Pan Tilt Zoom Surveillance Vs Fixed View Camera Systems

4 security cameras on a poleThe pan, tilt-zoom (PTZ) abilities of a home security camera network are obvious. They offer wide-area coverage and reveal greater details with the zoom-in feature. Newer models come complete with a joystick for easy maneuvering. It all sounds great, but do you really need PTZ security cameras. And how much better are they than the single view systems. Keep reading to explore your options.[1]

NOTE: You can jump to any part of this post by clicking the links in the table of contents

Table of Contents

  1. Pan, Tilt and Zoom Cameras Explained
  2. Security Camera’s Field of View
  3. Pros & Cons of PTZ Home Security Cameras
  4. Fixed View Security Cameras Still Popular
  5. Alternatives to Pan Tilt Zoom Home Security

Pan, Tilt and Zoom Cameras Explained

The main problem with PTZ security cameras is not so much with the cameras as with the end user. Quite often people either misuse or underutilize them, and this can give a false sense of security. There’s no point to having extra bells and whistles unless they’re used.

You will notice how the street cameras today are almost always PTZs, at least in large public spaces. Individual businesses (restaurants and offices), however, rarely use pan–tilt–zoom dome style security. The difference here is that large public spaces most likely have security staff monitoring the areas from a central control facility. A small business does not. This is why they prefer single view security cameras, which point down on specific areas such as doorways and parking lots.

Security Camera’s Field of View

PTZs are only able to view and record whatever it is they’re pointing at, or zoomed-in on, at the time. Because they pan, tilt and zoom, they can cover potentially huge areas, but not all at the same time. You’ve probably seen the movies where an intruder waits in the shadows until the security camera pans past them. In other words, they wait until they’re out of the camera’s field of view (FOV) before making a run for it.[2]

The Pan/Tilt-Zoom feature makes them more valuable as an outdoor security camera. Unless you live in a stately mansion, there’s not really much use for PTZ cameras for indoor home security.

Pros & Cons of PTZ Home Security Cameras

OK, let’s look a little closer at the pros and cons. There are some worthy advantages to these systems too, as well as their disadvantages. Whether PTZ-security is right for you is down to individual choice and the way you want to monitor your property and surrounding areas.

The four main advantages of Pan, Tilt and Zoom home security cameras include:

  1. The ability to cover (watch over) huge areas
  2. Configured to do tours (patterns) whereby they scan predefined areas on autopilot
  3. PTZ operators can control the cameras to respond to an incident or track an intruder
  4. Wide area coverage reduces the cost of coverage (less cameras needed)

Now here’s a summary of all the disadvantages of the PTZs. It’s then down to you to decide, but at least you should now be able to make a better informed decision.

The five main disadvantages of pan-tilt-zoom home security cameras include:

1. PTZs can only see and record where they’re pointing

2. These are complex systems which means there’s more that can go wrong

3. Storage utilization is 2-4 time higher than that of a fixed-angled camera

4. These points only apply to older cameras:

• Poorer overall image quality compared to fixed cameras, especially on zoomed images
• Don’t work so well over IP networks
• Harder for owners to control particularly with IP video

5. Cost of cameras higher than the fixed surveillance options

Fixed View Security Cameras Still Popular

Despite all the bells and whistles that come with PTZ-security cameras, fixed-view systems remain popular for a lot of home owners. The usual way to set these up is to mount them onto a sturdy structure and then adjust the lens to a precise angle to watch over the target area. For a lot of people, especially those with smaller properties, fixed view cameras are ideal.[3]

Alternatives to Pan Tilt Zoom Home Security

There’s not really a better functional alternative to PTZs, at least not yet. The closest rival will be the Megapixel IP Cameras. Manufactures currently tout these as alternatives to PTZs. The theory behind Megapixel IP Cameras is that their digital zoom works without impacting the area that they’re currently recording. This feature alone takes away the mechanical complexity that comes with Pan/Tilt-Zoom security cameras. They’re cheaper too, and won’t experience as many service-related issues.

Despite the impressive features of these cameras, and they are impressive, they still can’t offer the same coverage of PTZs. It’s perhaps best to describe them as a good compromise between fixed-view security cameras and the Pan/Tilt/Zoom options.



About Mark Bickmore

Hi, my name is Mark Bickmore. I'm an Engineer, who has a keen interest in home security and keeping my family, property and valuables safe from burglars. This website was set up to help me explore the research, facts and myths about burglars and burglary. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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