Vector illustration of a PTZ camera

The Best PTZ Cameras (2024)

This is a complete list of PTZ cameras I use and trust for live streaming and recording corporate events, houses of worship, concerts, education, sports, Esports, court rooms, government proceedings, podcasts, broadcasts, and more.

Canon CR-N300

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The best overall PTZ camera for most users.

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Image Quality: 3/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Quality: 2/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 8/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

I've waited far too long for a manufacturer to simply replicate their pro camcorder lineup and put the same image quality, lensing, and features into a matching PTZ lineup.

But finally the wait is over, and it was Canon that delivered!

I'm going to be honest right out of the gate, too. Canon didn't just deliver. They hit a walk off grand slam by taking the top four spots for this category.

To start, they took the Canon XA65 (my top pick camcorder), put it in a PTZ, and gave us the Canon CR-N300.

The two share the same sensor, same 20x optical zoom lens, same 3G-SDI and HDMI outputs, same output formats, and the same great image quality.

In addition, the CR-N300 offers smooth pan and tilt performance, a wide variety of communication protocols, and built-in auto tracking capability that only requires a one-time (and reasonably priced) license add-on purchase.

When it comes to image quality and features for the price, the Canon CR-N300 is hard to beat.


The Canon CR-N300 is also a perfect match to the Canon G70 (my budget pick camcorder).

Don't need SDI output? Check out the Canon CR-N100 below.

Want better image quality, better low light performance, and can live with a shorter 15x optical zoom? Check out the Canon CR-N500 and Canon CR-N700 below.

Need IP65 outdoor capability? Check out the Canon CR-X300 below.


Pros

  • 3G-SDI output
  • 20x optical zoom
  • Good auto tracking built-in (no additional hardware/software required)
  • Perfect match to my top pick and budget pick camcorders

Cons

  • Weak low light performance
  • 4K UHD HDMI output disables SDI output
  • USB-C webcam doesn't do full frame rates

Canon CR-N300 Framing Distances
Full Shot 9' - 180' (2.75m - 55m)
Medium Shot 3.5' - 70' (1m - 20m)

Canon CR-N300 Specifications
  1. The same video output format is required for SDI and HDMI
  2. When 3840 x 2160 is selected for HDMI, no video output will be available via SDI
Sensor 1/2.3" CMOS
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
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps (HDMI only)2
1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps (SDI and HDMI)1, 2
1920 x 1080 up to 12 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 USB-C port (webcam output and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Wi-Fi (control)
Power 1 x 24V DC input (power adapter included)
1 x PoE+ via RJ45 network port (EEE802.3at compliant)
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100
Resources View the Canon CR-N300 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N300 Data Sheet (PDF)

Canon CR-N500

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An upgrade PTZ camera with excellent image quality and dynamic range, but less optical zoom.

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Image Quality: 5/10 Dynamic Range: 3/10 Low Light Quality: 3/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 8/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

If you want better image quality and low light performance than the top pick, and willing to sacrifice some optical zoom to get it, this is your answer.

We get the same features and functionality as the Canon CR-N300 with the added benefits of the 1-inch sensor and 15x optical zoom lens found in camcorders like the Canon XA70, Canon XA75, and Canon XF605 (my premium camcorder pick).


The Canon CR-N300 is a perfect match to the Canon XA65 (my top pick camcorder) as well as the Canon G70 (my budget pick camcorder).

Want a 12G-SDI output capable of handling up to 4K UHD at 60 fps? Check out the Canon CR-N700 below.


Pros

  • 3G-SDI output
  • Better image quality and low light performance than top pick
  • Good auto tracking built-in (no additional hardware/software required)
  • Perfect match to my premium pick camcorder

Cons

  • 15x optical zoom may not be enough for some
  • 4K UHD HDMI output disables SDI output
  • USB-C webcam doesn't do full frame rates

Canon CR-N500 Framing Distances
Full Shot 8' - 111'
2.5m - 33.5m
Medium Shot 3.1' - 45'
1m - 13.5m

Canon CR-N500 Specifications
  1. The same video output format is required for SDI and HDMI
  2. When 3840 x 2160 is selected for HDMI, no video output will be available via SDI
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 output1, 2
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)1, 2
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps (HDMI only)2
1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps (SDI and HDMI)1, 2
1920 x 1080 up to 12 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 USB-C port (webcam output and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 input (control)
Wireless Wi-Fi (control)
Power 1 x 24V DC input (power adapter included)
1 x PoE+ via RJ45 network port (EEE802.3at compliant)
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100
Resources View the Canon CR-N500 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N500 Data Sheet (PDF)

Canon CR-N100

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The best budget PTZ camera.

