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SmartIR and How to Avoid Issues

At least a few times a week we get a call that normally goes like this:

Customer: I love the cameras in daytime, but at night I can’t see anything at all.

Tech Support: Are you able to send a screenshot for me to take a look at?

Customer: Sure. *Sends photo*

Tech Support: It looks like there’s a bit too much of the wall in your frame. I’d recommend moving the camera to the left just a bit to get rid of the reflection from the wall.

Customer calls the next day to tell me that just getting the wall or other reflective surface out of frame cleared up their issue. I should mention that these calls aren’t ever a bother. We completely understand that this isn’t something that the majority of people would even consider to be the cause of an issue.

A majority of newer CCTV cameras use Smart-IR, or some variant. Essentially it’s an adaptive IR that will adjust the focus of the IR to either foreground or overall image. If you have someone walking up to an older camera in IR mode, there was a chance that the image could be blown out from the over-saturation of light. Smart-IR solves this by adapting the intensity depending on what’s in the frame of the camera, and where it is.

In our first example we have a fairly balanced image. There are a few things in the foreground that are a bit more reflective, but it’s not disrupting the image too much.

 

In this next image, I’ve inserted a piece of paper into the frame. You can see that it’s beginning to affect the image, and the way the camera is picking it up.

 

Here I’ve placed the paper even further in frame, and now the entire background is pitch black. Granted, this is really a bit of a silly demonstration. So let’s go to something more practical.

 

Here we have a camera mounted in a pretty normal position. There’s a bit of the wall in the frame, but nothing that’s really causing the image to be affected. Let’s move the camera a bit to the right and see how the image changes. 

 

I do know that this is an extreme example, but this is exactly how reflective surfaces can affect your CCTV cameras in IR mode. Flooding the foreground with light, and basically removing the background.

As stated in a previous entry, it’s always good to plan your system layout before you start drilling and running cables. Consider where you’re mounting your cameras, and make sure that there aren’t going to be any obstacles you need to plan around. Gutters, soffits, light-colored walls, etc… If you have any of those in frame, adjust your camera and you’ll most likely be in good shape. If you’re still having issues, you’re always welcome to give us a call. If you’re in the market for some new security cameras with Smart-IR, we have a wide selection. Just let us know what your needs are.

We Love talking to People about Security Cameras.

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Getting the Most out of Your DIY CCTV System

 

Many of us have had that feeling. Getting a new CCTV system home, getting everything unpacked, going over the setup instructions, running cable… you get the idea. You get everything installed, get your security cameras set just right, and then you go to look at what you’ve accomplished. It looks stunning. And why wouldn’t it? You’ve worked so hard. You’ve taken every aspect into consideration. Fabulous.

But you’ve now asked your significant other to go walk around outside, so you can see some movement on your system. That’s half the fun, right? They go off on their walk and… you can’t see them for several minutes. What? Oh, there they are. Now they’re gone again…. No matter, though. Right? At least you’ve got all the entrances covered. Other than the side door they’ve just come in through. No matter. It’s okay.

That night, you take what seems like the 50th look at your gorgeous CCTV system, but this time… something’s wrong. These cameras are supposed to be great at night! WHAT GIVES?! You paid a lot of money for this security system, and it took just about all weekend (with help, by the way) to get the thing installed. Now you have four out of ten security cameras that look horrible at night. Why on earth are they so blown out and gross looking?

How frustrating.

Here’s the thing. Many people who are doing they installs on their own don’t have a good plan going into it. Here are a few tips for you to keep in mind if you decide to forgo having someone install your system for you.

