PTZ Camera Trends

  • With David Kirk

PTZ Camera Trends

PTZ cameras still 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...

Remotely controlled PTZ cameras have long been among the most useful of television production tools, allowing video capture from any desired location without requiring an onsite human operator. When carefully used, they massively increase production efficiency. The quality of PTZ camera sensors and optics has improved in recent years, allowing easier integration with the output from high-specification broadcast cameras.

Many current-generation PTZ pan and tilt motor mechanisms allow gradual acceleration/deceleration to be performed during live transmission rather than jerked into position while the camera is offline. The transition from remote control to autonomous robotic control is also progressing and looks likely to become a standard capability in practically all PTZ cameras.

This article looks at recent introductions from some of the major providers.

BirdDog has expanded its range of NDI PTZ cameras with the new P240. "The P240 builds on the innovations of our P200 series cameras to further advance the category of best-in-class PTZ cameras and set a new standard in the industry for format support, connection flexibility, and picture quality, while delivering excellent low light performance," comments Eamon Drew, Chief Marketing Officer at BirdDog. The P240 includes an updated Sony Exmor R broadcast sensor and offers multiple output options including SDI, HDMI, Full NDI, NDI|HX2, NDI|HX3, SRT and h.264 and well as balanced XLR audio. The user interface provides system statistics such as the number of active connections, current bandwidth usage, and network traffic. Operators can select an NDI source as the timing master. The P240 supports the FreeD protocol for sending PTZ positioning data to AR/VR systems. The cameras can generate reference patterns as NDI and/or NDI Proxy. Users can choose from histogram, waveform, vectorscope or RGB parade and the position on the NDI stream. Adding a BirdDog Cloud subscription allows access the cameras from anywhere in the world with no additional computers needed on the camera side. 64 levels of saturation and hue control over red, green, blue, cyan, yellow and magenta are provided. A free BirdDog Cam Control app is available for Windows 10.

Canon's CR-N700 is a PTZ camera capable of delivering 3840 x 2160 resolution at up to 60p. Designed for broadcast applications, it includes 15x optical zoom plus a CMOS sensor, night mode and support for PQ as well as HLG HDR. Autofocus locks onto a presenter's head, tracking moves or turns to face off-camera. Eye-detection AF locks onto the presenter's pupil while face-priority AF allows operators to prioritise a specific individual. The CR-N700 supports SRT and NewTek NDI|HX protocols for UHD video streaming. FreeD allows integration with virtual productions. Connectivity options include 12G-SDI and 3G-SDI, HDMI or PoE++ IP as well as dual XLR audio inputs and genlock. The drive mechanism enables movements down to 1 degree per second and is compatible with Canon’s RC-IP100 controller, RCCA controllers and some third-party controllers. A crop function allows a region of interest within the frame to be selected and output in HD as a secondary feed.

Cartoni offers three different lines of PTZ camera supports for various applications. The KPTZ001 is a telescopic stand with an AT926 quick-release orientable ball joint. The KPTZ721 is a lightweight tripod available with a levelling-half bowl (75mm or 100mm) or the super-low baby Stabilo KT640/B75. The P20 and P40 pedestals are available with accessories to rig two or more PTZ cameras. Examples are the APTZ001 T-bar and APTZ003 universal mounting plate. Cartoni is monitoring the development of large-sensor PTZ cameras which can allow shallow depth of field effects.

The company is designing additional accessories such as a 4 metre high motorised telescopic PTZ post which can be installed from the ground or suspended from above, schecduled for introduction in early 2023.

Datavideo has introduced two new entry-level auto-tracking PTZ cameras intended for local television channels, conferences and stage events. Based on the company's PTC-140, the PTC-145 is an HD model with SDI and HDMI outputs. A version with NewTek NDI output will follow later this year. A button on the infra-red remote control activates the camera to track the outlines of a person standing in the foreground, with gradual acceleration and deceleration.

Model PTC-285 is the tracking version of the UHD PTC-280. UHD output is HDMI augmented by a 3G-SDI HD feed. NDI and HDBaseT models are scheduled to follow. 12x optical zoom is included. The built-in tracking processor is designed to recognise and track a specific individual. Datavideo's Showcast 100 workstation can control up  to three cameras and has an extra HDMI input for titles or for a tracking camera such as the PTC-285. A three-camera setup can be controlled from the touch screen with a fourth tracking camera following a selected subject.

