Best pan tilt zoom cameras

Would you like to be able to completely control a camera from distance? Would you like to be able to zoom in, follow a moving target? Well if yes, PTZ cameras are made for you.

Many different options are available on the market concerning pan tilt zoom cameras and it can be difficult for you to choose the appropriate camera. This is why, at SCR.COM we conducted some research and put together an article that reviews the 5 best PTZ security cameras for you.

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Table of Contents

First what is a PTZ Camera?

There are many different uses for Pan Tilt Zoom CCTV surveillance cameras, some are made for indoors whilst some outdoors. But before you choose this type of CCTV surveillance camera, you need to be certain on what you want to achieve with it.

Pan Tilt Zoom otherwise known as PTZ, is a camera that is capable of moving from left to right, up and down with zoom control. PTZ cameras are commonly used in applications such as video surveillance, video conferencing, live production, lecture capture and distance learning.

PTZ cameras are ideal for live monitoring applications, that require wide overview surveillance, and sharp zoomed in views for identification purposes, such as at large retail stores, airports, train stations, logistic centres, and museums.

Fixed lens CCTV cameras are stationary, and their field of views are determined at the time of installation, and will not change without manual modification. Using a PTZ surveillance camera to support the existing fixed lens cameras, will allow more coverage areas.

PTZ cameras can direct the attention to suspicious events. They will only work efficiently, leveraging on the already installed fixed lens cameras. In the event of unusual activity, they can pan and tilt to the required position to observe, and/or follow target movements.

Over the years, there has been an enormous development in PTZ cameras, and clients have realized the flexibility a Pan Tilt Zoom camera has to offer them, over fixed lens cameras.

You are a complete newbie to the security camera business and you don’t know/understand what’s important for a security camera?

Check our complete guide with its infographic to easily understand which features you need to prioritise.

How is a Pan Tilt Zoom Camera Designed?

Pan Tilt Zoom cameras are built to operate on mechanical components such as dc motors to perform its remote directional and zoom control. The pan (horizontal), tilt (vertical) and zoom (magnification) are being controlled by three different gears.
Inside a PTZ camera
  • Motorized Optical lens or Optical lens gear allows the optical lens to perform as parfocal lens (changing in focal length) which is calculated in millimetre.
  • Tilt gear allows the PTZ camera to move up and down between 0⁰ – 180⁰ vertical angle.
  • Pan gear allows the PTZ camera to rotate on horizontal angle between 0⁰ – 360⁰

The Benefits Of Pan Tilt Zoom Camera

Large Area Monitoring: this is one of the important features that make a Pan Tilt Zoom camera different from other CCTV surveillance cameras, for its ability to monitor a large area that a traditional fixed lens CCTV camera would not cover.

Motion Tracking / Auto Tracking: an invention to the PTZ camera is a built-in firmware program that automatically detects motion of a person or object. This feature allows the PTZ camera to automatically chase the object in its view by panning, tilting or zooming as the object moves.

Auto-Focus: this is another advance feature that enables a PTZ security camera to remain in focus during panning, tilting and zooming without pixel distortion or image quality degradation in focal length adjustment.

Weatherproof: unlike indoor PTZ security cameras, outdoor PTZ cameras are completely protected from dust, oil, and other non-corrosive material. Outdoor PTZ cameras are manufactured with IP66 rating to withstand tough and harsh weather conditions.

Night Vision: another important feature of Pan Tilt Zoom security camera, is the ability to provide clear image under low or no light condition with its infra-red LEDs.

There are tons of Pan Tilt Zoom security cameras on the market today, but after conducting our extensive research, we were able to narrow it down to Top 3 by going with the features, and carefully considered customers’ reviews and many other factors.

Top 1 – Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor Camera

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera made it to our number 1 on Top 3 Best Pan Tilt Zoom camera. This PTZ security camera is more than just size and good looks, it’s equipped with multiple features such as PTZ, night vision, and motion alerts.

With the latest Sony STARVIS CMOS IMX290 2MP image sensor and Ambarella Chipset S3L55M, Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera is able to deliver stunning full HD 1080p 30fps footage.

