PTZ Camera Trends

  • By David Kirk

PTZ Camera Trends

PTZ cameras continue to grow in popularity as production tools, not least in applications such as stage events or sports where they allow a production team to capture wide-angle or close-up images efficiently and unobtrusively - by David Kirk...

Among the most significant developments are the ongoing transition from HD to 4K-UHD resolution and the adoption of single-cable IP connectivity. The following summary of new developments has been prepared in the run-up to the April 2022 NAB Show.

Apantac has integrated NDI into its new 1080p PTZ camera to be recognisable as a source by other NDI-enabled applications and devices connected to a standard Ethernet local area network. Apantac’s AP-1080P-PTZ-20x is designed for capturing video up to 1080p and offers 3G SDI, HDMI, USB 3.0, and HD video over IP. The variety of the formats this camera supports makes it suitable for educational and corporate applications. It communicates using the NDI protocol and allows distribution and access of live video over existing IP LAN infrastructure. It also integrates with most video conferencing and other software applications.  As part of the camera system, Apantac’s AP-PTZ-JCK-NDI joystick control panel supports up to seven cameras and includes an OLED screen to display the control menu and all setting information. Also included is a keyboard with automatic backlighting for use in dark environments. “NDI has changed the way content is accessed, created and distributed, making video accessible over IP,” comments Apantac President Thomas Tang. “Our first NDI product launch, this PTZ camera allows users to deliver live video over IP to any compatible system or software on the network, using a single cable for all the video, audio and control.” 

BirdDog’s Cam Control 3.0 software adds auto tracking features to the company’s range of PTZ cameras. A freely downloadable Windows 10 application, it now also facial and body recognition. Cam Control 3.0 also includes a new interface which increases the number of cameras supported. To enable auto tracking on BirdDog PTZ cameras, users will need the latest camera firmware. This is an in-field update for all cameras except for A200 and A300 Gen 1 cameras.

Canon last year launched a new range of 4K UHD PTZ cameras aimed at broadcast and AV markets. Four models were introduced, two for dedicated indoor use (CR-N500 and CR-N300) and two for outdoor use (the CR-X500 with an IP55 outdoor rating and the CR-X300 with an IP65 outdoor rating). “We’ve seen the way capturing and delivering content has been revolutionized since the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Canon Europe Product Marketing Specialist Matthew Koshy. “We wanted to offer our customers a solution to the new wave of remote video production that we are seeing sky-rocket. The cameras deliver outstanding 4K image quality backed by Canon optics, multiple streaming and control protocols to integrate into workflows, plus precise control technology to ensure the perfect shot can be captured. Smooth and precise control technology allows seamless pan, tilt and zoom. To complement the cameras, we launched two controllers capable of operating over IP, or via serial connection for the CR-X500: the RC-IP100 camera controller which can control and fine tune up to 100 cameras and pre-set positions. Also a free software controller which can control up to 20 Canon PTZ cameras via a Windows PC, laptop, or tablet. All of our PTZ cameras offer high 4K UHD Image quality, with the CR-X500 and CR-N500 featuring 1.0-type sensors, a 15x zoom lens, Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus, plus support for Canon Log 3 and Wide DR. The CR-X300 and CR-N300 both feature 1/2.3 inch sensors, a 20x zoom lens, advanced hybrid autofocus technology, plus a custom picture menu which allows fine tuning of image settings in a wide range of shooting scenarios with other cameras such as Cinema EOS, for efficient workflow in a multi camera setup. The CR-N500, CR-N300 and CR-X300 feature a host of IP streaming and control protocols which are controlled via IP using our new XC protocol, such as NDI|HX, RTMP, RTP/RTSP and RTMPS. The CR-X500 has a 12G-SDI output terminal, the CR-X300 features 6G-SDI and HDMI outputs and the CR-N500 and CR-N300 both have 3G-SDI and HDMI output terminals.”

