Review HuddleCamHD Pro and Pro IP NDI Webcam

hey everybody it’s lon seiben we’re taking a look today at some heavy-duty webcams from a company called ptz optics these are the huddlecam hds and we have two different versions and i’ll show you what the differences are between these in a minute but in a nutshell these are 4k cameras but they offer some virtual pan tilt and zoom capability with their included remote control because when you output these at 1080p you can crop and zoom the image and vary what you’re presenting to people on a call with you they’re compatible with most video conferencing applications and with many video production systems as well depending on which one you choose and we’re going to get into how these cameras work and what the differences are between these two in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that ptz optics sent these to the

channel to review free of charge however all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what these cameras are all about now there are two flavors of this camera you’ve got the usb version here and the network version the usb1 functions just like any other usb webcam you take its included cable here and plug it into a usb port and it will work with just about anything that supports a webcam no driver pretty simple to get up and running there is also an hdmi output here and this will mirror what is going out over the usb so that could be helpful if you want to have a monitor just to see what you look like if your software doesn’t give you a good image of yourself you could also have this run out to video capture hardware or a production system it’s just nice to have that mirrored output because that’s not something you typically see on a webcam which is nice to have here it is completely powered by the usb bus so no secondary power is required and again pretty simple and easy to get up and running the other camera here is the network version this does not have a usb output it does have a usb port here but this is not used for anything at the moment so everything this camera does is over the ndi hx protocol and this is supported by most major video production systems now including the one i use called vmix it works with obs it works with the tricaster there’s a lot of stuff that now works with

this there are some free software tools that you can use to integrate it into other things as well a really good protocol i use it all the time here to make my videos and it’s kind of cool to have a webcam format here for outputting that stuff you can power it over poe with the network connector here if you’ve got a poe injector or a network switch that supports poe or you can plug it directly into power now from a size perspective these are certainly much bigger than your typical webcam so here’s a little 12 inch windows laptop that i’ve got out here and you can see just how large the camera here is on the top of it so i would say this is probably best suited for a larger desktop display for resting upon it does have a nice clamp here for getting things situated and secure you’ve got some good range of motion here they can stand up on a desk like you can see here you also have a tripod mount on them as well so you could presumably attach them to a wall or something and have them sit on a wall on a tripod or on top of a display but just know that they’re a little bit bigger than your average webcam because these are kind of more professional in use the weight on these is about 12 ounces i think the network one is slightly heavier that’s about 340 grams so again a weak little laptop will have a hard time supporting the weight here so you might want to get a little tripod or one of those gorilla pods or something now the msrp on the usb version here is 329 according to the ptz optics website but i have found it for around 300.

they’re saying the network one here sells for 549 and again i’m finding this one for a little bit less on various retailers these definitely cost more than your average webcam because they’re designed for more commercial and professional use and as you’ll see in a minute they have a nice big wide field of view so they’re designed for larger conference rooms and that sort of thing what i’m going to do now though is get the network version here booted up so we can integrate it into the rest of the video here just know that a bulk of the functionality we’re going to demo on the network one works identically on the usb version so we’re going to hook this thing up and i’ll show you how the network version works but after that everything we’re doing on here will also apply to the usb version so let me get this thing on a tripod and we’ll continue on with the review okay so we got the network camera on a tripod and connected to the network and what i’m going to do now is just show you my vmix control panel and this is how you bring in an ndi camera using vmix i’m going to go to my ndi menu here you can see the camera is showing up on the list of available video sources i’m going to click ok and it’ll just take a second and then the image is here now you’re going to see a little bit of a delay perhaps in my speech the lip

syncing because we are bringing this camera’s video in over the network but the audio is coming in through my camera right now these cameras do have microphones built in and i’ll give you an audio sample of that in a few minutes but let’s take a look at some of the features of this camera insofar as panning tilting and zooming go so right now this is going into my video system at 1080p at 30 frames per second over ndi now the max frame rate according to the company is 30 frames per second but you can output at 4k it doesn’t appear to do 60 frames per second in my testing now i definitely would suggest running this at 1080p so you can make use of some of these pan tilt and zoom features so i’ve got a preset here that i already set up that will zoom in on my face and this is the same image that you just saw here but i’m zooming in on it because it is processing a 4k image and then outputting it at 1080p now its default field of view is 108 degrees but of course you can narrow that by doing the virtual zoom and if you’re able to keep it pretty close to a 2x or so you shouldn’t have too much of an image quality penalty and i would say if you’re noticing some softness when you are zooming in then i would physically move the camera as close as you can get it to your subject and then that’ll give you the best quality image when you zoom in because the further you get out from the 2x mark on a zoom the more softness you’re going to see i would say this is probably about 3x or 4x right now but again you can very finely control things and i’ll show you how this remote control works right now so here is the remote control and if you’ve ever used a ptz optics camera before this will look very familiar it’s the same remote control not all of the features work on these webcams but the basic pan tilt and zoom functionality does and again this remote comes with both the network and the usb version so let’s begin with some of the

