Today on the hookup we’re going to take a look at the most intimidating type of security camera, the Pan Tilt Zoom, or PTZ camera. In the past when people have asked me to review PTZ cameras I’ve always said that you’d be better off buying a few different stationary cameras and pointing them at each area of interest 24/7 instead of relying on a PTZ camera that may be looking at the wrong place at the wrong time. After testing these 9 cameras I mostly feel the same way, but I do think that some of the cameras are useful tools to add to your security system while others are just toys.
We’ll start by comparing their field of view, then daytime clarity, pan and tilt accuracy, pan and tilt speed, zoom performance, night time performance and finally we’ll take a look at any extra features these cameras have to offer. All of my tests were completed in the Blur Iris NVR software unless otherwise noted.
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For $43 we’ve got the besider pan and tilt camera security camera. The besider features 1080p resolution, no optical zoom, plastic construction, wired or wireless connection, 12V power with no PoE and is viewable in the iCSee app, or ONVIF RTSP stream for NVR compatibility, the besider records to a removable SD card which is not included, or to the iCSee cloud storage which keeps 3 days of motion detection footage for 4.99 a month.
Next for $80 is the netvue sentry pro which features 3 megapixel resolution, no optical zoom, plastic and metal construction, wired or wireless connection and 12V power with no PoE. the Netvue sentry is viewable in the netvue app only and can record to a removable SD card which is not included or to the cloud with a $1.99 per month subscription.
For $99 the brand new Reolink E1 Outdoor features 5 megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom, plastic construction, wired or wireless connection and 12V power with no PoE. The reolink E1 outdoor is viewable in the Reolink App, web interface, or via ONVIF RTSP. The E1 outdoor records to a removable SD card which is not included or to the reolink cloud which is free to store 7 days of footage for a single camera or 3.49 a month for 30 days of footage on up to 5 cameras.
Also from reolink is the $229 RLC-423, which features 5 megapixel with 4x optical zoom. The RLC-423 has plastic and metal construction, and wired only connection with PoE+ or a typical 12V barrel jack for power The RLC-423 is viewable in the Reolink App, web interface, or via ONVIF RTSP. Like the E1 outdoor, The RLC-423 outdoor records to a removable SD card which is not included or to the reolink cloud which is free to store 7 days of footage for a single camera or 3.49 a month for 30 days of footage on up to 5 cameras.
For $239 I got a camera sold by Vikviz that lacks any branding and just claims to be Hikvision compatible. This camera which I will refer to for the rest of the video as the Hikvision Compatible camera is 8 megapixel with 18x optical zoom. The Hikvision compatible has plastic and metal construction, and wired only connection with PoE+ or a typical 12V barrel jack for power. The Hikvision compatible is viewable in hikvision’s hik-conect mobile app, via web interface or ONVIF RTSP and also features a removable SD card for recording.
Next is the UniView IPC-675 blah blah blah, it’s on the screen which has an MSRP of $559, but an actual street price of around $299, the UniView features 5 megapixels with 4x optical zoom, all plastic construction, and wired only connection with PoE+ or a typical 12V barrel jack for power. The UniView is viewable via the EZView app, web interface, or ONVIF RTSP and records to a removable SD card which is not included.
The next 3 cameras are all priced the same at $499, first is the Amcrest IP4M – 1063 EW - AI features 4 megapixel resolution, 25X optical zoom, very sturdy metal and plastic construction, and a wired only connection with PoE+ or 12v barrel connector for power. The Amcrest is viewable in the Amcrest View Pro app, web interface or via ONVIF RTSP and records to a removable SD card, which isn’t included, or theoretically to the Amcrest cloud, but that requires a separate app that I wasn’t able to get working with this camera.
Also $499 is the LOREX LNZ44P12B which features 4 megapixel resolution, 12x optical zoom, very sturdy metal and plastic construction, and wired only connection with PoE+ or 12v barrel connector for power. The LOREX camera is viewable in the Lorex Home App, web interface, or via ONVIF RTSP and records to a removable SD card, which isn’t included, or to the LOREX [check this]
Last is the most unique camera I tested, which is the $499 Amaryllo Ares Pro. The Amaryllo features 1080p resolution with no optical zoom, plastic construction, wired or wireless connection, and PoE+ or 12V barrel connector for power. The Amaryllo is viewable in the Amaryllo app or via RTSP, though enabling RTSP disables many of the cameras main features including recording to the included 8 gigabytes of internal storage. Recordings can also be saved to the Amaryllo cloud for $2.99 a month for 3 days of storage.
In order to be able to compare these cameras to the dozens of non PTZ cameras that I’ve reviewed in the past I set them up in the same location and ran my standard set of tests before looking at PTZ specific functionality.
