IR Surveillance Camera Guide

By IPVM Team, Published Feb 06, 2020, 10:11am EST (Info+)

Integrated infrared (IR) cameras are everywhere in 2022, but not all IR is created equal, with many differences in coverage, overexposure, underexposure, handling moving objects, and more.

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In this guide, we examine these elements in detail to help users better understand IR in surveillance, including:

  • Infrared Basics
  • 850nm Most Common
  • 940nm Rare, But Increasing
  • True Day / Night Cameras Required
  • Integrated IR Usage Statistics
  • IR LED Comparisons
  • Warning: No Illumination Standards
  • Compare IR Illumination On Moving Subjects
  • Differences Adjusting To Moving Objects
  • Long Image Adjustment Times
  • IR Coverage Patterns Often Poor
  • Smart Vs. Adaptive IR
  • Manufacturer Terminology
  • Why Range Specs Alone Cannot Be Used
  • Beware Low PPF At Max IR Range
  • IR Impact On Bandwidth Spikes
  • IR vs. White Light Illuminator Cameras
  • Integrated IR Cameras vs. External Illuminators Pros & Cons

Infrared ******

** ** ***** **** ******* *** 'see' *** ****** ******. ****** *** in *** *** ** ***** ***** spectrum, ******** ** ** '*******' *****. However, ************ ******* *** ********* '***' visible ***** ** **** ** ***** that ***** **** ** ************ ********* at ***** ** *****, *********** ** the ***** *****.

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850nm **** ******

**** ******** ************ **** ** ************ use *** ******* ***** **********. *** LEDs **** *** ***** ************ *** easily ******* ** *** ***** ***, emitting * *******/******* ****, **** ** on ***** ********. **** **** ****** ******** **** as **** ***, ***** ******* **** as ******* ******* (*** **** ***** cameras) *** ** ****** ** ****/****** shown ****.

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940nm ************ ****

***** ************ *** **** **** ******* to ******, **** **** * **** faint **** ******* **** ***** ** the ******, ****** **** **** ****** when ****** ************ ** ********. *******, they *** **** ********* ** *********** than ***** ************, *** ******* **** effective ****** ********, ** ****** ***** sensors *** **** ********* ** *** higher ********** ** "*********" ************.

******* ** ***** *******, ***** ** used *** **** **** *****. *******, some ************* ***** ***** ************ ** specific ******. *** ********, ***:********* ** ****** ****** (*******),**** ****** ***** ****** ********,** * *********** ****** ****, ******* *** ** ******.

**** **** **** ****** ********** ************ (1030nm *** *****) *** *********, ***** are ********** ********* ** *** ***** eye. *******, ***** *********** *** ***** the ******** **** ******* *** '***', and ***** *** **** ****** **** 940nm, ****** **** **** ****** **** in **********.

True *** ***** ********

**** ***/***** ************* **** **** ******** ************, ** color **** ****** (****** **** ** 2021) ******* * ***** ** *** filter, ******** *** ******** *****. *** majority ** ************ ******* *** ** cut ******* ***** ***** * ****** in ***** ** *** ******'* ****** during *** ***, *** ******* ** at ***** (*** ****** / ***** ****** ********).

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*** *** ****** ** ********* ****** the *** ** ****** ** *****, as ** *** ********** *****/***** ******* ******, **** ** *** ******* **** trees *** ************ **** ** *** image *****:

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** *****, *** ****** ** ******* to ***** ** ************ ** ******* IR ***** ** ***** *** ******, producing ******** ******.

Integrated ** **** ****** **** ********

**** ***** **, *** *********** ******* are ********* - ******* **** ** LEDs ********** **** ***** ******** *** standalone ** ************ **** *** ******* near ** **** ** *******. ** the ****, **** *** ** ******* offered ********** ** **** ** **** were ****** ** *** ** ************ if **** ****** **. ***, **** cameras ***** ********** ***.

