Recommendations For Camera To Capture License Plates?

I need a camera that can do LPR, true ALPR/ANPR is not needed though. This would be recorded on a VMS (Milestone) and then used only in the event of an incident, the footage could be reviewed to see the plate # of a vehicle. Has anyone done anything like this? I have used two analog LPR cameras too cover one road, but I would like to only have one camera if possible. Of course this needs to work 24/7 rain and shine, headlights, taillights and whatever else you got. As far as mounting goes any accommodations can be made, except maybe over head mounting. The vehicle speed will be less than 20mph. The customer says cost is no issue, just make it work!

Amos, sorry for the delay. This got lost during the ASIS show stuff last week.

What you need is license plate capture (LPC). I am not trying to be pedantic. It's important because when most industry people say LPR, they mean/imply automatic. What you want fortunately is easier.

A lot of people try doing this with a tweaked general HD camera - see our test results on license plate capturing.

That said, if you really want something to do work and do not want to fool around tinkering with the camera, there are some purpose built license plate capture cameras, though not many HD IP ones. We'll put together a short list and add here.

Thanks John,

You are right on, I need LPC but I have never heard of it referred to as such.

I have tried the "tweaked general HD camera" and haven't had any success. I played around with cameras that I have installed in the field, even bought and installed a Vivotek IP8362 but that totaly flopped and I sold it on Ebay. That was probably a poor choice of camera though. I am definately looking for something that is factory set to capture plates only, although I could make some adjustments in the field if needed.

Do you need to record in Milestone or was that just a suggestion?

If his answer were "No", would that change your suggestion?


We have had success using Mobotix m12 w/ long pass filter which would work with milestone and the 3/5 mp ir bullet from Avigilon that has the adaptive ir that I would suggest with Avigilon acc not milestone (but I haven't tested them with milestone) if he has an option - pairing the Mobotix with raytec illuminators also is suggested - anyone can do license plates during the day it's the nightshots that will really limit the options

I would second the Avigilon IR bullet as an attractive option. Ethan/Derek/Figen have been doing some tests and even with a third party VMS, the Avigilon IR bullet is delivering license plates regularly in scenes many other cameras struggle at. See our Avigilon IR bullet test results, also the Avigilon Image Enhancement test results for details.

LPC IP cameras:

  • Bosch has a purpose built LPC camera (the Dinion 5000) - main downsides SD only, nearly $2,000 price.
  • Geovision has a purpose built LPC camera (the GV-Hybrid LPR Camera 10R) - 1.3MP, nearly $1,000 price.

We have not tested either so we can't offer a recommendation here.

That said, it is surprising, a lot of people ask for this same thing, so you would expect more supply for this (hi manufacturers!).

Bosch rep - To set realistic expectations for LPR and LPC you can use this online link to see what you get. This helps to set reasonable expectations for speed, resolution, and, most importantly, horizontal FOV and range to target. A common mistake we see is attempting to view more than one lane width at a time or trying to capture cars turning rather than coming straight at the capture device. Best of luck, sounds like you have an ideal customer that appreciates performance over low cost.

You may contact ... [DELETED BY IPVM]

Vito, I have deleted the contents of the comment above. The member is clearly asking for a non analytic system. He just wants a camera that can capture license plates reliably so a human can read it.

I sold and installed (2) avigilon 5mp JPEG 2000 cameras with a POE IR illuminator to use for license plate capture.

Yes this was on Avigilon but it worked. Read below for some further details.

I included some images below of my install and testing.

John's recommendation of the Adaptive IR Avigilon bullet camera are good cameras as well.

I also saw a demo of an arecont camera with a similar setup modifying the internal settings within the camera and IR illumintors to get the plate numbers to pop looking into head lights. You could reach out to Arecont as well ,as they have a white paper on the setting calibration needed to capure plates when looking at head lights at night.

I do have to say the JPEG2000 camera did an awesome job on my project and the customer was PUMPED that it worked so well.

I do not see Avigilon Cameras in the Milestone dropdown menu of approved cameras, however if you can get the IR bullet camera from aviglion (i got one to work in exacq via the ONVIF driver), you can do all the configuration in the camera with the Gain and exposure settings, you may be able to re-prodcue the same results.

hope that some what helps...

Over view not zoomed

Zoomed in image

Head on zoomed out

head lights zoomed in

I've bumped into a $250 Chinese LPR camera that looks promising ... based solely on specs. Has anyone tried it? Here's the reference to it.

The camera seems to block out the headlights.

