Boston’s Best Choice for Security System Integration
Call Now 1.855.438.7101

PTZ vs. Fixed Cameras


PTZ vs. Fixed Cameras

Five questions to ask yourself when choosing to install a new PTZ camera:

  1. Will the camera be manned 24/7?  PTZ cameras have a horrible tendency to never be pointed where you want them. Using only a PTZ camera instead of multiple fixed cameras could save you time and money. If you have it set up in an “auto pattern” or a “home position” the camera does not have the intelligence to know to stop on an incident, it will continue panning to the next preset regardless of what is happening in the scene. A guard manning the camera can quickly take over and control the camera to provide recorded evidence or to deploy resources as needed. PTZ cameras are a great tool for your 24/7 guard staff to use to increase their awareness and ability to patrol an area, but can leave you with plenty of blindspots or be left in the wrong position.
  2. Do you have other systems to augment the camera?  If you have integrated access control, video, and alarm systems you can set the PTZ presets to specific areas that are triggered by other events such as doors opening, motion detectors being tripped, or glass break sensors. This type of setup will allow you to effectively cover a large area with a single camera and have it pointed and focused at certain areas when events are triggered, but does not provide any automatic coverage of areas that are not triggered by an external input.
  3. Is this the most cost effective way to cover the area?  With the advancements of image resolution in IP CCTV cameras, a single or multiple fixed cameras can provide better coverage at a lower cost than a single PTZ camera. High resolution IP cameras can be configured and deployed to cover the same area as a PTZ camera, allow for digital zoom after the fact, are never repositioned out of place, and provide multiple angles and views of incidents. When choosing between a single $3000 PTZ camera and three $800 3MP fixed cameras, you may be better served by going with multiple fixed cameras.
  4. Is this the best long term solution?  PTZ cameras are far less durable than fixed cameras due to the fact that they need so many moving parts to work properly. There are individual motors for the pan, tilt, and zoom features and many PTZ cameras need a dedicated power supply. These parts are constantly in motion and are prone to failure eventually. Due to their failure rate their total cost of ownership is much higher than just the camera price. Would you be better served by multiple fixed cameras at a fraction of the price over a 10 year period?
  5. Do you have the storage to record all this video?  A multi megapixel high resolution IP camera is one of the most impressive gadgets you will ever see. The area of coverage and distance you can effectively zoom into are awesome to behold. Unfortunately, because of the nature of operation, you cannot take advantage of storage saving technology like motion based recording or H.264 video compression. Both of those features reduce the bandwidth and storage space required for high resolution IP cameras by only recording when pixels change in a field of view (motion based recording), or only transmitting the changes in a scene, such as a person moving by a stationary object (H.264 compression ignores the stationary object and only transmits the movement in the scene). If a PTZ camera is constantly in motion and recording, it is an absolute bandwidth and storage hog. Make sure you calculate for this before making any decisions.

Comments are closed.