How to Measure IR Illumination

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 15, 2012

Using IR for night time surveillance is a popular choice. The added non visible light can improve image quality when ambient street or visible lighting is absent. However, adding the right amount of IR light can be challenging. Add too much and the scene is over exposed. Add too little and the scene is still too dark. Measuring IR illumination is a useful way to get it just right and to identify invisible problems. In this report, we explain how to do so.

The Typical Approach

Typically, when you want to choose IR illumination, you look at a manufacturer's specification for maximum distance and beamwidth. The maximum distance indicates how far you can 'see' from the illuminator while the maximum beamwidth signifies how wide you can view (e.g., 10 degrees, 30 degrees, etc.)

The challenge in those numbers, like camera manufacturer minimum illumination ratings, are hard to use and compare. They are not standardized or vetted. The specified levels may not match actual performance plus comparing different manufacturers based on specs is unlikely to be accurate.

Day Time Approach

During the day or with conventional camera setups, if you wanted to measure light levels, you would use a lux meter (and you should use a lux meter - see our tutorial on using lux meters). Knowing the exact (visible) light levels can really help knowing how well a camera will work in a given scene.

Unfortunately, 'regular' lux meters are not designed to measure IR illumination. If you have an IR illuminator on in the dark and hold up your 'regular' lux meter to it, it will likely register 0 - an unhelpful and misleading result.

Specialized Meters to Measure IR

Specialized meters do exist that measure IR light. The big downside is that these options are much more expensive (thousands of dollars) and scientific oriented.

We did find one that was relatively inexpensive (~$500) and field usable - the Coherent LaserCheck. We bought one and did a test. Here is a sample image of us demonstrating it.

Inside, we provide two video screencasts showing how to use this meter in action and how to best optimize your use of IR illumination.

***** ** *** ***** **** ************ ** * ******* ******. The ***** *** ******* ***** *** ******* ***** ******* **** ambient ****** ** ******* ******** ** ******. *******, ****** *** right ****** ** ** ***** *** ** ***********. *** *** much *** *** ***** ****** *******. *** *** ****** *** *** ***** ** ***** *** dark. ********* ** ************ ** * ****** *** ** *** it **** ***** *** ** ******** ********* ********. ** **** report, ** ******* *** ** ** **.

The ******* ********

*********, **** *** **** ** ****** ** ************, *** **** at * ************'* ************* *** ******* ******** *** *********. *** maximum ******** ********* *** *** *** *** '***' **** ******************* *** ******* ********* ********* *** **** *** *** **** (e.g., ** *******, ** *******, ***.)

*** ********* ** ***** *******, **** ****** ************ ******* ************ ratings, *** **** ** *** *** *******. **** *** *** standardized ** ******. *** ********* ****** *** *** ***** ****** performance **** ********* ********* ************* ***** ** ***** ** ******** to ** ********.

Day **** ********

****** *** *** ** **** ************ ****** ******, ** *** wanted ** ******* ***** ******, *** ***** *** * *** meter (*** *** ****** *** * *** ***** - *** our******** ** ***** *** ******). ******* *** ***** (*******) ***** ****** *** ****** **** knowing *** **** * ****** **** **** ** * ***** scene.

*************, '*******' *** ****** *** *** ******** ** ******* ** illumination. ** *** **** ** ** *********** ** ** *** dark *** **** ** **** '*******' *** ***** ** **, it **** ****** ******** * - ** ********* *** ********** result.

Specialized ****** ** ******* **

*********** ****** ** ***** **** ******* ** *****. *** *** downside ** **** ***** ******* *** **** **** ********* (********* of *******) *** ********** ********.

** *** **** *** **** *** ********** *********** (~$***) *** field ****** - *********** **********. ** ****** *** *** *** * ****. **** ** a ****** ***** ** ** ************* **.

******, ** ******* *** ***** *********** ******* *** ** *** this ***** ** ****** *** *** ** **** ******** **** use ** ** ************.

