• Academic Technology

Review: The Best Video Cameras for Lecture Capture and Event Recording

Panopto’s software-as-a-service video platform is designed for flexibility. You can watch a Panopto video on virtually any computer or mobile device. You can access, manage, and search your video library from any web browser.

And when it comes to capturing video of lectures, events, presentations, and more, you can record with the equipment of your choosing.

Our video recording and live webcasting app has the flexibility to work with a wide range of video cameras, capture cards, and USB devices. This includes anything from low-cost USB webcams and mobile devices to prosumer camcorders, professional cameras, IP cams, specialized workplace recording tools, and even remotely controlled Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) systems.

Among the video capture hardware that we support for lecture recording and event streaming, Sony’s line of PTZ cameras stands out from the crowd. Specifically, the company’s SRG series of cameras, including the SRG-120DH, SRG-300H, and the just-announced SRG-120DU are among the highest-quality cameras that we’ve tested and certified with our video platform.

Sony PTZ Cameras for lecture capture and classroom recording

Left-to-right: Sony’s newly-announced SRG-120DU, the SRG-300H, and the SRG-120DH

What Sets These Cameras Apart When It Comes To Recording Lectures And Events?

1. Optical Quality Produces The Best Lecture Recordings

It begins with incredible optics. All three cameras can capture and live stream video at up to 1080p resolution, 60 frames per second (60fps). This pairs perfectly with Panopto’s media pipeline, which is the first in our industry to support 60fps on-demand and live streaming. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, 60fps sets a new standard for online video delivery. It provides the most lifelike images, it reduces blurring and visual artifacts, and gives the viewer the sense that they’re actually in the room with the presenter.

The optical quality of the SRG series can be attributed to Sony’s high-speed EXMOR CMOS sensor and View-DR technology. In combination, these technologies provide an extremely wide dynamic range. For businesses and universities, this means that the cameras work well in low-light conditions (as is sometimes the case with small to mid-sized conference rooms), and in high-contrast conditions (for example, when a presenter is standing next to a projected image).

Download Our Free E-book: How To Set Up Any Room For Lecture Capture


2. High Zoom Capability That’s Ideal for Most Classrooms

In addition to high-quality imaging, Sony has equipped these cameras with optical zoom capability of either 12x (for the SRG-120DH and DU) and 30x (for the SRG-300H). This makes the SRG-120DH and DU perfect for conference rooms, boardrooms, and small to midsize classrooms. For larger lecture halls and auditoriums, the SRG-300H enables AV teams to capture wide views of the entire room or get in close to the presenter. In all cases, the use of optical zoom enables the cameras to maintain full 1080p/60 quality throughout the zoom range.


An overview of the SRG-300H and SRG-120DH


3. HDMI or USB3 Connectivity For Simple Setup

When connecting the cameras to a Panopto laptop or desktop, the SRG-120DH and 300H provide HDMI output. If you’re using a desktop as your capture machine, video cards like those from Datapath provide a direct HDMI connection with high-performance data transfer. If you’re using a laptop to capture video, a portable HDMI-to-USB3 dongle like the XI100D from Magewell provides a high-speed, high-quality connection. In either case, as soon as you plug in the camera, Panopto will automatically recognize it as a video capture source and, by default, will configure the camera for the highest quality recording and streaming.

We’re particularly excited about Sony’s announcement this morning that the SRG-120DU connects directly via USB3. This means that organizations can use this professional-quality camera with the same ease as a webcam. Simply plug the camera into a USB port on your laptop or desktop and you’re ready to record or live stream using Panopto. Because the camera uses the USB Video Class (UVC) driver, you don’t even need to install any additional drivers. The camera provides true plug-and-play with broadcast-quality video.

4. Remote Control Makes Recording Easy

Controlling the cameras is very straightforward using either the included infrared remote, or Sony’s RM-IP10 remote controller. The beauty of the RM-IP10 is that it enables control of the camera over your IP network. This is particularly useful for events and lectures that make use of Panopto’s remote recording software. From a control room in another part of the building or across campus, the combination of our remote recording app and the RM-IP10 enable AV teams to see an image of what’s being captured as they pan, tilt, and zoom the cameras. All PTZ functions are silent, and the cameras can be mounted on a desktop or ceiling, making them unobtrusive in smaller classrooms and conference rooms.

5. Multi-Camera Recording For Events & Demonstrations

Finally, Sony’s SRG cameras work beautifully with Panopto’s multi-camera and distributed video capture support. For universities and businesses recording events with multiple camera angles, this means that you can either plug multiple SRG cameras into a single Panopto capture PC, or into different PCs depending on your logistical setup. Either way, Panopto will automatically synchronize the videos feeds, and with our web-based video editor, camera switching in post-production is a snap.


Find Out More About Recording Lectures And Events

We currently use two SRG cameras in our Seattle headquarters to record and live stream meetings and presentations. These cameras have impressed everyone here at Panopto, and we can’t recommend them highly enough.

For more information on how Sony’s PTZ cameras and Panopto make the perfect solution for recording lectures, capturing video presentations, and live streaming events, contact us to request a demonstration.