Posts Tagged ‘ ptz’



A Beginner’s Visual Guide to Security Camera Features

Written By:
Monday, December 29th, 2014

The security camera market today is a quickly evolving field with a multitude of camera styles and features to choose from. For beginners, this can be initially confusing especially when looking to purchase a multi-camera system. What features are most important, or more to the point, what features will be most important for your security needs? This article will attempt to help illustrate some of these security camera features with the help of some demonstration videos and graphics to help give you a better idea what features to consider when purchasing a security camera system.

1) Video Resolution

resolution

One of the first and most important things to consider when selecting a security camera is the video resolution. Older cameras used standard definition analog resolution and many cameras still made today also use this format. Due to the older technology, analog cameras do tend to be less expensive and offer the ability to record for much longer time periods while using far less memory / hard drive space. But, analog cameras do lack the fine detail that high definition cameras have. Megapixel, or High-Definition recording, generates an image that is several times larger than analog, which allows them the capability to capture far greater detail, including faces, tattoos, and other minute details that could be important if the footage has to be later used as evidence.

The higher the megapixel value of the camera, the more detail you’ll be able to discern from the footage. Keep in mind, as the resolution size increases beyond 1080p, the maximum frame rate will decrease. This is because each frame rendered at an extremely high resolution uses exponentially more memory and network bandwidth to encode.

This video will give you an idea of how the different resolution sizes and frame rates compare to each other.

For instance, a 2 megapixel (1920 X 1080 pixels) high definition security camera can easily record at a full 30 frames per second, but a 5 megapixel (2560 X 1920 pixels) camera will max out at 12 frames per second. Note: Higher megapixel cameras can also be set to lower resolution settings, with higher frame rates, if necessary.

3 MP vs Analog
Side by Side – 3MP vs Analog cameras @ approx. 20 feet away, digitally zoomed on both to show detail

Camera resolution will also factor into how much hard drive space you’ll need to archive your footage. The higher the resolution, and the more cameras you install, the more hard drive space you’ll need inside your DVR. Fortunately, most DVRs have the capability to hold several hard drives for storage. An easy way to figure out exactly how much hard drive space you’ll need for any given number of cameras is by using our Online Hard Drive Calculator

CCTV hard drive calculator
Screenshot of the CCTV Hard Drive Calculator

2) Infrared Mode

Some security cameras have a built in ability to see in complete darkness using infrared light. The way this works is infrared lights that surround the camera lens send a strong beam of infrared light (which is invisible to the naked eye).

These infrared LEDs switch on automatically when the lights are turned off or when the sun goes down and not enough visible light is hitting the camera’s image sensor. Some of that infrared light beaming out of the camera bounces back when it hits an object and that residual infrared light is captured by the Infrared sensor, which is usually directly above the lens of the camera. IR images usually lack color, but allow small, important details to be seen clearly.

OD-LX700IR50-B

The higher the IR rating of the camera, the further it can see into the darkness. For instance, a camera with an IR of 50 can see 50 feet, an IR of 250 feet can see 250 feet, and so on. NOTE- Be careful not to install a camera too close to another object, especially when installing a PTZ with infrared lights. This can cause the camera’s IR sensor to flood and will end up washing out any detail.

3) Lenses – Fixed, Zoom and Interchangeable Lenses

Many security cameras have static, fixed wide angle lenses, and are only intended to be used to capture an overall view of the environment. Varifocal lens cameras have the ability to go from a wide angle to a closer shot, and can be sometimes be controlled though the interface of a DVR or NVR, through a web browser, and others. However, most varificol cameras have a manual zoom and focus that need to be adjusted at the camera.

varifocal manual zoom lens
Some varifocal cameras need to be manually zoomed and focused. These controls are usually found near the lens. On dome cameras, it’s usually necessary to remove the protective dome to access these controls.

Interchangeable Lenses

cctv camera lenses
Fixed Lens vs Interchangeable lenses.

There’s a style of security camera that uses external interchangeable lenses rather than built in lenses. These are called “Box Cameras”. The lenses for these cameras can be purchased separately and are screwed into the front port on the camera.

