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A guide to setting up Night Vision CCTV

night vision CCTV in car park

So, it’s that time of year again, when the clocks go back and night starts to creep in ever earlier. It’s natural then that it’s around now that many people look to invest in a night vision CCTV system, helping make sure their property can stay securely monitored at all hours. However, as with many things in the world of security and CCTV, there are plenty of potential pitfalls and points for the uninitiated to consider when setting up Infra-Red cameras. In this quick guide we take a look at some of these questions, and hopefully help clear up some of the choices out there in the market…

How does IR Night Vision work?

Almost all night vision in use in CCTV uses infra-red (IR) LEDs to illuminate the area in front of the camera. Humans cannot see IR, but the camera can pick it up, allowing the camera to record clear detail in complete darkness. This makes it ideal for monitoring your garden or driveway, especially if you don’t want to use bright security lights. It’s important to note, whilst the light they produce is invisible, almost all IR LEDs do have a faint red glow visible on the front of the camera, so are not usually best suited to covert situations.

SONY Effio CCTV Camera with 60M Infrared Night Vision and 700TVL
Our Gamut CCTV cameras boast up to 60m night vision

What is the image quality like?

One of the benefits of night vision is that the camera doesn’t have to boost its gain- essentially the sensitivity- in order to see in low light. This means that IR images will generally have less of the noisy grain that standard cameras will produce in low light. It also means moving subjects will remain crisp and smooth, with no juddery motion blur. As IR uses a different frequency to normal light, all night vision shots will be black and white, even if the camera can record in full colour.

How do I choose the camera’s range?

This can actually be deceptively tricky, as choosing the wrong range camera can reduce the detail your system captures quite dramatically. As the IR illuminates the subject like a torch, all cameras will have a maximum effective range quoted in their description. If subjects are beyond this range then the light will not reach them. It’s usually good to have some margin for error when choosing this, as details can still be lost even at the far end of this range. That being said, it’s also important not to use a camera that is far too powerful for the distance you need, as this can bleach out details for closer subjects.

Where can I position the camera?

Pretty much anywhere within the IR range and with access to power! One thing to bear in mind- night vision cameras cannot record through windows. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, the IR bounces back from the glass and creates horrible glare in the image, rendering it unusable. Because of this, cameras monitoring the outside of your property should always be positioned on the outside of the building as well.

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