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PTZ Shootout – Part 2 – The Results

By: Chip Bobbert II

The results are in!  The winner of our PTZ Blind Shootout was the Panasonic AW-HE60.  A close runner up was the Sony BRCZ-330, losing by just a vote.  This was a ranking vote so the actual gap was just .2 between these two cameras.  Third place was the Cisco Precision HD camera (ships with Cisco Codecs).  Fourth place went to…the Logitech BRC900.  And in a surprise the Vaddio HD19 was least selected.

Thank you to those who took the time to participate in our demo.  Several people also emailed me off line with thoughts to share and we really appreciate the comments.

Now that the blind test is done; we’ve labeled the video with the camera’s names, take a second look!

Numbers don’t tell the whole story and we do have additional thoughts to share:

  • Given its broad use around Duke, we were surprised at the relatively poor performance of the Vaddio HD19.  In blind testing, a $200 Logitech web cam was reviewed higher than the $4000 (street price) HD19.  Although Vaddio’s focus is relatively low cost cameras for the conference and classroom, sometimes these cameras end up in production spaces.  The video clearly demonstrates that the picture quality of the Vaddio camera is not of the same quality as the others tested.  In years past there was a large cost gap between higher end products like those from Sony and Panasonic relative to manufacturers like Vaddio.  Today the Sony and Panasonic cameras we tested are actually very close to the same price point as the HD19.  With the very poor showing of the Vaddio, it would be difficult to recommend this camera in any situation except perhaps where it would be directly replacing an already integrated camera of the same type.  Additionally, it is possible to tune the Vaddio, our tests revolved around testing the camera in “full auto mode”.  In almost all cases we would recommend not using this camera with automated settings.
  • The Sony and Panasonic we’re almost virtually indistinguishable.  The Sony won out in our viewers minds for the low light use while most people thought the Panasonic had the more crisp image.  The cameras actually tied in color quality.
  • Our viewers obviously weren’t able to test the PTZ movement of the cameras so we’ll offer our opinion.  The Sony had the best and most precise movement.  It was a dream to use, like driving a Cadillac.  The Panasonic was good but not as good as the Sony.  In spite of video quality concerns, the Vaddio actually “drove” well in our tests.  Though it is a larger, heavier camera and seemed to “coast” a bit in the PTZ action.  Diagonal movement in the Vaddio was also not as good as the Panasonic or Sony.
  • The Cisco Precision HD is actually a really decent camera, another surprise from the test.  HDMI and HDSDI built-in outputs are an added bonus.  The camera “drives” like a dump truck and has back focus issues that considerably trouble the auto-focus intelligence but that’s fine for off-air movement.  It also has amazing wide angle performance.  It has a great field of view while very little distortion.
  • Of other note is the web interface for the Panasonic.  This is a great value add feature that in effect, eliminates the need for a separate controller.  You probably wouldn’t want to use that for production but for users who just need to adjust their camera every now and then this is a great money saver.

Our conclusion.  Either the Sony or Panasonic would serve anyone well and their quality is on par with one another.  We think it just comes down to use case.  The Panasonic AW-HE60, with its network control, simultaneous RS232, and small form factor seems more integration friendly though you cannot change video formats from HDMI or SDI as they are hard wired.  In low light situations this camera probably isn’t the right choice.  The Sony BRCZ-330 is a very nice camera and would be at home where precision “on air” movement and low light performance are necessary.  In short, I think the Panasonic is probably the better tool for interactive technology situations while the Sony is probably the better tool for true video production.

Let’s talk about the rest of the field.  The Cisco Precision HD is a popular camera at Duke with TelePresence systems common throughout campus.  It’s RS232 control is great as is wide angle performance and the availability of HDMI and HDSDI.  The Logitech held it’s own, it’s $200 and wasn’t voted as the worst camera in a field of $4-$5000 cameras.  The Vaddio was extremely disappointing.  The camera’s design is dated but it is still a current model in their line up.


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