Imagine that you run a small business and you’re looking for a security camera system to help protect your property. You’ve heard security cameras can see in the dark, but you’re not sure about night vision quality. Can a security camera system really see clearly enough to identify someone trying to steal from your business? In this article, we’ll talk about how far can a security camera see at night.
We will also cover different types of security cameras and factors that may affect how far a security camera can see.
- 1 How Far Can a Security Camera See at Night
- 2 What Do LEDs Do for Night Vision Cameras?
- 3 Types of Night Vision Security Cameras
- 4 Factors That Affect Night Vision Distance
- 5 Ways to Improve Security Camera Night Vision
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
How Far Can a Security Camera See at Night
Very high-end night vision security cameras can see up to 170 feet in complete darkness. Other types might only see up to about 30 feet in complete darkness. Night vision security cameras can range in their ability to see in the dark. The distance a night vision security camera can see depends on the type and quality of camera and the operating environment.
Having cameras that can see well at night and in the daytime is essential for good round-the-clock security. This is because many crimes, such as theft, vandalism, and burglary, happen at night. Typical security cameras rely on visible light to capture images, which means they don’t see in the dark very well.
However, modern security cameras have built-in night vision ability. Night vision security cameras use special technology to capture images in low-light conditions. These cameras can see in the dark by using infrared (IR) light, enhancing the available light, or by using thermal imaging. IR light is invisible to the human eye but it can be picked up by night vision security cameras.
So, how far can a security camera see at night? It really depends on the type of camera and the technology being used.
Here are six-night popular security cameras with video capture distances and the number of LEDs on board:
- Reolink Argus 2: up to 33 feet with 8 LEDs
- Zmodo Wireless Security Camera System: up to 65 feet with 36 LEDs
- Nest Cam Indoor: up to 50 feet with 940nm IR LEDs
- Ring Stick Up Cam: up to 30 feet with 850nm IR LEDs
- Amcrest UltraHD 4K (8MP) Dome POE IP Camera: up to 98 feet with 42 LEDs
- Lorex 8 Channel 4K NVR Security System: up to 150 feet with 120 LEDs
What Do LEDs Do for Night Vision Cameras?
As you can see, the night vision distances vary by type and quality of the security camera. The number of LEDs also plays a role in how far the camera can see at night. The LEDs are usually positioned around the camera lens and sometimes emit a small red light.
LEDs illuminate the field of view and provide the infrared light the cameras need to record at night. The more LEDs a camera has, the greater the light source and the further out the camera will be able to see at night.
An exception is with LEDs that produce a shorter wavelength of light. LEDs with shorter wavelength light emitters can see further in the dark, requiring fewer LEDs to accomplish the same job. For this reason, you may find night vision security cameras with only one LED light that can record at distances similar to cameras with multiple LEDs.
Types of Night Vision Security Cameras
How far a security camera can see at night largely depends on the type and quality of technology used in building the camera. Your choice of camera type will affect the image and video quality you can capture at night. There are four main types of night vision security cameras:
Traditional Security Cameras
Traditional security cameras rely on visible light to capture images. This means that they can’t see in the dark very well. They can capture some images based on the surrounding available light. But the image you see in the monitor likely won’t be much better than what you can see with the naked eye.
Starlight Security Cameras
Starlight cameras are security cameras with special starlight sensors to provide improved night vision in low light conditions. These cameras use advanced image processing technology to produce clear images in low light conditions.
Starlight cameras are more expensive than traditional security cameras but they provide better image quality in low light conditions. These cameras are often used in high-security areas where image quality is paramount.
Infrared Security Cameras
Infrared security cameras use special technology to capture images in low-light conditions. These cameras can see in the dark by using infrared (IR) light. IR light is invisible to the human eye but it can be picked up by night vision security cameras.
IR security cameras can see in total darkness because they don’t rely on visible light to record images. These cameras emit their own light in the form of infrared LEDs. The number of LEDs will determine how far away from the camera the objects can be and still be visible.
Thermal imaging security cameras
Thermal imaging security cameras use heat signatures to capture images. These cameras can see in complete darkness and do not require any light source. Thermal imaging security cameras are the most expensive type of night vision security camera.
Thermal imaging cameras can see in the dark because they don’t rely on visible light or infrared light. These cameras detect heat signatures and can see objects in complete darkness. The advantage of thermal imaging cameras is that they can see through smoke, fog, and other obstacles that block visible light.
Factors That Affect Night Vision Distance
The type of camera you choose will affect the image quality and night vision distance. But there are other factors that can affect how far your security camera can see at night. Here are some of the most important factors:
The light sensitivity of a camera measures how much light is needed for the camera to produce a clear image. The image sensor is the part of the camera that converts the light into an electrical signal. The higher an image sensor’s light sensitivity, the less light is needed to produce a clear image.
