Alex Hilleary • October 31, 2018
There's a whole world of video cameras you might want to use for live streaming.
PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras are cameras that you can attach to a wall or ceiling or other fixed location and operate via remote. These differ from other video cameras that sit on tripods and require a cameraperson to operate.
In the world of live streaming, PTZ cameras are great for capturing a wide shot of a room or a tough angle, while allowing for zoom.
They can be used for anything from an easy one-camera, hands off setup to a highly produced multi-cam setup where the production crew controls the cameras from a studio. They are particularly helpful when you don't have a large team to operate a stream.
If you'd like a breakdown of different levels of production setups, check out this post. But otherwise, read on. 👇
As is the case when looking at any camera for live streaming, you should first consider the connections you need. Some cameras come with one output option, while others offer multiple options. Your connection points will give you good insight into the type of setup that camera is built to serve. For example, a focus on an NDI output would mean that the camera is built to be an internal IP camera. That camera would work best in a workflow that operates within your own local network.
When looking at PTZ cameras for live streaming externally, you will most likely be looking at clean HDMI and SDI outputs. These outputs will allow you to connect your camera directly to your encoder or your switcher.
The next thing you'll want to consider is the overall video quality of your PTZ camera. While many different factors contribute to the quality of your video, resolution and frame rate are two of the most important aspects. If you need some background on each of those, we have you covered here:
Generally, look for at least 1080p (if not 4K) for video resolution. If your content is sports or anything else with a decent amount of motion, look for a camera that can output up to 60 fps, otherwise you can get away with 30 fps output.
There are two types of camera zooming: optical and digital. An optical zoom is the high-quality true zoom lens. The digital zoom, on the other hand is digital processing within the camera that enlarges the middle of an image and trims off the sides. Digital zoom decreases the quality of the image.
Outputs: 3G/HD-SDI, HDMI, DVI (HD), Composite
Resolution: 1080p 60 fps
Zoom: 20x Optical/12x Digital Zoom Lens
Outputs: 3G-SDI, HDMI, CVBS, IP
Resolution: 1080p 60fps via SDI + HDMI
Zoom: 30x or 20x Optical/12x Digital Zoom
Outputs: 3G-SDI, HDMI, IP Streaming (RTSP)
Resolution: 1080p 60 fps
Zoom: 30x Optical/12x Digital Zoom Lens
Your cameras are only part of the PTZ setup. If you're operating a PTZ camera and looking to utilize the panning/tilting and zooming functionality, you will also need a controller.
PTZ controllers feature joysticks as well as toggles for zooming. They operate on various control protocols (like VISCA), so, make sure that your controller is compatible with your camera.
For a detailed look into all of the factors that go into purchasing a PTZ camera for live streaming, check out this article from B&H.
For more information on live streaming gear, check out our guide to the best live streaming equipment.
Happy streaming 😃!