Video Surveillance: Different as Night and Day

How to improve video image clarity and usability with visibility enhancement technologies


For most integrators, there is one factor in managing a video surveillance system that is almost always a challenge: lighting. Whether indoor or outdoor, day or night, lighting issues — both natural and artificial — create problems capturing usable security footage and images. However, recent advances in visibility enhancement technologies have made it possible for security professionals to overcome issues associated with challenging lighting conditions to produce crisp, clear images like never before.

Over the past decade, the security industry has made significant developments in video surveillance technologies, most notably the transition from analog to IP systems. Whereas older analog devices were limited in their ability to compensate for varying ranges of light, noise and image distortion, newer IP-based devices feature a mix of software and hardware technologies including mechanisms for dynamic frame and contrast filtering that provide for clear identification of images in both light and dark areas and in high contrast areas common in video surveillance deployments.

HD video imagery is perhaps the most popular technology that has emerged from this shift. Security cameras that feature HD technology are able to significantly enhance details otherwise obscured by glare or noise, providing a much clearer picture that offers improved performance under challenging lighting conditions or when recording rapidly moving objects. For example, by combining Full HD 1080p or HD 720p resolution with a 60fps high frame rate, IP cameras can successfully capture rapidly moving objects such as slight-of-hand activities in a casino, recognize the characters of a vehicle’s license plate on a dark or foggy road, and even remove environmental noise such as rain to capture better images. And yet, even as HD video paves the way for 4K resolution, there remain many factors dealing with environmental challenges such as lighting are certainly the most troublesome.

Visibility enhancement software is the answer to this problem. Engineered to reduce the challenges of both inside and outside installations, cameras offering visibility enhancement software compensate for varying ranges of light, noise and image distortion, allowing for much improved focus and detection of faces, patterns and other minute details no matter the weather. Offering clear identification of images in both light and dark areas in high-contrast zones, enhancement software technology is making it possible for security professionals to advance their security solutions well beyond the limitations of current HD imagery.

 

Seeing in the Dark

Nighttime recording is one of the greatest challenges security integrators face, as dynamic range, discoloration and noise caused by reduced lighting and moving objects are the source of endless headaches. The latest IP cameras, however, can produce detailed video images in low light at less than .01 lux illumination — using advanced processors to capture clear images of human faces and clothing without the overexposure common in standard IR models.

Reduced high-light visibility is yet another problem that emerges during nighttime surveillance. For example, when recording an outside zone, it is near impossible to avoid the glare, noise and overexposure generated by headlights, which is affected by factors such as the color and lux of the lights, nearby light sources and reduced visibility overall.

These contrast issues result from the way wide dynamic range is processed and are not easily overcome without tradeoffs. In many cases, installing two cameras will enable users to minimize these problems with technologies such as high light compensation (HLC). These devices are specifically programmed to recognize instances where video data is being overpowered by excessive light and can compensate for it in order to clearly identify objects. For integrators looking to advance their systems even further, cameras offering built-in infrared (IR) LED mechanisms should also be deployed, as they are designed to illuminate full view evenly without reflection on the dome cover in order to minimize the image distortion.

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