Member Discussion

Is The Use Of PTZ Cameras Declining? At What Rate?

IPVM has touched on this topic over the years.  My understanding is that PTZ cameras are used much less now than they were 15 years ago.  The main reasons being higher resolutions and multi-imager cameras.  Does anybody have rough numbers?  Or even an educated guess?

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Only anecdotal evidence here but in the last three years I’ve personally installed exactly one ptz, which was a swap of a broken unit. In the same time frame i’ve seen around 10ptz’s at our office. We do have six techs who do camera installations. 

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Thanks U2.    So you’ve installed 1 PTZ in the past 3 years and the other 6 techs in your office have installed about 10.   To give me a sense of proportion, approximately how many fixed cameras have been installed by your team over the past 3 years.

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Might’ve dug myself a hole here now that i think of it but the number is surely somewhere north of around 600-700 when i think of all the significant projects in that timeframe plus all the little stuff in there as well. We also do intrusion, access, fire, locksmithing in addition to cctv. But yes, the amount of ptz’s is miniscule compared to fixed

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Thanks again U2.   That really puts things in perspective.   My sense is that, in the general market, this ratio is about right. 

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Agree we are using less PTZ's, generally they require a higher operator engagement and they typically don't work well with deep learning video analytics such as Briefcam that work on cameras with static background. Although we still see consultants specifying PTZ in Smart City solutions, they done take into account how these cameras are going to be monitored.

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See: PTZ Usage Declines 2017 - Statistics and PTZ Usage Declining, Multiple Fixed MP Replacing 2014.

We will do another report  / statistics this year or next year. I'd expect a continuing downward trend of PTZ usage (especially as a percentage of all cameras used).

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Hi John,  I reviewed the 2017 report you cited.  In summary, PTZ cameras were approximately 30% of the total cameras deployed in 2011 and around 10% of the total in 2017.  Based on the responses to this thread, I'm guessing that PTZ cameras are now less than 5% of the overall cameras installed.  Understanding that in some scenarios (large perimeter, active monitoring, casinos, etc.) PTZ usage is more common.

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Based on the responses to this thread, I'm guessing that PTZ cameras are now less than 5%

That's a bad idea to base stats based on a handful of responses on a thread. It might be right, it might be wrong but it's not sensible to base it on such a tiny number of responses.

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John, yes the 5% is a flat-out guestimate and definitely not statistically defensible.  I guess we'll just have to wait for the next IPVM report for a real number.  In the meantime, it seems safe to say:

2011: 30% of all cameras were PTZ (based on IPVM's 2017 report)

2017: 10% of all cameras were PTZ (based on IPVM's 2017 report)

2019: less than 10% of all cameras were PTZ (based on feedback on this thread)

My guess is significantly less, around 5%.

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2017: 10% of all cameras were PTZ (based on IPVM's 2017 report)

Our 2017 report says 6%, not 10%:

Given that, and trends, I would expect it to be now under 5%.

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I haven't liked them in most applications because Murphy's Law dictates the camera is not looking where it needed to be. The best applications we're where operators are used, casinos and airports, and then they can serve a purpose.

 

Now, with the multiimager ptz options out there it is less of a factor than in the past and I can see more applications for them in parking areas, fields, corner mounting, etc.

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I think it depends of what your customers are using PTZs for...

If you have customers with live operators (casinos, loss prevention, etc), then PTZs still dominate - because nothing else (currently) can do what they need a camera to be able to do to assist them in doing their jobs...

Unmanned PTZs set up in automated patterns/patrols, however, are a thing of the past.

As many have already mentioned, covering large areas is now easier because we have better technology to accomplish this task. high (enough) resolution, digital presets, multi-imager cameras, etc.

 

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For years, we used PTZs to solve problems that they weren't a good fit for, because we had no better options. Before that, we used fixed cameras mounted to panning heads that would slowly sweep back and forth across a scene. We all knew it wasn't the right thing to do, but we had no choice, because there was nothing better. 

Now, we can use megapixel panoramic cameras to do perhaps 80% of what we used to use PTZs for, because a panoramic is better at covering large open areas than a PTZ ever was. However, sites that have live operators, and which require tracking, will continue to use PTZs, because nothing is better than a PTZ at live tracking. 

Therefore, I think that PTZ usage has probably dropped as low as it's ever likely to drop, unless someone invents a panoramic with such high resolution that it would be actually practical to try and do tracking with it. 

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...we used fixed cameras mounted to panning heads that would slowly sweep back and forth across a scene.

We all knew it wasn't the right thing to do, but we had no choice, because there was nothing better.

perhaps you knew all along it wasn’t the right thing to do, but the first time I saw a PT mount I’m pretty sure I said “Cool!” :)

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What I meant was, we knew it was a compromise. We were using PT heads because fixed cameras and mux channels were just too expensive for full coverage. And as soon as camera prices and recording channel prices dropped to the point where almost any customer could afford to have cameras everywhere they needed to see, that's exactly what we started doing. 

I'm not going to pretend I wasn't impressed by PT heads the first time I saw one, because they were a clever solution to a difficult problem. But that problem was fundamentally a lack-of-resources one. Once that issue was resolved, nobody needed those PT heads anymore. 

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Once that issue was resolved, nobody needed those PT heads anymore.

true. though automated panning is still just as effective as ever in dummy cameras ;)

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Other than ACTi, who makes a fixed camera with optical zoom capabilities?  They offer a 36x model.  This would be the primary reason for selecting a PTZ over a fixed camera for me.

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Hanwha has some, such as the xnz-6320 zoom box camera. 

(Hanwha employee) 

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I agree that the use of PTZ cameras is on the decline. Another, possibly useful, metric is the number and quality of Network (ONVIF) keyboard/joystick products on offer. Additionally, IMHO, most leading VMS products do not provide useful PTZ controls for operator intensive PTZ operations.

I wouldn't mind seeing a future version of ONVIF deprecating ContinuousMove and other ONVIF PTZ handling for a different set of PTZ control functions. Perhaps a simplified make-break->speed->direction scheme as seen in some analog protocols.

So far our approach has been to circumvent the VMS using analog PTZs and controllers and / or network keyboards. While I concede that the market for attended PTZ operations is small, I feel that the decline in PTZ use is primarily driven by the lack of a competent IP Video solution(standard) for precise joystick control .

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We have installed some recently at a cooking school and a sports facility.  The cooking school uses them to move to specific locations during cooking tournaments and demonstrations.  The sports facility uses them to capture tournaments and games from different courts.  Both venues then stream the content either internally or out to Facebook, etc.

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I'd say PTZs are probably about 0.1% of all cameras these days.

Me, I'm only installing these at higher security locations where it is absolutely necessary (code for a medical cannabis plantation, for instance)

PTZs are good only in very specific cases, such as surveillance over large territory or, as this lovely cam, for deterrence. Anything other than that and you'd better stick like 4 static cameras there - if there's no control room no-one is gonna be there to point the camera where needed.

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I sell more PTZ now in my 15 years working in the municiple/commercial sector.  Pretty much every high school gets at least one (student parking, etc.) which have active discipline admins and SROs.  Police need them in their remote city deployment applications.  Loss prevention units need them for live tracking and investigation.  In all situations, they are installed and treated as fixed cameras, with the ability to investigate from afar.  Default position programmed and returned to after a period of time.

I remember paying 2k for Spectra 2-4 cameras last decade.  Now I pay 500-700 bucks for value line units and 1300-1800 for UHD 36x 1/2 inch sensor units with WDR.  Need a face, no problem.  Need a plate.  No problem.

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