SecuritySpy and ONVIF

SecuritySpy is our flagship video surveillance software product for Mac OS X, and asĀ of version 3.2, SecuritySpy supports the ONVIF protocol. Here are the answers to some common questions, and information about this new feature.

What is ONVIF?

ONVIF is an open industry standard for IP-based video surveillance products. In the past, SecuritySpy would have to be pre-programmed with profiles for each camera it supports, containing information about the supported streaming formats, audio capabilities, communication ports, resolutions, frame rates, Pan/Tilt/Zoom features etc. This is inconvenient and time-consuming for us as developers, and also bad for customers because there is an inevitable delay between a new camera coming on the market and an update to SecuritySpy to officially support it.

With ONVIF, all this information can be obtained from the camera automatically. Therefore, any new ONVIF-compliant camera hitting the market can be immediately used with SecuritySpy using the ONVIF setting built into the software.

How do I use the ONVIF setting?

Open the Video Device Settings window in SecuritySpy and add a new network device. Select ONVIF as the device type:

Video Device Settings - ONVIF

Enter the camera’s IP address and username/password and click OK – that’s it!

As usual, the camera should be set up with a static IP address on your local network.

How do I choose stream settings?

The camera will come pre-programmed with certain “profiles” to choose from, which may differ in terms of compression format, resolution, frame rate, or quality. To choose the desired profile, click the “Get profile list” button in the Video Device Settings window and SecuritySpy will display a list of all the profiles reported by the camera:

Profile List in SecuritySpy

The exact parameters of each profile may be configurable via the camera’s settings pages, accessible using a web browser.

Is Pan/Tilt/Zoom supported?

Yes. SecuritySpy will automatically detect this and will be able to control the PTZ of any capable camera. Different cameras move at different speeds though, so if you find that the movements are too fast or too slow, you can adjust the speed via the PTZ windows in SecuritySpy (click the triangular disclosure icon at the bottom of the window to see this setting):

SecuritySpy PTZ Window

Can SecuritySpy connect to an ONVIF camera over the internet?

Yes, however auto-discovery of the camera’s ports will not work in this case. You will need to specify the ONVIF port and RTSP port if they are non-standard (the standard ports are 80 and 554 respectively).

Will all ONVIF cameras work with SecuritySpy?

Almost all ONVIF-compliant cameras will work, however we have previously come across two possible problems. Firstly, the web interfaces of some cameras don’t work in Mac browsers, so such cameras cannot be configured on a Mac. Fortunately, these days manufacturers tend not to be so shortsighted, and recognise that a significant proportion of their potential market comprises Mac users. Using a PC or some Windows emulation software (such as Parallels) for the initial camera setup can get around this. Secondly, in rare cases, the video stream produced by some cameras cannot be decoded by QuickTime (which is what SecuritySpy uses for its video decompression). To minimise the chances of this, stick to respected manufacturers, or manufacturers already shown on our list of compatible cameras. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to check the returns policy of the store from which you are planning to purchase your camera to make sure you are able to return it if you have to.

12 thoughts on “SecuritySpy and ONVIF

  1. Warren Jason

    I prefer to choose standards-based products overall. Can you please add ONVIF compliance to your filter/screen of cameras? How about adding ONVIF compliance, or a lack of it, to the descriptions of your 10 recommended cameras? I need to buy 16 HD IP outdoor cameras very soon, one or two need to be wireless, and them I will license my sample copy of SecuritySpy. Thanks!

    1. bensoftware Post author

      Hi yes we do plan to add this information to our camera list. However maybe only for new cameras we come across as well as major brands such as Axis – adding this information for the thousand or so cameras already on the list is a very time-consuming task! We will do our best though.

  2. Doug

    I am trying to get a Digital Watchdog MV421D that is ONVIF compliant working with 3.2. I have followed the instructions above and I am unable to get it to communicate with the camera. I get an error 400 attempting to get the profile list. Of course there is no camera connection…. Any ideas?

    1. bensoftware Post author

      Hi Doug, a 400 error indicates that the camera is rejecting SecuritySpy’s request for some reason. This could be a bad username/password so please make sure these are specified correctly. Also, please try the latest version of SecuritySpy, because 3.2 is an older version.

  3. mehdi

    hi dear
    i have a problem and just i need your help .please do me a favor and guid me .i have some ip cameras with PIXORD brand that the pixord is a member of onvif,butwhen ever i want of use them in NVRs ors some ip softwares,i cant add them.can you help me what shal i do for it?bythe way the brand of NVRs is DAHUA

  4. Ian

    I’ve been running my panasonic WV-SW152 cameras using the Panasonic WV-SC385 selection capturing JPEG HTTP for some months without any problems. After reading up on ONVIF I tried this on my cameras and hey presto the image quality was far better.

    The only issue is that randomly the cameras blank for a second or so. I’ve set both in camera and SecuritySpy to 3 fps but still the blanking happens.

    The error message is :
    Error communicating with the network device “110 Rat Cam” 3.4,10,835 Excessive packet loss from network device, the network may be too slow or defective, or this computer may be overloaded. Check the network and/or reduce this camera’s frame rate.

    I’m running on a 1Gbps switch, Mac Mini 2.5GHz i5 with 4GB of RAM. The mac and network don’t appear to an issue, so I’m stuck! Any help appreciated.

    1. bensoftware Post author

      Hi Ian, this message indicates that packets are being lost when being transmitted over the network – this could very well be causing the anomalies you are seeing. One thing to try is the two RTSP variants – TCP and UDP – to see if one produces better results. You can select this via the Format setting in the Video Device Settings window in SecuritySpy.

      Also, download and install the latest firmware onto your camera, as this may resolve the problem.

      The ONVIF profile (which presumably enables the use of the camera’s H.264 stream) shouldn’t necessarily give you better image quality than the standard JPEG HTTP setting in the Panasonic profile. What you should do is log on to the camera using a web browser and make sure that the resolution of the JPEG stream is set to maximum, which a medium-high quality setting. With the right settings in the camera, the JPEG stream should look just as good as the H.264 stream.

  5. Manfred

    Most of the time in the past I have seen my Hikam A7 in the Camera window. Since today no connection to cam. Nothing has changed…same IP etc.

    Error Message:
    01-06-2016 0045-02: Error communicating with the network device “Network camera” 3.4.10,8440,32 Broken pipe (EPIPE)

    With iPhone App Cam is ok and picture is fine?
    Could You help?

    1. Ben Software Post author

      The EPIPE error means that the camera is unexpectedly closing the connection. What settings are you using for it in SecuritySpy? Try restarting your Mac, the camera and all network hardware (switch/router etc.). Does this resolve the problem?


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