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Full-color night vision is a relatively recent technology that allows security cameras to record clear and noise-free color footage even during low-light conditions. This is achievable thanks to special starlight sensors that are very sensitive to ambient lighting. (Also referred to as Darkfighter, Lightfighter, Colorvu, or Acusense, depending on the manufacturer.)

A camera with the help of a starlight sensor can produce full-color night vision footage in an environment where the ambient light illumination levels are as low as 0.005lux. Unlike infrared, the footage is more vivid and (since it records in full color), contains more information.

In our list below, we have picked out ten of the best starlight/low-light security cameras available. Please note that we have included general-purpose cameras and excluded specialist devices such as PTZ and LPR cameras.

Top 10 Starlight / Low-Light Security Cameras

Top Pick
NC800
Awards
  • Only camera listed with Full Color (via Spotlight)
  • Only camera listed with Face Detection
  • Highest rated camera listed with Infrared
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.0005lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRNAS
Image Sensor Size
1/1.2"

The Annke 4K Bullet Security Camera is our top pick. It is a high-end IP-based PoE camera that can record full-color night vision with a minimum illumination value of 0.0005lux.

This device can repurpose ambient lighting from external sources for its full-color night vision and it works best when the included dual-spotlight setup provides ambient lighting.

It can also work off of infrared, thanks to the 130ft IR range, which is quite decent for a high-end bullet-type camera.

This Annke Bullet Type PoE camera has multiple intelligent features that include customizable zones, face detection, and abandoned object detection, to name a few.

Pros
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Face Detection
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Spotlight)
Cons
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No optical zoom
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
  • No two-way audio feature
Runner Up
LNE9292B
Awards
  • Highest rated camera listed with Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Highest rated camera listed with Optical Zoom
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Storage Options
NVR
Image Sensor Size
1/2.8"

Our runner-up is the Lorex LNE9292B Turret Security Camera. It is another high-end PoE camera that utilizes starlight sensors for full-color night vision.

The system does not include a spotlight. So if you find that the ambient light illumination levels are not high enough for full-color night vision, you will have to provide external lighting. Regardless, the infrared LEDs do a satisfactory job as they have a maximum range of around 98ft.

Unfortunately, this Lorex device is limited in storage, interoperability, and motion detection features. You can only use this camera by connecting it to a compatible NVR.

Pros
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Data Transmission: PoE
Cons
  • No smart home integrations
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • No two-way audio feature
AMC4KBC28-W
Awards
  • Highest rated camera listed with Coax data
  • Highest rated camera listed with DVR support
Data Type
Analog
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Infrared LED PCS
2
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.005lux
Storage Options
DVR
Image Sensor Size
1/1.8"

The Amcrest 4K Bullet Security Camera is a reasonably-priced high-end device. It uses a starlight sensor for full-color vision with a minimum illumination level of 0.005lux.

The device does not have an in-built spotlight. So depending on the light conditions, you will have to provide external lighting.

This Amcrest camera is an analog-based device with an NTSC/PAL video coding format. Therefore, you will need to provide a compatible DVR for the device to function. (Along with coaxial cabling and DC power)

Pros
  • Power Options: DC Power
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Data Transmission: Coax
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
Cons
  • No two-way audio feature
  • No smart / AI motion detection
  • No optical zoom
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No smart home integrations
  • Cannot automatically pan
N43BU82
Awards
  • Only camera listed with Object Detection
  • Highest rated camera listed with Two Way Audio
  • Highest rated camera listed with Integrated Alarm
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4MP: 2688x1520
Infrared LED PCS
1
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.003lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTP
Image Sensor Size
1/2.7"

The Dahua 4MP Turret Security Camera is a relatively expensive yet feature-packed high-end device.

Despite its versatility, one thing it sorely needs is an in-built spotlight. Therefore, to maintain full-color night vision, you need to keep the ambient light level above the minimum of 0.003lux.

This device is one of the few PoE turret-style cameras on this list that offers an integrated siren and two-way communication. On top of providing these speakers and microphones, the device also includes the interfaces for connecting external sirens and intercom systems.

