long_Range_camera.jpg

The following review will cover a comparison between the older standard system packaged Colour outdoor (Coc)cameras and the specific purpose designed professional PRO 620 and the PRO 640.,supplied courtesy of www.swann.com.au.

Whilst we are at it we will also cover the installation and adjustment for the best type of camera and finding the most suited position in order to effectively read an intruder’s car number plate. 

We have coupled all of these cameras to a Swann DVR4-Pro Net recorder which is already installed as a surveillance unit on the premises.  The four existing cameras that were supplied with the DVR4-Pro Net  Coc (Colour outdoor cameras) will be assessed as to which two will be replaced by the PRO-620 Long Range Night vision Security camera, and the Vari-Focal Security PRO-640 camera.  All cameras will be compared against each other as they each have specific attributes and these strengths should be exploited to optimise clarity and definition in capturing the images in the areas that they have been designed for.

We have connected an 80cm CRT Sony TV as the monitor.

Now that we have the intentions documented, let’s see how we went with installation and our comments as we progressed.

Situation
We have an entrance driveway running from the public bitumen road that is approximately 24 metres to the house front (first camera), and then a further 16 metres of driveway bounded on one side by the house.  The driveway becomes progressively wider, ending up as a concrete apron approximately seven garage doors wide.

Aim
We wish to capture and identify the number plate of any vehicle that comes or goes.

SW 214 pic angled drivewayThe Tests
Pro 620 – Long Range Night Vision Security Camera
The original Colour outdoor cameras(Coc) are general purpose wide angle cameras and as you can see from the following pictures, distance and camera quality has everything do with clarity. The first shot is with a (Coc) showing it’s existing view and as the view of the driveway is at an angle, it had little chance of being able to read a number plate.

Pro 620 angled drivewayThe picture opposite on the right hand side of the text is the Pro 620 camera put on the same attachment that the (Coc) was on.  Notice that although the picture is clearer, we are still unable to read the plate, (please ignore the slight wavey lines in the picture as these were caused by the photograph and were not showing on the Tv screen).

So in order to make it easier for the camera to read the plate, I have selected a better location for the camera at a point on the house that allows for a long narrow field of view that is more suited to the camera’s design purpose.

Pro620 6mtrs new locnThe picture on the left of the text is a view of the Pro 620 mounted in this new location at six metres away from the number plate.

 

  

SW214_6mtrs.JPGThe picture on right hand side of the text is the view with the Swann Colour outdoor camera (Coc) at six metres.  Underneath each of the six metres pictures are views of the same cameras at three metres.

   

 Pro 620 3mtrs

   

SW214 3mtrsYou can see a marked difference in clarity and colour definition between the package supplied SW214 wide angle general purpose cameras and the Pro -620 long range night vision security camera.  Note that the Pro 620 retains its clarity and definition for a long narrow “in focus area” (in fact I am able to read the plate almost out to the road).  This is due to it having a long narrow field of view whereas the Colour outdoor cameras (Coc) has a wider more diffused area focus.  To draw an analogy, it is a bit like you have a thimble full of colour to paint a whole A3 page, it would end up a weak colour for the whole area.  However, if you only had to paint a narrow band for the length of the A3 with the same amount of paint, you would end up with a ribbon of high definition and vivid colour.

Of course, with the Pro 620 we are also talking about a camera that costs significantly more than the lower quality (Coc).  The Colour outdoor camera (Coc) would be aptly suited for inside a house, garage or patio where the area is small or outside the house in a situation where you do not require extremely high clarity and definition but want a lower definition and clarity of a wider area.  You should use the Pro 620 where you have an area that is very long and narrow, as the Pro 620 only has a 36 degree field of view, but it is all at high definition and clarity.

Using the correct camera for the purpose it was designed for provides distinct advantages.  You can see this as being clearly illustrated in the above photos where we are easily able to read the number plate and can do so over a longer period of vehicle travel.  Forgive me for taking the plate off the car but I needed to trial it in so many stops and starts that it became annoying getting in and out of the vehicle. 

Pro 620 at 6 mtrs at nightA test of night vision at six metres in comparison against the Cocs produced some startling results with the Pro 620 showing an intruder looking like she was in a white outfit with excellent clarity and definition even though there was no artificial light around.

 

SW214 at 6mtrs at night Vari-Focal Security Camera Night Vision 115 ft/35m - Pro 640
I actually trialled the Pro 640 with the same view as the Pro 620 i.e. down the driveway, but it showed that a car travelling on the driveway would not stay in sharp focus for as long as the Pro 620.  This is because even at the minimum setting the Pro 640 has a four degree wider view. We had another area where we required a camera that had a wider field of view, but with a narrow band where people would get out of the car requiring high definition and clarity.  You can see by these pictures that the Pro 640 was perfectly suited to this test as this camera allows you to vary your field of view and reset the focus to achieve optimal clarity and definition at the precise point where you require it.

SW214 at 6mtrsNote that the SW214 picture on the right of your text is at six metres, yet we can’t read the plate.

