After a series of burglaries in our neighborhood, I decided we needed to invest in a set of outdoor security cameras in order to monitor and protect our home.
As I began my research, I began to get overwhelmed at all the different options available for Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) outdoor security cameras.
It seemed like every time I had narrowed it down, a different feature would catch my eye and make me question my choice. I had many questions as I continued my search:
- How much should my camera pan, tilt or zoom?
- What type of zoom would I need to help identify suspicious activity?
- How many megapixels of resolution would I need to help law enforcement identify an intruder?
- Did the camera come with an alarm?
- What was better: a wired or wireless unit?
- Could I get alerts on my phone so that I could take action immediately?
- How would I store all the surveillance footage?
- Could the camera withstand harsh weather and what type of support came with the purchase?
As I read PTZ outdoor camera reviews and comments online, I could tell I wasn’t the only one experiencing a similar dilemma.
I decided to document everything I learned and share it with some neighbors who found the information so useful they encouraged me to share it online so that all our neighbors could benefit from it.
The result of that project is now this PTZ outdoor security camera buying guide you are reading now. My hope is that by reading it, you’ll have the information you need to secure your home or business.
It’s true, there are a lot of choices when it comes to buying the best PTZ outdoor camera, but by focusing on why you want the camera, you will be able to narrow down the choices to the camera that is right for you.
In this guide, I review the main features you should consider and why, provide you with a buying guide that will help you focus on the features that are right for you, and give you answers to frequently asked questions when it comes to buying PTZ outdoor cameras.
And if you don’t want to spend a lot of time researching, you’re in luck because I’ve also created a list of top 10 PTZ security cameras you should consider and why. This should make selecting a outdoor security camera that much easier.
I’ve conducted my reviews by considering some key features that provide value for the different units. They include:
This is important when picking any security camera. Several different companies produce PTZ security cameras.
However, some companies are well-established while others are generic or off brands. You’ll certainly want to avoid the latter types since they generally offer low-quality products, weak customer service and short durability.
This factor is related to the overall quality of the security camera. Some factors I consider are materials, durability, features, functionality and ease-of-use.
The durability of a security camera is based on various factors. These include materials, design, and craftsmanship.
You’ll likely want to replace your camera later rather than sooner. In that case, it’s critical to pick a unit with high durability in order to minimize the costs of repairs and replacements.
Like other security cameras, you can find many different features offered for PTZ security cameras. They include zoom, waterproof, motion sensor, and wireless or battery powered, among others. All of these features can certainly add value to the unit and improve its form and function.
Setup/Ease of Use
These are related issues that I considered for each unit. For example, is the camera easy to install, control and adjust?
I have checked whether the company offers 24/7 customer service and whether it has the appropriate communication channels such as phone, email and social media. The product’s warranty is also critical after making your purchase.
Top 10 Picks
1. 1080P Outdoor PTZ Security Camera by SC3C - Best Overall
- 【18X Optical Zoom & H.264 h.265】: This SV3C 1080P PTZ...
- 【Pan Tilt Zoom & Bowers Viewing】: This SV3C 18X Zoom IP...
- 【Human Motion Detection and Record】: The 1080P WiFi PTZ...
- 【Night Vision & Weatherproof】: This outdoor wifi ptz...
- 【Two-way Audio & Remote View】：This auto focus security...
This PTZ camera includes a sturdy aluminum case that’s ideal for outdoor use. The camera is designed to be used from -4-degrees F to 140-degrees F as well as being totally weatherproof, so it’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
With a powerful 5X optical zoom it captures more detail from far distances and a 120-degree vertical pan to provide a wide view outside your home or office.
The camera is covered with a 1-year warranty. You also get 24/7 customer service for any questions or concerns you have.
Setup/Ease of Use
The camera easily connects to iOS/Android devices. It includes quality Wi-Fi performance for wireless connectivity.
In fact, WiFi connectivity only takes 2 minutes, which is quite fast. It also comes with a 5-decibel antenna for better connectivity.
The tilt/pan function can be controlled using a PC/Mac or phone/tablet, providing more flexibility than many other units.
Full HD night vision provides images up to 165 feet with motion detection and email alerts so you can easily monitor your security camera. It is able to store images and/or video on an SD card of up to 128GB.
The camera includes 5X optical zoom with motorized lens.
2. Outdoor PTZ HD WiFi Security Camera by Foscam - Best Value
- Never Miss a Moment: Remotely access your security camera...
- Easy to Use for Anyone: Improves on traditional CCTV and...
