There’s something to be said about low-light security cameras. Because lighting conditions in different environments are not always ideal for surveillance, low-light security cameras enable us to capture respectable footage in these situations. And with new technology, the quality of low-light camera images has vastly improved.
But before you invest in low-light security cameras for your home or business, here are some important facts and tips to know to make the most of your security systems.
Here’s some important information in order to make the most of your security systems.
First and foremost, you should know the related terms you may come across:
All of these terms refer to the same classification of surveillance cameras. And while some of these terms are trademarked by manufacturers, the most commonly used terms for these cameras are “low-light” and “day/night.”
How It Works
Despite the sometimes confusing terminology, the basic components remain the same for all low-light cameras: a lens and sensor and some level of image processing. And to be clear, low-light cameras are different than thermal cameras (which track heat rather than motion or images) or cameras with IR illuminators.
A majority of low-light cameras use an IR cut filter, which is a mechanical filter that sits between the lens and the sensor (CMOS chip). The name is derived from its ability to “cut out” or filter out IR illumination during the day to improve color quality. At night, as available light diminishes, it slides out of the way to allow more light to get the sensor, thus improving low-light video quality. In order to help the video quality, it is also captured in black and white. In most cameras the filter is mechanically driven by an algorithm, however, some cameras allow manual control.
Because nearly all the cameras contain IR cut filters, it comes down to the lens and the processing to set these items apart from one another. The lens transmits light to the sensor and then the data on the sensor is processed by a processor. The variance among cameras is often in the optics. You want to be sure that both the lens and the sensor are of great quality, otherwise the potential for stellar images will be wasted.
Aside from the optics, processing is an important factor in determining the best low-light camera for you. Most manufacturers employ the same OEM processor yet make their own adjustments to them. The ability to control the tuning of an image is crucial as the tuning of an image during daylight will likely not hold up at night or in complete darkness.
Pay close attention to image toning, noise suppression, and the ability to maintain color and contrast in low light as these often differentiate one camera from another.
Typical IR cameras will capture images between 1 lux and 0.1 lux, however, the latest technologies can allow .01 lux to 0.00001 lux. This means that what would have been a completely black image a few years ago now looks like a near-daytime picture thanks to new low- and ultralow-light sensors.
While this achievement is impressive, in reality, there will rarely be any situations where there is complete darkness. Some ambient light will likely be present, whether it is from street lamps, the moon, or even the stars.
Spec Sheets Vs. Live Demo
As discussed, the impressive low-light sensitivity and lux will likely be included in the spec sheets, along with other important features. However, these spec sheets often represent technical specifications as opposed to actual performance.
Instead of simply relying on spec sheets, try to find a manufacturer or company that will provide you with a live demo and comparisons. This will give you a better idea of the low-light camera’s performance and whether or not it lives up to your requirements. In addition, third party reviews can give you more insight as well.
Just because a camera boasts a high megapixel count does not necessarily mean it will produce a better low-light image. With higher resolution and higher megapixels, each pixel becomes a smaller percentage of that sensor. For example, image the sensor has a fixed size, yet the resolution is doubled. The pixels are smaller, thus, the sensor for each pixel is also smaller, increasing the amount of sensitivity needed to maintain the same level of quality.
The speed of the lens is important and investing in a fast lens and better optics is crucial. The lens determines what information reaches the sensor, and, because of this, you get what you pay for when it comes to lenses and optics.
Positioning & Distance
Proper positioning of your security cameras is critical. Focus on what you want to capture and the level of detail you need when choosing the location of your cameras.
Position surveillance cameras so that the common range of motion is moving across the field of view rather than having common movement coming toward the camera. Also, avoid bright light pointing directly at the lens – this can cause flare or “fog” on the image.
Consider the field of view in terms of distance. The level of detail from the camera is highly dictated by how close the camera is and how much it’s zoomed in.
And when it comes to distance, you want the right combination of lens and camera that factors in the distance from the area you are trying to monitor. If you need to detect motion from long distances, your best bet would be to switch to thermal cameras. Activity will be detected, however, it will be harder to determine whether it is a person or an animal.
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Security surveillance cameras and surveillance systems in themselves offer a sense of security. Unfortunately, they don’t guarantee immunity from any crimes or burglaries. They can only offer potentially helpful footage for the case investigation.
The mere presence of security surveillance cameras themselves can prove beneficial to businesses in deterring bad behavior. For situations when this is not the case and crimes do occur, security surveillance camera footage can serve as evidence of the criminal act and aids in identification of suspects or key witnesses. Using social media to circulate these images or footage can help identify criminals faster.
