At first glance, PTZ cameras have little to do with streaming, but they actually do.
PTZ cameras can be used for much more than surveillance, and the public is slowly picking up on that. They are now being used for virtual meetings as well as just regular people streaming any type of video.
Furthermore, even surveillance cameras use an internet connection to send their feed to its desired location. And sending videos over the internet in real-time is the definition of streaming.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that PTZ cameras are the right thing for you, but they do offer many advantages over regular cameras or web cameras.
A couple of their key features include remote control panning and zoom. That sounds useful even if you don’t necessarily know why you would need it at once.
Just the ability to control your camera with a remote control sounds pretty nifty in and of itself.
Post 2 of 14 in the Webcams/Cameras
Best PTZ Camera for Live Streaming
How a PTZ camera helps me stream better?
Well, the most obvious answer is that it’s specially designed for streaming video. The manufacturer considers that their cameras will stream the footage they record over the internet as a given. This is especially true for newer models, which we’ll go through in this article.
What this means is, while they might not be explicitly made for, let’s say, a reality show or a web conferencing video production, they have features that can be useful in those regards.
It’s a bit like adding a 100m dash Olympic champion to your soccer team because you need a fast player on the wing.
Other than that, they can offer an advantage when it comes to recording in conditions that are considered dangerous for humans.
Most of them have automatic motion tracking, and they can autonomously pan to follow a subject without any human being there.
Without further ado, let’s see what the world of PTZ cameras in 2022 has in store for us.
Best PTZ Camera for Live Streaming
Zowietek Pro Camera
Logitech PTZ Pro 2
1. AVKANS AV-CM20
To be completely honest, cameras like this aren’t going to make your videos prettier. They are more oriented towards being practical rather than making your video artistic.
That being said, they can be instrumental and practical in the sense that they offer you the option of significantly reducing your film crew.
Regular, cinematic cameras are operated by at least one person standing next to the camera. This one, and all others on this list, in fact, do not.
Be it via remote control, a smartphone app, or even automatically, they do what the name says – pan, tilt, and zoom.
All of those actions require a certain amount of knowledge in filming on the part of the person controlling the camera, and PTZ cameras (this one included) avoid most of that hassle.
The AV-CM20 offers everything a PTZ camera can possibly have. It’s a 1080p60 broadcast PTZ camera. In laypeople’s terms, that means that it broadcasts full HD video at 60 frames per second.
Other than 60fps, you can dial it down to 50, 30, or 25fps if you want to save space when recording or bandwidth when streaming.
You can find different options for buying this camera – with or without a mount, 20x optical zoom or 30x optical zoom, etc.
Connectivity is listed as USB, but the USB port can only be used for recording. The other three options (HDMI/3g-SDI/IP streaming outputs) are precisely what the name says – outputs that can stream.
It has a Tamron lens, too. Tamron is a brand that most of you photography buffs out there will recognize. It comes in two variants, 20x and 30x optical zoom.
Optical zoom means that the picture is being magnified via glass optics rather than digitally enlarging the image.
Digital zoom will always show pixelation, depending on the amount. Optical zoom is considered lossless and way superior to digital zoom.
2. Zowietek Pro Camera
The Zowietek Pro offers much of the same features as the previous camera does but with a little bit more oomph and an appropriate rise in price.
The price, however, still counts among affordable ones, and Zowietek is considered an off-brand camera, even though the quality is there.
It’s just one of those cases where a brand hasn’t yet managed to build a name, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer quality services.
That means that we need to jump the Zowietek train as soon as possible.
It comes with a mount, which tilts from about -30 degrees to about +90 degrees, and pans at a 170-degree range.
While the mount itself is easy to install on a wall, on any other surface, the camera itself isn’t really that easy to install and set up.
Setting it up will demand a certain amount of knowledge in the field of internet protocols and such, or a willingness to learn.
Its panning and tilting speeds are pretty fast; up to 60 degrees per second for panning, and 30 degrees per second for tilting, which is a handy feature for quick transitions between different shots.
Of course, there’s a remote control option, but you can also use an Xbox 360 joypad as a controller, and that’s a pretty unique feature.
3. Logitech PTZ Pro 2
This one is on the other side of the specter, compared to the Canon CR-N500, for example.
Logitech is one of those companies that make almost everything. This is one of their first cameras I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them coming to other markets pretty soon.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be seeing Logitech’s ale brewing stations in no time.
