PTZ Cameras

PTZ Cameras by CCTV Camera World

PTZ is an acronym that stands for "pan, tilt, and zoom." PTZ cameras, or Pan Tilt Zoom cameras, are ideal for surveillance and streaming since they can rotate left and right, tilt up and down, and zoom in and out. PTZs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all consist of a video camera that is moved by servos and motors. Simply, these are robotic cameras with motorized zoom lenses and the ability to move, which are ideal for all forms of surveillance and live streaming projects.

CCTV Camera World's PTZ cameras can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world via a smartphone app or computer software. Several of our PTZs can even stream directly to YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook Live! Be sure to read our guide on how to pick the best PTZ camera system for your needs, whether you want to broadcast a church service, animals, an event, or if you need it for security reasons.

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Security Camera Buying Guides

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    Examples of Auto Tracking PTZ Cameras in Action
  • How to Set Up Auto Tracking
    How to Set Up Auto Tracking on a PTZ Camera
  • How To View Over the Internet
    How To View Security Cameras Over the Internet
  • Intro To Smart Security Cameras
    Intro To Smart Security Cameras


What is a PTZ camera?

PTZ cameras, also known as Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras, are those that have electrical servos and motors that can rotate (pan), swivel up and down (tilt), and have motorized adjustable lenses (zoom). PTZ cams are excellent tools for security and video production since they can be controlled remotely using smartphone apps or software. They can be programmed to cycle through preset viewpoints, follow tours, or automatically scan an area, whereas standard cameras only record a single view. Some Pan Tilt Zoom security cameras have AI capabilities that can automatically track and follow moving individuals or vehicles for more perimeter security.

How do I control a PTZ camera?

In the past, controlling a PTZ security camera was difficult to set up using analog joystick controllers and dedicated RS485 serial data wires that required complicated programming. With the advent of PoE camera technology, a PTZ can be easily connected to a computer network for control over the Internet from your Smartphone, PC, or tablet. All of our PTZ IP cameras have a built-in webserver that allows the user to login and fine tune settings. All you need is network cable, a PoE switch, and a PC for quick setup. The Internet and a WiFi router is only needed if you wish to control the camera from your Smartphone. The video below shows how easy it is to control our PTZs from your Mobile Device from anywhere in the world.

If you have several cameras, you may want to add a PTZ controller joystick that allows for quick control of the camera.

If you prefer Analog Security Cameras and RG59 coax cable, we also have HD Analog PTZ security cameras. They allows easier set up than older analog PTZ since they can send a video and data signal over one coax wire and do not need an additional RS485 wire. As these cameras are not digital, to control Analog Pan Tilt Zoom cameras you do need a DVR recorder to operate the camera either from a mouse connected to the DVR or from a Smartphone.  

Can you use a PTZ camera for Live Streaming?

Yes, PTZ cams are the best choice for Live streaming video over the Internet. When compared to fixed-lens or motorized-lens cameras, they offer the most versatility for streaming because they can be controlled remotely in nearly all directions. In today's media streaming age, having complete control over a camera for streaming is a must have.

Customers have used our PTZ security cameras to stream a variety of events, including church services, zoo exhibits, natural wildlife habitats, and construction sites, to name a few. We've also helped customers design solutions for live streaming weather stations, military explosive testing, and conference rooms. We can assist you in getting the right equipment and give expert-level technical support for any live streaming project you can dream of.

You can find our latest Live Streaming Cameras by clicking the picture below.

Shop Live Streaming Cameras

How far can a PTZ camera see?

This is an excellent question because it is entirely dependent on the specific camera model. When engineers develop a PTZ, they must consider how far a particular model can see or reach. Short, medium, and long-range PTZ cameras each have their own roles in security and live streaming. During development, engineers select a lens and an image sensor that fit the model's intended purpose.

The optical zoom lenses typically come in a variety of X (power) ratings, which can be misleading. The X rating is an approximation of the difference between a lens' widest zoomed-out angle and its smallest zoomed-in angle. A 4X camera, for example, often has a 2.8mm to 12mm lens. The 4X rating is determined by dividing 12 by 2.8 and rounding down. Other widely used zoom lenses include 12X, 25X, and 30X. Super long-range cameras have lenses with magnifications of up to 40X or 48X. For a more realistic indication of how far a camera can see, we recommend verifying the actual lens specifications rather than the X rating. DORI distances, also known as Detect Observe Recognize and Identify ratings, are also useful specifications to understand how far a PTZ cam can see.

The quality of a camera's video sensor also has a significant impact on how far it can record or deliver good detail at a distance. Many of the lower-end cameras available from merchants on sites like Amazon, eBay, or big box retailers contain low-quality, unreliable image sensors. While cheaper cameras claim to be able to see details at long distances, what they actually provide is pixelated footage that is not good enough quality for live broadcasting and is impossible to use for security. To capture the most detail at a distance, consider investing in a high quality 4K PTZ camera with a large zoom (X) lens.

Below is an example of what our 48X Zoom PTZ camera can do. The image was provided by a purchasing customer, and shared with us how well our camera can see the Lunar surface with the camera located on his rooftop.

Snaphot of actual footage cpatured by a 48X PTZ of the Lunar surface

What is the difference between a PTZ camera and an IP camera?

