Surveillance Systems

Is Night Vision On Security Cameras Effective?

Making the Most of Modern Surveillance Technology

Night vision on security cameras can be very effective, but it needs to be installed correctly. A few mistakes can render things useless. The good news is that it’s relatively hard to damage good equipment, but exposing night vision cameras to a great deal of light might wear them out. Keeping a few tips in mind will prevent problems from rearing their ugly head.

Customers who are still confused can get in touch with the Security Camera King at any time. Real live experts are ready to help. That means that no one has to set up his or her installation without guidance. That being said, it’s important to remember that this technology really can work wonders. With good night vision equipment, a person can be observed from over 200 yards away without light from the moon or stars.

When most people think about night vision, they either imagine infrared scenes in action movies or goggles used by hunters. While night vision equipment in the real world isn’t nearly as fantastic as anything imagined by Hollywood, night vision security cameras are an effective and necessary part of any surveillance installation. They let people watch an area even when it’s dark outside. They’re also great for indoor environments that aren’t illuminated.

Some night vision installations aren’t necessarily used only at night. Say a facility has a dark storeroom in the back. It doesn’t necessarily need to be lit up to install a surveillance camera. An infrared camera with an onboard set of LED lights can work just as well in many cases. Shop owners who want to save a little electricity might want to consider these designs. In some cases, they can save people from having to light up a room.

There are two primary technologies that night vision security units can implement. The choice of which of these two technologies should be used is dependant on what the consumer is trying to accomplish. Image enhancement is sometimes referred to as light amplification, and it refers to cameras that are able to collect and amplify tiny amounts of light. These cameras collect everything from ambient light to the lower portion of the infrared spectrum.

Infrared light is imperceptible to most people’s eyes, but what the human eye can’t perceive can be processed by machinery. Light amplification can produce an image that’s easily observed. This means that surveillance operations can continue, despite an apparent lack of light.

Thermal imagining technology captures the upper end of the infrared light spectrum. Most people usually perceive this energy as heat. Most objects emit some form of infrared energy. Warm organic material naturally gives off more infrared energy than cold objects. For instance, it’s easy to observe warm bodies with this technology. For that matter, it’s fairly easy to examine artificial things that give off heat as well. Cars give off quite a bit of heat, for instance.

Anything that’s alive is using energy and therefore giving off at least some heat. Trees and other plants don’t give off much in the way of measurable upper infrared light, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Hotter objects give off shorter wavelengths when they emit infrared photons. Extremely hot objects actually give off visible light. This is why metal glows red in a steel mill. It’s also the principle by which incandescent and halogen lighting works.

Emissions given off by objects can be captured by thermal imaging units. While a photograph might produce an image based on visible light, these cameras instead produce thermographs. Good cameras take around one-thirtieth of a second to cycle the detector array and make a thermographic picture. Some cameras have an even better response time. Trying to shoot night vision video can be difficult, so it’s important to get a camera that has the best possible response rate for the money.

That helps to overcome one of the major weaknesses of these cameras and make them that much more powerful. The fact that these cameras shoot in monochrome is another major weakness, but this too can be overcome. Good signal-processing software helps a lot. The signal-processing unit sends information to the display, and it can be viewed in false color or black and white. Some monochromatic images can be extremely sharp, so that means that the picture on the display might actually be more desirable than a regular color image. Some people working with regular surveillance cameras choose to shoot black and white video anyways.

Some thermographic cameras don’t work all that well in low temperatures, so it’s important to grab the best unit available if the weather is going to be cold. Most devices can sense temperatures down to about -4 degrees. Great cameras can trump this, but regular users probably don’t need to install cameras with this sort of option. Then again, these lenses can help to observe objects that might not give off that much heat.

LED lights can provide some extra invisible light for cameras in areas that need it. These can either be installed around the lens or mounted in a pod away from the unit. In either case, these provide additional light for the camera in the same way that a regular photographic camera might have a flashbulb. However, these LED lights consume very little energy and the light they give off is invisible. This means that an illuminated night vision camera can be installed somewhere without anyone even realizing that it’s on. Owners of cameras that aren’t producing the best images at the moment might consider investing in an LED light pod to make them more effective.

Many of the reasons that people call night vision ineffective are related to issues that are easily corrected. Interestingly enough, most people don’t realize that they can also capture sound recordings with plenty of night vision installations. Using the microphone properly can really help to get the most out of a camera. Night vision works well, and it’s even better when paired with a quality recording mechanism.

