PTZ Camera

The Best PTZ Cameras (2023 Update)

This is a complete list of PTZ cameras I use and trust for live streaming, corporate events, church services, concerts, sports, and multicam productions.

In this guide you'll find:

Let's get started...


PTZ Cameras

I only recommend products I use and trust. When you buy through links here, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Why You Can Trust Me

Canon CR-N700

Best Overall PTZ Camera

Canon CR-N700

Get Price at Amazon
Image Quality: 3/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Performance: 2/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 6/10 How I Choose Scores

I waited far too long for a camera company to simply replicate their camcorder lineup in PTZ form. Seems reasonable and logical, right?

Well, I guess it was always easier said than done.

Until now.

Thankfully, Canon finally stepped up to the plate. And I would say they knocked it out of the park!

The top-notch image quality, fast and accurate autofocus, 12G-SDI output, genlock and timecode capabilities, a fairly decent built-in auto tracking option, and competitive price point catapult the CR-N700 straight to the top.

Canon also improved the CR-N700's internal streaming capabilities compared to the Canon camcorder lineup, so this becomes a perfect fit for single camera setups that require a simple turnkey live streaming solution.

As a bonus, this will be a near identical match to my premium camcorder pick, the Canon XF605. So the pair is a no-brainer if you want a system with a mix of PTZs and manned camcorders. In addition, its abundance of color and image control, including Canon Log 3, makes it a good match to most of the Canon cinema camera lineup.

And if you don't need the 12G-SDI output or higher quality live streaming features of the CR-N700, the Canon CR-N500 below will be a great alternative that is easier on the budget.


Pros

  • 12G-SDI output
  • Simultaneous HDMI and SDI output
  • Dual Pixel autofocus with eye detection
  • Live stream via RTMP/RTMPS or SRT

Cons

  • Auto Tracking and Auto Loop features cost extra

Framing Distances
Full Shot 8' - 111'
2.5m - 33.5m
Medium Shot 3.1' - 45'
1m - 13.5m
Specifications
Sensor Size 1"
Lens 8.3mm – 124.5mm
25.5mm - 382.5mm (35mm equivalent)
15x optical zoom
f/2.8 - 4.5
Video I/O 1 x 12G-SDI output
1 x 3G-SDI output
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 59.94 fps
Audio I/O 2 x XLR audio mic/line inputs
1 x 3.5mm TRS stereo audio mic/line input
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input/output
1 x BNC timecode input/output
1 x RJ45 LAN input/output (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Wi-Fi (control)
Power Options 1 x 4-pin XLR input (12V DC)
1 x PoE++ via RJ45 network port
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100 (Amazon)
Resources View the Canon CR-N700 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N700 Full Specifications (PDF)
Canon CR-N500

Best Value PTZ Camera

Canon CR-N500

Get Price at Amazon
Image Quality: 3/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Performance: 2/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 9/10 How I Choose Scores

Take the same great image quality and lens found in the top pick Canon CR-N700 above and pair it with a more limited I/O and video format selection from the budget pick Canon CR-N300 below and you get this wonderful mid-range bang for the buck.

If you are looking for better image quality than the budget pick and are willing to sacrifice a bit of optical zoom as well as 4K60p, 12G-SDI output, and additional features like genlock found in the top pick, then go ahead and swipe right on this one.

As a bonus, this will be a near identical match to my honorable mention camcorder pick, the Canon XA75. So the pair is a no-brainer if you want a system with a mix of PTZs and manned camcorders. In addition, its abundance of color and image control, including Canon Log 3, makes it a good match to most of the Canon cinema camera lineup.


