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Adjusting Day and Night Settings for Analog Star-Light Plus Cameras

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Adjusting Day and Night Settings for Analog Star-Light Plus™ Cameras

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Affected Roles:  Administrator, Owner

Complexity:  Medium

Last Edit:  August 15, 2021

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Day & Night Darkness Technology

Digital Watchdog’s Star-Light Plus™ technology allows cameras to continue clear surveillance in low-light environments.  This feature enables the analog Star-Light Plus™ camera to automatically change between color images during daylight or well-lit situations, then switch to a monochrome (black & white) image during night or low-light situations so that the camera can continue to provide a clear, crisp picture.

While the camera is set to automatically switch between Day and Night (D/N) modes by default, if the camera is not set up appropriately or is positioned to survey an area with wildly changing lighting conditions, the camera may create a “lens flashing” effect as it will try to set itself to one of the lighting modes based on its D/N settings.

This article will outline some troubleshooting recommendations and how to adjust the Day and Night settings (D/N) of the analog Star-Light Plus™ camera to ensure that the camera changes between its imaging functions to meet the needs of your lighting conditions.

**NOTE:  If the analog camera image appears to be flashing or flickering, check out Troubleshooting Lens Flashing On Analog Cameras.

Supported/Affected Devices:

  • DW Star-Light™ Analog Camera Series (2.1 MP)
  • DW Star-Light Plus™ Analog Camera Series (5 MP)

Star-Light Plus™ Technology

Star-Light Plus™ essentially works by using back-illuminated sensor (BIS) technology, which flips the positions of the circuitry allowing the camera to collect light from the light sensor’s backside. 

In comparison other camera’s light detection technology, this improves the Star-Light Plus™ camera’s light capture by 60% to over 90% which increases the camera’s imaging clarity.

Adjust the Day & Night Lighting Settings

While the analog Star-Light Plus™ camera will be defaulted to automatically change between the Day and Night (D/N) imaging modes for typical situations, there may be situations where the D/N settings will need to be adjusted so that you can get the most out of the Star-Light Plus™ feature.

An example of this would be if a camera were installed indoors in a low-lit bar or taproom.  The Star-Light Plus™ camera’s capability is already rather efficient and offers good color imaging even in low-light environments.  However, under the camera’s default settings, the camera will read the environment as a situation to change from Day mode (color imaging) to Night mode (black/white imaging).

To accommodate the location’s lighting conditions, the camera’s CDS Threshold and CDS Margin may need some adjustment.

Adjusting the analog Star-Light Plus™ Day & Night Settings

If the environmental lighting is affecting the camera’s lighting mode selection, access the camera’s OSD (on-screen-display) menu and inspect the Day/Night settings.

To adjust the Day/Night settings:

  1. Access the camera’s OSD (on-screen display) using the internal joystick or through the DVR’s interface (requires an RS-485 connection).
  1. From the camera’s OSD, navigate to the D&N tab.

From the D&N tab, adjust the camera’s settings to meet the requirements of the environmental lighting conditions.

  • Mode – select the lighting mode for the camera
    • Auto – (default) the IR cut filter will automatically change between Day (color) and Night (black/white) imaging and IR light use, depending on the threshold values set in the “CDC Thres” and “CDS Margin” settings
    • Color – the IR cut filter is continuously applied to the image sensor, resulting in the camera only outputting a color image and disabling all IR use.  The camera will not switch to Night mode as long as it is selected
    • B&W – the IR cut filter is continuously disabled for the image sensor, resulting in the camera only outputting a black and white (B/W) image and the IR bulbs are in constant use (with the exception of non-IR cameras)
  • AGC Threshold – (non-IR cameras) set the level of environmental light that will determine when the camera switches between Day mode (color) and Night mode (B/W).  The lower that this value is set, the less light will be required before the camera changes between the two lighting modes.
  • AGC Margin – (non-IR cameras) set the value that is added to the AGC Threshold setting when determining if the camera should switch between lighting modes.  If the AGC Margin is set at a lower value, the camera will use a smaller margin for the lumens required before changing lighting modes.
  • CDS Threshold – (IR cameras) set the level of environmental light that will determine when the camera switches between Day mode (color) and Night mode (B/W).  The lower that this value is set, the less light will be required before the camera changes between the two lighting modes.
  • CDS Margin – (IR cameras) set the value that is added to the AGC Threshold setting when determining if the camera should switch between lighting modes.  If the AGC Margin is set at a lower value, the camera will use a smaller margin for the lumens required before changing lighting modes.
  • Extern SW – (default Low) leave as is
  • Ext LED – (default Auto) while the camera is set to Auto, the camera’s IR LEDs are enabled and disabled by the CDS Sensor that is on the LED board.  This is determined by the Day/Night Threshold settings.  If this setting is turned OFF, then the LEDs will be disabled.
  • Delay – (default Low) set the time interval delay before the camera switches between Day mode (color) and Night mode (B/W)
  • Smart IR – (default 5) while the Ext LED setting is set to Auto, you can set this setting to be between 0 ~ 20.  Higher values will make the Smart IR intensity stronger.

