Camera Slow Shutter / Ghosting Tested

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 17, 2014

Wrong. Your first impression of an IP camera's performance in low light is frequently wrong.

The reason is simple: slow shutter.

Many manufacturers default their cameras to go to a shutter speed that is too slow to capture moving objects without creating blur/ghosting effects.

They do this because they correctly assume that most users will 'test' by pointing their cameras at a wall and judge performance by how bright the image is. Only later when it is put in production and cars or people pass by, do they notice the issue.

Manufacturer Slow Shutter Ranges

Manufacturer's default slow shutter setting typically ranges from 1/4s to 1/30s and are often given fancy marketing terms to obscure what they are doing. This is a huge deal as the cameras on the slower end (i.e., 1/4s) are taking in 750% more light than the ones of the higher end.

Showing It In Action

We tested 6 manufacturers using a comparative approach:

  • On the far left, is a stationary person with slow shutter on.
  • In the center left, is a moving person with slow shutter on.
  • In the center right, is a stationary person with slow shutter OFF. 
  • In the far right, is a moving person with slow shutter OFF

Here's an Arecont camera, showing the tradeoff:

 

*****. **** ***** ********** ** ** ** ******'* *********** ** low ***** ** ********** *****.

*** ****** ** ******: **** *******.

**** ************* ******* ***** ******* ** ** ** * ******* speed **** ** *** **** ** ******* ****** ******* ******* creating ****/******** *******.

**** ** **** ******* **** ********* ****** **** **** ***** will '****' ** ******** ***** ******* ** * **** *** judge *********** ** *** ****** *** ***** **. **** ***** when ** ** *** ** ********** *** **** ** ****** pass **, ** **** ****** *** *****.

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

************'* ******* **** ******* ******* ********* ****** **** */** ** 1/30s *** *** ***** ***** ***** ********* ***** ** ******* what **** *** *****. **** ** * **** **** ** the ******* ** *** ****** *** (*.*., */**) *** ****** in ***% **** ***** **** *** **** ** *** ****** end.

Showing ** ** ******

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

  • ** *** *** ****, ** * ********** ****** **** **** shutter **.
  • ** *** ****** ****, ** * ****** ****** **** **** shutter **.
  • ** *** ****** *****, ** * ********** ****** **** **** shutter ***. 
  • ** *** *** *****, ** * ****** ****** **** **** shutter ***

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

 

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

**** ***

**** **** ******* ******* ** */** **** *******. ** *** D11 ********** *****, ** *** *** *** ******* ** * blur ***** **** *****. ** */***, *** ***** ******* ********* to **** *** *** **** ******* ** ********* ** ******.

*******

******* ******** ** ** ******** **** ****** ***** "********", **** no ********** ** **** ******* ***** ** ******** ** (*/**). Worse, ********** ***** **** *** ******* *******, *** *** *** down ** * **** *** ****** **** ***** "*********" ****.

** */** ******* *****, ****** *** ********** ******** ** *** ******, ****** no ******* ** *** ****** ******* *** ********* *** ** motion ****. ******** ******* ***** ** */***, *** ***** **** ********, *** **** is **********, ********* ***** ****** *******.

******** ** *** *** *******, ***** *** ******* ** **** worse:

**** *****

*** **** ***** *** ***** **** *** ** ******** ******* ****** "*******", ***** ******* ** 1/4 ****** *******. ** **** *******, *** ******* ** * severely ******* *** *** ****** ** ****. ******** ******** ** */***, *** ***** ******* *** ***** ********* *******, but **** ******* ** *** ******* **** ** ******** *** hair ***** *** ** **** ***. **** **** *** ***** and ***** ******** ** */*** ******* *****.

***** ***** ****

*****'* ****** ***** *****, *** ****, ******** ** */** ******* *****, ***** *** ***** ** as "*****-***** ********" ** ********. ** **** *****, *** ******* is * ******** ****, ****** ************** ** *****. *******, ************* to * */*** ******* ***** ******** * **** ****** *****, with *** ******* ********* ** ****** *** ** ******* *******.

*******

** *******, *******'* ******* *** ******* *** */** ******* *****. ** *** ***** ***-****, **** ******* in *********** ********, **** ******* ***** **** *****/**** ******** ******** (no **** ** ******** ***** ***********).

