Wide Dynamic Range | How to Optimize Image Quality in Challenging Lighting Conditions

It’s no secret that cameras rely on ideal lighting conditions to produce a high-quality image. However, lighting for security/surveillance is often far from perfect. A common question we run into when installing security camera systems is “how do we compensate for all the bright light?” This usually refers to the sunlight (or artificial light from an outdoor light) coming through the windows or a front door area, which causes incoming foot traffic to look more like silhouettes or shadows than actual people. This is due light pouring into an area that is not as well-lit as the outdoors, causing the footage to be washed out. In most cases, this footage is unusable.



The Solution?

You can say goodbye to shadows and overexposure by using a camera equipped with Wide Dynamic Range or WDR.  The WDR function of a camera is a technology that compensates for high contrast of light and shadow situations. This makes it possible to monitor surveillance in interior or exterior settings with dim lighting and high shadows. If your home, school or business has large windows or areas that are dark compared to the exits (like a parking garage or long hallways), WDR is something you should use.

For example, a school may have a room with large windows. When someone walks in front of the window, they appear extremely dark compared to the window. While a standard camera may not record any recognizable features, a camera with WDR helps your video footage remain clear even when you have bright and dark areas. With WDR, the lighting would be balanced so that the windows and the person are both clear.

Not All Wide Dynamic Range Is Created Equally

There is digital WDR that is a basic adjustment through post processing of an image. The best results come from True WDR. This technology takes an over-exposed and under-exposed image from a single frame of video. They are then combined to give you an image that is a little muted, but you can see detail much better than any digital enhancement.

Who Produces The Best True Wide Dynamic Range?

Panasonic’s Extreme Super Dynamic utilizes the highest level True WDR in the IP camera industry. At 144dB it dominates the more common 120dB True WDR cameras on the market. Erratic lighting loses out to the neutralizing effect of Panasonic’s cutting-edge technology. No more shadowy figures ruining your video footage!

To Be Scientific…

The decibel, or dB, is the ratio of the brightest and the dimmest object that can be captured by the camera. This tells you the range where the WDR works. The higher the dB rating, the better your camera will be at seeing into shadows. High dB ratios can capture a larger spectrum of lighting conditions, including difficult scenes with both very bright lights (like windows) and very dark objects (like shadows).

Where Should Wide Dynamic Range Be Used?

Homes, businesses, retail stores and banks, where there is strong backlighting, such as at the entrance or in a room with lots of windows. WDR is particularly valuable when there is a need for highly detailed images, in some cases facial recognition.

Parking lots and airports, where detail is needed in dark indoor or shadowed areas as well as bright outside areas.

ATMs and casinos, where it’s important to be able to see all detail to identify possible crimes or criminals in an in area where lighting might be difficult or with high contrast.

Gas stations and toll booths, where the details inside the car may be required as well as license plate recognition.

Schools and government institutions, where indoor and outdoor lighting may contrast dramatically. It’s also useful when accurate monitoring of people and vehicles, as well as possible facial recognition or license plate recognition, is needed.

Final Tips

Due to their ability to produce high quality footage in challenging lighting conditions, WDR cameras are becoming increasingly more mainstream and affordable, with various forms and functions to meet the demands of indoor and outdoor applications. It’s highly likely that your site, whether professional or residential, will benefit from a WDR camera in one or multiple locations.


Save time and money with All Campus Security’s expert services. Rely on our experienced team to assemble, program, install and maintain your camera system. We offer free camera placement sessions as well as full installations.

Call today!

(512) 853 – 9411

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *