Panasonic i-Pro HD WV-SC385 PTZ Camera Review

Moved to www.NetworkCameraCritic.com

Panasonic is one of the leaders in surveillance cameras and has cameras that fit all budgets. The Panasonic i-Pro HD WV-SC385 network camera is their mid range PTZ camera with a street price of about $1,100. The camera can be mounted outdoors with a Panasonic outdoor dome housing.

It’s main selling point is the HD (720) or 1.3MP resolution at an affordable price. There aren’t a lot of
competitors for an HD PTZ camera but you check out my review on the Axis P5534 which would
provide a good comparison.

Picture of a Panasonic i-Pro WV-SC385 PTZ camera

Main Features

• 720p HD images up to 30 fps
• Newly developed 1.3 Megapixel double speed MOS Sensor
• Multiple H.264 and JPEG streams
• Up to a 1,280 x 960 image in 4:3 format or 1280 x 720 in 16:9 format
• 18x optical zoom in all resolutions (36X in VGA mode)
• Adaptive Digital Noise Reduction: 2D-DNR and 3D-DNR
• Panning with auto flip function can be performed 0 to 360 degrees
• Tilt from -30 degree upward to 90 degress downward
• Auto tracking: Pans/tilts to follow a moving subject
• 64 preset positions
• Face detection function detects the position of human face
• Privacy Zone can mask up to 8 private areas, such as house windows and entrances/exits
• Full duplex bi-directional audio
• SDHC/SD Memory card slot for manual, alarm and backup recording upon network failure
• Still images (JPEG) can be viewed on mobile phones via Internet.

Overall this camera is impressive. The images are crystal clear during the day and the noise reduction produces noise free images in low light. The camera has a slow shutter feature that allows it to capture images down to ~1/2 second.

This provides very clear, noise free, bright images in low light, albeit a moving subject may appear blurry. When that feature is turned off, the maximum shutter goes to 1/30th of a second and noise remains in check, but a lot more light is needed to get an equivalent image. I’ll highlight images with both the slow shutter feature on and off.

This camera like many works solely with Windows and Internet Explorer. This is in the spec sheet but I tried Chrome and Safari to no avail. This is is what the web browser interface looks like when you first log into the camera.


The overall interface is clean and intuitive. This is a screenshot where you would setup image settings


This is where you would adjust image settings, for example, shutter speed and white balance.


This screen is where you set the settings to setup the home position and presets. With 64 presets, you won’t likely run out.


Now onto what really matters, the images from the camera. First I’ll start off with a typicaly daylight shot taken on a cloudy day (rare in California but it does happen). Click on the images below to see the full sized image straight from the camera.

This is the 1280 x 960 resolution (1.3 MP) that’s in 4:3 format with no zoom (1X)


This is an image taken in the 720P HD 16:9 format. In this format you lose about 30% of the pixels available in the 1.3MP format above.


Started to play with the zoom, afterall, that’s what this camera is all about. The pan/tilt/zoom is actually pretty quick. Making a 180 degree sweep, going from 1X to about 10X zoom and tilting down a bit took about 3 seconds.

We saw a suspicous looking item on the ledge of one of the pillasters. We zoomed in 5X to see what it is


We are not sure, is it a hairbrush or a gun, we zoom in 10X and start getting pretty good detail


Still not sure, we zoom to the maximum optical zoom for HD resolution which is 18X. The focus seems to be soft here. I tried to manually focus but this is the best I could get.


This is another daytime shot, more of a wide distant view. I love the ominous clouds and yes, it did rain shortly after this despite rumors that it doesn’t rain in California.


Zoomed in at the maximum extended zoom of 36X you can see a house in the distance that was barely a dot in the photo above.


Here’s a shot of a nearby bush that was zoomed in 34X so you can see the fine level of detail that you can get from this camera.


Lastly, I wanted to show you how this camera performs in the darkness of night. It appears to do very well at first because the maximum exposure is set at a long and unusual 16/30th of second. The noise reduction for such a long exposure shows how well this camera deals with noise and is pretty good.


This is the same image but taken with the slow shutter feature turned off, meaning it’s now at 1/30th of a second. In this case, with the poor lighting, the image is worthless as it’s nearly black.


The compromise may be setting it to 4/30ths to get detail while providing a faster shutter speed.


To use this camera to capture moving subjects effectively, additional lighting may be required.

