First off, lets define what a PTZ camera is. “PTZ” is an acronym used in the security and CCTV world forsecurity cameras that can Pan/Tilt/Zoom using motorized or digital movements. These cameras can move their lenses horizontally (pan) and vertically (tilt), as well as change their focal length between near and far (zoom in or zoom out), and can be controlled from your DVR system or in some cases, even from your cell phone or computer over the internet.
PTZ cameras while very useful in the right situation can also be useless and even harmful to the overall security of your property if used in the wrong situation or environment. PTZ’s are most efficient when used to supplement an already well designed surveillance system. For example, if you rely solely on the PTZ for coverage you may be disappointed when your camera is facing the wrong direction when you need it most. However if you have designed a surveillance system around a number of fixed or Variable Focus cameras that give you excellent general view coverage, Guards, Security staff or the property owner can quickly and easily zoom in to get a closer look at what they have deemed an area that needs to be looked at more closely. PTZ cameras can also be programmed to run a pattern or tour which allows for a general view of a wider area, though be prudent in their use, remember, you can only see the area where the camera is pointed.
Newer technologies allow for Pan Tilt Zoom cameras to auto-track objects or people of interest. This technology has its merit, though as of now, our experience is it is not quite reliable enough to use in a high security type of situation. Most PTZ cameras use a ¼” CCD chip, simply because the smaller chip size allows for smaller fields of viewing, a benefit in the case of a high powered zoomable CCTV camera. Most DVR systems or Digital Video recorders can control multiple PTZ cameras, though for advanced programming it is highly recommended to wire movable cameras so they can be controlled through the recorder or internet as well as through an external controller that can execute faster, and more advanced programming options.
PTZ camera uses vary widely but are a must for some such as Casino’s and City Management for security coverage. Casino security must be able to close in on a cheater, thief, or out of control guest within seconds of noticing a problem in order to address the issue quickly and appropriately. Cities may use Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras in order to watch traffic in one direction during morning commute and another during evening commute; they may also use them to zoom in on accidents or other incidents on the highway. For others, these cameras are a good fun way of keeping an eye on lazy contractors or simply making sure nothing is going on at your vacation property, and I must admit, they certainly are fun to play with. PTZ cameras come in a wide variety of pan/tilt/zoom options such as; Degrees of movement, degrees of movement per second, as well a variety of focal lengths. Faster PTZs are called Speed-Domes and can operate at 300 degrees per second or more. The Zoom portion of the camera can come from two different methods of zooming. The preferred method is an optical zoom which actually incorporates a motorized lens with focusing and iris abilities, however, these models can run into the several thousands of dollars. For those looking to increase security with a panning, tilting or zoomable camera without busting the bank, check out cameras which feature adigital zoom. Much like your handheld photographic camera, these cameras can zoom in digitally with no moving parts. Images will become a bit pixilated, but the effect is the same.
When planning your CCTV camera system and looking at the various cctv cameras for sale, consider what you’ve read when deciding if a movable PTZ camera is really what you need. In most cases, the cost of a single movable camera can be as much as three or four stationary cameras, so while it is a very cool and useful feature, it may or may not be right for your security application.