Photo by Alex Knight
Originally Posted On: Buying an Auto-Tracking Camera for Church (churchtechnologysuperstore.com)
Auto-tracking cameras will automatically follow any person in its line of view. If your church is looking for something that will record your presentations and do it right, choosing an auto-tracking camera could be the perfect solution. These cameras will automatically follow the speaker when you’re recording, and they’re perfect for streaming, recording, and even sharing classes, conferences, speeches, and so much more. Buying the right auto-tracking camera doesn’t have to be difficult, despite the fact that there are so many of them currently on the market.
Auto Tracking Camera Buyers Guide
It’s easy to get a little confused in the beginning when you’re looking at the various features of auto-tracking cameras. Fortunately, there are only a few major features you need to look at because they are the most important ones. Once you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you need to accommodate your particular needs, researching and shopping for the perfect camera becomes a lot easier. If you’re not going to record on a regular basis, it’s possible you could get by with a few less features, but of course, you’ll still need a high-quality camera that produces crystal-clear images.
Below are a few things to consider before you purchase your very first auto-tracking camera.
The Optical Zoom Feature
Regardless of your needs, this is an important feature because you’ll want a camera with the ability to zoom up close to the speaker without blurriness. Most auto-tracking cameras have a lens that allows up to 30X optical zoom, which is perfect because you won’t always be able to place the camera directly in front of the speaker. You not only get excellent image quality, but you also get the ability to capture a moving speaker and still get the details you want the viewers to see when you replay the video at a later date.
A lot of these PTZ cameras also come with a backup 350° pan and 120° tilt radius, which means if you’re recording or streaming in a classroom that is very large, all of the subjects you want to capture will be captured. Some cameras have an optical zoom that is less than 30X, so it is really up to you what you buy in the end. Auto-tracking cameras usually have the pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) feature, and this is definitely what you want.
The FPS Feature
The frames-per-second, or FPS feature, is the rate at which consecutive frames, or images, pop up on the screen. While a 30FPS camera is good, a 60FPS camera is even better, and if you ever shop for an auto-tracking camera for video gaming purposes, you’ll definitely want a 60FPS camera. The ability of the camera to highlight 60 images per second means more fluidity in the quality of the recording. In a sense, 60FPS makes the video more natural-looking and realistic. This is especially important when the speaker is moving around the room as the presentation is going on.
For classes and courses of all types, a 60FPS is especially important because teachers tend to move around a bit more than speakers who are just up there to give a sermon or a conference-related talk. You can likely get away with 30FPS for a church’s functions, but you might as well aim for a 60FPS camera instead because eventually, you will probably need it.
The Multi-Presenter Detection Feature
When you choose to operate the camera in wide-area tracking or stage-tracking modes, you usually get the option of a feature called multi-presenter detection. In classes where a group discussion is going on, quiz competitions where there are multiple participants, or even in gaming when the game you’re playing is an interactive one, the multi-presenter detection feature is a must. What this feature does is track when there are two or more presenters or speakers, and the better the feature quality, the better job it does at this tracking.
Not all auto-tracking cameras have this feature, but the ones that do offer far more than just the basics when it comes to streaming or recording a class, presentation, or any other group activity with some type of speaker. If you’re recording a concert and wish to highlight every single musician on the stage, this is an even more important feature to have. Again, you usually have to put the camera in a different mode, such as the wide-area tracking mode, but it’s a great feature that accommodates numerous types of presentations.
Speaking of the Stage-Tracking Feature
The stage-tracking mode is priceless because it essentially separates the stage in up to eight different “tracking” zones. You can then concentrate on each zone, which means you can zoom in or out in a different capacity in each zone. Best of all, you can use automatic settings and capture clear images regardless of which zone you’re zooming in on, and you can even do this hands-free. Most auto-tracking cameras offer this capability, and it is extremely beneficial when you have a speaker who roams the stage the entire time they are speaking to the audience.
If you do get a camera with this feature, make sure you read the directions carefully because you’ll want it set up properly so that using it during a presentation won’t be confusing to you.
The Software Used
When you buy an auto-tracking camera, it usually comes with software that you’ll need to operate the camera properly. If you buy additional cameras later on, they may or may not come with software. Because of this, you’ll naturally be better off – not to mention save a lot of money – if you choose cameras that are compatible with various types of software, and vice versa. Some of the most common software packages include Echo360, Zoom, NewTec, Panopto, vMix, and TeleStream. There are others, of course, but this gives you some idea of what’s out there.
A lot of times, when you buy a certain camera, you’ll get free software to go with it. Even if this isn’t the case, software for auto-tracking cameras isn’t necessarily expensive. Still, to save money, most churches look for cameras that can accommodate different types of software.
For more information on auto tracking cameras or issues related to church technology, the people at Church Technology Superstore are ready to serve you.