Color Versus Day/Night Shootout

Author: Antony Look, Published on Apr 16, 2011

Most people prefer color over black and white but when it gets dark out, almost all surveillance experts agree that black and white video provides superior performance. To that end, professional surveillance users generally choose Day / Night cameras over Color only cameras for night time outdoor applications.

A number of important questions, though, remain unanswered:

  • How dark does it need to be before you should switch to black and white mode?
  • How much better of an image does black and white mode provide over color mode?
  • How much better is a Day / Night camera over a Color only camera?
  • What is the impact on visual quality for people and vehicles?

To better understand these tradeoffs, we conducted a series of 4 tests using 6 IP cameras.

  • 6 IP Cameras: We selected 2 color only cameras (an SD from Axis and a MP from IQinVision) and 4 day / night cameras (2 Bosch's - one at SD and HD, and MP Sony and Pelco Sarix cameras). We wanted a broad range of cameras to see how performance varied across camera types and camera manufacturers.
  • 4 Test Scenes: We tested (1) in an unlit field at under 1 lux to understand challenges in poorly lit scenes; (2 and 3) in a parking lot with typical street lighting for vehicles and people; (4) Finally, we tested in an outdoors athletic complex at ~50 lux to see the impact of very well lit night time scenes.

The images below provide a visual overview of some of the tests we conducted.

Inside, we share our results and video test samples.

This is part of our series of comparative tests. Also, review our Analog vs MP Night Time Shootout and our WDR Shootout.

**** ****** ****** ***** **** ***** *** ***** *** **** it **** **** ***, ****** *** ************ ******* ***** **** black *** ***** ***** ******** ******** ***********. ** **** ***, professional ************ ***** ********* ****** *** / ***** ******* **** Color **** ******* *** ***** **** ******* ************.

* ****** ** ********* *********, ******, ****** **********:

  • *** **** **** ** **** ** ** ****** *** ****** switch ** ***** *** ***** ****?
  • *** **** ****** ** ** ***** **** ***** *** ***** mode ******* **** ***** ****?
  • *** **** ****** ** * *** / ***** ****** **** a ***** **** ******?
  • **** ** *** ****** ** ****** ******* *** ****** *** vehicles?

** ****** ********** ***** *********, ** ********* * ****** ** 4 ***** ***** * ** *******.

  • * ** *******: ** ******** * ***** **** ******* (** SD **** **** *** * ** **** **********) *** * day / ***** ******* (* *****'* - *** ** ** and **, *** ** **** *** ***** ***** *******). ** wanted * ***** ***** ** ******* ** *** *** *********** varied ****** ****** ***** *** ****** *************.
  • * **** ******: ** ****** (*) ** ** ***** ***** at ***** * *** ** ********** ********** ** ****** *** scenes; (* *** *) ** * ******* *** **** ******* street ******** *** ******** *** ******; (*) *******, ** ****** in ** ******** ******** ******* ** ~** *** ** *** the ****** ** **** **** *** ***** **** ******.

*** ****** ***** ******* * ****** ******** ** **** ** the ***** ** *********.

******, ** ***** *** ******* *** ***** **** *******.

**** ** **** ** *** ****** ** *********** *****. ****, review ********* ** ** ***** **** *********** ****** ********.

[***************]

******** ** ***** **. ** *******

**** *** *** *** ********:

  • ** ** ***** *****, **** **** **** *.* *** , BW ***** ******* *** ******* ******** ** ***** ****. ******* the */** ******* ** ** ****, *** ****** ********** ** or ** ******* **** ** ******* * ****** **** **** SD */**. ***** **** ***** ** **** ***** ***** ****** scenes *** ********* *** **** ** *****-*******. ** * ****** our ***** ******* ** ****** ******* ** ***** ****.
  • ** *** * ** * *** ******* *** *****, **** the **/** */** ** ** **** ******** ****** ****** ** read ******* ****** ** ****** ****** **** (********** ***). ** contrast, ***** **** ***** ********** ** ******* **** ** ******* enough ******* ***/** ******* *** ******* ***** ******* **** **** headlights ***. **** * ***** ******* ** ******** ** **** 3 ** * *** *****, ** ***** ************ ******* ******** image *******.
  • ** * **** **** ***, ******* ****** *****, ** ~** lux *****, **** ***** *** ** **** ******* **** ****** in *** ******* ********/*******. ** ***** *****, ** **** *** not ******* *** **** *******, ***** ***** **** ***** * level ** '********' ** *** ****** (*.*. **** ****, ***** object ******, ***.).

*** ***** ***** ***** *** *** ********* ** ******:

***** ***** ******** (*** ****)

****** ******** **. */* ****** *** ****(~*** **) ********** *** *** ***** ***** *** ****** ********* during *** *******. *** ***** *** ******** ****** ** *********** player *** ****** ***** ** ** ****** ******* ** ****. In *** ***** ******'* ******* **** ** ********* ******** '**** Camera *****' ** **** *** ***** ** *** ******* **-******.

