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

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Adjusting Day and Night Settings for MEGApix® 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 MEGApix®  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 MEGApix® Star-Light Plus™ camera to ensure that the IP camera changes between its imaging functions to meet the needs of your lighting conditions.

Supported/Affected Devices:

  • MEGApix® IP Camera Series (w/ Star-Light Plus™)

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.

Adjusting the Day & Night Lighting Settings

While the MEGApix® 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 Color Level and B/W Level may need some adjustment.

Adjusting the MEGApix® Star-Light Plus™ Day & Night Settings

To adjust the camera’s Day & Night lighting settings:

  1. Open the camera’s Web Client and log in as its Administrator.

This can be done by either entering the camera’s IP address into a web browser or by using the DW Spectrum® Client and selecting Camera Settings > Web Page.

Once you have access the camera’s Web Client, click the Setup button.

  1. From the camera’s Setup menu, click on Camera and select Day & Night Settings.

  1. From the Day & Night Settings menu, adjust the camera’s settings to meet the requirements of the environmental lighting conditions.
    • Day & Night – 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 Color Level and B/W Level settings
      • Day – 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 this is selected.
      • Night – 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.  The camera will not switch to Day mode as long as this is selected.
      • Schedule – the camera will automatically switch between Day mode and Night mode depending on the time of day parameter settings
    • Color Level – (default 5) set the level of light that is required for the camera to switch from Night mode (B/W) to Day mode (color) while the camera is set to Auto
    • B/W Level – (default 5) set the level of light that is required for the camera to switch from Day mode (color) to Night mode (B/W) while the camera is set to Auto; The lower the threshold values are set, the less light that will be required to switch between Day Mode and Night Mode.
    • Transition Time – (default Middle) set the rate at which the camera will transition between Day mode (color) and Night mode (B/W) while the camera is set to Auto
    • Day à Night Time – set the time of day for when the camera will switch from Day mode (color) to Night mode while the camera is set to Schedule
    • Night à Day Time – set the time of day for when the camera will switch from Night mode (B/W) to Day mode (color) while the camera is set to Schedule

  1. Once you have finished configuring the Day & Night Settings of the camera, click the Save button to apply.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

Some MEGApix® 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 Web Client under Backlight Settings.  By setting the feature to ON, shadows and lit areas will be evened out and reduce the contrast between the two areas.

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 MEGApix® IP 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.

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  • 02-Jul-2021
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