The advantage of these cameras is that they can allow for exceptional zoom capabilities when paired with certain lenses, but they must be zoomed and focused manually via control knobs on the side of the lens.

This style of camera is also designed to be installed inside an outdoor camera housing, which protects it from the weather and supplies a cooling mechanism, and has a port for power.

camera housing article graphic
Box cameras can be easily added to a protective housing for outdoor use.

4) Pan-Tilt-Zoom

If you need to record an area where on-the-fly camera movement will be a necessity, and you don’t want the hassle of having to manually adjust, zoom and focus the camera, then a Pan tilt zoom camera is the best option. These cameras are typically rather large, so if you’re looking for a small, easily hidden camera, they may not be the best option. But, in terms of overall breadth features, Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras (or PTZ’s) are truly state-of-the-art.

Here’s an example of a PTZ camera in action.

Due to their range of movement (which typically 360 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically), PTZ cameras have an ability other security cameras are incapable of, such as the ability to detect and track movement.

Parameters can be created within the interface of your NVR such as a virtual trip wire drawn within the software in front of a doorway, as an example. When that invisible line is crossed, the camera will follow that movement until the person or object goes out of frame.

virtual tripwire
A user can create a virtual tripwire, so anything that crosses the line causes the camera to start tracking that moving object.

Additionally, parameters can be set to tell the camera what movement or areas within the camera’s view to ignore while it’s tracking movement, such as windblown trees, clouds, or small objects such as birds. All of these might trigger the camera to start tracking otherwise.

You can also set a PTZ to look around a given area on a predetermined scan cycle, and these cameras typically come with several of these cycles pre-programmed into the camera itself.

5) Wired versus Wireless

Many people have asked us why we cannot recommend a wireless security camera. The answer is simply that the battery technology needed to make wireless security cameras viable isn’t quite there yet. Cameras need a constant, reliable source of power, and there hasn’t yet been a battery designed that can run a security camera for days or weeks on end. So, for the foreseeable future, wired security cameras will be the standard.

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Security Camera Comparisons

Written By:
Friday, November 7th, 2014

Security cameras are becoming significantly more prevalent in our society every day. This increase is due in part to the technology behind them getting better and better all of the time. As these improvements take place, the cost is also coming down at about the same rate. Because of all of these improvements in security camera technology there are far more types and styles available to the consumer today then every before and this variety can easily confuse even a tech-savvy buyer. In this article we’re going to take a look at the assortment of designs and features that are offered with some of the surveillance cameras on the market today and provide you with some useful information that should help you make the decision of which camera will work best for you. It will serve as a useful guide on security camera comparisons

That first thing that you should consider when you’re buying a security camera is whether it will be mounted outside or indoors. All security cameras are designed to work inside a structure but only a portion of them are designed to work outside, in the elements. Indoor cameras are usually less expensive, weigh less and are made with lighter materials. Surveillance cameras that are designed to be mounted outside are usually made of a stronger material, such as metal or a thick plastic, and sealed in such a way that they will keep moisture and debris out of the delicate internal electronic components to varying degrees. There is a rating system, called the IP code, which will help you determine what level of protection that a camera provides and allow you to choose the camera that will work best in the environment of your installation. This rating system is too complicated to explain in detail here but it’s a good idea to make sure that you use a camera that has an IP66 rating for outside installations. This means that the camera’s housing will protect the more delicate parts of the camera from dust and jets of water.

There are variations in the way that security cameras are built, both functional and aesthetic, that are a consideration when deciding what type of camera will work best for you. There are basically four different styles of cameras: box, bullet, dome and PTZ. There are a few differences in these types of cameras in the manner in which they can be mounted and where they can be installed.