Datavideo’s PTC-280 4K PTZ camera incorporates a 1/2.5-inch CMOS sensor with 3840 x 2160px UHD resolution, 60 fps frame rate, 12x optical zoom and 16x digital zoom plus an F1.8 aperture, and 2D/3D noise reduction. The camera supports H.264/H.265 video compression formats and has a built-in dual encoder which can stream directly to two different CDNs. One of the encoded streams can be configured for live 4K. The camera can be configured using Datavideo RMC-300A, RMC-180 controllers, ShowCast 100 or a 4K touch screen switcher. Datavideo has also developed a camera control app, PTZ View Assist, to control set up parameters such as white balance, iris, pan, tilt, and zoom. It can also be used to monitors the live streaming video. The PTZ Camera Assistant is freely available for iOS and Android.

JVC launched three new PTZ cameras in Q4 2021 including a 4K model with NDI (KY-PZ400N), an HD NDI model (KY-PZ200N) and a lower-price HD KY-PZ200 model.

All three cameras, each available in black or white, are intended for sports, concerts and other live event broadcasts or productions. With integrated NDI|HX technology from Vizrt Group, the KY-PZ400N and KY-PZ200N models allow IP video streaming. All three models are equipped with SRT technology, H.265/H.264/MJPEG encoding and VITC-based multi-camera synchronisation. They also include SRT, HTTP, RTSP, RTMP/RTMPS and standard protocols. The SRT-based streaming capabilities include automatic repeat request and forward error correction to prevent packet loss typically found on internet connections. Stream encryption is also offered for content protection. Remote control can be performed using JVC’s RM-LP100 remote camera controller or KM-IP6000/4000 Live IP production suites, or a variety of other options from vMix, OBS Studio and NewTek. The HD cameras can also be directly connected to a PC via a USB cable for operation as webcams applications such as remote conferences and lectures.

Lumens’ VC-R30 is an entry-level camera designed to produce broadcast-quality HD pictures at an affordable price. Connectivity features include SDI, HDMI, Ethernet and USB video outputs, as well as power over Ethernet. It is targeted at a users in video production, education, public sector AV and live events. “Adoption of PTZ is growing very fast, across the industry,” says Lumens Europe General Manager of Joris Nevens. “There is a call for all-round cameras such as the VC-R30 which can fit many workflows. It has the flexibility to connect to a video switcher, lecture capture system or collaborative communication service - or simply stream live to the internet. With the industry fast-moving to cloud production and IP networks, this new generation camera is a great option. Another new launch, the CL511 is a specialist overhead camera capable of shooting 4K in vertical position. Its predecessor, the CL510, was designed for capturing architectural designs and to display documents in lectures, but quickly grew a far wider audience. Now we have integrated HDMI, IP streaming and PoE into the CL511 to meet the requirements of broadcasters and studios which need to incorporate this angle into their productions. Customers for the CL511 will include shopping channels, cookery shows and programmes which focus on product demonstrations and reviews.” New features pending from Lumens are expected to including auto-tracking, various flavours of NDI and auto-framing.

Marshall Electronics will be showcasing at NAB its new CV730-BHN robotic camera. “This is designed to offer high-bandwidth NDI video at low latency and highest video quality,” says Tod Musgrave, Senior Director, Cameras. “It also interfaces to the new NDI|HX3 standard for more challenging bandwidth networks at similar performance quality, and standard IP (HEVC/SRT) streams.

“The CV730-BHN also features a long 30x optical zoom, high-end 1/1.8” Sony 4K sensor, 12GSDI (BNC) + 3GSDI, genlock sync, HDMI, and USB3.0. Free-D protocols will be enabled on this model which provides more exact robotic camera head positioning data back to virtual reality production studios. We will also be showing our new CV605-series entry-level PTZ cameras with wide angle 85º field of view with no distortion, exceptional HD video performance, and outputs including 3GSDI, HDMI, USB and IP. The CV605 cameras offer more compact and more affordable PTZ camera selection without compromising on video quality and ease of use. Our compact CV420e camera, still in development with digital PTZ functionality, is likely to make an appearance behind the proverbial curtain on our NAB stand. The CV420e features the same 4K60 sensor built into the high-end CV730. It offers electronic PTZ within the 4K sensor image with HD (16:9) video or full UHD60 video straight out to an HDMI, USB3.0 and IP interface. We are also adding more features to existing models, such as OBS plugins and docks, vMix collaboration, and third-party control sources such as Cyanview and Skaarhoj.”

