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Security Cameras - Common Image Problems

There a lot of things that can go wrong with security cameras. The most noticeable are going to be problems with the image itself. The good news is that identifying the problem isn't as difficult as you may think. For as many things that can potentially going wrong, each one of those problems presents themselves with their own set of unique characteristics.

Sun Induced Burn Out

A common thought among the public is that if a security camera is rated for outdoor use, this means that it’s impervious to almost anything. This just isn’t the case; you’re just going to have to take our word for it. The sun is more than capable of destroying your cameras if you’re not careful. Direct sunlight entering your camera’s lens will eventually run into your image sensor just beyond that. Over time this will start to create distortions on the glass but this is nothing compared to the effect it has on the image sensor. Before very long, you’ll begin to see some pretty awful video degradation; this includes blurriness, changes in contrast, and eventually complete blackout. Of course no one is intentionally pointing their camera into the sun but the sun moves and sometimes in a way that can hurt your camera. Monitoring or reviewing video for the first several days after installation will show you if that camera will need to be adjusted or not. Look for any obvious bright glares. These don’t always need to come right from the sun. Highly reflective surfaces are just as detrimental. Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) is not a solution and will not save your camera.


Infrared (IR) Glare

Infrared glared is a common issue if you mount the camera under an eaves or overhang and point the camera with having the eaves in the field of view of the camera. If the camera has night vision (infrared IR LEDs) then it will have IR reflection causing either glare in to the camera, or causing the camera to alter its electronic shutter to compensate for the glare. If you take a look at the image below, you will see that the top of the image is very bright where the reflection is happening, and the rest of the field of view is dark. That is because the camera attempts to reduce the glare by making the picture darker by altering its auto electronic shutter, which in effect make the rest of the field of view too dark to see anything. The solution is to points the camera downwards and remove any close by objects/walls out of the field of view.

Infrared Glare

Electrified Surface

There’s a general rule among the professionals who actually know what they’re doing that says, “Don’t ever mount your cameras to a metal surface.” We’re paraphrasing but you get the idea. Surges are really the big reason for this but “bleeding” electrical currents is the other. Bleeding is usually a result of something being wired improperly and that current is making contact with the conductive surface. That current will move around everywhere is can and eventually travel right into your camera if it’s not insulated. If you find yourself unable to mount your camera to anything other than a metal/conductive surface, you’ll need to find a solution to the problem to avoid ever having one. Mounting a block of wood to this surface and then your camera to the block is very simple fix for this. Just ensure that no metal on metal contact is being made from the camera to any part of the structure.


Ground Loop

Ground loops are complicated are really boring to explain, so we’re not going to. Ground loops occur for a few different reasons but this issue will always present itself in the form of horizontal lines running across your screen (hum bars). Faulty power supplies and/or faulty cable are frequent culprits but improper wiring in the home/building is much more common. If you discover that your image problems are related to the power supply or cable, you simply need to swap them out. However, if bad wiring in the structure is found to be the problem, locating it and then having someone fix it is not exactly a quick or cheap fix. This is where ground loop isolators come in. They’re simple plug-and-play adapters that attach to the back of your camera and then filter this electrical noise out of your video feed.


NTSC and PAL are two completely different types of video encoding systems. There’s not a lot to say here. Depending on the country you’re in, you’re going to be using one or the other; the U.S. exclusively uses NTSC. If you find yourself with a product using the contradicting system, it will be blatantly obvious the second you power the camera on. You will notice that you may be able to make out some portions of the image, but most of the screen will covered with black lines that appear to be shaking in place. Your only solution to this is simply to read carefully before purchasing anything. This is one of the risks of purchasing from outside of your own country.

Infrared Cut Filter

If your camera lacks an IR cut filter, you’re not going to be able to use it outdoors. This usually isn't a problem or an issue for any professional level security cameras but it’s still something to confirm. Your “starter” cameras that cost around $30 or less are where you’ll need to be careful. Your issue here will be that your image will appear very bright as if the brightness settings are just way too high; needless to say, adjusting the brightness settings are not going to help if you're completely lacking this piece to the puzzle. While you’ll certainly not be able to use them outdoors, also be aware that certain ambient lighting in an indoor environment can also cause a similar effect. In addition to having a major problem with daylight, they also will have a difficult time interpreting Infrared properly in darkness.