A box camera is usually a rectangular camera that needs to have a separate lens attached to it. These lenses are available in a wide variety of zoom levels and are usually larger than those in other types of cameras. These larger lenses allow more light to be processed by the camera, resulting in a higher quality image. If box cameras are installed in an outside environment, they will also need to be mounted inside a housing to help protect them from the elements. These cameras are highly noticeable and because of this, they are effective in the role of a criminal deterrent as well as providing high quality video footage. The lenses for these cameras can be built with a varifocal lens, which means that you can manually adjust the level of zoom to suit your needs.

Box Camera
Box Security Camera With Lens Attached

A bullet security camera is a surveillance camera that has an oblong or cylindrical shaped housing, which is fixed to the mounting surface by some sort of an arm. These cameras allow you to easily mount and adjust them to the desired field of view. Bullet cameras are often designed for indoor and outdoor installations, but it’s still a good idea to check the IP code rating if you’re planning to use them outside. Unlike box cameras, bullet cameras can be designed with infrared (IR) lights around the lens of the camera. This IR lighting is triggered with an internal light sensor, so that the camera will be switched to IR mode once the lighting levels drop below a certain point. Once the camera is in this mode it will be able to show video in complete darkness.

Bullet Security Camera
Bullet Security Camera

A dome camera has a bulbous shape to it and can be mounted on most flat surfaces. This design offers the highest level of vandal resistance, which means that these security cameras make it very hard for anyone to tamper with them after they’ve been mounted. This type of camera is also available with infrared lighting built in to it so that it doesn’t need a visual light source to be able to record video for you. Dome style cameras are available in models that are designed to be mounted indoors exclusively or models that can be mounted indoors or outside.

Dome Security Camera
Dome Security Camera

Another type of surveillance camera that is very popular these days is a called a Pan Tilt Zoom camera or PTZ. This type of camera allows you to get the camera to pan around horizontally, tilt up and down vertically, and zoom in and out. All of these abilities are controlled from the DVR or over the Internet depending on the type of DVR you have and how it’s configured. These cameras are available in indoor and outdoor versions with widely varying magnification levels that can include both mechanical and digital zoom functions. PTZ cameras offer you the ability to have a look around the area where it’s mounted while you’re away from it. Some of them even have an auto tracking feature which will let it follow movement automatically.

Pan Tilt Zoom Camera (PTZ)
Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Security Camera

All of these styles of security cameras are available in two different signal standards that have been around for years – Analog and IP. There is also a third signal standard that has arrived on the scene recently that is called HD-CVI.
Analog cameras have been around the longest of the three types and are still the most common. These cameras have BNC connectors for video, and they can use a few different types of cables to connect them directly to a DVR and some form of power supply. BNC connectors are circular with two small posts that lock the connection in place.

IP cameras have also been around for years now, but they are still newer than analog cameras. They are connected to a network through a standard network cable, either a CAT5 or CAT6 cable. These cameras are capable of megapixel resolution but can put a stain on a network’s resources unless the network is designed to handle significant bandwidth or a separate network is built for multiple cameras of this type.

HD-CVI cameras are the newest type of signal standard. These cameras are capable of delivering megapixel quality video footage and the video signal doesn’t go through a network. The cameras for this type of security camera system use BNC connectors and RG59 to transmit the signal to a DVR specifically designed to work with this type of camera. You can learn more about this amazing technology and the specifics of what HDCVI is here.

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What is the Best Security Camera Type?

Written By:
Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Security cameras are made and used on a daily bases for a number of reasons. They can be used anywhere from gas stations to military personnel vehicles. Specifically, security cameras are used to view or record any person, place, or thing without being there in person. There are many different types and styles of cameras and they are all used in different settings. Learning about the different types of security cameras available can give you the upper hand when needed for a specific task or location. Deciding which is the best security camera for you will depend on your situation.

Types of Security Cameras

There are many types of security cameras in the security world today. They all fall into a few main categories including Analog, Network IP, and HD-CVI. Even though it might not sound like much, each side offers many different options and capabilities which can affect camera quality and your wallet. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type and overall get the job done.

Styles of Cameras

Cameras come in many different shapes and sizes and, depending on where you place them, can give you better understanding of what you will need.

