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What makes a camera good in low light: A complete resource guide

What makes a camera good in low light: A complete resource guide
Needless to say, video surveillance is not just a daytime thing. In near-0 or 0 Lux conditions, the best low-light camera can help tremendously with monitoring and evidence-gathering.
Increasingly, low-light cameras have become a trendy topic in video surveillance, and for good reasons too. Needless to say, video surveillance is not just a daytime thing. In near-0 or 0 Lux conditions, the best low-light camera can help tremendously with monitoring and evidence-gathering. As a leading security media platform, includes a wealth of low-light camera-related reports, articles and product information, which we compiled together in this resource guide. It’s our hope that the reader can find this guide useful and develop a better understanding of low-light cameras.

Table of contents

What is low-light camera
What makes a camera good in low light
How to select the best camera for low light
Installation and what camera setting is good for low light
Which camera is best for low light

What is low-light camera

A low-light camera is a camera that’s effective in shooting video in low-illumination or no-illumination scenarios. The best low-light video camera can produce quality image in poor-lit conditions, helping users investigate and gather evidence should something happen. Low-light video camera solutions come in many forms and sizes. A day/night camera can switch between visible and IR modes depending on the illumination at the time. An IR camera comes with its own IR illuminator and gives better performance in low-light conditions. Meanwhile, advances have been made in low-light color capturing, allowing the camera to take color video in low-light and even in 0 Lux conditions.
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What makes a camera good in low light

There are at least three factors that make a camera good in low light – lens, sensor and image processing. For lens, a bigger aperture will allow in more light to make low-light capturing more effective. More and more, F1.0 aperture size is available to achieve this. As for sensor, the larger its size, the larger its sensitivity area becomes – a 1/1.8" CMOS sensor, for example, increases the sensitivity area by 110 percent compared to a traditional 1/2.8" sensor. The image processor enhances the image by performing various tasks including wide dynamic range adjustment, backlight compensation, 3D noise reduction and anti-shake.
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How to select the best low-light camera

Just like selecting other security equipment, choosing the best low-light camera for video depends on the user’s own needs and requirements. One factor could be whether the user needs to capture color footage during nighttime, or black and white image is sufficient. Other factors such as the monitoring environment and types of targets/objects monitored should also be considered to determine what is the best low-light camera. It’s also important to point out that while certain vendors claim their low-light camera can capture color video at extremely low Lux, they might have achieved this using a slow shutter speed, which can render the video blurred and unusable.
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Installation and what camera setting is good for low light

Installation is important, and so are camera settings for low light. The installer/user should install the camera at the appropriate height and angle according to the monitoring environment. Low-light camera settings such as backlight compensation, P-iris control, exposure value, auto-gain control and digital noise reduction are typically pre-set yet can be manually adjusted to get the desired result.
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Which camera is best for low light

Below are some of our featured low-light cameras on Please note that in addition to the specs listed, the user should also consider the selection and installation tips as mentioned earlier to get the best result.
Infinova VS210-P5-A0 HD 6MP Smart Low Light WDR Face Capture IP Box Camera

The camera features a 1/1.8" progressive scan CMOS sensor with IR-cut removable (ICR) filter for Day/Night switching. Sensitivity is down to 0.001 lux. The camera also supports frame integration WDR, with dynamic range up to 120dB, and high-resolution image signal output at 3088x2072@30fps.
Huawei M1220 2MP Ultra-Low Light Box Camera

The network camera integrates advanced functions such as video compression, network transmission, and intelligent algorithms, supported with behavior analysis, crowd gathering, face recognition, license plate recognition, audio analysis, scene change detection, de-focus detection and image quality diagnosis. Applications include safe cities and rail transportation.
Hikvision 2 MP Ultra-low-light Outdoor LPR Bullet Camera DS-2CD4A26FWD-IZHS/P

The camera is billed as a License Plate Recognition (LPR) ultra-low light smart camera, built specifically for and capable of capturing vehicle images and recognizing the vehicle number (license) plate in dim light environments. The camera can capture color at 0.0027 lux @ ƒ/1.4 with AGC on, and 0 lux with IR. The lens allows 2.8 mm to 12 mm, ƒ/1.4, horizontal field of view 92° to 32°, and 8 mm to 32 mm, ƒ/1.4, horizontal field of view 42° to 13.5°.
JVS-A510-YWS Jovision 5MP Starlight Bullet Camera (AHD/TVI/CVI) 3-in-1

 The HD-over-coaxial camera includes a 1/ 2.5" 5.0MP CMOS sensor and allows all-in-one coaxial HD output of clear and delicate images. Illuminance is down to 0.05Lux@ F1.6 AGC ON and 0 LUX with IR. The camera supports OSD menu control, suitable for user-defined settings, and adaptive digital noise reduction, 2D-DNR.
FSAN 2MP Night Vision HD Hemispheric IP Camera

Features include the use of built-in deep learning algorithm for human shape and car shape, suitable for traffic statistics. Only human or vehicle detection and analysis are performed; other moving objects will not be affected by detection. The camera further supports the following: target counting, electronic fence, retrograde detection, and off-site detection, among others.
Dahua SD3A400-GNP-B-PV 4MP Full-color Active Deterrence WizSense Network PTZ Camera

Key specifications include 1/2.8" 4-Megapixel STARVIS CMOS, the Starlight technology, 120 dB true WDR, 3D DNR, maximum 25/30 fps@4M and 25/30 fps@1080p, PoE and IP rating of IP66. The camera further supports alarm triggering by target types (human and vehicle), as well as filtering of false alarms caused by animals, rustling leaves, and bright lights.
Dahua HAC-HDW2249T-A 2MP Full-color Starlight HDCVI Eyeball Camera

Key features include Full-color starlight, 120dB true WDR and 3DNR. The camera allows maximum 30fps@1080P with HD/SD output switchable. It can also be switched between various HD-over-coaxial formats including CVI/CVBS/AHD/TVI. The device further supports audio-in interface, built-in mic, 3.6mm fixed lens and IP67 rating.
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