Integrated IR Camera Use Surging 2014

By John Honovich, Published Jun 10, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Not too long ago, integrated IR cameras were looked down upon. Like offering the Queen of England a baloney sandwich, integrated IR cameras were considered beneath real professionals.

Times have changed. Quickly.

New IPVM integrator statistics show that integrated IR usage has surged. Inside, we break down the numbers are share why integrators are increasingly using these cameras.

Overall Usage

More than 1/3rd of all cameras integrators deploy have integrated IR:

Even more noteworthy, a significant number of integrators almost always use integrated IR, even though they almost never use budget offerings like cube cameras.

And there is clearly room to grow, as ~1/3rd of integrators rarely use integrated IR cameras, but as the comments below show, even they see this changing in the near future.

Reasons For

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The main reasons for integrated IR were straight forward - It is a low cost way to get images at night. Representative comments included:

  • "Its very cost effective comparing to external IR. price difference between without IR and with IR is not much 20-50 usd max"
  • "They typically guarantee a shot in complete darkness if the location doesn't have any light. We will always encourage natural light be available at night, but this is not always the case."
  • "Having IR in very dark areas usually is better than relying on a non-IR cam which shows very blurry video in dark areas."
  • "Integrated IR cheaper than adding an IR illuminator."

Not Big Reasons Against - Bugs and Megapixel

Two of the biggest selling points against IR has traditional been that IR attracts bugs and that megapixel is bad in low light.

Interestingly, though these issues only came up once or twice each, showing that these are not major drivers for practical selection of integrated IR.

However, there definitely was a number of major themes against integrated IR.

#1 CON - Limited Distance

The most frequently cited negative against integrated IR was distance the IR can reach, with integrators noting:

  • "For larger areas, the integrated IR does not always provide enough light, so we need to use an external IR"
  • "Outdoors we are typically using separate illuminators for the distance they are capable of providing"
  • "Range on IR was another reason."
  • "The integrated IR doesn't have the distance we are looking for when compared to what the customer wants to see."

Though some exceptions exist, typically integrated IR cameras can only illuminate 50 feet / 15 meters or less. There is a clearly a growth market for longer range integrated IR.

Other CONs

Another theme was increasing the amount of white light instead. "We prefer having the client bring standard lighting into the location," said one. And another, "We recommend better lighting." This is, though, difficult to do as adding in lightning can be expensive and often requires coordination with other entities or departments.

Other reasons against IR varied, including:

  • "I would use more if more of the higher end cameras offered integrated IR." Though another noted this changing, "In the past, the IR was not very smart. Our latest deployment included an AXIS P3364-LVE. This camera is very effective with its IR capabilities."
  • "I prefer the Bosch Starlight and Axis lightfinder technologies to the integrated IR option. Sure, the cost is greater, but I have not been overly impressed with night image quality on most integrated IR products." See our Super Low Light vs Integrated IR Shootout for these two technologies head to head.
  • "IR is some models or manufactures are more expensive and not required in all cases." This is true, especially with the major Western brands who have positioned integrated IR typically on their highest end units, not the entry level lines.

Growing Use

However, even the naysayers repeatedly indicated that use was going up:

  • "Increasing. Before IR cameras were not that good."
  • "We see this number growing. It really only comes down to cost differential."
  • "Only recently have started to use integrated IR on a since Adaptive IR has hit the market."
  • "We have gone to around 10% of our cameras utilizing IR technology. A year ago it was around 5%"
  • "IR is getting better. Past experience had hot spots and not much use."
  • "5%. Axis is our go-to, and I expect this to change as the IR lines expand"

In the next 3 years, we would not be surprised if integrated IR usage passed 50% of cameras, as manufacturers are clearly now committed to integrated IR, plus they are demonstrating enhanced performance with newer generations, like adaptive / smart IR and longer ranges.

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