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

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...
Axis Laser Focus PTZ Camera Examined on Sep 08, 2016
How do you make a PTZ focus better and faster? If you are Axis, you add a laser to it. In this report, we examine Axis' new Q6155-E, looking at...
Panoramic Camera (Fisheye / Multi-Imager) Guide on Aug 31, 2016
Panoramic cameras, including fisheyes and multi-imagers, have become increasingly widespread, with most manufacturers offering fisheyes and an...
Hikvision ~$300 Mini PTZ Tested on Jul 08, 2016
A PTZ camera at fixed dome prices? That is the promise of Hikvision's new DS-2DE2103, a compact PTZ with 3x optical zoom in a package smaller than...

Most Recent Industry Reports

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...
Top Used License Plate Capture Cameras on Aug 21, 2017
Capturing license plates is a common video surveillance application. But what cameras do integrators mostly commonly used? Special purpose LPC...
VLAN For Video Surveillance Usage Statistics on Aug 21, 2017
VLANs (see our tutorial) are an option for networks using video surveillance, but how often are they actually used? 125+ integrators told us how...
Avigilon CEO Attacks Asian Companies Cyber Insecurity on Aug 18, 2017
Avigilon CEO is taking aim at their Asian competitors. And he is going directly after these company's cyber security issues. In this note, we...
Sony Next Gen HD Dome Camera Tested (SNC-EM642R) on Aug 18, 2017
Sony has released their latest generation, claiming improved WDR and low light, increased IR range, and more. We tested the SNC-EM642R outdoor IR...
IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 17, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Knightscope Raises $10 Million With $3,320 Average Per Investor on Aug 17, 2017
Congrats to Knightscope. And condolences to their legion of little investors. Knightscope has disclosed they have raised $10+ million from their...
Axis and Arecont Legal Conflict Over Multi-Imager Cameras on Aug 17, 2017
Arecont threatened Axis. Axis has responded by moving to invalidate an Arecont patent. It is an important contest. Multi-imagers are Arecont's...
Directory Of Consumer Security Cameras on Aug 16, 2017
The consumer camera segment continues to grow, with new startups and models from existing players released seemingly every month. In this report we...
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6a Network Cable Usage Statistics on Aug 16, 2017
Cat 5e? Cat 6? Cat 6a? What do integrators use in practice, today? 140+ integrators told IPVM. Here are the results: For those who want to...

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