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

Key *******

** *** ***** *******, *** ******* ***** ** ** ***** or ********* ***** ****** ******* ************ ***** ** ***** *-*. When ********* **, *** ****** **** ** **********/********** ******* ** uW/cm2. ** ****, **** ** *-* **/***.

** *** **** ************* **** **** * **/***, *** ****** will ****** ** ** *********** *****. ***** ** *** *********** like * ***'* ********. *** ** *********** ** ********* * narrowly ******* **** **** ** ** ******* **** ****. **** the **** ** *** ******** *** *** ******, *** ****** is *********** *****.

*** ***** ****** ** ***** **** ** ******* *** * camera ******* ** * ****** ** *******:

  • *** ****** ** ******* ***** (*.*., ** ** *.* *** or *.* *** ******* ***** - **** ******* *****, **** IR ******)
  • *** ******* ***** *********** ** * ****** (*.*., **** *** camera '****' ** '***' ** *** ***** ** *******)
  • *** ******'* ************** ** ** (***** ***** **** ******** ***** D/N *******)

*** ********, ******* **** ********* *** **** ** ****** ***** ************* **** **** ** ***** (****** ** *) ***** ***** that *** ****** ***** **** **** (****** ** *).

Practical **** ** ********* **

** *** ******* *** *****, ** ***** * ****** ** practical ******** ** ********* ** ************:

  • ************ ****** ***********:
  • ************ ** *********** ***********: ******* ******* *** **** ** ************ ** ********* ** a ******** ******** ** **** ****** **** **** * ************ specified *****. *** ********, ** *** **** ** *********** *** power ****** ** *** **** ** **** *.***/*** **** ***** much **** **** * *** **** ***** *************.
  • **********: ******* ** ***** ** *********, ** ** **** ** know **** ** ** ********* *******. *** *** **** ***** on * ******* *** ** ***** ** *** **** ******** to **** ** ******** ** ** ******** *** *********** (**** vertical *** ************).
  • ***********: **** ****, ***** ******* *** *******. ***** * ***** can **** ********* ** *** ** *********** ****** *** ******* out ** ********* ** ** ** ** * ****** ** a ******** ** ***** ****** **** *** *********** ** *** LEDs/illuminator ****.

Basic *****

** *** ***** *****, ** *********** *** *** ****** ** how ** ******* ** ************:


********

** **** *****, ** **** ** *** ** ***** *** meter ********* ********** *** ******* ************ ***** ** *******:

Image ******* **** ************

**** * **** ** *** ***** ***** *** * ****** IR ***********. *** ******* ** * **/*** ** ** **** from *** ****** *** ** ***********. *** ******* ** ******* overexposed ** ***** ** *** **** ** ************ *** **** camera's ***** *********** *** *** *****'* ***** *****. ****: **** not *** ******* **** ** *********** ** * **/***. *** instance, *** ****** **** **** ** *** ***** ***** ***** is ****** ** *** ***** **** ******* **. ** ********, an ******* *** ***** **** * **/*** ** **** ******* IR ************.

***, ** **** *** **** ****** **** *** ******* *** measurement ** *** ****. **** *** ** ************ ** **** to ****** * **/***. ****** *** ***** ** ****, *** subject ** ****** ****** ***********. *** ********* ******* ** **** the *** ** *** **** ** ******* **** *******. ** course, **** ***** ** ******** ** ********* *** ******'* ***.

Example ** ******* ** *****

**** ****** ************* **** ******** ******* ********* ******* **** ***** in ** **** ************* ****** ***** ****** *****. **** ********* the ************ ******* ** ****** ** *** **** *******. ** this ******* **** *****, ** ***** *** *** ****** *********** adjusts *** ** ***** ****** ** ******** *** ***** ***** for *** *******'* ******** ** *** *****.

** ** *** **** *** **** **** ***** *** *** showing **** ********* ** ********* *** ********* ** ********** *** output ***** ** ****** ****** ******** ** ******** **** ***** IR.

