A 4k color night vision security camera is currently the new best thing to watch your property all time of the day. But then, which night vision mode is the best, color or infrared? Is it possible to set both options at the same time? If not, how far can a security camera see at night on each mode?
First, any good CCTV system should have built night vision. Sure, opportunistic burglars will take your valuables with them any time they get the opportunity. But many dedicated burglars prefer to break in in the evening or at night when there are few people watching.
Color vs Starlight vs Infrared Night Vision
Technically, it’s usually crucial to know how far a security camera can see at night before you make a buying decision. It will not only help you decide if the particular brand you’re looking at is worth it. The aspect also makes it easier to find the proper spots where to place your security cameras.
For instance, a night vision security camera that continues to stream in full color after dusk will give you footage rich in details. You can tell the real face of the individual who tried to jack your car and the color of his getaway car.
If the camera is relying on starlight technology for color night vision, its sensor is usually a little more sensitive to light. And that means it (the sensor) will be able to capture more visible light, which makes it possible to continue recording in color.
Also, this means for the starlight night vision security camera to work, you’ll need to have ambient lighting in the area. If there’s no light source in the area and it’s completely dark (below 1 lux), the device switches to infrared.
The infrared mode will have the camera utilize its built-in “infrared” LEDs to construct an image of the infrared-light-emitting object. A system with superior infrared LEDs can capture black and white images up to 200ft away.
However, a powerful floodlight or spotlight security camera can capture color at quite a distance as well. But as we shall see below, the actual range depends on what the brand you have has to offer.
A Quick Guide on How Far Can A Security Camera See At Night
As was just said, how far a security camera can see at night varies from one brand to another. But the actual determinant is usually the build and features of the particular camera in question.
- Focal Length (Field of View)
Focal length is the first crucial factor when it comes to the question of how far security cameras see at night. The term refers to the distance between the camera lens and the image sensor. It’s often measured in millimeters (mm), and the smaller the distance, the larger the field of view.
In a nutshell, a security camera with a small field of view also has a relatively smaller coverage. But on the Lorex vs Nest review, we saw the small field of view capture images relatively richer in detail.
Still, brands like Lorex and Amcrest have Varifocal cameras that you can manually adjustable focal length. We also have PTZ security cameras with optical zoom- a fancy name for a motorized lens (focal length). And in either of the two types of cameras, you’ll notice they also have a variable night vision range.
- Type of Image Sensor (or Resolution)
The image sensor is the second most crucial feature that determines the night capabilities of a security camera. An 8MP sensor for 4k resolution is currently the highest quality that’s easy to find. It will give you sharper details than 1080p and 2k cameras, regardless of the time of the day (daytime or nighttime).
If your security camera uses the Starlight sensor, the footage in low-light conditions will be clearer than with a conventional CMOS sensor. You’ll also be able to see a long distance in ambient light than when running on infrared night vision in total darkness.
A perfect example is with Lorex security camera that offers up to 300ft night vision when the area has some lighting. But in total darkness, you get a maximum range of 200ft.
- Type of the Infrared LEDs
Similarly, how far a security camera can see at night in black and white depends on the power of the built-in infrared LEDs.
In long-range night vision security cameras, they all utilize 850nm IR LEDs, which have wider visibility than 940nm lights.
For instance, a system like Wyze that offers both types of night vision can see nearly 30ft when on the 850nm setting. But when you switch to the 940nm (invisible) night vision, the coverage range can drop to as low as 15ft.
- The brightness of the Built-in White Light
When working with a color night vision camera, the brightness of the built-in LEDs determines the farthest you can see. A 375-lumen Ring spotlight Cam won’t see as far in color as the floodlight with 2000+ lumens of white light.
In most cases, you can read faces at 10-20 feet, whereas 25-40 feet is only enough to tell the color of clothing or vehicle.
- How is the Area Monitored?
The condition of the area monitored is yet another factor that determines how far a security camera can see at night. Remember, the camera sensor will need some type of light (visible or infrared light) to construct an image you can see.
If we could use Lorex again, the Lorex Optical PTZ security camera has an IR night vision range of up to 300ft in ambient lighting. But when the same area is in total darkness (below 1 lux), the visibility can drop to 150 – 200ft
Determine your Area of Focus Beforehand
In conclusion, focal length, image sensor, and night vision LEDs are the most crucial factors when determining how far a security camera can see at night. The features usually come as such from the manufacturer, which means you should choose your system carefully before buying.
But even after you have your desired night vision security camera, the place where you mount also matters. You should place the system high enough for the burglars not to tamper and have a clear view of the area. But at the same time, the mounting position shouldn’t be too high as the area of focus will appear farther away.