- Smart Technology: Motion detection and intelligent alerts...
- Enhanced 720P HD Video With Extras: Wide 75° viewing angle...
- Dimension(inches):6 L x 3.6 W x 3.38 H
The security camera is highly waterproof, so is safe in various outdoor conditions, even when exposed to dust or rain. If you plan on exposing your camera to the elements, this is a great option.
The camera is powered by a powerful chipset for clear images/videos. You can also store video using different methods like Micro SD and the cloud.
This product features 8 months of 100% free cloud storage. There are also no limits on data space during the last 8 hours of recording.
Setup/Ease of Use
Provides notifications through email or the company’s in-house app. There’s also the ability to store video in different ways including a Micro SD card.
Night Vision has a high range of nearly 200 feet. It also includes high-performance IR LED lights. You can get clear images in low-level environments. The images are in clear color while other units only provide black and white images.
This security camera offers full high-definition at 1080p for 25 frames per second (fps). The product offers 85-degree vertical rotation and 355-degree horizontal range.
There’s a 4X optical zoom, so you can get more details when viewing people and objects. It captures clear video in different lighting environments.
Image flaws are corrected with the camera’s Image Distortion Correction technology. This fixes common distortion issues for clearer images/video.
3. 1080P WiFi PTZ Outdoor Security Camera by Ctronics
Best WiFi Model
- 【Colored Night Vision & 1080P Full HD】: 1920x1080 Super...
- 【PTZ Security Outdoor Camera】: Pan-Tilt-Zoom(digital...
- 【Auto Tracking & Human Detection】: The Auto tracking...
- 【Two-way Audio & Family Sharing】: Built-in...
- 【Easy Set-up & Remote Control】: Easy installation and no...
A full metal casing makes the camera ideal for outdoor use so you can view all areas of your home or company.
This camera is IP65 waterproof so you won’t have to worry about the unit being exposed to the elements. It can survive heavy rains and storms.
A 2-way audio that allows you to talk and listen to people, both indoors and outdoors. This makes the camera more interactive, giving you the ability to greet friends or family, or option to use it as a deterrent alarm against intruders if necessary.
Wireless connectivity prevents the need to deal with a bird’s nest of cables. An Ethernet cable functions with 2.4 gigahertz WiFi. This allows you to see the live feed in just a couple minutes.
With WiFi you can view the camera’s video remotely or record and store video on a Micro SD card of up to 64GB.
Setup/Ease of Use
Instant push alerts notify you immediately when the camera’s motion sensor detects someone moving inside/outside your home or area.
The camera provides clear night vision so you can detect intruders 24/7. That’s through IR LED lights that function up to 1654 feet. You can pick up clear images in dim environments around the clock.
This unit offers 4x optical zoom with 355-degree pan and 120-degree tilt. This allows the camera to view objects better and view your home and yard with more detail for better security.
4. 1080P Outdoor PTZ Security Camera by Amcrest - Best Dome Camera
- 1080P Pan, Tilt, Zoom WiFi Camera – Live streaming 1080p...
- Baby Monitor Sound Alarm Mode, Sharing & Alexa - Turn your...
- AI Chipset & Human Detection – This is our most...
- ASH22-W Experience HD – Experience 2-Megapixel / 1920x...
- Smarter Security – Receive motion alert notifications and...
The camera is sturdy with IP66 rating. This allows the unit to withstand the elements, including severe weather. So, it will operate in all weather conditions even in harsh storms.
In terms of security, it provides a strong encryption for data privacy. This is critical to prevent hack attacks of your security unit.
The camera includes powerful Ambarella chipset. You can store video on a Micro SD up to 128GB on Amcrest Cloud or NAS.
This camera also includes 4 hrs of free storage with the option of purchasing extra storage if you need it.
It includes lifetime support and a 1-year warranty to provide better value and protection of your investment.
Setup/Ease of Use
Push alerts send notifications to your PC/Mac or smartphone using the Amcrest View app. You’ll know when there’s suspicious activity around your property. You can easily view every angle with continuous 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt.
The security camera captures clear images at nighttime due to the IR LEDs and Starvis sensor. It can see nearly 330 feet away during low light levels at night time.
This camera provides clear HD 30 frames per second (fps) footage using Sony’s in-house 2MP image sensor.
There’s also a 12X optical zoom using the camera’s pan/tilt/zoom feature. The unit also includes 16 digital zoom for clear detail.
