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How to choose the best night vision security camera for your needs

How to choose the best night vision security camera for your needs
The right night vision security camera could be an incredible asset to any outdoor security system, but with so many choices available on the market, choosing the right one may be tough. Here we discuss image color, environment and lighting, some of the biggest factors to consider when deciding which night vision camera is best.

Color night vision vs. IR-cut black and white images

Andres Vigren Axis Communications
Andres Vigren, Global Product Manager,
Axis Communications
Traditional night vision security cameras with infrared cut-off filters, known as IR-cut, produce black and white images. However, advancements in camera technology, such as image sensors and low light technology, have improved color night vision capabilities.

With more choices now available, the first thing to determine when choosing the right night vision camera is whether you need to capture images in color or if black and white is sufficient. While this may seem like a simple place to start, Andres Vigren, Global Product Manager at Axis Communications, explained that the answer to this question will determine what solution to implement.

“Capturing the best images in color requires a good light source which matches the needs of the camera. There are newer models on the market with better low light technologies which require less light,” he said.

Max Fang, Director of IP Products at Hikvision Digital Technology, pointed out that the stronger the camera’s low light capability is, the longer it can maintain the screen in color. Otherwise, cameras will switch to infrared (IR) mode when the lighting is insufficient (e.g., when the sky becomes dark) and the screen will switch to black and white.

In cases of low lighting conditions, it is important to check whether the IR in the camera is adequate or if a separate IR is needed. If the built-in IR light is not sufficient enough to provide even illumination, this could cause the image to have black corners.

In addition, whether the IR is covert or semi-covert will need to be determined. If the end user wants the cameras to be completely inconspicuous, covert IR light — which is invisible to the human eye — would be appropriate. However, Vigren noted that this is less sensitive for the camera and additional lighting will be needed in the environment to capture the best image.

Other lighting considerations for night vision cameras

Changes in lighting over the course of the year are another critical consideration when choosing a night vision camera. Ideally, cameras that perform well in low light should also perform during daytime, and settings which work at night may not be optimal at other times.

“As the seasons change, sunlight will hit the cameras in different ways, especially during autumn and spring. It is critical for the camera to be able to automatically adapt to the environment, adjusting between low light technology and wide dynamic range (WDR) mode depending on the ambient lighting,” Vigren said.

Consider the monitoring environment

The environment where the camera will be used is also a major factor in choosing the correct night vision surveillance camera. The size of the area and whether there is a need to detect, identify or recognize objects should also be considered. This will determine the specs required of the night vision camera and whether supplementation with other technologies, such as thermal or radar is required, according to Vigren.

Where the camera is placed will also play a significant role in determining the required features of the camera. For example, if the camera is placed in a lower, easily accessible position it may be subject to tampering or vandalism. In this instance, end users should take into account the camera’s impact or IK rating. If the camera is exposed to hard weather conditions (e.g., rain, snow, etc.), then good weather protection is essential to protect the front of the glass from moisture. Droplets on the glass can cause reflections when the IR light is on, ultimately reducing the clarity and quality of the image.


Product Adopted:
Network Cameras


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