Box Cameras

Box Security Camera

Box cameras are very customizable and offer many different lenses sizes. You can either have them mounted as is, or you can put them in a case called a box, hence the name. Box cameras are also capable of being mounted in extreme weather because some of their boxes have heaters and blowers built in. Most box cameras are dual voltage and have the capability to support alarms and strobes connected. Downsides are they are bulky and require more experience for setup and installation.

Bullet Cameras

800 TVL Bullet Security Camera

Bullets are also a great choice because they have a greater viewing angle then most other cameras. Bullets can also have larger range of different lenses built in so you can zoom in close on a shot or have a wider viewing angle. The downside is they are not vandal proof and very noticeable.

Dome Cameras

700 TVL Vandal Dome Security Camera

The most common camera used is the dome. Domes can be used in many different locations and can take a punch or two. Domes have wide viewing angles for greater versatility. They are also more discreet, when it comes to hiding your cameras, then when it comes to a bullet. They also can take a couple of hits because of their robust structure.

PTZ Cameras

700 TVL PTZ Security Camera

PTZ’s can give you more coverage than a conventional pre-positioned camera. P-T-Z (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras are made for you to control the camera so you can see what’s happening even if it moves out of your typical viewing area. Some PTZ’s can also track objects or people so you don’t have to move it yourself. Downside is that they can be pricy and bulky.

Hidden Cameras

Hidden Mirror Camera

Hidden cameras are made for you to know where they are but no other person will. They can be just about anything: clocks, smoke alarms, phones, mirrors, and many others. Disadvantages are they typically can’t see or record very well at night.

License Plate Cameras

License Plate Camera

License plate cameras are built to capture a license plate at high speeds. These cameras are used for highways, entry gates, business, parking garages, and more. They offer advanced technologies that allow you to focus on the license plate in light or dark conditions.

Thermal Cameras

Thermal Imaging Camera

Thermal cameras are designed to allow you to see heat signatures in any light setting. This can help you distinguish differences between important and non-important things during motion detection. For example, branches blowing in the wind and a person walking. This may not give you the best image but it can trigger a separate camera to record the situation.

What is IR?

There are also other features that security cameras can have. Cameras can be indoor or outdoor depending on the camera. Some Cameras come with IR (Infrared Technology) that allows them to see at night. IR is a light that is invisible to us but is like a flood light for a camera. IR is usually built onto the cameras themselves, but can also be placed separately for cameras that have the capability to view the light. The style of camera can give you your best view and placement for anywhere they need to be.

What is IR

Analog Cameras

Analog cameras have been used for many years and have done its job very well. The way that it works is by the type of signal it sends to its receiving end. It sends an analog picture of what it views and it can either record by tape or by digitally converting it to record on a hard drive. The old way would be the tape, but now we have either a computer with a card that receives the signal and converts it to be stored on a hard drive or a standalone unit called a DVR that does the same thing, just without using your personal computer. DVRs are recommended because they can be hidden and require half the power (electrical and processor). Over the years, analog cameras have improved profusely by increasing frame rates and quality of resolution. The latest technology for analog cameras is called HD-CVI. This is an analog technology that allows you to record 720p-1080p resolution.

Network IP Cameras

Network IP Cameras are starting to become more affordable and practical for business and homes. Network IP cameras are cameras that function all on their own and don’t require any standalone unit to view and in some cases record. The way they work is through your new or existing network and is given a IP address (Internet Protocol) which allows it to be accessed through your network for viewing or recording purposes. Network IP cameras can be controlled also through a web based program for initial set-up and to adjust and control the camera like a PTZ. IP cameras are also usually in High Definition. They can record as high as 10MP (Megapixels) in resolution but average cameras record at 1080p. Megapixel is one million pixels in a specific image, so 2MP is similar to 1080p. The downside to using Network IP cameras is they run through your network to be viewed and/or recorded. This is a problem if you have a lot of cameras or if your cameras are recording in 1080p or above. Networks can only handle a set amount of send and receive data before bogging down. This drag increases when you are recording and viewing simultaneously inside your network and out. There are ways to overcome this problem by either getting a managed switch or making separate networks for specific amounts of cameras.