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Image Quality: 3/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Quality: 2/10 Live Features: 5/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 9/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

This latest addition to the Canon PTZ lineup completes the crossover from the professional camcorders by incorporating the Canon G70 (my budget pick camcorder) into the Canon CR-N100.

As a result, we get a phenomenal bang for the buck that has all the same features as my top pick PTZ except for the 3G-SDI output.

Now the direct correlations between both categories are clear:

And it also becomes obvious why Canon nearly cleans house in both categories - by providing clear and concise consistency in terms of performance and pricing.

In short, this PTZ will deliver well above its budget-friendly price point.


Pros

  • Price
  • 20x optical zoom
  • Good auto tracking built-in (no additional hardware/software required)
  • Perfect match to my budget pick camcorder

Cons

  • Weak low light performance
  • USB-C webcam doesn't do full frame rates

Canon CR-N100 Framing Distances
Full Shot 9' - 180' (2.75m - 55m)
Medium Shot 3.5' - 70' (1m - 20m)

Canon CR-N100 Specifications
Sensor 1/2.3" CMOS
Lens 3.67mm - 73.4mm
29.3mm - 601mm (35mm equivalent)
20x optical zoom
f/1.8 - 2.8
Video I/O 1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps
1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps
1920 x 1080 up to 12 fps (USB-C webcam output)
Audio I/O 1 x 3.5mm TRS stereo mic/line input
Other I/O 1 x RJ45 LAN port (IP streaming and control)
1 x USB-C port (webcam output and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 port (control)
Wireless N/A
Power 1 x 24V DC input (power adapter included)
1 x PoE+ via RJ45 network port (EEE802.3at compliant)
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100
Resources View the Canon CR-N100 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N100 Full Technical Specifications (PDF)

Canon CR-N700

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The best PTZ camera money can buy right now.

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Image Quality: 5/10 Dynamic Range: 3/10 Low Light Quality: 3/10 Live Features: 10/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 7/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

And coming in to home plate, to complete the walk-off grand slam, is the Canon CR-N700!

The top-notch image quality, fast and accurate Dual Pixel autofocus, 12G-SDI and 3G-SDI outputs, genlock and timecode ports, auto tracking, and competitive price point catapult the CR-N700 straight to this premium pick position.

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

If you're looking for the best PTZ solution right out of the box, you've found your match!


The Canon CR-N700 is a perfect match to the Canon XF605 (my premium pick camcorder). In addition, it's a great supplement to the Canon cinema camera lineup with its abundance of color and image control, including Canon Log 3.


Pros

  • 12G-SDI output plus an additional 3G-SDI output
  • No output format limitations
  • Dual Pixel autofocus with eye detection, face priority, and touch AF
  • Live stream via SRT, RTMP, or RTMPS

Cons

  • 15x optical zoom may not be enough for some
  • No full bandwidth NDI support
  • No USB ports

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 SMPTE formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps (12G-SDI and HDMI outputs)
SMPTE formats up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (3G-SDI output)
Audio I/O 2 x XLR analog audio mic/line inputs with phantom power
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 port (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 port (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
Canon RC-IP1000
Resources View the Canon CR-N700 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-N700 Full Specifications (PDF)

Panasonic UE160

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Another great premium PTZ camera.

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Image Quality: 5/10 Dynamic Range: 3/10 Low Light Quality: 3/10 Live Features: 10/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 5/10 Overall Value: 7/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

Take the premium pick PTZ, let Salt Bae sprinkle in a little something extra, and you get this beast packed with goodies.

Peep this laundry list of features... 👀

  • 1" sensor
  • 20x optical zoom
  • 12G-SDI output
  • 2 x 3G-SDI outputs
  • HDMI output
  • NDI & NDI|HX output
  • SRT, RTMP, and RTMPS streaming in H.264 or H.265/HEVC
  • SMPTE ST 2110 output (with additional software key purchase)
  • Optical fiber output slot
  • 2 x XLR analog audio inputs

And that really only begins to scratch the surface of all this camera has to offer. Panasonic also offers some of the best auto tracking capabilities available (albeit with additional software purchase running on compatible server hardware), region-of-interest cropping and zooming, AR/VR position tracking, and much more.

But is there enough here to justify the extra $5,000 USD over the premium pick Canon CR-N700? In most cases, probably not. Unless you really need ST 2110 or fiber output, or can use this to take the place of two PTZs by utilizing the built-in crop feature in addition to a full sensor output, then maybe.


The Panasonic UE160 is also a perfect match for the Panasonic HC-X2 (my runner-up pick camcorder).


