No discovery utilities are provided so you need to point a web browser at the unit’s default IP address to get started. The interface hasn’t seen any graphical refreshment since its introduction a couple of years ago and now looks quite dull, although it is simple enough to use. There are two setup menus with the main one offering access to the camera’s network settings, image controls and other areas such as the FTP client for downloading images to an FTP server. The camera originally only supported JPEG compression but this has now been augmented with Motion JPEG as well. The former is a real pain to use as the camera simply fires off an image depending on the frequency set in the image controls. You can choose from Fast to Very Slow with refresh rates ranging from around 6fps down to once every three seconds. We weren’t impressed with the delivery method as each web page update results in a constantly flashing cursor. We also had to deselect IE’s status bar as this displayed a message at every update. Motion JPEG only supports Internet Explorer and also requires the supplied plug-in to be installed. It does result in a much smoother image playback and although Panasonic doesn’t quote a speed we would estimate it to be only around 20fps.
Moving to the camera setup page enables you to overlay all menu commands on the live view image. This is because the menu can be accessed from the camera’s manual controls by sliding back a small panel on the side of the body and revealing six buttons for local access. However, functions such as motion detection setup can only be accessed from here.
Overall, the image quality for a camera costing over £700 is above average. You’ll need to fiddle with the manual focus puller and this can result in a sharp image with good overall colour balance. We also found that it functioned well in very low light levels and can deliver a clear image under street lighting conditions. However, as you can see from the screenshots, quality isn’t quite as good as that offered by the Axis 221 Day and Night Camera. It’s also worth noting that for less money the 221 also offers support for a whopping 60fps, PoE, Motion JPEG and MPEG-4 compression, making this a far better choice for professional quality video surveillance
The main appeal of this network camera is the digital and analogue feeds, which can be used simultaneously and the option to fit different lenses. Picture quality under a variety of lighting conditions is generally good but at this price, the level of features can’t match the competition