Some things I was not able to test are the SD card recording, facial recognition and the auto tracking.

The pluses for this camera are;
• 720p HD resolution or 1.3 MP for those that prefer a 4:3 format
• Affordable HD PTZ. I know that’s a bit much for some, but certainly a bargain next to the competition.
• Very good image quality
• Good noise reduction
• Internal SD card slot that can save video during a network outage
• Can send event alerts as emails or ftp
• Powered by PoE

The shortfalls of this camera are;
• Wide angle not as wide as I would like at 4.7mm
• Low light capability is not great at 1/30th max exposure
• Requires an optional housing for outdoor use

Recommended for;
• This camera works well for surveillence where high definition resolution, fast pan/tilt capability and long powerful optical zoom are needed. This is probably the best value in the market for an HD PTZ camera.

The Panasonic spec sheet for the WV-SC385 can be found HERE


39 Responses to “Panasonic i-Pro HD WV-SC385 PTZ Camera Review”

  1. 1 Ryan
    March 26, 2012 at 4:35 am

    Great review as always!! Looking forward to more

  2. March 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I am totaly confused. My neighbor was robbed. Now they are trying to steal my air conditioner. I am looking for an IP camera for daytime and night. I thought a bullet camera was right. I need at least (3) high quailty cameras. I have become lost looking at all the video cameras. I loved the pan and zoom features on other cameras. I was looking to spend $2000 for at least 3 cameras. I looked at the Zavio B7210. But it does not have pan or zoom features. I was thinking of a dome camera for my front door. I am not sure if I should go withe the other cameras. It is only a short time before the crooks come back and steal from me.

    I need your help on chossing the right cameras, System. The internet has totaly confused me.

    Thank You,

    Philip Nielsen

    • March 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      There are a lot of choices out there. ICS West, the largest trade show for security cameras and access control is going on this week in Las Vegas. I good time to sit and wait a few days to see if anything new comes out. I personally prefer a few fixed cameras instead of a PTZ because the fixed cameras are always watching their area and from one screen, you can see all the areas at once. PTZ cameras depend on selecting areas you want to cover and then doing what’s called a patrol, where they go from one preset area to another. So one PTZ camera covering say 3 areas means that each area at best gets 1/3rd of recording time. There’s a place for both types of cameras, but for home use, you are probably better off with seperate cameras. As for dome vs. bullet, that’s more of a personal choice. Pro’s tend to favor dome cameras, more vandal resistant, less obvious to where they are pointed. My downside on domes is the ones with built in illuminators tend to get a little light bleed from the reflection of the illuminator on the curved surface of the dome. Also they may be more difficult to mount outdoors.

      As far what you really need in terms of options. Make sure you get a camera that is day/night (aka. IR Cut Filter), get a varifocal lens for beginers because you can adjust the focal length at the camera without buying new lenses, do not get WiFi cameras, use PoE, it’s easier to wire and dependable and finally, get a camera with built in illuminators, otherwise you’l quickly find out how expensive external illuminators are.

  3. 4 mile
    April 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    thumbs up for the detailed reviews!!!

    i know this is not appropriate place for my several questions, but I couldn’t find a way to contact the guy that is writing this blog, so I posted here hoping I will get a reply from the author or someone else that is competent in this area. Also if you know a place where I can ask/post these questions please let me know in the comments.
    hi my name is mile,

    i’m doing a research for my masters and seeing I have no experience in surveilance cameras, I need an advice on what

    kind of camera to use for my project.

    NOTE: i didn’t just opened this thread blindly, as first I took a look around the web site, the forum and plenty other

    sites as well. however when a know little about a certain topic, i always ask help from people who are more competent

    than me and whose knowledge in this ‘unknown area’ is greater than mine.

