- Page 1 Panasonic BL-C10 – Network Camera Review
- Page 2 Panasonic BL-C10 Review
Up to eight preset positions can also be configured so the camera can be moved to a specific location with a single mouse click. Access to the camera can be strictly controlled by creating a list of users and using three levels to decide whether they can simply view the image, use the preset controls or have full control over camera movement. Two types of trigger are provided for taking still pictures which can be buffered in the camera or sent to an email address or FTP server. The first uses a simple timer to take still pictures at specific times on selected days while the second uses the thermal sensor which causes pictures to be taken whenever it registers a change in temperature.
The latter is a really smart feature as once the sensor has been triggered by a heat source the camera can be set to move back to the sensor location. You can set an interval after which the sensor deactivates after being triggered and even select an image quality suitable for sending to a mobile phone. Overall, the sensor performed well during testing with it easily picking up anyone walking in front of the camera. However, don’t place it behind a window or any glass panel for that matter as this will stop it working. There’s much more to play with as the web interface can access up to 12 cameras and display multiple feeds in a single window and Panasonic also bundles a demo copy of its image recording software.
A criticism often levelled at these types of cameras is their greed for network bandwidth. To test this we hooked up the camera and a couple of clients on a shared Fast Ethernet segment and monitored it with the Sniffer Portable LAN analysis software (www.networkgeneral.com). With both clients accessing the camera at the highest resolution with full motion selected, network utilisation never went above two per cent. This is very low and the reason is the camera’s maximum frame rate is only 15fps whereas most other vendors offer up to 30fps. The downside of this is that video motion is relatively jerky. Quality also comes in for some flak as a poor focus results in a slightly fuzzy picture which the Favour Clarity setting does very little to resolve.
There’s no denying this camera is delivering an impressive range of surveillance features at a very low price. Poor overall picture quality and comparatively low video frame rates are the price you pay for these big savings but as a general purpose network camera with infrared detection capabilities, Panasonic’s little BL-C10 is hard to beat. However, if you’re prepared to pay around £40 more then Sony’s SNC-M3 looks well worth considering as this 30fps pan/tilt camera also provides two-way audio functions.