** ***** ** *****,**** ********** **** **** */* ** cameras ***** ******* ********** **:

** ********,**** ********** **** **** *** ******* add ******** **, **** **** **%. ******* ** this, **** ***** ****** ******* ** integrated ** *******. ** ****** **** and **** ** ***** ******* ***** in **** *****.

IR *** ***********

**** ****** ************* **** *** ****** of ** **** ** ** ********* of ***** ***********, **** ** '** camera *** ** **** *** ** competitor **** *** *, ***.', *** in *******, ******* ** **** *** quantity ** **** *** ****** ****** on **** ***** ***********, ** ***** are **** ********* *****/****** ** ** LED.

***** *** *** ***** ********** ** IR **** ** ************, ****** ***** and *****:

  • *******, ***** *****:**** ********** ** ******* *** **** low **** ********** ** ************ *** a ****** ******** ** ******* **** to *** ** ** ******* *****. These **** *** ******* (*** *** always) **** *********, ***** ** *** they *** ********* ******** ** *** cost ******.
  • ******, ****** *****:**** ***** ** ******* *** **** IR ************ *** * ******* ******** of ******, **** ******** ****.

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**** **** ****** **** ** *** past **** ********* ********** ****** *******, and ******** **** **** ******** *** longer *****. *******, *** ***** **** shown **** **** ** *** ****** the ****, **** **** *** ********** IR ******* ***** ***** ****, *** some ***** ****** ****. ****** ***** testing ** *** **** ******** *** to ********* ** ************ *******.

Illumination ******

*****, ** ****** *** ****** ********* integrated ** ****** ********* *** ***********, including:

  • ** ************ *********
  • ***** ** ***** ** ****** ********
  • ** ******** ******** ***** ****
  • ********* ********/** ** ****** *******
  • **** ***** ********** *****
  • ***** *** ******** **
  • ************ ***********
  • *** ***** ***** ****** *** ** trusted

*** **** ******* *** ******** ** all ** ***** ****** ** **** world *****, *** ************* ** ****** ******** ****.

No ************ *********

***** ***** *** ** ******** ************** for *** ** ** ******, ************* may ****** ***** *** ***** ** which***** ************ ******* *** ******, ******* of********. **** ***** **** *** ****** of ***** ** *** ********* ******* range *** ** **** ****** ** get **** * ***** ******* ** a ******, ** ****. ***** *** can **************** *** ****** ** ** ************, **** ************* ********* ** *** minimum ******** ****** ****** ******.

Judge ** ***** ** ****** ********

*** ******* *********** ** ** *********** may **** ** **** **** ******* at ******* ** ******. **** ******* may ******* ****** ******* ** ***** images, *** **** **** ** ********** subjects ** *** ****.

*** *******, *** ****** ** *** left ***** ***** ****** ******* ** the ******* ** ** ******* ***** toward *** ******, **** ****** ************ facial ********, ***** *** ****** *** righthand ******* **** *** ********** *** subject.

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***** *** ******* ******* **** *** occur, **** ** ****** ************ ** slow ********** (********* *****) ** **** levels ********* ***** *********** *********** ******.

IR ******** ******** ***** ****

**** ******* ****** **** ****** ************, with * ****** ******* ***/** **** edges, ********* ************ ** ******** ** the ****** ** ************* ** *** edges ** *** ***** ** ****.

*** *******, ******* ** *** *** cameras *****, *** ****** ** *** left ***** ****** ******* ** *** edges ** *** ***, *** ******* details *** ***** ******* *******, *** he ** ******** ******* ** *** center. *** ********, *** ****** ** the ***** **** *** ******** ********** the ******* ** *** **** ** the *** *** *********** *** ** the ******, ****** ** ********* ** discern ****** ********.

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Ambient ***** ***** ************

****** ************ ** ***** ** ***** with ** ******* ********, ** *** illuminator's **** *** *** **** ***** source. ** ****** **** **** *** level ********, ~* *** *** *****, dark ***** *** ** **** ****** illuminated *** ****** ******** ******* ****** so ** *** ** ********** ********.

