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Setup for monitoring vehicles

Mpayne

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Hello All,

I hope you're all keeping safe and having a good holiday. This is my first post so I'm very sorry if I'm breaking any rules - I've found vaguely similar posts across the web but nothing for my exact situation. I'd be hugely grateful for any advice.

We have no off street parking; we park part on the pavement part on the road. People keep crashing into our cars (and our neighbours) and leaving the scene. 5 cars have been written off between two houses in a few months. (The police actually told us to park on the kerb but this hasnt helped.)

Most recently, in the middle of the night, a brand new electric vehicle was crashed into my car at speed, airbags deployed and windscreen smashed, and so much damage was caused that they couldn't drive away, but since we were confused having just been woken up they were gone in another vehicle before we could get its details, and they abandoned the first vehicle and reported it stolen.

I'm hoping to be able to set up a NVR type cctv system with a couple of cameras, one looking up the road to capture licence plates at night (roughly as per attached image) and one pointed directly at our cars (gray car left of screen).

I have installed a blackvue dr590w 2ch dashcam pair with parking mode and battery pack in the car, but the headlights seem to drown out all the number plates making it not useful.

I would be hugely grateful for advice on this setup. I get the impression I might need a special camera for night time registration plate capture and another to get general impact footage. Whilst I am no camera expert at all, I am a software engineer so should be ok setting things up if needed.

I understand the data protection implications and would take necessary precautions to that effect, so am just looking for technical advice, and am very grateful for your time.

Thanks very much!

Mike
 

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Dan

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Hi @Mpayne

Sorry to hear about the problems you've had with car accidents, numberplate reading can be a tricky and specialist thing. If you want the camera/NVR to keep a record of the plate reads you will need to look at a specialist ANPR camera like the Hikvision DS-2CD7A26G0/P-IZS but ANPR models are more expensive than standard CCTV cameras and solely designed for plate reading. (e.g. the camera's sensor adjusts to read the plates at night by reducing its light sensitivity which makes the rest of the scene very dark)

You could also look at just a standard IP camera like the Hikvision 2385G1 8MP/4K Darkfighter Turret which can't record plate data but if you enable image settings like HLC (High Light Compensation) and WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) you can counteract the light reflection off the number plates, but just like with the ANPR model these image adjustments will affect the whole image making the whole scene look a lot darker and the clarity of plates can be affected if the position/angle of the plates changes too much.

If you search for 'ANPR' on the forum you will see many different posts discussing different ANPR setups along with our old guide to setting up ANPR cameras which includes some screenshots giving you an idea of the images you will get at night. I would also recommend watching some guides and tutorials on YouTube like this one

In regards to recording, we would recommend the DS-7608NI-I2/8P 8-channel NVR as the I-series NVRs are the most up to date Hikvision NVRs and support ANPR cameras.
 

Mpayne

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Hi @Dan

Thanks for your reply. I can't thank you enough for this - very kind of you to offer so much advice.

I think you've hit on exactly what I was hoping - is there a camera I can get on which I can tweak the settings and still get visible number plates on (most) moving vehicles on a lit street at night (given a suitable angle and distance). Would that 4k turret be the cheapest camera you would recommend for such a task?

I have no need for actual plate capture, just the ability to read the plate manually from the footage. If there is another incident, I will happily sit through the footage and manually read off the plates. I'd also look for another ('normal') camera to capture the actual incident.

Will have a look at the links you mention now. Thanks again for your help, I hope all is well with you.

Mike
 

Dan

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The turret cameras offer the best all-round day & night performance and if you are wanting to read the small lettering of the plate a higher resolution model is better so the 2385G1 is the model I would recommend over any other standard IR camera.

One other option I forgot to mention is Hikvision's latest ColorVu range which includes advanced hardware & software to achieve a colour image at night, usually to achieve the best results from the ColorVu cameras you need to use the cameras built-in white LED floodlight which is quite bright for residential installs, but if you have existing lighting or street lighting that illuminates the scene you can disable the built-in light and just use the ambient light to achieve a colour image.