For the layperson who does not work with security cameras every day, industry acronyms and jargon are difficult to understand. Because IP camera technology is becoming more mainstream, the term "IP camera" is becoming more common. It refers to the technology used to send video data from a camera to a recorder or the internet. Most of the PTZ cameras being manufactured these days are in essence IP PTZ Cameras as they are network based cameras. Such cameras are digital cameras that have lots of bells and whistles such as a built-in web server, and the ability to watch directly from a Smartphone or PC without needing a recorder. Further, the fundamental difference between a PTZ camera and a standard IP camera is that standard IP cameras do not have motorized components. 

The other type of camera technology is called "Analog" or "HD over coax" for high definition over coax as it uses BNC tipped coaxial cable to send an "HD analog" video signal with data. Analog PTZ security cameras that use coaxial technology have been around much longer than IP cameras. Pros and Cons of PTZ security cameras

PTZ cameras can be used for almost any security or media production project. However, they are not ideal for every situation, and other types of cameras may perform better.

Advantages of PTZ Cams

  • Wide Angles – A wide field of view allows you to cover a lot of ground 
  • Powerful Zoom – Zoom into a small field of vision to capture detail from a distance
  • Automation – A wide area can be monitored using Auto Scan or Preset Tour features
  • Auto Tracking – AI-enabled PTZs can automatically track and follow humans and slow moving vehicles in low traffic areas
  • Remote Control – Command the Pan, Tilt, and Zoom from anywhere using smartphone apps or computer software

Disadvantages of PTZ Cams

  • Security Blind-spots – PTZs only record what they are looking at the time and may miss events during scans, preset tours, or auto tracking movements
  • Complicated Installation – PTZs are typically large and might be challenging to correctly install
  • Cost Prohibitive – Good quality PTZs are more costly to manufacture, so they are more expensive than regular cameras
  • Lag or Latency – Giving commands over the internet to PTZs via apps or software can be slow

Types of PTZ Cameras

As we described in the difference between IP cameras and PTZs, a PTZ can be an IP camera. Analog PTZs are still produced for analog security camera systems. Last but not least, with newer and better wireless technology, we now carry professional WiFi or wireless PTZ cameras for live streaming and security.

PTZ IP Cameras

PoE (Power over Ethernet) and WiFi or Wireless cameras are examples of IP PTZ cameras:

PoE PTZ Camera

PoE technology delivers power and data to PTZ cameras over a single Ethernet (CAT5e or CAT6) cable. PoE PTZ cameras are exceptionally simple to use with a PoE NVR (Network Video Recorder) that is plug and play. PoE PTZs are also simple to deploy over a local network for a live stream camera using a PoE injector or PoE switch.

Wireless PTZ Cameras

Wireless or WiFi PTZ cameras communicate with routers via WiFi, eliminating the necessity for a direct wire link between them. Professional wireless PTZ cameras still require a nearby power source. WiFi and wireless technologies are very new in the security camera industry, and they are not the most reliable solution. While WiFi PTZs are useful in situations where installing a wire would be problematic, they should not be relied on extensively for security.

Analog PTZ Security Cameras

Analog PTZ cameras, also referred to as HD over Coax PTZ, use a HD video signal such as HDCVI, TVI, or AHD to send a high definition video signal over RG59 coax wire combined with control commands. A DVR is required to view and control the cameras. 

In the past, before the advent of HD over Coax video signal technology, Analog PTZ transmitted standard definition video called CVBS. Analog CVBS is the oldest security camera signal type, requiring coax cable for video and a separate 2-lead wire for RS485 transmission. RS485 was used to send movement and zoom commands to cameras through dedicated hardware and protocols. After the invention of HD over Coax camera technology, we are able to send control commands combined with the video signal over the same coax wire. 

Our Analog PTZ cameras can be set to standard definition mode to replace older analog cameras, or can be used in HD mode along with an HD Security DVR.

What to consider when choosing the best PTZ Camera

Choosing the best Pan Tilt Zoom Camera for your project can be challenging. The purpose of the camera, how far it should be able to see, and your budget are some things to consider. PTZs are used for many different things, such as security monitoring and multimedia tasks like filming and live streaming.

If you're reading this, you probably already have an interest in Pan Tilt Zoom cameras or have already decided that you need one. Depending on how you plan to use the camera, there are some critical factors to take into account. Will the camera be used to monitor a parking lot, driveway, or other remote area for security reasons? Or do you intend to use the camera to record a short film or live stream online?

Do you need the camera to automatically track trespassers at an entry point? then consider reading our guide about Auto-tracking PTZ cameras.

There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to buying a PTZ cam, so if you’re interested in learning more about how to buy the best PTZ camera for your project, read our How to Pick the Best PTZ Camera guide.

How to pick the best PTZ camera

Can Pan Tilt Zoom Security Cameras be used for License Plate Capture?

PTZs shouldn't be used to capture license plates, and none of ours are marketed as license plate capture cameras. However, if there is enough light and the car is parked, they can occasionally see a license plate. Due to motion blur, using a PTZ to see license plates on moving vehicles is very challenging, if not impossible. To put it another way, it might be useful to use a PTZ to capture images of license plates on vehicles in a parking lot, but it wouldn't be wise to try doing so for moving vehicles. Instead, consider using a Pan Tilt Zoom Cam to scan the area and a License Plate Capture camera at the entrance or exit of the street, road, or parking lot.

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