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Future-proofing workflows with Canon's PTZ cameras

From pan-tilt-zoom cameras to controllers, firmware, and apps – Canon’s full range of PTZ cameras and their capabilities explored.
A Canon RC-IP1000 PTZ against a black background.

The entry-level CR-N100 is the latest addition to Canon's PTZ camera lineup, part of an imaging ecosystem that now includes controllers, software and licensed apps.

Thanks to their pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities and the fact that they can be controlled remotely, PTZ cameras are perfect for a wide range of applications. In an era when video production is rapidly changing, Canon has released six 4K PTZ cameras to date – the?CR-N700,?CR-N500,?CR-N300,?CR-N100,?CR-X500?and?CR-X300?– and is continuing to grow the range with more system tools, including the?RC-IP1000?PTZ controller, the SKAARHOJ RC-SK5 controller and the Multi camera management application software.

Firmware updates and licensed apps enable Auto Tracking with intelligent human subject recognition and Auto Loop facilities, streamlining the production process. Both the CR-N700 and CR-N500 support the Auto Tracking and Auto Loop apps. The CR-N300 and CR-N100 support the Auto Tracking app, while the CR-X300 outdoor PTZ camera is compatible with the Auto Loop app. These apps are available via a paid licence after installing a free firmware update.

? Auto Tracking
? Auto Loop
? Streaming
? Controllers
? Canon CR-N700
? Canon CR-N500 and CR-X500
? Canon CR-X300
? Canon CR-N300
? Canon CR-N100

Two Canon PTZ cameras mounted on tripods directed at a person in red shirt. A few people in chairs watch the person perform.

With its combination of 4K UHD 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, DIGIC DV6 image processor and 20x optical zoom lens, the CR-N100 can produce extremely high image quality, whether you're outputting in 4K or 1080p.

Auto Tracking

The RA-AT001 Auto Tracking app builds on Canon's intelligent face detection technology, automatically recognising and following people to keep them in shot. Auto Tracking is available as a paid upgrade across all indoor Canon PTZ cameras, including the CR-N100.

A Canon CR-N100 PTZ camera set up in a lecture theatre filled with students.

The growth in the remote production sector is being driven by the likes of online presentations and higher education, and the industry now demands the ability to track and loop automatically.

A Canon CR-N700 PTZ camera filming two people sat in facing armchairs.

As well as corporate and educational scenarios, the Auto Track and Auto Loop automation apps will be useful in places of worship and for filming interview footage for TV.

“It’s a big benefit when you'’re shooting scenes with a lot of movement,” says Canon Europe Product Specialist Paul Atkinson. “The ability to reliably track people automatically as they move around gives video creators real confidence, as well as requiring fewer people to do the job.”
The app enables you to track an entire vista or to be more selective, with framing pre-sets for full-body and half-length shots at everything up to fast walking pace, and for tight head shots at a slow walk.

You can also set up the camera to ignore any movement outside of a specific area.

"If you're shooting in a theatre, for example, you don't want the camera to track somebody going out to use the bathroom," explains Paul.

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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A Canon CR-N700 PTZ camera filming a vocalist, guitarists and a drummer in a band.

"The different cycling options in the Auto Loop app work well for audience reaction shots, or for cycling between a vocalist, guitarist and drummer when filming a band," says Paul.

Auto Loop

The RA-AL001 Auto Loop app enables you to pre-programme a pan, tilt and zoom sequence or even an entire range of camera movements, which can be put on a loop and repeated at the touch of a button. The settings are displayed on the same screen as the camera feed, so there's no need for pop-up menus.

The ability to pre-record PTZ routes with smooth adjustment of start-stop acceleration and deceleration simulates manual control to keep everything looking natural. There are two different loop options: continuous operation, which follows a basic A-B-C-A-B-C progression, and reciprocating cycle operation, which follows an A-B-C-B-A-B-C progression. The app gives you full creative control over camera movements, freeing up operators during shoots.

