Light challenges in Video Surveillance deployments

Lighting has posed as a challenge for capturing usable security footage and images on a video surveillance system. Whether it is indoor or outdoor, day or night, natural and artificial light- integrators are finding it hard to tackle this challenge with the right equipment. However, recent advances in visibility enhancement technologies in security cameras have made it possible for security professionals to overcome issues associated with challenging light conditions. Nowadays, the equipment is very much capable to overcome the challenges related to light in order to produce crisp and clear images like never before.

From the past couple of years, it is a fact that the industry has notably made a transition from analog to IP systems. Older analog devices were having a limited ability to compensate for varying ranges of light, noise and image distortion. But their IP cousins are coming up with utmost traits such as a mix of software and hardware technologies. This includes the mechanism for dynamic frame and contrast filtering that provides for clear identification of images in both dark and light areas and in high contrast areas which are now common in deployments related to video surveillance.

High-Definition video imagery is also one of the most popular technologies that is assisting this shift. Users are getting significantly enhanced details with the assistance of this technology which was otherwise obscured by glare or noise.

With this technology reaching new levels such as 4K resolution, the environmental and artificial challenges related to light may become the most troublesome in coming days. But no worries, as visibility enhancement software will be an apt answer to this problem. This software is being delivered in such a way that it can reduce the challenges of cameras installed in both inside and outside environments. The visibility enhancement software will compensate for varying ranges of light, noise, and image distortion, allowing for much improved focus and detection of faces, patterns and other minute details irrespective of the weather conditions prevailing outside. This software is very well capable of offering clear identification of images in both light and dark areas in high-contrast zones.

Monitoring in the dark – Earlier, the use of traditional security cameras was causing trouble while monitoring in the dark. Dynamic range, discoloration and noise caused by reduced lighting and moving objects were the source of endless headaches. But now, time has changed and is favoring the installers. The latest offering of IP cameras have the ability to produce detailed video images in low light at less than 0.01 lux illumination. Their advanced processors are capable of capturing clear images of human faces and clothing without the overexposure common in standard IR models.

But still, when it comes to outside installations, the challenges like glare, noise and overexposure generated by headlights is still impeding. These contrast issues from the way wide dynamic range is processed are not easy to overcome without tradeoffs. Some installers, if their project budget allows them to do so, go with the installation of two cameras enriched with high light compensation technology. These technology backed devices are specifically programmed to recognize instances where video data is being overpowered by excessive light and can compensate for it in order to clearly identify objects.

For integrators looking for solutions beyond this technology can also go for cameras which are being offered by built-in infrared LED mechanisms. They should be deployed, as they are designed to illuminate full view evenly without reflection on the dome cover in order too minimize the image distortion.

Day to night and back to day – With changing light conditions, many of today’s security cameras offer autofocus mechanism which have the ability to adjust to differences in depth. But as the standard devices change modes in between night and day, the imagery they capture will briefly move out of focus. Therefore, here’s where the need for cameras enriched with ‘Auto Back Focus’ (ABF) process arises. These cameras adjust image sensor position automatically to maintain accurate focus.

With visibility enhancement, issues related to dynamic range can also be reduced. And with the rapid market penetration of HD cameras that can capture large areas than traditional cameras, wide-angle-view lenses are also becoming more popular. But the fact is that these often produce images with clear barrel distortion. Thus, these distorted images can affect visibility and the recognition rate and accuracy of facial recognition and similar technologies. On an additional note, video surveillance requires wide depth of field in order to capture objects both near and far in a clear way. But varied light conditions can create distortion of this distance over time. However, to overcome this issue, lens distortion compensation and depth of field correction technologies packed into the surveillance cameras can ensure the imagery is translated correctly.

Discoloration in poor lighting conditions – It is evident that as lighting conditions change, the color of recorded images often becomes altered. For instance, a camera can capture a crystal clear image during the initial hours of the day. But later on, the monitoring gets highly influenced by conditions such as sun-set and shifting shade from the trees. This often happens when in-built IR filters are cut down to increase light sensitivity in order to capture a greater area. But this typically takes a negative effect on the clarity of details that may be important for end-users. So, manufactures of IP video surveillance cameras are coming up with visibility enhancement mechanisms such as Super Chroma Compensation that are specifically designed to recover the original color of objects by digital image processing without sacrificing the integrity of new video data.

Noise and environmental challenges – The other challenge which is hitting security integrators is low-quality video signals in poor lighting conditions. This is due to the fact that the device attempts to process video signals in poor light conditions and as a result produces high noise. This causes grainy video that can make identification of objects nearly impossible. However, now security camera makers are trying to cut down such challenges by presenting Multi-process noise reduction and digital noise reduction features. This allows the integrators to program the cameras to become more sensitive to differences in light and texture, adjusting the image to deliver clear color images without low-level visual noise.

Additionally, environmental factors such as humidity, fog and rain can also create major issues in obtaining usable video from outdoor surveillance cameras. Fortunately, this issue is being addressed with new visibility enhancement mechanisms. Camera manufactures are coming up with cameras with built-in electric anti-humidity units that prevent condensation on the cover and lens, while digital processors can be adapted to filter out noise from conditions such as Fog, haze, smoke, smog, dust and sandstorms. As a result, outdoor cameras can still deliver outstanding clarity and high resolution without interference.

Image degradation resulting from ambiguously moving objects such as rain and snow can also be reduced by offering cameras that offer GPU accelerated computing and high-speed image processing algorithms.

Hope, all the issues pertaining to light challenges hitting video surveillance deployments have been addressed. If not, please share your views, experiences and knowledge through the comments section below.

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