*** *******, *** ****** ***** *** one ** *** ***** ********** ** our** ****** ************ ****** ******* ** ~* *** scenes, *** ******** ** * ******* lot **** ******* *****, ***** *** better *********** *** *** ****** ** the **** ** *** ***********.

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**** **** ** **** **** *********** cameras, ** ************ *** ****** **** in *** ***** *** ******* ********** with ******* *****.

Moving ****** **********

**** ******** ** ** ****** *********** is *** *** ****** ******* ** objects ******** *** ******* *** *****. Some ****** ******** ******** ** ******** expose *** ******* ** **** **** through *** *****, ***** ****** ** not ****** ****** ** ******* ******, overexposing *** *******. *******, **** ** our ***** ******** ****** *** *******, but ********** ******* *** **********, *********** going ****.

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**** ********** ** ******** *** **** for ****** ******* ** *** ****/********** subject, *** ** **** ******, ********** subjects *** ** ****** ** ******* do *** ****** ****** ********.

Beware ******** ******

*******, **** ******* **** ****** **** others *** *** ***** ** ****** to **** ********** ***** ********* ** power ***/** ****/********. ** ******* ********, this *** ****** ** ******** ***** missed ** **** ****** **** ****** a ****** ****** ****** ******* *** foreground.

*** *******, *** ****** ***** ***** 10-15 ******* *** *** ***** ** return ** **** **********. ****** **** period, *** ***** ** **** ****, with **** *** **** ********** ******* and *** ********** ****** ******* ********.

***** *** ** ****** ********** ******* this ***** *** ** ***** ********** or **** *******. ** *** ******** on ******** ****** ** *** *****, both **** ***** ** *** *******.

Smart **. ******** **

**** ********** ** ****** ****** **** introduced "********" ** "*****" ******** ******** to ****** *** *** ***** ***/** reduce ************. *** *** ******** ** clarity ** **** ***** *** *** reporting, ** ****** ***** ******** ** follows:

  • ***** **:************* ******* ** ***** ********* ** objects ** *** *****, ******* ** prevent ************ ** **** ******* *** returning ** **** ***** *** ***** further ****. *** ***** ***** ***** the ******* ** **** ** *****, with *** ***** ******* ** ********** for *** ******* ** *** **** field.

  • ******** **:*** ****** ******* ** *** ***** and/or **** ******** **** ** **** in ***** ** ****** ************ ***** to *** *** ***** ** **** and **** ****** ***** *** **** scene. **** ** ****** ** **** fixed ******* *** ****, ***** *****:

Manufacturer ***********

**** ***** ** *****, ***** ** no ******** ** ** **** ***** terms **** *** ***** *** ** confused ** ******* ************ ***********. *** example, ******** **** ** ***** "******** IR":

**** ****** ******** ** **********, **** camera ******** **** **** *** ****** illumination, ******** ********** ************ ** ******** darkness ** ******* ***** ******* ********** of ***** **********.

***** **** ***** *** ** ************ features ** ***** **** *** ****** "***********":

**** *** ***** ** **** ** adjusted ** *** ************ ** ** Axis ****** **** ****** **** *** OptmizedIR, *** ***** ** ************ ************* adapts ** *** **** *****. *** illumination ***** ******* *** ******’* **** movements ** ****** ******* *** ******* amount ** ***** ** *** *****.

******* ********** ********* ** ****’ *********** technology ** ******* **** *** ******* is *** **** **** *** ****** and *** ***** **** ** ***********. When *** ******* ** *********** *** camera, *** ******** ** ********. **** the ******* ** ** *** ******, it ** *********** *** *** ***********.

*******, **** *************, **** ** *****, Hikvision, *** ********* ****** **** ***** integrated ** ******** "*****." *************, ***** is ** *** ** **** **** each ************ ***** ** ***** ***** without ** ***** ******** **** ****** and/or *******.

"Smart **" *** *** ****** ** ***** ** ***

********** *********, **** *************' "*****" ** features ** *** ******** ****** ** power. *******, *** ****** ******* **** and/or ******** ** ********** *** *******(*) in *** *****. **** ** ***** on ********'* ** ***** *****. *** camera's **** ** *** ***, *** its *** ********* ***** **** ****** as *** ******* ****** *** *****.

** *** *****, ** **** *** seen ***** ********** ** ***** ******* which ****** ** ***** **** ***** which ** ***, **** ****/******** ********** often ** ********* ** ** ***** adjustment. ** ** *******, *** ***** below **** *** ******, **** ***** IR ****** ** ** *** **** and *** ** *** *****. ******* exposure ** **** ******* ** ****, with **** ******* ********** **** ********* IR *****.

(**** **** **** ***** ** **, the ******'* ***** ***** ****** ** readjust ** **** **********, ***** ** discuss **** *****)

*********** ******* ***** ******(*) * ***** camera **** ** *********, *** ********* requires ********* ** *****, ** **** manufacturers ** *** ******** *** ***** smart ** *****.

**** **** **** ***** ******** ********* need ** ** ***** **** *** camera *** *** *** ********** **** external ** ************, ** *** ********** required ** ****** ** ****** *** adjust ** ********* ** ********* **********.

Do *** **** ** ***** *****

* *** ***** ***, **** ********** IR ****** **** *** **** ******, manufacturers ********** ********** ***** ******'* ** range ************, ***** ** ** **** as **-**%. **** ***** *** ********, with **** ******* "********" ***** ********* range, **** ** *** ****** *****:

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**** ***** ****, ********** ****** *** still *** ******** ** ****. *** example, *** ****** ***** *** * specified ** ***** ** ***/~***', *** an ****** ***** ****** ** ~***', with *** ******* ***** **** ***** illuminated.

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PPF ***** **** *** ** *** *****

**** ** * ****** ******* *** maximum ********* *****, ***** ****** ****** of *** ****** ** **** ********. In *** *****, ***** ****** ***** deliver **-** *** ** **** ** max *****. **** *** **** ***, detection ** ********* *** ** *** relative **** ** ********, ********* ******* noise, ********* ********, ***.

** ** *******, *** ***** ****** below *** * ******* ********* ** range ** ***, ** ***** ***', and ** ***** ** **** ** 102°. ** **** ********, *** ** only ~*, ****** *** ******* ********* to ****.

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**** ***** ** ********** ** ** ranges **** ********* ** ********, ** have ***** ** **** *****, ********** on ***** **** ***** **** ****** which *** ********** **** **** lenses. ***** ****** ****** ** **** issue *** ******** ***** (********) **** options ***** ********.

IR ******* ********* ******

***** ** *** ***** (************ ** *** ***** ********), ** *******' ********* ****** **** less **** ***-** ****** *** ** relatively ***** **** *** ***** ****** (see****** *** (******* ***** *********) *****). ** *******, ********** ** ****** in *** ******* ******** ***** * 1.5x ******** ** *****, ***** ***-** models ****** ***********, **** ~** ** 20x.

*******, **** ****** ** ********** * guideline, *** * ****, ** *** introduction ******* ********* **** ** **** ********* ** predict *** ******** ******* **** ******* in * ******** *****. **** ***** low ***** ***-** ****** *** ****** compress *** ***** ****** **** ***-***** IR ******.

****, **** **** *** *** ******* affect **'* ****** ** *********:

  • *** ** ************ ***** ** ***** the ***** *****. ** ******* ***** are ***** ****, *** ****** ** likely ** ******** **** ** ******** those *****, ********** *********.
  • ** ****** ****** ********* *********** ** low *****, **** ***/*** *** ** *** ****. *** ***** *** ***** **** have ******* ****** ** ****** ******* as *** ***** ** ********* ** encode ***** **** ** ********** *******.

