A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
Swann Communications Black Knight Wireless Weather Colour Camera
- Good infrared range, full field of vision, easy to set up and use
- Not completely weatherproof, suffers from interference
Anyone needing a good night vision camera need look no further
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
We like Swann's products. They're easy to use, simple to set up and generally offer good quality at a reasonable price. The Black Knight is no exception. We really found that there was very little to dislike about this camera, especially compared to some other night vision cameras we've tested.
The Black Knight is very simple. It consists of a digital colour CCD surrounded by 27 infrared LEDs and this enables the camera to see in the dark. Video and audio are then transmitted wirelessly from the camera to a receiver, which can be connected to any TV with AV inputs. That's it. Swann claim the system can be set up in three minutes; we think they may even be overestimating here.
The design of the Black Knight is fairly impressive and Swann seem to have thought of almost everything. Firstly, the camera is weatherproof, enabling it to be used outdoors with little problems. In theory this is a good idea, but as the camera requires mains power it still retains a non-weatherproof element. In this case, only the first 6 inches of wire protruding from the Black Knight can be exposed to the elements. Secondly, to counter the problem of glare from the sun, Swann have included a retractable shade that slides over the lens, shielding it from the sun's rays yet not obscuring its lens. We also thought the flexible mount was well implemented, enabling the camera to point in nearly any direction without overbalancing.
Of primary importance in a camera is the quality of its images. While we weren't blown away by the video quality of the Black Knight, it was more than acceptable. The image was sharp and clear, retaining focusing all the way into the far distance. One slight disappointment was the colour balance, which isn't perfect, but this matters very little for a surveillance camera. The most impressive feature was the infrared night vision. The camera automatically detects when light levels drop and switches on a powerful array of LEDs. These are able to illuminate the entire field of vision, something that other infrared cameras have failed to do. Swann claim that the Black Knight can see up to 50m at night, though we honestly have our doubts. Aside from the fact that the infrared LEDs aren't that powerful, at this distance objects would appear so small on the screen we doubt it would be of much use. Unless you plan on keeping track of a glow in the dark herd of elephants, we'd advise 20m to be a more reasonable limit - and this is more than enough for most uses.
One problem which we have suffered when using Swann's wireless camera's before is interference. Occasionally when using the camera near to other electronics the picture can become obscured with static and bars of noise. While the problem isn't as pronounced as with some other cameras, it is worth bearing in mind that if you plan on using the camera in an area with lots of other wireless equipment you may encounter this problem. This is especially pertinent if you wish to use the built in microphone as audio transmission is more adversely affected than video. Overall though, the Black Knight is a good product at a reasonable price and we would advise anyone in need of night vision surveillance to look no further.
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