Pros
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection, Object Detection
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS, FTP
Cons
  • No smart home integrations
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • No optical zoom
Data Type
Analog
Resolution
2MP: 1080P / HD: 1920x1080
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.005lux
Storage Options
DVR

The Hikvision DS-2CE56D8T-ITM is a mid-range analog-based security camera. The system doesn’t involve an in-built spotlight, but the camera can record full-color night vision footage using its starlight sensors. (As long as the illumination levels don’t dip below 0.005lux.)

The recorded footage can have a maximum resolution of 1920x1080 thanks to its 2MP camera. Despite the low resolution, images are very clear as the footage is processed through True WDR.

The enclosure is entirely built from plastic and has an IP rating of IP67. It is very compact, lightweight, and can operate in a temperature range of -40F to 140F.

Pros
  • Data Transmission: Coax
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
  • Power Options: DC Power
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Storage Options: DVR
  • IP Rating: IP67
Cons
  • No smart / AI motion detection
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No optical zoom
  • No smart home integrations
  • Relatively Low Resolution: 2MP: 1080P / HD: 1920x1080
  • No two-way audio feature
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Infrared LED PCS
1
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.007lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTP
Image Sensor Size
1/2.8"

Montavue MTT8108-AISMDAD is a high-end turret-style IP camera with starlight sensors. The minimum illumination value is 0.007lux with a recording distance of 130ft in full-color night vision. It also has an in-built spotlight.

The device has an 8MP camera that can record footage in crisp 4K resolution. The footage is processed using True WDR, and the system exports three separate video streams for storage and remote viewing.

This Montavue camera includes MicroSD, NVR, NAS, and FTP for storage. It also supports ONVIF, RTSP, CGI, and P2P interoperability protocols. Therefore, this is a versatile device that works flawlessly with third-party NVRs.

Pros
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Smart Motion Detection Features: Person Detection, Vehicle Detection
  • Two Way Audio Functionality
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS, FTP
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
Cons
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No optical zoom
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No smart home integrations
Data Type
IP
Resolution
5MP: 2880x1620
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.003lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRNAS
Image Sensor Size
1/2.7"

The Uniview 5MP Bullet Security Camera is a great budget option for anybody looking to integrate spotlight-free full-color night vision.

This device utilizes a 1/2.7 inch CMOS image sensor on a 5MP(2880x1620) resolution. The camera also has starlight sensors that record clear full-color night vision footage as long as the ambient light levels do not fall below 0.003lux.

Despite the affordable price tag, this camera processed footage using True WDR and incorporates three separate streams for storage and remote viewing.

For storage, the camera supports MicroSD, NVR, and NAS. It also supports S, G, T, and API-based ONVIF profiles with RTSP.

Pros
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
Cons
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No two-way audio feature
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • No optical zoom
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Infrared LED PCS
1
Storage Options
NVR

The Night Owl CAM-2PK-IC8 Bullet Security Camera is a high-end IP camera that functions on PoE. The camera does not have an in-built spotlight. Instead, it relies on starlight sensors that can record full-color night vision footage in low-light environments.

The camera resolution of this device is 3840x2160 on an 8MP 4K camera. For storage, it requires a compatible NVR. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t have any intelligent motion detection features.

The IP rating for the housing is IP66, and the device can operate in a temperature range of -4F to 140F.

Pros
  • Power Options: PoE
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Storage Options: NVR
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • IP Rating: IP66
Cons
  • No smart / AI motion detection
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No smart home integrations
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • Does not have an integrated siren
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4MP: 2688x1520
Infrared LED PCS
2
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.008lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRNASFTP
Image Sensor Size
1/3"

The Dahua 4MP 2.8mm Starlight Eyeball is a mid-range PoE camera with a DC power option. There is no spotlight, but the camera can record full-color night vision footage with a minimum illumination value of 0.008lux.

