Skip to main content

Pan-Tilt-Zoom Cameras: Ideal for Video Reinforcement and Live Streaming

Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) HD cameras offer seemingly endless possibilities in video reinforcement and live streaming applications. A few notable advantages include small size, a variety of mounting positions, IP video interface, third-party controllers, open-source control software, and easy configuration and operation by non-professionals.

There was a time when high-quality video cameras were very large, very expensive, and almost impossible for non-professionals to operate. In those days, video reinforcement, let alone streaming on the Internet, was out of reach for the small- to moderate-sized organization, for whom the equipment and the trained staff were just out of reach. Fortunately, those days are past, thanks to the appearance of PTZ high definition cameras.

[The PTZ Goes Remote]

They are small enough to hold in your hand, and they can be mounted in a variety of positions: on a wall or a ceiling, on a pole, or even on a pulpit. As the name implies, PTZ cameras are complete systems that include the electro-mechanical devices that facilitate remote panning, tilting, and zooming. 

PTZ cameras can be controlled using a joystick controller or simply a laptop computer: a Mac, a PC, a Linux box, or even a Raspberry Pi, via gigabit Ethernet or a serial digital control interface such as RS-232C or RS-422. Several PTZ cameras can be daisy-chained on the same interface cable, obviating the requirement for a home run to each camera. 

[Streaming in Houses of Worship]

Control and video backhaul may be accomplished over Ethernet using Network Device Interface (NDI)i, a free, open source, lightly compressed, bidirectional interface that may be downloaded from the internet for any commonly-used operating system. Such an interface can simultaneously backhaul multiple frame-accurate HD video signals, along with controlling the cameras with which they are associated. In addition, cameras may be powered over Ethernet using a Power over Ethernet+ (PoE+) switch, which facilitates a single-cable interface to the camera. PoE+ can supply up to 25.5 watts of DC power on CAT-5 cable.

For those who prefer a multi-cable approach, many PTZ cameras also include High Definition Serial Digital Interface (HD-SDI) and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) video ports as well as RS-232C/RS-422 serial digital control ports.

[Product Review: Jabra PanaCast]

For those who prefer a multi-cable approach, many PTZ cameras also include High Definition Serial Digital Interface (HD-SDI) and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) video ports as well as RS-232C/RS-422 serial digital control ports.

PTZ cameras and associated peripherals have brought a whole new panoply of opportunities for video reinforcement and online streaming, combining high quality, high definition video with IP control and backhaul, all at a reasonable price. Add in the fact that these systems may be configured and operated by the tech-savvy amateur, and it’s hard to go wrong. Your organization can have highly professional-looking high definition video reinforcement and streaming affordably, without the requirement to hire a professional video staff. PTZ cameras and their ancillary equipment and interfaces represent a new day in video reinforcement and streaming for the moderate-sized budget.