Posts Tagged ‘ pan tilt zoom’



The Pros and cons of a PTZ Security Camera

Written By:
Friday, April 18th, 2014

When you are choosing a security camera for your home or business it helps to understand the different lens options that are available to you. Most common are the fixed lens, varifocal lens and the PTZ’s, otherwise known as the Pan, Tilt, Zoom cameras.

ptz-or-not

A fixed lens is just that, a non-adjustable lens. Typically they are a 3.6mm lens that gives a wide overview similar to what the human eye can see.

Then you have the Varifocal lens. Put simply this is a lens that can be manually zoomed and focused on a specific area. It’s important to realize that a varifocal camera is zoomed and focused at the time the camera is being setup.

Once you have positioned and zoomed your fixed lens or varifocal camera, that is the view that you will see from that point on when viewing the cameras or watching recorded video.

If you wanted to see a different view you would need to get up on your ladder and re-adjust the view, zoom or focus manually.

The PTZ
What you probably want is a fancy camera like you see in the movies. One with a cool joystick that will allow you to move the camera around and zoom in and out in real-time. That’s a PTZ or Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera.

TPK-65-Front-1024

Many PTZs can zoom in up to 36 times with optical zoom and can also digitally zoom after that. They also have the ability to be set on a tour or a pattern. That means you can set the camera on a predefined repeating cycle. You might want to have it look in one direction for 5 seconds than turn 60 degrees, zoom in and look in another direction for 10 seconds. The pattern options are fully customizable.

Some PTZ security cameras even have special features like Motion Tracking. This is where the camera will automatically detect movement, lock on to an object and track it.

So you might be asking yourself, why I would you ever not want a PTZ. It seems like they do it all. Well before you go out and buy all PTZ cameras here are a few things to think about.

Cost
The first thing you need to know is that PTZ’s are typically a lot more expensive than fixed or varifocal cameras. If you want to add IR (Night Vision) the cost jumps up even more.
A high quality varifocal with 100ft of IR like the (VD-EF700IR100L2812D-W) will run you around $159. Compare that to a good 36x PTZ with IR like the (PTZ-EL700IR300L36X) and you will spend about $1990.

Although it is possible to get a very nice 12x PTZ with no IR starting as low as $229. I highly recommend it the (PTZ-LX700L12X-E) from SecurityCameraKing.com

Installation
When you install a PTZ a couple of things need to be taken into consideration. First, most PTZs are larger than a typical security camera and require more power. It is usually recommended that PTZs have their own dedicated power source. Many come with a power supply but in some cases you may have to buy a separate one.

Most PTZs today are controlled via RS485. RS485 is a standard on most new DVRs but an extra set of wires may need to be run to control the Pan, Tilt and Zoom of the camera.
If you are installing an IP PTZ the power, video and control can all be done over a single CAT5 cable but a separate POE Power injector is recommended.

Control
In order to control your PTZ you will have to use the on-screen buttons or UI of your DVR, PSS Software, Web Interface or mobile App assuming they have that ability. If you want to use a Joystick you will probably have to purchase one separately.

Functionality
Here’s a scenario. Let’s say you are going to install an 8 camera system. You decide to buy 7 varifocal cameras and 1 PTZ.
Sounds like a good plan so far, right.

Now let’s say your system has been up and running for a while and you realize someone ran over your garden gnome.

gnome

So you go back and start looking at the recordings and realize the only camera that could have caught this is the PTZ.

You find the segment of the recording you’re looking for and wouldn’t you know it, just when the gnome was run over the PTZ was looking in the other direction! Trust me this happens a lot.

You might decide after this happens a few times to take the PTZ out of tour mode, but then you just have a very expensive fixed lens camera. Of course you do still have the ability to Pan, Tilt and Zoom via your DRV or a Joystick.

One other thing I have noticed. If you do decide to set your PTZ to a fixed view and the power goes out or the camera reboots there is no guarantee the lens will automatically go back the desired position. You may have to go back and point it there again.

Remember earlier when I spoke about Auto Tracking? There are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1. All PTZs do not have Auto Tracking Abilities.

2. Typically the camera will track the largest object in its view. If a car pulls up and 3 guys get out and run in different directions the camera will most likely follow the biggest guy.

3. If you want to use Auto Tracking then your PTZ can’t be in Tour Mode. The PTZ will not be able to detect motion and track an object if it is constantly moving because it’s in tour mode.