For night vision, you want a camera with a high light sensitivity, expressed numerically as ISO Sensitivity. ISO stands for International Organization for Standards, which sets the standard scale for ISO Sensitivity.
The higher the ISO number is for a digital sensor, the greater the sensor’s ability to capture light.
Lens size determines how much light the camera can gather. A larger lens will allow the camera to gather more light. More light results in a clearer image.
Lens size also determines the field of view and zoom level that the camera can produce. Larger lens sizes result in a more narrow and zoomed field of view.
The aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light to enter the camera, kind of like the human eye. The larger the aperture, the more light that can enter the camera.
A security camera’s aperture determines how well it will see at night. In terms of performance, the aperture has the biggest impace on image quality, regardless of additional features like number of IR lights and lens size.
Lens Focal Length
The focal length is the distance between the lens and the image sensor. Focal length is usually measured in millimeters (e.g., 28 mm, 50 mm, or 100 mm). In lenses with zoom features, both minimum and maximum focal lengths are identified, such as 28–100 mm.
Focal length determines how much of an area in front of a camera will be captured on video. It also will detrmine the size of subjects within the video frame.
A longer focal length will produce an image with people appearing larger in the frame than those from a shorter focal length.
“Resolution” refers to the size of an image produced by a digital camera and is usually measured in terms of “megapixels.” The resolution of the camera determines the number of pixels in the image.
A megapixel (mp) is about one million pixels in an image. So 17 mp image will have roughly 17 million pixels. The higher the resolution, the more pixels in the image. More pixels means a sharper, more clear image.
The frame rate is the number of images that the camera can take per second. The higher the frame rate, the more images the camera can take per second.
Fast moving object within a frame require a higher frame. Slower movements can be captured by a slower frame rate.
Objects can generally be captured by security cameras with 30 frames per second (fps), but 60 fps cameras are quickly become more common.
Network bandwidth and storage capacity can limit your ability to capture quality video, especially for night vision capable security cameras.
Available Light Source
The available light source is the amount of light available for a security camera to use. More available light translates to a clearer, sharper image.
Security cameras quality is measured by components such as lenses and sensors, but a camera’s performance is only as good as the available light in the viewing area.
With no light source, a subject cannot be captured by standard security cameras, hence the need for night vision systems. Direction and quality of the available light will also determine how well a subject’s appearance will show up in the video recording.
Camera placement and positioning plays a big role in how fard out your night vision security camera’s can seed. A blurred subject can be the result of a camera that is placed to close. If the camera is placed too far from an subject, the image can appear grainy and undefined.
For night vision, good camera placement, a good light source and an unobstructed view of the area you want to record will result in high quality video.
Ways to Improve Security Camera Night Vision
There are a few things you can do to improve your security camera’s night vision.
One way is to use an infrared (IR) illuminator. An IR illuminator is a light source that emits invisible infrared light. This kind of light is outside of the visible spectrum, so it is invisible to the human eye.
IR illuminators can be used with any type of security camera, but they work best with night vision capable cameras.
Keep bright lights out of the camera’s view by using blinds, shades or other camera covers. If you must have a camera in front of a bright light, keep the light to one side and back of the camera so the light doesn’t directly strike the lens.
You can also increase the camera’s contrast and brightness settings at the monitoring station to improve the visibility of the video. Be sure to experiment with different settings to find the ones that work best for your particular camera and viewing area.
Security cameras are an important tool for protectiong your home or business. They can help you keep an eye on your property, deter crime, and provide evidence if a crime is committed. Hopefully you’ve found some useful information to better help your security cameras see at night.
Why is my CCTV camera very dark at night?
The most common reason why a CCTV camera produces very dark images at night is because the infrared (IR) LEDs are not turned on. The IR LEDs are used to emit infrared light that allows the camera to see in low light or no light conditions. If the IR LEDs are not turned on, the camera will not be able to see in the dark.
Does IR night vision work through glass?
No, IR night vision does not work through glass. The infrared light emitted by the IR LEDs is absorbed by glass, so the camera will not be able to see through it.
What is the difference between an IR illuminator and a regular light?
An IR illuminator is a light source that emits invisible infrared light. This kind of light is outside of the visible spectrum, so it is invisible to the human eye. A regular light emits visible light that can be seen by the human eye.
Can I use an IR illuminator with any type of security camera?
Yes, you can use an IR illuminator with any type of security camera. However, they work best with night vision capable cameras.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have any further legal questions, please contact your local law enforcement agency or an attorney.