Bright Ideas for Picture Perfect Video


There is nothing more frustrating than having a video surveillance system capture footage of an incident, only to find that the images are unusable due them being too dark, too light or having too much glare. When this occurs, the culprits are most often the lighting, the wrong type of camera being deployed or the improper placement of a camera.

Successful deployments must take into account daylight and nocturnal requirements, as well as variances with environmental factors. Camera selection and placement are also critical to thwart vandals and reduce glare, so useful images are not corrupted. All of these factors should be weighed by a campus considering the installation of a video surveillance system.

Lighting Varies Depending on the Campus Environment
The quality of a camera image is contingent upon adequate lighting, but lighting availability and the amount of it required for useable images varies in nearly every environment. For example, a poolside area reflects a great deal of light and has very different requirements from a parking lot or an office area.

The starting point for developing and capturing the best images is an analysis of existing lighting levels. The volume of light itself is measured in a variety of ways but most commonly in lux or foot-candle units. For video, the measurement of composite video signals is measured in IRE units, with 100 IRE units typically producing the best video imaging, while 50 IRE is considered half-strength.

When adding light to an area, LED lights are most preferred for video surveillance systems as they are very reliable and efficient. Alternatively, florescent lights are less favorable because they cause a noticeable flicker in the camera image. If lighting cannot be adjusted or enhanced to accommodate the surveillance system, an integrator can recommend cameras that perform well in low- or no-light situations.

For example, whereas traditional surveillance cameras lose color image quality when the lighting level drops and produce blurred images when motion is present, cameras with elevated sensitivity can enhance the contrast in low-light images, boost color clarity and eliminate “ghosting.” Day-night cameras are suited for around-the-clock security applications because they can work well in any light by using infrared (IR) technology when there are low-light levels.

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