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 ****** ** ** **** ********* *** **** *********.
Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

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...
No Marketing Gimmick, Sharp Security Robot Targets Professional Market on Oct 17, 2016
Security robots are getting a lot of attention. Unfortunately, this is often for wrong reasons, most spectacularly highlighted by the Knightscope...
Camera Course September 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
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...
Pelco Optera 270° Camera Tested on Sep 06, 2016
Multi-imager cameras are typically 180° or 360°. Pelco has released a fixed 270° versions of their Optera intended to cover exterior building...
Ex-Microsoft Exec Surveillance Startup Nepoware on Sep 02, 2016
Former Microsoft executive Richard Ang says he wanted to build an IoT device, and so he has spent 3 years developing what he says is a more...
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...
Viakoo Health Monitoring Examined on Aug 26, 2016
Viakoo, the company of ex-Intransa leaders, says they have created a monitoring tool for security networks that is easy to deploy and offers...
Axxon Next VMS 4.0 Tested on Aug 24, 2016
AxxonSoft is one of the biggest VMS vendors (reporting 263,000 channels sold in 2015), especially strong in their home market of Russia, but not...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Knightscope - $122,509 Revenue, $2.5 Million Loss Seeks $20 Million Investment on Dec 09, 2016
The robot that ran over a child, Knightscope, wants money and they need it. Investors can invest as little as $1,000 to participate and...
'Solution' Manufacturers Threaten Integrators on Dec 09, 2016
The race to the bottom has driven manufacturers to become 'solution' providers, threatening integrators. Axis shift to 'solution' sales might be...
The Russian SMP Security Robot on Dec 08, 2016
A Russian manufacturer, SMP, has a commercially available outdoor security robot, at a lower price and with much less marketing than their main...
How Hikvision Beats Its OEMs on Dec 08, 2016
Hikvision GM declared that they are not aggressive with their competitors. But some of their own OEM partners disagree. Inside, we reveal a key...
Dahua Discontinuing H.264 Only Products on Dec 08, 2016
Dahua has taken a stand for H.265 and is discontinuing its H.264 only products. We examine the shakeup inside this...
IP Networking Course January 2017 on Dec 08, 2016
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Hikvision vs Dahua Mobile Apps Tested on Dec 07, 2016
With smartphone use and low-cost video recorders surging, many user's main interface to their surveillance system is their phone. With mobile video...
Paxton Drops US Reps, Plans Major Expansion on Dec 07, 2016
Paxton is gearing up to make a big run at  US access control success. The first step they have made is to cut all US Rep Firms, in anticipation of...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered on Dec 06, 2016
A backdoor has been uncovered in ~80 Sony IP camera models, attackers can remotely enable telnet on the camera, and then potentially login as root,...

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