Typically, when we write these MV-related blog posts, we love to highlight the challenges that a particular feature will help you overcome, or the frustration that a new solution will help ease. Other times, we want to be a little bit more flashy. This is one of those times.
With the recent launch of Cisco Meraki’s second generation of MV cameras, customers can now take advantage of three zooming features on both their indoor and outdoor cameras: optical zoom (available on MV22 and MV72 only), sensor crop, and digital zoom. While each is powerful in isolation, when combined, these three features allow you to achieve truly dramatic levels of magnification on your video feed while maintaining extremely high video quality.
Just how dramatic is the zoom? Let’s take a look below.
What you can accomplish today with MV
The following images show the progression of an image when each zoom option is applied. The first photo shows the video feed from an MV72 outdoor camera with no zoom applied. You can see something is on the table in the far corner of the patio, but not much else.
Screenshot from MV72 video feed with no zooming applied
The next image shows a maxed out optical zoom, focused on the table area. We can start to see something take shape, and that shape looks suspiciously like a gnome.
Screenshot from MV72 with optical zoom applied
In the next image, we use sensor crop to focus in on an even smaller area. Sensor crop, like optical zoom, is lossless zoom, meaning there is no loss of detail or stretching of pixels. Things are starting to look a little clearer, and we can definitely tell this is one of those mischievous Meraki gnomes.
Screenshot from MV72 with optical zoom and sensor crop
For an extra bit of fun, let’s see what happens when we use digital zoom. Maybe we’ll be able to identify which Meraki gnome it is. Can you guess?
In-dashboard digital zoom of the MV Gnome
With digital zoom, now you can see that this gnome is sitting on what looks like a security camera. It’s the MV gnome! (Did you expect any different?)
Digital zoom can be used on live and historical footage. Keep in mind, though, that that sensor crop and optical zoom only apply to footage that was recorded after you applied the settings to the camera. You cannot apply sensor crop and optical zoom on historical footage. So, the dramatic level of zoom illustrated above is only possible if optical zoom and sensor crop were already applied before using digital zoom.
If configured properly, your MV cameras can truly can give you (gnome) portraits from pixels.
One of the primary challenges that always crops up when discussing digital zoom for cameras is how to maintain the detail of a video feed, while still achieving a significant and meaningful image magnification. You need increased visibility on a particular area of interest, but can’t afford to sacrifice any image quality.
To help with this challenge, the sensor crop feature on Cisco Meraki MV cameras allows users to isolate regions of interest and achieve up to a 2.1x magnification on that region of their video stream, without any loss of detail or stretching of pixels.
Capturing at a full 4MP, MV cameras have an excess of pixels while streaming at 720p or 1080p, meaning the video is downsampled by default to fit the streaming resolution. This downsampling is illustrated in the diagram below.
Enabling sensor crop allows you to isolate any region from the 4MP sensor and have the camera only record that selection, rather than downsample the raw footage. So, if you select a 1080p-sized frame for your crop, your camera will now only record and stream from that region, but it will do so in full 1080p. This cropping is what results in the zoom.
By adjusting the camera sensor itself, zooming is achieved without any pixels needing to be stretched, as they are with digital zoom, and without any movement of the lenses, like with optical zoom.
How to get sensor crop setup on your MV cameras
First, navigate to the video stream for the camera you’d like to crop, and select the “Settings” tab, then “Video Settings.”
Below the video player, there will be a “Sensor Crop” section — click the “Select crop region” button. Note that sensor crop cannot be applied while High Dynamic Range (HDR) is enabled, and vice versa.
Your video player will now have a crop-region selector overlaid. By clicking on the selector, you can move it around the frame to target a particular area of interest, or cut out unnecessary portions of the field of view. You can also resize the selector using the green square in the bottom-right corner.
Once you’re happy with the selected region, scroll down and press “Apply crop region.” And that’s it!
This crop may take a few minutes to actually be applied, and it can be removed at any point.
What do you plan to use sensor crop for? Tell us all about it over on the Meraki Community!
When reviewing footage and trying to identify key characteristics about something in a scene, the distance between the object and your camera can often feel like a frustrating limitation. In many cases, you can clearly see the whole object, but some of the finer characteristics are difficult to make out.
To help with this frustration, and make some attributes easier to spot, the Cisco Meraki MV team has added a digital zoom feature in the Meraki dashboard, giving users enhanced visibility from all of their MV cameras.
How does digital zoom actually work?
Digital zoom can be a bit confusing at first, as it doesn’t really involve the camera at all. Instead, everything is handled by your web browser.
To achieve the zoom effect, we use a process called bilinear interpolation. As you zoom in, the image is cropped, stretching pixels apart as this happens. Interpolation then fills in any of the ‘gaps’ in pixels using a best-guess system, where it estimates the color to add based on that of neighboring pixels. Functionally, this is very similar to how your smartphone handles zooming in on your saved photos.
Giving users the ability to instantly achieve up to a 12x zoom on both live and historical footage, digital zoom is an extremely practical option, and can be easily combined other available zooming features, like optical zoom or sensor crop.
In the image on the left, no zoom is applied — note that we can’t see the brand name on the purple bike in the left-side of the frame. With 12x zoom in the photo on the right, we can see the brand name perfectly.
How you can use digital zoom on the job
Digital zoom is one of the most straightforward features in the dashboard, making it easy to use whenever you think it could be helpful (or if you want to zoom in and out repeatedly for a bit of fun).
Navigate to any single camera feed in your network, and hover your mouse over the video player. Then, scroll with your trackpad or mouse (like you would if you were navigating up and down a web page) to zoom the video in and out — the location of your mouse will ‘aim’ the zoom.
Note that you’ll see how far you’ve zoomed in on the top-left corner of the video player. Once you’re happy with the level of zoom, you can click-and-drag to pan around the field of view.
And that’s it — you can now use this on all your cameras to extract even more information from scenes. Check out our documentation article for more, and tell us how your organization is taking advantage of digital zooming over at the Meraki Community!