5. HD PTZ Outdoor Security Camera by REOLINK - Best Night Vision
- 5MP PoE Camera Outdoor 190FT NIGHT VISION: 2560x1920 Super...
- Free App and Remote Access: Work with Google Assistant, the...
- PTZ Security Camera: Pan-tilt-zoom camera with cruise 360˚...
- MOTION DETECT and ALERT: This PTZ IP camera has flexible...
- 24x7 RECORDING WITH NVR and SD Card: Reliable non-stop...
This security camera is weatherproof so you won’t have to worry about it malfunctioning when bad weather conditions strike.
The pan/tilt/zoom camera includes continuous 360-degree pan, 90-degree tilt and 4X optical zoom. This allows you to see the entire area and different angles for optimum protection of your home or business.
You can record video in high-definition (HD), which provides clear recorded video.
In addition, you can also create 24/7 HD recordings using a camera system that includes up to 16 cameras. This offers more flexibility than other units that aren’t compatible with camera systems.
Setup/Ease of Use
Wiring is very easy, so you won’t have to spend lots of times installing and setting up the unit.
The motion detection feature and alert functions make it easier to detect intruders. You can also schedule detection time and tweak sensitivity.
The real-time movement alert is through push notifications or email. This allows you to know immediately when there’s an intruder outside your home.
This unit includes remote access and motion alert. It also includes multiple channels to make it easier to connect to the camera.
Another way this camera is user-friendly is the user interface (UI) is quite simple to navigate, saving you time and effort.
Night vision functions up to 190 ft. with built-in IR LEDs. The long range is ideal for various applications like front yard, backyard, garage, parking areas, etc.. This offers more flexibility in where you can install and use the camera.
The unit includes 5MP and ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution.
6. HD 1080P PTZ Outdoor Dome Camera by JideTech - Best Zoom
- 【HD 5MP Video Resolution】Ultra HD 5MP picture quality...
- 【Built-in POE】- With this POE (Power over Ethernet)...
- 【Two-ways audio real time communication】Build-in...
- 【Compatible with third party software】Support RTSP,...
- 【Best service】Will this Camera work with my NVR ? Some...
The metal housing is waterproof with IP66 rating for peace of mind, even with rainy or snowy conditions outdoors.
Quick Ethernet setup is available. This allows you to avoid the hassles of dealing with wires, making it much easier to set up your camera.
The unit includes lifetime support and a 1-year warranty. A nice value since you can contact company about any questions or concerns you have.
Setup/Ease of Use
Motion alerts inform you via email or mobile apps that there’s movement around the camera. This is a key feature when you’re away from home and want to know if a possible intruder is around the structure.
The alerts are supported by mobile devices and PC/Mac. You can even use third-party software to get your alerts for more flexibility.
This unit also provides flexibility since you can use it for several applications. They include home/business security, Internet cafe monitoring and underground parking surveillance.
This camera provides full HD with 1080-pixel video resolution and 30 fps. There’s also a 4X zoom lens.
7. 720p PTZ Outdoor Camera by Lorex
- 720P HD wireless indoor/outdoor security camera
- Advanced video compression delivers smooth, high frame rate...
- Adaptive frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technology...
- Long range Night Vision up to 135ft
- Weatherproof camera and receiver for superior performance...
This camera is made of durable metal and is IP66 waterproof for protection against harsh weather conditions.
The camera includes an Exmor image sensor from Sony.
There’s a 360-degree pan for total area coverage. The panning speed is 300 degrees/second, which is quite fast based on industry standards.
The zoom lens allows you to see small/distant objects with more detail.
The unit can be connected to the DVR remote control. This allows remote recording, which provides more versatility when you’re not at home or in the office. When it’s connected to a DVR you can control the camera remotely using a smartphone or tablet.
It's a good option at this resolution, especially when you compare a Lorex vs Swann camera system at this clarity.
Setup/Ease of Use
A wall mount and extension cable come with the unit. This prevents the need to purchase the items separately, which can save you money.
Image clarity is boosted with IR filter for clearer images during nighttime and low-light environments.
There’s a day/night mode, which switches to B&W at low light conditions. This provides more detail/clarity when there’s little ambient light. In fact, Clear Night imaging offers good performance in low-light conditions.
The PTZ camera movement offers HD 720-pixel resolution and 1.3 MP. It also features 12X optical Zoom and 16X digital zoom for more detail than many other security cameras on the market.
8. WiFi Outdoor PTZ Security Camera by Amcrest
- 4MP ULTRA-HD – The Amcrest ASH42 is designed to work with...