First, lets look at field of view. The field of view is determined by the focal length, lens geometry, and sensor size. Field of view is an extremely important consideration for traditional security cameras, but maybe less so for PTZ cameras that can easily move around to view different areas. In these cameras there was a huge variation in field of view, the being the Uniview, then the E1 outdoor, then netvue and very closely the besider, slightly more zoomed in than that was the reolink RCL423 and then the amaryllo. The three more largest cameras were also the most zoomed in with the lorex having a slightly wider field of view than the Amcrest and the Hikvision compatible being the most zoomed in with the smallest field of view out of all the cameras that I tested. Again, lets look at the huge range of field of view comparing the Uniview to the Hikvision compatible.
Next I wanted to measure the clarity of the image, which I usually do by holding up a sign with 72 point font and 144 point font at 10ft, 25ft, and 50ft. But because field of view and zoom have significant effect on the clarity of the image I did my best to replicate the same field of view in each of the cameras where zoom was available.
Starting with those standardized views the on the zoom cameras at 25 feet the Hikvision compatible produced a very legible image of both the 144 and 72 point font, followed closely by the uniview which did a good job with both font sizes but had some blurring due to 3d noise reduction. Next was the reolink RLC423 that also had significant blurring, but was still very legible. The lorex had less blurring, but some distortion in the small text and the Amcrest had even more distortion, even losing the shape of the sign slightly. Unfortunately, the reolink E1 outdoor image was blown out and the text was completely invisible. The non zoom cameras expectedly performed worse, with the netview doing the best of the remaining 3 cameras, then the besider and last was the Amaryllo that produced a completely blurry and blown out image of the sign at 25 feet.
The results were similar at 50 feet except the Lorex produced the best image, in which the 72 point font is almost legible, then the Hikvision compatible produced a good but blurry image, similar to the reolink which is also heavily relying on that image post processing to reduce pixilation. Next was the uniview, which produced a slightly less legible image of the 144 point font, then the E1 outdoor which was both blurry and a little distorted, and last the Amcrest produced a very distorted and pixelated image that I wouldn’t have been able to read if I didn’t already know what it said.
For the non-zoom cameras the besider at least reproduced the general shape of the sign and indicated that there was text on it, while the Amaryllo again produced a blurry sign with no text, and the netview produced a completely unrecognizable image at 50 feet.
As I mentioned before, I’m not sure that field of view is that big of a deal with these cameras since their main feature is to be able to move around, so next I wanted to test their pan, tilt and zoom capabilities. For this test I set up a “tour”, where the camera would jump through different preset positions. Important criteria in this test were accuracy of reproducing the preset position, speed of movement, and focus acquisition at the new position.
Starting with accuracy, the Lorex and Amcrest cameras performed the best, and were able to accurately recall their positions even after multiple power cycles and taking the cameras up and down for different tests. The Hikvision compatible and Uniview also did well in this test, but I noticed a small amount of variation after taking the camera up and down for testing, which was not fixed by power cycling them.
The Reolink RLC423 did a good job recalling positions, but was the easiest to get out of alignment if it got bumped while the power was on. The RLC423 also couldn’t set presets in blue iris, but once they were set in the reolink app they could be recalled in blue iris.
The reolink E1 outdoor that I have was not able to accurately recall preset positions at all. I think something may have been wrong with the internal gearing causing it to slip and then get out of calibration. Even if it was just a defect in my unit, I think the durability of those plastic gears is concerning especially if you will be using the PTZ functionality in your camera on a regular basis.
The amaryllo, besider, and netvue cameras weren’t able to store presets at all, so all of my PTZ testing was done by manually controlling them via the app.
Next for speed of the PTZ functionality I set up a 4 position tour and measured not only at the time to get to the expected position, but also the time to acquire the correct focus for that position.
In this category the Lorex did a fantastic job with a taking a total of 10.86 seconds to move through all 4 presets or an average of 2.715 seconds per movement. Next was the Amcrest that took a total of 15 seconds to get from point to point through each of the 4 positions, for an average of 3.75 seconds. Then the Hikvision also scored decently well taking 18.4 seconds in total for an average of 4.6 seconds per movement, and last was the Reolink RLC423 that really struggled with optimal pathing between presets and had significant focus hunting at after each movement. A good chunk of the reolink’s total move time was caused by the issues with focus once it reached its position and it ended up taking 39 seconds total for an average of 9.75 seconds per movement.
As I mentioned before the E1 outdoor wasn’t able to accurate recall any of its presets and experienced similar focus hunting problems to the RLC423. Just based on the footage it seems like the E1 outdoor might have done a better job with finding the optimal path, but it’s hard to say for sure since none of the positions were actually the ones that I programmed in.
The remaining footage is mostly to give you an idea of the speed at which the cameras moved, but the besider, netvue and amaryllo cameras couldn’t be accurately judged in this category since they not only lack the ability to create presets, but also don’t have any zoom capabilities so their focus is always locked in at the same point. I will say that out of these 3 remaining cameras I did find the zoom on the Besider to be the easiest to operate in the app, with the amaryllo and netvue having enough lag that I often overshot the position that I wanted to look at.
