Skip to Content

What is a PTZ Security Camera: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re in the market for a security camera system, you may have run into the term PTZ. These cameras offer more functionality and features than a regular IP security camera. You might be wondering what they are and how they’re used.

PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom. PTZ cameras are designed to be moved manually or remotely. They can be used for many different purposes, including large spaces, in guard stations, and in combination with stationary cameras.

PTZ cameras offer more range of movement than regular IP security cameras. If you’re looking for more features or are monitoring a large area, PTZ cameras may be an excellent option for your security system.

Assess your needs and your system’s limitations before purchasing any PTZ equipment, though, as you might not have the required hardware. One of the most commonly recommended PTZ cameras is the Logitech PTZ Pro 2, which you can check out here on Amazon.

How PTZ Security Cameras Work

PTZ cameras offer a wide range of movement due to their unique pivot points. They offer three main functions that allow for this movement:

  • Pan – The camera can move from left to right. Some cameras offer 360 degrees of movement for this feature. This allows you to monitor a more extensive, wider area.
  • Tilt – Tilting allows for the camera to move up and down across 180 degrees. This gives the camera a wide vertical viewing range. 
  • Zoom – Adjust the camera lens and change the focal length to have the camera zoom in and out. Focus on specific activity without the loss of image quality. 

All these features combined offer a full range of movement for the camera. Depending on the model, this could be anywhere from 180-360 degrees. 

PTZ cameras typically work in conjunction with your NVR or DVR based security camera system. The camera management software should allow you access to the PVR enhanced movement patterns. PTZ cameras also support manual operations, often intended to be done by security staff. 

Depending on your system, PTZ cameras can be operated using a PoE ethernet cable or PTZ control wires (RS485). If you need a PoE ethernet cable, you can grab one here on Amazon. The software of some PTZ cameras can be controlled over a network through a mobile app. 

PTZ cameras offer wide viewing angles and precise zoom functions. Compared to static IP cameras, they can provide better video at clearer angles. The full range of monitoring motion allows for more fluid and thorough surveillance.

How are PTZ Security Cameras Used?

Wireless PTZ Security Camera: with Wifi, ethernet, GSM; Baby Cam

PTZ cameras offer a broad range of motion that enables the camera to perform different functions. These controls can either be handled manually or remotely. PTZ cameras are great for several environments:

  • Areas that have a large space to cover. These spaces may contain multiple points of interest that could need precise monitoring. The PTZ’s zoom function and enhanced mobility allow them to pinpoint the action when need be.
  • PTZ cameras are often placed in guard stations to allow for more enhanced patrolling options. With these cameras installed, you can have multiple areas under watch without boots on the ground for patrols. 
  • In combination with stationary cameras, the PTZ can be an integral part of your surveillance system. The static camera can offer detailed shots while your PTZ can follow and track specific targets. 

When Should You Use a PTZ Security Camera?

You should use PTZ cameras in any area where enhanced mobility is a desire. To determine whether or not a PTZ camera is the right choice, ask yourself:

  • Who will be monitoring the camera? If your device is left unattended, this means you might need to think about camera management software or a stationary camera. If you are a business with security staff, a PTZ would be an excellent choice because it would help monitor and cut staff costs. But depending on your needs, an IP camera may do just as well. 
  • What will you be monitoring? Consider the space you intend to view. Is it large? Are there a lot of people moving through the area? Is the room busy or mostly clear of obstructions? This type of assessment will help determine if PTZ cameras are the right option for your set-up.

    If you need a camera to monitor a large area with lots of movement, a PTZ will do wonders. If you are watching, say a stock room with little traffic, maybe a stationary IP camera will be a better fit.
  • Where are your cameras being set up? Think about angles and possible vantage points when considering what type of camera to purchase. If you have your camera up against a wall, then a PTZ might not offer as many viewing options, so a static camera will do just fine. If you have a location in mind that requires 360-degree coverage then a PTZ camera will be your best bet.

There are also environmental concerns to worry about. Will your camera be out in the heat? Will it need to be wireless? There are many different types of PTZ cameras to choose from, some better suited for your outdoor needs.

Assess your needs and have an honest dialog about what it is you want from your system. PTZ cameras are great and can offer a whole lot more than a static IP camera but sometimes they aren’t the right tool for the job.

We tend to want the best, especially when it comes to areas like safety and security, but make sure you decide based on the area you are trying to surveil and your security needs. Doing this could save you money in the long run. 

Are PTZ Cameras More Expensive Than Regular Cameras?

Generally speaking, PTZ cameras tend to be more expensive. This has to do with their enhanced functions. PTZ cameras are seen as the most advanced of all the camera options and can include features like:

  • Cloud-based storage. 
  • Support for video quality like 4K or low light functionality.
  • Wireless options.

These kinds of features will affect the price of the product. Alongside the PTZ cameras advanced hardware, you also have access to special software designed to enhance the camera’s use.

Benefits of the software include:

  • Auto Tracking – This feature allows for the camera to follow any motion it sees on the screen. 
  • Remote Camera Control – Gain access to your camera from anywhere you have an internet connection. 
  • Auto Scanning – Program your camera to scan a predefined area. What is great about this feature is that you can combine these motions to create unique scanning patterns, called tours. 

With a static IP camera, a lot of the functions and abilities listed above are not possible. With more functions usually comes more components, and in turn, the price also increases. This is why you will see PTZ cameras listed at a higher price than other cameras. 

Conclusion

If you are in the market for new security cameras, PTZ cameras can offer a great list of functions to bolster your surveillance options. With their range of mobility and software functionality, they outperform static IP cameras in a wide variety of tasks. 

These cameras do great when monitoring large areas or areas where there is a lot of traffic. Assessing your security needs can be a great starting point if you are looking into PTZ cameras. While they offer a lot more than static IP cameras, they come at a higher cost. Consider the needs of your system before making any purchases.