Conclusion
Although PTZ’s might seem like a great idea there are several things to consider before going out and spending a lot of time and money on something that is not necessarily going to be the best solution for you particular situation.

That being said I personally have a PTZ and couldn’t live without it. They definably have their place and are always a great addition to your security system but may not be the best choice as you only line of defense.

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Security Camera Software

Written By:
Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Security Camera SoftwareSecurity camera software can be though of as the glue that binds together digital video cameras and Personal Computers (PCs) or Macintosh Computers (Macs) as well as Digital Video Recorder (DVR) units for standalone systems.  It’s also the heart of remote DVR monitoring applications (Apps) that allows your smartphone to access your video security system.  In essence, it provides the programming that allows you to control the camera, monitor the camera, record the digital video files, and maintain and control the DVR.

 

There are many types of security camera software.  Perhaps the simplest to use is a typical web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox Mozilla, Google Chrome and others.  For digital video security cameras and DVRs that are IP (Internet Protocol) ready, a web browser may be all that is needed to control, monitor, and record digital video security images.  However, these cameras may also be networked and use a Network Video Recorder or NVR.  If that’s the case, then the software used for the NVR must be considered also.

 

Although it may be difficult to describe what security camera software is we can easily describe what it isn’t.  Security Camera Software is not firmware.  Firmware is basically the drivers and internal commands that a device needs to communicate with processors and other devices.  Firmware is device and manufacturer specific and is usually only updated on a seldom basis.

 

Security camera software is not Operating System (OS) software.  Operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac, and others provide the basis for central communication between devices, processors, and users.  OS software is what makes a computer system work.  Normally, DVRs and NVRs have OS software like Linux and WIndows 7.

 

So where does that leave us with security camera software?  As stated earlier it could be considered as a web browser, but typically security camera software is specific programming that is designed to operate a digital video security system.  We can list the types of security camera software based on how they are designed to work.  Security camera software can be:

 

  • -Designed to provide the control, monitoring and recording of security cameras and DVRs;
  • -Designed to allow PCs and Macs to provide the control, monitoring, and recording of security cameras when used in conjunction with a security video PCI card;
  • -Designed to provide the control, monitoring and recording of security cameras and DVRs that may be networked using the Internet (IP ready);
  • -As mentioned earlier, designed as Apps for Smartphones to allow them to monitor and control IP ready cameras; and
  • -Designed to integrate a variety of digital video capture devices such as webcams, netcams (or IP ready cams), computer PCI capture cards and computers to create a digital video security system.

 

The first type on our list is software that is normally provided when you purchase a standalone digital video security system with a DVR.  The manufacturer of the DVR or the Cameras (or both) may provide the software that is normally installed on the DVR unit.  This software is used to control camera functions such as Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) functions and timers that turn the cameras on and off.

 

The second type of security camera software on our list works with computers that use a PCI card.  There are some digital video security systems that are specifically designed to work with your computer.  For example Geovision brand PCI DVR cards provide inputs for multiple security cameras that connect to your computer.  This system uses your computer’s hard drive as the DVR.  The software that accompanies this card that allows the computer to control the cameras and store the digital video files is a type of security camera software.

 

Our third type applies specifically to IP ready digital video cameras, DVRs and servers, and systems.  The software is normally produced by the manufacturer of the security system and is designed to allow a computer to control, monitor, and record security video using the network.  As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it may be something as simple as a web browser, but it can also be a proprietary program produced by the security equipment manufacturer that is used to coordinate the video security system’s functions.  These may also be in the form of browser plug-ins such as ActiveX subroutines that must be installed in the browser before it is used with the system.

 

The fourth type of security camera software is Smartphone Apps which we have already described.

 

The fifth and final type of security camera software allows you to use a variety of video capture devices (such as webcams or capture cards) in conjunction with your computer to create your own digital video system.  While this does not create the ideal video security system, it does save money by allowing you to use equipment you have already purchased to create a digital video system.

 

IP Security Camera Software

There are lots of ways to network a digital video security and surveillance camera system.  Thanks to the digital age and the advancements of computer and Internet technology the Internet can be used as a medium for networking, allowing the user to have global access.  This is just one of the functions of Internet Protocol or IP security camera software.