JVC’s new KY-PZ510 PTZ cameras feature UHD 50/60p HEVC SRT streaming with multi-slice encoding technology to deliver video at lower bitrates for remote production over the internet. The cameras also support H.264 encoding which offers increased compatibility with a variety of hardware and software applications. The y comprise the KY-PZ510, in black and white options, as well as the KY-PZ510N with NDI|HX and NDI 5 support. The KY-PZ510N can simultaneously output NDI, SRT, and RTMPS for hybrid local/remote workflows. Both models have an 80-degree field of view and a focal length of 21.8 to 261.8 mm. Auto-tracking can be set to follow one of multiple people within the field of view. VITC with NTP allows multi-camera synchronisation. "Our KY-PZ510 Series PTZ cameras feature the latest in remote production technologies and have been well received at recent trade shows," says John Kelly, General Manager, JVCKenwood. "In addition to their advanced streaming capabilities and new auto-tracking function, they also feature a sleek design that fits into the aesthetics of any location."

Kiloview's modular LinkDeck console offers the ability to manage the remote control of devices in workflows such as multiscreen monitoring, live video production, camera control and NDI terminal control. A new addition is the PTZ Deck which allows one-handed control of PTZ cameras.

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. It is targeted at a users in video production, education, public sector AV and live events. Another recent launch, the CL511 is an 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.

Marshall Electronics recently announced three new PTZ cameras: The CV420e is a UHD resolution model with IP, USB and HDMI outputs. It uses a Sony 1/1.8 inch 9.2 megapixel sensor and provides 3840 x 2160 resolution at up to 60p. "The CV420e will allow users to maintain access to wide angles with no curvature distortion along with useable digitally zoom and lateral maneuvers within the sensor," says Tod Musgrave, Senior Director of Cameras. "This gives customers another option for capturing unique and creative content from a very compact camera body for live streaming, production and video collaboration." The CV620-TBI is designed to frame, track and follow talent using facial recognition technology, learning the motion dynamics of the subject and anticipating movement. The CV730-BHN is a UHD PTZ camera with genlockable 12G-SDI and 3G-SDI outputs as well as HDMI and USB3.0 options. "The camera also features Full NDI while offering the newly released NDI|HX3 that can deliver similar low-latency and superior quality video performance in slightly less bandwidth network infrastructure," Tod Musgrave adds. "The CV730-BHN will incorporate the premium High Bandwidth NDI FPGA while offering the benefits of NDI|HX3 and standard IP (HEVC) streams." Additionally new is the CV605 series of entry-level PTZ cameras with wide angle 85 degree field of view and HDMI/USB/IP outputs.

NewTek's PTZ3 allows users to select NDI|HX3 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|HX3 reduces transmission latency without compromising on visual quality. The single cable connection integrates video, audio, tally, power, and control. The NDI Studio Monitor allows users to 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."

Panasonic's AW-UE80 4K 50p/60p PTZ camera features a 1/2.5-inch 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 2kg 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 has introduced two new UHD cameras, Move and Move Pro, offering built-in auto-tracking. Move is equipped with SDI, HDMI, USB and IP output plus NDI|HX support. Both models are capable of 1080p60 over SDI and feature a built-in tally light. Move offers is available with 12x or 20x optical zoom. Move Pro features include upgraded optics, a quiet motor, beam-forming microphones for audio-driven auto-tracking, and an LED display showing the camera's video resolution and IP address. The Pro model will be offered in grey. Move will be available in grey or white. In addition to the Move series' auto-tracking features, users will have access to PTZOptics' latest web UI which includes a tutorial function. Users can also take control of their PTZ cameras using video production software such as OBS, Livestream Studio, Wirecast, vMix, mimoLive or Tricaster, or a hardware joystick controller such as the PTZOptics SuperJoy. PTZOptics also offers desktop and smartphone control applications.

"Automation is now dominating the industry," says Matt Davis, Director of Technology and Information Systems. "We have been working to ensure our cameras have the intelligence features our users need."

Telycam offers a range of 1080p60 PTZ cameras. The TLC-300-IP-20-FNDI is a Full-NDI model incorporating NewTek NDI coding from Kiloview. Non-compressed NDI signals are deliver via FPGA to minimise latency. The camera uses a Panasonic 1/2.8 inch CMOS sensor plus 20x optical zoom.

Telycam's TLC-300-IP-20-NDI-AB and TLC-700-IP-30-NDI-AB comply with NDI|HX3 certification. Two versions are available: 20x optical zoom and 30x optical zoom. NDI|HX3 uses less bandwidth than NDI|HX2 and Full-NDI and is claimed to deliver visually lossless quality. Telycam has also introduced its first UHD NDI|HX PTZ cameras. The TLC-300-12-4K(NDI)-AB is equipped with a Sony 1/2.8 inch CMOS sensor and supports 12x optical zoom. Model TLC-700-30-4K(NDI)-AB is equipped with Sony 1/1.8 inch CMOS sensor and supports 30x optical zoom.