*** ***-**** **** ******** ** */** ******* ******* *****. *******, we ***** **** ** *** **** ***** ** ***** ******* in **** ****, *** ** *** ****** *** ***** ***********, it *** *** **** *** ******* ****** ** ****. **** blurring ** **** ***** ******* ********, **** ** *** **** below. ** *** *****, *** *******'* **** ** ********** *******.

Honorable *******

** *** *****, ** ******** * ****** ** ******* ** not ******* ** **** *******, ********** ******** *** ** *** box *** ***** ***********, ********* (*** *** ** ********** ****):

  • **** *****, *****, *****
  • ***** ***-****, ***-****, ***-****
  • ********-*******, ***-*******
  • ********* **-*********, **-********, **-********
  • ********* **-*****
  • **** ***-*****, ***-******, ***-*****
  • *************, *******

Comments (10)

John,

I've found that many in my industry don't understand how slow shutter works. I'm always amused/dismayed to see cameras deployed where higher frame rates are required but slow shutter settings are not checked. On many VMS's, slow shutter does not appear as a change in the frame rate display so users assume they're seeing higher frame rates than they are actually getting.

We've had debates with people about vendors who use slow shutter but show full frame rates. It's obviously cheating. The frame rate cannot be faster than the shutter. If my shutter speed is 1/10s, that means I can only get 10 unique 'shots' per second. The only way I can deliver 30fps in that scenario is to copy each frame 3 times, which is pointless.

Very important thing. My feeling is, like Carl already mentioned, a lot of installations are done with defaullt on shutter, priotirizing fps. Live images and recordings appear to be good, job done. But just as long as no one wants to get an image or snapshot from a moving object.

In most of our projects I ask installer to do exactly this: Try to create snapshots from moving objects to find out quality of current settings. Takes more time but it's worth doing it. Keep in mind: Most interesting objects you wanna see with your cam might move ;)

Harald, good feedback. It's funny that the VMS vendor gets blamed for this sometimes. Though, I guess, the VMS vendor gets blamed for a lot!

It is a shame that so many 'professionals' have no idea about shutter speed / exposure and the impact it is.

Btw, for those looking for background references, see:

FYI all Avigilon cameras come defaulted at 1/30

Is 1/30 shutter speed deemed as the "industry standard"?

We have a project where the cameras are installed in areas with natural lighting during the day and florescent during the night based on timer from 1900 to 0700hrs. During cloudy days or early mornings, lux level is about 11 - 16 lux, but the image is too dark for identification. Shutter speed was set at 1/100.

Image brightness will only be acceptable a 1/25, but there will be motion blur when a snap shot is taken. This affects manual licence plate and face recognition.

IR LED is not an option and image must be in colour for identification purpose.

Any advise?

Good question!

The industry 'standard' default is generally to make the shutter speed match the max frame rate. To the extent that most cameras max frame rate is 30fps, that would mean 1/30s shutter. Of course, PAL and countries where PAL is a legacy, sometimes see 25fps max frame rate and accordingly, a slowest shutter of 1/25s. By contrast, for cameras supporting 60fps, this requires 1/60s shutter to deliver true and full 60fps.

If you have 10+ lux light during this period and the video is too dark with 1/100s, this indicates a poor low light camera. 10+ lux is a lot of light, relatively speaking, even at 1/100s.

What is the camera model you are using? Would you consider switching it? That or adding in a white visible light illuminator...

It's a Hikvision DS-2CD755F with min illumination spec at 0.05 lux.

We can't switch the camera as it's already in an implementation stage.

We are trying to avoid the last resort of adding the illuminators as the sites are many and it's lots of additional cost.

Ri Na- the 755 camera will deafult to 1/30 shutter and does not support slow shutter. We would need to know what other setting values are and to see snap shots of the scene you are viewing. Which specific model are you using? Please send your contact information and any pertenent settings info to me at bob.germain@hikvisionusa.com I will take a look myself and also hook you up with the tech support as nesessary.

It is simple to measure the shutter speed of any camera using any analogue oscilloscope. It is possible even to build a dependence between the shutter speed and illumination level using luxmeter and a lamp in addition.
Further, knowing the sputter speed and velocities of objects on the scene it is possible to simulate their blurring in the frame.

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