Should You Use Auto-Tracking PTZs?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 24, 2008

Though available for many years, Auto-Tracking PTZs are generating renewed interest with Axis' recent release of their 233D camera.  The claim is that "auto-tracking enables a single PTZ dome camera to cover a large area and to automatically detect, follow and record video of moving persons or vehicles."

Auto-Tracking has never become an widely adopted feature despite its introduction and marketing by various manufacturers.  The question then becomes: should you use it and where should you use it?

Below view a video of Axis demonstrating auto-tracking PTZ functionality or download the clip.  After, we will consider its value.

The demo provides a very honest portrayal of the key issues involved in setting up and using auto-tracking PTZs. Essentially, the tracking is designed to track the object with the most movement or greatest size.  There are some major drawbacks including:

  • The feature can track irrelevant objects like flags or other uninteresting moving objects.
  • The feature can switch tracking from a relevant to an irrelevant object simply because the second object was bigger.
  • These problems increase as the size of the area and the amount of activity increases.  For instance, this would likely work extremely poorly in a football stadium parking lot during game day as hundreds of cars and people move around.
As such, it seems this feature is likely most useful in small areas with light traffic.  This is where I have used this feature with other camera manufacturer's in the past.  Often, we wind up turning it off because the camera made mistakes and the security manager found setting a wide field of view preset or a continuous pan to be the least confusing setup for the PTZ.

Today, I would prefer to use a 2MP - 5MP camera for the type of scenario pictured in this demo.  Rather than risk the problems of incorrectly tracking, the megapixel camera guarantees evidence across the entire area.  Operators can then use digital zooms either in real time or for investigations to get exactly the image they need.

Even on a cost basis, a megapixel camera plus the addiitonal storage is no more expensive than a PTZ.  For instance, the 233D costs about $3,000 USD while a megapixel camera costs around $1,000 with an extra $2,000 or so for more storage.

I see this as part of the general trend why megapixel is gaining rapid acceptance and positive satisfaction while video analytics are still dealing with accuracy and optimization issues.  While megapixel does not offer as much as video analytics, what it does it does well.  The reduced risk and increased simplicity spurs uptake.  I see this as the better choice to auto-tracking PTZs.  Thoughts?

Related Reports on PTZs

Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision 4K IR PTZ Tested (DS-2DF8836IV-AELW) on Nov 10, 2017
The IR PTZ trend continues, now with 4K resolution, with Hikvision releasing its DS-2DF8836IVAEL-W camera, a 4K 1/1.9" PTZ model specifying 200m IR...
Dahua 4K IR PTZ Tested on Aug 21, 2017
4K has made its way to IR PTZs. In this report, we examine the Dahua 6AE830VNI, a 4K PTZ with 30x optical zoom, 200m (~650') integrated IR, and...
Axis Laser Focus PTZ Tested on Aug 14, 2017
Axis has been touting its new Q6155-E laser focus PTZ as 'always in focus' and 'always in color'. Does it really deliver? We bought and tested...
IP Camera Specification / RFP Guide 2017 on Aug 14, 2017
RFPs are hard. Do them 'right' and it takes a lot of knowledge and time. Do them 'wrong' and you can be (a) unwittingly locked into a specific...
IR Surveillance Guide on Jul 31, 2017
Infrared (IR) has become an increasing core component to video surveillance systems. In particular, the expansion of integrated IR cameras that...
PTZ Usage Declines 2017 - Statistics on Jul 03, 2017
PTZ usage is declining, now at ~6% of all cameras integrator use, down from ~10% of cameras used in 2014, according to new IPVM...
Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2017 on May 08, 2017
Panoramic camera usage (including fisheye and multi-imagers) continue to rise rapidly. However, the race to the bottom is hindering even stronger...
Security Consultants Speak Episode 1 - Protus3 on Oct 21, 2016
This is a first of a series of conversations with security consultants. If you are a security consultant that wants to talk and can share frank...
PTZ Camera Guide 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras remain critical parts of many surveillance systems, especially in large security operations. Because of this it is important...

Most Recent Industry Reports

This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision Declares 'Never Click On Links In Emails' on Jan 09, 2018
Hikvision is stepping up its cybersecurity efforts with a clear recommendation - to never click on links in emails: It is a surprising change...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact