Guide to the Best PTZ Camera Controller

Editor’s Choice

PTZ Camera Controller

  • It’s easy to achieve smooth PTZ movements
  • The trace function can store camera movements for instant recall 
  • The controller covers a wide range of functionality and customization

Best Overall

PTZ Camera Controller

  • Multi-Brand Compatibility
  • Large LCD Screen with Controller Status 
  • With built-in decoder with HDMI output

Budget-Friendly

PTZ Camera Controller

  • User-defined hotkeys
  • LED status and menu display
  • Precise PTZ control with adjustable speed

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out the best PTZ camera controller, then I’d recommend the PTZOptics SuperJoy Joystick PTZ Camera Controller as the best one.

Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras have mechanical parts that allow them to track 180 to a 360-degree view. Because of their many moving pieces and advanced functions, you’ll need a PTZ camera controller. The best PTZ camera controller helps you use and maximize the operation of your camera/s.

Choosing the best PTZ camera controller is not as hard as it seems. With the right planning and research, you’ll have your controller in no time.

Here are the best PTZ Camera Controllers we will be reviewing:

What is a PTZ Camera Controller?

A PTZ camera controller is connected to all PTZ cameras to direct each camera however you want. Cameras can easily pan, tilt, and zoom using a PTZ camera controller. Preferred presets can also be picked on the controller for quick access whenever needed. But one of the most important functions of a PTZ controller is the centralized management of multiple PTZ cameras.

What are the Types of PTZ Camera Controllers?

Joystick Controller

Joystick controllers are designed to give quick access to PTZ cameras. This type of PTZ camera controller is a dedicated device that is user-friendly and is the easiest way to the camera’s pan, tilt, or zoom controls. Ideally, this is the type of controller one should get; but, there are cons to this type of controller. A joystick controller is expensive and is sold separately, needs a dedicated table space, and is not wireless.

IR Remote Control

The neatest thing about IR remote controls is that they are included when purchasing your PTZ cameras. This type of controller is wireless and has an intuitive button layout. But, IR remote controls have limitations. IR remote controls only work at a certain range and are prone to interferences with other IR-controlled devices. Advanced camera settings can also be accessed from an IR remote control.

Software Solutions (OBS, vMix, Wirecast, TriCaster, MimoLive, and Livestream Studio)

The biggest advantage of this type of controller is that it’s wireless. It is also less expensive compared to the other controller types. If you already have a smartphone or tablet, you can run the software from there. Despite the absence of a separate console, you still have the same functions as the other types.

Regular updates and dependence on battery life are the downsides of using software solutions. Your cameras are connected through WiFi only when using a smartphone or tablet. But you can use a computer instead; you can connect via COM Port or Ethernet Port.

What is the Purpose of a PTZ Camera Controller?

PTZ camera controllers are supposed to make managing your cameras convenient and effortless. For example, the joystick on a controller handles the camera’s pan, tilt, and zoom functions. Saved presets and camera movement can be accessed through programmable buttons. These buttons are different from the others because they can be changed depending on the user’s favored options. Some PTZ camera controllers even have an LCD. All the cameras in use and their status and feedback are displayed on the LCD screen.

How to Connect Multiple PTZ Cameras to a Controller?

The first thing that needs to be done is turn on the cameras and controller. Then connect the first camera to the controller through the RS-232 connector. This process is repeated to your other cameras until everything is added to the chain.

The next step is to configure the PTZ cameras. Go to the On-Screen Display (OSD) and press “Setup”. Make sure that the set protocol is compatible with your PTZ controller. The same process is repeated for all of the other cameras.

The controller needs to be configured as well. To do this, access the menu option then open “Setup”. Double-check if the set protocol is the same with your cameras. Then exit the menu and check if each numbered button corresponds to your cameras. When you press 1, you should have control of camera one and so on.

