Cameras are great at capturing details in high quality and even helping authority identify suspects. However, what happens when the sun goes down? Do cameras lose their superpowers? Or can security cameras see in the dark?
Think of a camera like a superhero. It is no help if they can't fight at night. I mean lame! Can you imagine a superhero that cannot save people at night?
Well, they can't really "see in the dark". However, they do bring along a sidekick to help them out. Ladies and gentlemen, the amazing, the incredible, infrared light.
Infrared light is the Robin to Batman, the camera. And when the sun goes down, Robin comes out to help the camera and it allows the camera to "see".
How can security cameras see in the dark?
Security cameras require light in order to make out details, and "see" what is going on around it. In short, cameras need a certain amount of light to capture footage.
During the day, infrared lights are usually not useful. The light from the day gives off enough luminescence to capture a good quality image.
The camera captures images with color with the help of the sunlight that can be found outside, or a nearby light source such as a lamp.
However, at night, things change. There is no more sunlight and now the camera cannot make out shapes or details at all.
To produce a good image, the camera will now need to rely on another method of lighting up the area. And leaving a light on during the night can sure cost you.
That is why companies have already thought one step ahead as to what the lighting source will be so security cameras will be able to see in the dark.
This is where the infra lights come into play. Though cameras don't actually see, the infrared lights illuminate the camera's surroundings, therefore allowing it to make out objects and people in a gray scale.
This kind of light is special as it illuminates but is not visible. Yet we live with it almost every day when we turn on or off a TV.
Why is infrared light used?
Security cameras are usually used to monitor a place from being robbed or to guard someone against stealing something.
Criminals usually steal and rob at night. There are fewer chances of someone seeing them, cars passing by, etc. Therefore, having your camera being able to see at night can be quite helpful.
This invisible light that allows the camera to capture footage at night is very helpful in catching criminals as it makes the area clear enough for details to come through.
The only thing is that the images could not be in color at night as the light is not as powerful as the sunlight. If the color is important to you, some sort of external light can be installed to enable the camera to now see the color around.
Cameras that see in the dark can be installed in multiple places such as inside a bank vault that never gets sunlight.
Stores, offices and companies have cameras both inside and outside. Some of the cameras get light during the day, others might get it at all.
Light clearly plays a big role in the question, "can security cameras see in the dark?" And for something this important, we must have a way to measure it, therefore knowing which cameras are better for seeing in the dark.
LUX number is the name of the number that shows the amount of illumination security cameras have, or in other words how much light an object receives.
1 LUX would mean that there is 1 square meter between the object and the light source. Meaning, the lower the number, the clearer the image will be as the source is closer together.
So, 0.50 LUX is two times better than just 1 LUX. When choosing and buying a new camera it is better to aim for a lower LUX number to facilitate night vision.
The number of LUX on a camera can usually be found in the portion of the specification of a manual or online description. But aiming low certainly is worth it and pays off.
Cameras with low LUX numbers produce amazing quality even with poor and low lighting situations. Therefore, making it easier to detail the images in the dark.
Cameras have a third sidekick that allows them to see in the dark. These cameras are called thermal cameras which build off objects around their body heat, or the temperature of the object.
Capturing images utilizing thermal vision cameras is mostly used in the military and is rare to be found around homes or public places. Though it recently began to be used spreading to some companies.
Thermal images work's with temperature to map out what is going on. This works because the object enables temperature to be read and taken.
The camera, in this case, does not rely on lighting as it uses temperature to pain us a picture of what is happening. So it only depends on temperature.
This works because not only do humans radiate infrared energy, but so do inanimate objects. The color of the image will then depend on how hot or cold an object or person is.
When cold, the image captures black, and when hot, white. Therefore, it is also a sort of gray scale that maps out people, objects, and movement.
Due to the cameras only working with thermal body heat and infrared energy, the captured images are higher quality than normal cameras.
Therefore, being something you can definitively look into and figure out whether or not you like a thermal security camera that can see in the dark.
The bottom line
While during the day the cameras do not need infrared lights or thermal sensors, they are incredible features to have once the sun goes down.
They truly help balance light and is able to capture high quality, detailed images even in the darkest of environments.
This can be helpful to various companies, or households that are attempting to protect it from vandals and robbers.
Additionally, cameras that allow well-detailed images in the dark, help authorities identify what is going on. Therefore, protecting property and people in the dark of night.
So what did you think about the fact that security cameras can actually see in the dark? What type of night vision does your camera have? Let us know below!
Claudemir Martins is a former Samsung Engineer with 16+ experience in the surveillance industry. He has been traveling around 17 different countries to teach people how to design, and install CCTV systems.