SDM Mag: 5 Ways to Measure up LPR & Non-LPR Cameras

September 24, 2012 | Coverage

Selecting cameras for license plate recognition (LPR) starts with the choice between LPR-specific cameras or non-LPR network cameras. SDM examines five differences between them that should be considered.

By Heather Klotz-Young

In the past, if you wanted to compete for a project in license plate recognition (LPR), you were restricted to quoting camera systems specifically designed for LPR applications. However, as general network cameras have continued to advance, it has opened up the possibility to use them for LPR functions. In addition to a major cost argument, technology advancements are reducing non-LPR cameras’ previous shortcomings and are even allowing companies like ipConfigure, Norfolk, Va., to place LPR functions right on the camera.

“Off-the-shelf, standard surveillance cameras can be used for LPR functions today. That is possible because of the better sensors and the additional computing power available on the cameras. I see more surveillance cameras now than ever before that are applicable to LPR and that will continue to be the case as they continue to evolve,” says R. Cortland Tompkins, director of Computer Vision, ipConfigure.

However, for all the advancements, there are still notable differences between the non-LPR cameras and the LPR cameras that are carefully designed for that function. Those differences create benefits and drawbacks for either choice. When SDM spoke with industry manufacturers, five keys areas of difference surfaced: 1) level of performance, 2) lighting, 3) shutter speed, 4) field of view, and 5) cost. If integrators know what they and their end users need from those five areas — and what each camera type commonly does or does not offer — then integrators can confidently choose the right camera for the LPR application.

1 Level of Performance

“Non-LPR camera technology is improving daily in both hardware and software, while driving down costs, so choosing LPR or non-LPR depends largely on the applications required by integrators’ customers,” says Al Shipp, chief executive officer, 3VR, San Francisco. “Customer satisfaction and meeting contractual performance issues can favor selecting an LPR camera custom-built for the application. Field experience and learning curves have enabled LPR manufacturers to better understand the environmental and operational realities of their customers, resulting in animproved product at a lower competitive price. If you face a challenging environment or a demanding application, or if you face significant financial and security risks, an LPR camera is typically a better choice due to technicalcapability. However, LPR-specific cameras are commonly more expensive than non-LPR cameras because of their technical sophistication.”

Excerpt reprinted with permission from SDM magazine, a BNP Media publication. Copyright 2012.

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