5 Low Cost IR Illuminators Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Sep 03, 2015

IR illumination has increased in popularity, with built in IR becoming a common feature in low-cost models. But when low light needs exceed the relatively short ranges of these cameras (usually 100' or less), users have historically been left with few options aside from high-priced external illuminators. And for those cameras without IR, even for short range, the cost of those illuminators can now be more than the camera itself.

However, a new crop of low-cost illuminators has hit the market, claiming wide illumination angles and long ranges (400'+) at rock bottom prices, under $100 as well as short-range models for under $20.

We bought 5 of these IR illuminators from Amazon for a total cost of under $200, shown below:

We put them to the test and see how the performed in these categories:

  • Range: Did illumination reach specified ranges or fall short?
  • Angle: Did illuminators suffer from bright center hotspots or evenly cover the field of view?
  • Features: How do these illuminators compare to pro models in featureset?
  • Camera Performance: How did these illuminators work with different Arecont, Axis, Hikvision and Sony cameras?

** ************ *** ********* ** **********, **** ***** ** ** becoming * ****** ******* ** ***-**** ******. *** **** *** light ***** ****** *** ********** ***** ****** ** ***** ******* (usually ***' ** ****), ***** **** ************ **** **** **** *** options ***** **** ****-****** ******** ************. *** *** ***** ******* without **, **** *** ***** *****, *** **** ** ***** illuminators *** *** ** **** **** *** ****** ******.

*******, * *** **** ** ***-**** ************ *** *** *** market, ******** **** ************ ****** *** **** ****** (***'+) ** rock ****** ******, ***** $*** ** **** ** *****-***** ****** for ***** $**.

** ****** * ** ***** ** ************ **** ****** *** a ***** **** ** ***** $***, ***** *****:

** *** **** ** *** **** *** *** *** *** performed ** ***** **********:

  • *****:*** ************ ***** ********* ****** ** **** *****?
  • *****:*** ************ ****** **** ****** ****** ******** ** ****** ***** the ***** ** ****?
  • ********:*** ** ***** ************ ******* ** *** ****** ** **********?
  • ****** ***********: *** *** ***** ************ **** **** ********* *******, Axis, ********* *** **** *******?

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

Key ********

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

************ *****

*** ************ *** ** ******** ***** ********* ******, **** *** longest ******** ~$***'. **** **** ***** ****** ********* **** ******** ranges (***-***', ***-***', ***.) ******* *** *** *** ** ********* range.

******** **** **** ******* ***-**** *********** *****, ** ***** **** ****** ******* ************* ***** *****.

***** ** ************

** ***********'* ********* ***** ** ************ ****** ********* **** *** actual ***********. **** *** ********* ** * ****** ***********, ****** varied ************* **** ****, **** *** ******** **** *******, *** two *****.

** ******

***** ***-**** ************ *** ******* *** ***** *** **** **/*** based ** ** ******** *********. **** ** *** ******* *** ******** ******** found ** **** ****** **** ************, **** ** ****** *** ********* camera ***/***** ****,******** ******** *******, ********* ************.

*******

** ********* *** **** ** ***** ************ **** ******.***, **** prices ******* **** $**-**:

***** ****** *** * ******** ** **** ************ ************ ****. For *******, * ****** ****** ** (****-**) **** * ** degree ***** ** ************ ***** *** ~$*** ******. ******* **** with **** ******** ***** ** ************, *** ***** ** ******* to ***** **', **** * ***** ** *** ******** ** the ****** **** ***** ** **** **** (***, $**).

****** ***** ****** *** **** ******* ******* ******* ****, ***** with ******** ************ ********.

***************

*** ************ ****** **** ******* * ****** ***** ** *** illumination ** *** ***** ****** ** ****** **** ***** **** professional ***** ************, *** ** ****** ****** ***** ** **** integrated ** ******.

*******, ** ******** ******* ***** **** ***** ************ ** ***** with ***** ****** ******, ** ***** *** ***** ** ************ vary *********** **** ****, *** *** *** ** ********** *** the ***********.

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

*** ***** ***** ***** *** ************ **** ** ****. *** counts *** ********** ****** **** *** ***** **** ** * large, **** ******* ***** *** ***** ** ************.

Illuminator ********

***** ************ **** **** ** *** ***** *** ******** ***** in **** ********* ********** ******. **** *** ******* ** ***** only, *** ********** **** *** ** ******** *********. **** ******* no ************* ** ***** ****** ** ***** **** **** **/***, nor ***** *********** ***** ** **** ****** ****** ******. 

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

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

Powering *** ***********

**** ***** *** ****** ** *** *** ** ***** ***** *** these ************ ******* ** ** ***, ** ** ******* **** ******* ******* **** ****** **** ****** ********.

  • ***** ******* ** "*** ******" *** ** ***** ************ *** do ** **** * *** **** *** ********. **** ****** *** *********** ** **** ***** **** * free *** ****** ****, ** ** ** ****, ******* ** using *** *-********* *** *****.
  • ** *** * ***** ****** *** ******* ** ***** ** the ***********, * ***** ********** ****** **** ** *********** ******* ** ****.

Range ***********

*** ************ ****** ******* ** ******** ***** ********* ************ ********. Those ********** * ***** ******* ** * ****** ******, *** IR130 *** *****, ******* *** *** *** ** ***** ********* range, *** **** *******.

