Since most crime happens at night, a high quality night vision mode is really critical for your security system. As a result I wanted to shoot this video and talk through the pros and cons of Ring’s night vision mode, and also discuss how it works.
I also explore Ring’s color night vision mode, and whether this is any good.
1:11 How Ring’s night vision mode works
3:00 No lux control
3:29 Color night vision
4:18 Summing up
Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. Whether you use your Ring camera as a security device, or you purely want to more-easily see visitors at your door, good quality night vision is important. So I wanted to shoot this video and talk through what you can expect from Ring’s night vision, along with discussing the color night vision option.
Okay, Ring’s Doorbells and Cameras all offer night vision, which basically means that when the device thinks that it’s dark enough, the normal camera operation will switch off and infrared light will instead be used to record video. The Ring device will actually pump out infrared light to illuminate the surrounding – a bit like how a floodlight turns on and floods an area in light. But because infrared light is outside of the visible light spectrum, you won’t be able to see this light. The Ring device can then record even when it’s quite dark.
Whilst this is useful, it presents a problem to camera makers: whilst the human eye can only detect certain light (it can’t detect infrared or UV light), Ring cameras CAN detect IR and UV light. This means that without changing something, any videos taken in the day would come out looking a bit… weird. Basically everything would seem fairly purple due to how IR light is reflected. As a result, Ring cameras contain an infrared-cut filter which is a physical filter used to block out infrared light during the daytime. Then when the camera thinks it’s dark enough to move to night vision, the IR-cut filter moves out the way and the all-important infrared light hits the Ring camera’s CMOS sensor and allows the Ring camera to record at night. You may have seen Ring camera recordings going “purpley” for a couple of seconds when switching to night vision, and what’s actually happening is the IR-cut filter is initially still in place – hence the purple image – and then the filter moves away, resulting in the more normal image.
Based on all those fancy things I just said, Ring’s night vision must be AWESOME, right? Well, recording video in very low light is always a difficult problem (we struggle to see in the dark, so a camera will too), but as you can see, the image quality from Ring’s doorbells and cameras at night isn’t great. You won’t always be able to make out who a person is when it’s in night vision mode. Of course, whilst it’s not great… it’s still substantially better than if you used some fancy mirrorless or DSLR camera to shoot video in the same conditions. Unless you specifically configure your camera for these conditions (such as setting the ISO really high), you’ll basically see nothing. So it is actually fairly impressive that Ring cameras and doorbells costing as little as $50 can adapt to a range of conditions – daylight, night-time and also night mode that suddenly gets flooded with bright light.
Having said all that, it’s worth mentioning that you have no control over when your Ring camera or doorbell goes into night vision mode. Many floodlights and motion sensors offer lux or “daylight” control, which allow you to specify when the device works at night. Ring unfortunately doesn’t offer this, meaning that your device will be stuck in night vision mode when it thinks it’s dark enough – even if this leads to a poor image quality due to other light being nearby.
One good thing that Ring does offer though is ‘color night vision’, which uses on-board processing to apply artificial color to areas of the recording that have sufficient light. In this mode, the IR-cut filter I mentioned earlier moves out the way. This results in more light flooding into the Ring’s camera sensor. Then when there’s areas of light, Ring can apply some processing to apply color to that area – and whilst it’s not perfect, this does often lead to a better result overall.
However it’s worth noting that because this feature requires on-board processing to apply color, it would drain a battery quickly – and so none of the battery or solar powered Ring devices support color night vision. Even the budget Ring Doorbell Wired doesn’t support this, meaning that there’s only a handful of models that do support color night vision.
I should add that whether you use color or standard night vision, Ring devices ARE quite good at detecting when lighting levels improve and switching back to normal camera-based recording. So if a street light, floodlight or overhead light comes on, the Ring device will switch out of night vision mode – usually in under a second.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it. Ring’s night vision is better than nothing, but it’s certainly not great – as you can see from the examples throughout this video. If having a high quality outdoor, night-time security camera is important to you, you probably wouldn’t want to rely on Ring here. It’s also frustrating that you can’t turn off infrared (night vision) mode altogether, or at least specify the lux level that it flips onto night vision. I hope you found this video useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button which will tell YouTube that more people should see this video. Please also consider subscribing to my channel and clicking the bell icon which will notify you when I release new videos. Thank you!