Low light camera or night vision?

If you are concerned about the brightness of your Spy Camera, keep reading. We will tell you everything you need to know to choose the right spy camera.

low light or night vision camera

What is a camera low light?

It is important to differentiate between cameras that require little lighting (they need some lighting, even if it is little) and those that do not need any lighting since they work with infrared (IR) leds.

In the technical characteristics of the different spy cameras we can read that “a minimum illumination of 1 lux, 0.5 lux, 0.01 lux, etc. is required.” A low-light spy camera is a camera that needs that amount of light to record clearly. They are commonly used to record at dawn, dusk or restaurants and nightclubs with dim light.

A very good camera to record in these places would be the mini button camera BU20 by LawMate that only needs 0.0015 lux.

bu20 low light camera

In this example we can see the differences in the quality of the photographs depending on the minimum lighting required by each mobile phone.

Keep in mind that the quality of the camera and the image is proportional to its value. Hidden cameras that require very low minimum lighting command a higher price than cameras that need more light to work.


What is a camera with night vision ?

Spy cameras with night vision are ideal for recording in environments where there is no lighting, such as garages, basements or outside a farm.

Around the lens are usually infrared leds. The power of the IR leds will determine the range of night vision. It should be noted that the more power, the greater consumption it will have and, therefore, the lower the autonomy of the battery.

An example would be the camera spy 32Z. Recording with an HD resolution at 720p and the IR activated, its autonomy would be approximately 5 hours. On the other hand, with the leds deactivated, it would have an autonomy of more than 18 hours.


What difference Is there between 850nm and 940nm leds?

As far as spy cameras are concerned, the main difference is that the LEDs that work at 850nm emit an invisible light but the LEDs remain illuminated.

On the other hand, the LEDs that work with a wavelength of 940nm emit an invisible light and their LEDs do not light up. Or rather, the human eye cannot see them illuminated.

To use with a spy camera we must always choose cameras with night vision that work with 940nm leds.


It all depends on the place we want to record. If we only need to make recordings during the day or in illuminated environments such as offices, living rooms or bedrooms (with the light on) we will be in luck since with a very low budget we will have a wide range of hidden surveillance cameras.

Otherwise, we always recommend cameras that needvery little lighting to cameras that have IR leds. Autonomy is a key feature when choosing a spy camera.

In case you need cameras with night vision, it would be best if they are connected to the electrical network to avoid consumption problems, such as the hidden camera in FM-20HDWI table clock or that have large batteries such as the black autonomous surveillance camera.

More information about cameras and their resolutions here.


12 Frequently Asked Questions about Low Light Cameras

1. What is the difference between a low light camera and one with night vision?

A low light camera and a night vision camera serve different purposes although they may appear similar. The main difference lies in how they handle low-light scenarios. Low-light cameras are designed to capture clear images in conditions where light is present, but insufficient. They use highly sensitive sensors and processing techniques to maximize the available light capture. On the other hand, night vision cameras are designed to operate in total darkness or near darkness, using infrared technology. These cameras emit beams of infrared light that are invisible to the human eye, but can be detected by the camera and used to produce an image.


2. In what situations is it best to use a low-light camera?

Low light cameras are best recommended in situations where there is some light present, but it is not strong or direct enough to get a clear image with a regular camera. Some examples include dimly lit environments such as candlelit restaurants, auditoriums, or outdoor areas during twilight or moonlight. They're also useful in situations where you don't want or can't use additional lighting, but still need to capture clear images, such as at night events or in natural settings at night.


3. How does night vision technology work in cameras?

Night vision technology in cameras works primarily by using infrared (IR) light. These cameras are equipped with infrared LEDs that emit a beam of infrared light, invisible to the human eye. When this infrared light reflects off objects, the camera captures it and converts it into a visible image. Most of these cameras have an IR-cut filter that moves out of the way when light conditions are low, allowing only infrared light to reach the camera's sensor. This results in grayscale images that represent the scene illuminated by the IR light. Additionally, some night vision cameras use thermal technology, which detects radiant heat from objects to produce images, although this type is less common in hidden cameras due to its size and cost.


4. Is the infrared beam from night vision cameras visible?

In most night vision cameras, the infrared beam is not visible to the human eye, since it operates at a wavelength that is beyond the spectrum visible to us. However, under certain conditions, it is possible to notice a slight red glow on infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) if you look directly at them. It is important to note that there are "invisible IR" cameras, which operate at even longer wavelengths and do not produce this glow, being completely invisible.


