The Real Difference Between HDR and Non-HDR Footage in Cameras

For home security, there is really no such thing as “lots of amenities” when it comes to the peace of you and you, your valuables, and your property. Today’s leading home security brands are equipped with their cameras, video doorbells, spotlights, sensors and state-of-the-art technology, recording and smart technology. Terms like 4K resolution, motion tracking, megapixel, and frame rate are thrown in for much more.

However this is more than just marketing: When shopping for home security products, especially cameras, you want your new electronic watchdog to offer the most. Keep your eyes open for a seamless mobile app for on-the-go monitoring, a fast sensor for quick video capture and hardware operation, plenty of storage options for footage, and, perhaps most importantly, both live and recorded formats Top-notch image quality for. .

Through research and shopping, you will undoubtedly encounter a dedicated suite of image quality buzzwords. Mixed with neighboring laurels such as color accuracy, brightness, and exposure, expect to find HDR (High Dynamic Range) as a much-advertised camera spec. Long available on our smartphones, TVs and other A / V gear, HDR is also a major staple of today’s major home security cameras. But, in case of capturing the footage, is it necessary? The short answer is no, but it is most definitely preferred. Let’s break things down a bit more to understand.

Fundamentals of HDR

HDR is everywhere these days. In the world of TVs, game systems, Blu-ray players and other video components, it goes hands-on with features such as 4K and the latest HDMI protocols. In terms of back-the-scene technology, HDR decoding is all about contrast ratio. In display speak (TV, computer monitor, phone and tablet screen, etc.), the contrast ratio refers to the range between the lightest parts of an image. HDR-capable displays are capable of producing a more lifelike image (what we see with our eyes) in real-time by automatically balancing brightness, exposure, and overall color accuracy. The end result is a vibrant picture that is closer to or at least a reality near.

In terms of cameras, the principles of HDR remain the same, but the focus is slightly different from the image we see in how the actual image is produced. To bring an image closer to reality, an HDR-capable camera will take multiple shots of the same subject in multiple exposures. Then, the in-camera, sensor will create the final image (or video) by combining all the information from these snapshots.

When it comes to home security, an HDR-capable cam can be a life saver. Why? Let’s look at a home security camera with HDR capabilities. For this article, we will use the EZVIZ C6W. Note that in the context of DIY security cameras, HDR can go by slightly different handles. In the case of C6W, HDR is called WDR (Wide Dynamic Range).

HDR vs SDR: difference of details

As HDR cameras grow in popularity, older standards such as SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) begin to show their weak spot. Take the following snapshot for example (both taken by my EZVIZ C6W camera). In the first photo, I have the security camera’s HDR capabilities. Low with blinds with a nearby window, there is no other light source in this image. Notice the highlights and balanced exposure. Although not much to see it by yourself, compare the first snapshot to the next image.

EZVIZ HDR Footage
Snapshots taken with HDR are enabled by the EZVIZ C6W.

While still in it, I have disabled the HDR function of my camera. What we are leaving with is an unprotected SDR image. Even with the same precise lighting, the differences are immediately apparent. Without many exposures to create the final image, the C6W’s sensor relies on natural lighting … and with little success. To balance and counter the glare from the side window light, the entire image is obtained in a large scale without any exposure, thereby dominating the shadows.

EZVIZ Non-HDR Footage
Staging of same photo with HDR disabled.

If HDR was enabled, the camera would have taken several internal snapshots before delivering the final picture.

Now, consider home security. With an HDR camera, the sensor is able to fill parts of the image that would normally be ambiguous in an SDR scenario. Think of your run-of-the-mill burger, dressed in dark clothes and leaning into the shadows, avoiding direct sunlight and other property light in your mission to invade your residence. Even with a camera located right in front of the main door of your house, the technology available to successfully carry out the sun’s rays while filling in the darker parts of the image in the HDR camera, while aiming towards the sunlight. is. A lot of sheds with shade space in that backyard would not be so ambiguous in HDR footage, leaving our imaginary mercury with very few hiding places.

In the worst case scenario, imagining your home is actually killed by a burglar. HDR recording allows you to use the motion-triggered footage of your camera to give the thief a better shot than a potentially over- or undefined SDR image. The difference between the two formats is in the details, and when it comes to home security, the more your camera can show you, the better your overall peace of mind.

Our favorite HDR-capable security cameras

Shopping for home security cameras can be difficult, especially when you have to search for features like HDR. To make your next Amazon or Best Buy excursion a little easier, we thought we’d weigh in on it. Here are three of our favorite HDR-capable cams that you can find online or on the shelves of your local brick-and-mortar tech joint.

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera

Arlo Pro 4

One of the most advanced indoor / outdoor cameras available today, Arlo Pro 4 The 2K HDR requires no SmartHub for record, connectivity and is powered by a six-month battery. In addition, onboard support for Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit means that you can watch live video feeds on your home compatible smart display.

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

One of the premier smart security cameras, Google’s Nest Cam IQ Indoor Provides detailed day and night recording, two-way audio and advanced motion tracking for your home.

Ring video bell 3

Ring video bell 3

While the traditional home security camera is not Ring video bell 3 Effective HDR is enabled for recording (this feature must be turned on in the Ring app). Combine that with a built-in battery (or optional hard-wiring), an aesthetically pleasing design, and motion alerts for your compatible mobile device, and it’s easy to see why the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is often recognized as the top video door Is in the market.

Need more information for your home security camera purchase? Check out our roundup of the best home security cameras of 2021. Looking for a white-glove? Check out our roundup of the best home security systems of 2021, featuring DIY and professional setup options.

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