Jokes aside, this is a good and very affordable PTZ camera. It offers nearly all the functionality a higher-priced camera would, but with some high-end tradeoffs.
Those tradeoffs are a sacrifice anyone who isn’t shopping for a top-notch PTZ camera (like that Canon one, from before) would gladly make, in order to get a cheaper product that will definitely do the trick.
It’s perfect for conference room meetings, or classrooms. Its panning and zoom abilities are just enough for a 20-person meeting, give or take.
It plugs into your USB port on your laptop or desktop for the easiest access imaginable. This allows it to run more smoothly and probably way better than your integrated or store-bought web camera would.
It sports a special feature that allows you to get a clearer image in low light conditions, making it perfect for nighttime surveillance.
One of the most important features it has, tho, is called Advanced Camera Technology. That feature allows the camera to process the video it records in the camera itself, thus freeing your bandwidth a lot.
It was very clear that Logitech had people with a limited budget in mind when creating this little miracle of video recording gear.
4. OBSBOT Tiny PTZ 4K Webcam
This is more of a webcam than a high-end PTZ camera, but as far as its basic performance goes – you wouldn’t tell any difference.
On paper, it offers almost everything a much more expensive PTZ camera would offer, but when you get into the details, some bad things become pretty visible.
It’s a webcam that utilizes PTZ technology to follow you around if needed. That makes it perfect for users like Twitch gamers, YouTubers, or any other people that need to film themselves talking.
Works like any old web camera – via a USB port and it’s plug and play, so there’s no hassle with drivers and “hacking” it into submission.
What makes this camera sort of revolutionary is that it utilizes AI to find and track its subject (you). The IndieGoGo-powered company decided to put a really good Sony 1/2.8” sensor into the OBSBOT Tiny PTZ 4K Webcam. We all know that Sony sensors are among the best on the market.
Another interesting feature it offers is that you can control the pan, tilt or zoom options with pre-defined hand gestures! That sounds super-futuristic and fun, but it takes some time to get used to.
Sometimes those gestures are similar to your own mannerisms and you can end up panning or zooming the camera by accident a lot, especially in the beginning.
The camera also offers a privacy mode, which is pretty instinctive – you just push the camera downwards.
There is one serious downside to this camera, tho. It can only zoom digitally. As we’ve mentioned above, digital zoom is not for anyone expecting a crisp and focused image when zoomed. It’s going to be very pixelated, depending on the amount of zoom you add.
This might not be a problem, if you intend to use the camera in a small room, with not too many people.
5. FoMaKo PTZ Camera
The Chinese have stepped up their game significantly when it comes to tech gadgets like these. Once upon a time, a Chinese camera was a synonym for bad performance.
After using the phones and cameras, of newer generations, I can surely say – that stereotype is a thing of the past.
This PTZ camera is a prime example of exactly how much the Chinese origin of your camera can really mean nothing about its performance. This is a top-notch camera and you’ll have little to no needs left unsatisfied once you get it.
This camera is perfectly capable to cover even a large room, such as a church or a large conference room.
The 30x optical zoom option leaves little to be desired when it comes to catching small details in an otherwise wide space.
Simultaneous 3G-SDI, HDMI, and IP Streaming mean that there will be no lack of options for any kind of streaming web conferencing video equipment you have.
It can transmit its signal to a distance of 100 meters wirelessly, while the H.264/H.265 video compression feature offers a smooth streaming experience even in low bandwidth conditions.
Unlike some other future brands and other cameras on this list, this camera pans and tilts almost perfectly quiet. That might not be a relevant feature for all of us, but there are situations when it’s among its key features.
6. PTZOptics 12X SDI GEN2
PTZOptics is a well-established brand in the digital camera world, so be prepared to pay a little bit more for their products.
The PTZOptics 12X SDI GEN2 is one of their most famous products, widely lauded as one of the best, if not the best PTZ camera for live streaming on the market.
As with other PTZ cameras, it offers roughly the same service, but the PTZOptics company is highly oriented towards making PTZ cameras (who would’ve thought?). In that sense, it offers a bit more reliability than other companies that also dabble in various other market niches.
Aside from their PTZ camera prowess, they also like to develop their own creative software. They’ve developed both PC and Mac apps dedicated to camera control.
They also developed a dedicated OBS plugin and made it fully open source. This brought around some useful features you can’t really find in other, more traditional brands of broadcast equipment.
If you’re interested primarily in connectivity features, this is your camera! On its backside, you’ll find a myriad of sockets for every connectivity-related whim you could possibly think of.
