DVR card vs. Network camera - view images


Active Member
I spent the weekend experimenting with a Panasonic pan/tilt/zoom network camera and a fixed day/night (infrared) camera with DVR card. What an experience!
Hardware - fixed Sony 1/3" CCD infrared camera (23 LEDs) from (product SPE-218) and the GeoVision GC-650 DVR card with GeoVision 8.01 software (total 60fps per card).
Panasonic BB-HCM331A network camera.
I installed the GV-650 initially in a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz PC - Intel D865GLC motherboard and later in a 2GHz AMD 64 MSI NVidia nForce4 Ultra motherboard. The Panasonic was simply connected to my 8 port gigabit switch.
There is no question that the GeoVision software is designed for professional applications. I was able to get the local access to work in both PCs even though GeoVision did not recommend installing the board in other than a "pure" Intel environment. I hooked up the fixed camera. The DVR software sucked up the CPU big time. My P4 was running constantly at 85%+ and my AMD 64 was running at 70%+.
Even though the GeoVision has its own web server, I was not able to access the camera from other than the PC on which the software was installed. When I tried to view the camera from another PC on my local network, all I got was a blank screen although the login seemed to go ok.
The Panasonic was a piece of cake! I could access the camera from my local network as well as the Internet. I set up my old Linksys BEF-SR11 Version 2 router to forward port 80 to the IP address of the camera. I could then access the camera over the Internet by specifying a URL of my Comcast IP address. The router forwarded the packets to the camera.
I put both the Panasonic and the fixed camera in the same place so I could compare images. I would have expected the 1/3" Sony CCD to produce a better image than the 1/4"CCD Panasonic. It did not. The fixed camera image was not only grainy but the color was terrible. I went into the GeoVision software to see if I could fix the image from the fixed camera. I really could not improve the image all that much.
The GeoVision DVR card also was emitting a constant beep as if it was letting me know that it was doing something. In fact, when I had the PC speakers on, the beep came from the speakers. Very strange.
My only issue with installing the Panasonic had to do with the power supply. I purchased a 100' DC power cord extension cable expecting the Panasonic to use a standard DC power cord. It does not. The Panasonic DC power supply has a 32' cord but the end that plugs into the camera is not standard - it has a pin in the middle of the plug. My extension cable would not work. I do not know if you can get a DC extension cable that works with the Panasonic. It is important to note that you must be able to plug in the Panasonic within 32' of were it is installed. I purchased a 100' Ethernet cable expecting that I could mount the camera 75' or so from the gigabit switch/power supply.
The pan/tilt/zoom of the Panasonic is amazing. You get about 130 degrees of horizontal movement. Even though I had a 3.6mm wide angle lens on the fixed camera, the field of view was only about 85 degrees.
I guess I could eventually figure out he complex GeoVision software.
To make a long story short, the fixed camera and DVR card will be returned on Monday. The image quality of the fixed camera is poor. You better have a dedicated PC if you are going to use a DVR card. It brought my AMD 64 2GHz to its knees.
I can show you the Panasonic image. The Panasonic is currently located under my deck pointing out to my back yard towards the woods. It will be interesting to see what image I get when the sun goes down since there is practically no light out back (unless there is a moon). I decided not to use the Panasonic web site.
Enter a URL of Enter a username of and a password of . Click on SINGLE when the main page loads. You cannot pan, tilt or zoom the camera. In fact you cannot do anything - you control precisely what logins can and cannot do. The image reloads ever 3 seconds - another setting you control. Not much action unless my miniature schnauzer Molly is running around. It is very easy to control access to the camera. I am getting a new Verizon mobile phone this coming week and I will be able to view the camera images on my phone.
After I send the fixed camera and DVR card back, I will get a second Panasonic for the front of the house. I am totally sold on the Panasonic network pan/tilt/zoom camera. Now to find out about getting a special DC extension cable for the Panasonic so I can mount it more than 32' from the power source.
P.S. My daughter in Asheville North Carolina was just watching Molly in the back yard here in Maryland - the Internet access works fine.
I will leave the above username/password active through tomorrow if you would like to look at the Panasonic image.
Great writeup thanks, I have been following your posts on this subject and was awaiting the reviews... Great image also!

