How To Maximize Your Day/Night Camera's Performance When Filming In Darkness
Updated: Apr 5
If you have ever used a day/night camera, which is a camera or camcorder that allows you to see and film at night or in darkness, you may have been disappointed with the lack of illumination provided. Yes, you can see more through the viewfinder than with the naked eye, but there is not enough light to make out the details. Most often your field of view is very narrow and the light is poorly focused. Even the most advanced day/night cameras on the market today will not perform in total or even near darkness.
In order to get around this issue, an external light source is required in order to light up the environment so that it can be seen by the camera. This can be accomplished with either a white light source, if extreme brightness is desired without regard to the light's visibility to others, or an infrared light source, which cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be seen with an IR or day/night enabled camera.
Incorporating an external infrared illuminator with your day/night camera or camcorder will provide you with brightness that enables you to see in complete darkness through your camera's viewfinder or screen, but any observer or subject within your view cannot see the light, except for a very dim and dull red light, which are the LED's used in most illuminators today.
If clandestine filming is not the objective, an external white light illuminator will do the trick. White light video lights are similar to infrared illuminators, except that they project standard white light, same as flashlights or flood lights that can be seen (and temporarily impair vision) by observers.
The most effective illuminators on the market today incorporate an array of LED's (light emitting diodes) as their light source. Prior to the advent of LED's and their subsequent advances in technology, external camera light sources were powered by traditional, inefficient and costly illuminators and their effectiveness paled in comparison to LED's. Today, LED's are the preferred light source not only for IR illuminators, but also for automotive, medical, military and scientific applications, among others.
There are many good reasons for this. Light emitting diodes outshine (no pun intended; it just sounds right) other light sources in a number of key ways. This is why you are seeing LED's used on car and truck lights, in flashlights, floodlights and just about every other light out there.
LED's have the lowest energy consumption, which offers the lowest possible operating costs because no energy is wasted generating heat as is true of traditional light sources. This also results in longer operating life, generally measured in tens of thousands of hours with up to 100,000 hours being reported. Many LED's that were put into production in the 1980's are still operating in lighting instruments today. And LED's eliminate the need for maintenance, which results in no down time and instant start up, since no warm-up is required for full output.
Another key feature of light emitting diodes is their superior illumination quality by evenly spreading out light with no dark or bright spots, which results in superior targeting. LED's are well-suited for extreme environments, making them a highly reliable light source in any weather condition, no matter how harsh. And they can see through snow, rain and fog.
So, if you want to see beyond the visible light spectrum effectively with your day/night or IR enable camera or camcorder, you need an external LED powered infrared or even an LED full spectrum illuminator to make your filming stand out. Whether you are hunting ghosts or looking to create unique, attractive photos and videos, one or more IR illuminators will give you stellar results.
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