Benefits of Using a PTZ Camera Controller

The primary benefit of using a PTZ camera controller is having easy access to all your PTZ cameras. All your cameras can be managed with just one console using a controller. Your frequently used presets are saved, meaning with a push of a button, that preset is activated when needed. Smartphones can be used as controllers if you’re tight on the budget. There’s a designated software you can buy and download on your smartphone or tablet, and voila! You now have a wireless and pocket-sized PTZ controller.

Things to Consider When Choosing PTZ Camera Controller

Number of Cameras

For small spaces, expect to have at least two PTZ cameras present. Using the IR remote control is more than enough if that’s the case. In comparison, larger areas may have up to eight cameras. A joystick controller is best for large-scale video and streaming productions. A joystick controller is easier to use. It gives more flexibility in switching from one camera to the next.

User Interface

The key features of a PTZ camera controller’s user interface are the joystick, the buttons, and the dials or knobs. You may not think much of it, but the quality and feel of each component add to the user experience. The best way to test them out is to try them yourself at the store. But, nowadays, people prefer shopping online for convenience. If that’s the case, check out the customer reviews for the performance of the moving parts.

Compatibility

Most PTZ camera controllers are compatible with most cameras as long as they have been supported with the same protocol. So before purchase, check the camera’s settings and look for which protocol set it has. To make things easier, check your PTZ camera’s brand, which controller is compatible with your camera’s model. Usually, brands make PTZ controllers that are well suited for their cameras. This saves you time searching and narrows down your choices.

Software

There are a lot of brands that have software compatibility and that support a wide variety of protocols. Remember that the software is cheaper when you already have a computer available and an extra joystick or Xbox 360 controller.

Extra Features

Usually, when a product has extra features, it costs more money. But don’t let that scare you. Some additional features will be useful in the long run. Features such as programmable buttons, an LCD screen, and advanced image controls are beneficial.

Budget

As with all other devices, the price is not a sign of quality and performance. With enough research and planning, you’ll see that there are better-performing PTZ controllers with a reasonable price tag. Also, don’t restrict yourself to choosing just one type of controller. If you already have extra equipment laying around, try checking out a software type of controller instead. It’s a cheaper option and has everything you’ll need and more.

PTZOptics SuperJoy Joystick PTZ Camera Controller

PTZ Camera Controller

If you want a joystick controller where you can pan, tilt, and zoom with one hand, the PTZOptics SuperJoy Joystick PTZ Camera Controller has you covered! The overall interface of the joystick controller is easy and fun to use; you won’t have a hard time navigating. A large LCD screen displays the controller status for quick status and feedback. The neat rubberized buttons light up when in use to avoid confusion. The resistance provided by the spring-loaded dials gives absolute control. This results in smooth focus and zoom functions.

The SuperJoy is compatible with most PTZ camera brands and can create four-camera groups with seven devices each. It’s an all-in-one device that gets the job done without having a steep learning curve.

Pros:

  • Multi-Brand Compatibility
  • Large LCD Screen with Controller Status 
  • With built-in decoder with HDMI output
  • Up to 255 PTZ camera presets, 9 quick presets, and 4 super presets
  • Simultaneous NDIv4|HX, IP & Serial Control for a range of PTZ cameras
  • Four camera control groups can be created with up to seven devices for an organized set-up

Cons:

  • Switching from one camera to another has a two-second delay
  • There are problems encountered when changing the speed of the presets

Canon RC-IP100 Touchscreen PTZ Joystick Controller

PTZ Camera Controller

The Canon RC-IP100 provides gain control of up to 99 supported Canon PTZ cameras that use the XC protocol. IP or serial commands are used to achieve smooth pan-tilt-zoom movements. At the same time, accuracy and responsiveness are provided by the joystick of the RC-IP100. The configuration and camera settings control are accessed with the seven-inch touchscreen. 

Another advantage of using the Canon RC-IP100 is registering all the available presets in every connected camera. This means that trace movements can be managed, access picture quality settings, and many more advanced functions. With a push of a button, camera movements are stored for easy access and instant recall.

