License plate color cameras are designed to do exactly what the title says: They take digital video pictures of vehicle license plates, with higher quality cameras able to do so when the vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed (for example, 90 mph). Security Camera King offers one such camera for the job, so for the remainder of this article our focus will be on Product# VSSC-54CDNR-90 a 540 TVL High-Speed License Plate Capture Camera.
A license plate color camera has to possess certain qualities that you wouldn’t find in a typical camera of the same type. For example the camera has to be fast enough (shutter speed) in order to “freeze the motion” of the vehicle, reduce the glare of the tag light at night, and render the brake lights and other possible detrimental light sources as non-problematic.
If you are thinking about purchasing a license plate capture camera there are a few things you should know and /or do, the following is an abbreviated list:
- License plate capture isn’t easy. Television shows will often show police labs that can enlarge a photo of a car which is several hundred feet away and traveling fast. They just magically move some pixels around and Viola! There’s the clearest picture of the license plate ever scene. That’s TV and it’s not that easy; of course license plate capture can be done but you have to have the right equipment and follow the correct procedures.
- The significant difference between license plate color cameras and other digital video color cameras is the license plate color camera has an adjustable shutter speed control. The faster the shutter speed, the better the quality of the image when trying to “stop motion” to capture an image.
- Capturing license plates at night can be very difficult without the proper equipment. A highly illuminated plate against the dark night time background will yield a bright block of white with no numbers on it. Unless you use a license plate color camera that has the right functions and features on it such as Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) and a high speed shuttle for stop motion shots.
- Placement of the camera is crucial to successful plate capture as well. Most license plate color cameras need to be placed somewhere where the vehicle is beginning to slow down such as a gate, speed bump, and so on. However Security Camera King’s license plate color camera can capture plates on vehicles moving as fast as 90 mile per hour! Ideally, the camera should be positioned about 20 to 30 feet from the bumper of the vehicles. The camera should be just a few feet off the road at a height between about 2.5 and 9 feet high. Also, the lens needs to be zoomed in so that the rear bumper of the car fills the frame with no more than half order to extricate each end of the bumper. Handing the lens cropped correctly will maximize the size of the letters and numbers on the plate making it easier to capture of the DVR.
- Remember that when set-up properly the license plate cameras is for that purpose only. You will not be able to see other things in the area. You more than likely will not be able to see other things in the area. The camera will not yield a description of the car the color of the car driver or other items. Use the second and lower third camera for that purpose. License plate color cameras are generally made for one purpose to capture license plates in one lane.
- Other things you will need includes a quality DVR capable of recording at 704X480 resolution were higher. Five images per second recording speed is an absolute minimum and prerecord motion detection is very useful. You will need a small service monitor what you go to adjust these cameras. You can forget the “use the cell phone approach” to adjusting the camera it just won’t work. Of course you will need other standard things like the proper coaxial cable, a sufficient Power Supply, a quality monitor and all the usual things that go with any form of CCTV System.
If you have any questions about a license plate color camera please feel free to contact one of our security experts via either on-line live chat or by telephone at 866-573-8878.