Lux levels are quoted by all IP camera manufacturers to give an indication of the low light performance of the camera. Lux rating is a way of determining a camera’s ability to see in various degrees of darkness. It’s very important to note that lux ratings for IR cameras are rated differently from cameras without that Infrared capability. Be careful not to compare these two side by side as they are going to need to be interpreted differently.
The amount of light is defined by LUX (lumens per square meter). One LUX is the amount of light cast by one candle at one meters space. Below are some examples of common light sources expressed in LUX. Most security cameras operate at a LUX CCTV rating of 1.0 or less. Also, some ratings are as low as .003 LUX. If a camera is rated at 0.0 LUX, it must be an infrared camera because that means there is no available light, and that means an image cannot be captured unless it is infrared.
Some high-quality CCDs can have a good picture down to .1 LUX. If the LUX is lower, then it will require infrared LEDs to see in the dark. These are called night vision or infrared (IR) cameras. Most camera’s specifications will list the number of LEDs they use which can help you check the LUX CCTV rating.
Why LUX rating is no longer important in CCTV cameras
A camera equipped with an Infrared board is clearly going to be able to see in complete darkness. The lux rating in the case of a camera like this is based on its ability to see in the dark with the assistance of its Infrared board. For this reason, any camera that has an Infrared board will have a lux rating of zero; zero indicates that it can see in complete darkness. Nowadays almost all security cameras come with LED lights, so there’s no need for LUX ratings. When you purchase a camera, check out the LEDs or infrared specs not the lux ratings.
The type of LED is more important than quantity. Some LEDs can produce ten times more light than others. Some are made so the naked eye can’t see the light being emitted from them. This makes them better for covert use. The best way to compare IR cameras is to compare the number of feet the camera illuminates to how wide the light is spread.