Trend: Day/Night Profiles for IP Cameras

By Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 09, 2014

A rising trend in IP cameras is adding different profiles for day and night video. While most manufacturers lock you into only one set of parameters, a now provide settings to be optimized for the time of day. In this note, we review these profiles and give examples of how they can affect performance.

Examples

The following examples show cameras from three manufacturers which have added day/night profiles to their firmware: DahuaBrickcom, Bosch.

Dahua

Dahua allows three profile modes:

  • Normal: Which uses the default "normal" profile 24/7.
  • Full-time: Which allows the user to select from the "day" or "night" profile to be used 24/7.
  • Scheduled: This allows profiles to be switched on a schedule, so the camera may switch to "night" at 6PM, for example, and back to "day" at 6AM.

In the example below, there is a drastic performance difference in low light performance between the "standard" profile used during the day and an optimized night profile. In this case, WDR has been turned off, the "Night" white balance mode turned on, gain increased, and slight adjustments to brightness, contrast, and sharpness made.

Brickcom

Brickcom allows for profile switching similar to Dahua, but also includes automatic switching, based on a brightness threshhold. So when video drops below a specified level, the camera switches from Day to Night profile.

This image shows the configuration of automatic switching:

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And profile scheduling:

The comparison below shows the differences between using a single profile (labeled "Default") and one optimized for nighttime performance. In this profile, the camera is switched into monochrome mode (software day/night), digital noise reduction is increased, and exposure compensation is shifted for low light. These changes make the difference between the chart being barely legible and the ability to read down to line 3.

Bosch

In firmware 6.00, Bosch added profile switching based on day/night in addition to schedule. This is found in the Scene Mode section of the camera's web interface:

Profiles include image adjustments such as color, contrast, and sharpness settings, shutter speed, noise reduction, and more. We cover profiles in more detail in our test of their starlight 720p model.

Other Options

The above are only two examples of profile switching. Vivotek allows a limited set of parameters, such as contrast, color, etc., to be change don a schedule and Bosch has added scheduled "mode" switching in firmware 5.90. Other manufacturers may offer this ability, as well.

Some manufacturers allow changes to be made via scripts, such as Axis' embedded scripting [link no longer available]. However, these require learning specialized syntax similar to other programming languages and are not as simple as the point and click options shown above, making them impractical for all but highly technical users.

But Not Necessary

While the above examples show definite improvements to be gained from switching profiles at night, this is not to say that cameras which do not feature profile switching will perform badly. Most cameras in our tests do not have this feature, and perform adequately day and night letting the camera manage image adjustments automatically. Instead, we suggest profiles be used to address specific issues (adjusting white balance, switching WDR on/off or adjusting exposure when it's not done automatically, etc.) or to eke out as much performance as possible from a camera. 

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