 

IP security camera software may come with a variety of different functions.  For example its primary purpose may be just to make the camera IP ready so that it can transmit its video images over the Internet to the user.   These cameras are often called IP ready security cameras and it allows the user to place a camera just about anywhere there is access to broadband Internet.  The camera then transmits its videos over the Internet to a personal computer that has the IP security camera software installed.

 

This software contains the programming needed to communicate with the IP digital camera.  It normally runs as an active x function on Windows’ Internet Explorer and other browsers so the user can monitor his/her camera simply by using a compatible browser.  If the camera is a Pan-Tilt-Zoom or PTZ camera, the IP security camera software may even provide the necessary programming so that the user can operate the controls to the PTZ via the Browser.

 

Another type of IP security camera software uses the Internet as the vehicle for networking among IP cameras.   In other words, instead of the camera using RG-59 coaxial cable or other wiring to send its video images to the Digital Video Recorder or DVR, the camera simply plugs into a broadband Internet connection and once connected, uses the Internet to send its video image data to the NVR.

 

The NVR acts pretty much like a typical DVR however it is made for networking cameras and storing their video images via the Internet.  Some NVRs require that a certain type or brand of camera be used and some NVRs also restrict the use of the NVR and IP cameras to one physical location.  The NVR coordinates the IP system, including the cameras, file storage, and playback.

 

So why use IP cameras and IP security camera software?  In this age of global communication, many workers perform a great deal of traveling.  Using and IP camera with IP security camera software, it’s possible to monitor your IP cameras in Maine while you are in Hawaii.  You can also often gain access to the cameras using smartphones and a special type of IP security camera software designed specifically for smartphones called an “application” or just simply put, “an app.”

 

Another example for using IP camera systems is that you may have cameras located in totally different geographical areas.  However, you may want to record these cameras from a totally different location (a home office for example).  Perhaps you own 2 or 3 convenient stores in your area and want to be able to monitor them from your home office.  You simply connect the IP camera to the Internet, set up your NVR, and you can monitor all three locations at once from a totally different location than any of your cameras (home office for example).

 

These are just some of the ways that an IP camera system can be used.  If you prefer to take advantage of professional full time monitoring of your cameras IP camera software can also make it possible for the monitoring company to see each of your cameras.

 

Usually, IP security camera software is provided by the camera manufacturer or the NVR manufacturer so you seldom ever need to purchase the software separately.  Security Camera King has another type of IP security camera software called a Mobile Video Server and in comes in 4, 8, and 16 channel capability.

 

This software allows the user to embed a live stream of one or more cameras on a web page.  This means that any Web browser that can play streaming video will be able to view the cameras.  Of course smartphones, PDA’s, and the like will be able to view them too.

 

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Auto-Tracking Dome Camera

Written By:
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Have you tried an auto-tracking dome camera?  Be careful if you do because once you get hooked on them, it is pretty difficult to keep you from getting more.  These cameras represent some of the highest quality electronics available today.

What is an “Auto-tracking Dome Camera?”  It’s a special type of PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera that can lock onto moving objects and follow them where ever they go (within line of sight to the camera).

To use such a camera you first need to install it, and then set it up, and finally let it work so you don’t have too!  Auto-tracking Dome Cameras have circuitry built right in that allows them to recognize a moving object, get a lock on the target , and follow it until it leaves the area of the Field of View for the camera.

This is particularly useful if you require constant live monitoring of your security system.  For example, if you were using this camera in a parking lot, not only could you set it to watch cars come and go, but it could even track the people getting out of the cars.

Security Camera King offers two different auto tracking dome cameras, both made by Veilux.  Product# VP-ATDNC27X has an optical zoom of 27X and an additional digital zoom of 10X.  This means the total zoom effect attainable with these cameras would be up to 270X.  In addition here are some of the features of this camera:

  • 520 TVL high resolution output;
  • Minimum illumination is 1.0 Lux for day mode and .5 for night mode;
  • Automatic stabilization of images by reduced flicker;
  • Motion tracking, Intelligent Surveillance with an alarm function;
  • Preset, auto cruise and specified pattern scan function;
  • 360 degree continuous pan;
  • 0 to 9 degree tilt from horizontal plane as well as auto flip 180 degrees;
  • Iris, focus, and white balance;
  • Backlight compensation;
  • Wide Dynamic Range (WDR); and,
  • Outdoor version is IP66 rated for use out doors;

The second camera is very similar to the latter, with some slight advantageous changes.  Product# SVP-ATDN36X has an optical zoom of 36X and an additional digital zoom of 10X.  This means the total zoom effect attainable for this model would be 360X.  This camera is vary similar to the previously mentioned model so the features list will only include those features or items that are different:

  • 540 TVL high resolution output;
  • Minimum illumination is 0.1 Lux for day mode and 0.01 Lux for night; and,
  • Heater and blower included in outdoor model.

