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Poor night quality

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Can the forum help me out.


I recently installed a new home CCTV system. 2 x Dome camera, 1 x bullet camera + DVR.


Domes - SONY CCD (1/3"), Infra-red range of 20m, Resolution 700TVL, Vari-focal 4-9mm lens.

Bullet - SONY SuperHAD CCD(1/3") + SONY EFFIO DSP, Resolution 700TVL, IR range 50m, Vari-focal 9mm-22mm lens.


The night time quality is lousy. I have attached snapshots from a walk test I carried out today. As you can see, this would be useless if I get a visit from a real bad guy


- I have added a PIR to the system as the motion detection was triggering non-stop.

- I have set up a 500w Halogen with PIR to try to illuminate the area better.

- I have cleaned, cleaned, re-focussed and re-focussed several times


I have now been advised to add another IR lamp. But as you can see in the samples, the video is a white-out close up and farther back from the camera it is just grainy and blurred. I need to know the cause of the problem and the CORRECT way to solve it. FYI, the distance from camera1 to subject at farthest is 15mt.


Any help from the forum would be much appreciated.



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The bright spot is inherent to most IR cameras. With your halogen floodlight installed you shouldn't need to go IR at all. A decent low light cam will give excellent results & maintain the colour if that is important to you. If it is not then go for a B/W camera which has far superior low light performance. If you need to stay with the IR option then disconnect the IR at the camera & install remote IR illuminators (dirt cheap from China) to give more consistant lighting.

The image you post seems to be terribly out of focus. If it were a full body camera I would say you need to adjust the back focus but I'm pretty sure that is not an option with domes & bullets

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You've left out the dvr and the specs that are set for this channel- all channels really. What is the resolution set at? How many FPS is it?


If you're going to rely on IR, I think it's a good idea to be sure your cameras have smart IR, every one of them, and consider it as important as any other spec you want in there. When you get close the camera like in your second shot, it will adjust itself so it won't white out. But here's the biggest thing about this particular channel, imo. You're asking too much of one camera and I think you're chasing good resolution shots by just adding more light- not necessarily the winning strategy here. You can't expect to be in focus everywhere within one field of view from one camera. A varifocal camera is great for giving you the flexibility to dial in exactly where you want the best ID shot within the fov. It doesn't mean everywhere you put yourself in the shot will be in focus. What you'd be better off doing is having one camera set at a properly zoomed fov for the far shot by the gate, and another with a proper fov for the near shot at the cars. More cameras with proper fov's set for each location is better than trying cover a wide area with only one camera. And you're doing the exact right thing by doing this exercise with a person in the shot. So often cameras are pointed, everything is in the frame you want to see, and you think you're done.


So, if possible delegate specific cameras for each important location. Seriously consider smart IR cameras. Make sure your dvr channels are set max everything to help give you a good shot. That's gonna help big time right there. Good luck.

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Hello, thank you very much for your inputs to help me resolve this.


Let me try to respond to inputs from "the toss" and "shockwave199" but first, let me say I have tried numerous adjstments. I have a record of all changes made so that I would not go round in circles. However, that is exactly where I am now


Inputs & comment

"A decent low light cam..." The claimed low light ability of the dome cameras is 0 lux (F1.2) and 1 lux @ F1.2 , 0 lux IR LED ON for the Bullet camera.


"Focus" Both Dome and Bullet cameras have focus ability. I agree that this looks out of focus. I have tried again and again to sharpen the focus but without success. I had put this down to the TVL limit. You mention "Back Focus", do you mean inside the camera itself? I do suspect that the focus screw/ring is not getting me a sharp enough result.


"FPS" Again, I've been all over the place here trying to find the best result. My DVR can cope with 50 FPS total. With 3 Cameras I had set this to Bullet 20fps, Domes 15fps x 2. Advice from supplier was this was not necessary, so I set it down to Bullet 10fps and Domes 8fps. "Max everything" OK, back to original fps and Max quality for everything.


"Asking too much of one camera" Yes, agree. Perhaps this is where I have chased my tail too much. The Bullet camera (the one we have discussed most) was previously zoomed right in to my drive entrance. I prefer this as this is the camera I want to use to identify the bad guys. The domes are more wide angle general views.


"Smart IR" I read through the forum before I posted and saw a suggestion about switching off IR. I looked for this in my DVR set up but cannot find it.


Next steps & thoughts

Focus - Something is not right here. I need to think about this to see if I have bad tools with no possibility to improve, or, is there a hidden internal focus ability that has not been set correctly. Im not yet ready to break-open the camera to tinker inside, unless I have strong input that this IS the issue


FPS - Set to max. Bullet 20fps, Domes 15fps x 2


Zoom Camera 1 - I will re-zoom this right in to the drive entrance. FYI, I just bought a Luminite 15m PIR for my halogen light. I need to fine tune this, but right now it is NOT triggering the light at 15m and therefore people entering fov for camera 1 are not YET lit up. Work-In-Porgress for me here.


IR - I need to research this a bit more. Do I have smart IR? Should I chase a Halogen light or IR light solution.