White *****/******* ***** ************

** *** **** *** *****, **** manufacturers **** ********** ****** **** ********** white ***** ************ ******* ** ** (see********* ***************** ***** *****), **** *** ********* ** ********* color ****** ** ***** ******* ** monochrome ******** ** **.

***** ****** ******* ***** ** *** scene **** ******* *** ***** ******, generally, ** *** **** ******* *** multiple *******:

  • **** **********:***** ***** ***** ******* * ********** effect ****** *** **** ** ******, IR ** ****** *********** (*****) ** not *********** ** *** (*****) ** the ***** ***. **** ***** **** camera ********* *** **** **** ******* at *****, ****** **** **** ********* for ********* ** ****** *** ******.
  • **** ***** *********:************, ******** **** *** ********** ** light ********* ****** ** ***** *****. Many ************** ******** *** ******** ******** lights *** **, *** **** **** be *****/********, ***.
  • ****** **********:*******, ********** *** ******** ********* *** prefer **** ** ** ****, ** they *** ****** **** ** ******* the ******** ****** ** * ********.

Pros *** **** **. ******** ** ************

***** *** ******* ********** ** ********** IR ****** ******** ** ******** **, which **** ****** ***** ********:

  • ***** ****:** ****, *** ******** ** *** cameras ******* ********** **, ****** **** a **** **** ********* ****** **** a ***-** ****** **** ***** ***********.
  • ******* ************:******* *** ** ** ***** **, there ** ** ********** ********* ** install.
  • ******* ********:********** ** ******* *** ********* ******* by ******** ***.*** ***** **** ********, or ** **** ********* ***.***. ******** illuminators ********* ******* ******** *** *******, PoE, ** **** ***** *****.
  • ******** ********:****** *** ******* ***** ***** / adaptive ** *** ********* ********* **********, typically *** ******** **** ***-** ** illuminators.

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

  • ******* ***** (****** ********): ****** ********** ** ******* **** longer ****** **** ****** **** ******, most ***** ****** **** ****** ** 30-50m ** **** (~***-***'). **** **** reach ***' ** ****, *** *** super **** ***** ************ (*,***'+), ********** illuminators *** ***** ***** ********.
  • ***/****** ******:********** ** ******* *** ******* ******* or *******, ***** ****/***** ***** ** or **** *** **** ** *** camera, ********* *** ***** ** ****. Some ***** **** ******** ********* **** issue ** ***** ******** **.

******* ** *** ********** ** *******'* rapid ****** *** ******** ********, ** has ****** ********* ** ******* ***-** IR ************ ** **** ************. *** clearest ****** *** ********** ************ *** super **** ******** *** ********* **, required ** **** ********** ************, ******** which *** ******** ** ********** ** cameras, ****** ** ****** **** **** continue ** *******.

IR ** *** **** ****** **********

******* ****** *************** ******'* ** ***** ** *** of * *** **** * *** line, ** *** *** *** *** far *** ** ** ********* ** cover, ************ *****:

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**********, ** *** ****** ** **** closer **** *** ******'* ******* ** range, ** ****** ****** ** ************ issues ** ********* ***** ********/***** ** features.*** **** ******** ** *** ********** here.

[****: **** ******** *** ********** ******* in **** *** ************* ******* ** 2017, ****, *** **** ** ******* ongoing **** ******* *** ************ ** integrated **.]

Comments (12)

Bug/insect issues: Integrated IR cameras may attract insects or spiders, which nest/build close to or over the lens of the camera, obscuring the field of view. Some users have reported remedying this issue by using external IR.

We use no integrated IR on external cameras for this reason. We use integrated IR on interior cameras only.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

The big problem I've seen over many years with integrated IR cameras are spider webs. This is particularly true with the bullet cameras that have a "hood" over the lens as it give the spiders a working platform.

This problem has gone away with the use of the new, popular turret type cameras. I almost never see a spider web problem with the low-light, no-IR turret. Love them. . .