It’s only fair to note that PTZ cameras that can be controlled remotely, when coupled with special software on the DVR, can also track or follow objects.  However, in this case instead of the technology lying with the camera, it is actually the DVR that contains the software and does the work.  It uses software to analyze the video sent to it, and then initiates the commands to the camera to PTZ so as to stay with the object tracking it.

So as you can see today’s digital video camera systems can handle some pretty complex tasks without the need for any human interruption.  What’s more is that on PTZ camera mounted in the proper place may often be able to take the place of 3 or even 4 stationary cameras.  Even though the PTZ camera may be in the moderate price range this fact alone helps to reduce costs, if not directly than at least indirectly.

Another added value feature of Security Camera King’s DVRs is that all but the Elite Mini Economy can control PTZ cameras with just a mouse.  Point to where you want to go, and the PTZ camera aims there.  However, if you prefer more conventional means of control, Security Camera King does sell a separate PTZ control that has a joystick and a keyboard designed specifically for use with PTZ cameras.

If you have any additional questions about auto-tracking dome cameras please feel free to contact one of our security experts vie on-line live chat or by telephone at 866-573-8878 Monday through Friday from 9AM to 6 PM EST.

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Pan Tilt Zoom Camera

Written By:
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

The Pan Tilt Zoom camera or PTZ is one of the most versatile dome cameras on the market today. Not only does it offer the standard electronic features of most other dome cameras, but the PTZ can do just that–Pan, Tilt, and Zoom.

In the video industry, Panning is the ability of the camera to about a horizontal plane, simply put turning from left to right and all the way around in a circle.  Tilting refers to the cameras ability to move about a vertical axis, once again simply put up and down.  With no walls, poles, or mounts to impede the view, a pan tilt zoom camera can easily maneuver its lens in any position equal or greater to that of an area covering 1/2 sphere.

In addition Pan Tilt Zoom cameras have the ability to change their focal length such to allow a field of vision that can range from “wide angle” to “Close-up” depending on the lens.  This lens movement and/or electronic (digital) action is called Zoom.

Pan Tilt Zoom cameras usually have a motorized mechanism that moves the camera about the axis, although some may also be able to perform these functions on a limited basis electronically.  When this technology is coupled with motion detection or object (shape) detection, the PTZ camera can be elevated in application from not only its PTZ functions but can also perform auto-tracking and following.

Security Camera King (SCK) offers a variety of Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras which range in price from $199.95 to $985.99.  SCK’s PTZ-LX550L3X is an affordable solution for a PTZ camera priced at $199.95 with a resolution of 550 TVL!  This camera has a 3X Zoom lens with 360 degree continuous rotation pan.  It can tilt from 0 to 90 degrees and flip.  The maximum pan speed is 60/sec, tilt 30/sec, and the present speed is 100/sec.

The PTZ-LX550L3X offers 32 preset points with pattern tours including programmable 16 preset point number and dwell time/speed.  The camera can auto scan as well as be programmed to auto return to its home position.  This camera is rated IP66 for outdoor use so it can be used as an indoor or outdoor camera.

Our PTZ-HN03100 is the perfect solution for a hands down high quality Pan Tilt Zoom camera that works well with any of our featured Digital Video Recorders or DVRs.  This camera is also a super high resolution camera weighing in at 540 TVL.  It is vandal proof, IP66 rated with the outdoor mount, has auto gain control, auto white balance, and an on-screen display.  In addition it offers 10X optical and 10X digital for a combined 100X zoom capability.

Next in line is our SVP-54CDN10X 540 TVL Mini Dome Surveillance Camera.  This is a Veilux camera and as many of our customers attest on their reviews, you can’t go wrong with a Veilux when it comes to quality.  This mini camera may be small but it delivers BIG results.  It offers true day/night with color day time video and black and white when the ambient light becomes less than .02 Lux.

