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Security cameras with optical zoom can monitor a regular perspective and close in when necessary. This is useful when monitoring moving objects in a large open space. For instance, tracking vehicles in parking lots or livestock in open fields.

Cameras with a high optical zoom can zoom in close without losing picture quality.

My top pick for an optical zoom security camera is the Lorex 4K Turret Security Camera. It's a professional 4K camera with 4x optical zoom and an IR range of 150ft.

My runner-up is the Reolink RLC-811A Bullet Security Camera. This one has 5x optical zoom and comes at an attractive price for homeowners.

Please note, I didn't include high-end PTZ cameras. They have their own list here.

The 8 Best Optical Zoom Security Cameras (2024)

Top Pick
LNE9282B
Awards
  • Highest rated camera listed with DC Power option
  • Highest rated camera listed with PoE data
  • Highest rated camera listed with Integrated Microphone
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Power Options
PoEDC Power
Night Vision Type
InfraredFull Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
Optical Zoom Magnification
4x
Storage Options
NVR

The Lorex 4K Smart IP Dome Camera is my top pick. I picked this because of the 4x optical zoom capabilities and the power to process 4K footage at 30fps.

This turret camera is very versatile and outdoor-friendly. It's mostly due to its IP67 metal exterior. It can monitor a parking lot, warehouse, or an open field without awnings or shade structures.

The camera comes with both infrared and color night vision. However, I’ve found it best to rely solely on infrared night vision. This is because it has a maximum infrared range of 150ft.

Also, the footage is more stable when zooming in and out while in infrared.

All good things aside, I'm not entirely sold on the image quality. Some users have reported issues with pixelation during both the day and nighttime.

Pros
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Storage Options: NVR
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Data Transmission: PoE
Cons
  • No smart home integrations
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • Cannot automatically pan
Runner Up
RLC-811A
Awards
  • Only camera listed with Integrated Alarm
  • Only camera listed with Full Color (via Spotlight)
  • Only camera listed with
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Power Options
PoEDC Power
Night Vision Type
InfraredFull Color (via Spotlight)
Optical Zoom Magnification
5x
Storage Options
microSDNVRFTP

The Reolink RLC-811A is my second pick. It's a reliable bullet security camera that comes with 5x optical zoom.

The camera can record in 4K at a maximum framerate of 25fps. Coupled with the 5x optical zoom, it helps hone in on significant faraway details. Also, the higher framerate helps keep motion blur to a minimum.

One of its unique features is the built-in spotlight. This helps the camera maintain consistent color night vision footage. You can also configure the spotlight to turn on when it detects motion.

However, some users have reported issues with durability and outdoor use.

Pros
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Spotlight)
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Integrated Siren / Alarm
  • Integrated Microphone
Cons
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Power Options
PoE
Night Vision Type
Infrared
Optical Zoom Magnification
3x
Storage Options
NVR

Ubiquiti's G4 Professional is another rock-solid contender. It offers 3x optical zoom with the ability to record 4K footage at a surprising 50fps.

This camera is a great pick for long-distance high-speed scenarios. This can include license plate detection and tracking other fast-moving objects.

The G4 Professional comes with an IP67-rated enclosure. Therefore, it doesn't mind strict outdoor installations. However, this camera's night vision functionality is somewhat basic. It lacks color night vision, and the maximum IR range is 50ft.

Also, some users have reported issues with lens condensation. The lens can get obscured, resulting in blurred footage during rain and snow.

Pros
  • Storage Options: NVR
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Integrated Microphone
Cons
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No smart home integrations
  • Does not have an integrated siren
ACZ800
Awards
  • Highest rated camera listed with NAS support
  • Highest rated camera listed with
  • Highest rated camera listed with Face Detection
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Power Options
PoEDC Power
Night Vision Type
InfraredFull Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
Optical Zoom Magnification
4x
Storage Options
microSDNVRNAS

The ANNKE ACZ800 dome surveillance camera is the better option for discreet monitoring. This is because it's smaller than 10 inches on all sides, and the dome shape helps it blend in.

The varifocal lens on the camera allows for 4x optical zoom, which is on par with many other cameras on this list. It's accurate enough to zoom in on licence plates, faces, and other subtle details.

Another one of its strong points is low-light performance. The camera can rapidly switch back and forth between infrared and night vision. It's also got a 100ft maximum IR range.

This camera has several intelligent features. This includes perimeter protection and face detection. Also, it supports two-way audio (requires the use of an external mic and speaker) as an active deterrent.

Pros
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Face Detection
Cons
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No integrated microphone
IP8M-VT2879EW-AI
Awards
  • Only camera listed with Cloud support
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Power Options
PoEDC Power
Night Vision Type
InfraredFull Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
Optical Zoom Magnification
5x
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTPCloud

The Amcrest 4K Turret Security Camera is a good pick regarding video quality. It can record in 4K resolution but also uses the true WDR to add more details and clarity to the footage.

This camera boasts an optical zoom capability of 5x. Additionally, it comes with a variety of smart detection features. These include person, vehicle, and face detection features.

Despite its light frame, it’s IP67-rated and includes DIY-friendly installation hardware.

Pros
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Face Detection
Cons
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
MTZ4040
Awards
  • Only camera listed with Motorized Pan Feature
  • Only camera listed with Motorized Tilt Feature
  • Highest rated camera listed with Object Detection
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4MP: 2688x1520
Power Options
PoE
Optical Zoom Magnification
4x
Storage Options
NVRFTP

The Montavue 2K Starlight PTZ camera can record footage in detailed 2688x1520 resolution. It's 4K unlike the competition, but the footage is still clear, detailed, and natural. Also, the camera takes it one step further, processing the footage with True WDR.

Despite the lower resolution, it’s a fully-fledged PTZ camera with 0°–355° panning, 5°–90° tilting and 4x optical zoom. So depending on where you install it and how you program its presets, it can cover a lot of ground.

The device can store up to 300 presets and 8 tours, with each tour routine being able to run through 32 presets each.

The camera has an IP66 rating, which makes it significantly weather-resistant. It's also IK08-rated to withstand significant impact damage.

Pros
  • Motorized Pan Feature
  • Storage Options: NVR, FTP
  • IP Rating: IP66
  • Motorized Tilt Feature
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • Power Options: PoE
Cons
  • No night vision support
  • No integrated microphone
  • No smart home integrations
  • Does not have an integrated siren
Data Type
IP
Resolution
2MP: 1080P / HD: 1920x1080
Power Options
PoE
Night Vision Type
Infrared
Optical Zoom Magnification
21x
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTP

The video quality of this camera isn’t the best. It records in 1080p at 60fps.

That said, this is a highly specialized camera with 21x optical zooming. This might sound like a gimmick. However, this feature helps zoom in over long distances without losing video quality.

Coupled with object detection, it can track fast-moving objects at long distances. This makes it ideal for sprawling fields and facilities such as airports.

Unfortunately, a major downside of this camera is its low IP rating. It's not rated as weather-resistant

Pros
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Object Detection
  • Power Options: PoE
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS, FTP
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
Cons
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No integrated microphone
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
  • Low IP Rating: Not Weather Proof / Resistant
DH-IPC-HFW7442HN-ZFR
Awards
  • Only camera listed with People Counting
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4MP: 2688x1520
Power Options
PoEDC Power
Night Vision Type
InfraredFull Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
Optical Zoom Magnification
4x
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTP

The Dahua 4MP Bullet Security Camera has a 4MP image sensor that can record in 2688x1520. The camera comes with a 2.7-12mm varifocal lens, offering up to 4x optical zoom.

It also comes with 0°–360° panning, and 0°–90° tilting. This makes it ideal for covering complicated angles and wide areas.

In terms of night vision, it has color and infrared. The maximum range is 196.85 ft, which is a significant upgrade over the competition.

This camera also boasts highly advanced AI functions. It has face recognition, people counting and recognizing other attributes in faces.

Also, the camera has an IP67 rating and an IK10 grade. Therefore, it can easily handle dust, water, and significant physical impact. It can be overkill for most homeowners. However, it's a top contender for commercial or industrial installations.

Pros
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Non-Motor Vehicle Detection, Face Detection, Object Detection, People Counting
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
  • Data Transmission: PoE
Cons
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
  • No integrated microphone
  • Cannot automatically pan

Main Uses of Optical Zoom Security Cameras

Optical zoom security cameras are a great addition to a home or commercial security system in three scenarios.

The first is where your installation position is too far from the area you need coverage, to get a detailed picture. Both manual and motorized varifocal cameras can provide the coverage you need, from further away, without hindering picture quality.

The second is when using scanning, tracking or touring presets with a PTZ camera. This is not covered in this article as we have a detailed PTZ guide here.

The third is where you spot something while monitoring the camera feeds and want to zoom in tight, without losing picture quality, to investigate.