    Here are the camera requirements:
    1. it should be robust and resilient to rough weather conditions (rain, graupel, hail, etc.) >> outdoor
    -the camera will be located on a mountain top (location A) with height around 2.500 m (8.200 feet)

    2. the camera should have the feature to be remotely controlled >> PTZ
    -it will be controled from a computer terminal in a monitoring center (location B)

    2. it should have network connectivity through ethernet port >> IP camera
    -the camera (location A) will be plugged to ethernet port on a router or access point that will transmit the signal to a

    remote location (location B – 20km distance) where it will be viewed and stored on a computer terminal. i’m planning to use a directional antenna that will increase the transmission range on the AP/router. the data should be able to move in both directions. from A to B carrying the signal, and B to A carrying the direction control signal fromt the computer terminal
    -i haven’t made a final decision, but if anyone reading this has a better idea pleas share it with me. i’m open to suggestions

    4. big optical zoom and coverage vision up to 5 km (3 miles) >> ???
    -i have no idea what kind of zoom do i need, the zoomed picture should have the necessary quality so that the viewer on the computer screen can recognize whether certain silhouette (approximately 2m in height) is human, animal or some type of object. the camera will be located on a mountain top and it will be required to monitor a forest are, monitoring and trying to detect a potential forest fire.

    5. affordable price >> around 1.000$
    -i don’t know if i’m doing an overkill with the 5 km requirement, but i have no idea if that will increase the price significantly because I have no idea what kind of resources are needed in a camera to enable certain features. keeping the price low is nice but is not always my priority. if i get something i think is nice, for some extra money i’ll probably pay. but i’m always looking for a deal that will get me the best value for the money i’ll pay

    6. bug free software and hardware
    -i’m not expecting it to be state of the art perfect design, but I wouldn’t like to be error prone

    7. night vision
    -likewise i’m not expecting this for the whole vision range, but at least in the proximity of the camera if possible

    if you have better ideas please share.
    if i’m using some terminology wrong please correct me.
    if you know other place where i can ask for help, let me know in your reply

    thanks. mile

    • April 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      The budget is tough but here’s what I would do. Get a Panasonic BB-HCM581A for about $750 or BB-HCM580A for $650. Then get a decent outdoor dome enclosure like from Pelco with a heater and fan. Great low light peformance, great zoom, VGA resolution. It’s not a problem being able to say see a house at 5km with this camera. As for transmitting 20km, several low cost bridges from Ubiquiti will allow you to bridge that distance as long as you have line of sight. They run about $80 each, you’ll need two.

      • 6 Philip Nielsen
        April 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        Thank you so much for the information. I have been going crazy at all of the cameras and features. I even looked and many resellers and got lost. I almost was going to say it was too expensive. I even tried contacting Panasonic and china manufacturs. My last though was to take Logitech webcamera C910 and connect tree together. But the forums said using more than one web camera was still buggy on the software side.

        Thank You for your kindness,

        Philip Nieslen

      • 7 mile
        April 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

        thanks for the quick response, i see the ones on ebay are in teh 950$ region.
        i do most of my shopping on ebay, but i think other web sites have better prices than ebay in this case. Please recommend me some webpages that sell camera equipment and have low prices. thanks again!

      • April 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        Just Google the model number and selected Shopping from the drop down on the Google menu bar on top. You never know who has a certain model cheaper, maybe Amazon.com, bhphotovideo.com, surveillent.net, sears.com. To use eBay, you really have to know what you are looking for and if the price is right or not. Also, I would think that Amazon’s, B&H, Sears reputation and return policy is way better than some individual on eBay.

  4. April 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I have looked at types of PTZ cameras. I think the price versus quality is out of line. 1.3 M pixels. at $1000. The quality of the picture is not worth showing the police. I am seriously looking at Canon cameras with around 12MP.
    I would download the SDK and develop a 4 camera system. I can buy IP network proto board for $100 each. Then I would need to build two stepper controls for each camera. I am a software/hardware engineer. The cameras are around $400. I can get facial recognition software next to nothing. It will take allot of work. But a 4 camera PTZ with poor quality would start at $4000. No Thanks. The cameras have USB outputs and Video out NTSC standards. The really expensive Canon Cameras had HDMI and IP modules. Canon will make a serious change to SVC. And I have an autocad program for the mechanicl design.

  5. 10 Philip Nielsen
    April 11, 2012 at 2:07 am

    I give in. It is just takes to much time to put my home brew together. I have decided on the WV-SC385. I have priced a dome case for $219. It is even cheaper at other sites. I can use less expensive bullets for other points of interest to me. The WV-SC385 will protect the front area. From my searching the network I have now been trying to find a good software management tool. Any suggestions. The bullet cameras I don’t think can see motion? Anyway I have turned around 360 degrees and found your selection to be the best for the money. I am not sure about Spytown website. But they were the cheapest so far. You have done your homework very well. What type of software is a good program? I am refering to see all the cameras or just one. I hear the software & firmware were somewhat buggy.

