BirdDog Eyes PTZ Camera Review and Comparisons
Pastor, Church Planter, Tech Lover, Blogger, And Owner Of Church Technology Superstore
If you’re looking for full NDI-compatible PTZ (pan, tilt, and zoom) cameras for your production company, you have a lot of options available. BirdDog has you covered, though, with high-tech options that you don’t have to break the bank to purchase, which is perfect for production companies just starting out or individuals who want to produce videos for personal use but don’t want to pay a lot of money for the necessary equipment.
If you’re looking for top-quality PTZ cameras that offer the flexibility and affordability you need and deserve, the following cameras will be of interest to you.
HD Cameras By BirdDog
P100 PTZ Camera
If you’re new to the world of NDI, this is a great camera for you. It is built on BirdDog’s custom NDI silicon chip and has a Sony CMOS sensor. It gives you a great introduction to the world of full NDI and its features include rates up to 1080p60, 10x optical zoom, and HDMI, SDI, USB 2.0, and full NDI outputs.
But don’t let this make you think that it isn’t a high-quality camera because the P100 is a very professional camera that provides you with expert performance and flexibility every time. It even has 3.5mm audio connectors that allow it to work with BirdDog Comms, which is the world’s first NDI audio intercom platform. Pretty neat, right?
In addition to being a full NDI camera (no NDI/HX here), it is a smart purchase to make. In fact, you can consider the purchase of the P100 an investment in your career. This is because you can use it now as a super high-quality camera for applications such as Chime, Messenger, Zoom, Teams, and even Skype. Then use it later on (in a post-Covid 19 world) as a production camera to take advantage of all of its broadcast video connections, which include not just NDI but also SDI and HDMI.
You can also combine your P100 camera with the PTZ keyboard from BirdDog, which provides you with total control over all of your functions remotely. The keyboard is a full-featured controller that easily controls up to 255 PTZ cameras on just one network and it can scale to even super-complex installations. You can use the PTZ keyboard to control the P100 camera over NDI or in SDI mode by using RS422/RS232, giving you lots of options when it comes to controlling your camera.
Since this is a full NDI camera, BirdDog recommends allowing about 140Mbps in HD or six streams per 1GbE cable, which leaves some headroom. It recommends allowing around 300Mbps or three streams with some headroom for anything that is 4K. There is even a tool on their website that allows you to select the bit rate that suits your bandwidth and requirements in order to find the best option to meet your needs.
One of the coolest things about the BirdDog company is that if you are a house of worship, non-profit organization, or educational facility, they will give you some of their tools for free, including Comms Pro and Central Pro, which gives you an even bigger incentive to get in touch with them. The camera sells for roughly $1500.
P200 PTZ Camera
A step up from the P100 PTZ camera, this one is designed for more serious production needs but it still has the custom NDI silicon chip and the Sony CMOS backlit sensor as well as a true Sony image module. It offers lightning auto-focus, some of the sharpest images you’ve ever seen, and a fast zoom that will likely surprise you with its speed. With frame rates up to 1080p60, you also get 30x optical zoom and live triple outputs in SDI, HDMI, and full NDI.
Because NDI has tally details built right into the metadata, the tally light on the front of the unit will illuminate once the P200 is connected to an NDI-enabled switcher. This means that on-air talent will easily be able to tell which camera is live and there is no configuration required. Indeed, it just works!
In addition, the partnership between BirdDog and Bolin has resulted in the best range of NDI PTZ gear to date. Bolin uses the highest quality Sony sensors and even builds weatherproof cameras that you can use outdoors with confidence. The reason why this is such a winning combination is that BirdDog always brings the highest-quality products at reasonable prices to the market and Bolin specializes in unparalleled PTZ engineering that helps complete the partnership. It’s sort of like Romeo and Juliet but without the sad ending.
Also, the output that you choose affects how your workflow situation will evolve. The P200 offers NDI, SDI, and HDMI simultaneous outputs; therefore, you are covered regardless of what you decide. Indeed, even if you’re still old-school and utilize an SDI workflow, you can still control the camera via RS422, RS485, and RS232. In other words, BirdDog accommodates you regardless of how well you have kept up with technology through the years!
With their 30x optical zoom, the world is your oyster, so to speak. You won’t have to worry about missing a great shot and you can even zoom in to the opposite end of the football field and get a crisp, clear view of the action. This one zoom feature makes the P200 perfect for all sporting events but especially football, hockey, skiing, baseball, soccer, basketball, and many others. The P200 can also be powered either from the power adapter that comes with the camera or via PoE, or power over Ethernet.
And if all this weren’t enough, you can choose to pair the P200 camera with BirdDog’s PTZ keyboard, which allows you to control the camera from almost anywhere. After you purchase your camera, you can even download the BirdDog RESTful API for free in order to program your own automation for all BirdDog hardware endpoints, which of course includes the cameras.
