Green Line Systems

Understanding Security Cameras With Zoom

Posted by Gregory DeRouanna on Jul 30, 2018

Surveillance plays a critical role in securing businesses and other property, and their ability to zoom helps them get a more detailed look, or a wider angle view on any signs of trouble.

The most capable of these are controllable  Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras, that can even be operated from anywhere with your smartphone. Compare this and other types, such as infrared bullet cameras, and dome security cameras to find cost-effective solutions with the capabilities you need.

Each of these zoom security cameras operates with optical zoom, digital zoom, or a combination of both. Learn the differences, benefits, and limitations of each.

Optical and Digital Zoom

Optical Zoom

Wired or wireless security cameras with optical zoom by physically adjusting the lens. This allows you to zoom in to view more details of a surveillance area or object or zoom out to get a better, wide viewing angle, without compromising the quality of the image. Cameras with optical zoom maintain focus even when the focal length changes. Think of optical zoom cameras as looking through binoculars.

A security camera with 3X, 5X, 10X or 20X optical zoom is capable of that amount of magnification. If you’re looking to get high-quality surveillance images or videos with the latest range of security cameras on the market, you should go for the highest optical security camera zoom.

There are three types of optical zoom security cameras:

  • Manual Varifocal Optical Zoom Security Cameras: These cameras allow you to manually adjust the zoom level and viewing angle personally before you start recording surveillance videos. Most of the cameras come with a waterproof enclosing that has to be removed from the camera so you can adjust the varifocal lens by turning a knob inside the camera. If you’ve mounted your manual optical zoom camera to the ceiling or wall, it can be challenging to re-adjust the zoom level to what you want since you’ll have to climb up to the camera.
  • IP Security Cameras with Motorized Optical Zoom: IP or Wi-Fi cameras with motorized zoom allow you to adjust the zoom level of your security cameras remotely from anywhere you are. Zoom in and out with the provided on-screen controls on your security surveillance smartphone app or client software.
  • Security Cameras With PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom): PTZ optical zoom security cameras are fully motorized, allowing you to adjust your cameras in all directions. You can check everything around your business or home with endless pan and tilt, and get more clear details or a wider viewing angle with optical security camera zoom. Some PTZ cameras offer up to 360 degrees pan, 90 degrees tilt and high optical zoom. All you have to do is to click on the simple-to-use on-screen controls on your security camera app or client software to expand your surveillance capabilities.

For easy adjustment of zoom level and viewing angle of your security cameras, it would be wiser to go for PTZ or motorized optical zoom security cameras, especially if you have mounted them on hard-to-reach places like high walls or ceilings.

Digital Zoom

Digital Zoom

Unlike optical zoom, the digital zoom feature in security cameras is an internal image processing function. It helps narrow the apparent angle of view of images and crops the areas outside the margins. Typically, digital zoom is like enlarging images on your PC or tablet. Unfortunately, it enlarges the pixels of the images to a point where it results in blurry images or videos.

Optical zoom cameras offer excellent clarity no matter the security camera zoom level used. However, this doesn't mean that digital zooming isn’t helpful.

Pros & Cons of Optical and Digital Zoom Security Cameras

Optical Zoom Lens

  • Pros: The biggest advantage of optical zoom surveillance cameras is the fact that you won’t experience image or video quality degradation. You can view finer details of any a subject or object from afar and still get a clear quality shot.
  • Cons: Optical zoom reduces the viewing angle when you zoom in to get clearer image details. You also can’t add optical zoom once you’ve recorded surveillance video.

Digital Zoom Lens

  • Pros: The digital zoom feature in security cameras doesn’t affect or reduce the angle of view. You can also zoom in after you’ve recorded surveillance video.
  • Cons: Digital zoom often results in pixelation and blurry images if images or recorded videos are zoomed too closely.

How much security camera zoom you need will also depend on what you want to achieve with your cameras. The ability of a surveillance camera to perceive fine details like faces and license plates at a distance also depends heavily on the  angle of the lens.

Shop a Range of Zoom Security Cameras

Zoom Security Cameras

Get more control over your property’s surveillance with a range of zoom security cameras at CCTV Security Pros. Choose from our motorized or pan tilt zoom cameras and easily control the viewing angle and distance of your surveillance video feed. Learn more about security camera lenses at our  learning center. Order our zoom cameras with compatible network video recorders, and enjoy easy and straightforward installation, backed by our free USA tech & setup support. Our commercial-grade zoom security cameras can be controlled via PC, smartphone or tablet.

Want to learn more about security camera zoom?  Contact us online or call us at 888.653.2288.