Employing the pan tilt zoom feature with 12x optical motorized zoom and 16x digital zoom to experience impeccable close range detail as well as continuous 360° pan, 90° tilt capturing every angle.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera’s features are listed below:

  • Multiple Video Compression Technology
  • Observe footage in Full 1080p HD
  • Night vision up to 328 ft. (100m)
  • Complete 360° Pan, 90° tilt with auto-flip at 180°
  • Get a closer look with 12x optical zoom, 16x digital zoom
  • Equipped with a 5.4mm (up to 64mm) focal lens
  • Heavy-duty housing and IP66 rating
  • MicroSD up to 128GB
  • Audio Support

Breakdown of the Features

Amcrest ProHD PTZ camera uses different variants of video compression technology. Users have the option to switch from the popular H.264 to the new H.265 otherwise known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).

The new H.265 video compression technology saves 50% of the storage as a result of encoding video at the lowest possible bit rate while maintaining a high image quality level.

The IP66 enclosure rating enables Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera, to endure rain or sun during day or night. At dusk, innovative starlight technology from Sony Starvis sensor and IR LEDs, help the camera to see up to 328 feet (100m) in ultra-low light.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera, utilizes intelligent alert to send notifications to your computer or smartphone, via the Amcrest view app.

You can record events on this PTZ camera as they happen and store them on your computer, Micro SD Card (up to 128GB), NAS (Network Attached Storage) or Amcrest cloud.

With advanced zone detection, it is easier to create distinct motion detection zones in a customised way to control what you are monitoring, this is an effective way to ensure you only record what you need when it is important.

Amcrest included the option to safely backup video files using a microSD storage to the maximum of 128GB. Even when you don’t have internet to upload your video to the cloud, you can still retrieve them on the storage card. 

The audio support on Amcrest ProHD makes it possible to record an embedded audio with the video, by connecting a microphone pickup device to it.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, as well as 1 year replacement warranty.

The Advantages

  • Overall  picture quality is very good including the night vision.
  • The user interface via web browser is very good.
  • The camera has great controls that allows user to adjust many important things.
  • The optical and digital zoom work perfectly.
  • 4 hours free storage and unlimited live streaming per camera.

The Disadvantages

What’s included?

  • Manual CD + Quick Start Guide
  • Amcrest ProHD IP2M-853EW PoE PTZ IR Speed Dome (White)

Top 2 – Sunba 601-D20X IP PoE+ High Speed PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

Sunba 601 - D20X review

Our number 2 pick on Top 3 Best Pan Tilt Zoom camera is Sunba 601-D20X PTZ outdoor security camera (601 series) which has 20x optical zoom to provide crystal clear details on the image. With 20x optical zoom, you are equipped with eagle eyes that capture activities hundreds miles away.

Sunba 601-D20X PTZ outdoor security camera (601 series) comes with a powerful infrared LED that will provide a superior night vision up to 800ft (244m) that is enough to cover your property depending on the scene.

Features of the aforementioned PTZ camera includes the following:

  • Great Vision Quality: 2MP, 1080P, SONY IMX 322 CMOS
  • High Speed Pan Tilt Zoom – Range: Pan: 360 degree endless, Tilt: -15 – 90degree (15 degrees upward tilt and 90 degrees downward)
  • Audio Recording Supported
  • ONVIF Compliant: Blue Iris, Security Spy Compatible
  • 15 degrees upward tilt, a breakthrough for dome cameras
  • Supports Video backup to microSD card
  • Power over Ethernet (802.3at)
  • 3D-NDR Technology

Breakdown of the Features

Sunba 601-D20X has extra DC male port designed to power microphone directly from the camera’s PoE power.No need to wire additional cable to power the microphone like other PoE cameras.

The 20x optical zoom lens provides a 1080p Sony CMOS with 30fps @NTSC and 25fps @PAL, it provides crystal clear details on the image.

Sunba PTZ camera extends the level of security by recording audio alongside the video. Audio recording can help in some situations, but users has to observe and follow any local or state laws before recording audio. 