basics here we’ll start with a slow zoom in as you can see it does get a little bit jumpy here sometimes when you get close to the end of the zoom range you also have a faster zoom here that you can enable and then when you are zoomed in you can start moving the arrows here and get the image to move around now one of the cool things you can do with this let me get the mac here in focus is that you can set presets and then quickly switch between them so if i push the preset button down here and then push one you can see that it says set one is okay and then maybe we’ll zoom over to my mug here and get myself in frame again hello and what i’ll do now is hit preset 2 and that will set another one and then maybe i’ll keep going here and zoom in on the camera over here and then we’ll zoom in on that and get that going and we’ll set that as position number three and then if i want to get everything back to default i can just hit home and that will give us our 108 degree field of view but now if i push these buttons i can pretty much seamlessly switch between camera positions even though all of these images are being generated from the same shot and cropped and zoomed pretty cool stuff and again this is the same functionality on the usb camera as you’ll get on the network one now the network version of the camera also allows you to control it with software so right now i’m connected via the ndi studio monitor app which is separate from the vmix app that i’m using to record video right now and i’m able to control this camera and i’m

seeing the output here uh reflected in my vmix production system at the same time so you could assign somebody the task of operating the camera and if they’re using the free ndi studio monitor app here they can see what’s going on and control what your production system is getting there’s a lot of other ways to control this you can control it from inside of vmix from inside your tricaster from obs a lot of options are available on the network camera because it is on your network and supports many popular protocols for controlling ptz devices now you can also log into the network cameras control panel and control it from here so as you can see it’s got those controls right there and as i click the arrows here we can move the camera around i can zoom it out a little bit further it zoomed in all the way there and you get all of the same kinds of controls they actually have some html templates you can download to connect this up with tablets and other devices if you wanted to have that capability too so the network camera’s got a lot of neat little features built into it another neat feature of the network camera is that it supports rtmp and rt sp streaming in addition to ndi so you could push it out over the internet for example and send it off to some place further away i don’t believe it supports srt but you do have rtmp and rtsp which is supported across a multitude of different production environments you also have some settings here for the ndi video quality and i would recommend putting it on ultra for the best image and these cameras again are connected via your wired network so ultra is really the way to go it’s about 15 to 20 megabits per second i think so it’s not all that much of a bandwidth hog and it will give you the best quality image ndihx which is what this camera uses is a compressed format you generally don’t notice it but it is compressed so i would just give it the maximum bit right there to

get the best quality out of the camera you would go down to the lower settings if you were maybe bridging over wi-fi or some other low bandwidth medium but if you’re connected to your local network just set it to ultra in the control panel and you’ll get the best performance out of the camera now both the network camera and the usb camera give you the ability to adjust its image quality in a very granular way you’ve got a lot of control and you activate that by pushing on the menu button here and that will give you this on-screen display i’ll jump through some of these modes here so you can see what you have for options so for example you can set it into manual mode and automatically adjust the shutter and the gain and get the image that you’re looking for i’ve been leaving mine in full auto but again you can really get this thing dialed in to get the image looking the best in your particular situation i have it on auto white balance mode you’ve got a couple of presets here they also have a one push option to try to set the white balance automatically based on the room conditions i would maybe get one of those little white balancing cards to do that so you do have some ability to control the color temperature and the white balance and all that good stuff there is a way to manually set it as well if you go into this var mode here and you can adjust the range that it supports for white balancing so you’ve got a lot of professional features here built into this little webcam which is great again for production environments you can see some of the image settings that you can adjust here so if you’re in a low light situation

you can adjust the luminance here to try to bump things up a bit again a lot of fine control there’s some noise reduction here as well and that’s going to be useful when you’re in a darker environment there’s some additional settings here just for the protocol that it might use on the network camera for remote control you can also set the zoom limit here and this will give you the ability to figure out how far you go with the image so by default it’s set to 1 to 3x which gives you this amount of range as you can see it does zoom in the interface here as you go now ptz optics has a very helpful chart on their website that details what the implications of different zoom settings are so by default again it’s 1x to 3x which means that when you’re zoomed in all the way you effectively get a 720p image out of the camera which would look a little bit soft on a 1080p stream but not all that bad now if you override the default and go to the 1x28x setting for example you can see that you will effectively have a 480 by 270 image when you’re zoomed in all the way now i’ve just set the camera to that extreme close-up but you can see just how much softer this image is at 1080p now because we don’t have that many pixels here to play with so you’ll see a degradation when you go in a bit tighter especially when you override that 3x setting now if i go in a little bit less you can see it doesn’t look all that bad it’s just that when you go past that 3x threshold at 1080p that’s when you’ll start to see the image get softer and more pixelated and more artifacts kind of working their way in just because you don’t have the pixels to work with now another neat

