You can do several things to improve a night vision security camera.
The best way to improve its night vision capability is to provide extra lighting using LED bulbs, but the night vision capability itself depends on various factors, related features, where and how you re-position the camera, and so on. Also, ensure it is not too far off the ground, clean the lens, and ensure the night mode is functioning.
Night Vision Capability Explained
The night vision capability of a security camera is usually provided by the infrared bulbs around its main lens.
These bulbs enable the security camera to operate during the night (in low-light conditions) and see what would otherwise not be normally visible to the human eye.
In the ideal night vision camera:
- The images should be clear and sharp (not grainy or blurred).
- There should be good contrast between light and dark objects.
- The camera should have an acceptable viewing range despite the dark conditions.
- The camera’s lens is not affected easily by reflected light.
- The night vision mode is not too degraded from its day vision mode.
Besides brightness, one parameter that defines night vision capability is the range or distance the security camera can see at night. While normal cameras can see up to around 300 feet at night, a night vision security camera can usually see up to one-third of this distance, around 40-100 feet.
Note that a night vision security camera may be described as having a range of for example 70 feet, but you may find the image is only clear up to around 40 feet, and it gets darker beyond that.
Is the Night Vision Mode Working?
Firstly, are you sure the night mode is functioning?
Check if the security camera is working in night mode by creating a dark environment, as the camera might be stuck in day mode. The red infrared bulbs around the lens should turn on in a low-light environment, and you may hear a slight clicking sound. If this doesn’t happen, there might be too much brightness around, preventing it from switching to night mode.
If it does switch to night mode, but you’re not getting clear images, reset it by powering it off and then back on. Does this make a difference? If the camera fails to operate in night mode, it might be defective and need repairing. Or, if it does but resetting it doesn’t make a difference, then you will need to move to other positions.
First, we will consider its position.
Re-Positioning a Night Vision Security Camera
If your night vision security camera has obstructions or reflecting light sources in the way, or if it’s placed too high, it may not be positioned optimally.
Deal with Obstacles
If trees and bushes are in the way, i.e., in view of the security camera, it will reduce visibility. They must be trimmed. Bushes and hedges should be no higher than 3 feet. The alternative is to re-position the camera.
Location and Angle
Optimize the location, angle, and height of the night vision security camera before re-attaching it to another position.
As this article mentions, check for any potential issues and choose the most ideal location. The camera should not point directly at any other light source, nor should there be a glass pane, or a tree or shrub in front of it. It should have a clear view of the area to be monitored.
If another opposing source of light is too close by, the sensor will overcompensate and close the lens’ iris, which will create a dark background. Also, it might not operate in night mode to activate the IR bulbs, which will again give a dark and blurry image.
Height is an important factor as well, besides the location and angle.
A higher position might give a longer and wider range view, particularly during the day. Still, at night, the camera’s ability to brighten an area will be determined by how close it is to the ground. You will have to strike the right balance to get an ideal height to position the camera.
If you are unsure about positioning the night vision security camera, ideally, have it installed by a professional.
Improving Night Vision Capabilities (Next Steps)
There are several ways in which you can further improve the night vision of a security camera. We assume you are using a digital infrared-based night vision security camera.
Arrange Extra Lighting
Brightening the whole area with extra lighting may go against fully utilizing a security camera’s night vision capability. Still, if you have one that doesn’t perform well at night, this is the best way to ensure you get clearer images in the dark.
Installing extra lighting higher than where the security camera is positioned will give light to its view without the light reflecting in its lens. This will improve image quality and increase the camera’s range. But don’t use lights that are too bright. Otherwise, the image quality may be affected.
You can also add more lighting in other areas to improve visibility, as long as it does not cause glare or reflect directly on the camera’s lens. Position all extra lighting carefully.
Also, extra lighting doesn’t mean it has to be on all the time. You can use motion-sensor lighting, a dawn-dusk or other timer switch, or solar lights. Motion-sensor lighting is cost-effective and a good deterrent for intruders. It will also allow you to use a higher-wattage bulb to light up the area without worrying about the cost.
Install Extra External Infrared Lights
Extra external infrared lights and the main night vision security camera can help improve contrast.
Use LED Bulbs
LED bulbs work well with security cameras because they create better light conditions than incandescent bulbs.
They don’t require warming up, the lighting will be more evenly spread, and there will tend to be fewer dark spots. They also consume less energy.
Eliminate or Reduce Hot Spots
Check for reflective objects in the area that could cause ‘hot spot’ glare by reflecting the camera’s IR LEDs.
Use an IR filter, or try to reduce or eliminate such hot spots by removing or relocating the reflective objects. You can also avoid IR-based night vision cameras altogether by using white light ones instead, but you might compromise the night vision capability. Also, white lights tend to attract insects.
Clean the Camera’s Lens
As with any camera, the image quality of a night vision security camera will be affected if there’s an accumulation of dust or water stains on its lens.
Security cameras that point straight are more likely to have this problem than those that point downward. Outdoor security cameras are also susceptible to spider webs, especially if it provides spiders with a warm home.
Make sure you clean the lens regularly.
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