In the world of IP network cameras Axis has an enviable record of delivering more World’s firsts than anyone else and it does it yet again by claiming the 207 as the smallest network camera to incorporate MPEG-4 image compression. Size counts in the surveillance game and we certainly can’t argue with Axis as the 207 uses the same palm-sized package as its 205 and 206 models.
The 207 is only for indoor use and is equipped with the same 1/4in progressive scan RGB CMOS sensor as the 206. However, low light handling has been improved as the 207 can function down to 1-lux as opposed to the 4-lux of its compatriots. Note that as light levels decrease the camera will automatically switch from a colour to a mono image. Frame rates don’t see any improvement but they are still very good as the camera can deliver 30fps at all seven resolutions.
The 207 also has a couple of aces up its sleeve as it supports full motion detection and has an internal microphone for one –way audio. A 10/100BaseTX Ethernet port underneath the camera body handles the network connection and power is provided only by an external transformer – the 207 does not support PoE (Power over Ethernet). The 207 also has a small four-pin terminal connector at the rear which can be used to connect input devices such as a push button on a door and link it to an output device such as a relay for triggering, for example, an alarm or a door lock.
The bundled IP Utility makes light work of installation as it searches the network for Axis cameras and displays them ready for initial configuration. You can use DHCP or assign a static IP address and use the Axis dynamic DNS service for assigning a host name to the camera for easy access over the Internet. Note that the camera does not support secure connections over HTTPS. The home page opens with a live view and you can swap between Motion-JPEG and MPEG-4 formats and increase and decrease the window size. Three buttons underneath allow you to stop playback, take a quick snapshot and swap to full screen viewing.
Image quality is what makes Axis’ cameras stand out from the competition and the 207 is no exception as focus is very sharp while colour balance is very good. There are a number of cameras in this price range that offer pan and tilt functions and it’s here that you have to decide whether this is more important than quality. A comparison with Panasonic’s diminutive BL-C10 shows clearly that any gain in features has to be offset with poorer image quality. Comparing the 207 with Sony’s more costly SNC-M3W shows this even more clearly as the 207 beats the pants off it for sheer quality.