This camera offers up to 256 presets and it offers high speed pan and tilt.  This camera even comes with its own wall mount!  Priced at $664.50 it’s a professional level camera that offers professional results.

SCK offers two different models of auto tracking Pan Tilt Zoom cameras.  The first, Product# VP-ATDNC27X is priced at $707.69 and includes day/night capture and 27X zoom.  Once again this is a Veilux brand camera and stands for high quality.  The second model is SCK’s SVP-ATDN36X and is also a Veilux camera similar to the first with the major difference being an increase in zoom capability to 36X.

Regardless of the model you choose, a Pan Tilt Zoom camera is a versatile, powerful, and cost savings camera.  When these camera are placed properly, one camera can easily replace the need for 2, 3, or 4 otherwise stationary cameras.  In addition, if standard non-PTZ cameras were used, these Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras also offer the powerful zoom function that allows you to get in close.

If you are interested in purchasing a Pan Tilt Zoom camera or would like more information, please contact one of our Security Specialists today.

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Security Video Cameras

Written By:
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Security video cameras are one of three major components of today’s digital video security systems which also consist of a Digital Video Recorder or DVR and one or more monitors.  The digital video camera is an interesting piece of electronic wonder, and as technology continues to advance so do the features and abilities of the security video camera.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how a security video camera operates.  We’ll also take a look at some of the more common features and options that are available on today’s digital video security cameras.

Security video cameras are electronic based devices that transfer light images into electrical images that can be viewed on a monitor.   One of the key factors in accomplishing this is the electronic sensor that is used inside the camera to do the conversion.  Cameras make use of one of two different technologies with either one yielding the same end result.

 

These sensors are called a Charged Coupled Device or CCD and a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor or CMOS.  The lenses focus the light image onto this small sensor chip (most range from about 1/4 inch 1/2 inch square).  The chip is sensitive to light energy in such a way that when light strikes the chip and electrical impulse is created that can be measured and used to construct a video image.

Ironically, even in digital security video cameras, the video signal that is created is originally analog in nature.   The signal is passed through a special Integrated Circuit or IC chip known as a analog-to-digital converter as well as a Digital Signal Processor or DSP before it is sent out the camera to the DVR.  In most systems the signal is sent along a cable (RG-59, CAT5, etc) from the camera directly to the DVR or monitor; hence the often used phrase “Closed Circuit TeleVision” or CCTV.

Once the video data reaches the DVR, it must be worked on some more by the DVRs DSP.  The data is gathered or compiled into a file called a digital video file.  Security video cameras create digital video files that can be played back by most personal computers and DVD players.  This digital video file is actually several digital photographs taken in raped succession over a very short time (usually around 30 photographs or frames per second or 30 fps).

The digital video file can quickly become several Gigabytes in size, especially when there are multiple cameras (which is usually the norm) recording at the same time.  There fore to make handling of the file easier for the processor and to get the maximum amount of time-recording per given storage capacity, the file is reduced to a fraction of its original size.

This is done by a COmpression/DECompression or CODEC utility.  The utility may be hardwired (usually an IC chip) or it may exist in the form of software.  Basically, a CODEC is a mathematical algorithm that finds a way to store repetitive data only once, thereby reducing file size while maintaining video quality.  Security Camera King’s DVRs all use the latest, most efficient CODEC known as H.264.

Security video cameras come in a variety of shapes, sizes, features, and price ranges.  Covering all of these variations is by far, beyond the capacity of this article, however we will attempt to try to cover some of the more popular characteristics.  If you would like additional more specific information on a camera variation, try searching our knowledge base for more information.

 

There are basically four types of security video cameras based on shape.  They are:

  • Box cameras;
  • Bullet cameras;
  • Dome cameras; and,
  • A variety of different hidden or disguised cameras that take the shape of the device they are built into.

These cameras are further made in one of three different styles based on where they are intended to be used.  These are:

  • Indoor cameras;
  • Outdoor cameras; and,
  • Indoor/Outdoor cameras.

In addition, cameras can come with a myriad of features.  Depending on the manufacturer and camera model, some features may be considered standard issue for the camera while others will be considered an option, usually with an additional cost:

  • Infrared night vision;
  • Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ);
  • Motion detection;
  • Very high resolution output;
  • Audio capability;
  • Internet compatible;
  • Explosion proof; and,
  • Wireless.

Generally speaking, if you have a specific security video camera need, there’s one out there that can nicely fit the bill.

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