You can monitor your video on a separate screen over an HDMI cable, while simultaneously streaming over SDI or LAN.
Their latest low noise CMOS sensor makes for a very good overall 2D and 3D noise reduction. The ~72-degree angle offers wide coverage, for larger rooms or conference halls.
The 12x optical zoom, though, is just enough for decent coverage of smaller details that are located a little further away from the camera. It could do with a bit more, and PTZOptics do offer 20x optical zoom and 30x optical zoom versions of this camera.
What Key Features To Look For Before You Add To Wish List?
As with all cameras, the image quality is of the essence. But there are some contextual situations where that might not be the case, and I’ll try to cover all those various criteria.
Some of these cameras are going to end up as surveillance cameras. Some of those will, in turn, end up surveilling an outdoor area.
It’s one of the key features of a camera like this to be durable enough and, maybe, even weather-sealed, so that it could do its job for a long time, unbothered by external factors.
Durability such as this, however, isn’t much of a factor if you’re looking for an indoor camera.
This is important in almost every kind of situation you need a camera like this for. There are some situations where image quality is one of the camera’s key features and that’s what makes the best PTZ camera for live streaming – the best.
Those situations include worship streaming in churches and other live events such as concerts where a good and clear zoom option is crucial.
That means that you need to give an advantage to cameras that offer a large optical zoom and good optics in general.
Those options are, however, rarely present in a PTZ camera, at least on a cinematic level. For that kind of performance, you’ll need a serious amount of money, and a camera that’s not on this list.
If you just want your conference video to look nice, that’s ok, but you shouldn’t expect to be able to make a blockbuster movie with any of these.
Low light visibility is also one of the key features in this section. You should keep an eye out for cameras with 0.5 lux minimum illumination. Those are the ones that do well in low-light conditions.
A wider angle of mobility for panning and tilting can go a long way. A narrow-angle lens can only go so far, but if you’re able to move it around, it can cover a lot more.
Couple that with an extensive zoom capability and you’re good to go!
The bigger the optical zoom – the better.
I’m limiting this to just the optical zoom, because there are, as stated before, serious downfalls when it comes to digital zoom.
For almost any kind of use, optical zoom is the bread and butter of a PTZ camera, and one of its key features.
Of course, depending on your needs, there are no real reasons to buy an overpriced, state-of-the-art PTZ camera.
Unless you’re looking for a serious piece of equipment for a professional TV or movie production, keep an eye out for some of the cheaper solutions. Especially the ones on this list.
Some of them are controlled via an IR remote, others have different kinds of controllers. Most of them come with an IR remote, but that can often be a little bit dodgy, being that it needs a direct line of sight between you and the camera.
Some other control options, such as LAN control or others, are proving to be more reliable, but they come at the cost of the ever-dreaded cables.
Are PTZ Cameras good for live streaming?
Yes, absolutely. It’s been a long while since any of these cameras didn’t have an output suitable for internet streaming, but that’s not what their main forte is.
Aside from streaming, they offer some serious automatization of the very process of filming. Whether you need help in panning and zooming smoothly, or you’re just too busy to constantly keep an eye on what the camera is filming, this is the thing you need.
That makes them perfect for beginners as well as seasoned pros who only want to relieve their workflow of some unnecessary responsibilities.
How do I live stream with a PTZ camera?
Either very easy, or a little bit more complicated, but the answer is always – via their various possible outputs. These outputs include USB, LAN, Wi-Fi, and others, which are all readily available in all the best PTZ cameras.
It’s imperative to have your bandwidth in mind when opting for your camera of choice, especially if you plan to use a Wi-Fi connection to stream your footage. Aside from that, in the vast majority of cases, you’ll need a computer to do so. So keep that in mind, too.
How do I know which PTZ camera is best for me?
Pretty easy, actually. It all depends on what you need it for. Here’s a little key for that kind of dilemma. If you need a webcam that will be able to follow you around for your Zoom meeting or your Twitch stream, even the cheapest ones will do the trick.
If you want to stream a big conference, and you want all of the people to be seen, you’ll need something with a wider camera angle of coverage and a more powerful optical zoom.
Those are immediately a little bit more expensive, and there are a couple of great deals on this list for this kind of purpose.
If you want to automatize and replace your camera operator on a film set, a large-scale live event, or a big concert, the cameras you’ll need go up towards a big 4-figure price or more. Those cameras are not included in this list.
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