All you guidance is very much appreciated. I will solve this to get the best from the tools I have, however, NEXT TIME I plan to be much more knowledgeable about CCTV before I purchase.

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Hello Forum, here is an update on my work today.


Changed FPS to 25, 15, 10. 25 for the main camera that we have discussed (Camera1). Quality of recording set to max.


Zoomed Camera1 right-in to my drive entrance.


Fitted a second Halogen light. I now have 2x400w lights flooding the area. Linked to a Luminite 15m PIR. Note Camera1 is triggered by a Luminite CCTV alarm 15m PIR also.


IR - I'm not happy with the results of IR for me, so have decided to opt for Halogen floods instead. As far as I can tell, I am not able to turn IR off in the Camera but I will check with my supplier.


Focus - Not yet resolved. I tried again today to get the best focus possible. It seems to me to be impossible to get it any better. I took the back off the camera (Shh don't tell my supplier, still under warranty), I could not see anything adjustable.


I've attached a sample picture of my drive to show the improvement from yesterday.


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How does this compare to your day time performance? I am surprised the pic is still B/W with two 400W halogens operating. While the specs for your camera say 0 lux there is no measure of how well it operates at 0 lux. The back focus is the focal length between the lens & the image sensor. On full body cameras there is a lock screw which allows the lens mounting flange to be adjusted. On most dome there is also a lock screw that retains the lens assembly on to the camera. I have never had to do the back focus on a dome so I don't know how difficult it is.

I have never had a bullet camera apart so I can't help there either. Google "back focus" for an explaination of how to do it. You will need a neutral density filter or a number 5 welding goggle glass to simulate low ligh conditions.

What was it you did to improve the focus so far ?

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Day versus night quality - The only difference is colour. The quality of the image is the same (perhaps even slightly better than a day shot!)


Camera Specs - I've attached a picture of the camera. I've called this a "bullet" camera as that was how it was described to me. I've also attached the specifications of the camera, see bottom of this post.


Focus - I will contact my supplier to ask about Back Focus. I did find reference to a neutral density filter (on this forum I think). I will continue to research this and Back Focus.


Summary update

With the exception of the notes above.


I have now fine tuned the PIR for the halogen lights. The lights are now triggered as soon as someone enters my drive. I've compared this to the alarm trigger on my DVR, the light is triggered 1~2 seconds ahead of the Alarm-trigger on the DVR. However, note that I have a 15 second pre-record so the time before the Alarm-trigger is still IR. Recall though, the bad guy is not yet into my property. I am now happy that the lights and the CCTV are in sync.


Camera2 (Dome camera) also looks onto my main drive entrance. Curiously the picture from this dome is the best quality image I have. For me this suggests that there is a setting that is correctly set for this camera (that is not in Camera1). This is a general image camera. see sample2 from the same time as yesterdays "walk test" picture. It IS in colour.


Camera3 (Dome camera) is in my back garden. I may have to move this camera as I feel it is too low and too close to many reflective surfaces. Back to the IR issues here. I'll get to this one soon.


My grateful thanks to the forum for your excellent advice. I feel secure again...


Please contine to offer comment as this will help me to finalise and close this (and help other DIYers on the forum).


Camer1 Specifications


• Weatherproof (for Internal & External use)

• Infra-red (IR) range of 50m

• 35 Hi-intensity Infra-red (IR) LEDs

• Vari-focal 9mm-22mm lens (32-12 degrees viewing, adjustable)

• Vari-Focal RING Controls on the camera body (Zoom & Focus)

• Ultra High Resolution 700TVL

• Illumination 1 Lux day, 0 Lux night

• Dual ring (no IR bounce)

• Dual Power (12vDC/24vAC) option

• Colour: Black




Image Device 1/3" SONY SuperHAD CCD with SONY EFFIO DSP

Signal system PAL

Picture Elements 960(H) x 596(V)


Horizontal Resolution 700 TVL


Minimum Illumination 1 lux @ F1.2 , 0 lux IR LED ON

S/N Ratio Better than 50 dB

AE CCD iris mode 1/50~1/100,000sec

Video Output Signal BNC 1.0Vp-p at 75ohm load

Lens Mount Vari-focal Manual Iris 9mm-22mm

IR wavelength 850 nm

IR Distance Range 50m

(from object of view reflected infrared)

Weather proof IP rating IP66

Operating Temp. -10 to 45C

Power Source DC12V (DC12V / 24VAC option)

Power Consumption 850mA

Dimensions 210mm(L) x 100 mm (Dia),

180mm (Height incl bracket)

160mm (bracket extension)



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I forgot to answer this question "What was it you did to improve the focus so far ?"


I used the focus ring on the camera to get the sharpest picture I could, that is all. I now have focus that is the same level of quality day or night. Previously (before the new halogen), focus at night seemed a whole lot worse than day.

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It may just be that the camera is inexpensive and does not have an IR corrected lens?


Anyway looks better with more light, that is a lot of light...

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if you need a sun tan, come to my house at night

Thank you all for your help and support. Problems are now solved or better understood.


Kind regards

MikeQ (Sunny Scotland)

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