What Is a Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera?

Knowing the difference between a Fixed Camera and a Pan/Tilt/Zoom is Extremely Important!

To answer that question, we first must distinguish what the opposite of a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera is. In brief, we’re talking about a “Fixed Camera.” It’s necessary to know the difference in order to appreciate the functionality of a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera.

“Fixed cameras” are stationary in that they do not move up and down and all around. They may or may not have the ability to focus in or out, also referred to as “Zoom,” which requires a special motorized lens assembly. P/T/Z cameras, however, can and will do all of the above.

There are those who believe that pan/tilt/zoom cameras are a cure-all for every camera application involving a wide area of viewing. A good example of that took place at an elementary school in New Philadelphia/Dover, Ohio where an EE (Electrical Engineer) specified a $6,000 pan/tilt/zoom camera with a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) to overlook a playground area in the area of 12,000 sq. ft.

After a number of months, the superintendent, who was mad as a hornet, said, “The problem I’m having is every time one of these kids do something at one end of the playground, the camera is looking in the oppose direction.”

A Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera (image)The fact of the matter is, the EE could have specified six low-priced, stationary cameras with overlapping areas of view for less money than the pan/tilt/zoom camera. Not only would this have cost the school less money, but it also would have done a better job of monitoring the playground because now everything that goes on would be committed to the DVR recording.

Pan/tilt/zoom cameras lend themselves well to a manned monitoring station where there’s someone there to control it, especially where it involves zooming in to view a remote scene. Another application for a pan/tilt/zoom camera is when there’s an alarm system that can act as a trigger for the video camera. In this case a VMS (Video Management System), which would integrate with the alarm system, could be used to trigger the camera to pan and tilt, then zoom in on the area of interest. This is done by programming the VMS to make the necessary movements when a door is opened, a motion detector is tripped, an access control reader activated, and more.

The following video, produced by GuardHome in the UK, “demonstrates a good quality PTZ CCTV video camera in action outside premises. It shows how you can get close-up shots in order to obtain clear details of numbers, signs etc.”

Allan Colombo, ESC Media Director
Allan Colombo, ESC Media Director
Email: ESC@Tpromo.Com


“ESC offers a wide array of camera systems for commercial, industrial, and governmental facilities. It’s our job to keep you safe, and I promise we’ll do everything humanly possible to do just that,” says John Larkin, Senior Partner with ESC of Greater Ohio. “If you have a question concerning any aspect of video surveillance, I invite  you to connect with either myself or one of our capable security professionals. You can connect by calling 614-754-1393, or use the Contact Form below.”