Pros

  • No output format limitations
  • ST 2110 output capability
  • Some of the best auto tracking available today (with extra software and hardware purchases)
  • Perfect match to my runner-up pick camcorder

Cons

  • ST 2110 output is limited to HD formats
  • Many extras come with additional costs
  • Price point out of reach for many

Panasonic UE160 Framing Distances
Full Shot 7.5' - 150'
2.25m - 45m
Medium Shot 3' - 60'
0.9m - 18m
Panasonic UE160 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
2 x 3G-SDI outputs
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)
1 x SFP+ optical fiber output (SDI or ST 2110)
Video Output Formats SMPTE formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps
Audio I/O 2 x XLR analog audio mic/line inputs with phantom power
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input (BNC)
1 x RJ45 LAN port (IP outputs and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 port (control)
1 x USB 3.0 port (Type A - 5G mobile router with USB tethering support)
Wireless N/A
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
Panasonic AW-RP60
Resources View the Panasonic UE150 Product Page
Download the Panasonic UE150 Operating Instructions (English PDF)

Sony FR7

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The best cinematic PTZ camera money can buy.

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Image Quality: 9/10 Dynamic Range: 7/10 Low Light Quality: 10/10 Live Features: 8/10 Manual Control: 8/10 Auto Tracking: 0/10 Overall Value: 7/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn 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 almost-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.

Alas, it doesn't have any auto tracking capabilities (at least not at the time of this update). But it easily makes up for it in image quality, low light performance, internal recording, and the ability to swap out lenses to fit a large variety of needs.

And you can always 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 the Sony Alpha 7S III (my premium pick mirrorless camera). So this pair will be a no-brainer and a show-stopper if you want a system with a mix of PTZs and manned cameras.


Sony FR7 Framing Distances
*Framing distance determined by the specific lens mounted on the camera
Full Shot* Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4: 4.5' - 10' (1.4m - 3.1m)
Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4: 8.5' - 40' (2.6m - 12.2m)
Medium Shot* Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4: 2' - 4.2' (0.6m - 1.25m)
Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4: 3.3' - 16.2' (1m - 4.9m)
Sony FR7 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
Resources View the Sony FR7 Product Page
View Sony FR7 Lens Compatibility Information
View the Sony FR7 Online Help Guide

Canon CR-X300

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The best outdoor weather-resistant PTZ camera.

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Image Quality: 3/10 Dynamic Range: 2/10 Low Light Quality: 2/10 Live Features: 7/10 Manual Control: 6/10 Auto Tracking: 0/10 Overall Value: 5/10

Scores are calculated equally across all camera categories. Learn how I choose scores

Take the Canon CR-N300, put it into an IP65-rated weather-resistant housing, sprinkle in some extra helpful features, and you get the Canon CR-X300.

It doesn't have the possibility of adding auto tracking, but it essentially keeps everything else. It also gets a 6G-SDI output, BNC genlock input, built-in servo ND filter wheel, and a built-in servo ND filter wheel.


Pros

  • IP65 weather-resistance
  • 6G-SDI output
  • Built-in servo ND filter wheel and wiper allows for easier remote operation

Cons

  • Significant price premium over indoor models puts it out of reach for some
  • No auto tracking capability

Canon CR-X300 Framing Distances
Full Shot 9' - 180' (2.75m - 55m)
Medium Shot 3.5' - 70' (1m - 20m)

Canon CR-X300 Specifications
  1. The same video output format is required for SDI and HDMI
  2. When 3840 x 2160 is selected for HDMI or SDI, video will only be sent to that individual output
Sensor 1/2.3" CMOS
Lens 3.67mm - 73.4mm
29.3mm - 601mm (35mm equivalent)
20x optical zoom
f/1.8 - 2.8
Video I/O 1 x 6G-SDI output1, 2
1 x HDMI output (Type A - Full Size)1, 2
Video Output Formats 3840 x 2160 up to 29.97 fps (HDMI and SDI)1, 2
Audio I/O N/A
Other I/O 1 x BNC genlock input
1 x RJ45 LAN port (IP streaming and control)
1 x RJ45 RS-422 port (control)
Wireless N/A
Power 1 x 12V DC input (power adapter included)
1 x PoE++ via RJ45 network port (EEE802.3bt compliant)
Recommended Controller Canon RC-IP100
Resources View the Canon CR-X300 Product Page
Download the Canon CR-X300 Data Sheet (PDF)

Why You Can Trust Me

I started my career over 23 years ago as a freelance live and ENG 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, houses of worship, theater, 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.

I only recommend PTZ cameras from the major broadcast camera brands like Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. Or, I recommend mounting standard cameras on a quality remote head.

My experiences in broadcast television and corporate video production, along with my experiences consulting with countless organizations that use PTZ cameras, have given me a unique perspective of having first-hand knowledge of how these products perform in the real world. 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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