This is continued from How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera – Part 1.
Network Camera Internet Access
The performance of the Panasonic Network Camera model #BB-HCM531A is quite good in a variety of lighting conditions. The camera is accessed and controlled via a web browser over the home network or Internet.
This is an indoor scene as viewed in a web browser (click on the image for a full size view). Notice the camera controls on the left for Pan/Tilt, Scan, Presets and image controls. The microphone and volume controls are the icons just above the image.
- Clicking anywhere on the camera image will recenter the view.
- The Scan buttons will quickly swing the camera through a full range of motion to see what’s going on in the area.
- Click the microphone button to speak into a PC microphone and be heard through speakers connected to the camera.
- The “Multi” tab displays 4 to 16 cameras in a thumbnail grid.
- The “Buffered Image” tab displays saved images on the SD memory card.
Panasonic Network Camera Outdoor Performance
Outdoor images in full sunlight perform well as expected. Automatic contrast adjustment is quick when panning from sun to shade.
Camera Image Comparison in Different Lighting Conditions
It’s difficult to judge a cameras performance by reading technical specifications about resolution, “Minimum Lux” and such. The following are images from day, evening and nighttime conditions that were saved using the “Snap Shot” camera feature.
Nighttime with indirect lighting (640×480):
30 minutes after sunset on a clear evening (640×480):
Note the skyglow through the trees at civil twilight and the light from the street lamp shining on the wall.
Total Darkness (640×480):
The camera’s light sensitivity is rated at 0.2 minimum Lux in “Color View Nighttime Mode”. By comparison, the brightness of a full moon is 0.27 Lux. In this nighttime image, the house is completely dark and the yard is illuminated by the street lamp. The grass is green and the red hue of the front door mat is apparent.
If the camera is positioned to cover an area illuminated by a motion activated floodlight, your nighttime images will be extremely good.
iPhone Network Camera Viewing
The Apple iPhone is the best mobile web device on the market today. It excels at remote web access to the Panasonic Network Camera. You can drag, pinch and zoom the display in the Safari web browser just like a desktop PC. Tapping on the image will recenter the camera at that location. All the camera controls work normally. You can do everything except listen the camera audio. Hopefully Panasonic will release an iPhone Camera App with 2-way audio (Panasonic – hint, hint).
The afternoon sun is streaming in the window after a rain shower making the camera image slightly over exposed.
Use your thumb and finger to pinch and zoom the iPhone web display to full screen. In this photo, I’m not yet fully zoomed in to the full 640×480 camera resolution. Wow!
You can make a screen capture by holding down the iPhone Home and Power buttons together. The iPhone will make a camera shutter sound and the screen will flash. The camera image is now stored in the Photos app where it can be e-mailed or copied to your computer with a USB cable.
The camera setup and network configuration is covered next in How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera – Part 3.