- SMARTER SECURITY – Receive motion alert notifications and...
- DAY OR NIGHT, RAIN OR SHINE – This wireless outdoor camera...
- SECURE CLOUD VIDEO BACKUP – The optional Amcrest Smart...
- SIMPLE, RELIABLE, SECURE – This Amcrest 2.4ghz WiFi home...
The security camera is built for all weather conditions and includes sturdy metal weatherproof housing for better durability
The camera uses Starvis IMX290 sensor by Sony and includes powerful Ambarella chipset for improved functionality.
There’s a high efficiency video coding (H 265) compression tech for smooth video and lower bandwidth use.
You can backup video through cloud storage, which can be accessed with UI for PC/Mac.
There are also regular updates for security firmware. This provides high-end safety against today’s increased attacks from hackers and malware infections.
Setup/Ease of Use
Provides smartphone alerts when the motion sensor detects movement. You can conveniently view footage through Amcrest view app.
The unit comes with the Amcrest Surveillance Pro for PC/Mac.
This unit is protected by a 1-year warranty. It also includes lifetime support via Amcrest, which is quite generous compared with other units.
The day/night functionality is available in sunny and rainy weather. IR LEDs provide low-light images and night vision for a maximum of 329 feet.
ncludes 25X optical zoom with HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second. You get 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt.
9. HD Outdoor PTZ Security Camera by ONWOTE
- 【180° Pan- 55° Tilt- 4X Optical Zoom】-- Monitor a...
- 【Power over Ethernet, Easy Remote Access】-- A single...
- 【5MP UltraHD, Video & Audio, Indoors & Outdoors】View in...
- 【Multiple Working Solutions】Work with ONWOTE 5MP PoE...
This product is IP65 weatherproof with aluminum housing and can be used indoors/outdoors. This provides versatility since you can monitor kitchen, backyard, front door, workshop, porch and so on.
This product is backup up by customer support and a 2-year warranty. You can email any questions or concerns to the company directly.
Setup/Ease of Use
You get easy remote access with one network cable for power/video transmission. This allows you to position the camera easily, even when you have no power outlet in the close vicinity.
You can also get motion alerts through your smartphone. This provides a fast warning when there could be an intruder near your home, office, etc..
Remote access allows you to view the camera remotely on iOS/Android devices and PC/Mac. Video playback is easy through hard drive or cloud storage.
Various recording options are available for your convenience. This includes NVR recorder and 30-day free Cloud recording.
Night vision captures images up to 100 feet away. LED arrays are activated automatically when low lighting conditions are detected.
The camera captures full HD details with 5MP and 1080-pixel resolution.
This camera provides 180-degree pan and 55-degree tilt with 4X optical zoom. This allows the camera to monitor a bigger area with more detail.
10. Outdoor PTZ Security Camera by Inesun
Housing is IP66 waterproof for outdoor use and protection against harsh weather.
This camera can be used for various applications including home/business, living room, retail store, restaurant, warehouse, bank and apartment. However, it certainly isn’t the best PTZ camera on the market.
The pan range is 220-degree and tilt range is 80-degree. This allows the camera to view/record a somewhat wider area, but the ranges are much lower than other units on the market.
This unit is protected with 3 years of technical support. There’s no warranty, but the company provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The unit provides night vision and supports remote view through iOS/Android and PC/Mac. Based on the zoom factor, it can pick up images up to 120 ft. away.
It has 5MP and 4X optical zoom with HD resolution.
When searching for a new PTZ outdoor camera, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
Today full high-definition (HD) has become an industry standard. A camera with 1080p resolution is typically good enough for many applications.
However, in some cases you might want ultra HD (UHD) resolution. You should be ready to shell out significantly more money for 4K cameras.
A 1MP security camera can capture 1 million pixels, while other cameras are 2MP, and so on. Like the resolution itself, it’s critical to determine the amount of detail you’ll want the unit to have. Keep in mind that several factors, including MP affect a unit’s image quality.
This is critical when picking a security camera. It helps to determine how effectively the camera can pick up objects like faces and license plates.
However, note that simply having a high zoom doesn’t guarantee the camera provides the level of detail you need. For example a lower optical zoom magnification will in many cases provide more resolution than a digital zoom model claiming a much higher magnification.
How much are you willing to spend on a security camera? The price range differs with outdoor security camera systems often costing around $1,000.
Meanwhile, if you’re purchasing one PTZ camera, then you should expect to pay much less. However, keep in mind outdoor cameras have more space to secure so in many cases spending extra for a camera system is cheaper than purchasing 3-4 cameras individually.