This gets around the plate reflection issue because you usually see that reflection because the cameras own IR light is bouncing off the plate and back into the sensor, you don't have that with the ColorVu cameras. Also, the latest G2 ColorVu models include the ability to activate the built-in light only when a specific event (motion detection, line crossing, intrusion detection, etc...) is triggered and that basically turns it into a motion floodlight. The model we would recommend is the DS-2CD2347G2-LU 4MP ColorVu Turret

You can see some demo footage of the G2 ColorVu performance with and without the white light in this YouTube demo
 

Mpayne

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@Dan

Thank you so much. I'm going to give one of these a pop. If it doesn't work, I'll still have good home CCTV right ? :) Thanks again. Sorry to be a pain, but do you have any idea how these would cope with vehicle speed? In my original imagine I show the angle I might be looking at which I reckon is 30-45 degrees. I appreciate it's probably an impossible question - but if there's a chance it'll work I'll try it out any post back the results in case it helps anyone else. Thanks again
 

Dan

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Yes, the system will work fine as a normal CCTV system and you may see some motion blurring/distortion with very fast vehicles, but you can reduce this effect by increasing the framerate to 20/25fps and using a faster shutter speed.
 

kmb786

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Hi @Mpayne

Sorry to hear about the problems you've had with car accidents, numberplate reading can be a tricky and specialist thing. If you want the camera/NVR to keep a record of the plate reads you will need to look at a specialist ANPR camera like the Hikvision DS-2CD7A26G0/P-IZS but ANPR models are more expensive than standard CCTV cameras and solely designed for plate reading. (e.g. the camera's sensor adjusts to read the plates at night by reducing its light sensitivity which makes the rest of the scene very dark)

You could also look at just a standard IP camera like the Hikvision 2385G1 8MP/4K Darkfighter Turret which can't record plate data but if you enable image settings like HLC (High Light Compensation) and WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) you can counteract the light reflection off the number plates, but just like with the ANPR model these image adjustments will affect the whole image making the whole scene look a lot darker and the clarity of plates can be affected if the position/angle of the plates changes too much.

If you search for 'ANPR' on the forum you will see many different posts discussing different ANPR setups along with our old guide to setting up ANPR cameras which includes some screenshots giving you an idea of the images you will get at night. I would also recommend watching some guides and tutorials on YouTube like this one

In regards to recording, we would recommend the DS-7608NI-I2/8P 8-channel NVR as the I-series NVRs are the most up to date Hikvision NVRs and support ANPR cameras.
I had the same issue as you in people crashing into my cars and driving off. I have had the Anpr camera mentioned below installed by my installer which covers the road where the cars are parked and am now looking into getting a ColorVu 4MP Turret installed just below the Anpr as at night the picture is totally dark but you can see the number plates very clear as this is how Anpr cameras are supposed to work.
 

Mpayne

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@kmb786 Thanks for your message. Sorry to hear you have the same woes as us. Have you had any incidents since setting up the cameras?

I'm going with the ColorVu turret and NVR, will play with the settings as recommended by @Dan, and if I can't get the results I want then I'll use that as my 'normal' camera and order the NPR one, but, fingers crossed, my cheaper approach works, because most of my money went on a replacement car :). Hope all is well with you.
 

kmb786

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@kmb786 Thanks for your message. Sorry to hear you have the same woes as us. Have you had any incidents since setting up the cameras?

I'm going with the ColorVu turret and NVR, will play with the settings as recommended by @Dan, and if I can't get the results I want then I'll use that as my 'normal' camera and order the NPR one, but, fingers crossed, my cheaper approach works, because most of my money went on a replacement car :). Hope all is well with you.
Hi

I only got the cameras installed just before Christmas and haven’t had any issues since as I try and park all my three cars on private drive.
 