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Understanding PTZ cameras

Written By:
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Since there are a lot of Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Cameras available, I will explain in this article on how to best choose the correct PTZ for your Security Camera Installation.

I will start by showing the different parts of a PTZ camera.

1. Parts of a PTZ camera

(a) Housing – Usually composed of an aluminum bell shaped cover (image 1) or some models have abs plastic housings (images 2,3)

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

aluminium ptz housing plasticdome,jpg plasticdome2,jpg

(b) Camera module
This is where the image CCD sensor, optical lens, and the motors that control Zoom and Focus are located.

Camera Module

(c) PTZ control board
The PTZ control board processes RS485 data  that converts it into mechanical movements.
PTZ Control Board

Note: On this particular PTZ control board it has dip switches (the red block with white switches). This allows you to change the protocol and ID of the camera. Some of our cameras are configured via the OSD (On Screen Display) menu.

(d) PTZ motors – are the small motors that allow the camera to perform up, down, left and right functions. Marked by the arrows are two step motors; the one to the top controls up and down movements and the one at the bottom controls left and right movements (Image 1).

Note: The motors used on a PTZ camera are known as step motors which use steps (teeth) that allow a more precise movement vs. standard electromagnetic motors that require higher RPM’S and torque. Below are the two animated examples of an electromagnetic motor (image 2) and step motor (image 3).

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

camera motors2 electric motor animation 1 StepperMotor1

(e) PTZ Pigtail – is the cable that comes out of the camera which allows you to connect power, video, network, audio and alarms.

The Standard size IPPTZ cameras have alarm, audio, analog BNC out and an RJ45 jack (image 1). Mini-IPPTZ do not have an analog out option.

Our analog PTZ cameras have rs485, ground, BNC analog out and DC power plug (image 2)

Image 1

Image 2

ipptz-connection ptz-analog

Note: RS485 is a simple protocol used for communication between two or more devices. The nature of RS-485 allows transmission of  PTZ data along side power or in electrically noisy environment with out interference. It has been tested to work at 1600 ft. on CAT6e cable.

2. Technologies

Currently our PTZ’s  come in three different technologies

1. Analog

2. IP

3. HD-CVI

(a) Camera cable run limitations and options to extend if necessary

Analog has a 1000 ft. Video and RS485 Range but can only be powered up to 150 ft. before voltage drop. Two ways you can counter the power limitation is by:

1. having power at the camera
2. Using a power supply with a higher amperage rating. An example of that would be if your camera is rated at 500 ma and your run is over 150 ft – use a 2-5 amp power supply. Although theoretically it should work we do not recommend exceeding the 150 ft. limit

IP has a 300 ft. limit due to standard networking limitation. Since power, video and RS485 can be run on a single CAT6e cable there is no way to increase the range without additional equipment. In the event you have to exceed the 300 ft limit you can use a POE injector that allows you to extend an additional 300 ft.

HD-CVI has 1600 ft. video and RS485 limit.  You can use CAT6e for both the RS485 and Video; for the video you will need video baluns to allow 1600 ft. range. The power has the same limitation as the analog cameras and will required local power or a higher rated 12v 2-5 amps depending on the camera requirements.

(b) Video quality and Resolutions

Analog – Our analog  cameras come with 700 TVL

IP – Range from  1.3 Mega Pixel, 2 Mega Pixel, and 3 Mega Pixel

HD-CVI – Currently only supports 1 Mega Pixel (720P)

(c) What are  differences between IP, analog + HD-CVI

1. An analog camera has to be physically connected into the DVR to record video and has a limitation of 1000ft.

An IP camera does not have to connect directly to an NVR, simply by configuring some the network you can access your camera anywhere in the world. Let say your camera is in California and your NVR ( Network Video Recorder) is in New York; you can actually record the video from that camera at your New York location. This type of setup is used frequently by government and cities to monitor remote cameras.