Though I have no experience with the camera you have linked above, I installed a bunch of Acumen cameras about 4 years ago that had the 'blacking out' lights function. In fact I was pretty impressed at how well the feature did its job! The picture in the link you provided is exactly what you should expect. Looks promising! Good Luck.

There's a lot of analog / SD LPC cameras on the market. If Amos is interested / open to that, there are many more options.

Thanks for all the post's! Very imformative.

There are several sites that I am looking to do this on and they all have Milestone VMS already so I do want to get a compatible camera.

I think what I will do is get the Geovision and give it a try, the Bosch doesn't quite have the specs that I would like to see for two lanes. The client had approved a budget for a customized ALPR camera for ~$8,000 so the $862.99 price tag to test will not scare them one bit. I really like the idea of not having to fiddle with all the gain and exposure settings in the camera. I guess if it doesn't work I will fall back to an Avigilon camera.Still be a lot cheaper than some the custom camera. Too bad the Avigilon LPR camera isn't ONVIF or otherwise compatible with other VMS's.

As far as the China model goe's I would need two of them to cover the whole road. The client really doesn't want to have two cameras staring at the vehicles coming in, even if it is alot cheaper.

"Too bad the Avigilon LPR camera isn't ONVIF or otherwise compatible with other VMS's."

To be clear, the Avigilon is ONVIF compatible and does work with many VMSes. However, it is not a purpose built LPC camera, it just seems to perform fairly well, particularly because of the built-in optimized IR.

John, I was refering to this camera from Avigilon. I had called Avigilon about using it with Milestone and they told me it was a no can do.

JPEG2000 camera, that's why :)

Btw, that camera is ~$5,000 MSRP + additional $3,000 MSRP license cost. So it might be great but it's probably overkill / too expensive for what you need.

Mobotix M12 or M15 with the long pass filter and IR Illuminators. Record on the camera with 64 GB and never have to replace the camera. I have the original M10's working in the Everglades for 10 years and still working. The price of these seem to put people off but considering they will last 2, 3 or more times longer than other cameras make them a bargain.

Does the Mobotix come with the IR illuminators built in or would I have to set that up?

Some people in our company have tried the Mobotix cameras and switched to Axis cameras. Not sure what all the reasons were but I think image quality was a biggie.

IR is not built in with Mobotix you have to pair with Raytec or some other illuminator. Mike my problem with that Mobotix setup is pulling that video off the 64Gb sd card, its painfully slow to say the least.

We do a lot of LPR over here at ipConfigure, and we use the AXIS Q1604 and Samsung 6004. There is an IR illuminator for some good night time shots. They are about 65 feet away using a Fujinon 80mm lens. I believe both are supported in Milestone.


Daytime Shot



Night with torrential downpour:

Heavy Rain

Here is a Samsung 6004 in the same location. It gives you a much wider shot.


Impressive shots. Do you try to sync the IR at all with the cameras?

No, we did not try to sync the IR with the cameras.

How did you accomplish this outdoors? The ipconfigure website specifically says not to use the -E model camera because of the lens requirements; however, the -E model is outdoor rated because of the enclosure. I need to deploy 4 LPR cameras along two residential two-way roads, and the cameras MUST be mounted outside.


We have been successfully using the Axis T92A10 Housing with the regular AXIS Q1602/1604. For the illuminator, we have been using the Axis T90A32 for short to medium range (40 to 60 feet), and the Axis T90A42 for long range (80 Feet).

Try 3MP Avigilon bullet. It will provide same results what we see above with 5MP Avigilon Jpeg camera.

Do you know of any sample footage from the 3MP Avigilon camera where it is set up to record plates? I would be interested in comparing it to Axis and Samsung.

We did a project earlier this year for an apartment complex that needed LPR only, not ANPR. Like you, we didn't have much experience with LPR, so we did quite a bit of experimenting with various cameras and lighting. Our customer, unlike yours, was very frugal and needed to keep the project costs down. We were forced to MacGyver a solution vs. buying a $2000 camera per lane and call it a day. This particular customer has one inbound lane and one outbound lane, each a single cars width and they are separated by a small patch of landscaping.

What we found to be the best solution for this client has worked well to date, under all conditions. Here is a list of the hardware used:

1) Dahua / EyeSurv IPC-HDBW3300 3MP IR Dome camera

2) RayTec RAYLUX 50 HP PoE White LED Illuminator

We set the Dahua camera settings as follows:

Shutter: 10ms max (0~10ms range)

Gain: 1 (out of 0-100 scale)

Day & Night: Color (Forced Color mode all the time for the ability to tell which state the plate was issued from. Sometimes, it is hard to tell from the small logos or text, so color context helps greatly.)