Framing Distances
Full Shot 8' - 111'
2.5m - 33.5m
Medium Shot 3.1' - 45'
1m - 13.5m
Specifications
Sensor Size 1"
Lens 8.3mm – 124.5mm
25.5mm - 382.5mm (35mm equivalent)
15x optical zoom
f/2.8 - 4.5
Video I/O 1 x 3G-SDI output
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps (HDMI and IP only)
1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps
Audio I/O 2 x XLR audio mic/line inputs
1 x 3.5mm TRS stereo audio mic/line input
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input/output
1 x RJ45 LAN input/output (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Wi-Fi (control)
Power Options 1 x DC input (24V DC)
1 x PoE+ via RJ45 network port
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100 (Amazon)
Resources View the Canon CR-N500 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N500 Data Sheet (PDF)
Canon CR-N300

Best Budget PTZ Camera

Canon CR-N300

Get Price at Amazon
Image Quality: 2/10 Dynamic Range: 1/10 Low Light Performance: 1/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 8/10 How I Choose Scores

Canon takes home the hat-trick (hockey, not baseball) by taking all three of the top spots here for three main reasons:

  1. Performance for the price is unbeatable
  2. Clear consistency and predictability throughout the entire lineup
  3. The near perfect matches between Canon CR series PTZs and prosumer camcorders (G, XA, and XF series)

This might be a budget option, but it is still no slouch.

It offers more-than-adequate image quality, excellent zoom range, smooth and intuitive pan/tilt action (especially for the price point), and auto tracking capability that is actually usable in some situations.

As a bonus, this will be a near identical match to both my runner up camcorder pick, the Canon XA65, and my budget pick camcorder pick, the Canon XA75. So these pairs are a no-brainer if you want a system with a mix of PTZs and manned camcorders.


Framing Distances
Full Shot 8.5' - 170'
2.6m - 52m
Medium Shot 3.5' - 70'
1m - 20m
Specifications
  1. The same video format is required for SDI and HDMI (cannot select different formats for SDI and HDMI)
  2. When 3840 x 2160 is selected for HDMI, no video output will be available via SDI
Sensor Size 1/2.3"
Lens 3.67mm - 73.4mm
29.3mm - 601mm (35mm equivalent)
20x optical zoom
f/1.8 - 2.8
Video I/O 1 x 3G-SDI output1,2
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)1,2
1 x USB-C webcam output (limited to video only up to 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps)
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps or 1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps1,2
1920 x 1080 up to 30 fps (USB-C webcam output)
Audio I/O 1 x 3.5mm TRS stereo mic/line input
Other I/O 1 x RJ45 LAN input/output (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Wi-Fi (control)
Power Options 1 x 24V DC input (power adapter included)
1 x PoE+ via RJ45 network port (EEE802.3at compliant)
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100 (Amazon)
Resources View the Canon CR-N300 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N300 Data Sheet (PDF)
Sony FR7

Best Premium PTZ Camera

Sony FR7

Get Price at Amazon
Image Quality: 9/10 Dynamic Range: 7/10 Low Light Performance: 10/10 Live Features: 8/10 Manual Control: 8/10 Auto Tracking: 0/10 Overall Value: 7/10 How I Choose Scores

I mean... 🫨

If you take the essence of the Sony FX6 and throw it on a highly capable remote pan/tilt system, then you wind up with this beautiful beast.

Caveat Emptor: It is technically a "PT" minus the "Z" until you add a supported power zoom lens, but it easily falls into this category once you do.

As a result, you arguably get the highest quality cinematic image quality ever offered in an all-in-one PTZ camera system.

The most important consideration with this specific camera will be the full frame sensor. That alone will make lens selection and framing distances much more tricky in many environments. However, I can see this solution working very well for smaller studio applications, for close range POVs on stages and in orchestra pits, for supporting POV shots in sporting events, and other situations where the camera will be within a few meters of the action/subjects being covered.

And while it currently does not offer any kind of auto tracking capability, you can pair it with the FR-1 Fluid Remote system from RCT for a fully remote operator configuration.

As a bonus, this will be a near identical match to my top pick mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha 7S III. So this pair is a no-brainer if you want a system with a mix of PTZs and manned cameras.


