using security systems to monitor loved ones

What Cameras Can You Use To Record Security Footage In Low-Light Conditions?

How well does your residential surveillance system function during the night time? Recording in low-light conditions has typically been challenging for security cameras, with infrared cameras being the only option available for quite a while. Recent advances in security camera technology, however, have introduced new options for homeowners who want to monitor their property at all hours of the day. To find out more about your choices to record security footage in low-light conditions, read on.

Infrared Cameras

When homeowners need to record security footage at night, infrared security cameras are the traditional choice. They detect infrared light instead of visible light, and the light is provided by an infrared light bulb that's mounted on the front of the security camera.

While infrared cameras are able to provide crisp, detailed footage in total darkness, they're unable to record in color. All of the footage from an infrared camera will be in black-and-white. Unfortunately, this tends to be a major downside to using them for a residential surveillance system—you won't be able to record colors with an infrared security camera. However, they have the advantage of being stealthy. Infrared light isn't visible to the naked eye. Intruders won't be able to tell that you have a camera in the area, especially in low-light conditions.

Low-Light Cameras

If you need to record night time security footage in color, then low-light cameras are a good option. These cameras increase exposure time during low-light conditions, which allows more light to enter the sensor before it takes a picture. This is a similar concept to the nighttime setting on digital cameras, which allow them to take photos with more color and detail when the lighting is dark.

However, an increased exposure time results in a slower shutter speed. In order for the sensor to receive enough light, the camera has to wait before it finally takes the picture. This can result in extreme motion blur, so you're unlikely to obtain usable footage if an intruder is moving quickly. Like infrared cameras, low-light cameras are difficult for intruders to spot. They rely on the ambient light in the environment in order to record footage. Many of them also have an infrared mode that activates in total darkness.

Motion-Activated Spotlight

On the other end of the spectrum, some homeowners decide to install motion-activated spotlights along with regular security cameras. With a spotlight, there's no need to opt for special low-light cameras. This setup also works well with security cameras that only take pictures when they detect motion. One bonus of using a motion-activated spotlight for your residential surveillance system is that it can scare intruders away. Many will flee when they immediately realize they're being recorded.

The downside is that motion-activated spotlights tend to go off when they detect any motion at all. They'll be set off by raccoons or other animals wandering around your yard. They're also only suitable for outside use.

Which type of camera is best for residential surveillance in low-light conditions? Speak with a professional who works with residential surveillance systems to discuss your options.