In the world of IP cameras Axis Communications has consistently been the one to beat for innovation and image quality. We’ve reviewed enough of its products over the past year to confirm this with the miniscule 207W delivering support for 802.11g wireless networks and the 225FD offering a smart external surveillance package in a bullet proof casing.
As its moniker suggests, the latest 212 PTZ offers pan, tilt and zoom functions but its claim to fame is that it achieves this without any moving parts. How does it do it? Simple really, as it employs a Fujinon 2.7mm wide angle lens. The viewing angles are impressive with a span of 35 degrees to 105 degrees in the vertical plane and 44 degrees to 140 degrees in the horizontal. This approach has a number of bonuses as you can change your viewing area almost instantly and with no moving parts, wear and tear is eradicated. The downside is the zoom capability as the camera only offers a 3x digital zoom. However, it does have a 3.1 megapixel 1/2in. CCD sensor and Axis has implemented over-sampling so image quality shouldn’t suffer from the deterioration you’d normally expect to see with digital zooms.
As we’ve comes to expect from Axis, build quality is a cut above the rest with the camera body constructed from solid aluminium and shrouded in a tough plastic cover. You also get an extra wall mount which allows the camera to be fixed at an angle, while the cover has removable inserts to allow network and power cables to be routed through the side. Placement possibilities have been improved as the power supply has a generous two metre lead and you get a 180cm extension cable as well. Even better is the fact that the camera is 802.3af PoE compliant so it can be powered directly over the network cable using a suitable switch.
It has an internal microphone allowing you to hear what’s going on in the area under view but also offers audio out sockets for an external microphone and speaker for two-way conversations. During testing we found audio operations worked well enough as we were able to hear voices clearly at the remote location but they were out of synch with the video feed with a lag of over one second. The camera also incorporates Axis’ standard four-pin I/O connector block that can be used to link the camera to external security devices such as door sensors or alarms allowing them to trigger video capture or an external alarm if activated.