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

Uniview Low-Cost Bullet PTZ Tested on Jun 21, 2017
Uniview is offering a HD zoom bullet camera, the IPC742SR9-PZ30-32G, with an integrated pan / tilt positioner, for the price of a low-cost...
Axis P3225 Mk II Tested Vs. Original on Jun 20, 2017
Axis has released a number of 'Mk II' versions of their cameras, which are the same fundamental camera but with specific improvements. We tested...
VMS UI - Light vs Dark Preferences on Jun 16, 2017
Several VMS manufacturers have the ability to choose a user interface with either a light or dark color theme. 150+ integrators told us which they...
Axis 20MP Q1659 Camera Tested on Jun 13, 2017
Axis has joined the super high resolution camera trend with their Q1659, a 20MP model equipped with Canon's APS-C sensor. We tested the Q1659...
Camera Course Summer 2017 on Jun 08, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
HID Edge EVO Tested on Jun 07, 2017
HID Edge controllers have been one of most common offerings in IP door controllers for years. The new generation is called Edge EVO. We tested...
Avigilon Announces New Lowest Cost Camera (Mini Domes) on Jun 06, 2017
Avigilon's first Micro Dome (see IPVM's test) is now 4 years old. Since that time, low-cost fixed focal Chinese manufacturer dome usage has...
Samsung SmartCam A1 Totally Wireless System on Jun 06, 2017
Hanwha is keeping the Samsung brand alive in consumer cameras with the SmartCam A1, a new offering combining an autotracking 1080p camera with base...
Honeywell Owned Dragonfly Tested on Jun 02, 2017
In 2016, Honeywell acquired RSI / Videofied for $123 million. Honeywell is marketing their DragonFly offering as "DIY for Our Dealers with an RMR...
Arlo Go Cellular Cloud Camera Tested on May 23, 2017
Totally wireless surveillance cameras are growing but almost all typically depend on a hub and local Internet access. However, many outdoor...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Uniview Low-Cost Bullet PTZ Tested on Jun 21, 2017
Uniview is offering a HD zoom bullet camera, the IPC742SR9-PZ30-32G, with an integrated pan / tilt positioner, for the price of a low-cost...
QSR Video Surveillance Best Practices on Jun 21, 2017
Fast food restaurants or QSRs (quick service restaurants), are frequent victims of crime and fraud. Because they are open late, deal with cash, and...
45 Drives 'Lowest Cost' Enterprise Storage Company Profile on Jun 21, 2017
45 Drives claims the "lowest cost per Hard Drive Slot in the industry." But who or what is '45 Drives'? What started as a product design to...
No Hack, Still Liable, Court Finds ADT on Jun 20, 2017
Recently, ADT has been in the news for a $16 million settlement for a cyber security vulnerability class action suit. One of the most important...
Resolver / PPM 2000 Incident Management Platform Profile on Jun 20, 2017
You might have seen the company whose employees wear hockey jerseys at trade shows and wondered "what do they do?" PPM 2000 has been active in...
Axis P3225 Mk II Tested Vs. Original on Jun 20, 2017
Axis has released a number of 'Mk II' versions of their cameras, which are the same fundamental camera but with specific improvements. We tested...
Directory of 40 IP Camera Manufacturer Discovery Tools on Jun 19, 2017
Locating the IP address of a DHCP client or factory defaulted device on a network is often a difficult task.  In another report, we discussed...
Dahua Demotes USA CEO on Jun 19, 2017
Dahua has demoted their USA CEO Tim Wang. Inside this note, we examine the move, Dahua's challenges and what lies ahead for the...
Avigilon Increases Prices In Canada, Europe and UK on Jun 19, 2017
While many video surveillance companies are racing to see who can cut prices the fastest, Avigilon is taking a contrary approach, actually raising...
VMS UI - Light vs Dark Preferences on Jun 16, 2017
Several VMS manufacturers have the ability to choose a user interface with either a light or dark color theme. 150+ integrators told us which they...

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