Sunba has microSD storage option to backup up your important video files, you will never miss any important moment captured on camera.

You can remotely view the camera with your smartphone (iOS & Android) 24/7 and you can also setup email to receive snapshot alerts.

Security cameras are prone to pick up noise at night, but Sunba adopted the 3D DNR otherwise known as multidimensional digital noise reduction technology on their camera, to help reduces the unwanted noise generated on the images at night.

Sunba 601-D20X comes with 2 year manufacturer warranty on parts and lifetime technical support.

The Advantages

  • Operation of the camera is very quiet from 15 feet away.
  • Image clarity and color accuracy is very good especially for a 2 megapixel camera.
  • 20x optical zoom is incredible.
  • The installation is simple and the setup is straightforward.
  • Built-in TF card space (inside the camera) up to 64GB.

The Disadvantages

  • Device does not come with audio mic, you need an external DC12V CCTV microphone to support the audio of this camera.
  • The device software isn’t the easiest thing to use, you may need to purchase blue Iris to enjoy it.
  • The camera cannot be connected to wireless network except with network cable.
  • Does not support two way audio.
  • Does not come with PoE injector, only came with 12V4A Power Adapter for testing purpose.

What’s included?

  • User Manual
  • PTZ Camera
  • Wall Mounting Bracket
  • Complementary 12V4A Power Adapter

Top 3 – Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ Indoor Security Camera

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ Indoor Security Camera

Our last pick is Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ indoor security camera, this is another reliable and elegant PTZ security camera that is able to deliver a crisp, clean and true HD 1080p video resolution at 30 Frames Per Second.

The IP2M-846EB’s powerful 4x optical zoom lens also adds the extra sense of security so you don’t have to compromise any details in your image.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ indoor security camera’s features are listed below:

  • Premium HD 1080p
  • Wi-Fi Setup
  • Amcrest Cloud
  • IP67 Weatherproof
  • Onvif Compliant
  • Built-in Audio
  • 360° Horizontal Rotation
  • 4x Optical Zoom / 16x Digital Zoom
  • 116° Wide Viewing Angle

Breakdown of the Features

You can take the full advantage of the 4x optical and intelligent digital zoom with 34.5° – 116.5° adjustable wide angle field of view to take control of your property and reach every angle whenever you need.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ indoor security camera let you stream live and playback recorded video of your home, your kids, your pets, or your business with Amcrest view app on the go.

The infrared LED provides a clear night vision of up to 98 ft. (30m) in an extremely dark condition, receiving notifications with intelligent motion alerts will never be a problem.

Amcrest uses a powerful ingress protection rating to fully protect the camera from foreign object penetration, as a result of the dusty environment. IP67 which is the rating given to a device that is totally protected against dust makes Amcrest Indoor PTZ camera a deal-maker. 

Unlike many CCTV camera brands that do not truly support Onvif interoperability, Amcrest is an Onvif complaint which means the camera can be integrated with any other Onvif complaint device.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ indoor security camera also utilizes intelligent alert to send notifications to your computer or smartphone via the Amcrest view app. You can record events on this PTZ camera as they happen and store them on your computer, NAS (Network Attached Storage) or Amcrest cloud.

The built-in audio microphone on Amcrest can be used to enhance the video footage captured, especially when it is necessary to identify and match a voice to the visual display.

Amcrest ProHD IP PoE PTZ indoor security camera comes with full 1-year US warranty and lifetime support provided directly from Amcrest.

The Advantages

  • It is very easy to set up.
  • High quality images and great night vision is extremely good.
  • Customer and tech support are awesome.
  • Good camera at a reasonable price.

The Disadvantages

  • Power supply and a POE injector are NOT included.
  • This camera does not have audio capabilities.

Top 4 – Reolink RLC-423 IP PoE PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

Reolink RLC-423 IP PoE PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

Reolink RLC-423 IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera secured a spot on our list. Reolink is known to be one of the tech giants in the CCTV market for releasing innovative surveillance products. One of them is the RLC-423 outdoor PTZ camera.