Even if you pick one camera, various factors can affect the unit’s price. They include the brand, features, quality, customer service, etc., so if you want high-end quality, you should be ready to spend accordingly.
These are both important issues to take up when buying any security camera. In fact, any security product should be easy to set up and use, otherwise you might not use it.
For cameras, installation is easier when picking certain units like wireless cameras with DVRs like these.
One of the main benefits of PTZ cameras is they’re fully motorized. This will automatically make the units more user-friendly since by definition they include pan/tilt/zoom features.
Another issue to consider is whether the camera can connect to your devices. For example, if you own a PC/Mac or smartphone/tablet, you might want to connect the device(s) to the camera for easy operation.
Yet another issue is related to the instructions. Look for outdoor cameras that include clear and detailed instructions, which will make it easier to operate the unit—that’s always a plus!
Night Vision/Motion Sensor
These are two of the most important features to look for when picking a security system. They’re especially critical for outdoor security cameras.
Night vision is especially critical for day/night surveillance. For example, you might want to consider infrared (IR) LED night vision so you can pick up intruders around your home or office at any time of the day.
Learn how far the night vision functions and how clear the image is. If it provides a bad image at a short distance it makes the feature less valuable.
If you want a security camera with the best nighttime surveillance, then look for the 1-2 punch of night vision and motion sensor. This provides features like alerts and recording when the camera detects someone or something moving into the area.
This is somewhat of an X-factor since it’s not directly related to the outdoor camera itself. For example, does the security camera manufacturer offer 24/7, 9-to-5 or no customer service?
When buying electronics like security cameras, you’ll often have questions or problems related to the product. It’s a plus when you can contact them and through different methods like phone, email or social media.
One of the biggest issues in terms of customer service is how well a company honors its warranty. It all starts with how comprehensive the warranty is and how long it’s valid.
However, it’s just as important for a company to honor its warranty in case you have any issues after purchasing a particular outdoor camera. Unfortunately, sometimes this can become an issue.
What’s a day/night feature?
This affects how effective the camera is for functionalities like night viewing and low-light imaging. Features like IR LEDs provide cameras that function better in this area.
How do you connect the camera to security systems?
You might want to connect your camera to systems that include CCTV or DVR . Make sure the instructions that come with the unit are clear about issues like protocols and wiring.
What’s the optimum distance for powering PTZ cameras?
It differs for different cameras. However, keep in mind when running cables for long distances to the camera it can affect whether or not the unit gets enough power to operate.
How do you set up alerts?
This is critical so you can get real-time push alerts. For example, if your outdoor security camera picks up motion in the area, you’ll want to know immediately like you would with a cellular security camera (see list here), so you can monitor the area for intruders.
Are PTZ cameras vandal proof?
Unfortunately, no security camera is 100% vandal-proof. However, you can find theft-resistant units that are made of sturdy materials, which helps to protect the units from factors like weather and thieves.
What’s the difference between pan, tilt, and zoom?
Panning and tilting are related to the camera physically moving to view a different area. Meanwhile, the zoom function is related to the lens changing the focal length/focus so you can zoom in to see details better or zoom out to see more of the area you are monitoring.
Here's a great video demonstrating the differences between each mode:
How do you use cables?
Make sure the camera’s instructions are clear about issues like cables. This will make the setup easy and prevent a lot of possible issues that could result from unclear or general instructions.
With so many security cameras on the market it can be tough to determine the top PTZ camera.
One of the main benefits of these units is the pan, tilt and zoom factors that make the unit fully motorized. As a result, it’s much easier to monitor various areas like your home or business.
When picking a model, you have many issues to consider. In terms of the image detail and clarity you’ll want to consider resolution, megapixels and zoom in particular.
Then there’s the the range of what you can view, which is affected by factors like the pan and tilt degrees of the camera.
Durability is also critical when picking a unit. Critical in this regard are the quality of the materials used and their ability, in particular to protect against elements like rain, snow and wind.
Look for products with a waterproof rating to determine exactly how well it can stand up to the elements.
Another key factor when picking a PTZ outdoor camera is the ability to deliver motion alerts. Make sure they’re provided through various channels like email and mobile devices.
When you’re away from home, it’s critical to know when a potential burglar is sneaking around your home.
All of these factors will help you select a camera with a great field of vision, excellent image quality, and maximum durability so that you can rest assured your property is safe.
Featured Image: pcmag.com