    • April 11, 2012 at 2:26 am

      The official Panasonic dome is about $250, so your price seems good. Panasonic does give you software to record, it’s not all that great. They charge to upgrade it, not sure if it makes it much better. Also, you can have it record to the SD card slot and then use Internet Explorer to view video recorded to the camera. Works OK with one camera but get tedious after you add a few more. I personally have used BlueIris Software, costs $50, runs on Windows, simple to use, provides remote web access from anywhere, any device (Smartphone, iPad, Mac, etc). I never had my own PTZ cameras, so I don’t know what happens with 3rd party software as the camera goes from one preset to another on patrol, so download a demo version first, see if that works for you and it doesn’t trigger an event each time the camera switches positions.

      Another choice for 180 degree viewing if the area you want to protect is not too far away is a 180 or 360 degree camera. I recently viewed the ACTi KCM-3911. It’s 4MP and sends out up to 6 streams, each one with a view around 180 or 360 degrees (outdoors it’s typically mounted on a wall so 180 degrees). So it can be like having 4 seperate cameras, each one with 1MP resolution, all from one camera, all checking for motion seperately. The advantage is that you see all all areas at once vs. a PTZ camera having to shift and stop at each location. The downside is you can’t zoom in like a PTZ. Realizing that, ACTi marries their KCM-3911 with their PTZ camera. It monitors the 180 degree zone and gives you a nice panoramic picture. When it detects motion, it passes the coordinates to the PTZ camera that pans/tilts/zooms right on the subject that’s moving without any PC or software. Saw it in action at the ISC show, very cool. Don’t have details on pricing and may review that as soon as I get through the stack of cameras on my desk that still need to be reviewed.

  6. May 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Is the WV-sc385 or the WV-SW395 any different in features or benifits. I really want to track faces. I have burglers? I will use motion flood lights for night. I am not interested in covert survelance. I just want to capture faces. I can buy two SC385 with domes for $3K. Or one SW395 for around $2K.

  7. 13 Philip Nielsen
    May 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I finaly purchased the panasonic WV-SC385 camera. The software that came with the camera does not have all the features discussed earlier this forum? I imagine I would have to spend more for the upgrades. So I purchased Blue Irus software. I can’t make it work with my WV-SC385 camera. Has anyone been succesful with Blue Irus and the WV-SC385 camera?

    One more question. What is the best way to extend my range? Best buy has run me in circles. I am using a NETGEAR router and I tried a $40 dollar range extender. It gave me one more bar.

    • May 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      I did not test any of the software that came with the camera, only the web interface. BlueIris does not support every camera but if you email support@blueirissoftware.com, Ken is very helpful. If you provide external access to the camera, he can test it for you.

      The WV-SC385 is not WiFi. You’ll need to buy a PoE switch or injector and run ethernet cable. But the easiest way to extend WiFi is to buy WiFi repeaters. Many routers can be configured as repeaters, typically the cheaper brands do this. It should say so on the box.

      • 15 Philip Nielsen
        May 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        I found this site. It may work. http://www.illumi-nations.com/combo-panel-20dbi-router
        I really like Blue Irus software. The previous model to the WV-SC385 was the WV-NS202. I was hoping it would work. I did sent an email to the support line that they could use my camera for software beta testing. I have not mounted the camera as yet. I am trying to get the distance and a software management tool.

    • 16 Ryan
      May 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      You can also try buying a Ethernet over power line adapter, that will work way better than range extenders. They won’t work sometimes if your circuits your connecting are opposite in the circuit breaker box.

  8. 17 Philip Nielsen
    May 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Blue Irus is working on a driver for the WV-SC385. Ken is extremly helpful. I am just waiting for his new driver. He did release a new one about a week ago. The support from Blue Irus is great. I tried to use PortForward. But I can’t make that software work. The software from Panasonic is a skeleton software. I don’t know what the SETUP button is for? It requires a name and password? I could not find it.

  9. 18 Philip Nielsen
    May 31, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I noticed on the first post the WV-SC385 camera is shown with the setup option working. How do you enable the SETUP option?

    • 19 Ryan
      May 31, 2012 at 6:30 am

      default username and password is…
      ID: admin
      Password: 12345

      • 20 Philip Nielsen
        May 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        Thank so much. I need some sort of software to test my camera. I did find a very good software program. But it does not support my camera as yet. I will try it tonight. If I could give KUDOS. I would give you the max.

