The main complaint for people who own a CCTV security camera system is having certain cameras that are blurry or foggy at night. And it’s a fact that most of the crime happens at night which means a blurry or foggy CCTV camera will defeat the whole purpose of having a security camera system.
If you have a security camera that shows a blurry or foggy picture, fixing the issue is quite important. There are multiple reasons why a security camera shows a blurry or foggy picture during the night time (or even day time).
This guide discusses a few approaches on how to fix a security camera that displays blurry or foggy images. Read and follow the suggestion until you eliminate this issue from your security camera system.
How to fix: Security camera blurry at night
As we mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why the security camera’s picture may show blurry or foggy: it can be a physical issue with the IR lights or the glass or sometimes software related (although it’s quite rare). Below we’ve collected a few tips on how to fix the blurry/foggy image issue.
The IR reflection issue (IR bleeding)
Nowadays almost all security cameras, IP are HD analog, use built-in IR (infrared) lights to illuminate the area and capture the images during night time. Basically, the IR lights are what makes the security camera see in the dark.
However, quite often this IR light bounces back from a close object and comes back “blinding” the camera’s lens (eye). This light reflection is what makes the image show as blurry or foggy. In some cases, the reflection is so heavy that the camera is practically unusable.
Below is a picture of a dome security camera. The “dots” around the camera’s lens are actually the IR lights, once it gets dark they’ll turn on automatically and illuminate the area under surveillance.
As we said, the light emitted from the IR block may bounce back on an external solid surface (such as a wall) or from the dome glass itself. As a result the picture will show as blurry or foggy on the CCTV system.
Generally speaking this IR reflection is more common on dome style cameras, but even bullet or PTZ cameras may experience the same problem. There are a few things you can do to fix the IR reflection (or IR bleeding) on a security camera system.
1. Missing rubber ring on the camera
As you probably have noticed, there’s a rubber ring located around the camera’s lens that is pressed firmly against the glass. This rubber ring is used to avoid the IR bleeding which is a technical term for the IR lights. Make sure that the rubber ring is there and not damaged.
If the rubber is missing, the IR lights will hit the camera’s lens and make the picture look blurry/foggy. In some cases, rookie CCTV installers remove these rubber rings while pointing the camera and then never put them back.
Inspect the camera, and ensure that the rubber is tightly pressed against the glass (not loose). It has to be so “tight” that the same rubber ring may get a bit deformed when hitting the glass cover (which is a good thing).
2. Dirty dome/glass cover
It may happen that the security camera has collected dust, grease or even fingerprints on the glass. In this case the IR lights will bounce back on that dirty surface and hit the camera’s lens creating the blurry/foggy effect.
Inspect the cover glass closely and wipe any dirt or dust located there. Quite often the cameras are installed on dusty environments which means they will get dirty pretty quickly. Additionally, it’s recommended to clean your cameras once in a while, not wait until you can’t see anything on the footage.
At the same time, check the glass cover for any scratches. If there are scratches, then the IR light may bounce back and blind the lens. If you see scratches, try to smooth them slowly with some paper ground. Or you can replace the glass cover altogether which is the recommended way.
3. Reflection from a solid object close to the camera
If there’s a solid surface close to the camera, the IR lights may hit the object and bounce back to the camera. Technically, that’s how the camera is supposed to detect the light when it’s dark, however if an object is way too close to the camera, the picture may get affected by the reflection.
These reflective objects can be metal surfaces, doors, fences, walls, etc. Inspect the camera’s placement and check if there such objects close to the camera that may cause the blurry/foggy issue.
Additional recommendations: avoid leaving plants in front of the camera, especially plants with big leaves. Also, don’t place the security camera in tight corners because the walls will be too close and the IR lights will get reflected.
If you tried all these tips and the CCTV image is still blurry or foggy, try to install the camera on a different spot and see if the picture gets better.
The lens is unfocused
If the camera’s image is blurry or foggy during the night time and day time then the problem can be the focus. Each camera’s lens needs to focus the light into the right spot on the camera’s image sensor. If unfocused, the picture will look blurry or foggy (day and night time).
Security cameras use different types of lenses, some of them are fixed and some varifocal. Either way, the principle of how they function is the same: the light comes through the lens and must be collected/directed at the right spot in the camera’s image sensor.
1. Security camera with varifocal lens
A varifocal lens is a customized lens that can be adjusted to various lens sizes. For example many varifocal cameras are 2.8mm to 12mm which means you can adjust the camera and go from a white angle lens (2.8mm) to a more narrow one (12mm), or somewhere in between.
If your camera is blurry, you need to adjust the varifocal lens by turning the screws left and right until you get a sharp image. Basically, by adjusting the focus or the zoom you can make the image clear and sharp. The image below shows a typical varifocal lens with its focus and zoom controls.
The recommended way to adjust the camera is to look at the live images and simply turn the controls on the camera left until you’re happy with the distance (zoom) and clarity (focus) of the picture.
2. Security camera with fixed lens
As the name suggests, on this type of security camera the lens is fixed which means you can’t rotate it until you get the right focus. This type of cameras are already adjusted to the right distance and focus once they come out of the factory line. For example a 3.6 mm fixed lens camera is adjusted to 3.6mm and you’re not “allowed” to adjust anything.
However, even though the camera is supposed to be adjusted the picture may still look out of focus (blurry/foggy). This happens because the camera somehow is not adjusted perfectly in the first place or the image sensor is incorrect.
Obviously, there’s a way to adjust the lens yourself. Open up the camera and using your hands or pliers, rotate the lens clockwise until the image is clear and sharp. Go slowly and carefully, usually a little bit of turn will focus the camera.
An example of the fixed lens is shown on the picture above. Note the threads, by twisting the lens a little bit you may fix the blurry picture on the screen.
In some cases the camera’s lens is simply bad. You can try all the tricks in the book and still not fix the blurry/foggy issue. Many low-cost cameras come with cheap lenses that don’t function the way they’re supposed to. We always recommend going for established CCTV manufacturers.
Additionally, many cameras have the so-called IR filet issue. This is a filter that goes between the lens and the image sensor. When the light passes through the lens, it hits this filer and then hits the image sensor. However, in some cases the IR filter is damaged or low quality and doesn’t filter the light properly causing the blurry/foggy issue on the image.
If you have stumbled upon a camera with a bad lens, you can either return the product or ask the manufacturer to warranty it. In most cases, you have to return it. It’s very default to fix a damaged lens’ IR filter.
Factory reset the camera
On rare occasions, the issue may be sort of software related. Maybe a bug on the software or simply the settings on the camera are messed up. If you have tried all the steps, as the last tip try to factory reset the camera.
If you’re using a HD analog camera, you can factory reset via the camera’s interface. Play with the toggle on the pigtail and find the “Reset” option. Once reset, the camera will blink and come back online after 5-10 seconds.
If you’re using IP cameras, you can factory reset by using the reset button on the camera itself. Usually it’s located in the camera’s motherboard, find it and keep it pressed for 10-15 seconds while the camera is powered on. Wait and the camera will come back online, check if the image is clear.
In this article we discussed ways and tricks to fix a security camera that shows a blurry or foggy image. Make sure the camera is focused and zoomed properly, ensure that the rubber ring is located in the camera and there’s no solid surface close to the camera. Also, always go for CCTV security cameras that have good reviews and feedback from their users.