And just as with the P100, houses of worship and both non-profit and educational organizations can get the Comms Pro and Central pro software for free, which is a great perk to have. The camera sells for roughly $2500, making it both high in quality and reasonable in price.
A200 PTZ Camera
The A200 camera has a 2.8-inch CMOS 2.13MP image sensor and a 4.3-129mm lens. The digital zoom offers a 12x capability while the optical zoom is 30x. When it comes to the focus, your options include manual, automatic, and push. The exposure options include automatic, manual, and shutter/iris priority. It sounds technical but what it means in a nutshell is that this is a high-quality, high-tech camera that can meet your needs, all at a price of around $4500.
It is also a camera that you can use both indoors and outdoors, thanks to its corrosion-resistant treated housing unit. In fact, it can be operated in temperatures that range from -40° to 140° Fahrenheit, which is an incredible range regardless of how you look at it. In addition, its video formats include:
- 1080p 60, 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25
- 1080i 60, 59.94, 50
- 720p 60, 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25
If you need a high-quality camera for outdoor sporting events, the A200, with its IP67 rating, can withstand almost any type of weather you’re going to experience once you get out there. Once again, the NDI silicon chip, Sony CMOS backlit sensor, and true Sony image module result in the best autofocus and the fastest zoom capabilities, not to mention some of the best images you’ll ever see in a camera. You can even utilize SDI and full NDI at the same time and still get great results.
Just as with many of the other cameras that BirdDog offers, this one will work great in temperatures from -40° to 140° Fahrenheit. With this model, you even get a rain wiper that keeps the rain off of the lenses as you work. So you can imagine what all of this means in practical terms -- a camera that can accommodate nearly anything that you might run into when you’re in the great outdoors, including withstanding the elements and not being bothered by extreme highs and lows in temperature.
These are all important features because no one can predict the weather and if you’ve purchased this camera to film kids’ sporting events or even professional games, you want to be able to do it right. The camera also offers 360-degree continuous rotation along with 255 preset positions that will save you tons of time, a preset movement speed of 150 degrees per second so that you never miss a shot, and Zero Deviation Positioning technology. What all of these things mean is clear: with the A200, it is easy to take professional-looking videos even if you’re not a professional, thanks to these and many other features.
The BirdDog A200 comes at a price of roughly $4500 and everyone who purchases it agrees that it is well worth the price.
A300 PTZ Camera
This is a full NDI PTZ camera that is perfect for outdoor jobs, thanks to the IP67 rating and the Wind Load Durability rating that is equal to that of a category 4 hurricane. In other words, the A300 can withstand just about any weather condition that you might run into, including heavy rains, winds, or even very cold or very hot temperatures. As with other BirdDog cameras, this one comes with a custom NDI silicon chip, a Sony CMOS backlit sensor, and a true Sony image module to provide the best when it comes to images, fast zoom, and focus.
The A300 also offers frame rates up to 1080p60 and 30x optical zoom as well as the ability to use SDI and full NDI outputs simultaneously. If you’re curious about the differences between the NDI and NDI/HX, let’s start by saying these are actually two types of the same function. Here are the differences between the two:
- NDI: variable bit rate, I-frame codec that reaches around 140Mbits at 1080p60 and is visually lossless
- NDI/HX: compressed, long-GOP, H.264 variant that reaches roughly 12Mbits at 1080p60 and only encodes and decodes full YUV422 NDI
Other important features of the A300 include:
- Nitrogen-filled housing that allows for the ability to never miss a perfect shot even when there is lots of fog outside
- A design made for all weather conditions, including a wind durability rating of 60m/s; as long as you secure the camera properly, you won’t have to worry about your recordings going awry
- A built-in infrared laser that provides you with a range of roughly 435 yards, making it easier to film when there are low-light conditions outside
Thanks to two 30x punch optical zoom lenses and its all-weather capabilities, the A300 is perfect for both indoor and outdoor sporting events. It can also be powered by PoE (power of Ethernet) and an optional PoE injector. In addition, it is specifically designed to be hung upside-down for even better functionality and wall mount, ceiling mount, pole mounting, and corner mount options are all available to you.
Let’s face it; regardless of what you’re recording, you’re going to want professional quality even if you’re just a parent sitting in the stands at a high school football game. The A300 PTZ camera gives you this capability without making you go over your budget for the purchase. You deserve the very best quality, in other words, which is why this camera has the capability to provide you with excellent picture quality, second-to-none responsiveness, and top-notch performance regardless of what you’re filming.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice speed or quality just because you’re on a budget and with the A300 PTZ camera by BirdDog, you won’t have to. The camera comes at a price of around $6500, but it is worth every cent you spend on it once you use it the first time because filming will be easier on you than you ever thought possible.