RLC-423 is built to stand the test of time, looking at the sturdy built camera enclosure alone, one would easily conclude that the camera is definitely worth to be on our Top 5.

Reolink IP PTZ camera is a reliable and affordable piece of gadget suitable for home and business environment. This type of camera is used for securing the perimeter, as it constantly patrols the preset areas which other cameras are not capable of.

Reolink delivers amazing full HD image resolution with a variable focal length starting from 2.7mm (Wide Angle) to 12mm (Telephoto).

The 6 pieces of 5mm infrared LEDs provide an illumination beyond the human eyes to the camera image sensor, to see up to 190 feet in the pitch black condition.

RLC-423 has a flexible power option of 12V DC, or using a standard 48V PoE.

Reolink RLC-423 IP PoE PTZ outdoor security camera comes with a 2 year limited warranty.

Below are the features of this PTZ camera from Reolink:

  • 5MP Super HD Day/Night Vision
  • IP66 Weatherproof Rating
  • PoE plug and Play
  • MicroSD Option for On-board Storage
  • Motion Detection and Alerts
  • 4x Optical Zoom
  • Audio Support
  • Day and Night Auto switchover

Breakdown of the Features

One of the requirements of capturing license plate or recognising human face from a distance is to simply use a high resolution camera such as the RLC-423, which will reveal every details of the subject or area as a result of the high numbers of pixels. We all know that the higher resolution a camera has, the better image quality it produces.

Reolink PTZ camera uses 5MP image sensor that is able to deliver a stunning image, which is twice better than the regular 2MP camera. This is where Reolink smashed it by using advance chip but yet affordable price.

There is no need to panic whether the Reolink PTZ camera can survive the outdoor weather condition, it is strongly built to compete with the tough weather. The enclosure is made from strong aluminium material which also uses ingress protection 66 standard.

IP66 stands for rating given to a device which has a housing that is capable of protecting the internal components from dust particles or any form of liquid from entering, really important for an outdoor security camera.

PoE provides both power and data along the same cable path, which means you don’t have to run separate cables for the network and power. Also, the plug and play technology simplifies the installation by automatically installing the necessary setup configuration.

Reolink has an option of using microSD card for storing video and picture files within the camera. This gives users the opportunity to access the locally stored videos or pictures, especially when the camera is being used as a standalone device.

Motion detection enables Reolink RLC-423 to remain in sleep mode until it detects movement. This feature allows the camera to record only when there is action, instead of recording hours of blank footage thereby resulting into wasting of cloud storage, or NVR storage space.

Another feature is the ability to zoom optically, the 4x zoom on the RLC-423 allows the user to change the focal length of the camera from wide angle to narrow view, and this feature is good especially when capturing a license plate from far.

This PTZ camera supports audio microphone pickup device. Audio can be embedded to a video footage by adding an external audio mic to the camera, using the provided RCA input port. This will allow the audio of the environment to be heard clearly during the live stream or playback of the recorded clips.

Night vision is a necessity when choosing a CCTV camera, it provides the illumination needed by camera to record in complete darkness. The auto switchover mechanism otherwise known as infrared cut filter in the RLC-423 is able to flip the ICR to record in black and white during the night vision.

The Advantages

  • The image and video quality is very amazing compared to 1080p resolution.
  • Great night vision with auto switchover, the infrared LEDs never watched off image.
  • Reolink tech support is responsive and helpful.
  • The PTZ control is fast to respond.
  • The Reolink PTZ uses 3D-DNR noise reduction technology.
  • The mobile app is very intuitive.
  • Can easily integrate with Onvif third party devices.

The Disadvantages

  • The auto-focus is sometimes slow to respond after the focal length is changed.
  • Audio mic is not included.
  • The camera is very heavy.

What’s included?