5. What range does a night vision camera usually have?

The range of a night vision camera depends largely on the power and number of its infrared LEDs, as well as the type of sensor thatuse. The most basic cameras can have a range of a few meters, while the most advanced and powerful ones can reach up to 30 meters or more in total darkness. It is essential to check the specifications of the product and, if possible, the opinions of other users to have a more accurate idea of the real range in practical conditions.


6. Does it affect the recording quality when using the night vision function?

Yes, the night vision function can affect the quality of the recording compared to daytime recordings or in good light conditions. When night vision is activated, the image is usually displayed in black and white or grayscale instead of color. Also, while technology has advanced significantly, night vision recordings may not have the same level of detail and clarity as those taken in optimal lighting conditions. Also, in scenes with mixed light sources, reflections or halos may appear around lights due to infrared illumination.


7. Can I use a low light camera in complete darkness?

No, a low light camera is not designed to operate in complete darkness. These cameras are optimized to work in dim light conditions, such as dawn, dusk, or dimly lit indoor environments, but not in the complete absence of light. If you need to record in total darkness, it is advisable to opt for a camera with night vision that uses infrared illumination.


8. Are night vision cameras more expensive than low light cameras?

Generally, night vision cameras tend to be more expensive than low light cameras due to the additional infrared technology they incorporate. However, the price of a camera is also influenced by other features and specifications, such as resolution, brand, sensor quality, among others. It is possible to find low light cameras with high prices due to its other advanced features and, similarly, cheaper night vision cameras but with basic functionalities.


9. How does the environment or weather influence the operation of both cameras?

The environment and weather can have a significant impact on the performance of both cameras. For example, in places with high humidity or fog, visibility may be reduced, affecting the clarity of the recordings, especially in night vision. On the other hand, low light cameras can be affected by reflections or flare if there are direct light sources in their field of view. It is essential that both cameras are protected from elements such as rain, dust or extreme temperatures, unless they are specifically designed to withstand such conditions. It is always advisable to review the specifications and resistances of the product when considering the place and conditions in which it will be installed.


7. Can I use a low light camera in complete darkness?

No, a low light camera is not designed to operate in complete darkness. These cameras are capable of recording in dim light conditions, improving image quality in situations with low ambient light, such as during twilight or indoors with soft lighting. However, in the complete absence of light, its performance will be insufficient. For scenarios of absolute darkness, it is best to opt for a camera with night vision that uses infrared technology.


8. Are night vision cameras more expensive than low light cameras?

Generally, night vision cameras can be more expensive than low light cameras due to the addition of infrared technology and other additional components. However, the price of any camera will also be influenced by other factors, such as the brand, resolution, build quality, and additional features it offers. It is essential to compare different models and their specifications to determine which one offers the best value for money according to your needs.


9. How does the environment or weather influence the operation of both cameras?

The environment and weather can significantly affect the performance of both cameras. In environments with high humidity, fog or rain, the clarity of the recordings, especially from cameras with night vision, may be compromised. Low-light cameras, on the other hand, might struggle in environments where there are sudden fluctuations in light. It is crucial that cameras are adequately protected from weather conditions, especially if they are exposed outdoors. Make sure that the camera you choose is resistant to water or the specific conditions of the place where you plan to install it.


10. Is there a camera that combines both technologies?

Yes, there are cameras on the market that combine both low light and night vision technology. These cameras are especially versatile as they can record clearly in dim light conditions thanks to their low-light capability, and when the light is insufficient or completely absent, they can automatically activate their night vision mode using infrared illumination. These combined solutions are ideal for those looking for complete coverage in various lighting scenarios.


11. Does continued use of night mode affect the life of the camera?

Continuous use of night mode, in and of itself, should not drastically affect the lifespan of a camera. However, it is important to note that constantly activating the infrared LEDs (which provide illumination for night vision) could result in increased power consumption and, on some models, a slight increase in camera temperature. Although these devices are designed to work in these conditions, it is always advisable to follow the manufacturer's instructions and avoid exposing the camera to extreme operating conditions.


12. Is it possible to detect if a camera has night vision activated?

Yes, it is possible, although it may be more difficult for the human eye in some cases. Most night vision cameras use infrared LEDs to illuminate the scene when this mode is activated. Although the infrared beam is not visible to the naked eye, some devices may emit a faint reddish glow from their LEDs when activated. If someone looks at the camera directly in the dark, they might notice this faint glow. However, there are cameras that use infrared LEDs with a wavelength that further reduces this visibility, making night vision activation more discreet.