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Author Topic: Xcam2 resolution - measured  (Read 17200 times)

ghbrand13

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Xcam2 resolution - measured
« on: March 20, 2011, 06:16:06 PM »

The subject of this article is the resolution of the XCam2 camera that came with the Certified Like New PlanetCam with Pan & Tilt & Motion-Activated PC Recording system. I purchased the system to monitor remotely migrating birds visiting a feeding station. I took all the recommended steps to eliminate rf interference and optimize the image quality. Although the system works as advertised, the image is so poor that one can at best tell that a moving object is at the feeder.

I carefully measured the actual performance of the Xcam2 and can now report that the resolution is somewhat poorer than 128x100 pixels, but better than 64x64 pixels. (I can provide details of how I measured this if anyone is interested.)

Given the rock bottom price of the Xcam2, the resolution is not surprizing and I accept that I got about as good as I paid for. My chief reason for posting this message is to disclose the actual performance in the hope that future buyers will have information to make a better informed choice. One of the weaknesses of the X10 advertising is the lack of specifications.

I encourage X10 to post at least minimal specifications for products like cameras. I'm willing to pay more to get better performance, but I need to know what I can expect from the products offered. It took less than 30 minutes to do the resolution measurement so it's not expensive for X10 to obtain such info.
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lodtrack

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2011, 07:57:41 AM »

I would be curious to know the distance between the camera and receiver. I used one for the same purpose at my cottage @ 50 feet and got good results. I ordered the same kit last week and am awaiting delivery. I only wanted the Ninja mount and USB converter but ordered the complete package anyway. I will compare results with the camera bundled in that package. At the price the kit was offered and continues to be offered this week I,m sure they'll sell off most of their "refurbished" stock. It will be interesting to see how these special kits work out for people. It was interesting to note , their sales people followed up the online purchase with a phone call the next day before shipment. The rep wanted to make sure I knew the kit was refurbished and offered me everything as new for $30 more. I replied that i would keep with the refurbished kit as potentially some of the contents were new overstock vs. true "refurbished returns" She laughed at the comment and wished me a good day...
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HA Dave

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 11:24:16 AM »

I have used X10 cameras... as well as other brands of CMOS cameras for years. I've have even commented that it would seem as if the same factory (in China) made all of these cheap little CMOS processor boards. As I have never seen any big differences in the image quality from one cheap camera to the other.

One thing I have noticed is the X10 cameras are tough tiny workhorses that stand up to Midwest weather year-after-year. Some other brand cameras have taken in moisture (and even real water) and became blind due to frost, ice, or steam like fog. Often people buy the cheap IR cameras... I would assume to deter criminals. But floodlights are known to deter criminals and the cameras IR lighting may NOT do that by themselves. I always make a point to recommend motion sensor floodlights with or without security cameras.

I am never quite sure how to respond to these "image quality" posts. Should I ask if you've adjusted the focus? Or ask about distance? The OP mentioned the cameras where purchased to: "monitor remotely migrating birds visiting a feeding station". I've used an X10 camera to watch humming birds at one time... and it worked great.

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ghbrand13

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 01:03:34 PM »

First, thank you lodtrack and Dave_x10_L for your replies.
1) I varied the distance between the camera and receiver from 2 feet to 25 feet and observed no change in image quality. The radio-frequency (rf) link worked remarkably well for one of the 4 frequencies available. The other 3 frequencies suffered disturbances from other sources - presumably cordless phones or wireless routers in the area. The rf link appears to be pretty solid and quite adequate for the Xcam2 camera.
2) The resolution I measured is that of the CMOS sensor plus lens (which I did carefully adjust to get the best focus) and represents the best it can do at any distance. I suspect the CMOS chip itself has a resolution of approximately 128x100. There's a modest additional loss of resolution due to the molded plastic lens and analog rf-link. See illustration of effective resolution at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghbrand13/5547494888/
3) Clearly the closer the camera to the object of interest the better. After I uploaded my previous message I moved the camera to a bit less than 5 feet from the bird feeder and of course was able to see the birds more clearly since they occupied a much larger fraction of the image than when I had the camera 20 feet away. I would guess Dave_x10_L you had your camera much closer to the hummingbirds than the 20 feet at which I originally did my evaluation. Bottom line - for an inexpensive camera like this, to use it for an application like birding it must be very close to the subject.
4) I'm glad to hear that the X10 cameras really are weather-proof. I'd like to mount my Xcam2 right in front of the bird feeder but have been reluctant to do so for fear that rain and sunlight would destroy it unless I put some sort of transparent covering like a dome over it. Of course I wouldn't expect it to hold up to the midwest tennisball sized hail that did $20,000 damage to my home in 2001...
5) I'm curious to know how well the pan-and-tilt mechanism holds up to rain, humidity and morning dew. Has anyone tried this?
6) I also got the phone call from X10. While I suspect the call is in part motivated by possibly getting a customer to do a last minute upgrade to new merchandise (which I didn't), I also think it's prudent to make sure the customer really does understand that they're buying "refurbished" stock. While "refurbished" stock sometimes means new overstock, the items I bought appeared to be returned items that had been repackaged in labeled plastic bags. The items showed no sign of significant use - no scatches, dirt, etc. and I have no doubt they work as well as new. I do wonder if they have a large stock of returned items because buyers are disappointed by the low resolution.
7) Conclusion: I only paid $69 for the whole thing and by positioning the camera close enough to the bird feeder it'll accomplish most of what I want it to do. I'd really like to have high resolution with remote optical zoom but I'm not willing to shell out $600+. I got what I paid for and that's OK. Still, I wish X10 would provide at least minimal technical specs like effective resolution.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 01:33:10 PM by ghbrand13 »
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HA Dave

