A PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera refers to the ability of a camera to move up and down (tilt), left and right (pan), and to magnify (zoom). Typically, the pan-tilt function is accomplished with a built in motor. The zoom function is accomplished either digitally or optically. The magnification of the camera is determined by multiplying the digital and optical zoom. For example, a camera that can optically zoom in 22 times (22x) and digitally zoom in 10 times (10x) is usually referred to as a 220X PTZ camera. Optical zoom is always preferred since this is a true zoom accomplished by the lens itself. The digital zoom is simply a virtual zoom and it usually will result in pixilation.
PTZ cameras can be controlled through by connecting a control or data cable between the PTZ camera and either a DVR or PTZ keyboard. There are many protocols available. The most common are Pelco D and Pelco P, but there are many more. It is important to make sure that your DVR is compatible with your PTZ and has the right protocol choices.
There are many benefits to using PTZ cameras. The most common benefit is the ability to cover a large open area using a PTZ where each PTZ can do the job of many standard cameras. Also, a PTZ can provide additional detail video coverage for other fixed overview cameras. For example, if motion is detected at the entrance of a parking lot by an overview camera, a PTZ can be triggered to zoom in to the entrance and cover it in great detail for a preset amount of time. Also, a PTZ camera can usually be put on a pre-configured tour acting like a sentry.
PTZ cameras are available in different styles included box cameras, bullet cameras and most common today are vandal domes. PTZ cameras can be installed outdoors if they are in a weatherproof housing or indoors in a ceiling or surface mount. They are available in different sizes. The smaller PTZ cameras are often called mini speed domes, while the larger models are just referred to as PTZ cameras. Newer PTZ cameras have recently become available with auto tracking built in. This feature allows the camera to move when tracking a moving object automatically.