"The fade mode slowly accelerates to start the movement and then slowly decelerates towards the end, giving you a much smoother and more natural transition," explains Paul. "It's much more visually pleasing and works in any direction. As with the Auto Track app, it means you need fewer people to operate cameras."

The app is ideal for broadcasting and live action productions, as well as for live performances, corporate presentations, educational institutions, houses of worship and the growing trend for online delivery.

While automation is a big attraction, you can also select manual control to capture spontaneous moments.

A Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera.

The Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera has a 1-inch CMOS sensor capturing 4K UHD video via a 15x zoom lens, and the industry-renowned Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system. Its pan/tilt mechanism is capable of amazingly precise incremental adjustments.

A Canon CR-N300 camera.

The Canon CR-N300 shares the same precise control system as the CR-N500, in a smaller device equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor – and still with 4K UHD capture. Both models support a comprehensive range of streaming and control protocols such as NDI|HX21 and RTMP/RTMPS.

Streaming

The?CR-N700,?CR-N500,?CR-N300,?CR-N100?and?CR-X300?support RTMP/RTMPS (Real-Time Messaging Protocol and Real-Time Messaging Protocol Secure). This protocol enables content to be shared directly to platforms such as YouTube, making it incredibly easy to livestream.

The CR-N700, CR-N500, CR-N300, CR-N100 and CR-X300 also support NDI|HX2 RTP/RTSP and the Canon XC Protocol. NDI|HX2 is the industry standard for broadcast applications, as it enables the camera not only to deliver the content but also to be controlled via this same protocol.

Support for FreeD and SRT comes as standard with the CR-N700, and it's available for the CR-N500 and CR-N300 via a firmware update. The CR-N100 is also supplied with built-in support for SRT.

"We're well aware that most setups consist of more than just a camera nowadays," says Matthew. "Canon is dedicated to delivering imaging products to not only fit within established workflows, but also create new imaging ecosystems."

A system diagram showing how the Canon CR-N300 can be configured to livestream a remote meeting.

Webcam Driver is a free software2 download for Windows. Once installed, it will automatically detect a CR-N300, CR-N500 or CR-X300 PTZ camera that's on the same network as your computer and allow it to be used as a high-quality 4K webcam for video conferencing and streaming.

With Canon's Webcam Driver software installed on a Windows PC, it's possible to put the CR-N500, CR-N300 or CR-X300 to work as a remote camera for video conferencing or livestreaming. The driver enables the Canon PTZ cameras to be automatically detected on a network, with up to five cameras able to be registered with different names, video formats and output resolutions.
"It makes for a seamless setup and allows your meetings and streams to get up and running quickly," says Matthew.

"Using a combination of a LAN cable and Webcam Driver, it's possible to output in up to 4K 30p, so you can achieve exceptionally high-end image quality, subject to the video conferencing application that's being used."

The addition of LAN switch boxes also enables operation over unlimited distances for large-scale events.

A top-down view of the Canon RC-IP1000 PTZ controller.

The CR-N700's advanced capabilities are further enhanced by the RC-IP1000 hardware controller. The combination of premium performance and precision control provides a complete solution for high-end broadcast and live events.

The back of the Canon RC-IP1000 PTZ controller.

Connect your cameras to the RC-IP1000 controller via IP to monitor all your feeds directly on the 7-inch touchscreen. SDI and HDMI output options also allow the feed to be displayed on an external monitor.

Controllers

The free Remote Camera Control Application software enables users to control their cameras via a Windows PC or a Mac. It displays a live feed from up to 20 separate cameras, with the ability to switch between them and control each one as required, including pan-tilt-zoom, pre-set movement, tracing and focus control.

Canon's PTZ system also includes the?Canon RC-IP100, ?RC-IP1000?and the SKAARHOJ RC-SK5 remote camera controllers. The RC-IP100 has an omnidirectional joystick for precise camera control, a zoom lever and the ability to control multiple cameras over a network should you need to. The SKAARHOJ RC-SK5 is fully compatible with Canon XC Protocol, with physical buttons/dials to control Focus, Iris, WB, Gain, PT Speed, Zoom Speed, Pre-sets and more. It therefore allows for an endless choice of cameras to use with this controller.