Very nice picture. I'm going to order mine this week so I'll have it on hand to install as soon as I get some free time. Thanks for the writeup and for letting us see the results!
I'll have it on hand to install as soon as I get some free time
The only issue is running the cables. I am going to call Panasonic tomorrow about their special DC power supply cable. I really need to get an extension cable so I can mount the camera more than 32' from a power source. I am very happy with the image quality (especially after seeing the image from the fixed camera with a 1/3" CCD)- I am running the Panasonic at 640x480 at 15fps rather than 320x240 at 30fps.
I will definitely be ordering a second Panasonic camera very soon.
I still say cut the end off the power supply cord and use the spare pairs in your cat-5 to extend the power to the camera. You won't really gain anything with a special separate extension cable.

That is what I am going to do. Even if I decide to use an Elk power supply instead of the power unit that comes with the camera, I am still going to cut off the connector so I can use it at the camera end. (I may even order a spare power unit from Panasonic parts just to get a spare connector.)
If anyone tries to view the Panasonic images tonight, they will see a black screen. The Panasonic is absolutely useless in very low light situations. Since there is no illumination in my back yard and since there is no moonlight, no picture.
My fixed infrared camera (23 LEDs) presents a fairly well lit picture showing considerable black and white detail. So where the day images from the fixed camera are inferior to the Panasonic, at least I get a fairly good night image. I cannot show you the image since I haven't figured out how to get the image from the GeoVision card on the Internet. Maybe I need to keep the fixed camera and GeoVision card. Oh well, never an easy answer. I'll play with the GeoVision tomorrow and decide whether or not to send it back.
When you power up the fixed camera does the Panasonic pick up any of the Infrared light? (Probably not since it is just color). If it did you could use an Infrared illuminator.

How about a regular light on a motion sensor?
The Panasonic does not pick up the light from the LEDs. I am going to move the Panasonic to the front porch. I have been leaving the front porch lights on all night. I'll see what images I get with the porch lights on. There is also a street light across the street so the front will not be in total darkness as the back is. As soon as the back had any light this morning, the image was fine. So the Panasonic will work in low light but not in no light. The fixed camera no light infrared image had to be about 50' - very impressive.
You can see the excellent image and clarity from the Panasonic BB-HCM331A camera as long as there is light.
Enter a URL of Enter a username of guestcam1572 and a password of guestpw2845. Click on SINGLE when the main page loads.
I'll leave the camera in the back yard on the Internet today. I will probably try and move it to the front porch over night to see if I get any image with light from a street light across the street. I'll also try leaving my front porch lights on at night to see what image I get.
I may look into a black and white infrared rather than a color infrared for the back yard.
Two things on the Geovision that I remember from the system I setup. The software beeps when it does not sense a camera present that should be. If you got a 4 port card, I think you need to disable the other three if you are only using one camera. As to the remote viewing, the first time I logged on from a computer I was prompted to install a activeX control. If your brower’s settings block these requests you might not of seen them and hence got a blank screen. Or it might be totally unrelated :unsure: Keep us updated.

I can't locate the URL you posted in your first thread: Can you repost. I did a search on CCTVSpeciality and Google only returned to hits and they were Cocoontech hits.
The software beeps when it does not sense a camera present that should be. If you got a 4 port card, I think you need to disable the other three if you are only using one camera.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It was not obvious as to how to disable a camera. I found a screen and disabled cameras 2, 3, and 4. No more beeping. What a relief.

As far as access from other PCs on my LAN, I can access the camera from my laptop and from 2 plain vanilla Intel PCs. My problem is with my AMD64 system with PCI-Express NVidia 7300 graphic card. The ActiveX control is installed. I get the login screen and then a blue box with no image. I have a feeling that there is a problem with GeoVision web server and my AMD64/PCI-Express card. I sent an email to GeoVision and I will call out to CA this morning.
Thanks for the link MRL. Is comparing a $139 camera to a ~$500 camera a fair comparison? I certainly would expect the Panasonic to be a much better picture. Now if they would just come out with a good Day/Night network camera.