It was not that long ago that PTZ cameras were considered little more than motorised webcams, but rapid advances in sensor and IP technology have meant that the Pan Tilt Zoom camera is now found in many different professional installations.
As companies and organisations across all sectors have had to make operational changes in response to the COVID pandemic, this has led to an increased reliance on video technologies for everyday communication and remote working. PTZ cameras have been in demand during the crisis as a result, and sales are predicted to grow by 16% YoY in 2021 as vendors catch up on back-order demand. (source: Futuresource Consulting).
Now the problem is which PTZ camera to choose from the plethora of options available. At Holdan we carry a range of different PTZ cameras, so here’s a short overview of the key features that differentiate PTZ cameras from BirdDog, Panasonic, Lumens and Datavideo.
BirdDog have nailed their colours firmly to mast of Newtek’s NDI platform for real time, low latency video distribution over IP networks. All BirdDog PTZ cameras come equipped with custom silicon that make them the only company to offer full NDI compatibility across their entire range of PTZs, although they also come equipped with traditional SDI and HDMI outputs. The BirdDog Eyes P200 camera has a Sony CMOS Backlit Sensor, auto focus and very fast 30x optical zoom. It also has simultaneous output over NDI, SDI and HDMI and incorporates an NDI-enabled tally light for studio use. BirdDog also offers a range of weatherproof PTZ cameras for exterior use, such as for sporting and live events.
Panasonic has a strong broadcast pedigree which has been leveraged to good effect in applications varying from higher education to live events. Integrated solutions are their strong point, offering a range of system cameras, controllers, production switchers and even robotics. They also offer third-party integration with established AV systems from Crestron, AMX, Barco and Bosch.
The UE100 has been specifically developed to meet the demands of creating video content remotely. It is the first 4K 50/60p PTZ camera to offer both high-bandwidth NDI for internal networks and SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) for stable video transmission and live streaming when transmitting over the public internet.
It also includes a newly designed direct drive motor system for more precise pan and tilt movement. With an optical zoom range of 24x, it opens more opportunities to shoot from a distance while still maintaining a high-quality image. The UE100 also makes use of PoE (Power over Ethernet) for power, video and control, all over a single network cable.
Lumens has been making cameras for different market segments for over 25 years. In the last 10 years their focus has shifted to PTZ and ePTZ cameras for the AV and broadcast market.
ePTZ cameras simulate pan, tilt, and zoom operations inside a larger resolution pixel space. For example, in a 4K image space an ePTZ camera can create multiple unique 1920 x 1080 scenes. Related to this technology is auto tracking, and one of Lumens’ newest and best-selling PTZ cameras is the TR1, which can be used as an auto tracking or auto framing camera. It does this without any software running in the background, or without the need to wear a special device to assist tracking. The TR1 is actually two cameras in one: a wide angle and a 20x optical zoom.
Lumens is unique in the market in offering 5 years warranty on their entire range of PTZ cameras.
Like Panasonic, Datavideo also manufactures a wide range of complementary products to offer a complete end-to-end production workflow. A more cost-effective solution, Datavideo is a popular choice for house of worship, corporate AV and education.
The PTC-140 is a full HD robotic PTZ camera that offers 20x optical zoom, which can be increased to 30x digitally. It supports simultaneous NDI | HX, 3G-SDI and HDMI output up to 1080P60, as well as RTSP and RTMPS protocols, making it easy to stream directly to a CDN streaming platform.
For its feature set the PTC-140 is a very competitively priced PTZ camera. With its excellent zoom range and superb low light performance, it is a great all-rounder.
Broadcasters, production companies and live events specialists are continually looking at ways to increase productivity and reduce operating costs, without sacrificing quality. Remote or automated production helps them to do this, and the advancements made in PTZ cameras in recent years has made them a key enabling technology. They are relatively affordable, and offer the quality, flexibility and reliability needed to do more with less, at a time when resources are stretched.