The flagship RC-IP1000 PTZ controller pairs perfectly with the CR-N700 and CR-N500. It provides the enhanced camera control and connectivity that broadcasters and operators working in high-end live events need. Alongside an ergonomic multi-function joystick and professional zoom rocker, it has 56 physical buttons and dials that allow rapid, fine adjustments of up to 200 cameras via IP. An abundance of I/O options include five RS-422 Serial ports, SDI input/output, HDMI output and PoE+.

"The RC-IP1000 is the world's first PTZ controller to offer IP video and input monitoring," Matthew adds. "Normally you would have to connect an external monitor to see the feed, but you can connect the cameras – whether they're PTZ, Canon Cinema EOS or the Canon XF605 professional camcorder – via IP and monitor all the feeds on the RC-IP1000's 7-inch touchscreen."

For more information, and to find out which option is right for you, read our?PTZ controller comparison.

Two Canon PTZ cameras positioned for live broadcast in a sports studio.

Best Canon PTZ controllers: RC-IP1000 vs RC-IP100 vs SKAARHOJ RC-SK5

Which Canon PTZ controller is the best option for your production requirements and budget? Here, we compare the key features of the RC-IP1000, the RC-IP100 and the SKAARHOJ RC-SK5 to help you make the right choice.
The Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller.

Used with Canon's PTZ cameras3, the Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller offers a great range of control. Its joystick enables camera movement to be adjusted, while the zoom lever controls its field of view remotely.

The Canon SKAARHOJ RC-SK5 remote camera controller.

The RC-SK5, designed by SKAARHOJ, is an industry favourite. Its customisable buttons and ergonomic joystick give it that extra edge over its counterparts.

Canon's PTZ software solutions are also evolving. The Multi camera management application enables multiple cameras and controllers to be seamlessly set up and monitored from a single source. This free PC-based app supports the management of up to 200 cameras, enabling settings and configurations to be applied to multiple cameras simultaneously, as well as thumbnail images of the output of connected devices to be monitored.

"The Multi camera management application streamlines the management of up to 20 groups of 10 PTZ cameras, as well as non-PTZ cameras via XC Protocol," says Matthew.

"If you work at a university and deploy PTZ cameras across different campuses separated by several miles, then managing all those devices centrally would normally be a nightmare. But this web browser software enables you to monitor and manage the status of each camera through a single interface. You're able to troubleshoot problems remotely without having to be on-site, physically near the camera."

A Canon CR-N700 camera recording a band from an elevated position.

The Canon CR-N700 is the first indoor PTZ camera from Canon to support 12G-SDI, and it can output 4K 60p (4:2:2 10-bit) from both its 12G-SDI and HDMI ports. It can even stream 4K 60p via IP.

The Canon CR-N700

As Canon's flagship indoor PTZ camera, the CR-N700 has a specification that meets the needs of high-end broadcast and live events. "It addresses many of the pain points that the industry has when it comes to a PTZ camera," Matthew explains.

"Being able to record in 4K 60p gives users greater flexibility in post-production," says Matthew, "but being able to do this through a 12G-SDI connection is perhaps the biggest advantage of the CR-N700. For broadcasters whose workflow is based around 12G-SDI, our flagship PTZ camera is going to instantly slot into their existing setup."

The CR-N700 is a pioneering PTZ camera when it comes to autofocus too. It's the first PTZ camera to use EOS iTR AFX deep-learning autofocus technology, which is able to stay locked on a subject's head even when they turn away from the camera.

EOS iTR AFX is featured in a number of Canon's professional video cameras, including the EOS C70 and XF605, and Matthew says that everything users have come to expect of its performance in these cameras is delivered by the CR-N700. "It can detect people's eyes, faces and heads. So, if someone in the shot is wearing a face mask, the CR-N700 will automatically look for their eyes and track that without you having to fiddle with the manual focus. The CR-N700 also offers Touch AF via Canon's Remote Camera Control Application, so you can get really hands-on if you want to."

