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How do CCTV cameras work at night? Understanding low-light technology

Video surveillance is a crucial component in any business security strategy, and its ability to function at night is essential for maintaining round-the-clock coverage. With the advancements in technology, CCTV cameras are now able to capture high-quality images in low or no light conditions, making them a valuable tool for businesses of all types and sizes.

One of the primary technologies that enables CCTV cameras to work at night is infrared (IR) technology. IR LEDs emit light at a wavelength that is not visible to the human eye, but is picked up by the camera's image sensor. This allows the camera to create an image even in complete darkness. Many CCTV cameras also have built-in infrared illuminators, which shine a beam of IR light to further enhance the camera's low light capabilities. This makes it easier to monitor and identify any potential security breaches, even in the darkest of environments.

In addition to IR technology, some CCTV cameras also feature specific ‘night mode’ technology. These cameras use an IR cut filter (ICR) that automatically switches the device to ‘night mode’ when insufficient light is available to reproduce good quality colour images. These cameras, such as Hikvision’s Darkfighter range, often have larger sensors, wider aperture and reduce the shutter speed in low-light conditions. This allows the cameras to pick up on subtle details such as clothing colours and is particularly useful for identifying subjects, as well as capturing vehicle registrations for traffic management purposes, even in near darkness. This is crucial in monitoring real-time incidents.

Another feature that helps video surveillance cameras continue to be effective at night is the use of advanced image processing algorithms. Technologies such as WDR (wide dynamic range) and DNR (digital noise reduction) help to enhance the image quality and reduce noise. Some cameras also have built-in motion detection capabilities through analytics, even at night, that can trigger recording or send an alert when movement is detected if they are monitored. This can provide an added layer of security for businesses and can help to deter potential criminals. You can read more about video analytics in our blog post here.


CCTV cameras are an essential tool for security and surveillance, and their capabilities extend far beyond daylight hours. Watch Systems Ltd can help design the most suitable video surveillance system for you and your premises, utilising cameras with intelligent low-light technology for enhanced security. For a free survey, get in touch with our team here.


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