Should You Use PTZ Cameras?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 14, 2009

Though popular, PTZ cameras often create a false sense of security. They make for great demonstrations but are often underutilized or misused.

The use of PTZ cameras varies significantly. Offices and fast food restaurants rarely use PTZ cameras. However, the majority of cameras at shopping malls and public surveillance are PTZs. In general, PTZs are the standard choice for monitoring large public areas.

Here's a short video demonstrating the use of a PTZ:

****** *******, *** ******* ***** ****** * ***** ***** ** security. **** **** *** ***** ************** *** *** ***** ************* or *******.

*** *** ** *** ******* ****** *************. ******* *** **** food *********** ****** *** *** *******. *******, *** ******** ** cameras ** ******** ***** *** ****** ************ *** ****. ** general, **** *** *** ******** ****** *** ********** ***** ****** areas.

****'* * ***** ***** ************* *** *** ** * ***:

[***************]

Advantages ** ****

  • ********** ***** *****: *** *** ****** *** ** ******, ****** and ****** ** ***** ******** ** ***** (* *** ****** kilometers). **** ** *** ******** **** ***** ******* ***** ******** only ***** * ***** **** (*** ******* ****** ******).
  • **** *** ** ****** ** ***** (********) **** **** *** camera ** * ************* *** ** ******* ***** ** ********. For ********, **** * * ****** ******, *** ****** *** capture *** ***** ****, *** **** ** *** ******* *** and *** *********. *** **** *** ****** ************.
  • ********* *** ******* *** ******* ** ***** * ******* ** respond ** * ******** ********. *** ******** *** **** ** to **** *** ******* **** ******* **** ****** ******** ** license *****. *** ******** *** **** ****** * ******* ****** a ***** ****.
  • ******* **** *** ***** * **** ****, **** ******* *** cost ** ******** *** ***** ****.
  • ****** **** *** *****. **** *** *** ******* ***** *** surveillance ******** *** ** ***** ******* ******* (*** *** **** above). ** ***** ****** **** ******* ***** *** *********.

Disadvantages ** ****
  • PTZs *** *** *** ****** **** ***** **** *** ********* *******. While the PTZ has a potential to view enormous areas, at any given time, it only covers the area of a fixed camera. If a PTZ on a tour is looking at the front door and an event happens at the vehicle gate, that event is missed (and vice versa).
  • Service ******: Since PTZs are complex mechanical devices, they tend to have much more frequent service calls and shorter life spans (compared to fixed cameras).
  • High ******* *****: Because PTZs move so frequently, their storage utilization tends to be 2 - 4x higher than a fixed camera with equivalent frame rate and resolution. Motion based recording often cannot be used, and if used offers little savings since the camera continues to move. Plus, encoding motion requires higher bit rates to maintain image quality.
  • Poorer ***** *******: PTZ image quality is often poorer than fixed cameras, especially when zoomed in. This is likely a result of smaller chip sizes (1/4" for PTZs vs 1/3" inch in fixed cameras) and the much larger focal lengths in PTZs (over 50mm focal length is common for professional PTZs).
  • Mispositioning ** **** ** ******. Operators routinely place (or leave) the PTZ in different positions. While this can be solved by using a 'home' functionality, many systems are not configured to use this properly.
  • Works ****** **** ** ********: Controlling mechanical PTZs are very sensitive to latency. If the latency is more than a fraction of a second, controlling PTZs become very difficult. This is not an issue for traditional analog systems but a growing problem for IP video. Furthermore, network viewing often requires on screen PTZ controls which are much harder for an operator to use. These issues can be somewhat rectified by using USB joysticks and manufacturer optimizations to reduce latency. However, this is a frequent problem with IP networks.
  • Higher ***-****** ****: Whereas a fixed camera may cost $200 - $500, a PTZ camera with a 15x or greater zoom can cost $1,500 to $3,000. The cost increase is significant.
  • The ***** *** ************ ** **** **** ************. While it's impressive to see a building a mile away, that ability rarely solves real security problems for users.

** *******, **** ****** **** * **** ** ********** ******** that ******* **** *** ********* ****** ** *****.

Alternatives ** ****

********* ** ******* *** ******** ** ** *********** ** **** but ****** ******.

*** ******* ********* ** ********* ******* ** ** ********* *** problem **** **** *** **** ****/****** ***** **** *** ********* looking. ** ********, ***** ********* ******* *** * ******* ****, viewing **** *** ****** *** **** ********. ****, ***** ********* cameras ********* *** ********** ********** ** ****, ***** **** ** lower (**** *** *****-*********) *** *** ******* ****** ****** ** less.

*******, ********* ******* ****** **** ***** ** ******** *** ********* coverage **** ** * *** ******. **** **** *** *** higher ***** ***** ** * ********* ******, **'* ******** ** provide ******** **** **** *** ********** ** * ** ** 3x ******* ****. ***********, ***** ********* ******* ******* **** ********* cameras ******* *** ********** ** ** ** ** ******** ********** cameras, *** ********* ***** ****** ** ******* ***** ** **** (especially ** ***** ***** **********).

***** ********* ********* ****** ******** ********** *** ******** **** **** fixed *******, *****'* ****** ****** ** ******* **** ********* ** or *** ********* *** *** ** ****.

Best **** *** ****

**** ***** ************** ** ****, **** **** **** ****:

  • ** ************ *** ********* ******** ** ********** ******** *******. ** you *** * *** *** ******** ** * ****** ******* and **** ********* ********* ** **********, **** **** *****. *** PTZ ******* ***** ********* ** ******* ******* *****. *******, ** you ****** ******* *** ******** ****** *** ********* *** ** for **************, ********* ******* *** * ********** *********** ** ********.
  • ** ************ *** * ****** ***** **** **** ***** ** be *******. **** ***** ***** *** ***** ** *********** **** with ********* *******. **** * *** ******** *** *** ***** needed (** **** ** *** **** ****** ********). *******, ** you **** * ******** **** **** (**** * ******* *** with * *** ***** ******), *** ** *** ********* ******* are ****** ** ** **** ********* *** **** *********.
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