Future-proofing workflows with Canon's PTZ cameras

From pan-tilt-zoom cameras to controllers, firmware and apps, Canon is adding even more diversity to its integrated imaging system.
A Canon CR-N700 PTZ camera fixed to a metal bar.

The CR-N700 will be the first of Canon's PTZ cameras to benefit from the new Auto Tracking and Auto Loop apps, with more PTZ cameras to follow.

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 five 4K PTZ cameras to date – the CR-N700, CR-N500, CR-N300CR-X500 and CR-X300 – and is continuing to grow the range with more system tools.

The latest firmware updates and licensed apps enable Auto Tracking with intelligent human subject recognition and Auto Loop facilities, streamlining the production process. The Auto Tracking app and the Auto Loop app will be available for the CR-N700 in early 2023 and both apps are available with a paid-for licence after installing the latest free firmware update.

Exceptional imagery
Auto Tracking
Auto Loop
Control and streaming
Canon CR-N700
Canon CR-N500 and CR-X500
Canon CR-X300
Canon CR-N300 and controllers

A Canon CR-X300 camera tilted down.

PTZ cameras can be operated remotely, making them perfect for filming events, TV productions, conferences, education seminars, religious services, studio productions and much more.

Exceptional imagery

Exceptionally, all the Canon PTZ cameras support 4K UHD resolution as standard, with 4K optics to ensure high imaging quality. With more Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) supporting 4K UHD streaming, as well as 4K becoming standard in broadcast workflows, Canon's solutions deliver the image quality and immersive experience today's viewers expect.

Drawing on Canon's expertise in pro video and cinema cameras, the PTZ cameras incorporate proven focusing systems for flexibility and speed of focusing: Hybrid AF in the CR-X300 and CR-N300, and Canon's industry-renowned Dual Pixel CMOS AF in the CR-N700, CR-N500 and CR-X500. As the flagship model in the Canon PTZ camera range, the CR-N700 is equipped with the most sophisticated autofocus system. It uses EOS iTR AFX deep-learning AI for incredibly accurate face and head detection, as well as Eye AF that tracks a person's eyes automatically.

Like the Canon XF605 professional camcorder, the CR-N700 pairs a 1-inch 4K UHD CMOS sensor with a DIGIC DV7 image processor for improved performance and image quality. This combination delivers high-end, broadcast-ready 4K 60p footage at 10-bit 4:2:2. The CR-N700 also packs a powerful 15x optical zoom and a 30x Advanced Zoom that pulls viewers into the heart of the action.

As a robust outdoor PTZ camera that delivers 4K UHD resolution and IP streaming, the CR-X300 breaks new ground for the PTZ market. Its 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and 20x optical zoom deliver exceptional image quality, and its support for a range of control protocols mean that it's easy to integrate the CR-X300 into an existing remote camera setup.

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

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Two Canon CR-N300 PTZ cameras 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.

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.

Auto Tracking

The new RA-AT001 Auto Tracking app builds on Canon's intelligent face detection technology, automatically recognising and following people to keep them in shot.

"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 presets for full-body and half-length shots at everything up to fast walking pace, and for tight headshots 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.

The app also enables you to prioritise movement tracking within a specific zone or to set a pan and tilt halting area to prevent adjustments if a subject makes small movements.

Putting Auto Tracking into the camera is a much more cost-effective, efficient and high-precision solution, explains Paul. "Previously, you'd have needed a costly third-party option, extra hardware and often a dedicated computer to run it. With a free-of-charge firmware upgrade and the paid-for app, it's a much less expensive standalone system."

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 facilities built into the Auto Loop app are industry-led and based on user feedback. "We've listened to what people really want and have developed the app accordingly," adds Paul. "As with the Auto Track app, there are third-party options, but the Auto Loop app is a less expensive solution and doesn't require additional hardware."

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|HX2 and RTMP/RTMPS.

Control and streaming

The CR-N700, CR-N500, CR-N300 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 for anyone to livestream.

The CR-N700, CR-N500, CR-N300 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 also available for the CR-N500 and CR-N300 via a firmware update.

Compatibility with these protocols is pivotal today, with the popularity of streaming platforms having grown exponentially in the last few years. Users can stream straight from one camera to their desired Content Delivery Network (CDN). This support for a range of protocols also means Canon's PTZ cameras can be used as part of a wider system as well as "out of the box".

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

Accordingly, while Canon's PTZ cameras can be happily used as standalone devices and operated via the dedicated Remote Camera Control Application available for PC, they can also slot into a larger integrated system. The bespoke Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller enables flexible control of multiple cameras via a network, but all the PTZ cameras are also designed to be used alongside Canon's range of professional camcorders, Cinema EOS cameras, projectors and 4K reference monitors to deliver a complete end-to-end solution.

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

Webcam Driver is a free software¹ 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.

Canon's Webcam Driver software release for the CR-N300, CR-N500 and CR-X300 brings additional features to this trio of PTZ cameras. With the 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 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-X500 comes equipped with 12G-SDI capable of outputting 4K UHD at 4:2:2 10-bit, which is a popular connection method in the broadcast industry to ensure a reliable high-quality video signal.

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 PTZ camera on a tripod, with a desk full of other AV equipment in the background.

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The Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller.

Used with Canon's PTZ cameras,3 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.

Snimak Snimak ekrana aplikacije Remote Camera Control.

Hardverski upravljač kompanije Canon nije jedini izbor. Besplatna aplikacija Remote Camera Control vam omogućava da daljinski upravljate Canon PTZ kamerom ili celim sistemom sa do 20 kamera pomoću Windows računara.

The Canon CR-N300 and controllers

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.

Canon's PTZ system also includes the RC-IP100 remote camera controller, a useful piece of hardware with 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 Remote Camera Control Application is also available free of charge for users who would prefer to control their cameras via a Windows PC. This 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, preset movement, tracing and focus control.

Two additional protocols – FreeD and Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) – can be added to the CR-N300 and CR-N500 via a firmware update. FreeD enables the two PTZ cameras to be integrated more easily into virtual studios, while SRT is a broadcast-standard protocol that enables high-quality streaming in unstable or unpredictable network conditions.

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.

1A third-party licence may be required.

2NDI is a trademark or registered trademark of NewTek, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

3CR-X500 connection to controller via Serial.

Autor Rod Lawton, Marcus Hawkins and Matthew Richards

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