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 03:38:38 PM »

3) Clearly the closer the camera to the object of interest the better. After I uploaded my previous message I moved the camera to a bit less than 5 feet from the bird feeder and of course was able to see the birds more clearly since they occupied a much larger fraction of the image than when I had the camera 20 feet away. I would guess Dave_x10_L you had your camera much closer to the hummingbirds than the 20 feet at which I originally did my evaluation. Bottom line - for an inexpensive camera like this, to use it for an application like birding it must be very close to the subject.
4) I'm glad to hear that the X10 cameras really are weather-proof. I'd like to mount my Xcam2 right in front of the bird feeder but have been reluctant to do so for fear that rain and sunlight would destroy it unless I put some sort of transparent covering like a dome over it. Of course I wouldn't expect it to hold up to the midwest tennisball sized hail that did $20,000 damage to my home in 2001...
5) I'm curious to know how well the pan-and-tilt mechanism holds up to rain, humidity and morning dew. Has anyone tried this?
7) Conclusion: I only paid $69 for the whole thing and by positioning the camera close enough to the bird feeder it'll accomplish most of what I

20 feet is a lot to ask! I think many of us have been spoiled by our high mega-pixel digital cameras... and photoshop. But if your a video camera user... you realize 20 feet is a long way away. I placed my bird watching camera about 2 1/2 feet away from the feeder.

I once had a lighting strike in my backyard. I lost two televisions and every security camera I had at the time. Can't mess with mother nature. But I've had a ninja setup for at least a couple years now... and it doesn't seem any worse for wear.
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ghbrand13

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 05:36:08 PM »

Reply to Dave_x10_L from 11:38A today:
Based on your 2 years experience, I'll set up my Ninja camera + pan&tilt and see how well it holds up.
I concur it's easy to get spoiled by the astounding resolution of even the cheaper point & shoot digital cameras today. But positioned a couple feet away from the feeder the Xcam2 should be fine for identifying the birds who come to dine. I only wish I'd had this 4 years ago when a mallard nested in my garden. Even with a fixed-position, wired cheapo camera (3 feet away) the videos of the progress in the nest were great fun.
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lodtrack

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2011, 07:20:34 AM »

I jury rigged my mini Canon DVD camera to sit on the Ninja at the bird feeder this winter. It has an IR remote so I was able to zoom (with auto focus) and start/stop recording. Used the Ninja to pan/ tilt. The ninja gears were moaning though...lol... got excellent results. Since we only get chickadees and nut hatches here in winter, it took me more time to set up than the video recorded. My wife agrees with other on this forum...I have too much time on my hands.
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HA Dave

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2011, 10:05:45 AM »

I use the X10 cameras and enough motion sensor floodlights to turn most of my yard from night to day when there is activity. The X10 cameras are pretty tiny and easy to hide... and I do hide them. But I also wanted a security camera that was easy enough to spot... that it could be a deterrent. I picked up a chunky silver/shinny IR camera... and custom mounted it to an X10 ninja. The extra bulk of the ninja mount really helps it stand out and be quickly spotted.
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ww228king

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2011, 03:24:35 PM »

I got mine in a few days ago and just kept playing with it a few hours after work and today i have played with it for about 4 hours straight.  I will say this.. they suck!  I have even went as far as taking it apart and cleaning the the little square window on the board.  Still seem like there is something covering it somehow.  I see a image ontop of any image.  Is is kinda hard to explain, but I am not pleased at all with it.
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MrMike

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Re: Xcam2 resolution - measured
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2011, 08:17:34 AM »

The 2 I ordered and got have extremely grainy resolution, and the focus and "focus-ability" are horrible.

I have some of their other cams,5 LOW LIGHT B&W ones , 1 Sentinel pro cam, 1 Vanguard Pro 44x, 1 instant on color cam.
The overall resolution and clairty of these refurbished palnet cams sucks when compaired to the NightWatch Low-Light Wireless Camera.
Which shouldnt be, the color should be better.
But I eliminated all the variables ( alt channels/ RF interfearance/ distance / manual focus/ lighting/ Audio/Video Receiver / even the powersupply.) even took my other cam off the ninja and tested.
Called tech support, they set me up with a level 2 tech.
After explaining, they sent me a return (Fed-EX) at no cost to me, to send just cams back and they will send me 2 more.
So I cant say that the 2 comming are any better.
But if they are NOT better,, then Maybe they will offer to replace them with NightWatch Low-Light Wireless cams for me.
I ordered a color wireless web cam from Ebay (Hong Kong) for $16.00 about a year ago that is Way better clarity than what I saw on the "refurb planet cams"
I've never had a problem with any of their other products I have ever ordered.
Some of them I have even modified and increased their abilities.

But WOW these 2 cams just sucked so bad they wouldnt be worth "making better"..


Mr Mike™
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