The only downside of the Canon RC-IP100 is that it is only compatible with Canon PTZ cameras supported by the XC protocol. Other than that, this touchscreen PTZ joystick controller is a great addition to the church’s multimedia equipment.

Pros:

  • It’s easy to achieve smooth PTZ movements
  • The trace function can store camera movements for instant recall 
  • The controller covers a wide range of functionality and customization
  • It is equipped with a joystick, zoom lever, and large 7″ LCD touch panel 
  • Offers two user and four programmable function buttons

Cons:

  • It only works with Canon PTZ cameras assisted by the XC protocol

AViPAS AV-3104IP 4D Joystick PTZ Controller

PTZ Camera Controller

Precise PTZ control, adjustable speed, and advanced focus are guaranteed when used with AViPAS AV-3104IP 4D Joystick 4D Controller. Pan, tilt, zoom, and focus control are accessed with the 4D joystick. There’s also a LED status and menu display for the status and configuration. The user-defined hotkeys are used for immediate access to advanced functions and presets. All of the components are protected with a metal casing that ensures durability and longevity.

Pros:

  • User-defined hotkeys
  • LED status and menu display
  • Precise PTZ control with adjustable speed
  • 4D joystick offers simultaneous pan, tilt, zoom, and focus control
  • Supports PELCO, VISCA, VISCA-over-IP, and ONVIF protocols

Cons:

  • The buttons are so close to each other

Sony RM-IP500/1 Professional Remote PTZ Camera Controller

PTZ Camera Controller

One-handed pan, tilt, and zoom adjustments are possible with the Sony RM-IP500/1 Professional Remote Controller. Other controls such as the supplementary seesaw lever, knobs, and buttons are designated for frequently-needed camera functions. The controller can store up to 100 presets of camera angles and settings combinations. There’s also a neat function called trace memory, where stored sequences of camera movements can be recalled whenever required.

The Sony RM-IP500/1 is compatible with 100 Sony BRC or SRG Series PTZ cameras using a standard IP network. Automatic IP addresses and numbers are connected to cameras, making system set-up quick and easy.

Pros:

  • Easy, ergonomic PTZ control of multiple remote cameras
  • Features a high-quality joystick that allows effortless one-handed PTZ adjustments
  • Up to 100 presets can be stored recalled instantly
  • System set-up is quick and simple
  • Color related settings can be adjusted directly

Cons:

  • It is only compatible with Sony BRC or SRG Series PTZ cameras

BirdDog NDI RS-232 and RS422 Support PTZ Controller

PTZ Camera Controller

Utilizing your PTZ cameras has never been easier with the BirdDog PTZ Keyboard Controller. The BirdDog Keyboard Controller has an LED display, two knobs for speed control, a zoom rocker, a joystick, and six programmable function buttons. It boasts a well-thought-out button layout, which means using this controller is a breeze. Plus, the six programmable buttons are customizable and can be set up as needed.

The BirdDog PTZ Keyboard Controller goes above and beyond all other PTZ controllers in the market. Aside from the amazing overall button layout, it can also be connected to up to 255 PTZ cameras on a single network.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy execution of camera functions Customizable six programmable buttons
  • LED display
  • Ergonomic keyboard
  • Two PTZ knobs speed control
  • NDI ControlVISCA over IPRS 232/RS422 control signal format

Cons:

  • It is only compatible with NDI and NDI|HX supported PTZ cameras

Conclusion

To utilize and maximize the functions of PTZ cameras, the right PTZ camera controller is needed. Don’t focus on a user-friendly controller layout only. Look for controllers that are compatible with most PTZ camera brands as well. 

The best PTZ Camera Controller I’d recommend is the PTZOptics SuperJoy Joystick PTZ Camera Controller. It has a well-made layout that is convenient and helps improve any PTZ camera’s performance. Pan, tilt, and zoom functions are controlled through the joystick. At the same time, the rubberized backlit buttons are accessed by the advanced functions. There’s also a large LCD screen that displays the status and feedback for each camera. 

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Alex Shute
EDITOR
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.