When it comes to giving some setting recommendations, there is no single answer for so many different possible setups. Camera settings are a work of art that starts with a basic understanding of camera technology. In this article, we will give some recommendations for the environment where the camera is set up. We will also explain what the camera settings do. With this information, you should be able to tweak the settings to your specific environment.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Recommendation for environment
This is ideally your starting point, as it's good practice to add more light where possible. Lack of light can sometimes end up in false "focus issues" especially if the camera is not configured accordingly to the current light conditions, refer to "Why is my camera out-of-focus?". Avoid filming light sources.
If possible, avoid using full zoom. Consider a camera with more zoom if available, or get the camera closer to the object. The need to use the full zoom range causes the lens to physically be in the back of the lens tube, causing less light to fall onto the lens and sensor. The second thing that happens is difficulty in focus because the lens is at its endpoint.
Be sure to have your camera set on a stable platform, not prone to vibrations. The further the camera needs to zoom in on the filmed scene or object, the less light will fall onto the sensor, as explained in the previous point. Place the camera as close as possible to the subject.
Before adding any digital image processing, ensure that the hardware is set up correctly (exposure, focus) and placed correctly (PTZ position).
[VIDEO] -> [CAMERA SETTINGS] -> [EXPOSURE]
There are basically two scenarios regarding light conditions: dynamic (spaces with windows, changing light conditions) and fixed (studios, permanently fixed lighting). Explained below the different modes, and when to use them
Dynamic light conditions (Auto)
By default, the camera uses the Automatic Exposure Mode (Auto) to open the Iris as far as needed to let in as much light as possible, however, this can introduce focus and depth of field issues in dark rooms (again the importance of light), refer to "Why is my camera out-of-focus?". In most dynamic situations this will be the preferred setting. If required, you can opt to use the AAE (Aperture Automatic Exposure) or SAE (Shutter Automatic Exposure) mode.
Using the AAE or SAE mode requires a more thorough understanding of camera technology. We'll explain the basics below.
The Aperture Automatic mode lets the user set the size of the opening of the Iris while the camera determines the optimal shutter time setting. Setting the Iris can be a useful tool to create a larger/deeper Depth of Field. Objects or persons over a larger difference in distance can be brought into focus.
In short; closing the Iris a couple of steps creates a more focused image because the light entering the lens through a smaller hole creates a more focused beam of light on the sensor.
The Shutter Automatic mode lets the user set the amount of time per second per frame that the sensor is exposed to light. This value is expressed in parts of a second, for example, 1/100. This means that each frame is exposed for one 100th of a second. The shutter always runs at 60 frames per second and is not the same as the output resolution setting on the camera.
As you increase the shutter time, the video will become blurred, sometimes perceived as out of focus. The upside is that with a higher shutter time (1/25 for example), the amount of time and light is increased and the filmed scene becomes brighter.
SAE is generally used for scenes with a lot of (fast) motion.
- Fast shutter speed (1/10000th of a second = 0.1 milliseconds): gets an image clear even with fast movement, but less light falls on the sensor resulting in a dark image where more gain would be needed but this may add more noise.
- Low shutter speed (1/25th of a second = 40 milliseconds): more light (per frame) falls on the sensor but fast movement can become blurry and fade on the other hand.
Digital image processing
- DRC (Dynamic Range Compression), which compresses the natural dynamic range of the image by taking out the darkest and lightest parts
- G.Limit, which specifies the maximum level of Gain. Gain is the artificial brightness and contrast that the camera can automatically add to the image. It has to be used very carefully otherwise it can end up in adding noise to the picture in dark areas and producing a washed-out, greyish picture!
- Brightness - Brightness brightens the entire image,
- Contrast - Contrast changes the scale of difference between dark and bright.
- Gamma - gamma defines the curve with which the sensor (linear) perceives light and dark.
- Anti Flicker - See our article for more on this subject.
There are more settings to talk about, like EV -Exposure Value-, BLC -Back Light Compensation-, please refer to the camera's user manual for more on this.
[VIDEO] -> [CAMERA SETTINGS] -> [FOCUS]
Manual focus is useful when the contents of the filmed object are not clear towards the background and the autofocus has difficulty finding the correct focus. When the person or object can not be in the center of the screen, the camera will focus elsewhere. Manual focus would usually be preferred in controlled situations where the distance between the camera and the person or object barely varies.
Autofocus is useful if the filmed person or object is in the center of the image or if you have no way to control the manual focus while in a recording situation. Please remember the fact that autofocus is not 'the way to go' under all circumstances, it won't necessarily always provide the best solution, as the end result is put in the hands of an algorithm.
Important: After calling up an internal preset in the camera, if it was saved with autofocus, then the camera is set to autofocus again. Vice versa, this also applies to manual focus.
[VIDEO] -> [CAMERA SETTINGS] -> [NR]
Noise reduction (NR) is the process of removing noise/signal distortion, especially due to poor lighting conditions. Concretely it helps to remove the grainy appearance of low-light images, handles moving objects without leaving trails, and makes images clearer and sharper. Plus removing noise will help to reduce the size of the signal! But the higher the amount of noise reduction, the softer/smoother the image will get, ultimately resulting in a loss of detail.
The first method, NR-2D, is a temporal noise reduction based on the analysis of individual video frames. It works well with the foreground of an image but is not sufficient for high-resolution imaging and has limited effect with moving objects (it might blur the moving objects and leave motion trails behind).
Whereas the second method, NR-3D, analyses the differences between subsequent video frames to adapt the pixels and improve image fidelity. 3D-DNR technology provides better noise reduction, especially with higher resolution and with moving objects
Again, it will depend on the situation: light conditions, static or dynamic object, objects at the same or different distances, low/high image resolutions, etc. Summarizing, we will say that:
NR-2D is more expected for low-resolution images and/or with stationary objects/people
NR-3D is more expected for higher resolution and/or with moving objects.
However, it's possible to use them both at the same time to create a crisp and clear image!
Be careful when adjusting the noise reduction, as it can take away the natural ‘crispness’ of the image (the same happens if you set the dynamic contrast and gain too high which at the end will cause more noise!).
It's always better to add more light to the filmed object when possible.
[VIDEO] -> [CAMERA SETTINGS] -> [COLOR]
White Balance mode
- Auto - The camera continuously measures and defines the light conditions and acts accordingly. In this mode, there are some adjustments that can be made to tune the image to the preference of the user.
- Manual - Use the RG / BG tuning to add or remove red/blue at the output.
- XX00K - Set the white balance on a specific scale of Kelvin. You tell the camera what the lighting condition is, instead of the camera figuring it out by itself. Helpful if there is not a real white point in the room or if there is an over-representation of color present in the environment.
- OnePush - Tell the camera to use the current frame to set the white balance automatically, and keep it set until manually pressed again. We explain how to set this up in this article.
How saturated the image’s colors are. Lower values result in less saturation and higher values in more saturation. As IP streaming cuts out some color information, it can be useful to put the value at 130%/140%.
Auto White Balance (AWB) Sensitivity
This setting indicates how quickly the camera responds to changing light settings.
From reading the above, it is clear that it would be difficult to give advice on the best setting. It all depends on the situation. There is not one right setting, it takes a fair bit of knowledge and practice to get an optimal result. If you are in doubt, feel free to send us a message through the support form.