In addition to a 15x optical zoom that delivers full 4K UHD image quality, the CR-N700 goes a step further with its 30x Advanced Zoom in Full HD. A new crop function gives even more flexibility, as it enables you to pull two different feeds simultaneously from a single PTZ camera. Matthew explains: "Using the Remote Camera Control Application, you can draw a box around a specific region of interest and that area will be outputted as a separate feed.

Night mode is another PTZ feature introduced in the CR-N700. It utilises the built-in motorised IR Cut Filter, which slides across the lens and produces a black and white infrared 4K image. It's perfect for reality TV, says Matthew, "where you might not want to disturb the subject with lights, but still want viewers to see everything that's going on."

A Canon CR-N500 camera.

PTZ cameras have a wide range of applications, from broadcast through to individual content creators, with their remote operation offering filmmaking flexibility.

The Canon CR-N500 and CR-X500

The Canon CR-N500 and CR-X500 are aimed at more advanced professional users who demand the best imaging quality. They are ideal for live production and broadcast as well as other applications such as live events, from weddings to concerts.

Both cameras have a 1-inch sensor, the size used in many of Canon’s professional camcorders, which captures 4K UHD video via a 15x zoom lens. Both also feature Canon’s highly effective Dual Pixel CMOS AF system to ensure your subject is always in focus, and the CR-N500 will output FHD 60p (4:2:2 10-bit) video via SDI, 4K UHD 30p (4:2:2 10-bit) video via HDMI, or 4K UHD 30p (4:2:0 8-bit) video via IP, as well as XLR audio.

The CR-X500 is designed specifically for outdoor use by broadcast professionals who require high quality imaging in external environments. Rated IP55 dustproof and waterproof, it's designed to perform in harsh environments. It is also salt resistant and vibration resistant, making it ideal for live sports, live events and broadcast applications such as reality TV as well as security and monitoring.

The CR-N500 is ideal for livestreaming and production use indoors, with support for RTMPS, the protocol used by YouTube, and RTP, RTSP and NDI|HX2 streaming protocols. As the demand for livestreaming continues to increase, this is an important and useful feature, making the CR-N500 an incredibly versatile camera.

The CR-N500 and CR-X500 also bring another key feature to the PTZ market – high precision pan, tilt and zoom movements. The CR-N500 can pan at speeds as gradual as 0.1 degree per second or as fast as 100 degrees per second, satisfying almost any production requirement. They also have built-in image stabilisation, effectively countering vibration caused by environmental factors, from a strong wind to a shaky location.

A close-up of the Canon CR-X300's built-in wiper.

The CR-X300 is equipped with a 4K UHD 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and 20x optical zoom, housed in a tough body that's rated IP65 for dust and water resistance. It also offers a host of IP functions for streaming and camera control not seen in many previous outdoor PTZ cameras.

A Canon CR-X300 camera tilted down.

The CR-X300's blend of professional Canon imaging technology, IP connectivity and robust design make it a versatile PTZ camera with a huge range of possible uses and applications, including sports facilities, theme parks and reality TV.

The Canon CR-X300

The CR-X300 is a Canon 4K PTZ camera that offers a groundbreaking blend of features, combining the IP capabilities of the CR-N500 and CR-N300 indoor PTZ cameras with the rugged outdoor capabilities of the CR-X500. "This means that you can stream your production online in fantastic quality, regardless of the conditions," says Canon Europe Product Marketing Specialist, Jack Adair.

"This unique combination makes the CR-X300 the perfect fit for a variety of applications across the broadcast and AV industries, including sports venues, news coverage, reality TV and live outdoor events, to name just a few."

The CR-X300's 1/2.3-inch 4K CMOS sensor, 20x optical zoom lens and Hybrid AF system ensure crisp 4K imagery and pin-sharp focus, even in low-light situations. It's able to output 4K UHD (4:2:2 10-bit) video over SDI and HDMI, or 4K UHD 30p (4:2:0 8-bit) via IP. The CR-X300 is also able to make use of its 4K sensor to deliver Full HD video with enhanced clarity, thanks to oversampled HD processing.