~*.* *** ***** **. ** ********

** **** ***** ** ******* *** ******* *** ***** ********* in *** ~*.* *** **** *****. ** **** ************ *** light ***** (outperform ***** ****. ********* ******* ** ** **** ***** ******* and *** ******** ** ******* ****** ************ **** * ****** level ** ****** *** ******* ******* ***** ** ******** ** the ** ***** ** *** *******. ***** ******* *** ********* expected, *** **** *** ******* **** ************* ****** ** ********** under ***** ******** **********.

** ***** **** ******* *** ******* (**** *****-**** *** */** set ** *****-****) ****** ** '********' ** ******* * ****** picture ******* ********** ** ***** ** ******* ** *** ***** subject. ******** ************, */** *** ** ***** ****, **** ** outperform *** *****-**** ******* ** **** ~*.* *** *****.

* ** * *** ***** **. ** ******** (******)

** *** ***** *****, ** ******* *** ******* *** ***** performed ** *** * ** * *** ******* ***. *************, results ** **** ***** ***** ********* **** ** **** ************* color ****. ****, ******* **** *** ****** ************** ****** ***** mode ******* ************* **** ***** (*.*. *.* ***) **** **** 3 ** * *** *****, *** ****-***** ***** **** ******** benefits ***** ** ****. **** *** ******* *** ****** ** BW ****, **** ***** *** ******* ***** ******* ******* ****** color ****. ******** **** ******* ** *** ****-***** *** ***** challenging ***** **** */** **** **** ** ******* ** *****-**** automatically ** **** ***** *****. ****, ** ******* ** ****-**** the ***-**** ******* ***** *** ********** **** **** ** ******** by *** ****** *** ******** ********** ** *** ****.

** *** ***** **** *****, ** *********** ********** ***** ** provided ** ***** **********. ** ****, ** *** ****** ****** typical ** **** ***** ***** ** ** *** ** ******* that *** */** ******* *** ********** '********'. ***** ** ***** mode *** **** ***** *** ***** ***-*** (**** **) ****** to ******* **** ******* ***** ******* ******** ** *** **** of *** ***** (***** **** **** **** *** ***** *****; and *** ***** ** *** ***** ** */**). ** **** a ***** ***** ***** ****** *** ****, *** ********** ***** details (*.*., ***** ** ******** ** ********) *** **** ****** to **** ******* ******* ****** ** **** * ******** **********.

* ** * *** ***** **. ** ******** (*******)

** **** ***** ** ******* *** * ** * *** parking *** *****, *** ******* ***** ** * ******* *******. Our ***** *********** ** **** ********* ***** ** ******** ******* appear **** *********** ** ** ****. **** ** ******* ****** all *** ******* **** *** *****. *******, **** *** ***** NBN-921 (****) *** ***-*** (**) **** **** ** ******** *** blooming ********** ********** ****** **** *** ***** */** (**** ***** and ***** *****). ** ** ****, **** *** ** ******* of *** ***** ******** * ******* ******* ** *** ******* plate ******* *** ***** ** **********. **** ********** ***, *** the **/** */** ******* ******** ******* ******.

~** *** ***** **. ** ********

** **** ***** ** ******* *** *********** *** *****-**** ** color **. ** ** * **** **** ******* (~** ***) athletic *******. ** ** ** ******** **** ** **** * well *** *********** *** ******* **** ****** ****** ****** ** color-mode ** **** ** *****-****. ** ** **** *** ********** that *** ***** ******* **** **** ** *** '*****' ******** as ********** **** *** *** ******* *** ***** ********** ** image *******. ** ****, ***** **** ******* *** ******* ******* 'richness' ** *** ***** - *.*. *********** ***** ** ******** and ***** ******* ** ********.

***********

* ***** ** *** (*) ******* *** ******** ** *** Color **. ********** ***-***** ********. **** (*) ******* ******* **** D/N (** ***-******). *** (*) ******* *** ***** ****.

**** ***/***** *******:

  • ***** ***-***(****** $***) - */*" ***; **.* *****; ****; *.* *** (30 ***, */*); * *** (*****)
  • ***** ***-***(****** $***) - */*" ***; **.* *****, ****; *.** *** (30 ***, */*)
  • **** *****(****** $***) - */*" ****; **.* *******; ****; *.* *** (50 ***, */*); *.* *** (*****)
  • ***** ***** *******(****** $*,***) - */*" ****; **.* *****; ****; *.** *** (Mono, ** **)

***** **** *******:

  • **** *****(****** $***) - */*" ****; ********** **.*; ****; *.* *** (Color)
  • ***** *****(****** $***) - */*" ****; **.* **********; ***; *.* *** (Color)