Decision Factors when Choosing an Optical Zoom Security Camera

Zooming in (and zooming out) is the name of the game here. That being said, purchasing a camera with the highest multiplier of optical zooming isn’t always the best option for you. 

Maybe you need something with a bit more balance, offering a good mix of security protocols and significant zooming capabilities, all at a reasonable price. 

If that is the case, then you need to consider the following key factors.

Camera Resolution

Security Camera Resolution

Resolution matters. The sharper the resolution of your security camera, the more detailed and clear images you’ll capture. 

A camera that records in 4K resolution, like the Lorex 4K dome, will deliver footage that is crisp and clear regardless of whether you are recording at a wide-angle perspective or zooming in close to identify faces or read license plates.

Another great contender is the Reolink RLC-811A with its equally impressive 4K resolution offering clear and detailed imaging across your property. 

So, when picking a security camera, I recommend one that records in 4K resolution. However, you can also drop down to 2K or even HD depending on how wide, how far, and how clearly you need to cover a certain area.  

Optical Zoom Range/Multiplier

optical zoom camera

The optical zoom range or multiplier in a security camera will determine its ability to view distant objects with impeccable detail.  

So with a wider range or higher multiplier, you can better inspect details without relying on digital zoom. 

Take, for example, the Axis Q1715 Block Camera, it’s a highly specialized piece of equipment that has a 21x Optical zoom multiplier, allowing you to hone in on faces or license plates way out in the distance (as much as 100ft). 

The Compromise Between Close-Ups and Wide-Angle Shots

However, zoom multipliers aren’t the end-all-be-all solution. It’s The flexibility to adjust and refocus as you need that makes the most difference in enhancing security. 

Therefore, when choosing a camera with optical zoom, also make sure it has a wide enough FOV at the minimum focal length. 

My top pick, the Lorex 4K Dome camera is well-balanced in this regard since it has 4x optical zoom with a 113-31° FOV range. 

Low Light Performance

Security camera low light

Luckily, almost all security cameras come with infrared night vision to ensure visibility in the dark. 

However, if you’re serious about capturing low-light details while zooming in, you want to invest in a camera with color night vision or a long-distance infrared night vision setup. 

If so, look out for security cameras like the Lorex 4K Dome and REOLINK RLC-811A. Both options boast effective infrared and color night vision capabilities. 

However, the Lorex camera can record in infrared up to a maximum distance of 150ft. Meanwhile, the Reolink counterpart comes with a built-in spotlight for enhancing color night vision and adding an extra layer of deterrence.

Weather Resistance

Security Camera Wet

It’s important to check whether your security camera comes with a proper enclosure as it ensures the inner components of the camera stay dry and fully operational. 

So in terms of weather resistance, the Lorex 4K Dome IP camera and Amcrest counterpart are the best options since they both have an officially rated IP67 enclosure.

This implies cameras are waterproof and resistant to a wide range of fluctuating temperatures, meaning you can safely install these outdoors without having to construct separate awnings or shade structures. 

That said, regardless of whichever camera you decide to go with, make sure to check for the IP rating and other forms of protection/weather resistance, especially if you’re hoping to install it outside.

What is Optical Zoom in a Security Camera?

Optical zoom is a feature that allows the security camera to adjust the lens and bring the subject closer without sacrificing image quality, providing a clear zoomed-in view without distortion.

How is Optical Zoom Different from Digital Zoom?

Unlike digital zoom, which simply enlarges the image digitally, optical zoom physically adjusts the lens position to zoom in, resulting in a more detailed and sharper image.

So unlike magnifying an existing image (which only pixellates it), you’re adjusting the lens like a telescope, zooming in without sacrificing details. 

What are the Advantages of Optical Zoom in a Security Camera?

The optical zoom is crucial when you need to hone in on significant details from afar. 

So in the case of security cameras, optical zoom is imperative for zooming in on specific areas of interest, capturing finer details, and enhancing the ability to identify (and classify) faces, license plates, people, animals, and other relevant information.

Conclusion

Security cameras that prioritize optical zoom can help enhance security from afar. 

They can keep a wide perspective on your property and close in to pick up faces and license plates if need be. Plus, extra features like night vision and two-way audio provide an extra layer of protection. 

My main recommended optical zoom camera is the Lorex 4K Turret Security Camera. It has 4x optical zooming, impressive 30FPS real-time recording, and listen-in audio. 

The Reolink RLC-811A Bullet Security Camera is my second pick. It boasts a 128° field of view, 5X zoom, and color night vision.

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