Power Supply

There are several things that can go wrong with a power supply but related problems will always appear in your video as “rolling lines.” These are horizontal lines across your screen that will normally move from bottom to top; lines moving in the opposite are not unheard of so don’t rule it out. The image from your camera will remain behind these lines and will not move with them. This can often be confused with the lines you can get from a ground loop problem, but the lines caused by a group loop will remain in a single static position.

is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.


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103 thoughts on “Security Cameras - Common Image Problems”

  • why burn cctv camera,i have installed 4 cmaeras with 12v 5 amp power supply.but my camera is burned.

  • I may be reading your question wrong but it may be that the voltage and/or the amps are too high and is causing the components to over heat and burnout. I've used several cameras in the past which have usually been 12v 500mA to 2 Amps.Some of my salvaged CCTV cams have come without a PSU or ratings so I've always started with a PSU @ 12v 500mA and worked my way up the amps. If the camera works but gets warm at all I lower the amps. If it still gets warm I start again but drop the voltage to 9v.Hope that helps

  • Great input!

  • Hi to all!I installed to hd camera in about 100 meter from the DVR. But they having a static noise like the picture below. But I'm curious why if I disconnect the other one the other one goes smooth and clear? Does it happen to you? How can I fix it? Would video amplifier can help?

  • my camera have an problem cctv camera is on missing viedo for some times and again on and and this problem is repated all time please tell me what are the possible problem?

  • CCTV Camera World October 19, 2015 at 10:21 am

    You could have a bad connect on the tips, the cabling could be bad, the internal connector attaching the pigtail to the camera's CCD board may be loose or poorly soldered, or the DVR/monitor has a bad video input.

  • CCTV Camera World October 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

    What kind of HD security camera is it? TVI? HDCVI?It may be a problem related to the DVR's motherboard.

  • Are you sure there is no high voltage line near your video cable?

  • Hello, i'm getting the ir's working but no video signal, checked the cables and they are all fine. What could it be?

  • Rainbow RN-DVR808E plz help this is what pops up what can be wrong ? All was running well suddenly turned off when i turned it back on this is what and all i can see.

  • I have 8 camera system .... everything was fine for about 8 months but suddenly i had 5 of them showing this wierd blurred image with these black granuals that look like black snow but they r not moving like snow ... they r fixed in position .... first i thought it was dirt on the protecting glass but i found the glass clear and clean ... I made factory reset to the DVR and changed from PAL to NTSC and vise versa but nothing changed .... do u have any idea what could be causing this?

  • I made more investigations and could catch the time when the image was corrupted ... i found 2 min lost after which the image came back with this distortion ,,, it seems a voltage drop or a reboot was made after which the image was distorted in one particular camera ... same thing happened also in another camera ... so I think its all about voltage drops or power cut offs ... is there a way to fix the camera or its gone forever?

  • It looks like the image sensor on the camera went bad. Unfortunately this would require replacement of the camera.

  • Your DVR is stuck at boot. If you continue to experience this, it is a sign that the DVR has failed completely and is no longer booting up.

  • Your camera's image sensor stopped working, or you have a bad video cable/connection.

  • Yes I agree to that but amazingly one of the cameras started showing normal image again for a few days before it goes back to these fuzzy images again ... I will try to re-solder the contact points on the camera board maybe its just a bad contact point somewhere!

  • Hi guys I'm new here having problems with my CCTV ok so here we go I have a few cameras that on one monitor it works and on other monitor it won't work what I mean as won't work is the image scrolls up the screen but it only happens on some monitors and some times it gives me a blue screen and says video in the upper right hand corner also when I review that camera in video play back it's not viewable it's recording like the image scrolling up with a bunch of lines in it can some one help me out or give me advice thanks

  • CCTV Camera World January 28, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Sounds like a PAL / NTSC incompatibility issue. If you are in the US, NTSC is the normal video standard and you may have a PAL camera on your hands.