2. Both the IP and HD-CVI support HD resolution, 720P and 1080P, where as the analog only supports D1 resolution at 700 TVL

Note: The higher the resolution of a camera the larger the images. It allows for wider coverage areas and more details vs the analog resolution. Because the images are larger on higher resolutions its better suited to use the digital zoom to get a closer look at an object.

3. Mini and Standard size cameras

Two of the mayor differences between our mini and standard size PTZ cameras is the size of the housing and the optical lens capacities. The mini cameras are more aesthetically appealing in smaller homes and offices. The larger housings are better suited for larger homes and commercial applications.

Mini-PTZ

Standard Size PTZ

4. Camera modules

(a) The camera module houses what is called the CCD or CMOS board (image 1), lens and motors that allow fine adjustments of zoom + focus (image 2).

Image 1 – CCD OR CMOS board

Image 2 – PTZ lens with control motors

ccdboard ptz lens

(b) Image Sensor – captures light and converts it into a digital image that can be stored onto the DVR/NVR. Currently there are two different types of sensors, CCD and CMOS. There isn’t much difference as far as image quality but the CMOS sensors are known to handle brighter than normal scenarios extremely well. The CCD sensors were designed for IR applications where cut filters and automatic shutters are used. But in the past few years with advancement in technology, cameras now offer WDR or ( Wide Dynamic Range) and IR cut filters (Infrared Cut filters) which allows digital and mechanical adjustment for your specific setup. So it doesn’t matter if your using a CMOS or CCD your end results are of high quality.

CCD Sensor

CMOS Sensor

CCD cmos

(c) Optical lens – Allows for adjustment of zoom or focus. When you zoom in the lens moves closer to the image senor so the image becomes larger. When you zoom out the lens moves away from the image sensor which make the image small and results in a wider view.  When referring to 12x zoom on lets say our PTZ-LX700L12X mini it means it can zoom in 12 times the normal amount. Generally you can find out what the range on the lens is by multiplying the lens size by the times zoom. So in our PTZ-LX-700L12X you can multiply 5×12=60. Five being the lens size multiplied by zoom gives you maximum mm size of 60 mm. In this case this camera has a vari focal range of 5-60mm

Here is an example of our 23x PTZ camera, the approximate distance from the camera to the truck is 380ft.

6. Mounting options

PTZ cameras are designed to rotate a full 360 degree there for an arm (image 2), pendulum mount (image 3)or ceiling mount bracket (image 1) is used for mounting the cameras.

Ceiling mounts- A ceiling mounting is great for any application that requires a PTZ camera but with a low profile. The better half of the camera goes into any surface and has a clip mechanism to secure it. Only the dome will be visible for a aesthetically appealing look.

Arm mount- Are designed to mount a vertical plane or post. Generally this camera serves as a deterrence as it protrudes from where its mounted

Pendant mount- are designed to hang  from a horizontal surface such as ceiling, post.

 In ceiling mount   Arm mount  Pendant mount
plasticdome2,jpg 700tvl-12x-indoor-outdoor-pan-tilt-zoom-security-camera-59056big pr59195img4sma

7. Wiring PTZ cameras 

(a) Wiring RS485 for Analog PTZ cameras

There are two ways you can successfully wire PTZ cameras 1. Daisy chain  2. Star or direct connection

 Daisy Chain connection

  Star or Direct connection

multiple ptz connection daisy chain multiple ptz connection

Note: Recommended cable CAT6e but CAT5e works fine as well, Use a single pair ex: solid blue and white/ blue, use the solid blue as the positive and the white/blue as the negative.

The main difference between daisy chaining or direct connection is on a daisy chain the cameras rely on each other. So if one fails the ones that follow the failed camera will not work. On a direct connection the cable is ran directly from each camera to the controller or DVR; I normally splice in a 2-3 ft. cable to make it easier to connect. IF a camera fails none of the other cameras are affected and continue to operate as normal.

If you would like to learn more about our PTZ cameras check them out here.

**step motor and regular motor images borrowed from http://www.wikipedia.org/

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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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