Framing Distances
*Framing distance determined by the specific lens mounted on the camera
Full Shot* 4.5' - 10' (Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4)
1.4m - 3.1m (Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4)
8.5' - 40' (Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4)
2.6m - 12.2m (Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4)
Medium Shot* 2' - 4.2' (Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4)
0.6m - 1.25m (Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4)
3.3' - 16.2' (Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4)
1m - 4.9m (Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4)
Specifications
Sensor Size Full Frame
Lens Mount Sony E-mount
Internal Recording Codecs H.264
Internal Recording Formats 4096 x 2160 up to 59.94 fps
3840 x 2160 up to 120 fps
1920 x 1080 up to 240 fps
Recording Media Slot 1: Multi slot for CFexpress Type A or SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
Slot 2: Multi slot for CFexpress Type A or SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
Video I/O 1 x 12G-SDI output
1 x HDMI (Type A - Full Size)
1 x SFP+ optical video output (same format as SDI output)
Video Output Formats SMPTE formats up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps
Audio I/O 1 x XLR 5-pin audio mic/line input
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input/output
1 x BNC timecode input/output
1 x RJ45 LAN input/output (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless N/A
Power Options 1 x DC input (19.5V - power adapter included)
1 x PoE++ via RJ45 network port (IEEE802.3bt Type 4 Class 8 compliant)
Recommended Controller Sony RM-IP500 (Amazon)
Resources View the Sony FR7 Product Page
View Sony FR7 Lens Compatibility Information
View the Sony FR7 Online Help Guide
Panasonic UE150

Another Great PTZ Camera

Panasonic UE150

Get Price at Amazon
Image Quality: 4/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Performance: 2/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 8/10 Overall Value: 5/10 How I Choose Scores

Panasonic has consistently provided some of the best industry standard PTZs, and this is no exception.

Take my top pick camcorder, the Panasonic HC-X2, and put it into a full-featured PTZ package to get this wonderful solution.

It offers full 4K60p through multiple simultaneous outputs, 20x optical zoom, HDR capability, genlock input, power and control over Ethernet, synchro scan shutter, built-in streaming, cropped sensor output, and much more.

And if you're looking for some of the best auto tracking in a PTZ, Panasonic has that category covered. Just be aware that it does require an additional software purchase that can only run on a separate Windows machine.


Framing Distances
Full Shot 7.5' - 150'
2.25m - 45m
Medium Shot 3' - 60'
0.9m - 18m
Specifications
Sensor Size 1"
Lens 8.8mm – 176mm
24.5mm - 490mm (35mm equivalent)
20x optical zoom
f/2.8 - 4.5
Video I/O 1 x 12G-SDI output
1 x 3G-SDI output
1 x MONI output (1.5G-SDI BNC)
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)
1 x SFP+ optical video output (same format as 12G-SDI output)
Video Output Formats SMPTE formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps
Audio I/O 1 x 3.5mm TRS stereo headphone output
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input (BNC)
1 x RJ45 LAN input/output (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Infrared remote control
Power Options 1 x XLR 4-pin 12V DC (10.8V to 13.2V)
1 x PoE++ via RJ45 network port (IEEE 802.3bt Type 4 Standard DC 42V to 57V)
Recommended Controller Panasonic AW-RP150 (Amazon)
Panasonic AW-RP60 (Amazon)
Resources View the Panasonic UE150 Product Page
Download the Panasonic UE150 Operating Instructions (English PDF)

Why You Can Trust Me

I started my career over 23 years ago as a freelance live camera operator for broadcast television networks including ABC, FOX Sports, and Speed Channel. Since then, I have spent countless hours with hundreds of different PTZ cameras in a variety of environments like corporate events, concerts, sports, theater, churches, and classrooms. Additionally, I have spent the last decade running this website and consulting with organizations to help them find the right cameras and maximize their results. Learn more about Joel


How I Choose Scores

Every camera on this site gets scored for performance and overall value. Scores for each camera are calculated in the context of all other cameras and camera categories.

