Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras are popular for churches and event venues because they can move around without needing a camera operator.
You can hang them from walls, ceilings, trusses – you name it – and then control them remotely from just about anywhere.
Compared to static cameras, PTZs bring much more flexibility for creative and dynamic live streams and video recordings compared to static cameras.
But are they worth the cost?
How Much Do PTZ Cameras Cost?
The honest answer to this question is, it depends. There are a bunch of different brands and price ranges. You can get a cheap PTZ camera for only around $200. But you can also spend around $10,000 per camera.
But, like all video cameras, you get what you pay for up to a point. Once you reach the $2500.00 mark on a PTZ, the image quality difference gets harder and harder to detect – especially for the viewers of a 1080P (or lower) live stream.
4 Factors That Impact PTZ Camera Pricing
1. Sensor Quality
Cheaper cameras will come with cheaper (and smaller) sensors. This means that your video footage will get duller, colors will be blander, and noise will increase. And, when you consider the low-light nature of the church atmosphere, those problems will be multiplied.
So getting a cheap camera because it’s “cheaper” doesn’t always mean you’ll be glad you purchased.
2. Zoom Lens
PTZ cameras allow you to both optically zoom and digitally zoom. Digital zooming usually results in degrading of picture quality. It’s kind of like stretching an image really big… it starts to get pixelated.
When you zoom optically, though, it’s like using an actual zoom lens. There is no degradation of image quality because you’re zooming the actual lens. So, optical zoom is what you need.
The PTZ cameras we sell come in 12X, 20X, and 30X zoom options. But with other brands, you get different zoom lengths.
Typically, the longer the zoom, the more expensive the camera.
To give you an example of the capabilities of the 30X zoom. You can zoom into a small bible from 40 feet away and read the text. So, if your sanctuary is under 120 feet from the camera to stage, 30X is probably plenty zoom.
3. Connectivity Options
Another thing that impacts the costs of PTZ cameras is the connectivity options. The cheapest PTZ cameras usually offer USB connection only. These are generally meant to be used in small rooms, like board rooms, etc.
Other PTZ Cameras offer HDMI and SDI connectivity. HDMI is the regular kind of cable that video switchers, like the ATEM Mini Pro use. Using modern fiber optic HDMI cables, you can run 300 feet without losing image quality.
SDI cables are the traditional cable of the video industry, and they can run hundreds of feet without losing image quality. However, unless your video switcher is SDI as well, you will need converters to turn the SDI into an HDMI feed before you reach your switcher.
Most of our SDI cameras include both HDMI and SDI options.
Then, there is the new technology called NDI. NDI is a network-based connection. So, rather than a physical cable connecting the camera to your production hardware, the camera is connected to the network. And as long as your production hardware (a streaming PC for example) is on the same network, you can bring that video feed into your stream. Adding NDI functionality increases the cost of the cameras.
Our PTZ cameras with NDI feature all three connection types in the same camera: NDI, SDI, and HDMI.
4. Misc Factors
There are other factors that impact the cost of the PTZ camera:
- The quality of the motors that pan, tilt, and zoom the camera.
- The loudness of the motors as the camera moves.
- The build materials of the camera.
- The quality of the lens.
- etc. etc.
How Much Do The PTZ Cameras Cost?
As we said previously, there are a bunch of different options. For the same basic “specs” you can get cheaper and more expensive cameras than these. We’ve chosen these cameras to feature because we believe they offer the best balance of affordability and quality in all the factors mentioned above.
- The 30X NDI PTZ Camera: $2,199
- The 30X SDI PTZ Camera: $1,799
- The 20X NDI PTZ Camera: $2,099
- The 20X SDI PTZ Camera: $1,699
- The 12X SDI PTZ Camera: $1,599
Why Are PTZ Cameras So Expensive?
The honest answer is, they aren’t expensive. They are more expensive than static cameras because they contain three different motors to pan, tilt, and zoom the camera. And, they include the technology to control the camera remotely. There are internal heating and cooling systems as well. There’s just a lot of cutting-edge technology in the camera. And, they are designed to be durable, lasting for a very long time.
Compared to a static camera, a single PTZ camera can cover much more of the sanctuary, and basically become several cameras in one – zooming in and out and changing the frame to follow the action as needed.
But considering what they are capable of, they are not expensive at all. You probably wouldn’t want to drive a car you paid $50 for. And, you understand that a nice car with a clean interior is going to cost a few thousand dollars. It’s the same with a PTZ camera. The fact that you can get a remotely controlled camera with a great lens and sensor for under $3,000 is actually quite remarkable.
Building a Live Streaming Kit With PTZ Cameras
We sell PTZ cameras as well as complete live streaming and video solutions featuring the PTZ camera kits.
If you’re interested, you can browse all our all-in-one PTZ-based streaming kits and, hopefully, find one in your price range.