  • I don't think it's a pal camera cause its doing it to a few different ones now's black and white lines on the screens scrolling up and its recording like that on dvr play back every day more and more cameras are doing it

  • Hi.This problem is caused by Ground Loop. HDCVI or other HD (AHD, HDTVI) are using analogue signals through coax. Problem may be solved with different power supply for each camera. None of the equipment should be grounded, do not connect ground pin to earthning pin. Also, isolate metal housing of each camera form contacting metal surface.

  • Provide your picture please so we can help you better

  • Ivan you are on the right track. Ground loop issues can be caused by the following: 1) power supply (yes using independent power adaptors may be a solution but it should be considered the last one) 2) improper crimping of cables 3) stapling/nailing down of cables that leads to power crossover to the BNC signal. You can read more here: http://www.cctvcameraworld....

  • Hi,This camera image always turns to half black after a few weeks of installation. Already replaced two time.Is there any idea to identify the problem?Thanks

  • Look at the first one

  • disqus_Mwo0VqrouC March 6, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Hello,my old power supply just crapped out. I got a new AGPtek® 18 Channel CCTV Security Camera Power Supply Box 12V 10A DC. Now, most of the screens have static lines running up and up.QuestionIs there a better power supply for the money i should get? - I have a 20 camera system.Also i have a couple of cameras i should replace that have gone out. I have a car lot with about an acre and a half to cover. What cameras are good for the money, and what specs should i get?Thank you very much!

  • CCTV Camera World March 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Either the power supply box has a grounding issue, or your cabling has grounding problems. You can try our 12V DC 20amp box for 18 ports:http://www.cctvcameraworld....If you are looking for analog security cameras, you may want to check out our 1000TVL cameras:http://www.cctvcameraworld....

  • Mahendra bharambe March 20, 2016 at 8:17 am

    My CCTV camera live screening and even back dated recording is always creating background noise...If I increase volume of recording then voice can understand but background noise create a lot problem.. Can you help me to remove background noise...

  • CCTV Camera World March 23, 2016 at 9:56 am

    It might be an issue with your wiring.

  • Jason Giordanella April 9, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    HI, can anyone tell me what causes ‘streaking’ on a CCTV image and how can you resolve the problem? Many thanks

  • CCTV Camera World April 10, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Can you provide an image of what's happening?

  • I have just checked mine after what CCTV as said!I noticed that not all my cameras were the same the back garden picture is about the bestso i tried that in the other 8 channels and it was still quite good and same for the other cameras so looks like you are correct probably the image sensor just can't understand why all the four cameras have gone all together!but looks like i will only have to replace the cameras not the machineThe system i have is a Floureon off Ebay "should have known better lol"

  • Patrick Fenton May 27, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I have an analog video camera that just switched from being okay to something weird. I have attached the 2 pictures. The camera model is Samsung SCC-131B. This just switched from one to the other. There was no in between. I have checked the connections and have powered it off and on again. Any idea what is wrong with it.

  • I have a very weird problem with one of my BNC wired cameras.This camera is in an 8 camera system. I have two transformers supplying camera power, and have switched power supply plugs several times, trying both transformers and several separate wires. Local line voltage is a steady 119.I've been very careful to make sure all connections are clean and good, especially the coax ground to the camera and DVR which didn't quite seem secure at first.The other 7 cameras work well, no matter which power supply or power connection is used.I can switch the camera connection on the DVR, the problem follows the cable / camera, not the display location.The picture on the problem camera is bright, clear, and consistent as long as there is any light outside. Once there is no daylight outside, the picture is noticeably darker than the other cameras.At random times, the already low brightness will fluctuate, becoming noticeably darker, then recovering, then slightly darker, etc.Also, usually before, after, or during this time, there may or may not be very short duration horizontal lines on the picture. The lines don’t seem to move, just appear and disappear.At some times when the picture is darkest, there may also appear and very quickly disappear very black lines horizontally across the picture. These may be pretty thin (maybe just a few percent of the picture height), or very thick (like about â…“ to ½ the picture height).Maybe one of 10 times the darkness, lines, etc. appear, the camera will disappear to the system, showing the same indications as if there is no camera connected. This may last from a few seconds to maybe an hour or two. Then the camera will just reappear by itself, looking like it did just after dark.All these problems may or may not appear multiple times through the night. Next day all is fine - until night arrives again.This situation is not easy to just swap out the components (cable and / or camera) to isolate the problem as both are very difficult to reach.I’m hoping that someone here with lots of experience can use that experience to help me nail the problem down.Thanks!

