Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) is a name given to a type of IP camera where the user can control the movement and position of the lens from a remote location using controls on an Internet browser or software application.
Panning refers to horizontal movement of the lens where tilting describes vertical movement. The process of zooming refers to the adjustment of the focal length of the lens to make a subject appear close-up or far away depending on the setting. Although a lot of cameras come with vari-focal lenses with focal length adjustment, a camera described as PTZ will almost certainly have an adjustable optical zoom.
Surveillance cameras with PTZ capability will often also support user defined preset positions which will allow the user to specify a number of positions that they can easily monitor. Preset positions can also be used with alarm triggers, so for example when a camera detects motion it can be directed to move to a specified preset covering an entry/exit point or a valuable object in the room. Some cameras also support guard patrolling and auto panning features which will allow the camera to move automatically between user-defined preset positions providing remote surveillance of a wide area with no user input. In conjunction with motion detection some cameras can even use their pan-tilt functions to follow moving targets.
The benefits of having a pan-tilt-zoom camera in a security application are obvious. Having a camera which can be controlled from a remote location enables a user to cover a much larger area with a single camera. This provides cost savings for any security system as one camera can do the job of many static cameras. Also, with guard patrolling and auto-panning functions the camera can automatically cover a large area when used for security monitoring or recording without any user input, ideal for covering large areas overnight.