Encryption is extremely important for those who are working with wireless infrared cameras, but night vision cameras don’t have any additional security issues associated with them. After all, they’re merely cameras. As long as the client is working with a secured wireless network, they shouldn’t have too much to complain about.

Individuals who are truly serious about night vision surveillance might want to take a look at cameras that have remote pan and tilt mechanisms. There are models that can pan out a full 300 degrees and tilt a full 120 degrees. These are really great for following moving objects or capturing video of a wide field. Remote control is extremely important when trying to control these systems. It can be a real pain to work with cameras that don’t have great remote control devices. Fortunately, the Security Camera King carries all the parts necessary to interface any number of devices.

Stereoscopic night vision is an interesting topic, but it’s not always practical. That’s unfairly made many believe that it’s not effective. That simply isn’t true. There are a few good reasons that one might want to install a stereoscopic night vision camera, and many of the problems people experience with them are a result of misuse.

Stereoscopes take two different photographs. When these are viewed together, they produce a single image that has depth and relief. This can sometimes create two perspectives, but that’s generally not an issue since the object of focus is so far away that the two objects merge into one. Many people probably have fond memories of playing with stereoscopic slide projectors when they were children. These work on a similar principle, and should be enough to prove why these systems aren’t effective for surveillance purposes.

While it’s an interesting technology to work with, the security applications of stereoscopic night vision are relatively limited. Most people have no reason to be taking 3D images of an area. Since 3D television is becoming popular, people have started to import this phenomenon into the world of security. Naturally, it doesn’t work well. Ineffective technology should just be ignored. While technicians might someday use stereoscopes to take holographic images, these devices are certainly a long way off. Conventional night vision cameras are still the best designs today.

Solid-state camera components are improving light amplification. That being said, some people working with older cameras will concern themselves with photo cathode sensitivity. Night vision was long thought to be ineffective because of low photo cathode sensitivity ratings. These figures measure how well an image intensification tube converts light into an electronic signal that can actually be amplified into something visible. Sensitivity ratings are usually expressed in terms of microamperes per lumen.

Traditionally, this measured the numbered of electrons released by the PC tube. The problem with these figures, however, is that they don’t reflect the fact that more than half of the electrons are actually lost by the ion barrier in the PC tube. This means that the sensitivity figures are actually lower than what’s given to the client. That’s why some newer cameras seem to work so much better than older devices.

A third generation image intensifier can have a response rate as high as 2000 microamperes per lumen. That means that the actual rate is somewhere around 900. Fourth generation equipment doesn’t employ ion barrier technology, which means that the photo response rate is much higher than that found in older equipment. Some people that are dissatisfied with older generations of cameras have gotten the erroneous idea that night vision simply isn’t an effective technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’re merely messing around with obsolete technology. These opinions don’t accurately depict modern night vision cameras.

Resolution is another important metric to consider when looking at different camera designs. Certain night vision systems can discriminate the boundaries of various objects better than others. Cameras with poor resolutions are another reason that people wrongfully believe night vision isn’t an effective surveillance technology. Resolution measurements are taken from the image intensifier. The system resolution can change. New displays can take the place of old ones, and a monitor’s resolution could be adjusted by software as well. The image intensifier’s resolution won’t change regardless of what happens to these other parts, however.

The resolution of most night vision devices is different depending on where it’s measured. The periphery of the image might have a completely different measurement from the center of the image. Choosing a mission critical device can be difficult. While it’s not necessarily a hard and fast rule, bigger resolution measurements are usually better in most situations.

Fewer and fewer people are paying attention to signal-to-noise ratios. This is yet another reason that people falsely believe that night vision cameras aren’t effective. SNR measurements tell the consumer how much interference will end up in an image. Higher SNR numbers indicate that a camera should shoot pictures with better low-light resolution and contrast. Experts often consider SNR figures to be the best indicator of how well an individual camera works.

Scintillation refers to electronic noise that causes small sparkling artifacts to be spread throughout an image. These dots are normal and are usually more pronounced under low-light conditions. However, better cameras produce lower amounts of this electronic noise. Think about cheap digital cameras for a moment. Inexpensive designs mounted on cell phones and key chains take horrible photos. While the resolution of these models is terrible, that’s not the only problem with them. They produce a ton of scintillation, especially when there’s insufficient light for shooting an image. This problem is much worse when one is purposefully trying to take pictures under low-light conditions.

Therefore, it’s important to find a camera that takes photos without producing too much noise. Finding the best camera shouldn’t have to be too much of a chore, so the Security Camera King’s experts are trained to assist those who want to purchase a new infrared unit. This is a huge help for anyone who is trying to buy his or her first night vision camera. Contact us today for further information.

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