This camera has a 1/3 inch CMOS sensor with 4MP 2688x1520 resolution footage. The camera system has True WDR features and outputs two separate video streams at 20 or 30 fps.

There are several storage options. These include MicroSD, NVR, NAS, and FTP and a maximum onboard storage capacity of 256GB. This camera supports several interoperability protocols that include P2P, CGI, RTSP, and ONVIF. (Profiles S, G, T.)

Pros
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • Data Transmission: PoE
  • High Resolution: 4MP: 2688x1520
  • Storage Options: microSD, NVR, NAS, FTP
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
Cons
  • No optical zoom
  • No motorized tilt functionality
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • No smart home integrations
  • No smart / AI motion detection
  • No two-way audio feature
Data Type
IP
Resolution
4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
Minimum Illumination for Color
0.008lux
Storage Options
microSDNVRFTP
Image Sensor Size
1/2"

Our final entry on this list is the AvertX 4K Dome Security Camera. It is an expensive high-end device that records 4K footage on an 8MP camera. (Maximum resolution of 3840x2160.)

The lens is a motorized Varifocal lens that can carry out 4x optical zoom. The footage is processed using True WDR, and the system transmits two video streams.

Despite its expensive price tag, this camera does not offer an in-built spotlight. Therefore, you will have to maintain a minimum illumination level of 0.008lux for the full-color night vision to record proper footage.

Pros
  • Motorized Optical Zoom Lens
  • Night Vision Support: Infrared, Full Color (via Low Light Sensor / Tech)
  • High Resolution: 4K / Ultra HD / 8MP: 3840x2160
  • Great Image Clarity: True WDR
  • Power Options: PoE, DC Power
  • Data Transmission: PoE
Cons
  • Cannot automatically pan
  • No smart home integrations
  • Does not have an integrated siren
  • No integrated microphone
  • No inbuilt spotlight
  • No motorized tilt functionality

Decision Factors when Choosing a Starlight / Low-Light Security Camera

IP rating

Since these starlight cameras will most definitely be used to record outdoor footage, you have to consider the IP rating of the enclosure. As always, we recommend a minimum of IP66 for outdoor applications. 

Minimum Illumination for Color

  For starlight cameras, the most important spec you need to worry about is the “minimum illumination for color”. This spec is measured in lux, a standardized unit for measuring light intensity. If the ambient light intensity is lower than this value, the camera will stop recording at full-color night vision and switch to infrared. The lower the minimum illumination for color, the better the starlight sensor is going to be.

In-built spotlights

Another spec important for starlight cameras is the in-built spotlights (or lack thereof.) Some cameras need the in-built spotlight to properly carry out full-color night vision, while others (with more advanced starlight sensors) can rely on ambient lighting. Regardless, we recommend going for a device that includes spotlights so you won’t have to worry about the ambient lighting. 

Audio-Based Features

Intruders (and even animals) are more likely to break into your premises at night. Therefore, audio-based features can help deter intruders and alert anybody nearby. Most general-purpose cameras consist of in-built microphones for recording audio but may not include integrated sirens or two-way communication features. So check for these features before committing to a device. 

Storage

For 24/7 continuous recording, at full-color, you will need more storage space. Most cameras on this list will offer the option for both local storage (MicroSD) and remote storage (NVR, NAS, FTP.) Nonetheless, if you are using more than one camera (or hoping to expand in the future) we recommend purchasing a compatible NVR so you can store footage in a central location. A decent NVR also opens up the chance to manage cameras via third-party applications. (For remote viewing, changing settings, etc..)

Conclusion

So that’s our list of the top ten starlight/low-light security cameras. In this list, we’ve focused exclusively on general-purpose cameras. (IP-based or Analog-based turret, dome, and bullet-style devices.)

All devices on our list perform exceptionally well in low-light conditions and utilize very advanced starlight sensors. Most of them do not rely on spotlights, but some include spotlights as an additional feature.

Hopefully, this list helped you get a better idea about starlight/low-light security cameras. If you have any questions regarding these cameras, let us know in the comments.

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