IR Remote Controls for PTZ Cameras

Written by on November 12, 2021

PTZ cameras can be controlled by IR remotes, joystick controllers, smartphones, and a variety of software solutions. IR remote controls usually offer a limited set of basic features for controlling the camera and recalling presets. IR remote controls are easy to use for close-range camera control but generally do not work when the camera is mounted far away from the operator. 

The IR remote control included in most PTZ cameras is ideal for the initial setup of your PTZ camera. The first thing most PTZ camera operators do is plug in their camera and use the IR remote control to ensure the device moves to confirm it’s in working order. Those who care to read their camera’s instructions will find that the IR remote control can send a list of useful setup commands. 

IR Remote for PTZ Cameras

The IR remote control above demonstrates the buttons designed for PTZOptics cameras. 

 

  1. Standby Button: Press this button to enter standby mode. Press it again to enter normal mode.

NOTE: Power consumption in standby mode is approximately half of the normal mode. 

  1. Position Buttons: To set preset or call preset. 3. * Button For multiple function
  2. The * Button: Used for multiple functions and shortcuts.
  3. Set Preset Button: Set preset: Store a preset position [PRESET] + Numeric button (0-9): Setting a corresponding numeric key preset position 

NOTE: You can either clear or overwrite a preset if you want to change the preset you currently have. 

  1. Home Button: You can press the [HOME] button to face the camera back to front. Some cameras allow you to set a preset “0” which will set the home button to move to this position.
  2. Return Button: This button is used to move through menus. You can press the return button to get back the previous menu.
  3. Zoom Buttons: Zoom+: Zoom In (Slow and fast speed), Zoom-: Zoom Out (Slow and fast speed).
  4. L/R Set Button: Set the left & right direction of the remote control. [L/R Set] + [1]: Normal direction. [L/R Set] + [2]: Left and right direction will be reversed.
  5. Focus Buttons: Used for focus adjustment. Press [AUTO] to adjust the focus on the center of the object automatically. To adjust the focus manually, press the [MANUAL] button, and adjust it with [Far] (focus on far object) and [Near] (focus on near object).
  6. Camera Address Buttons: Many remote controls can be set up to control multiple PTZ cameras. Press the button corresponding to the camera which you want to operate with the remote controller.
  7. # Button: This button is generally used for shortcut functions. 
  8. Function Buttons: These buttons are used to issue function commands. An example would be to quickly set the IR address of a camera in order to use a single IR remote with multiple cameras. 
  9. Reset Button: Used to clear a preset.
  10. Menu Buttons: Press this button to enter or exit the OSD menu.
  11. Backlight button: Press this button to enable the backlight compensation. Press it again to disable the backlight compensation. 

NOTE: Effective only in auto exposure mode. If there is a light behind the subject, the subject will appear dark. In this case, press the backlight ON / OFF button. To cancel this function, press the backlight ON / OFF button

  1. P/T RST Button: Press the button to self-calibrate pan and tilt once again.

Beyond standard pan, tilt, and zoom camera operations, the IR remote can be used to set up new PTZ cameras for network control. When a PTZ camera is first connected to a network, it is often set up with a static IP address that may not be reachable by your computer. Using a few IR remote control shortcuts, you can easily set up your camera on the network and show the camera’s IP address on the video feed. Check out the following example:

  1. The camera is turned on and the IR remote control is used to check basic PTZ controls. 
  2. You connect the camera to an HDMI monitor to view the video. Shortcut [*] + [#] + [4] is used to display the camera’s current IP address on the video. 
  3. The IP address is set to a manufacturer default and it’s not set up to work on your network. You have a DHCP capable server so you use shortcut [#] + [*] + [4] to enable Dynamic IP addressing on the camera. This reboots the camera and when it’s done the camera should receive an IP address from your router. 
  4. Use the shortcut [*] + [#] + [4] to see the camera’s new IP address.
  5. Now you can connect to the camera with any device on your network. Use your smartphone to control the camera, vMix, or OBS. The camera is ready to use on your network.

Many PTZ cameras are mounted in locations that are far away from the camera operators such as the ceiling in a church, or across in a theater at a school. In these cases, an IR remote control simply won’t work but joystick controllers are ideal for controlling PTZ cameras from remote locations using cabling. IR remote controls generally offer a maximum working distance of 30’ (10 meters) but reliability is reduced by the exposure of direct sunlight. IR sensors that are used to receive the signals from IR remote controls can be overloaded by different types of light that cause the sensors to miss the signals being sent by the remote control. PTZ joystick controllers can be connected to cameras using ethernet cabling and serial control cables which can be used for controlling cameras at much longer distances. IP controllers can control PTZ cameras using a local area network. Traditional serial controllers use analog connections to each camera. Joystick camera controls will be covered in more detail in an upcoming chapter.

Maximum distance for IR remotes

Maximum distances vary depending on lighting conditions. Many video producers use software to control PTZ cameras. Many PTZ cameras can now be controlled with software such as OBS, vMix, Wirecast, TriCaster, MimoLive, and Livestream Studio. Each software solution tends to handle camera controls and presets differently, but the benefits are generally similar. With PTZ camera controls built directly into video production software, the producer of a livestream no longer needs individual camera operators. With a couple of quick mouse clicks, PTZ cameras can be moved to known locations throughout a production space and even automated with triggers for advanced workflows. Software camera controls and automation options will be covered in more detail in an upcoming chapter. 

The IR remote control is a great way to get started with PTZ camera control because it will work right out of the box once you insert the batteries into the remote and plug in your camera. While the IR remote is great for getting started it is far from  an ideal tool for a PTZ camera operator because it lacks many advanced features that joysticks and smartphone apps include such as variable pan, tilt and zoom controls that allow you to slowly ramp up to the desired movement speed. Some casual PTZ camera operators may find that the IR remote control that comes with their camera is enough for their needs. Most PTZ camera remote controls can be used to control more than one camera. Most PTZ camera operators overlook the IR remote control’s short-cut commands but they can be very useful for quickly setting up a camera on a network. In the next chapter, you will be introduced to a variety of more advanced control options that many experienced PTZ camera operators gravitate towards due to their increased level of control and precision.

Key Takeaways:

  • The IR remote control is an important tool for setting up a PTZ camera.
  • The IR remote control can be used to open up an on screen display menu for adjusting the camera’s settings.
  • Most IR remote controls can control more than one PTZ camera using the camera switch buttons.
  • Most IR remote controls feature shortcuts that help to quickly set up PTZ cameras on an IP network.
  • IR remote controls have a distance limitation usually within 20-30 feet from the camera without sunlight interference.

Learn more about PTZ Cameras

  1. See how PTZ cameras are transforming video production here
  2. Learn high level, what a PTZ camera really is here
  3. Learn about every essential part of a PTZ camera here
  4. Learn about who is using PTZ cameras here
  5. Learn about the different types of PTZ cameras here
  6. Learn how to use an IR remote control with your PTZ cameras here
  7. Learn about the various PTZ camera control options here
  8. Learn how to mount a PTZ camera here
  9. Learn how to set the exposure of your PTZ camera here
  10. Learn about PTZ camera operation best practices here
  11. Learn about all the latest PTZ camera features here

Download the PTZ Camera Operator Handbook here


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