  • 1 unit of RLC-423 Camera
  • 1 unit of Power Adapter
  • 1 unit of Waterproof Lid
  • 1 unit of 1M Ethernet Cable
  • 1 unit of Screw Bag
  • 1 CD
  • A Quick Start Guide
  • 1 Surveillance Sign
  • 1 Mounting Template

Top 5 – SV3C ProHD IP PoE PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

SV3C ProHD IP PoE PTZ Outdoor Security Camera

SV3C wrapped up our Top 5 category. This is another Hi-tech company founded in 2013, SV3C specializes in intelligent and security home devices. Their main products are professional PoE IP cameras, IP cameras, household DIY cameras, and accessories.

SV3C PTZ camera uses the latest and efficient video compression technology H.265, which only uses half bit rate during video compression compared to its predecessor H.264. 

The ProHD PTZ camera is equipped with Sony CMOS sensor which has 50m night-time stronger sensitivity of light source, you would get a crisp image even in a dim night. 

The SV3C also operates from a lower temperature of -20° to 60°C, ant the PTZ camera is built to perform even better in rough weather conditions. 

Below are the features of the aforementioned camera: 

  • PoE (Power over Ethernet)
  • IP66 Weatherproof
  • Sony CMOS Sensor
  • 4X Optical Zoom
  • Night Vision
  • Danale P2P Mobile App

Breakdown of the Features

In the absence of power adapter, the Power over Ethernet provides the power and data required by SV3C camera to operate, through a single Category 5 or 6 cable.

The PTZ camera can be used as a standalone device or connected with an Onvif NVR.

SV3C ProHD PTZ camera is strongly built under IP66 rating to work in any rough weather condition, without impacting the operation of the camera. The camera enclosure is sturdy enough to shield off dust and water.

Sony CMOS sensor provides better image quality than the regular image sensor, SV3C is able to deliver superior HD images.

SV3C has the option of 4x motorized lens which can be zoomed whenever user has to close-in on a given object, thereby giving the user the ability to read the full details of the object.

The amazing night vision on SV3C features 3 pieces of high power infrared LEDs, which can see as far as 165 feet distance in a complete blackout without washing off the image. There is no need to panic over the poor lighting in your front yard, SV3C continues to shoot a crisp black and white images in no light condition.

More importantly, the H.265 video compression on SV3C allows the PTZ camera to efficiently manage the storage drive when connected to an NVR, by saving 50% using a very low bit rate.

SV3C uses Danale Peer-to-Peer (P2P) mobile application to remotely view the camera with ability to navigate the Pan, Tilt, and Zoom function.

SV3C ProHD IP PoE outdoor security camera comes with a 1 year warranty with lifetime technology support.

The Advantages

  • The camera user interface is very intuitive.
  • The camera is easy to install without experiencing any problem.
  • The picture and video quality are great with the Sony CMOS sensor during the day.
  • The black and white images in night vision are also outstanding.
  • The technical support is highly proactive.
  • The pan and tilt have a very good speed and respond quickly.
  • The mobile app is supported by Android and iOS.
  • Supports third party Onvif integration.

The Disadvantages

  • Sometimes, the H.265 video compression does not work on third party NVR, except reverting to H.264.
  • Audio mic is not supported.
  • The camera is very big.
  • The camera does not support microSD card for on-board storage.

What’s included?

  • 1 units of 1080P ProHD IP PTZ Camera
  • 1 unit of Cat.5 cable
  • 1 unit of Bracket.
  • 1 unit of Screws Pack
  • 1 unit of Power Adapter with 3M cable

Final Advice

When looking to buy a Pan Tilt Zoom security camera, you need to make sure you consider optical zoom over a digital zoom. Even though the duo have “Zoom” in common but their technology are totally different.

Unlike optical zoom, digital zoom only works by taking or scaling up a central portion of the final image after it is captured and enlarging it but optical zoom which is also known as true zoom lens works by physically moving the camera lens and changing the focal length.

What should then be the rule of thumb when selecting a Pan Tilt Zoom camera? You should consider more importantly an optical zoom PTZ cameras because this is feature you will be using in the live stream to get clarity, detailed and identify the subject or object.

We are not saying digital zoom is irrelevant, digital zoom are only meant to be considered in playback and NOT live stream.