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

great report!

one comment about this:

However, 940nm is also weaker, traveling only about half the distance of 850nm while using the same power, and more expensive to manufacture.

that statement may be misleading since 940nm doesn't actually 'travel' less far than 850nm at the same power.

rather, the reduced performance of 940nm is due to the drop off in sensor sensitivity at that wavelength, as suggested in your chart.

also, different sensors have significant differences in response at these ranges which makes the generalization harder.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative: 2
Unhelpful
Funny

That's a good point. It's been reworded to:

...provide less effective usable distance, as camera image sensors are less sensitive to the higher wavelength of "invisible" illuminators.

It's true that response is different between sensors, as well, but it can pretty safely be said that cameras are generally less sensitive to 940nm and up.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I would like to add some important information concerning clothing and textiles.

Under infrared light, clothing and textiles (e.g. backpacks, bags, etc.) can be either absorptive or reflective. This has the significant effect of making clothing that would appear as one color to the human eye, appear significantly different under IR light.

Depending on the fabric it may either absorb IR light or reflect it. Absorptive fabrics will appear dark under IR light, and reflective fabrics appear white under IR light, regardless of their actual color. For example, a subject in white light may appear to be wearing a black shirt, blue jeans, and dark sneakers, however in IR light they may appear to be wearing all-white due to the fabrics having reflective qualities.

This can negatively affect a response to a threat as a subject may be mistakenly described as wearing bright-colored clothing when in fact they are not. It is therefore important to educate viewers of IR-equipped CCTV cameras that inferences about clothing color should not be made when viewing subjects under IR light.

A good example can be seen here:

Notice how the shirt is black with white lettering under visible light, but under IR light the colors appears reversed. If a viewer were to inform security or police responders that the subject was wearing a white shirt, upon viewing the subject in person they may get dismissed by responders as not matching the description given.

Installers and consultants should be aware of this when specifying IR cameras for customers that may require more positive identification of subjects in dark areas. If the color of clothing details are important then an ultra-low light color camera would be a better solution than one with integrated IR.

Agree
Disagree
Informative: 8
Unhelpful
Funny

This can negatively affect a response to a threat as a subject may be mistakenly described as wearing bright-colored clothing when in fact they are not.

interesting. so i suppose, if one were so inclined, one could intentionally design a whole outfit that appears completely different under IR light.

like maybe a football jersey with big numbers/name only visible under IR.

or more sinisterly, a police uniform that looks like regular clothes in visible light. sounds like an episode of CSI.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I suppose in theory yes, although IR doesn't make everything necessarily blend together through reflectivity or absorption. You would generally be able to make out things like the edges of a shoulder patch or screen printing, unless the subject was far enough away that fine details weren't discernible. Unless everything on the outfit had precisely the same reflection/absorption values as everything else you'd notice something was off.

The military has done fairly extensive research into this field for obvious reasons. You will find that all modern military uniforms, web gear, and other worn accessories are completely IR absorptive so as to minimize signature under IR light. If you really wanted to be nefarious it wouldn't take much to buy a cheap IR camera and test out clothes until you assembled an outfit that was completely absorptive and allowed you to blend into the shadows more easily.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

You would generally be able to make out things like the edges of a shoulder patch or screen printing...

i'd agree, "generally". but i was speaking specifically about purposely finding materials/pigments which vary under visible light, but reflect the same under IR.

for instance, don't you think that the logo could be adjusted to blend in with the shirt?

why not?

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I don't know enough about inks and textiles to comment authoritatively, but I suspect that they would not have precisely the same reflectivity values. If you're putting in enough effort to do something like that, you're probably sophisticated enough to find ways around the cameras entirely.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Integrated IR with vandal domes tends to reflect the dirt/water on the dome into the camera.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

You're not wrong, we have a test on that issue: Dirty Dome Camera Test.

The gif below front that test shows the differences between domes in various states of dirtiness or scratching.

Agree
Disagree
Informative: 1
Unhelpful
Funny

Does IR make that much of a difference with true WDR and appropriate Gain optimized on a camera?

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny
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