NewTek’s recently announced PTZ3 allows users to select NDI | HX 3 IP-based single-cable operation. “PTZ cameras have found a solid place in video production and their use has exploded over the past two years,” says Will Waters, Global Head of Product Management. “The challenges of coverage, latency, presenter feedback and control are still common for both users and integrators. NDI | HX 3 reduces transmission latency without compromising on visual quality. The single cable connection combining video, audio, tally, power, and control continues to benefit users through the power of NDI. The PTZ3 brings something brand new to the market with ease-in and ease-out motion when recalling pre-sets. It offers far superior visual quality to earlier NewTek models, with smoother movement and an improved lens and sensor. The PTZ3 can be added into any workflow with only an Ethernet cable for HD video up to 1080/60p, audio, PTZ pre-sets and control, tally, and power. Users can remotely control the camera from any device via NDI. When combined with the NDI Studio Monitor, users can operate the camera through commonly available control devices, even including gaming controllers, reducing the cost of entry into camera control systems and putting more control in the hands of the user.”

“The NewTek PTZ3 was the first camera to leverage NDI | HX3” adds NDI’s Suso Carrillo. “We expect many of our camera partners to embrace the enhanced video quality HX3 brings to PTZ cameras.”

Panasonic’s AW-UE80 4K 50p/60p PTZ camera features a new 1/2.5-type 4K MOS sensor. The UE80 supports 3G SDI, HDMI and IP. It introduces a new wide-angle lens with a 74.1 degree field of view and 24x optical zoom. Intelligent zoom extends its capabilities to 28x in UHD and 36x in Full-HD. It includes a Venus engine processor and has been designed to support rental and staging, e-sports, broadcast and mixed reality studio environments, parliaments, theatres, higher education and corporate installations. IP transmission protocols available as standard include high-bandwidth NDI, NDI|HX version 2, and SRT.  The AW-UE80 weighs 2 kg and is designed to allow easy installation especially when positioning on trusses or ceilings. Features include FreeD protocol support to allow connection with AR/VR systems plus a low-noise direct drive and PoE++ compatibility.

PTZOptics recently introduced the SimplTrack Lite auto-tracking camera which includes NDI|HX, USB 2.0, IP, SDI, and HDMI compatibility. “Protocols such as NDI and SRT are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to video delivery because these technologies allow secure, high-quality production over either your local area network (NDI) or the public internet (SRT),” says PTZOptics Broadcast Engineer Stephen Heywood. Advancements like NDI 5 Bridge allow users to share securely between any devices on a network. If you’re looking to upgrade your production setup, equipment with AV-over-IP capabilities is the logical choice as video delivery continues to move in this direction.”

Sony’s BRC-X400 is a 4K-UHD robotic camera with a 1/2.5-inch CMOS sensor and 30x optical with 70 degree wide angle. The optical zoom capability extends to 80x in HD. Features include IP-based live networking supporting RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) and, optionally, NDI-enabled devices. Images can be viewed remotely via a web browser. Audio (from an optional microphone) can be streamed over an IP network. The BRC-X400/SRG-X400/X120 PTZ cameras newly support the SRT streaming protocol, including adaptive bitrate control. The latest software version allows the cameras to output SRT video/audio which can be directly streamed via public internet. Sony’s BRC PTZ cameras began supporting the Free-D virtual tracking protocol in 2020. 

“In the last 18 months, with studios working with less on-site staff, we’ve seen a great interest in our remotely controlled PTZ cameras, especially those which have AI features or are compatible with third party devices that offer advanced features sure as facial or object tracking,” says Dave Stannard, Sony’s Regional Marketing Manager Northern Europe. “This is where our collaboration with partners such as Mo-Sys has borne fruit. Customers such as Aftonbladet and RTL Belgium are using our BRC or SRG ranges to diversify their content offering, in easy to set up environments.”