Subscriber Discussion

What Camera Is Best In A Night Club?

I have a customer who wants camera's installed in his Night club. I will be using AXIS cameras mostly, I have never done a Night club install and worried about the stage lighting how dark it will be.


Ross, I've never done a night club application but we did do a test with a strobe light simulating a common night club scene. see below:

Based on that, I'd recommend one of Axis integrated IR models. I still don't know how it will work but my guess is that IR will help both with the lack of lighting and the strobe flashes.

I would never have thought IR would help that much. I will look into that.

Well, maybe another member is about to tell me I am wrong! :)

I'll send this out and see what else people have to say.

My brothers used to own a very large nightclub and I installed some 32 cameras there, all analog though. The IR cameras I've tried were very powerful (84 LED's at 30m), so much so that the scene was foggy. It was just like looking at moving white ghosts. Well, they utilized smoke machines to fill the place to give the lighting system more glaring effect, which didn't help at all.

Anyhow, inside I placed the cameras mostly at the bars where crimes were likely to occur, sneaking up on the bartenders. Nothing really happened on the dance floor per se. I've installed cameras in men's room (where a lot of drug deals occurred), outdoor walk paths (where a murder occured) and parking lots, all using low light analog cameras. In the lobby, there four cameras, one to see people coming out (and picking up their coats at the checkroom counter), one coming in by the ticket verification bouncer, one at the metal detector frame (where patrons passed through), and one to record people showing off their ID card through a dedicated slot within a wall frame. There were a total of three PTZ cameras inside and out.

Obviously, today I'd go with MP cameras, especially for the vast parking lots, instead of using PTZ cameras that were kind of useless before no one operated them throughout the night.

"they utilized smoke machines "

This brings up a couple of questions in my mind:

1.) Fog machines may undermine the use of IR light to overcome bright strobes and moving lights. Since the haze reflects the visible light, making the light beams visible, it will also reflect IR light. The camera image might end up nothing more than a washed-out white haze. Much the same as an outdoor camera w/ IR on a foggy night. In reality, the haze in a nightclub might not be dense enough to cause too much problem though.

2.) A lot of fog machines use cracked oil to make the fog. A lot of lighting designers prefer cracked oil hazers to water/glycol based hazers because the mist is finer (i.e. the particles are smaller), more even and hangs in the air longer. What are the long-term effects of this fine oil mist on security cameras? Even though it's indoor, would you need to use an environmental housing?

1) IR cameras are bad on their own for nightclubs, let alone with fog machines. I don't know of any nightclubs using IR cameras. A lot of them use B/W cameras, but I've only used color cameras despite the grainier images. The coloring of the flashing lighting environment is beautiful to the eyes, and it is easier to distinguish things with color constrast. I've only used manual lenses ... I doubt if DC lenses would last long due to frequent light environment changes.

2) Never had problem with the cameras due to using fog machines. God knows they used a lot of artificial fog, more like smoke to me as it not natural to breath that stuff. They prohibit smoking in nightclubs, and allow those machines to saturate the air with toxicity. Go figure!

We are doing enviormental housing 'just in case'. :)

Probably a wise decision. Who knows what kind of odd substances might get on the cameras in a typical nightclub. :)

I started testing a variety of cameras in a nightclub application almost two years ago. Each bar is different in that the layout, lighting, and level of detail required is unique for each area. Added to these challanges is a fog machine and strobe lighting effect being used on the dancefloor. As well as this, there is a requirement to provide very high quality image capture at the entry / exit locations, preferably using passive facial recognition.

Under law (in Australia), it is the responsibility of the venue operators to ensure that the images captured and the quality thereof, is suitable to be used in any possible court proceedings that may arise out of an incident that occurs inside or outside a venue. It is for this reason, (along with the ongoing legislative changes in this area), that is making this a drawn out process.

A final decision has not been made regarding which cameras to use on a permanent basis for each area, but I thought it may be of interest to point out that one of the best dance floor images we have encountered to date, was the result of trying a low cost $60 camera that came with a 1/3" Sony Colour CCD sensor and a standard F3.6mm lens. Although the IR was necessary, it did of course effect the colour of clothing on those dancing and therefore not suitable for evidenciary purposes.

Whilst the best image to date came from one in the Mobotix M12D range, the price difference was 20 fold, and subsequently ruled out.

With technology in a constant state of change and dare I say "improvement", the final solution may present itself to us soon. However, I, like Ross, welcome any suggestions regarding cameras that anyone cares to share.

I am an LEO in London UK and tasked with assessing nightclub CCTV. In my experience IR is the only option in nightclubs, very low light cameras can't cope with sudden fluctuations between semi darkness/strobe/neon. When low light cameras do produce colour images in dancefloor areas, the quality is poor. Monochrome/black and white with IR is far better for produing crisp image quality in dark dance floor areas and then have colour in the premises reception and external areas, where the suspect facial image can be captured entering the premises. I have started to see megapixel cameras being trialled in nightclubs to cover open dance floor areas, coupled with IR illuminators. I've been very impressed with the extra field of view and virtual zoom these cameras provide. I am now recommending premises operators consider installing these cameras and I believe that other operators will follow suit.

My experience was the opposite, but it was back in the days ... using cheap Taiwanese DVR/Cameras. I'm sure the IP MP cameras have improved things. What brands do you use?

I would set IR cameras facing lights stobes or dancing lights to manually stay in IR & B/W mode. Too much light variation will cause it to switch modes fruitlessly.