Today, most IP cameras have low light capabilities for the purpose of night time surveillance. How to select a camera and get the best night-vision results out of it, then, is something the user should know.
Today, most IP cameras have lowlight capabilities for the purpose of nighttime surveillance. How to select a camera
and get the best night-vision results out of it, then, is something the user should know.
Nighttime is usually the period when crimes take place, be they theft, burglaries or robberies. This, then, highlights the importance of nighttime surveillance, which requires the use of lowlight cameras, or cameras with advanced night-vision capabilities, to do the job well.
Such cameras can benefit a broad range of end user entities. Schools, stores, factories and offices can all rely on lowlight cameras to detect after-hour theft, burglaries and other criminal activities. Further, military bases, which are not allowed to use a camera’s IR mode during nighttime surveillance, need advanced lowlight cameras that can effectively capture everything in color – even in near total darkness.
Aside from security, lowlight cameras can help with management and operations as well. “In rail applications, for example, lowlight cameras can check if a train running at night has raised its pantograph (the apparatus that collects and channels electricity to the train from an overhead powerline); not doing so may cause the train to run out of power and come to a stop before reaching the next station,” said Jack Wu, Project Manager at LILIN
How to improve a camera’s nighttime performance
Today, most IP cameras come with lowlight and night-vision features. How to select one and set it up to get the desired result, then, is very important. Below are some reminders and tips that installers and users may follow to get the most out of their lowlight cameras
During the selection process, the camera’s lux rating serves as an important reference point. While some products claim to have an extremely low lux, the user should find out at what shutter speed was that result produced. “Some vendors say they have a very low lux yet they used a shutter speed of 1/8 as the basis; this renders the image virtually unusable as objects in motion would blur,” Wu said.
IR mode switching point:
Choose a camera that allows the user to adjust the IR mode switching point manually. While most cameras automatically switch to IR mode at 5 to 10 lux (around sunset), some users may prefer to keep color mode running till late in the night. The ability to manually adjust allows more flexibility.
There are certain settings that the user can adjust to optimize the camera’s lowlight performance in color mode. These include: backlight compensation (BLC), P-iris control, exposure value (EV), auto-gain control and digital noise reduction. While these settings are usually pre-set for the end user, they can manually adjust them to get the desired result according to their own unique and specific environment. Also, the shutter speed should be kept at 1/30 or 1/25 for nighttime surveillance. Anything slower than that would cause blurs and render the image usable.
From time to time, a phenomenon called IR overshadowing may occur whereby the object becomes too bright to be identifiable. To overcome this, the user can adjust the camera’s EV, BLC as well as overexposure reduction settings. They can also get cameras with smart IR which can automatically adjust the strength of the IR.
LILIN, meanwhile, offers several IP cameras with advanced lowlight functions. The Z2R8122X-P day and night camera, for example, has smart IR, adjustable EV and P-iris support. The Z2R8022EX25 has a 25-time zoom feature and IR radiance of up to 100 meters. “We use Sony STARVIS sensor to match the Ambarella SoC and our image adjustments, so that the image color can be maintained in a low light environment with good clarity. It can be used in smart transportation, military units and various monitoring environments,” Wu said.