  • CCTV Camera World June 11, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Roger sounds like the image sensor on your camera is bad. There is no cable/power supply combination that will fix the issue.

  • I have a Dowson camera system and out of nowhere I keep getting these red, yellow, and green lines. They look like "backup" lines of some sort but it is an indoor system. Any idea why this keeps happening or how to resolve it? Thank you in advance.

  • My cameras are all working/recording fine, I have four, but when I go into the menu and go on playback although its playing back footage ( I can tell by the 'time' moving forward) theres just no image, a completely black screen! Any suggestios? Frustrated Mike

  • CCTV Camera World June 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

    If you see the cameras in live view, then that's a DVR issue and not a camera issue. You will need to troubleshoot the DVR with the vendor you purchased from. Sounds like something burned out on the DVR motherboard.

  • Its newish, about 3 months or so and it has happened once before so I re-booted system and it was fine but then you lose all your previous memories/recordings.Is there another option before re-booting?RegardsMike

  • CCTV Camera World June 29, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Seems like it is a half-baked NVR with poor R&D. There is nothing that can be done.

  • One of my cameras is acting odd. It is showing An old video feed on current time . Makes me thing . Is it possible someone could have hacked into it ??

  • My dvr stops recording after about 5/6 hours requiring a reboot. Can do this for weeks then settles down only to play up for weeks again. Any ideas please as I want to be able to check in to view whilst abroad on holiday? Thank you in advance.

  • CCTV Camera World July 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Try replacing the hard drive on the unit.

  • Thanks for your prompt response. I should have said that the hard drive has been changed three times :( Also had a new power cable fitted but made no difference.

  • I have a gamut 4 camera system. Until recently the picture was great. Then after approx 3 years use. High lights in the frame have turned a fuzzy wired black. Anything white in the image has this fuzzy moving distortion / interference on it. I have checked all connections but cannot find the problem. Anyone have any ideas? If I could post images on here I could show the issues.Karl

  • Hi. My old dvr power supply gave up on me so I purchased a new dvr. I reconnected the cameras and the monitor. The problem is there are no picture showing on each of the camera channels. Its just blank. Would greatly appreciate your advice on my problem. Thank you.

  • CCTV Camera World July 11, 2016 at 10:58 am

    What is your camera's model number and the DVR's model number? Could be any number of things.

  • HelloMy brother in law has a Zmodo 8 channel DVR connected in his bedroom closet with 7 cameras functional. He has a regular led Samsung 32" tv that the DVR is connected to. The TV will play fine with the cable feed coming to it and with a dvd player. But when you view the cameras, the whole screen is transparent green with stationary vertical lines through it. We've switched and tried numerous things until we finally narrowed it down to his TV being the problem. We even swapped the HDMI inputs around and same thing. So, then we lastly connected the DVR to another TV and the lines and green screen are not present. Any idea why this would happen?I've installed many systems over the years and I'm stumped as to what the problem could be here. Any help is appreciated. Joe

  • CCTV Camera World July 20, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Sorry Joe we've never seen this before. It might be a bad TV or a bad DVR. Maybe the HDMI port on the DVR has some faults in it.

  • The DVR model number is CDV8EC6-NOHD and the camera model is AHD-5C10-IR2. Hopefully you can figure out my problem with the info. Thank you.

  • CCTV Camera World July 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    You are trying to use a AHD signal camera on an analog 960H DVR. That will not work.