How to Overcome Low Lighting on CCTV Camera
If you ask CCTV shopkeepers, security system integrator or even users to identify the most significant variables in influencing the capabilities of CCTV cameras that deliver high-quality images, there is a good chance that the lighting will be at the top. Traditionally, according to the laws of low-light physics on CCTV cameras is a challenge that must be faced on all camera products. Each pixel that shapes the image captures the available light in that specific area. The combination of light captured by all pixels determines the video quality in a given lighting situation. If there is no light or low lighting conditions then generally the results of captured video will be low quality does not even appear at all.
To face this challenge IP camera manufacturers have been working hard to produce products that continue to work even in low light. The lighting challenges are usually handled using software-based technology designed to maximize either available light or by enabling the light to enable the camera to capture high-quality video images even in low light situations.
Generally low light conditions can be overcome by using a number of technologies such as cameras with advanced day / night features, or by incorporating a number of new imaging technologies to work better. That’s why today many low-light imaging devices are more innovative and effective by applying advanced algorithms to change the properties of video signals in order to increase the intensity of available light.
Probably the best known is the H.264 compression algorithm that has become the industry standard for reducing file size for bandwidth and more efficient storage. H.264 and H.265 compression will allow the camera to send video only when there is movement in the frame. But in low light, video can be blurred or contain noise that can cause a much larger video stream. By combining with Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) technology and / or video analysis, the video quality can increase while the file size is also reduced.
But this solution solves only part of the problem. Lighting in contrast to lighting in a single field of view such as a moving car lamp in a dark parking lot will present a different set of challenges. The conventional camera will usually balance the overall lighting in a scene thereby providing a low quality image. On the other hand, WDR (wide dynamic range) technology is designed to address this particular problem by processing light and dim light sources separately in a scene to deliver high quality images. This is a pretty good solution, but there is still one problem that is the ability to clearly capture clean images at great distances and capture moving objects.
From the Low to No Light
H.264, H.265 and WDR compression are the most common DSP-based technologies used to provide quality video in low light environments. But the condition of “low light” and “no light at all” is a completely different concept. The ability to capture images in areas where there is no light usually requires hardware-based solutions such as adding lighting from conventional lighting sources, using cameras with IR illuminators, using camera thermal, or a combination of some of these technologies. Each approach has its own drawbacks such as high cost, limited coverage capability and / or reduced performance.
One example is thermal imaging. Since the thermal camera is more dependent on temperature than visible light, it is able to “see” in every challenging lighting conditions – bright light, low light and pitch black conditions. Generally they are not affected by weather and other elements that can challenge the capabilities of traditional CCTV cameras. When infrastructure supervision or area protection is the ultimate goal then a thermal camera solution will deliver excellent results. But this type of camera is usually not ideal for general security surveillance applications.
Thermal imaging seems to be an attractive option for outdoor surveillance, but the high cost makes it unrealistic for many end users. The price of thermal cameras has indeed gone down recently but they are still beyond the reach of many people. Some manufacturers have introduced cheap and economical models, but usually entry-level cameras do not have features and functions like their more expensive counterparts – making them unsuitable for a number of vital applications.
Another technology commonly used to overcome lighting challenges is to use infrared illumination (IR). Usually this is by adding an external IR source that illuminates the area thus enabling the infrared CCTV camera with IR cut filter for viewing in low light or total darkness. This can be an effective solution, but limited distance and the need to provide power to enhancements can be a new challenge. In addition, if the camera is not equipped with IR lenses, then the performance and …
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