*** *** *** ***** *** *** ******* ***** **** ("***-***'") *** actual ***** ** ***, ***'+, **** ** *** ***** *****. Note **** *** ***** (**********, ******* ** *** ***** ** the *******) **** ***' **********, **** *** ***** **** ~***' from *** ******/***********.


*** ***** ******* ************ *** *********** *** ** ***** ***'. However, *** ******** ******* ****** **** **-** *******, **** **** hotter ** *** ****** **** ******.

**** ***** **** *** ******* ******* **** **** ***' ** the ****** ******** ***** *** ** * (* ***) ***********. ************ becomes ********** ****** ******* *** ***** *** ****** *****, ~***'.

Coverage *******

*** ************ ****** ********* ****** ** ************ ******* **** **-** degrees. *******, ** ***** **** *** ** ***** ***** ** be ******** (*** ** ****** ****).

*** ****** ************ **** **** ******* ** ***** **** (*****/*****) were **** ***** **** *********. **** ******* ** ************* ** ****** angle, **. ** *** ** ******* *****, ************. **** ** shown ***** *** *****, *****.

*******, *** ******* ****** ***** * ** * **** (***/****) overspecified ***** ***** ** ************. *** *** ********* * ** degree *****, *** *** *** ********* ******* ** *** ************ tested, ~** *******. *** **** ********* ** *******, *** ******* only ***** **.

Overexposure ****

********** ** ***** *********** *** ****, *** ****** ******** **** risk ** ************ ******** ** **** ******** *** *******. ******* which *** ********* ****** ** ******** ******* *****, **** ** the**** *************** ***-****, *** **** ** ********** *** *** ***** ** ***** in *** *****, ***** ******, **** ** ***************************** *****, *** ****** ** ******.

***** *** ***** ******* ****, ************ *** *** ** ******, though ***** ** ***** ** ***** *****:

Comments (10)

Contrast this with our 2010 low-cost illuminator tests, in which most models greatly overspecified their range.

Though you're using newer cameras for this test, right? Presumably the latest gen cameras have better low-light performance which would make an illuminator appear to work (slightly?) better.

Maybe you should create a set of "reference" cameras if you're going to test illuminators regularly.

Either way, interesting tests and results.

While I am sure there is some benefit to IR illuminators of 2015 IP cameras having greater light sensitivity than 2015, the IR models we tested in 2010 were bad all around, including extreme hotspotting. Here's a video from the 2010 test;

How does this compare to "Lightfinder" or "Darkfighter" cameras without illumination?

A really good camera without light still struggles to match up against cameras that have their own source of light (e.g., IR illuminators) in very dark conditions

In the Darkfighter test, we show the difference between that and IR.

Also, more generally see our Super Low Light vs Integrated IR Shootout

Who manufactures these illuminators?

Technically, it is "Univivi" and "CMVision". The later looks like an American relabeler, the former appear to be a Chinese company.

Either way, I would not expect any support on them. These are really more relatively high-quality disposable items at extremely low prices.

We have been using the IR130 as a company for about 8 months now. No real issues found other than what has been stated in the article. Its inexpensive and works great.

Thanks for the tip, interesting to hear that they're actually getting some field use!

Most people do not realize that IR assisted imaging requires a HDR camera. Those 200-300 foot illuminators cause near field blowout at short distances.

Most people do not realize that IR assisted imaging requires a HDR camera. Those 200-300 foot illuminators cause near field blowout at short distances.

Did you read the report or just immediately post that? We covered the overexposure aspect in the report.

I disagree with HDR cameras. In our testing, HDR is not enough to handle blowout. What you generally need is smart IR that detects objects in the near field and turns down the IR power.

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

Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Digital Watchdog Low Cost 4MP Camera Tested on Jul 02, 2018
Based on member 4MP testing requests, we bought and tested Digital Watchdog's low-cost 4MP DWC-MTT4Wi to see how it performs in real world scenes,...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...
Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Hikvision ColorVu Integrated Visible Light Cameras Examined on Jun 22, 2018
When it comes to low light, infrared light has become the defacto standard in surveillance. But IR is limited to monochrome images, making colors...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Hikvision 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (DS-2CD63C2F-IV) on Jun 14, 2018
Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F-IV is their flagship panoramic camera, with a 12MP imager, 15m integrated IR, smart codec, and more. We tested the 63C2 in...
Avigilon H4 Multi-Sensor Adds 32MP, H.265, Analytics on Jun 13, 2018
Avigilon has announced the H4 Multisensor, the successor to their repositionable multi imager line, adding features like H.265, integrated IR,...
Introducing Effective PPF (ePPF) - Improving Video Surveillance Designs on Jun 11, 2018
Pixel density (PPF / PPM) is the best metric the industry has to define and project video quality. It allows simple communication of estimated...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Amazon Ring Alarm System Tested on Jul 16, 2018
Amazon Ring is going to hurt traditional dealers, and especially ADT, new IPVM test results of Ring's Alarm system underscore. IPVM found that...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Hikvision Fights Ban - Claims 'Red Scare', Hires 14 Term Ex-Congressman on Jul 11, 2018
Hikvision is fighting back against the House Bill Ban of their products. Hikvision has hired one of the biggest lobbying firms, led by a 14 term...
Arecont Acquisition By Costar on Jul 11, 2018
Arecont Vision acquisition by Costar Technologies has been approved by the court, concluding the bankruptcy process triggered by Arecont's...

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