ADI 'In The Dark' About Low LightBy: John Honovich, Published on Aug 07, 2017
ADI's recent post on 'How To See Better In the Dark' makes basic mistakes, promoting outdated technical claims.
Missing: Super Low Light
Interestingly, ADI completely omits super low light cameras. This is surprising because ADI sells many of these cameras (e.g., Axis Lightfinder, Hikvision Darkfighter, Hanwha Wisenet X, etc.) and they genuinely provide much better color video in low light. ADI could have used this opportunity to upsell larger imager cameras as well (e.g., Axis Q1635 or the 1/1.8" imager Hikvision Darkfighters, etc.). Finally, there are photography imager based cameras that are excellent in low light. Understandably, ADI would not cite the Sony 35mm 4K camera since ADI does not carry Sony but they could still tout the Axis 20MP camera, which they do sell.
Avoid Slow Shutter
ADI's first recommendation is slow shutter.
Slow shutter should simply be avoided. A decade ago, slow shutter was a 'feature' but only because many cameras were so poor at low light. Now, it is something that every camera has but most need not use, because imagers have gotten much better and integrated IR has become commonplace. And slow shutter will cause blurring at night for even moderately moving objects.
Day/Night No Longer Differentiation
ADI's second recommendation is day/night:
Again, a decade ago, true day / night was a differentiator. Now, day/night is available on most cameras and essentially every camera with integrated IR, which is the overwhelming majority of cameras.
Everything Has AGC
ADI next recommends automatic gain control:
Offering AGC is not 'select' or a differentiator since every camera includes this. It is like saying 'look for a camera that supports a lens'.
However, Digital Noise reduction, used with gain control, is a differentiator that ADI omits.
Finally IR Mentioned
At the end, ADI recommends integrated IR, though with many qualifications:
ADI's link to 'IR illuminators' returns their search results showing only 2 cameras:
This is strange since overwhelmingly IP cameras today support integrated IR, including ADI's offerings. As a matter of practice, it is the #1 way of getting low light images, given its low cost and broad availability.
The distance limitation for IR illuminators is increasingly untrue. First, there are many more integrated IR cameras being released with longer IR ranges. For example, our Camera Finder shows ~700 fixed cameras with IR ranges of 30m/ 100' or more. And we have found in our testing, the bigger problem is that since most cameras today come with such wide FoVs that, regardless of the integrated IR range, the problem is that the pixel density is so low it is hard to make out details at such distances.
Low Light Recommendations
Contra ADI, avoid slow shutter, ignore day/night and AGC as 'differentiators'.
For lower cost b&w low-light, focus on integrated IR cameras, many with quite long range distances (search with our Camera Finder). For higher-priced, color imaging, consider super low light and photography sensor cameras.
ADI Pros and Cons
ADI does a lot of things well - its large branch network, extensive stock, and its masterful pitting manufacturers against each other in across the board sales. Related, see IPVM's Distributor Favorability Rankings. However, their technological understanding remains poor, which hurts their sales and also their manufacturer partners who have real differentiators here.