OBSBOT Tail Air review: Packed with features, but not without flaws

For just under $500, the OBSBOT Tail Air is an AI-powered 4K PTZ camera designed for solo and small-team livestreamers who want a more professional look. With automatic subject tracking, NDI connectivity and the ability to capture 4K video at up to 30 frames per second, the OBSBOT Tail Air makes big promises to content creators. We tested out the new PTZ camera to see if it can keep them.

Getting to know the OBSBOT Tail Air

The OBSBOT Tail Air is a 4K USB PTZ camera. PTZ stands for pan, tilt and zoom. PTZ cameras are mainstays in broadcast and livestreaming environments since their orientation and field of view can be adjusted from a distance. It’s a great way to add a more dynamic perspective to your stream without the need for another camera operator.

The OBSBOT Tail Air is compact, weighing just 344.5 g and measuring 69.65 x 73.25 x 132.5 mm in its working state. The Tail Air features a six-axis gyroscope to keep the camera and image stable, and a two-axis motorized gimbal powers pan and tilt movement.

Featuring a 1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor with a 3856 x 2176 resolution, the Tail Air can capture video in 4K at up to 30 fps. It also captures 1080p at up to 60 fps. The sensor touts large 2 μm pixels for better low-light performance. The larger pixel size allows more light to be collected, resulting in a cleaner image overall. Also enhancing its low-light performance is the camera’s eight-element lens and wide f/1.8 maximum aperture. That should let in plenty of light — but more on that later. The ISO range for the camera is 100 to 6400.

Digital delights

The Tail Air features a maximum 4x digital zoom. This is handy when shooting in 4K and streaming in 1080p. Even though digital zoom is basically just in-camera cropping, the drop in resolution won’t affect the quality of the stream in this scenario.

Complementing the camera’s digital zoom is its AI subject-tracking toolset. With tracking enabled, the Tail Air will automatically pan, tilt and zoom to follow the designated subject. Trackable subjects include humans, animals and objects. The AI-powered Director Grids shot selector makes it easier to switch between automatic or manually-framed shots. The tool shows you up to nine shot variations, which you can swap between as if they were separate camera feeds.

Along with AI subject tracking, the OBSBOT Tail Air promises fast and accurate focusing with its built-in infrared Time-of-Flight (ToF) target tracking. With ToF, the camera sends out an infrared beam, then measures how long it takes for the beam to hit the subject and bounce back to the camera. This gives the Tail Air a fast and accurate way to measure the distance between camera and subject so that the camera can quickly set focus.

NDI connectivity

A big stand-out feature of the OBSBOT Tail Air is its NDI|HX3 support. NDI, or network device interface, is a protocol for sending low-latency video feeds over a network connection. The OBSBOT Tail Air’s NDI support means it can easily integrate into larger live production setups.

The Tail Air can connect to an NDI ecosystem wirelessly, but it also supports power-over-ethernet (PoE) with a separate optional ethernet adapter. This eliminates the need to run separate cables for powering the camera and transmitting video.

Audio and other necessities

The Tail Air’s dual omnidirectional MEMS microphones support both a noise reduction mode and a stereo sound mode. There is also a 3.5 mm TRS microphone input, allowing you to connect a separate microphone as an audio input.

Along with these audio inputs, the Tail Air features a Micro HDMI port for video output and monitoring. The USB-C port supports both video transfer and power supply. This makes it easy to connect the Tail Air to a computer for streaming or webcam use. Plus, as mentioned above, the Tail Air supports PoE with the help of an optional USB-C to Ethernet Adapter. And if you don’t want to deal with wires at all, this camera supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Though great for streaming, the OBSBOT Tail Air also records video to a Micro SD Card. Finally, there’s a Tally LED to let you know when the camera is active.

Operation and controls

Thanks to its NDI support, you can control the Tail Air with your live production software of choice, as you would any other NDI-enabled PTZ camera. However, the camera is also compatible with the free OBSBOT Center software and the OBSBOT Start mobile app. The Start app lets you start and stop the camera, change exposure, select subjects for tracking and adjust the camera position. The more robust desktop app, OBSBOT Center, lets you connect to and manage multiple cameras.

Aside from the software options, the Tail Air can also be directed to perform simple pan, tilt and zoom movements using hand gestures thanks to Gesture Control 2.0. For instance, holding up one hand will lock AI tracking onto that subject. Or, you can ask the camera to zoom in by holding your thumb and pointer finger in an ‘L’ shape.

If those options aren’t cutting it, you can also add on the optional Smart Remote Controller. The Controller lets you perform simple tasks like adjusting the camera perspective or starting recording, but it also gives you access to the camera’s AI-powered features.

Strengths of the OBSBOT Tail Air

Image courtesy: OBSBOT

Through our tests, we tried all the features — tracking, recording, picture quality and more. Most of the features worked as expected, but here are a few of the stand-out perks. We’ll get to the less-desirable quirks in the next section.

We found the picture quality to be about what you’d expect out of a 1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor. The camera only records at a bit rate of 100 Mbps when capturing H.264 video. That drops to 80 Mbps in H.265. This seems a bit low. However, because the camera is designed to be stationary, the bit rate doesn’t need to be as high as, say, an action camera. Likely, if the camera was tracking something fast enough to affect the quality of the picture because of its bit rate, the tracking wouldn’t be able to keep up with the subject matter.