With its compact, lightweight and robust build, the CR-X300 is an ideal camera for outdoor installation in tough environments. It's rated IP65 dust and water-resistant and features a built-in wiper and ND filters to ensure a high-quality image regardless of the conditions.

Support for a wide range of streaming and control protocols means that the CR-X300 can slot straight into a variety of workflows. As well as being able to be integrated into multi-camera setups, the CR-X300 can also be used as a professional standalone camera. Using the RTMP protocol, footage can be streamed directly to a content delivery network of your choice, such as YouTube.

A Canon CR-N300 camera tilted down.

Equipped with 4K UHD resolution, a 20x optical zoom, Hybrid AF and numerous IP streaming and control protocols, the CR-N300 enables you to engage your audience in new ways.

The Canon CR-N300

The CR-N300, designed for a broader range of users, is perfectly suited for use in higher education, corporate events, weddings and places of worship, and for independent content creators of all kinds. This more compact camera has a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor but a slightly longer 20x optical zoom and is also capable of sharp 4K image quality. It also supports the same protocols as the larger CR-N500, as well as featuring the same precise adjustments and video formats, with the addition of Full HD via USB for easy connection to a laptop.

A hand reaches out to plug a cable into the back of a CR-N100.

The CR-N100 features an array of connection options, including a LAN PoE+ port that offers a one-cable solution for power, control and streaming. A UVC compliant USB port, RS-422 Serial port, HDMI output and 3.5mm jack complete the lineup.

A CR-N100, mounted on a tripod, points at a man stretching while standing on a yoga mat.

"The CR-N100's Hybrid AF features Face Detection AF which can detect up to nine faces in the frame, and Face Tracking," says Matthew. "Perhaps the biggest benefit of Hybrid AF is how quickly it can find the focus in low light, which will be important to users in darkened lecture halls and churches."

The Canon CR-N100

With its 20x optical zoom, Hybrid AF and comprehensive connectivity options, the CR-N100 is a particularly practical option for video specialists working in corporate environments, houses of worship or higher education.

"If the camera is positioned at the back of a large seminar room, a lecture hall or a church, then you'll need more zoom to capture the subject, which is where the CR-N100 delivers," says Matthew. "Our advanced Hybrid AF technology, which is also found on a number of our professional camcorders, uses Face Detection AF and Face Tracking to ensure quick and accurate focusing – even when the venue's lights are dimmed for a presentation or lecture."

Even though it's an entry-level PTZ camera, the CR-N100 is equipped with premium features such as high-quality 4K UHD 30p recording, NDI|HX support and compatibility with Auto Tracking. It's furnished with a wide array of connectivity options too, including an RS-422 Serial port, HDMI output and a UVC-compliant USB port that allows the CR-N100 to be connected to a computer and used as a standalone USB camera. A LAN port that supports PoE+ helps to simplify installation, offering a single-cable solution for power, control and streaming.

"It's a PTZ camera that satisfies a host of different applications, from video conferencing and keynote speeches to recording and livestreaming lectures," Matthew points out. "And it's designed to be easy to get up and running, be that through Canon's apps or via HDMI, USB or IP."

The CR-N100 even comes with four Scene modes – Portrait, Sports, Low Light and Spotlight – that make it easier for inexperienced operators to enhance the look of their video without having to adjust all the image quality settings individually.

The rapid increase in demand for streaming and remote viewing looks set to make PTZ cameras much more important, not just as remote-controlled capture devices but as part of a larger imaging ecosystem. Bringing Canon's strong background in optics and video capture into the design of its PTZ systems provides powerful solutions for almost every need, with superb quality imaging, exceptionally fine adjustment and built-in support for key streaming protocols.

Rod Lawton, Marcus Hawkins and Matthew Richards
  1. NDI is a trademark or registered trademark of NewTek, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
  2. A third-party licence may be required.
  3. CR-X500 connection to controller via Serial.

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