 

  

 

Vari-Focal Pro 640 at 6 mtrsWhereas the Pro 640 has been focused at the same distance (six metres) and also gives us the field of general view that we want, although you will not be able to read the number plate beyond about nine meters unless you reset the focus for that distance.  A check of the specifications will show you this camera has a variable view of 40 - 85 degrees.

A test of night vision showed that the Pro 640 was up to catching people skulking around at a greater distance than the Pro 620 and worked quite successfully on the DVR4-Pro Net general detection settings to at least thirty metres.

The Pros and Cons for optimising your security system by including specific purpose built cameras like the Pro 620 & Pro 640

Pros:
• Make no mistake about it, if the “crims” see these types of units on your house, they have usually already learnt how good they are and may go away (their freedom depends on it) 
• These two cameras are capable of far higher definition and clarity than the “general run of the mill”.
• Tests showed that both Pro models were less likely to “false” and start nuisance event recording
• Tests showed that both models by comparison against SW214’s were less affected by light changes and kept colours extremely close to reality under a medley of conditions
• Both cameras displayed far superior detection and illumination at night with the results good enough to identify the object
• Both are set up for very easy DIY replacement of your existing cameras

Cons:
Only the price @
• $249 Aud approximately for the Pro 620
• $279 Aud approx for the Pro 640

Conclusions
At just over twice the cost of the Colour outdoor cameras (Coc)'s, there was really never any doubt that the Pro cameras were going to be considerably better in terms of overall performance than the Colour outdoor cameras supplied in the original package, but the degree to which they excelled by was extremely surprising.
sw214 4 camera viewsThe picture on the left is a four camera view screen shot with all the old Colour outdoor cameras (Coc) cameras.

 

    

2 x SW214 one each of P640 and P620Whilst the picture on the right of the text is a shot with the Pro 620 (top left panel) and Pro 640 (Bottom left panel) replacing two of the Coc’s leaving the top and bottom right still being Colour outdoor camera views.

The above illustrates the requirement to plan what you need prior to installing a security system and the necessity to use the Customer Service side of Swann Security to provide advice on what cameras will best suit the type of areas and purpose of the area you want under surveillance.

Judging by the “upspec” improvements on some of Swann’s new recorders over my older DVR4-Pro Net, wouldn’t it be nice to hook up one of Swann’s newly released top line recorders to my 80cm CRT TV and add the Pro 610 wide angle to these two beauties for a Recorder and Pro 610 wide angle review.

Am I “fishin”??  You betcha!

The Three Camera’s Specifications

Vari Focal PRO 640

Image Sensor
1/3" Sony CCD
Video Quality
480 TV Lines
Number of Effective Pixels
768 x 494 (NTSC), 752 x 582 (PAL)
Minimum Illumination
0.5 Lux Color, 0 Lux (IR on)
Day/Night Mode
Color during day / switches to B&W at night
White Balance
Automatic
Signal / Noise Ratio
> 52dB
Electronic Shutter
1/60 - 1/100,000 NTSC
1/50 - 1/100,000 PAL
Gain Control
Automatic
Backlight Compensation
Yes
Wide Dynamic Range
N/A
Lens
4-9mm Vari-Focal
Viewing Angle
40 - 85°
Microphone
No
Number of infrared LEDs
42
Infra-Red Wavelength
850nm
Night Vision Distance
115ft / 35m
 
IR Cut Filter
N/A
Infra-Red LED Life
10,000
 

Long Range Pro 620


Image Sensor
1/3" Sony CCD
Video Quality
480 TV Lines
Number of Effective Pixels
768 x 494 (NTSC), 752 x 582 (PAL)
Minimum Illumination
0 Lux (IR on)
Day/Night Mode
Color during day / switches to B&W at night
White Balance
Automatic
Signal / Noise Ratio
> 50dB
Electronic Shutter
1/60 - 1/100,000 NTSC
1/50 - 1/100,000 PAL
Gain Control
Automatic
Backlight Compensation
Yes
Wide Dynamic Range
N/A
Lens
12mm
Viewing Angle
36°
Microphone
No
Number of infrared LEDs
55
Infra-Red Wavelength
850nm
Night Vision Distance
82ft / 25m
IR Cut Filter
N/A
Infra-Red LED Life
10,000

 

Colour outdoor camera (Coc)


Image Sensor
1/3" CMOS
Video Quality
380 TV Lines
Number of Effective Pixels
NTSC: 510 x 492
PAL: 628 x 582
Minimum Illumination
0 Lux (IR on)
Day/Night Mode
Color during day / switches to B&W at night
White Balance
Automatic
Signal / Noise Ratio
> 48dB
Electronic Shutter
1/60 - 1/15,000 NTSC
1/50 - 1/15,000 PAL
Gain Control
Automatic
Backlight Compensation
Yes
Wide Dynamic Range
N/A
Lens
6mm
Viewing Angle
50°
Microphone
No
Number of infrared LEDs
11
Infra-Red Wavelength
850nm
Night Vision Distance
Up to 26ft / 8m
IR Cut Filter
N/A
Infra-Red LED Life
10,000

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