Training: Using a Lux Meter

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 06, 2009

Getting good images at night is one of the most challenging problems in video surveillance. Making this worse is that generally you cannot trust the illumination ratings provided by manufacturers.

The best tool to solve this problem is a lux meter. Lux meters provide a quantified measurement of the amount of light available. Without a lux meter, you are simply guessing. With a lux meter, you can clearly see and compare the impacts of various lighting conditions. Here is a video overview of the benefits and use of a lux meter:


Choosing a Lux Meter

There are an enormous number of options for lux meters on the market ranging from under $50 to over $500. For video surveillance, the key consideration is that a lux meter can accurately measure under 1 lux (critical for low-light and night-time testing). The cheaper consumer models usually do not do this. Based on Carl's recommendation, I selected the Extech LT300 (for $140 USD) and I am happy with it.

Benefits of Using a Lux Meter

Using a lux meter lets you determine exactly how much light you need for video that is usable for you. This is almost always far higher than what a manufacturer states as their minimum illumination.

With this knowledge, it makes it much easier to plan new camera deployments. Take a lux meter to the proposed camera site and check the light reading. You will know in advance how well it will work or if you need to use a different camera or infrared illuminators.

For more in-depth analysis and demonstrations of low light performance, see our premium report on "How Well Do IP Cameras Work in Low Light?"

Lower Cost Options

In addition to the LT300, Extech has begun offering lower cost compact models. The LT10 is part of their "Pocket Series", and sells for ~$60 online, less than half the cost of the LT300. However, two features are lacking compared to higher end models:

  • No remote sensor: The unit is all in one, with the sensor attached to the base unit, so users cannot aim the sensor with one hand while holding the base with readout in the other.
  • Claims accuracy only to 0.1 lux: By contrast, the LT300 claims accuracy down to 0.01. 0.1 is likely dark enough for many users, but not those concerned with super low light scenes.

5 reports cite this report:

Fail: Dahua "Didn't Check The Lux Levels but It Was Dark" on Jul 20, 2018
Dahua UK has been promoting their camera quality on LinkedIn: I, and others, asked what the lux level of the scene was. (background: Lux Rating...
Calculating Video Surveillance Storage / Bandwidth on Dec 29, 2016
Calculating surveillance bandwidth is complex, and inexperienced users can easily underestimate bandwidth, leading to reduced storage durations...
21 Scenes Lux Readings For Video Surveillance on Aug 11, 2016
IPVM went to numerous locations and measured the lux readings / light levels at each one. Here is an example of the approach we took and output...
How Well do IP Cameras Work in Low Light? on Jun 06, 2009
[2016 Update: Camera technology has changed substantially since 2009. The same pattern occurs but cameras are generally much better in low light....
Guidelines for Testing IP Cameras on May 25, 2009
What is the best way to test an IP cameras? We have established guidelines for our tests. These guidelines are listed below for your review and...

Related Reports on Low Light

Axis IR Multi Imager Camera Tested (P3717-PLE) on Feb 18, 2019
Axis has released their first IR multi imager, the P3717-PLE, a repositionable model listing 360° IR illumination and flexible positioning,...
Hanwha Smaller Multi Imager Tested (PNM-9000VQ) on Feb 14, 2019
Hanwha's first repositionable multi imager PNM-9081VQ tested well, but was huge, over 12" wide and weighing in at over 10 pounds. Now, they have...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
Sony Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 06, 2019
Sony Favorability amongst integrators improved moderately compared to their 2017 favorability results, with a modest net positive...
Camera Course Winter 2019 - Last Chance on Jan 24, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the Winter 2019 Camera Course. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
2019 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Jan 07, 2019
Each year, IPVM summarizes the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and...
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

From The Basement To Buried Behind Chinatown: ISC West Emerging Technology Zone on Feb 22, 2019
What does ISC West think about 'Emerging Technology'? Well, last year, they put those companies in the basement. This year, they moved them up to...
Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...

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