As a result, you may see lower or higher average scores for some characteristics in certain categories. For example, camcorders will typically receive lower than average scoring for image quality, dynamic range, and low-light performance and higher than average scoring for live features, while mirrorless cameras typically receive the opposite.

Image Quality

Image quality takes into account many factors including image noise, sharpness, color science, color accuracy, dynamic range, the ability to adjust the image to a specific style, etc.

Considerations include:

  • Accuracy of skin tones
  • Accuracy of saturated colors
  • Amount of details visible in highlights and shadows
  • Amount of noise in the final image
  • Amount of ghosting, chromatic aberration, and distortion in the image
  • How much work is required to achieve a pleasing final image
  • How much light is required to achieve the cleanest image

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range refers to how much detail is retained in highlights and shadows. The higher the dynamic range, the more detail that remains in bright highlights and dark shadows.

Dynamic range can also affect color saturation. A low dynamic range can cause unwanted clipping and/or smearing of saturated colors, as well as inaccurate shifting of colors in some situations.

For context, the ARRI ALEXA 35 currently sets the standard for a perfect 10/10 dynamic range. So if you wonder why these scores may seem low, it's because the bar has been set very high.

Low-Light Performance

This one is fairly self-explanatory.

But, first of all, I want to be clear that I always recommend providing adequate quality light if at all possible (see the lighting section of First Things First).

However, it does help knowing just how clean of an image to expect with less-than-ideal lighting, and is often a good indication of how clean the image is in general.

You will notice that camcorders and PTZs generally score much lower for this characteristic while mirrorless, cinema, and studio cameras score much higher. This is simply due to the nature of how camcorders and PTZs are made, with smaller sensors and built-in lenses that have variable apertures (an aperture that closes as the lens is zoomed in).

Live Features

Live features include remote control of camera and lens settings, built-in on-air tally indicators, built-in intercom for communication with director and crew, ability to add external viewfinders and monitors, remote power, and the ability to do everything through as few cables as possible.

Studio cameras and camcorders usually score higher while mirrorless cameras and cinema cameras might score lower.

Manual Control

This is an exclusive criterion for the PTZ camera category.

This score takes into account the smoothness, accuracy, and intuitiveness during manual pans, tilts, and zooms.

The higher this score, the better your results will be when the camera(s) are controlled manually by a trained operator.

Auto Tracking

This is also an exclusive criterion for the PTZ camera category.

If auto tracking is available for the camera, this score will take into account the smoothness and accuracy of pans, tilts, and zooms done while auto tracking is enabled.

The higher this score, the more difficult it is to distinguish auto tracking from a manned camera operator on a fluid head.

Overall Value

This is the most subjective score, and is my overall opinion of the camera.

You may see lower scores here from cameras in both price extremes, with higher scores coming from cameras that tend to provide more performance and features for reasonable prices.

"Bang for the buck" is the key phrase here.


PTZ Camera Buyer's Guide

When shopping for PTZ cameras, it's important to understand what they are and how they work.

The following information will help you determine if a PTZ camera is right for you and, if so, help you choose the best PTZ camera for your needs.

Terms to Know

Pan
The process of rotating a camera on the horizontal axis from a central pivot point.
Tilt
The process of rotating a camera on the vertical axis from a central pivot point.
Zoom
The process of changing the focal length within a lens to make objects appear closer or farther away.
Servo

An electronic mechanism used to physically rotate parts of a camera or lens with precision.

Short for servomechanism or servomotor.

What is a PTZ Camera?

To be considered a PTZ, it must:

  • Have an imaging sensor and a built-in zoom lens or an interchangeable lens with power zoom capability
  • Have servos for hands-free adjustment of pan, tilt, zoom, and focus
  • Be able to receive remote commands for pan, tilt, zoom, and focus

Expectations

When considering and working with PTZ cameras, it is important to have proper expectations.

