Ring’s cameras and doorbells are some of the most common smart home devices out there. Whether you have your own home or you’re renting, it’s getting fairly common to find Ring doorbells as a standard feature. These cameras come packed with a few interesting features.
One of the coolest capabilities of a Ring camera is night vision. Not only is this a great safety feature, but it also allows you to get some interesting shots of nighttime wildlife. Some of the higher end Ring models also feature false color technology.
These night vision capabilities also lead to some pretty interesting problems. Some users report that the video starts to turn pink, purple, or green. Fixing this problem can be as easy as doing a soft reset or as complicated as having to open up your camera.
What are Ring Cameras and Doorbells?
Ring cameras and doorbells are some of the most popular smart home devices available on the market today. Ring was acquired by Amazon a few years ago and, since then, has been positioned as one of the leading smart home companies. Whilst Ring also have an alarm system and smart lighting range, Ring’s most popular devices are still their cameras and doorbells.
Features can vary from basic models all the way up to the pro line. All of these devices offer you the ability to watch live feeds of video streaming from your smart cameras. The Ring doorbell also offers additional features, such as alerting you whenever someone comes near your door, two-way audio communication with that person, and other security features.
Ring’s cameras and doorbells also come with a premium service package known as Ring Protect Plus. This package will extend your warranty indefinitely throughout the duration of the premium service option. It will also give you a few additional options when it comes to receiving notifications for any motion (compared to not having a subscription). These services can also include professional security monitoring of the alarm system.
Certain models of Ring cameras have night vision capability. The basic night vision uses infrared light to capture black and white images in low-light conditions. Premium models offer a “false color” option that breathes a little life into the news night vision images.
Night Vision Mode and How it Works for Ring
Ring cameras come with a night vision mode as well as the ability to create “false color” video. Here’s how it works.
How Night Vision Works
There are actually several different types of night vision.
Ring cameras and Ring smart doorbells use a type of night vision called infrared. This uses a wavelength of light that is not visible to the human eye in order to capture seems that are otherwise too dark to record.
When a Ring camera needs to turn on it’s IR mode, it turns on a few powerful infrared LED lights. These lights bathe your doorway or yard in a bright infrared light. To our eyes, it will still be dark outside. However, the Ring camera will now be able to record in the middle of the night:
Digital photography and video sensors are very sensitive to infrared lighting. You can look up pictures of infrared photography taken during the middle of the day to see just how much of a striking impact infrared lighting can have on digital images. In order to make sure that the Ring camera can record true-to-life colors during the day, it uses an infrared cut filter.
This infrared cut filter pops up in front of the sensor and filters out infrared light during the day. This makes sure that everything in the frame has a more true to the human eye color and doesn’t look green, purple, or pink. This can cause issues, but before exploring that more, it’s worth pointing out that some models of Ring cameras also feature a false color option.
What is “False Color”?
False color is incredibly cool.
If you’ve ever seen NASA’s beautiful photographs of stars, galaxies, or planets, then you’ve seen a false color photograph. False color images are black and white photographs or videos that have either been colored by advanced software or human artists. We use false color images to help better express the idea behind a photograph in a way that the original black and white image just doesn’t capture.
False color images of outer space help give you a sense of the depth, scale, and wonder of the cosmos. A false color image from a Ring camera can help you better determine what’s going on in the image. False color will help you to better identify if there are people in the frame, which objects are moving, and help you should you need to use this footage for security purposes:
These are the Ring devices with a “false color” option, known as color night vision:
- Video Doorbell Pro
- Video Doorbell Pro 2
- Video Doorbell Elite
- Floodlight Cam
- Spotlight Cam Wired/Mount
- Stick Up Cam Wired
While Ring’s false color is no NASA, it is a very useful feature to have when you’re building a smart home security system. However, there are some problems with how Ring creates these false color images.
So, Why is My Video Purple?
There are two main reasons why your video can be stuck with some strange purple and greenish hues. The first problem we’ll go over is very easy and can be changed in your settings immediately. The second problem is slightly more difficult and ranges from having to return your Ring camera to a few DIY fixes.
Let’s go over the problems first and then find out how to fix them.
It Might be an Easy Settings Issue
Since the false color update was added to the firmware for certain Ring devices, users have been shocked to see some pretty strange images popping up in their video feeds.
If you have one of the Ring devices listed above, there’s a good chance that your false color video option might have been activated by itself during the last update. This will turn all of your night vision images into some pretty interesting color video.
Ring uses advanced software to attempt to gain color information from the video files it’s recording. If there’s enough ambient light, the Ring camera will be able to detect some color information. It then uses some pretty advanced software to extrapolate that color to the surrounding environment. A good example is a little bit of light spilling onto your grass could give the Ring camera enough information to color your whole yard a shade of green or yellow.
