PTZ camera advice

What is a PTZ camera?

PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt, Zoom. A PTZ camera can be remotely controlled allowing it to move up and down as well as zoom in on potentially important targets. You can also program a tour between pre-set points. In theory, PTZ cameras sound great, they can cover large areas and even zoom in when more detail is required.

The downsides of using a PTZ camera

PTZ cameras are expensive, certainly good ones are. There are a few low-quality products on the market aimed at the bottom end of the DIY market, these should be avoided. However, the biggest problem with PTZ cameras is that you need a full-time operator to control them. When pointing in one direction they can’t see elsewhere.

When the camera is moving the image will be blurred meaning you can’t get any detail or identify people. So when you set the camera on a tour between preset points the image will be blurred for a large part of the recording.

Infra red illumination is often not fitted to PTZ cameras meaning they are less effective at night. It is possible to find PTZ cameras with effective IR and our PTZ cameras feature zoom sensitive IR which increases brightness as you zoom in, the assumption being you are hoping to see further away.

Latency when remote accessing the cameras. When remote accessing PTZ cameras there is a delay between you asking a camera to move and seeing the result of that movement on your remote monitor or computer. This is known as latency and it can make it difficult to accurately control PTZ cameras remotely over the internet.

Consider fitting more fixed cameras

Rather than use a PTZ camera consider fitting more fixed cameras for the same cost as a single PTZ camera. That way you will cover all the views all the time. You also don’t need the expense of a full-time operator. There are some “self-tracking” cameras which identify targets and keep following them, the problem is the image will be blurred when the camera moves and how does the camera know who to track when faced with multiple targets. Thieves often work in gangs.

PTZ cameras do have their uses but in the vast majority of cases, you are better off using more fixed cameras.

So here are some frequently asked question