feature of the camera is the auto framing mode and what this will do is automatically frame the shot based on how many people are visible in front of the camera so here’s an example of what i shot with the usb camera earlier in 1080p mode as you can see it had my daughter in the frame there when i sat down next to her it saw that i entered the shot and readjusted to incorporate both of us in frame and then when i got up which i do right here you can see that it then re-centers the shot on her and that’s pretty useful they’ve got a great little example on their web page of how this would work in a conference room environment so as you can see as those two people left it then re-centered on the two that were still seated there and then when the last person leaves there the second the last person leaves it reframes on the person who’s left and i like this because if you’ve got one of those big conference rooms and that’s where you do your conference calls typically and there’s only one person in the room it will find that person and zoom in on them and make it look a little nicer for the people on the other side of the call and what’s nice about the auto framing is that you don’t have to fuss around with the controller it will generally find the faces and adjust itself as needed one thing auto frame doesn’t do is switch between participants so if you want that you’re going to have to do it manually but really for a conference room solution i think it works well the microphone is adequate i think for a conference room and it’s really a simple solution you boot up zoom and it just works and that’s often what

people in a conference room environment might want there is a demo mode that you can enable so the camera can show you what it sees so that way you can kind of troubleshoot it to make sure that the lighting is good in the room and the positioning of people are good in the room before the auto framing kicks on this will only work though when the camera is at 1080p or less so that it can do those crops and zooms now the usb camera also has this on-screen display option but you also of course have an hdmi port on that usb camera and you can set its mode here i have mine set to 1080p 30 because that’s what my equipment uses but if you’re doing some broadcast work for example you can have it output at 1080i if you want so you can do interlaced or progressive and it will also output 4k out of that hdmi port as well and when you’re in the 1080 modes it will mirror what the usb is getting out so any pan tilts or zooms you’re doing will also push out over that hdmi port so that’s really flexible image quality out of it’s very good i do recommend getting good lighting in your environment to get the best results out of it most professional cameras require good lighting and these are no exceptions to that you might find sometimes that your computer’s webcam can fudge it a little bit better than these can but i did do a low light example here and you’ll also be able to hear the microphone in this example too so let’s roll the clip so this is what the camera looks like in very low light i did have to turn up the luminance values in the menu so just putting it on automatic may not be enough most of the time as you can see here when we zoom in with that digital zoom it’s definitely a bit noisier now than it was before but that’s to be expected when you don’t have a lot of light going into the sensor so this is a camera that’s going to need some

light you can get some of those small led lights to brighten up your face a bit and i think that will improve the overall image quality but it does work in low light with a little bit of tweaking you can also hear what the microphone sounds like as well because we are recording this off of the huddlecam’s mic right now all right let’s take a look at a real world example now i’ve got the camera here connected to my mac via usb and we are in the middle of a zoom call right now so this is what my local mac is seeing and then on the other side of this call is my shadow streaming server located in a new york city data center so you can see what is getting transmitted out now i’m on the free zoom tier so i don’t think i get all the fancy hd video so it looks a little fuzzier than it might for most people who are actually paying for a subscription but as you can see here i’ve got all the camera controls that i can do the panning and the tilting and the zooming all of that is working with my remote control so you can see how this might work in a real world conferencing environment but they’ve got a neat feature of zoom which is that you can allow the user that you’re communicating with to control the camera and to do that we’re just going to right click here on the screen and there’s an option here to request camera control and if i switch back to my mac here you can see that the remote computer is requesting access to that which i’m going to approve and now as you can see i’ve got camera controls here on the lower portion of the window and i can control all of these features remotely from that new york city data center over zoom isn’t that cool so you could probably find some areas where this might be useful maybe you’ve got a camera located somewhere else and you want to be able to control it remotely well you could do that with this camera using these virtual pan tilt and zoom features now this is a feature that has to be

enabled in your zoom settings first so where you find it is in your zoom settings your account settings and what you want to look for is far end camera control and if you turn that on when a user is on the call with you they can right click and ask for control of the camera and then you can grant them that a pretty cool little feature there and a great way to engage your callers with the ability to adjust an image of a remote camera now in order to use the network camera with zoom or one of your favorite meeting applications you’ll likely need to download the free ndi tools and part of that tool download you’ll find the ndi virtual input that will install along with all the other tools that you’ll get as part of that free package and the virtual input will take the video from the camera and basically turn it into a webcam on your pc or mac and that’s how you get it into things that don’t support ndi directly so there’s one extra step but of course the usb camera here you just plug right in so all in a pretty neat pro level camera here with a lot of manual control and if you find yourself in need of a camera with that kind of control this one certainly might be worth considering until next time this is lon sivan thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters brian parker jim peter tom albrecht frank lewandowski mark bollinger and chris allegretta if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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