The most important expectation is performance for the price...

Good PTZ Cameras Are Not Cheap

PTZ cameras fundamentally consist of significantly more moving parts than camcorders. Therefore, expect pricing to break down to around 50% for the camera portion and 50% for everything else.

As a result, it is safe to assume a $5,000 PTZ will perform like a $2,500 camcorder. And that is typically a best case scenario. It is not uncommon to see pricing break down get closer to ⅓ for the camera portion and ⅔ for everything else.

You can see this formula pretty accurately reflected when comparing the PTZs here to my recommendations in The Best Camcorders For Live Streaming.

It is important to keep in mind that this pricing does not include the controller, cabling, or other accessories as well.

Where PTZ Cameras Excel

PTZ cameras work best in these situations:

  • Where manned cameras are not possible or may be unsafe
  • Where camera operators may be a distraction
  • Highly controlled conditions, like studios
  • Static camera shots where live movement is not necessary
  • Where production quality is not a priority, like in classrooms, courtrooms, boardrooms, etc.

Where PTZ Cameras Fail

PTZ cameras often show their weaknesses in these situations:

  • Tracking shots of a moving human subject, especially from longer distances
  • Creative and complex moves (simultaneous zoom and focus, for example)
  • Fine movements at longer focal lengths
  • Smooth and distraction-free movements between presets
  • Mounting on physical structures like columns, walls, ceilings, and balconies

The keyword here is OFTEN.

While PTZ cameras can do some of the things in the list above well, you generally have to pay a premium to make it happen.

Internal Recording

Nearly all of the PTZs I recommend do not offer any type of internal recording capability.

The only current exception is the Sony FR7.

Auto Tracking

A rapidly growing request is the ability for a PTZ to auto track a subject or group of subjects.

I could easily write 10,000 words on this topic alone, including my strong opinions on it.

But, in short, it is a feature I currently do not recommend for anything tighter than a full body shot.

So, if you choose to utilize auto tracking on any PTZ, it's on you to do all the testing and have realistic expectations.

It can be done well. It is getting better. But it still is not developed enough to fully replace manned cameras.

Matching Cameras

When it comes to color and image quality, if you want a good chance at making every camera in a system match then I recommend using the same brand for all cameras at a bare minimum.

And, the more you pay, the more control you get.

As a general rule, if the PTZ camera costs less than $2,500 USD then there is a high likelihood it will not match well with other cameras, especially those from other brands.

Do I Need A Hardware Controller?

In most cases, yes.

While some PTZ cameras offer control through software and/or a web browser, nothing beats the speed, consistency, and reliability of a matched wired hardware controller.

If your situation just needs a few presets, and live manual camera moves are not necessary, then browser or software control can work. But, if you plan on using the cameras in a more dynamic environment then a proper hardware controller is a must.

So, keep in mind that this will be an added cost.

Try Before You Buy

Sometimes you just have to see to believe. I get that.

Therefore, I recommend that you do your due diligence by getting a demo, talking to other owners and users, or renting the specific camera you are considering. This is the only true way to know if your expectations will be met or not.

What About _______ Brand?

I want to be completely clear...

If you don't see a brand in this list, there is a good reason why.

My experiences in broadcast television and corporate video production, along with my experiences consulting with many individuals and organizations that use PTZ cameras, I have a unique perspective of having first-hand knowledge of how these products perform. Because of this, I see very clear trends in the brands that people enjoy, tolerate, and dislike.

I have also had the unfortunate job of telling many people that the PTZ cameras they purchased will not do what they want or perform as they expected.

It is also important to know that the PTZ market has quite a few categories that include security, corporate, industrial, teleconferencing, and broadcast. And many of the non-broadcast brands try to market their products as broadcast cameras to reach more customers. But, that often causes confusion, frustration, and creates false expectations.

Simply put, the PTZ cameras I recommend are ones I personally will use and trust, and are the only ones to which I'm willing to attach my name and reputation.

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