Why Is My CCTV Camera Blurry?Posted on Friday 17th July 2020
Constantly Blurred Images
Constantly blurred images have a wide range of possible causes. Below are some of things you can check for. If your images are intermittently blurry rather than constant, see the “Intermittent Blurring” section.
- Dirt and dust
- Cable length
- Cable quality
- Camera adjustments
- Firmware Update needed
Unfortunately, spiders love surveillance cameras, and cobwebs over the lens is a common occurrence. Gently wiping away the spiderwebs using a lens cloth should suffice. Avoid chemicals as these may damage the camera. Contact ORP if the camera is positioned in a difficult to reach location.
Dirt and dust
External or internal, camera lenses will become dirty or dusty over time. They need maintenance – usually a full clean and complete system check once every 6 months is sufficient (unless the cameras are positioned in a high dust or dirt area such as at a quarry or inside a livestock shed, where we would advise more frequent cleaning).
A lot of cameras, especially those fitted a number of years ago, send images via cable all the way back to the recorder. However, image quality deteriorates over the length of the cable. If the cable is too long, therefore, the image quality can be noticeably reduced. A longer cable run is also more prone to damage from pests and machinery.
If the blurry image is from a cabled camera, knowing if and where the cable is damaged can be a time-consuming task. In a lot of circumstances, it is often more economically efficient to replace the camera with an IP version, rather than to find and fix or replace a damaged cable route.
The quality of the cable that is used is also important, such as using copper rather than copper clad aluminium for video cable. Poor quality cable doesn’t affect IP systems in the same way, you would instead notice stuttering or broken up images rather than blurry ones.
Contrast and/or brightness – these finer adjustments can occasionally affect the quality of the images. Whilst this is unlikely to create a specifically blurry image, it is worth ruling out if finding the cause of a blurring image is causing problems. ORP do not advise adjusting the settings on a camera without speaking to us first, as this may cause more issues than it fixes.
This is the main cause of blurry images. Depending on whether the camera with blurring issues is a varifocal or fixed lens depends on the identification and resolution of this issue. Most cameras are fixed lens, so an out-of-focus images would indicate a fault as focus is not adjustable. A modern camera with a motorised zoom lens would generally have auto-focus so this problem is normally only found on older cameras. We suggest that you contact ORP for advice or for more information about your camera.
Occasionally firmware is found to have a bug (a technical issue with a part of the programming) which can affect the image quality. If this is the case, ORP will be able to advise you on updating the firmware which should resolve the issue.
Is the camera only blurry during specific times? Noticing the times that it is blurry can help to source the problem faster.
Things to look out for:
- Time of the day;
- No discernible reason.
Time of the day
Is the camera blurry during the day, or at night, but not both?
Day – If the camera is blurry only during the day, then it is possible that the depth of view has been set up incorrectly (so that it does not focus on the right objects, focusing instead of something too close or too far away), although this is dependant on the camera type that you have, as a lot of camera’s have fixed lenses where this is not an issue.
Night – If the camera does not have an infrared (IR) cut filter, which are pieces of glass that block or deliver the infrared, then night time images can appear blurred. Unfortunately, lower quality (cheaper) cameras quite often do not have infrared cut filters, and while they work fine in the daylight, are insufficient to offer the same surveillance at night. Taking advice on what cameras offer for both day and night imagery is important when thinking about a new or upgraded system.
Bounce-back from close objects, such as guttering, can cause a white hazing or blurring of the image. This may require the camera to be adjusted so that these close objects are no longer in the field of view.
Other night time issues include sources of light such as security lights that have been positioned incorrectly in relation to the camera.
Is the camera blurry only during some types of weather?
For example, during high or gusting wind speeds, during rain, or bright sun.
Rain often blurs images. If this is an ongoing issue for your system, then ORP can provide solutions such as cameras with integrated wipers, moving the camera to a different location (which still gives the same coverage), or a bespoke solution tailor-designed for your site.
Winds gusting can affect the image quality of a camera, though this should be an occasional issue if it happens at all, and shouldn’t cause ongoing image quality problems. If it does, then it can be solved by moving the camera to a different location (for example lowering the position) or reassessing the mountings of the camera.
