WiFi IP cameras are extremely versatile in terms of installation options and features. Modern IP cameras can operate on just a single cable, an Ethernet cable which can receive power and deliver data. WiFi IP cameras just require power in order to deliver data wirelessly. There are plenty WiFi IP camera reviews and comparisons available if you are looking for more details on the devices features. Another great feature to add to the versatility of these cameras is the ability to record video in darker settings.
Recording video in a darker setting leads to an image filled with motion blur. Moving objects in the video feed will suffer, and as a result, you will end up with blurry images. Image noise is also prevalent under these circumstances. This creates random brightness and colors to appear in the images. The good news is that there is a quick fix to these issues built into the settings of most IP cameras control panel. Read on as I explore the various types of settings and features available to make your home security work for you.
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Choosing an IP Camera for Dark Conditions
A few minor adjustments to the settings of your IP camera can do wonders to the picture quality. But if you haven’t purchased a camera as yet, you may want to check if the camera includes adjustments for these features first before you make a decision.
Amplifier Gain: As mentioned earlier, noise is regarded as random brightness and colors (in some cases grain, similar to old photos) that appear in the picture. This is especially evident in low light situations. Noise can sometimes be a result of a lower signal to noise ratio (in most cases measured in dB, decibels). Adjusting this accordingly to suit your rooms settings can help produce less grainy images.
Iris Control: An Iris diaphragm (also known simply as an iris), is an opaque structure which has an opening in the center. This opening is called aperture. The role of the iris is to control the amount of light that goes through to the sensor.
Shutter Speed: This is the amount of time that the shutter takes to open and close. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light will enter into the sensor. An extended or longer shutter period can cause motion blur.
Frame Rate: A number of frames a camera is able to record video within a second. Most cameras average around 24 to 30 frames per second. Shutter speed and frame rate are related but are not necessarily the same thing.
Making use of IP Camera Settings and Features
The ability to change the above settings on a camera will allow you to tune the cameras picture quality to your liking. You can adjust these settings to not only brighten up pictures that are being recorded in dark areas. You can also work on a video that is being recorded in a very bright room with excess light exposure. Having the flexibility of being able to work with most types of lighting conditions can lead to some innovative uses from your IP camera.
Most cameras may not have the availability of these settings because the cameras could have an automatic adjustment feature, like auto iris control. A lot of smartphones today work this way. There is no generic or general complete setting for darker conditions. This is because the lighting in all areas is not always the same. It’s best to experiment with all of the settings until you achieve your desired result.
Low Light Camera Settings
As mentioned earlier, the iris feature on a camera actually controls the amount of light that is being allowed to reach the camera’s sensor. This is one of the features that is usually set to automatic in most cameras, but you can adjust this setting in some cameras. Opening up the iris to allow for more light to enter the camera’s sensor can aid in much brighter pictures.
The downside to this is that you will lose field depth (shortened depth). With an opened iris you will experience shorter field depth which will result in objects being out of focus. You will have to compromise with a brighter picture that has out of focus objects in the distance.
Having longer shutter periods can allow for more light to enter the camera’s sensor. This comes at the expense of motion blurring. If you are viewing slower objects, like people walking then you can get away with longer shutter times. If you are recording cars driving by in darker conditions, then it is advisable for a short shutter time.
Some IP cameras will allow you to adjust the amplifier gain to either 50% or 30% of the maximum signal level. In darker conditions, the 30% setting will usually reproduce pictures and video that is full of noise. Adjusting this setting to 50% will help eliminate some of that noise.
Wide Dynamic Range Settings
Wide dynamic range is a feature that is usually found on high-performance cameras. WDR has since made its way to smaller cameras such as IP cameras. This feature takes different types of pictures at different exposure levels and combines them to find the best result. This works well for areas in which the lighting conditions differ drastically. HDR will increase the brightness in the dark areas while maintaining a similar level of brightness in other parts of the image.
However, HDR is most suitable for images that have a mix of light and dark areas. Using HDR in extremely dark conditions won’t work well. This is due to HDR being made up of fast shutter speeds and frame rates, which in turn reduces the light that reaches the camera’s sensor.
When it comes to areas that are covered in darkness, it is best to switch over to night mode. This is made possible by the day/night mode located in a supported cameras settings. These supported cameras have infrared filters which work during the day (brighter conditions) and are removed at night (dark conditions). After removing the IR filter, the camera will switch automatically to a black and white picture.
Don’t Overdo It!
We are fortunate to have an abundance of settings and features available at our disposal in regards to achieving the best possible picture results from our IP Cameras. It is easy to get carried away and to overdo it by drastically increasing the values of your camera’s settings. It is best that we just try and tweak these settings just enough to give us clearer, more visible images.
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