Review Price free/subscription
There's more work to do as once the base has been secured you need to manually position the lens to the desired viewing angle and sort out zoom and focus. Sony has this covered as you can attach a monitor to the internal S-Video port to see what you're doing. The lid can then be replaced where it is secured with tamper-proof Torx screws. To ensure the unsuspecting public don't get clobbered by accident the camera base has a wire retaining strap, all screws are designed to remain in situ after being loosened, and the lid has a rubber security strap as well.
Network installation won't take long as Sony's IP Setup utility scans the network and displays the camera ready for configuration. From here you can modify its IP address and HTTP port settings, change the date and time, and implement network bandwidth restrictions. The web interface opens with options to choose MPEG4 or M-JPEG feeds and for the latter you can use the camera's ActiveX control or Java app. Next up comes the live view and we can safely say Sony has made some major improvements in this department, which has traditionally been a big weakness. We found the focus to be very sharp at either end of the 3.6X zoom whilst colour balance was acceptingly realistic with no artifacts to spoil our view. It's not quite as good as Axis' 225FD which performs better in higher light levels, but is good enough for facial recognition if needed.
Motion also comes across well as the camera can deliver 25fps at the top resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. Two-way audio is on the menu although you'll need to plug the supplied cable into the camera's internal port and route it outside to allow a microphone and speaker to be connected. As with all IP cameras we found audio to suffer from a lag of around one second. You can add analogue recording devices as the camera has a BNC composite connector cable as well. An I/O connector block is also provided allowing devices such as door alarms to be connected and external alarms to be linked to motion detection triggers. The camera can operate down to 0.06lux in mono mode and we found this worked extremely well with all the lights in the lab turned off and the only illumination coming from an adjacent street lamp.
You'll always pay a premium for external IP cameras but Sony's latest mini-dome offers an impressive range of feature for your money. It won't like getting wet but for surveillance in covered areas it has a lot going for it with particularly good motion detection options.