Sunlight shining directly into the lens can cause refracted light effects which can affect the quality of an image. This sometimes occurs at certain times of the day and year, but if it is a more common occurrence then the camera may be the wrong one for that position or may need the angle adjusting.
Check for overgrown shrubs and trees around the camera during the spring and summer. Especially if the system is new or there is a newly planted area nearby.
Intermittent Blurring for Other Reasons
If your system has a blurring issue but is not linked to anything you can diagnose, or something you can diagnose but would like assistance in resolving, contact ORP. We are happy to help diagnose this remotely if possible, and can arrange a visit from one of our engineers to solve the problem for good.
Image issues other than Blurring
Noisy (or grainy) images are ones with lines or pixels of disturbance that make the image appear of lower quality than it should be. Noise can be unavoidable, especially on night time images, but should be minimised by temporal (for lower resolution) or spatial (for higher resolution) noise reduction filters within the camera. Noticeably noisy images can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- Wireless or wired interference
- Incorrect cable installed
- Cable length too long
Rolling horizontal or vertical lines can be caused by a ground loop problem, often caused by a faulty power supply. This type of problem was seen more in older analogue cameras, which were installed prior to the advancement in technology to IP cameras.
Ringing (or ringing artefacts) is where two objects that meet on an image, with a sharp transition between, cause a banding or “ghosting” between the two objects so they appear to blur together. They are caused by multiple signals along the video cable and can be seen where coax cabling is used. Again, this was more of an issue historically when analogue CCTV was used, as the migration to IP cameras (POE or Wireless) have nullified this problem.
Maintaining Camera Systems
In the event of a nearby crime, law enforcement will ask for security images from your system. The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) says that by having a surveillance system, you have a duty to make sure that it provides images clear enough for the police to use in an investigation (visit their website here https://ico.org.uk/ ). Blurry or noisy images affect the effectiveness of your security system. Implementing a monthly office check to go through each camera and check that the quality of the images is a good idea, and flagging any cameras that require attention will make sure that you follow this ICO advice.
Take care servicing or cleaning cameras, especially those installed at height. ORP Surveillance offers maintenance checks – either ad-hoc visits at your request, or maintenance contracts paid via direct debit from as little as £12 + VAT per month, which make sure that your system remains in full working condition. ORP have our own vehicle mounted MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platform) or more commonly known as a cherry picker, which negates the need for you to hire any access equipment. We suggest a biannual clean of the cameras, although this frequency may need to be more if the cameras are in a particularly dusty or dirty area.
Upgrading a System
If your system is an older one – maybe one where you are beginning to see issues with the quality of one or two of the cameras – ORP specialise in adding or replacing cameras into an existing surveillance system. IP (Internet Protocol) cameras can be wirelessly linked back to your existing recorder location, fixing the blurring issue of a defunct camera at minimal cost. Over time, the rest of the system can then be upgraded as needed to make use of the most technologically advanced security equipment available.
Network IP cameras negate the issue of cable length deterioration of picture quality, so if an existing camera system is experiencing poor quality images due to deteriorating cabling routes, then by using POE this will significantly reduce the costs and disruption of re-cabling a system. If the existing coax or two-core cable route is of good quality, then you can sometimes choose to re-use this during a system upgrade. Whilst not as good quality as using IP cameras, it can be a viable option.
ORP have years of experience using POE (Power over Ethernet) IP cameras. In simple terms, POE is a technology where electrical power can be sent down network cable. IP cameras are cabled a short distance to a POE switch, outputting the image data into a radio link or network cable which then sends all of the pictures to the recorder. These radio links mean that you can send images for over 10 miles from distant sites back to the office recorder. From the recorder, images can then be securely accessed via your PC or laptop, or an application (app) on your mobile or tablet from anywhere in the word via 4G or 5G.
Whether you would like to ask us a question about a blurry CCTV image you are experiencing, require help resolving a quality issue with your system, or would like a free, no-obligation quotation for a new or upgraded system, please contact us using the contact form on this site, by calling 01743884765 or by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.