How Do Infrared Cameras Work

Many security cameras nowadays come with infrared, which allows them to capture footage even in low light settings, but how do infrared cameras work?

infrared camera

Infrared is light that we cannot see without any special equipment as it has a longer wavelength and lower frequency than visible light. Additionally, Infrared means “below red” and red has the longest wavelength and lowest frequency out of all the visible light. Infrared picks up the amount of heat an object has as everything emits a type of infrared light on camera depending on its temperature.

One of the most common types of night vision in security cameras is infrared night vision which uses infrared light to see in the dark. Security cameras with infrared night vision will have small infrared LED bulbs. When the camera detects that it’s sufficiently dark, these bulbs will turn on and flood the area with infrared light, allowing the camera to record footage in the dark. Infrared can see not only in the dark but through fog, dust, and smoke no matter its thickness and even some materials. This means that the camera will be able to record no matter the conditions.


However, since infrared is invisible to us, we see nothing at all, so we never see any flood of light at where the camera is facing. Moreover, infrared footage is in black and white as it’s the clearest way for us to view footage taken under infrared lighting.

Infrared cameras are ranked by their lux rating. Lux is the amount of light a camera needs to take a good picture, so the lower the lux, the less light a camera needs. True infrared cameras will have a 0.0 lux in their infrared mode, which means they don’t need any light to see.

An infrared camera’s range is dependant on how much infrared LED bulbs it has, the more bulbs, the longer the range. Some infrared cameras can see up to 4.5m in complete darkness.

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