*** *** (*) ******* **** ************** ******** ** ** *********** VMS ********** ***** (*) ***-***** ************. **** ** *** ***** (3) ************ **** ******** ** ******** ****-***** ***-***** ************ ************:

  • ~*.* ******* ***** **** ** ****** ********
  • * ** * ********** *** **** ****** *****
  • ~** ************* **** **** ******* ****** ** ******** *******

*** **** ***** ***** **** ** ***-***** **** **** (*** TDN ******* ****** **** ***** ****) *** * ********** **** (TDN ******* ****** **** ********** ****) *** *********. **** **** involves * ***** ******* ******** ** ******** ** ******* ****** at ** *********** **** ***. *** ******* ***** ****** ************ to *********** ****** *** *********** ***** ** *** ****** ** the ***** ** ******* ****** ****** *** ****** *******. **** that *****-**** ******* (**** ***** *** ***** *****) **** *** again ** ***** **** ****** *** ********** ********.

*** * ** * *** ******* *** ***** ******** *** (2) ********** *****. *** ***** ******* * ******* ****** **** human *******. *** ******* ** ****** **** ********** ** ********** with ****-****** ****** ** ******** ****** *** *******.

**** ** * ******* ** *** ***** (*) *****:

  • ~*.* *** **** ***** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - ******* all *** ** ***** ****
  • ~*.* *** **** ***** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - */* cameras *** ** ********** **** (* ***** **** ******* ********)
  • * ** * *** ******* *** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - ******* *** *** ** ***** ****
  • * ** * *** ******* *** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - */* ******* *** ** ********** **** (* ***** **** cameras ********)
  • * ** * *** ******* *** **** ******* ********** - cameras *** *** ** ***** ****
  • * ** * *** ******* *** **** ******* ********** - D/N ******* *** ** ********** **** (* ***** **** ******* repeated)
  • ~** *** ********** **** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - ******* all *** ** ***** ****
  • ~** *** ********** **** **** *****/******* ***** ******** - */* cameras *** ** ********** **** (* ***** **** ******* ********)

********** *** *****, *** ******* *** ********** ** ******* ********.

**** *** *** *** ******* ******** ******** ** *** ***** performance *** **** ******:

  • ***** ***-*** - */*** *******; ****** **; *** ** '**'
  • ***** ***-*** - */*** *******; ****** **; *** ** '**'
  • **** ***** - */*** *******; ****-**/** ***; *** '******'
  • ***** ***** ******* - */** *******
  • **** ***** -******** ***** '**'; ******** ******* '*********'
  • ***** ***** -*/*** *******
Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on WDR

IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Hanwha 9MP Fisheye Camera Tested (PNF-9010R) on May 09, 2017
12MP sensor fisheye panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly common. We have tested Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F as well as Panasonic's SFV481 4K...
Axis Lowest Cost Outdoor IR Camera M2025-LE Tested on Apr 24, 2017
Axis has lagged offering low cost IR cameras while their Asian competitors have made IR standard even in their most entry level cameras. Recently,...
Hanwha Lowest Cost WiseNet X Camera (XND-6010) Tested on Apr 13, 2017
IPVM bought and tested the lowest-cost WiseNet X model, the indoor 2MP fixed focal XND-6010 dome, continuing our testing of Hanwha's new WiseNet X...
Pelco Surevision 3 Tested on Apr 12, 2017
Pelco has released generation 3 of its Surevision cameras, claiming improved performance in both super low light and WDR performance. We bought...
Hanwha Wisenet X Tested on Mar 27, 2017
Hanwha has released their latest generation, the Wisenet X series, powered by their new Wisenet 5 processor. This new series claims improvements...
Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested on Feb 22, 2017
"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that...
Arecont Vision MicroDome Duo Tested on Feb 14, 2017
Arecont Vision is back with another multi-head camera, this time thinking smaller with the MicroDome Duo, a two-imager model, with the tagline...
Camera Course Winter 2017 on Feb 02, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Panasonic Extreme H.265 Cameras Tested on Jan 26, 2017
Panasonic has released their latest generation, the i-Pro Extreme series, with enhanced compression (smart H.265) enhanced WDR and secure...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Pelco Shutting Down Clovis Line, Laying Off 200 on May 22, 2017
Pelco's Clovis facility once turned out some of the industry's most popular products. Now, the facility is mostly building "obsolete" equipment,...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 21, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...
Hanwha Recorder Vulnerability Analyzed on May 18, 2017
ICS-CERT has released a vulnerability notice for Hanwha SRN-4000 recorders.  Hanwha provided additional information to IPVM about this issue,...
DMP Video Doorbell / Access Reader Examined on May 17, 2017
Consumers increasingly demand video doorbells, with "doorbells selling like hotcakes, everyone wants a doorbell", according to ADT's CEO. At ISC...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact