What Causes Ghost Images On Security Cameras?

Ghost Images On Security Cameras

Ghost images on security cameras happen when a recording is interrupted by another signal, often from a different camera or an RF device. Whether it's interference from another camera or an RF transmitter, these ghost images can result in severity and cause temporary or permanent damage to your surveillance footage. IPhone camera shows ghost lighting or refrective images too. But there is actually a ghost caught on CCTV camera throwing hookah pipes in an empty bar on the news.

What are Ghost Images?

Ghost images are a common issue with security cameras. They occur when the camera is picking up reflections from nearby objects, resulting in a fuzzy or doubled image. In some cases, the ghost image may be caused by the camera itself reflecting off of its own lens.

There are some reasons/factors that can cause ghost images on security cameras, expecially on outdoor security cameras with night vision:

  • The camera is picking up reflections from nearby objects. This is common with glass or mirrors, which can reflect the camera's image back towards it.
  • The camera is reflecting off of its own lens. This can happen if the lens is dirty or smudged.
  • There is a problem with the camera's sensor. This is not so common, but it can happen if the sensor is damaged or defected.
    ghost image on security camera

    Common Causes Of Ghosting On Security Cameras

    There are a few typical culprits behind ghost images on security camera feeds:

    Infrared Night Vision

    Many security cameras today come with infrared night vision capability. This allows the camera to see in low light conditions by using IR illumination. The infrared light reflects off surfaces and bounces back to the camera sensor.

    However, sometimes that reflected IR light can create a secondary image on the camera footage. This infrared ghosting effect is often seen when there are reflective surfaces like glass or metal in the camera's field of view. The infrared light reflects off these shiny objects and hits the camera sensor twice, creating the ghosting illusion.

    Lens Flare

    Lens flare refers to the scattering of light inside the camera lens itself. This typically happens when a bright light source, like the sun or a lamp, is in the frame. The strong light overwhelms the lens and gets refracted in all directions.

    Some of this scattered light reaches the camera sensor incorrectly, registering as a washed-out flair across the image. If the bright light is coming from an object in the frame, it can look like a phantom double exposure of that object - hence resulting in a ghost-like effect.

    Slow Shutter Speed

    The shutter speed determines how long the camera sensor is exposed to capture an image. Slow shutter speeds enable the sensor to gather more light. However, a too-slow shutter can also create blurring when there is motion in the frame.

    If a person or car is moving fast enough while the shutter is open, they can essentially leave a trail behind them on the camera footage. This motion blurring can look like a faded ghost image following the moving object.

    Compression Artifacts

    The video files recorded by security cameras are compressed to save storage space. However, high compression ratios can sometimes lead to visual artifacts in the footage.

    One common compression artifact is ghosting, where compressed objects seem to have a faded shadow trail behind them. Fast motion can exacerbate this effect. Lower-quality codecs are also more prone to presenting compression ghost images.

    Burn-In On CRT Monitors

    If you're viewing security camera footage on an old CRT video monitor, ghost images may be caused by screen burn-in. When a static image is displayed on a CRT screen for too long, it can get "burned in" and leave a permanent ghostly after-image. Any subsequent footage will appear to have this burned-in ghost overlap.

    Common Causes Of Ghosting On Security Cameras

    Impact of Ghost Images On Security Cameras

    Ghost images on security camera feeds are not just an annoyance. They can significantly hamper the effectiveness of the surveillance system in several ways:

    • Obscured Footage: Ghost images can overlap or obscure important parts of the video footage, making it impossible to clearly see events, persons, or objects of interest.
    • Misinterpretation: The phantom images can easily be misinterpreted, leading to confusion. For instance, a ghost image could be mistaken for an intruder or suspicious activity, resulting in unnecessary panic or false alarms.
    • Legal Issues: In the event of a crime or dispute, ghost images can compromise the value of the surveillance footage as evidence. It's more challenging to convince a judge or jury with ambiguous footage that contains ghost images.
    • Poor User Experience: Constant ghosting effects on a CCTV feed can make viewing and monitoring tedious, often leading to eye strain and frustration among users.
    • Maintenance Costs: Persistent ghosting indicates a problem with the camera or the setup. This might necessitate frequent servicing, repairs, or even replacement of the equipment, driving up maintenance costs.
    Impact of Ghost Images On Security Cameras

    How To Fix Ghost Images On Security Cameras

    If you notice ghosting in your security camera feeds, here are a few tips to troubleshoot the issue:

    • Adjust night vision IR: If the ghosting only occurs at night, your IR illuminators may be set too bright. Reduce the IR intensity or adjust the IR range to minimize reflections. Also, reposition the camera to avoid reflective surfaces in its view.
    • Use a lens hood: Adding a lens hood can help block extraneous light from hitting the lens and causing flare. Make sure the camera lens is clean too. Fingerprints and dust can distort flare refractions.
    • Increase shutter speed: Using a faster shutter speed will reduce motion blur from fast-moving objects. Just keep in mind this requires more light and increases video file sizes.
    • Lower compression: Bump up the video encoding bitrate to reduce compression artifacts. Try at least 3 Mbps for decent 1080p quality. This will take up more storage but can improve ghosting.
    • Upgrade monitor: If you're viewing on a CRT display, it may be time to switch to an LCD monitor without burn-in issues. Or use a computer monitor instead via remote access.
    • Check connections: Loose video cables can cause signal issues that look like ghosting. Reconnect cables properly and replace any worn cables.
    • Clean the lens: Dust, dirt, raindrops, spiderwebs, etc on the camera lens can all distort and diffuse light incorrectly, creating ghost image effects.
    • Adjust camera position: If possible, move the security camera to an alternate angle to avoid bright light sources that cause flare or IR reflections.
    • Update firmware: Check for any firmware updates from the security camera manufacturer that may address video artifacts and image quality.

    With some strategic troubleshooting and adjustments, you should be able to resolve any ghost images plaguing your security camera feeds. Clean optics, proper exposure settings, adequate lighting, and high-quality cables go a long way. But if issues persist, don't hesitate to contact the camera support team for further solutions or replace a better one. Your video surveillance depends on crisp, clear footage without misleading phantom images getting in the way.


    Ghosting on security cameras can have diverse causes, ranging from infrared night vision issues to slow shutter speeds to basic lens flare. With a mix of proper camera settings, quality cables, strategic positioning, and regular maintenance, you can mitigate many ghost image problems that plague surveillance footage. But if your troubleshooting efforts come up short, reach out to a security camera pro that can diagnose and banish any lingering phantoms from your video feed. With their help, you can rest assured knowing your cameras will capture crisp, accurate footage of any activity on your property.

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