How to See Better in the Dark

Garrett Savage

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On August 4th In IP Surveillance Video, Video Surveillance
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Surveillance cameras at night
What to look for in a Surveillance Cameras for Low Light Environments

When it comes to the applications for video surveillance in low light environments, Security Integrators cannot afford to remain in the dark. Whether a camera is meant to monitor a poorly lit stairwell or a parking lot overnight, more end users are demanding technology that can provide a surveillance data in almost any condition. To help you keep up with this trend, here are some tips on what to look for in surveillance cameras that will need to perform in low light conditions.

Digital Slow Shutter

Setting the shutter speed so that it stays open longer will allow more light to fall on the camera’s sensor. As you can imagine, this can be important in settings where light is at a premium so look for a camera that has a Digital Slow Shutter feature. A word of warning though, slow shutter speed can also result in image blur and noise that can distort your image. Situations vary by camera and by what is being recorded but with a little work you should be able to find a balance where the shutter speed is low enough to allow additional light to hit the sensor while not producing an illegible image.

True Day/Night

To determine whether a camera is right for low light use you will also want to check for a “True Day/Night” feature. Many cameras in use today are equipped with an IR Filter which blocks out near infrared light allowing the camera to produce more accurate colors.  The True Day/Night feature will automatically remove the IR Filter when light levels are low and, in most cases, removes all color from the image to provide a cleaner image and reducing noise or graininess.

Automatic Gain Control (AGC)

Video sensors in surveillance cameras can struggle in low light environments to capture detailed images which can result in a distorted or low-quality image. Automatic Gain Control, (AGC) is a feature found in select camera models that improve the “dynamic range” and produce a more useable image.

IR Illumination

It seems like an obvious solution to a problem with not having enough light would be to add light. Some cameras are equipped with IR Illuminators that can add light at limited distances and help produce a useable image when there isn’t much light available. Even though built-in IR Illuminators are typically only effective for limited distances, and only results in a black and white image, this is still a handy feature to look for in a camera that is meant to be used in a low light environment.

In the end, the best way to determine how surveillance cameras will work in low light conditions is to line them up in the desired setting and test them out. Camera shoot-outs should be the norm for customers who are concerned with image quality in any condition. If you have any questions about the best products to use for your next video surveillance installation, ADI’s Systems Sales & Support Team is here to help. You can contact the ADI System, Sales and Support Team at 1.800.ADI.SYS1.

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