Next, we tried out the preset function. This allows you to create pre-set shots so you can quickly reset your framing when needed. These presets worked as intended, and the transition from one preset to another is quick.

We also liked the Tail Air’s portability and design. It’s compact and sleek, making it easy to carry and set up anywhere. This makes it especially appealing to creators on the go.

Finally, we loved the camera’s wide range of motion. The OBSBOT Tail Air has a controllable panning range of ±150 degrees and a tilt of -65 degrees to 32 degrees. Plus, if you need more range, you can upgrade to the 360° Rotation Play-More Combo. This lets you pan the camera in a full 360-degree circle.

The camera’s max controllable speed is 120 degrees per second — pretty snappy.


Now onto the weaknesses. This first one is a minor gripe, but we thought we’d mention it anyway. The Tail Air’s AI tracking features worked pretty well, but its choice of framing was not always the best. It often left more headroom than we’d prefer.

Our next complaint is the camera’s battery life. We definitely think the battery life could be improved. The camera uses a 1500mAh Li-po battery. It promises a charging time of 90 minutes when powered off and an operating time of 154 minutes. Even if the camera lives up to these expectations, that running time is a bit short for most live streams. We suggest keeping the camera connected to a power source when possible.

Our next issue with the camera is that getting started with the camera wasn’t as intuitive as expected. The setup wasn’t obvious and it took some research to get it all up and working.

Though we were satisfied with the camera’s overall image quality, we weren’t impressed with it’s low-light performance. Despite enhancements like a wider aperture and larger pixel size, the Tail Air’s low-light performance was subpar, at best.

Likewise, monitoring out of the Micro HMDI is not smooth. We experienced glitchy previews and transmission.

All of these issues can be worked around, but in the end, they might exclude this camera from some professional streaming productions.


Very similar to the $500 OBSBOT Tail Air is another PTZ camera from OBSBOT, the OBSBOT Tiny 2. This one offers many of the same features and capabilities, including the option to capture 4K video. However, while it does support automatic panning and zooming, it lacks the advanced AI and NDI connectivity found in the OBSBOT Tail Air. The Tiny 2 is priced at $330.

Another competitor in this space is the Nearity V415 PTZ camera. Marketed for business communications, this conference camera skips the AI and NDI features. Instead, it offers a 15x combined zoom — 5x optical and 3x digital — as well as a 350-degree panning range. The V415 costs $900.

Final thoughts

The OBSBOT Tail Air is a compelling option for livestreamers seeking to step up their production value. Its AI-powered subject tracking, NDI connectivity and compact design make it a versatile tool for creating professional-looking livestreams. However, it has its limitations, including short battery life, somewhat quirky AI framing and underwhelming low-light performance.

While not perfect, the Tail Air offers a good balance of features and affordability. If you can work around its shortcomings, the Tail Air’s strengths may outweigh its weaknesses.


  • Portability and design: It’s compact and sleek, making it easy to carry and set up anywhere.
  • It has a wide range of motion.


  • Battery life
  • The setup wasn’t obvious and it took some research to get it all up and working
  • Not great low-light performance
  • Monitoring is not smooth: glitchy preview and transmission

Tech specs

Image sensor1/1.8 inches-type CMOS
Sensor resolutionEffective: 8.4 megapixel (3856 x 2176)
White balance2,000 to 10,000 K
Shutter speed1/8000 to 1 second
Precise scan rate controlNo
Max digital zoom4x
Built-in microphoneStereo
IR cut filterNo
Flip / mirror supportImage flip
Focal length23 mm
Maximum aperturef/1.8
Minimum focus distanceWide: 0.9 inches / 2.3 cm
Image stabilizationOptical
Focus controlAutofocus
Output formatsHDMI, USB: 3840 x 2160p at 24, 25, 30 fps
1920 x 1080p at 24, 25, 30, 50, 60 fps
Embedded audioHDMI/NDI/USB/Wireless
IP streamingH.245, H.265, MJPEG: UHD 4K, 1080p
IP multi-stream supportYes
Move speed120°/sec
Movement rangePan: 300° (-150 to 150°)
Tilt: 97° (-65 to 32°)
Tally lightYes
Supported control protocols
Video outputs1x USB-C 3.0 / 3.1/3.2 Gen 1
1x micro-HDMI
Audio I/O1x 1/8 inches / 3.5 mm stereo input
OS compatibilityWindows 10 or later
Windows 8
Windows 7
macOS 10.13 or later
Mobile app compatibleYes: Android & iOS
App name: OBSBOT Start
PoE supportYes
Power I/O1x USB-C
Operating temperature14 to 104°F / -10 to 40°C
Security lock supportYes
Dimensions5.2 x 2.88 x 2.73 inches / 132.5 x 73.25 x 69.25 mm
Weight12.2 oz / 344.5 g
Nicole LaJeunesse
Nicole LaJeunesse
Nicole LaJeunesse is a professional writer and a curious person who loves to unpack stories on anything from music, to movies, to gaming and beyond.

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