P400 PTZ Camera
If you’re looking for stunning 4K NDI capability and videos with amazing over-the-top color, the P400 PTZ camera is definitely one you should consider. It allows chroma subsampling of either 4:2:0 or 4:2:2, which is nothing short of amazing, and as with many other BirdDog cameras, it combines a custom NDI silicon chip, a 4K Sony CMOS backlit sensor, and a true Sony image module.
The chroma subsampling of 4:2:2 can be decoded natively in hardware offered by the BirdDog 4K family of NDI encoders and decoders. If you decode with a 4:2:0 receiver, the stream automatically serves 4:2:0; therefore, that is what will be decoded. As you can see, when it comes to features such as this one, numbers matter and you’ll love the numbers that you see with the P400 camera by BirdDog.
In addition, some of its professional-level color tools include the entire Color Matrix control, black levels, and even the gamma that can shade your P400 cameras in a professional way. This includes a total of 512 pre-set gamma positions and all you have to do is right-click in order to view the camera full-screen on a secondary monitor if you wish to dial in the look you want. Then, just copy the settings to color-match the cameras, which takes just seconds. You read that right: color-match all of your cameras in seconds!
In addition, if you are filming in low-light conditions, the P400 will automatically switch from day to night mode, which results in the IR-cut filter being removed so that sensitivity is boosted so that you get clear pictures even in near-darkness.
With this camera, you get NDI, HDMI, and 6G-SDI outputs at the same time, meaning that the camera is ready to go live with your full NDI workflow today or whenever you’re ready if you are still using an old-school SDI workflow. You can also use Genlock input to synchronize multiple cameras. This means that from now on, all of your cameras can be hitting your NDI-enabled vision mixer at the same time, allowing you to eliminate the need to add frame buffers and saving you tons of time in the process.
If you want another reason to buy this camera, here it is: super-fine robotics capability. The robotics that come with the P400 are both super-sensitive and super-precise, which allows for expert precision when winding down the panning and tilting speeds if you should want to create dramatic shots that look professional or turning up the speeds when you are filming high-action sports in order to follow each and every movement made on the field or court.
Much as with other BirdDog cameras, the P400 is perfect for sports due to its 20x optical zoom, which offers a bright F2.0 aperture and a zoom that is both fast and smooth. With these features, you can transition from wide to tele and even recall preset positions with the precision that you want and deserve, and you can do this quickly without blinking an eye.
Of course, with any 4K camera that you purchase, the main thing you want in return is very high quality and the ability to accommodate numerous weather conditions and zoom ranges. This is what the P400 camera offers you every time. And at a price of about $4000, you can afford to get this quality without breaking the bank.
P4K PTZ Camera
When Sony’s one-inch sensor meets NDI, you get the BirdDog P4K PTZ Camera. In addition to the Sony Exmor R CMOS backlit sensor and 14.4 million effective pixels, you also get the ability to deliver absolutely stunning pictures in 4K resolutions with full-bandwidth NDI. This camera gives you great light sensitivity and is therefore perfect for all broadcast applications, remote studios, newsrooms, sporting events, houses of worship, and any other event that requires excellent quality.
The Sony one-inch sensor makes a big difference in this camera and this is indeed a massive size for this type of camera. You get great pictures in all frame rates and shoot modes in both HD and 4K, which means that you can count on getting the best results in the end regardless of what you’re shooting.
The camera also comes with full NDI capability, which means no having to deal with the compressed, long-GOP, H.264 variant included in the NDI/HX. The P4K is indeed a full-NDI camera that provides you with all of the great results associated with this very important feature.
You can fine-tune all of your shots easily with the flexibility of a PTZ camera, in part because of the P4K’s user-selectable gamma settings and black gamma adjustment. So if you’re looking for a camera with advanced color controls that let you call the shots when it comes to the color quality in your videos, this is it.
In fact, regardless of how demanding your live production shoot is, the P4K camera can accommodate you. It supports all of the traditional frame rates that you’ve come to depend on, including 29.97, only you can now use your PTZ camera for drama, TVCs, and more. You can even shoot 24p for the cinematic look that so many productions benefit from. With this high-tech camera, you are more in control than you think and you’ll enjoy great results every time.
You also get 360-degree tally lights front, side, and rear, which combine to create the perfect tally lights. This means that everyone on the production set is able to see which camera is live at all times. You can even take advantage of super-precise, super-sensitive robotics that allow you to wind down the panning and tilting speeds in order to get great dramatic shots or crank up your speeds so that any movements involved in a high-action sporting event will be crystal clear.
With the BirdDog P4K camera, you get full NDI, HDMI 2.0, and two independent 6G SDI outputs. They are all live at all times, which results in workflows that are incredibly flexible. And if all this wasn’t enough, you also get Genlock input that helps you synchronize multiple cameras, which means that you can eliminate the need to add frame buffers to have all of your cameras hit your vision mixer at the same time.
This is also a camera used more by professionals than laypeople and its price of around $8000 reflects that, even though the price is worth it when you consider everything that you get with it.