WDR: Strong

Here is a sample pic of the research. This vehicle was traveling 45MPH in this scene.

Jon that's a great picture. If you can get away with white light illumination it's a good solution. We find many customers do not like white light pointing at vehicles entering and leaving (light pollution). Just another consideration!

I did post Avigilon 3MP screenshots in IPVM discussion of "Testing Avigilon Integrated IR"

I understand any branded MP Cams would provide LPs during day and some of them during night but Avigilon Bullet(3MP) is low Cost, easy to setup solution, does not require external IR and even providing license plates against full headlights.

Hungarian ANPR software producer ARH has camera for LPR ParkIt, WVGA, built in synchronised IR, remote zoom and focus.

Here is the sample, distance to plate about 7m, plate is greasy, total darkness, all car lights are on.

Kestutis, can you use those cameras just for capturing license plates and integrate the video with 3rd party VMSes? Also, roughly, what is the price for the camera? My impression was that they built real, high end ALPR recognition, not simply cameras for license plate capture.

Newest firmware is ONVIF compatible, however I didn't try this camera with 3rd party VMS (I don't know is it worth to record video from this camera, as it is bw, so you cannot get any additional information: car color, driver details, except number plate) . ARH have simple ANPR/parking management software LetUgo based on these cameras, software package + camera costs about 1.800 EUR for end user per lane. Cost of camera only for end user is about 800 EUR.

I think everyone has gotten off track, Amos wanted a solution to cover 2 lanes with one camera. Most everybody submitted cameras and photos of one lane/one car. The Avigilon seems to be the only picture that can capture two lanes. The mobotix solution can also capture two lanes. Why does everyone submit solutions that the original requester did not specify?

If we are going to be picky, Amos also said, "I have tried the "tweaked general HD camera" and haven't had any success."

If we reject general HD cameras (bye Mobotix and Avigilon), and want to cover 2 lanes, Geovision, on paper, looks to be the best choice.

Mine shows a two lane solution. It hapens to be two cameras because my scenario had a grass strip between lanes. We could have covered both lanes with one 3MP Dahua camera.

There's no doubt that general purpose HD cameras, with optimizations, can capture license plates some of the time, over multiple lines. If Amos wants to do that, more power to him. And given how few cameras there are that are designed / specialized in LPC, he may have to.

John, btw, thanks for sharing the images and config. nicely done!

I'm not against people posting their ideas's. I do find it interesting, even if it isn't a solution for what I am looking for.

It seems like the ONLY LPC camera out there that is:

    • IP
    • Double lane
    • Built in IR
    • Preset for LPC (besides focus and zoom)
    • Not proprietary/H.264

And will work ALL of the time is the Geovision. I am supprised that there is so little available in the market.

I know there are MP cameras out there that can be adapted to do the job but I don't need to tell anyone of the advantages of buying a pre-engineered solution. If the MP cameras with built in IR (ie Avigilon) work so well why don't they market it on their website? Or better yet sell one preset for a slightly higher price.

In both of these cases we're using one camera to cover two or three vehicle lanes. for both cases the requirements/constraints include:

  • facilities are closed at sunset; daytime traffic is the consideration
  • capture the full vehicle in color
  • no control over vehicle position in the roadways (three to four lanes wide)
  • vehicles typically traveling at 30 to 40 MPH
  • with multiple vehicles one vehicle can block the view to plates of another vehicles
  • client does not want two sets of cameras, one for vehicle capture and the other for plate capture; single camera must perform both functions (requires megapixel camera)

I have no photos to provide, but the interest is mostly in daytime video so lighting is not a challenge.

Case One

At one customer site we have Axis P1347 cameras (Axis has since replaced that with P1357). These are 5MP cameras that we set to the max of 12fps. Each camera covers two parking lot exit lanes. The exit point to the street is a traffic light intersection that is four lanes wide with stripes to define the four lanes. Each exit lanes is 12ft wide, so the license plates in two lanes are typically 12ft from each other.

At peak traffic times we have to capture the plate as the cars turns into the exit lane, as they stack up (sometimes 6 deep) at the light and one vehicle blocks any view of the plate on the vehicle ahead of it. So we need high pixel density because often the plate is at a 45° angle when it's visible.

The camera lens is set to an 8° field of view. Vehicles are 250ft from the camera at the farthest point, and 100ft from the camera at the closest point. There are two lanes from which they turn into the exit road from either side, at 120ft (to center of the lane) and 160ft. This gives us a pixel density of 180ppf at 100ft, and 73ppf at the farthest point. The pixel density is important because as I mentioned, as the vehicles turn into an exit lane, sometimes the best shot we get is a 45° angle of the plate. At that angle the plate is half its width, so the letters are same height but half their width. We need high pixel density to accurately capture the plate number.

