PTZ or Pan, Tilt, Zoom cameras (also known as speed domes) are those that can be remotely controlled from the security system recorder. Using either the software on the recorder or a dedicated controller, the camera can be moved left & right, up & down and be optically zoomed in & out. Usually the focus setting of the camera is auto-focus at the point of zooming, however usually can be controlled separately if required.
Whilst this all sounds great and that you can cover a huge area with a single camera it usually only works best when there is a dedicated security camera system operator. This person actually controls the camera live, directing it where it needs to be pointed. They also manage the zooming in or out process as well as returning the camera to it’s standard lookout position.
The main downside to a PTZ camera is that when it’s looking in one direct, all the other directions are unprotected. For an unmonitored security camera system, often 2 or 3 normal cameras covering each of the are more effective. A good quality PTZ camera is also an expensive product and a couple of normal cameras often give better value for money also.
It is a common misconception that you can move around and optically zoom the camera in after recording has taken place with a PTZ camera. This is NOT the case – once the recording has happened, that is the footage that is stored. If the camera is set in one direction for recording, you will not be able to look in any of the other directions when playing back the footage.
Most people who think they need a PTZ camera actually would be better off with a different selection. If you’re not sure whether a PTZ camera is for you, please feel free to get in touch and we will provide all the advice you’ll require.
PTZ Cameras at Night
Most PTZ cameras will not be able to see in the dark. This is because the traditional PTZ camera style has a dome covering the camera, much like our vandal dome cameras. Unlike the vandal domes however, with a PTZ camera the camera module moves within the dome. This means there can be no seal around the lens and against the dome to allow infra red LEDs to illuminate without reflecting back off the dome and into the camera lens.
The PTZ Camera that we sell here are Orange Security does not have the traditional dome but instead has been designed to be fully water resistant (IP66) whilst not loosing any of the PTZ features. This allows us to position infra red LEDs around the camera lens and not have any IR illumination reflect back into the lens.
Tracking PTZ Cameras
There are many PTZ cameras advertised that have great sounding features such as target tracking or similar. These rarely work well and can be tricked simply by having 2 people walk across the image. There are really fancy cameras with algorithms that work out which of the people is the greater threat and then more closely monitor them – we haven’t seen any that work well in real life. They are also horribly expensive.
We have seen people start to recommend fitting other wide angle cameras alongside an auto-tracking PTZ camera to combat the situation described above. If you’ve read the Orange Security Golden Rule you’ll know that whilst wide angled cameras will allow you to see the perpetrator committing the crime, because the cameras are not zoomed in sufficiently they’ll get away scot-free. We don’t want this!