Why Are My Cameras Displaying in Black and White?

Security cameras, infrared, black and white, color

One of the most common problems users have with their security cameras is displaying images in black and white, when it should be in color. The picture may be clear and focused, but for some reason, the image is grayscale instead of a colorized image. Not only can the black and white picture be annoying to look at, but it prevents observation of important details like the color of someone’s shirt or vehicle.

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Infrared Sensors Explained

When security cameras are subjected to low light conditions, too dark for the normal visible light sensor to detect, the camera’s infrared lights and sensors engage. The camera arms its infrared lights to illuminate its field of view. Most cameras in infrared mode will have a series of infrared LEDs that glow red (often situated around the lens) to indicate that they are on, because the human eye is unable to detect infrared light. Cameras are also equipped with a sensor that can see the infrared light reflecting off people and objects in the viewing area. This creates a black and white image to the end-user.

Because the visible light sensor is no longer picking up enough light to create an image, the camera can no longer detect colors. Infrared light falls just outside the visible spectrum, beyond the edge of what we can see as red, so the camera sensor can only measure the brightness of the infrared light reflecting to the camera. Bright infrared lights appear white on the video feed, and dimmer lights appear as varying shades of gray.

During normal operation, the infrared sensors and lights function properly and capture black and white footage in low light scenarios such as at nighttime or in a dark room. However, when it is not dark out and the camera is still displaying in black and white one begins to wonder, what gives?

The Problem: The Infrared Sensor is Stuck On

If your camera is displaying in black and white but there seems to be ample light, then something is causing the infrared lights to stay on. There are a few different issues that can be causing this concern. Continue reading for helpful troubleshooting tips designed to help you get your cameras back to full color. If your infrared security camera is done for, fill out a quote and tell us what you need your replacement camera to do.

Power Cycle the Camera and Video Recorder

Sometimes a glitch can cause the infrared sensors on the camera to stay stuck in the “on” position. This can often be resolved by performing a power cycle, simply turning off the camera, wait a few seconds, and then turning it back on. This may potentially clear any erroneous settings that have prevented the camera from switching back to color. If power cycling the camera does not yield the desired result, try power cycling the video recorder as well.

To learn more about infrared sensors and what causes security cameras to flicker, read Why Does My Security Camera Flicker at Night?

Inspect the Camera Lens and Sensor

When infrared mode on the camera is engaged, the camera must process how much light it is filtering to know whether to remain in infrared mode or to switch back to full color. If something is obstructing the sensor, the camera may think it is always dark out and keep the infrared lights on. Conduct an inspection of the camera lens and be sure to wipe away any dirt or debris. Of course, your issue could also be with the power source…

Black and white, orange cat on top of security camera pole

Test the Cable and Power

The issue can be caused by the camera not be receiving the correct power or communication due to a faulty cable or power supply. The easiest way to detect this issue is by unplugging the problem camera and plugging in one you know to be working properly. If that camera is having the same issue, it may be an issue with the cable or power supply. If you suspect an issue with the cable or power supply, we recommend consulting a professional.

Test the Camera

It is also a good idea to plug the camera you are having issues with into a cable that you know to be working properly. If the camera has the same issue, then its most likely a problem with the camera. Unfortunately, not all cameras can be fixed, and sometimes the only solution is to replace the camera with a new one.

Have it Repaired or Replaced by the Manufacturer

If you suspect the camera needs to be replaced, check your manufacturer’s warranty. Most manufacturers will not repair or replace the camera if it is damaged or installed improperly, but oftentimes stuck infrared is the result of a manufacturer’s defect. Warranty policies vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from supplier to supplier. Sadly, some warranty policies are virtually non-existent, and you’re on your own if your camera needs repaired or replaced.

All equipment from Camera Security Now comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, and all installations performed by Camera Security Now are guaranteed to be free of installation defects. If your camera supplier has left you high and dry with a bad camera and no replacement, it’s time to find a new supplier. Depending on the age of the camera, you may be able to replace it with a much better camera for around the same price! If you need help identifying a good replacement camera, or need professional installation or troubleshooting, please contact us today at 800-440-1662.

Security Camera Advice and Installation with Camera Security Now

Security Consultant Johnny

Are you looking for security camera advice? Johnny can give you a free security consultation for your location. Even if you’re not sure what you need, our security technicians will walk you through what it takes to secure your business. No matter what kind of facility in which you’re requesting surveillance support, Johnny can assist you with all of your security needs! If you have any questions about how thermal cameras work, what you need for your facility, or the purchasing and installation process, contact Johnny today at 800-440-1662 ext. 360 or fill out a fast, easy online quote form.

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