**NOTE:  If you are using a camera model that does not have IR LEDs, you will adjust the AGC Threshold and AGC Margin values instead.

**NOTE:  If the AGC Margin or CDS Margin values are set too low, the camera will constantly switch back and forth between Day mode (color) and Night mode (B/W).

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

Some analog Star-Light Plus™ capable cameras provide a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) feature that can be used to mitigate problematic lighting conditions where the contrast between dark and light areas is very high.  For example, an area that is largely shaded by trees.

This setting can be found in the camera’s OSD under the Exposure tab.  Set the Backlight setting to WDR to enable this feature.

Troubleshooting Day & Night Lighting Issues

While the camera is set to automatically switch between Day and Night (D/N) modes by default, if the camera is not set up appropriately or is positioned to survey an area with wildly changing lighting conditions, the camera may create a “lens flashing” effect as it will try to set itself to one of the lighting modes based on its D/N settings.

Another possible issue is that the camera will be stuck in either Day mode (color) or Night mode (B/W), regardless of being set to the Auto setting.

If rebooting the camera does not resolve the issue, please consider the following:

Confirm That the Camera Is Not An LPR Model

License Plate Reader (LPR) cameras are intentionally kept in a permanent Night mode (B/W).  This is because black and white images create a sharper image, which is preferable when capturing the text on license plates.  Additionally, the camera is only able to utilize IR (infrared) light in Night mode, which can reflect off of license plates well but still be invisible to the naked eye.

Remove All Protective Shipping Measures

Cameras are shipped with protective plastic film, protective foam, and other packaging supplies to ensure that cameras survive shipment and arrive intact.  These protective measures are sometimes overlooked when cameras are installed, which can cause the light sensor to become blocked.

When initially installing the camera, it is recommended to follow the Quick Start Guide (QSG) that is provided with the camera and its accessories.  Make sure that all plastic covers, protective films, and protective foam rings are removed from the camera exterior and interior prior to installation.

Additionally, take note if your camera changes lighting modes correctly when it has the cover on in comparison to when the cover is off.  If this is occurring, this may indicate that the camera settings may need to be adjusted physically or within its settings.

If you are using an anti-moisture desiccate packet inside of the camera housing, make sure that the light sensor of the camera is not being obscured or blocked.  For assembly information, please consult the camera’s User Manual or Quick Start Guide.

**NOTE:  If you are using a dome camera, be sure to leave the protective rubber ring around the camera lens.  This rubber gasket helps to occlude the lens from the camera’s IR light which can reflect back from the camera housing back into the lens if the rubber gasket is not kept flush against the acrylic dome.

Consider Environmental Factors

The environment around a camera’s installation will determine when the camera will automatically change between Day and Night (D/N) modes.  If the area around the camera is well lit, has minimal shadows, and an even light distribution, the camera will likely stay in Day mode (color) and change to Night mode (B/W) as expected.  However, if the area has lots of shadows, poorly distributed lighting, or has a considerable contrast between light and dark areas, the camera may stay in Night mode (B/W) more often than preferred under the default settings.

Additionally, consider how much of the camera’s FOV (field-of-vision) is obscured by nearby objects.  For example, if a camera is installed underneath a roof overhang, obscuring the greater portion of the FOV, the camera will have difficulty recognizing the region of interest to determine which lighting mode to use.

Inspect Hardware and Bench Test

A common cause of camera image issues is camera cabling.  Make sure that the cable is securely fastened at both ends of the cable-run for the camera.

If you want to determine if there is a hardware issue with either the cable-run or with the camera itself, a “bench test” may be appropriate.  A bench test involves uninstalling the camera and using a different cable and/or an isolated power injector (separate from the existing PoE switch) to reduce the number of factors (cable-run, power supply, etc.) that are in play while troubleshooting.

For more information, check out the Bench Testing the Camera section of Troubleshooting Video Loss For Analog Cameras.

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