Statistically, crime happens mostly during the night which makes the security camera’s night performance crucial. Nowadays, there are cameras that see clearly at night, sometimes even in extremely low light conditions. As it happens, many of these CCTV cameras experience problems with the picture during the night.
The security camera can show up pitch black or too dark, sometimes there’s no image at all. In other cases, you may see white spots on the picture or bright rings that make the night footage almost unusable.
Additionally, you may see moving artifacts all over the night image, or even rolling black and white lines. The nighttime picture deterioration in security camera systems is caused by multiple reasons.
If your CCTV cameras display CCTV night vision problems, you must address them as soon as possible otherwise your security is compromised. In this guide, we list common CCTV night vision issues and how to easily fix them.
Fix Security Camera Night Vision Issues
The camera shows No Image or Video at night
One of the most common CCTV night vision issues is a camera that shows no image or video at night time but works fine during the day time. To fix this issue try the following suggestions:
Check the power source of the camera. During the night time, the camera’s infrared lights turn on and draw more power. In some cases, the power supply cannot handle the camera and the IR doesn’t turn on. If the infrared lights don’t work, then the night time picture quality will be pitch black (or too dark).
Inspect the power supply box and ensure that it can handle all the cameras connected to it. If you’re using an IP camera, check the PoE switch, you can plug the camera into another port just to see if the issue is fixed.
Check if the wires and connections are fully secured and connected. Sometimes they may be loose and are not fully plugged into their spots.
Cover the camera’s lens with your palm and note if the IR lights come on (red color). If they turn on, it means that the camera is getting powered on. Otherwise, you may have a power problem.
Sometimes the distance where the camera is installed is simply too long, even though the specs may say otherwise. Bring the camera closer and test it out if it works. It’s always recommended to install the camera to a shorter distance from what the manufacturer specifies.
The camera shows white areas or spots on the screen
Other issues you may see in CCTV security cameras at night are white spots, circles, or areas on the screen. These are caused by the infrared red lights reflecting into the camera’s eye.
As you may have noticed, the infrared LED lights are placed around the camera’s eye (lens) and they automatically turn on when it gets dark. For many reasons, this infrared light may hit a close solid surface (or even the camera’s glass) and bounce back causing white spots or areas on the screen. Try the following tips:
The cameras come with a rubber ring around the lens that prevents the IR lights from bouncing or bleeding out. Check if the rubber ring is in place and tightly pressed against the glass. Some unprofessional installers remove them altogether, make sure yours is there.
Clean the camera’s glass. Over time the camera gets dirty or may accumulate dust, and the lights can hit the particles and bounce back. Usually, it’s recommended to clean the cameras once in three months. Additionally, inspect the camera for any scratches.
Another thing to consider, the white spots on a CCTV camera may be caused by light reflection coming from a solid surface close to the camera. Let’s say there’s a high wall close to the camera, the IR lights will hit the wall and bounce back to the camera which will cause the bright areas on the screen. Reangle the camera to a better position and check the nighttime image to see if the bright spots are gone.
Additionally, you can properly adjust the camera’s visor to ensure that the sunlight doesn’t hit the camera directly. The visor is the part of the CCTV camera that protects it from reflections or direct light. Not all cameras come with an adjustable visor, if yours has done, then you try to reposition it.
The camera’s image is too dark at night time
There are a few things you can do if you have a CCTV security camera that generates a dark image during nighttime or it looks good in the daytime but at nighttime, the picture deteriorates.
First of all, make sure the camera you have purchased is supposed to deliver a great picture at night time. You need a high-resolution camera that comes with a large number of infrared lights. The more IR lights, the better the night time.
Some cameras are inherently bad, they use inferior lenses and chipset, so no matter what you try or do, it’s impossible to improve the nighttime picture of a camera that is of inferior quality. Do your research and purchase a CCTV security camera that fits your needs.
If the area under surveillance is too dark, you may need to add external IR illuminators to improve the light conditions. You can purchase a cheap one on Amazon, it will do the job.
Additionally, a blurry or unclear camera at night time may be related to an unfocused lens. This is the case if the camera is varifocal, you have to open it up and locate the focus/zoom button, adjust them properly until the image is clear and sharp. If you got a motorized IP camera, you can focus it via the web interface or straight on the recorder.
The camera shows rolling spots
If you see rolling spots or lines on the screen during night time, it is most likely related to a cable or termination problem. Technically the issue is classified as interference.
Check the cable at the back of the recorder and make sure it is fully plugged in (it’s not loose). Also inspect if the BNC connector is firm, if not, you may need to redo the connector.
As we said, if the cable run is too long then the picture at night may show the rolling spots. Ensure that the distance where the camera is installed is within the distance specified by the manufacturer. To be sure, always install it at a shorter distance.
The interference may be caused by a power source being close to the camera. In that case, the signals will mingle and overlap themselves, causing the white rolling spots. Follow the installation specifications and install the camera in the right spot.
A bad nighttime image on CCTV security cameras may be caused by an inferior image chipset, cabling issues, dirty lens, light reflecting back to the image sensor, etc. You need to check them one by one until the issue is solved. If not, then it is a bad camera and you need to replace it or upgrade to a superior system. Take a look at our article for Best IP Camera Systems.