The false color option does not have the ability to recreate true-to-life color. This is because the Ring camera is sampling a very limited amount of color information from the video and using software to try and extrapolate that information to the rest of the image. With only a little bit of information, it has to get creative for how it paints the rest of your picture with these colors.
In the case of my garage, the false color looks good near the garage door – where light gets in – but it looks a bit… odd at the back of my garage. You can see this on the same image from earlier:
If the false color option isn’t what you were looking for, you can turn it off in your settings. This feature is useful for helping figures like people and objects stand out during night vision filming, but it can become a little bit unappealing for some users.
If it’s not a setting issue that’s changing the color of your images, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a stuck IR filter.
Your IR Filter Could be Stuck
While false color technology is software-based, the IR filter is a mechanical and physical object. Just like any other mechanical object, sometimes it can get jammed.
The IR cut filter works by filtering out infrared light during the day. This prevents the daylight recording from looking greenish and purple. If your IR filter gets stuck, it won’t be able to pop up during the day and the camera sensor will be flooded with infrared light. This will skew all of the color in your images. Your camera will still function as intended, but your video feed will now look pretty strange.
If your infrared cut filter gets stuck in the on position during the night, your video feeds can be a lot darker. The Ring camera sensor relies on infrared light in order to record night-vision scenes. If the filter is up during the night, the Ring camera will have a much harder time recording information from the scene it’s pointed towards.
To see this in action, check out the below 15 second video – when I close my garage door and it’s sufficiently dark (around the 10 second mark), everything turns purple:
This is because it’s dark enough for night vision mode to turn on, but the IR cut filter is still in place. This filter then moves out the way, returning the footage to ‘normal’ night vision at the very end of the clip. But as mentioned, if this IR cut filter doesn’t move properly, you’ll have issues with your daytime clips.
Let’s talk about how we can fix this stuck filter.
How to Fix a Stuck IR Filter in Ring Cameras
Fixing a stuck IR cut filter in a Ring camera can either be as simple as turning your device off for a little bit or as complicated as doing a DIY repair. Let’s get into a few common ways for fixing this problem.
Power Cycling Your Device
As always, we’re going to start with the easiest solutions first.
The old advice of turning it off and then on again applies to resetting a stuck IR cut filter in Ring cameras. This is the first solution recommended by Ring support technicians.
In order to power cycle a Ring device, you need to hold down the orange button for at least 20 seconds. The LED light on the front of the device will begin to flash once the power cycle has been completed. You’ll need to give your device as much as a few minutes to fully complete the power cycle and then it will be ready to pair with your smart home devices again.
Power cycling should reset the position of the IR cut filter and prevent it from either being stuck in the on or off position.
Warranties and Exchanges
If power cycling doesn’t work, it might be time to exchange your Ring camera for another model.
Because the IR cut filter is a physical device, and there’s always a chance for mechanical failure. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Ring camera is a bad product, it just means that the more moving parts you add to a device, the more chances for it to break down you get. If your IR cut filter is jammed, it’s a good time to cash in that warranty.
Fix It With Software… What?!
A physical problem needs digital solutions, right?! Well, as weird as that sounds, some users have found that toggling the “Color Night Vision” option in the Ring app will actually move the IR filter out the way, fixing the issue. So it’s worth trying this option before moving onto a DIY repair:
Now let’s have a little fun with a DIY solution.
Ring camera users all throughout the internet have reported some pretty unique solutions for fixing the stuck IR cut filter when other options don’t quite work out. Here are a few common solutions as well as a few surprising ones.
Just give it a quick whack. Yes, we know. The idea of giving your expensive smart home camera a quick tap on the side might feel a little antithetical to fixing it. However, this old trick has been working for stuck bits of technology for generations and it looks like it’s still got a few applications in today’s modern world. Of course, we only recommend this solution as a last resort, for devices which are out of warranty!
Other Ring users have reported that shining a bright flashlight into the Ring camera can reset a stuck IR filter.
The Ring IR filter can get stuck because of a software problem. In order to prevent this filter from jamming due to mechanical reasons, the software inside of the Ring prevents it from going on and off frequently. After all, night should last for several hours and the Ring device shouldn’t need to flip the IR switch on and off all the time. In this case, the option might just be to wait for a fix, if the issue is caused by a recent firmware bug.
Our last solution will exercise the limits of your DIY skills. If nothing seems to be working and you’re ready to leave the warranty behind, you can always open the camera. Ring cameras are not built to be serviced by users, but there are guides online for how you can safely take them apart and put them back together. This will give you a chance to inspect the IR cut filter and reset it if necessary:
Opening up your Ring camera and resetting the filter yourself is a great way to learn more about what’s going on inside your smart home device as well as build up some more advanced DIY smart home skills – but we should again caution that this would invalidate any warranty, and doing this could stop your Ring Doorbell working altogether if you do something wrong.