What is a Night Vision Security Camera?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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A night vision security camera is a security camera with a night vision mode which allows it to see in the dark. In some cases, the camera is only used in a night vision mode, while in other instances, the camera may be able to switch back and forth, depending on the lighting conditions and the needs of the user. Night vision security cameras tend to be more expensive than conventional security cameras, and they come in a range of styles, with some being of higher quality than others. They can be purchased from camera companies, home and office suppliers, and security specialists.

One of the main reasons to use a night vision security camera is to provide security in an ill-lit area, or to ensure that the camera will be able to record if the lighting in an area is turned off or compromised. Outdoors, night vision security cameras will record the scenery whether or not streetlights are on, for example, while indoors, these security cameras can keep watch on dark rooms and hallways. In an incident where criminals attempt to obscure visibility by turning off the lights or setting off smoke bombs, a night vision security camera will still be able to see.


Night vision can work in two different ways. In the first case, the camera has a wide lens to collect as much light as possible. As the light enters the cameras, it passes through a series of filters, intensifying the light so that the scene can be clearly visualized. Other night vision security cameras can use infrared or thermal signatures to record a scene. The advantage of this type of security camera is that it can see through smoke, fog, and other visual disturbances, although thermal and infrared imaging tend to be more costly.

High-quality cameras can produce excellent footage which is crisp, clear, and very usable. The footage from a regular security camera can also be enhanced with a night vision security camera, with both cameras providing useful visual information. Lower-quality cameras tend to produce more grainy, obscured images which can be hard to see, making them less useful, but sometimes they provide enough image quality to follow the events of interest.

Like other security cameras, a night vision security camera can record data on film, hard drives, or digital media, depending on how it is designed and programmed. Often, the footage is designed to be written over after a set amount of time has passed, freeing up space for new footage. The assumption is that people usually want to review security camera footage within 24 to 48 hours of an incident of interest, and that after this point, the footage would be useless. If the footage turns out to be valuable, it can be saved for future review or use in a courtroom.


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