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Which CCTV camera is best for night vision

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CCTV

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Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are an essential component of any security system, but not all cameras offer the same benefits. Competition in the security systems field means there is a drive towards better equipment with an abundance of features. With a wide variety of security cameras on the market today, night vision is one of the most sought after features. Having the added benefit of night vision infrared on your CCTV cameras provides an added level of protection at all hours of the day or night. 

The best CCTV camera for night vision will have good quality infrared (IR) and the ability to cover the field of view you need to monitor. Make sure to look for features that facilitate the best functions for your needs. These may include remote monitoring, tracking, high resolution, audible alarms, wireless connectivity, or in-camera or remote storage. 

Each technical parameter of any piece of technology may seem equally important, but not all of them will be relevant to you. So how do you choose the right CCTV camera for you? If you consider your reasons for investing in a security system and what you need it to do, this will help narrow down your search.


What Do I Need This Night Vision CCTV Camera For?

Whenever you plan to invest in something you will use, it’s important to assess your individual needs. Whether you are concerned about security and need CCTV for your home or a business owner who wants to prevent theft by implementing a business CCTV system

If you can articulate why you need your night vision, the right features will become apparent.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What area does the camera need to monitor? What is the location, how big is it and how far away from the camera site is it?
  • What kind of threats are you looking to guard against? Why do you need the camera to monitor this space?
  • How will you be using and storing the recordings?

The area the camera needs to monitor will determine factors like the installation parameters, indoor vs. outdoor, appropriate connectivity, and range.

The kind of threats you are guarding against and how you will be using the footage will help you determine other parameters such as image quality, software, and image processing capabilities among others.

Depending how often and via what method you will review footage, the ideal means to store and backup footage may vary.


What is the best CCTV for night vision?

Indoor vs. Outdoor Night Vision CCTV Cameras

There are no fundamental differences in terms of imaging technology between indoor and outdoor CCTV cameras. However, outdoor cameras have hardier electronics and a housing designed to withstand the elements better than indoor only cameras.

For an outdoor security camera, you would want to invest in a rating no lower than IP65 - this protects against dust and solid objects. IP66 and up is recommended for harsher weather, so this would depend upon the positioning of your camera and your environment.

Black & White vs. Colour Night Vision CCTV Cameras

Colour night vision technology has advanced drastically in the last couple of years but black and white is still very popular. Black and white cameras utilise LEDs to illuminate the area. The LEDs use infrared light which your eyes can’t see, but the CCTV cameras can. The IR lights emit a different light and the camera’s lens and sensors translate that to black and white images to compose your night vision footage.

Colour night vision cameras have a special type of sensor which helps them to work in low-light environments as many areas have some ambient light to work with, even at night. Using CCTV with night vision in colour is useful for capturing colours of vehicles or items of clothing for example, should you need to identify these specifics. 

One caveat is that colour night vision cameras still require some ambient light to capture footage and their range is relatively limited. They are good for urban and suburban areas that have some ambient light. Black and white cameras tend to be more affordable and also have a longer range, so they are better for distant objects and in areas with low ambient light.

Night Vision vs. Day/Night Vision CCTV Cameras 

Day/night vision security systems have imaging sensors that register both IR and daylight. An IR cut filter eliminates the IR component during the day. This helps them compensate for variable ambient light by adjusting the image so you get a clear picture no matter how much light there is. This makes them the best option for 24 hour surveillance.

How can I make my CCTV camera better at night?

While a camera’s function may vary depending on its specific features, there are some general things you can do to improve their performance. Make sure the IR is powerful enough for the coverage area. All cameras have a quoted maximum infrared range that will vary from camera to camera, but if your camera’s listed range is between 5 and 50 metres, areas that are 50 metres away will likely have poorer quality compared to closer areas. A good practice would be to measure the distance that you need to cover and add one third onto that range when buying your camera; if you need to cover 30 metres from the camera, then make sure your camera has a range of up to 40 metres for the best image.

Alternatively, you also need to make sure the IR is not too powerful as this can affect the quality just as much. This is because cameras cannot adjust the brightness for up close objects, so anything close to the camera will be too bright and the image will be washed out. 

IR LEDs are designed to illuminate the centre of the image to focus their power, so be aware of this with wide angle lenses. If the lenses are varifocal, with the ability to zoom in and out, the centre of the image will likely be clearer, but the outer edges will not be well lit by the IR lights.

It’s also important to make sure the view in front of the camera is unobstructed and clear of any objects. Most CCTV cameras are made to adjust their exposure based on what is in front of them, so if there is something like a tree branch or a piece of furniture in the field of view, your CCTV is likely going to adjust its focus on this and the rest of the image will be too dark to pick anything up. 

Don’t be discouraged if all you see is a black screen if you point your camera into an empty space. IR needs something to reflect off of and will pick up anything that comes into range when the time comes. 

When purchasing a CCTV camera with night vision, don’t forget to take into account the mounting height. The distance from an object or area you wish to observe needs to also account for the height. If you want to watch your car at night and it is 4 metres from the house but you’re mounting your camera 3 metres high then the IR distance needs to be at least 5 metres based on the Pythagorean theorem (A2+B2=C2).

What colour light is best for a night vision camera?

Night vision cameras most often use IR light to illuminate their coverage area. Infrared light is not in the visible spectrum, meaning it’s not visible to the human eye. Specialised cameras like those used in night vision CCTV cameras are able to capture infrared light reflections from anything that is in their field of view. The limitation of infrared is that it does not capture colour images. Colour night vision cameras can capture colour footage, but require more ambient light than cameras that rely on infrared lighting.

Why is my security camera blurry at night?

Night vision CCTV cameras can see in the dark by using IR which reflects off nearby surfaces. However, when the IR light bounces back from an object that is too close, it can cause “blinding,” or washed out or blurry images, in the footage. Occasionally, this reflection can come from the housing of the camera itself, particularly if there is condensation or dirt on the overlying glass. This light reflection can make the image appear blurry or foggy. Check the positioning of your camera and clean out the housing to help prevent blurry images.

If your camera has a colour light sensor and is clear during the day but blurry at night, it might be because of the aperture. In order to capture any available light, these cameras open their aperture at night which decreases the depth of field and can cause blurry footage in the foreground or the background. Additionally, if your camera has varifocal lenses and is not adjusting itself properly it may need a manual adjustment, which can usually be physically adjusted on the camera.

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