Social media can reach great lengths in a short amount of time. In fact, a Facebook post of a still image from surveillance footage lead to the same day arrest of a robbery suspect. Authorities are catching on and utilizing surveillance footage in conjunction with social media to get the public’s help in finding potential suspects and witnesses. Not everyone watches the news so by sharing or retweeting these posts, a broader audience is reached, increasing visibility and the chance that the suspect will be identified and caught.
While social media can strengthen security cameras systems overall, the security surveillance cameras themselves should be of high quality and reliable. It’s important to invest in systems with features beneficial to your specific environment. Your options should be weighed depending on your needs and budget.
Let SecurityCamExpert.com help you find the security surveillance cameras suited for you. Browse our selection online or speak directly with our sales team via live chat or phone – 1-888-203-6294. We are always happy to help you find what you need and answer any questions you may have.
Privacy has always been an issue with security cameras, and lately security cameras seem to be popping up everywhere. Citizens are concerned about their privacy and freedom; being scrutinized under a watchful eye is not a comfortable feeling. To intensify their worries, police are now trying to tap into the private security cameras to help obtain footage of crimes.
In San Jose, a proposal is in the works where homeowners can voluntarily register their private security cameras and be added to a database. This database of home surveillance will help the police easily locate security cameras with potential footage of a crime. Police would have to get permission to remotely access the person’s surveillance footage.
There are people against this proposal, worried that this gives police too much access and fear a Big Brother situation. They say footage will only be accessed with permission and won’t continuously be monitored, but how can people be sure that officers will abide by that? Others worry that police are monitoring footage in order to find problems rather than solving crimes. And how will this affect work ethic? Will access to these cameras result in officers relying on footage and slacking on their duties?
While these are legitimate concerns, residents should consider the benefits they can reap from it as well. Other areas have implemented similar plans and they have proven to be effective, with crime rates declining. Officials also assure that footage is not continuously monitored, instead, when a crime occurs, police will reference the map to find cameras that could possibly contain pertinent footage. Using this map is much easier and less time consuming than going door-to-door trying to track down footage. Lastly, the program is voluntary not mandatory – those against this proposal can opt out.
It’s obvious that much needs to be discussed about this proposal, as both sides have valid points. If these programs continue to be successful we may begin to see more and more areas implementing a sort of “crowdsourcing” of surveillance footage. But then again, if it were to spread, would we be growing toward a Big Brother situation?
Topics of privacy versus security will continue to be an ongoing debate. Please share your thoughts on this topic – connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. For your security camera & equipment needs, visit our store online at SecurityCamExpert.com or give us a call at 1-888-203-6294.
Hospitals are often associated with recovery from illnesses. Patients are vulnerable because they are usually in a weakened state. It seems almost absurd that these facilities for healing would ever be targeted, but sadly they are. Every so often you may hear a story of an attempted kidnapping of newborns, stolen laptops containing sensitive information about patients or even shootings within the premises. The fact of the matter is these hospitals need comprehensive security to keep the patients as well as the workers safe.
There are many facets when discussing safety. Visitors must check in to prevent possible trespassers. This, of course, is to keep both staff and patients safe and protect the privacy of health information. We must also keep the patients safe from possible abuse from staff. In the same strain, the staff must be kept safe from aggressive patients who may attack.
Patients can benefit from security cameras because it is not fiscally feasible to have a 1:1 ratio for staff and patients. The security cameras act as an extra pair of eyes. Monitoring the feeds may help find a distressed patient before it’s too late. The cameras may also catch suspicious activity or unwelcome visitors who have somehow bypassed check-in.
The security cameras can improve productivity because employees are aware they are being monitored, and can aid in resolving disputes between coworkers. It can also save employees from false claims, providing clear video evidence of the occurrence.
While they have numerous benefits, security cameras can run the risk of over reliance. Workers may depend on the cameras rather than actively checking on the patients, making them susceptible to a negligence claim. Because the security cameras are obviously being implemented, they may be open to tampering or manipulation. As with any type of monitoring, privacy issues arise. So long as the cameras comply with legal standards, they can be utilized ethically and efficiently.
Placement of security cameras in the hospital setting can make or break the security system’s effectiveness. Security cameras should be installed both inside and outside of the building. Both public and restricted access entrances/exits should also be under supervision. Because of the possible dangers, stairwells and elevators should also be monitored. Security cameras in the hallways will prove helpful as most traffic occurs there. Lastly, installing cameras in parking lots and loading areas will help catch any suspicious activity outside.
The benefits of security cameras in hospitals can outweigh the disadvantages if utilized properly. Feel free to browse our selection of security cameras at SecurityCamExpert or give us a call at 1-888-203-6294.