PTZ Cameras

What is a Pan Tilt Zoom Camera

PTZ security cameras, or Pan Tilt Zoom cameras, are also known as "robos" or "robotic cameras." As those names suggests, a PTZ camera can be remotely controlled to pan horizontally, tilt vertically, and zoom in and out of fields of view--all while maintaining high-definition footage. PTZs give the camera operator the greatest amount of control over the field of view and depth of field--whether the operator is physically behind the camera or using a remote control.

Pan Tilt Zoom

PTZ cameras offer a full range of motions and are well-loved for their flexibility. The pan option enables a camera operator to move the camera along a horizontal axis. And the tilt option allows the camera operator to move the camera along a vertical axis--from a zero degree tilt to a complete 180 tilt. Zoom abilities enable PTZs to capture clear, high-definition video from both a wide view and a close-up view.

Pan and tilt motors move the security camera mechanically and let the lens do the rest of the work of zooming in and out for the perfect angle and depth of view. A PTZ's zoom lens is designed with specialized motors to focus in on distant objects for enhanced video output without the interference of digital pixels. This optical zoom ability is what lets a PTZ camera capture quality, high-resolution images of distant objects, including license plates from as far away as a thousand yards.

PTZ Cameras vs. Other Cameras

As with video surveillance cameras generally, most PTZs offer infrared night vision and let you watch video output via live streaming. But PTZ security cameras stand out by offering solutions to many of the inconveniences of more limited security cameras. It's possible to see a lot more with a PTZ camera than with a regular security camera, and PTZs tend to provide the best audio in the security camera market.

The most significant difference between PTZ cameras and other cameras is that PTZs are largely composed of motorized mechanical parts which let them pan, tilt, and zoom to capture more fields of view and a wider range of depth with excellent resolution. The moving parts also provide for the most remote control options and make PTZs the easiest camera type to reposition after installation.

How are PTZ cameras used?

A PTZ camera can be part of a larger CCTV security system or can be used as an IP (Internet Protocol) camera to protect one's home or business. As part of a larger security system, a PTZ camera is often used for coverage of blind spots that less flexible cameras might miss.

The high-quality video- and audio-recording abilities of PTZ cameras make them useful in more arenas than just security. They are used by news studios, televised church services, concert videographers, and others where dynamic and professional video footage is needed.

While PTZ cameras cost the most money of all the IP video camera options, they offer a lot in one: a controller that provides a complete range of commands, mechanical motors to move its parts, and an incredibly versatile camera at its core with a huge range and the capacity to capture many angles of view in high-definition resolution.

Zoom Control

Optical Zoom

Most PTZs can perform both optical and digital zooms. In the process of optical zoom, a camera's lens uses a mechanical combination of elements to achieve nonpareil zoom capabilities. For a high-definition, close-up shot of a distant object, the camera expands the space between its lens and sensor. Conversely, to capture a high-definition image of a large area, the camera mechanically reduces the distance between its lens and sensor. Optical zoom is generally preferred over digital zoom because the mechanical process allows for enhanced close-up video in megapixels.

Digital Zoom

Utilizing your camera's digital zoom feature is a smart option if you are remotely surveilling a suspect with the aid of PTZ controls and you don't want to tip off the suspect that you are recording. With digital zoom, your camera won't need to adjust the distance between its lens and sensor but will instead close in on your target by cropping the larger area. The result will be discreet video that is not quite as high-resolution as would be achieved with optical zoom.

Remote Access

Distance limitations are not a problem for PTZ cameras. PC software and smartphone apps allow for remote micromanaging of the camera's pan, tilt, and zoom functions from anywhere. And thanks to its motorised parts, a PTZ security camera will respond to commands that other IP cameras might struggle with, such as where to point and at what angle to tilt.

Remote control is a useful option even if you're in the same room as your PTZ camera. With an IR (infrared) remote, you have the same options you'd have through IP command but without having to connect through the internet. IR remote options are particularly useful when a PTZ is being used in a tight space or when there are multiple cameras and only one operator. One individual can use a remote controller to operate many PTZ cameras at once.

Automatic Control Systems

PTZ cameras can be combined with software technology to offer automatic control features. For example, a PTZ can be preprogrammed to monitor and live stream under preset conditions. PTZs can even be preprogrammed to track things like people and cars for close-up shots as they move.

Time-based Auto Tracking

A single PTZ can be programmed to surveil many predefined areas at different times. For example, through tilting, panning, and zooming, one PTZ camera can be programmed to capture a different corner of a large room for thirty seconds before moving on to the next.

Motion-Based Auto Tracking

Auto tracking features make PTZs a great choice when one object or person must be followed in a large area. For example, PTZs with auto tracking are often used to live stream televised church services with energetic ministers who need to be kept in view as they move around their stage.

In a security context, auto tracking is one of the best recorder solutions to capture close-up video surveillance of subjects moving around a large area. PTZs capable of motion-based auto tracking are great for environments that aren't too crowded. Motion-based auto tracking can monitor a store after closing hours with little difficulty, but software with more advanced AI-based algorithms would be necessary to follow a suspect moving through a public plaza.

Drawbacks of PTZ Cameras

While PTZ cameras can supplement security installations by capturing a huge variety of depths and angles of view, they can result in coverage gaps if they are used as the core of a security installation in a large area. After all, it's impossible to be zoomed in and zoomed out at the very same time. Also, with slow or unreliable internet issues, there can be long latency periods (or wait times) between the moment an IP-controller is given a command and the time the PTZ camera receives its instruction.

PTZ cameras are the most expensive camera option. And their extra moving parts make them more prone to malfunctioning and general wear and tear. A customer can often achieve better surveillance coverage for less money by employing a variety of other cameras and letting them work together.

PTZ Camera Solutions

PTZ cameras offer the greatest high-resolution video and audio surveillance of all the cameras on the CCTV and IP markets. Their motorized parts make it easy to remotely micromanage their angles of view and zoom levels. And with preset software options, they can capture desired shots even when operating without human oversight. A PTZ camera is a smart installation choice if you need a flexible camera that provides high-resolution, quality video outputs whether recording up-close or at a distance.

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IP Cameras

Wireless cameras are not reliable enough for commercial use yet. Instead, we use purpose-built antennae to connect hardwired cameras on light poles and buildings.


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Watch live or previously recorded footage on any mobile device. Save it to your phone and e-mail it just like any other video or image.


Increased Resolution
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4k or 8MP cameras represent the best value at the moment. Depending on your situation, a 30+ megapixel camera can be installed allowing you to read a seat number from the opposite end of a football field.

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