  1. Have a layout plan before you start running cables. Even before you start looking at CCTV systems, you should have a good plan as far as your surveillance layout. You need to know which areas of your property you want to cover, which are key areas, and also have a good idea of how to accomplish your goal. Why plan this before you look for systems? Well, maybe you have a need for more than just a box system. One instance that we’ve seen first-hand here at Ellipse Security is a client needed to keep a close eye on a dock that was about 100 yards from their house. A fixed camera wasn’t going to do this for them, so they needed a variable focus camera for this task. The same client had a need for longer range IR than normal kit cameras could provide. A STOiC variable focus camera, and a few long-range IR cameras came to the rescue. Added to their kit cameras, they made this system something that was perfect for their needs.
  2. Honestly assess your needs. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a fleet of PTZ cameras. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re one of those guys who gets to play around with the surveillance system for the city of London? This author can sincerely tell you that he would love to. That being said, not only would this be overkill for the majority of smaller systems, but having that many PTZ cameras is pretty cost prohibitive for most of us. There’s also the flip side of that coin. Everyone wants a deal. Again, we’re all in good company here. But the rock-bottom kit system may not be what your situation needs. We’re not saying that you need to spend thousands on a system for it to work for you. We literally work with just about any budget, and can tailor a system for your needs, but it needs to be seen as an investment, as well. Give us a call for a free consultation. It’s not just a slogan; we really do love talking to people about security cameras.
  3. Now you have a good idea of the equipment you’ll need to cover the areas you need covered, you’ve picked the perfect system, gotten the layout perfect… but that camera just looks horrible at night. What?! Despite our best planning, we can’t escape physics. What do I mean by that? Well, during the day, cameras don’t have to deal with IR (infrared). It’s what makes seeing at night possible for CCTV cameras. It’s great, but also comes with a small drawback that needs to be planned for. That infrared light is going to reflect off of certain surfaces. Leaves, concrete, light colored walls, etc… Before you blame the camera, check to see if there’s any IR reflecting back into the camera off of any of the surfaces in your camera’s field of view. Debris, scratches or smudges on a Dome Style Security Camera are also a common culprit! Could be any of the above examples, so you may need to inspect and adjust your camera, or even trim some trees to eliminate this as an issue. Seems like kind of a pain, but we can assure you that the picture quality will drastically improve, so it’s well worth it. Try to include this in your planning and it will save you some trouble later in your install.
  4. One last thing to consider is whether you’d like to be able to monitor your CCTV system when you’re away from home or the office. If so, we’d be happy to help with this. Pretty much all CCTV systems these days have an app for viewing remotely. This can really be a great asset for home or business owners. Setting up alerts for movement, motion detection, etc… One thing, however, is that you need to plan a good, secure password for your system. Yeah, “Password1” is really easy to remember, but it’s… not good. At all. Pretty much every default password from every major manufacturer is available online. Leaving the default password on your DVR or NVR is like leaving your door wide open, with your collection of Rolex watches just inside, and a sign out front saying “Come on in!”. Anyone can log into your CCTV system and see your cameras. Live. Or worse. Check out our previous post called “Security for your Security” for more information on passwords and why you need a good one.

Let me end by saying that this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are going to be issues that may crop up. You may have a camera in your line-up that just doesn’t work for you. You may not have thought about bullet vs dome cameras. Maybe you need more storage space for your recording device. These are all things that we can assist with. With just a few minutes of consultation, we can maximize every dollar you invest, and make sure you get what you need out of your CCTV System! Give us a chance to show you why we love talking to people about security cameras. As stated above, it’s not just a catchy slogan (especially for a tech nerd like myself).

Call Us Toll Free at 877-880-7728

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IS IT COMPATIBLE?

With advances in CCTV technology, there come some challenges. If you purchased a home or business system more than a couple of years ago, you may have to consider compatibility when thinking about an upgrade. This may seem daunting, but in fact, might be a little easier than you think. Many of the security DVRs that we offer are actually backwards compatible, for the most part. This may not be the case if you’re using an older CAT5 system (don’t worry, there’s a solution for this as well!), but if your aging system uses BNC cable, we’ve got you covered! STOiC, TruView, Watchman, and Samsung are compatible with your existing cameras. So, what does this mean for the consumer? In a word, choice. In a few more words, choice, and an affordable way to upgrade your system in stages. You’re able to upgrade your DVR now, keeping your existing cameras, and over time upgrade cameras to get the full potential out of your CCTV system.

Something else to keep in mind is that if you’re using a system that is utilizing BNC cables, you won’t have to run new cable. This can keep costs way down, and turn it from a job needing a contrator, to something that can be done by many people on their own.

So, what about those who aren’t ready to upgrade their whole system? Yep, there’s a solution there, too! We offer one of the few security cameras on the market that is specifically designed to be a replacement for older SD Analog systems. Not only that, with its 4-in-1 capability, it’ll upgrade with you when you’re ready. The STH-B7300W is a wonderfully rounded camera. Capable of 720p in AHD, TVI, and CVI, as well as CVBS (SD Analog), this can replace everything from Samsung’s SDC-5340 and SDC-7340, to Night Owl, LOREX, and even Samsung’s SDC-8440. What’s better than that? Well… STOiC’s two-year warranty is pretty great, too.

Well… given my long-winded introduction, let’s get to the whole point of this entry. Below I’ve compiled a small compatibility chart. This will be updated from time to time, so check back periodically. One more bit of information for you to think about: the STOiC cameras that we offer are compatible with most systems. Not just the STH-B7300W, but all of our STOiC cameras. When you order, just let us know which system you have (or, using the handy chart below, just let us know which video type your DVR uses). We’ll take care of the rest for you!

 

 

 

DVR COMPATIBILITY CHART

STOiC –  AHD+

TruView – TVI (5MP DVRs will support TVI, as well as AHD up to 1080p; 2MP DVRs will support TVI, as well as AHD up to 720p)

Watchman – AHD

Samsung – AHD

LOREX – CVI

Swan – TVI (Proprietary)

Q-See – TVI

Annke – AHD

Nightowl – AHD

Bolide – AHD

Speco – TVI

Super Circuits – TVI

 

Now, let me finish by saying that if you have any CCTV needs that need to be addressed, just let us know. We offer free consultations on system building, free technical support for any product purchased through us, AND you’re able to talk to a real person. If you’re an integrator or installer, we’d LOVE to hear from you. Give us an opportunity to show you why we love talking to people about security cameras!