      • 21 Philip Nielsen
        May 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm

        I tested the admin and 12345 and it worked great. Thank you very much.

      • 22 Ryan
        May 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm

        Good. Make sure you change it if you portforward from your router.

  10. 23 Philip Nielsen
    June 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I have tried Blue Irus software for my WV-SC385 camera. The software does not support my camnera as yet. I then tried Milestone and I was unsuccesful. First it loaded but I could not find my server. So I uninstalled and then re installed. Now I can’t log on?
    Is there any software like Blue Irus that will support my WV-SC385 camera? The WV-SC385 camera is an excelent choice for me. http://WWW.spytown.com has the cheapest price.

    • 24 Ryan
      June 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Be careful of these cheap companies that sell the cameras as their a non-authorized reseller from Panasonic. Your warranty is void. I got mine from BH photo, I checked it a while ago they were authorized. Only like 50 bucks more. Well worth it in the end. If you have a Mac, Security Spy works great with it. Did you contact blue Iris about adding compatibility for the camera??

      • 25 Philip Nielsen
        June 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

        Blue Irus was giving me excelent support for awhile. I actualy liked Blue Irus software. Then I was asked to used portforward software. That caused allot of problems. I ended up with a hacker downloaded my drive. Now I am back trying milestone software essential. What is the best way to create a server? Milestane uses a server for there application. The software from Panasonic does not seem to need a server. I will fight tonight with milestone software. I have come to the conclusion: All software vendors on the internet promise you the world but never can deliver.

  11. 26 Philip Nielsen
    June 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    If you have any software for my camera let me know.

  12. 27 Philip Nielsen
    June 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Can i build a cheap joystick controller for WV-S385? Panasonic products are for big comanies. Most controllers are for CCTC cameras. I was looking for software or a controller that will work with IP cameras by Panasonic.
    This is an excelent resource for information.

  13. 28 Flannery
    July 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Wow. Great review and thanks. I found my camera i think. No wasted dollarson analog ptz nor dvr. I have a seperate windows 7 computer so i should be all set , after poe that is.. Question… If i put outside protected under porch will i need an extra dome?? I would get one before winter butsays ok down to 14f? Thoughts? Recomendtions? Ps..in midwest

    • July 23, 2012 at 6:01 am

      Panasonic makes an outdoor dome housing for this camera and theres 3rd party domes. Most of the time, dome enclosures have a fan and heater built in but you’ll have to run seperate 12V to power it.

  14. 30 Tom
    July 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    perfect.. i think i will go with panny dome.. one last question.. with the included software I can record to computer correct? still seeing if Blue iris will support as well..

    • July 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Panny gives you software for free that’s a neutered version of the pay one in hopes you’ll upgrade. I was not impressed with their software and would advise you to find something better. BlueIris is easy to use and a bargain at $50 and has a loyal following.

      • 32 Philip Nielsen
        July 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        Blue irus will NOT support WV-SC385 camera

      • July 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        BlueIris currently supports a wide range of Panasonic cameras including other Panasonic PTZ cameras. You can download the free trial and select a similar camera, the WV-NS202A comes to mind, it may work and if it doesn’t, if you give them remote access to the camera, Ken can usually get it working in a day or two, he’s very responsive. Also, looking back through one of the forums I participate in, networkcamerareviews.com, it shows someone that is using BlueIris with his WV-SC385.

      • 34 Philip Nielsen
        July 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

        I did use port forward and screwed it up. I found someone had dowloaded 300K of files and still going. Ken is very helpfull. I just did not want to fight using port forward again.

  15. 35 Marius
    August 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Hi Guys, I have this camera,(WV-SC385) i was wondering if you know where ( or if it’s) an option to slow down moving between positions , at the moment it is changing positions very quick, too quick.thanks

  16. 37 Greg
    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Where is the stock Panasonic dome for $250? The OEM housing that I Located for this CAM is over $1000! Any other generic domes for this cam that are in the $200 or less range? Going nuts trying to find one. Simple housing, preferably corner mount needed. No heater required. In SoCal. Thanks anyone!

  17. 38 Greg
    October 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Sorry, a pendant mount…

    • 39 Philip Nielsen
      January 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      I purchased a full dome “Pendent” for $500. It incuded heaters power supplies, etc. The company was “Moog” ?

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