Canon's next-generation PTZ cameras

Pan-tilt-zoom cameras, along with hardware and software controllers, add even more diversity to Canon's integrated imaging system.
A Canon CR-N700 PTZ camera fixed to a metal bar.

The CR-N700 brings the number of 4K PTZ cameras in the Canon range to five, all complemented by a suite of system tools.

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 PTZ cameras we have introduced are flexible solutions expanding Canon's video product range, meeting the changing demands of remote production and video streaming," says Canon Europe Product Manager, Matthew Koshy. "They can be used in simple standalone setups or in a large-scale production environment as agnostic cameras that can integrate into all types of existing and new systems."

The PTZ cameras build on Canon's heritage of imaging and optical excellence. They feature advanced sensor, processor, optical and precision control technologies evolved over the decades Canon has been developing professional camcorders, lenses and acclaimed cinema systems."

They also include powerful practical features such as advanced autofocus technology and flexible control protocols and interfaces, enabling camera operators not only to adjust a PTZ camera's orientation and zoom remotely, but also fine-tune picture quality and other camera settings. This means there is an incredibly broad range of potential applications for Canon's PTZ cameras – everything from broadcast, live production and live events to higher education and corporate use.

This solution is invaluable especially in today's world because you don't need as many people to be present to create content. Indeed, a single operator can control multiple Canon PTZ cameras remotely from a single desk, making it possible to record an event or broadcast a multi-viewpoint livestream without having to be physically present.

Canon is further expanding the versatility of the CR-N500, CR-N300 and CR-X300 with the release of Webcam Driver. This free-of-charge¹ software makes it possible to use all three of these PTZ cameras as webcams via LAN, enabling high-quality 4K 30p livestreaming over infinitely long cable runs.

Canon CR-N300 camera tilted down.

PTZ stands for Pan-Tilt-Zoom. These 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, control and streaming

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.

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.

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.

The CR-X300, CR-N700, CR-N500 and CR-N300 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 and Facebook, making it incredibly easy for anyone to livestream to one of these platforms.

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

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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 ability to use LAN with Webcam Driver opens up new opportunities for higher education, places of worship and corporate settings. Unlike a USB cable, a LAN cable can be used to pass the signal over very long runs – up to 100 metres with a single cable, and technically an unlimited distance if multiple cables are joined together with LAN switch boxes.

"For example, you might want to install a PTZ camera in a university lecture theatre," Matthew suggests, "but you may be dealing with a 300-seat auditorium that could be 20-40 metres in length. A LAN connection allows PTZ cameras to be positioned anywhere in the venue. All you have to do is make sure that the cameras are connected via LAN cables to the same network as the computer that's being used for the lecture."

The ports on the rear of a Canon CR-N300.

The CR-N300 offers a comprehensive range of connection options, including HDMI, SDI, USB and LAN (PoE+), making it straightforward either to deploy out of the box or to integrate into an existing professional production workflow.

The ports on the rear of a Canon CR-N500.

The slightly larger CR-N500 has an equally broad choice of connection options including dual XLR audio ports for excellent audio connectivity, plus the same type of 1-inch CMOS sensor used in Canon's professional camcorders.

Why is PTZ meaningful today?

Events, education, worship and even everyday office attendance were hugely impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, and content creators have had to adapt to remote workflows accordingly.

PTZ cameras can be at the forefront of these changes in society. They are ideal for use in higher education, where face-to-face lectures and seminars continue to be supplemented or even replaced with remote teaching.

They can also continue to be the bridge between live events and remote participants, offering people a way to experience them even from their own homes and hugely increasing the potential audience for such events.

Many places of worship, which had to suspend traditional services in favour of an online approach, are finding that this route continues to reach many more people than would attend a live service. A Canon PTZ camera is ideal for capturing a service in a place of worship and livestreaming it to a congregation at home.

For broadcasters too, at a time when crew numbers on-site routinely continue to be limited, Canon PTZ cameras can be a perfect solution. Thanks to the optical and imaging quality of the cameras, broadcasters can still capture incredibly detailed 4K imagery while operating the system remotely, with a choice of pro standard connection and streaming protocols for delivery. With Canon's remarkable focal length and shallow depth of field, the CR-N500, CR-X500 and CR-N700 in particular make it easy to achieve an incredibly polished cinematic look.

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 CR-N700, with its high-end feature set and wide range of industry-recognised protocols, is capable of bringing that signature cinematic look to any type of high-end production – from stadium events and music concerts to reality TV shows. "It's a versatile remote option that broadcasters are able to integrate easily into a multi-cam system," says Matthew.

Canon brings to the PTZ market its renowned quality and 80-plus-year heritage in optical design, not to mention its record of innovative video technologies and groundbreaking products that have lowered the barriers to entry into filmmaking, video production, broadcast and streaming. "We're translating all our knowledge and expertise in imaging into our PTZ products," Matthew says.

A Canon CR-N700 camera, tilted upwards.

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.

"If you've got a wide shot of a band performing on a stage, for example, you can crop into the guitarist and output that image, switching between the two feeds as you need to," suggests Matthew. "It could even prove useful for a cookery programme, giving you the option of cutting from a wide shot of the kitchen to a close up of someone preparing food. This can all be done by a single operator using a single CR-N700."

Night mode is another new 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 or Facebook.

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.

A screenshot of the Remote Camera Control Application.

Canon’s hardware controller is not the only choice. The Remote Camera Control Application, available free of charge, enables you to take control of a Canon PTZ camera or a whole suite of up to 20 cameras remotely via a Windows PC.

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.

All these PTZ cameras are only part of the PTZ system from Canon, which also includes the Canon 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. "It will allow the camera's positional data, including the pan, tilt, zoom and focus to be fed into a virtual platform such as Unreal Engine," explains Matthew. "You don't need any additional tracking devices or systems, so it makes VR and AR production simple and cost-effective."

SRT is a broadcast-standard protocol that enables high-quality streaming in unstable or unpredictable network conditions. "When you're working in professional television, the last thing you want is a buffering stream," says Matthew. "But the SRT protocol enables you to have clean, crisp low-latency streaming with the CR-N300, CR-N500 and CR-N700 even when you're dealing with poor bandwidth."

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 PTZ systems, the CR-N700, CR-N500, CR-N300, CR-X300, CR-X500, Canon RC-IP100 Remote Camera Controller and Remote Camera Control Application provide 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.

Written by Rod Lawton & Marcus Hawkins

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