For zoom performance, I used this tampa bay buccaneers flag in my neighbor’s yard roughly 120 feet away as a reference point to take these images from the different zoom cameras. I was surprised by how similar each camera performed despite the fact that their zoom capabilities ranged from 12x on the lorex, to 18x on the Hikvision compatible and 25x on the Amcrest.
In this category the Hikvision compatible’s 4K resolution and 18x zoom really shined and produced this amazing image. Next the lorex’s 12x zoom did extremely well, even with half the resolution of the Hikvision. Even though the Amcrest has the highest advertised optical zoom it seemed to have issues with video compression that resulted in more digital artifacts than I’d like. I actually went through after this test and double checked that it was on the same compression settings as the rest of the cameras to be sure.
The Uniview had a few things working against it. First, it only has 4x optical zoom, and second it had the greatest initial field of view, meaning 4x zoom barely gets it to the initial field of view of the Hikvision compatible. Still, it outperformed the 4x optical zoom on the reolink RLC423 and predictably the worst performer of the zoom cameras in this category was the Reolink E1 outdoor with only 3X optical zoom.
Next to measure the night time infrared performance of each camera. I repeated my same test from the daytime but used the 25 foot image for comparison. For these tests the IR of the cameras was on and each camera was in Night Mode.
In these tests the RLC423 produced the clearest nighttime image with no noticeable ghosting during movement. The Hikvision compaitible was a close second and did a great job illuminating the entire scene without blowing out the details on my face. Next was the Uniview that also did a great job illuminating my face and capturing detail. After that was the lorex that produced a flatter image meaning the shadows were lighter and the highlights were dimmer, not a bad image, but harder to see facial detail. Just as we saw in the other tests the Amcrest seems to have compression issues which cause artifacts in the video and make it difficult to read the text and see facial detail. After that there was a pretty sharp dropoff where the E1 outdoor, netvue, and besider produced nighttime images with poor detail and lots of digital artifacting. The amaryllo’s image was unacceptably bad, and aside from confirming that a human was present wouldn’t be useful for much else, even at only 25 feet.
A newer category that many people have showed interest in is night time color image, so I ran the same tests again without the IR LEDs, and forced the cameras into “Daytime” mode. If the camera had white LEDs available I enabled them. The Uniview image was significantly better than the rest due to the fact that it includes white LEDs, but the besider and E1 outdoor also have white LEDs and didn’t produce nearly as high quality of an image. The Amcrest did okay with just the ambient lights from my porch, while the Amaryllo performed terribly despite having its very noticeable white LEDs on. For whatever reason I couldn’t convince the Hikvision or Lorex cameras to turn off their black and white mode, but they still produced decent images without their infrared lights on. The RLC423 produced a basically all black image without its IR LEDs.
Wrapping it up lets take a look at the extra features of these cameras. The feature that I was initially most interested in was auto motion tracking that follows a moving subject around. The besider, Reolink E1 outdoor and Amaryllo all offer this feature, but after testing I can see why it’s not a more standard feature. Occasionally auto tracking worked very well, but for the most part it caused the camera to search around aimlessly which made it distracting for me to have up on my computer screen because out of the corner of my eye I couldn’t tell the difference between actual movement and the camera randomly deciding to pan around. Even worse, at night bugs can trigger this auto tracking and depending on where the bug is, it might cause you to miss an important motion event somewhere else in the camera’s range. Auto-tracking is definitely something that I’d classify as a toy and not a tool.
Similar to auto tracking the Amcrest and Uniview cameras have line smart features like person detection, facial detection, line crossing, abandoned object, and missing object tracking. These features can trigger recordings, PTZ presets or even trigger the relay output for an external alarm siren. An interesting use case for these features might be to combine them with their great zoom capabilities to record license plates in states like florida that only require rear license plates. You can use the directional line crossing detection with the car filter to trigger a PTZ position that zooms in on the road to capture license plates of passing cars before returning to its home position.
So which PTZ camera is best? In my opinion it’s hard to argue with the value of the Hikvision compatible camera from VikViz, not only did it perform very well in all of the clarity tests, but it has the highest resolution, best zoom performance, sturdy construction, great compatibility and is relatively affordable. If you need a larger maximum field of view the Uniview camera also produced excellent results as long as you don’t need large zoom capabilities. The Lorex and Amcrest cameras seem like the most well built and reliable cameras for harsh conditions and between the two the Lorex had better video clarity while the Amcrest had more advanced extra features. If you’re just looking for a fun wireless camera to mess around with the Besider is cheap, but it shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a high quality security camera.
If you’re interested in buying any these cameras I’ve got amazon affiliate links down in the description that allow me to earn a small commission off of the sales of these cameras at no additional cost to you. If you decided against a PTZ camera after watching this video please go check out my reviews on non PTZ cameras to find the best fit for you.
Thank you so much to my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continued support of my channel if you’re interested in supporting my channel please check out the links it the description. If you enjoyed this video please hit that thumbs up button and consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.