The horizontal fields of view are 17ft at a 120ft distance, and 28ft at 200 ft the horizontal field of fiew of the camera is 28ft. That's wide enough to catch the plates as the vehicles turn in to the exit lanes.

Case Two

This is an entry/exit road scenario where the vehicles can be traveling at 30 to 40 MPH. The roads in and out are three vehicles wide, and a single vehicle can be anywhere in the roadway. To get the best view of the plates the cameras must be 150ft to 250ft from the vehicle, looking right down a road from the side of the road. Posted (private roadway) speed limit is 10 MPH painted on the roadway, but that never happens. Cars always go faster.

Similar to Case One above, we capture at entry points into the roadways as the cars are at their slowest when turning in but accelerate rapidly. We had to wait for 12fps 5MP cameras because 3fps was not enough to catch all plates at their visible points.

Here we are using Axis P1347 cameras with Theia Sl940P (P for p-iris) telephoto lenses.

In this case the roadways run east-west, and so on cloudless days the sun shines right into the plates at an angle that blooms out the plate twice per day, such as around 10 AM for one direction and around 3PM for the other—but that time varies with time of year. We are still working to deal with that issue.

Requirements May Change

If the hours of operation change then we'll be addressing night video as well. That's a possibility and is what brought me to IPVM to check on related discussions.

If the client has the budget, you may want to consider Inex-Zamir.

Daniel, I am confused. Amos is asking 'simply' for a camera to capture license plates so humans can read them. Inex-Zamir provides automated LPR/NPR, which is overkill, even if he had the budget.

For those interested in ALPR/ANPR, see our LPR providers overview.


Inex-Zamir has multiple options. They are best known for their high-end ALPR solutions, but they can provide a simpler solution for those that need it. The reason I suggest their cameras is because of the integrated IR and high speed (50-60 FPS). They can do low to high resolution, and can add the analytics for ALPR. I'm just suggesting that Amos look into the product line as part of his due diligence process.

Daniel, what specific model then? I see Inex-Zamer offers an analog version and a digital one. The analog one appears to only do a single lane. The digital one goes up to 5MP and multiple lanes but it's GigE, not IP, and outputs raw BMP, which makes integration with a regular VMS/system more costly and expensive.

I am with you that if he wanted analytics, Inex-Zamir is an interesting option, but since he does not, I am trying to figure out how Inex-Zamir compares to license plate capture cameras.

"'s GigE, not IP..."

How can you have GigE and not IP?

It's "GigE Vision" which is an interface standard for machine vision cameras. The more fundamental point is that it is sending raw BMPs. That's fantastic if you want to run analytics on it (like Inex-Zamir focuses on), as it ensures no compression / artifacting / etc. But that's a problem if you simply want to connect to a VMS, record it and have a human watch. Presumably, you can add an encoder that converts the raw BMPs to H.264, etc. but that's quite an extra piece of work. This is the same reason why machine vision cameras might be great but they are almost never used in surveillance systems.

Yes GigE is a problem. I was looking at another ALPR manufacturer and they wanted a 1000mbps link from the camera to the controller (server). While I could do this it just adds cost but I would never consider storing the data uncompressed so I would need the encoder - more cost.

In the past, I have an analog camera with an infared illuminator. This has worked extremely well. I now use an Arecont 5 MP camera that is postion on a garage ceiling that works great. Night time may be a problem as the headlight wash out the front tag, but positon the cameras so you get both front and back plates.


Which Arecont 5 MP are you using and are you using it in the full 5 MP mode, or in a lower resolution mode with a higher frame rate?

We will be testing some Arecont cameras here soon, so I will let you know what they look like.

I am using the Arecont AV5155DN-16hk 5 MP day/night ip mega dome. Despite the reported high failure rate, I have deployed over 200 of these cameras without a single failure over a three year period. These do not have a wide dynamic range, so place them where consistent light is available. I have also deployed the first version 180 and 360 degree cameras. They work extremely well. Arecont has taken our suggestions and redesigned their 180 and 360's. I am looking forward to deploying the new ones soon.

We are going to test the Arecont AV10115DNv1 and AV5115DNv1 soon. Once we do, I will post pictures of the results here.

We have the 10115 running for some time now. It is terrible at night and honestly I have seen 2 MP cameras that look better during the day. Very unrealistic color and issues with light and dark areas in the same scene.