Mpayne

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Hi Dan. Thanks for your help. I've tried out one of those G2 cameras (4mp with 7600 series nvr) with a low shutter speed and wdr, it does a great job of getting the light levels right but I think the distance to the road (around 8m to the kerb and I'm pointing it at around 30 to 45 degrees so aiming at number plates quite far away) is a bit too much. Are you able to recommend a camera with a higher optical zoom (is that what a larger lens size does?) that might work? I could then use the cam I have as the general nightvision view camera.

Thanks for your time, I really appreciate any advice you can give, I know that individual situations vary greatly and so are probably difficult to recommend for.
 

Dan

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Hi @Mpayne

Which focal length of the G2 model did you go for?

If it was only a 2.8mm lens and you like the performance of that camera then I would recommend a 6mm focal length ColorVu which will give you a narrower field of view and zoom in slightly to cover a more specific, small area. Unfortunately, there are no 6mm G2 ColorVu models in stock so I would recommend the slightly older generation DS-2CD2347G1-LU (6mm), the biggest limitation of these G1 models is that they don't support the AcuSense functions that the G2 model does but the low-light performance is almost exactly the same so seeing as you only plan to use it for close up detail the smart events are not absolutely necessary and you still have access to them in the G2 model you are using for general coverage. See the below an old post with some captures from different focal length cameras to give you an idea of the coverage difference between 2.8mm & 6mm.

 

Mpayne

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Thanks so much Dan. I really can't thank you enough for your help here. I got the G2 with 2.8mm - I'm going to try the maths in the link you sent to ascertain which focal length might be best (sorry - learning as I go!). Definitely, don't need the clever recognition stuff, just want decent enough low light performance to capture plates legibly, at about 30 degrees on to a road at a distance of maybe 20-30m, when the vehicle is moving (within the realms of possibility of course, and a budget of around £250 for the camera). This is the last camera I can buy before my better half decides that I have an obsession.

Thanks again - will update here after measuring - will be a couple of days as I'm not at that house until thurs.

Hope all is well with you.

Mike
 
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Mpayne

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Hi Dan,

I forgot about using technology :). Here's a couple of google map drawings. The house is at the bottom left point. The middle of the road is 14m away, and the point at which I'd like to capture traffic is 40m away. This makes the angle (if my maths is still in my head from my youth) around 20 degrees, and maybe up to 30 if I shorten that hypotenuse, say if there is a parked car in the way regularly or something.

(When I say 'the house', I mean the mount location, which is the awning above the front door, which is maybe 5m above the height of the road).

Would that camera you suggested be any good, or should I be looked at 12mm ? Sorry for all the dumb questions, I hope this at least makes some sense.

I can see this is the only available 12mm hikvision Hikvision DS-2CD2185FWD-I 8MP Dome Network Camera though that doesn't mention darkfighter or colorvu so am going to guess it isn't so great at low levels.

I also noticed a wide range of varifocal ones Hikvision IP cameras | Hikvision CCTV Security cameras from UK Supplier - would any of these be ok? I guess my needs are:

high enough resolution, long enough focal length, high enough framerate, good enough low lux performance, with very high shutter speed (and WDR since that seemed to make a massive difference?), to capture as many number plates as possible at 20-30 degrees at 40m, at night on a lit street, with a typical vehicle speed of 30-35mph though whatever is possible is great, for the lowest budget possible but not more than £250 for the camera :).

I can't thank you enough for all your time and help - if I can donate in any way to the maintenance of this forum for example.

Thanks again, and for the education!

Mike
 

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Dan

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Hi @Mpayne

If the point of the plate reads is going to be 30-40m away then I would recommend the 8-32mm 7A26G0/P-IZS because at that distance you will definitely need to be at least up to 10-12mm to get any kind of plate read, but even at that focal length the plates will still look small and you get the best reads the larger the plate is in the cameras field of view, so the extra focal range lets you adjust to just the right field of view for that distance. Also, that model has the ANPR software built-in and whether or not you use all the features that the camera offers the hardware/software it uses will still give you the best plate results.
 

Dan

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I understand that it is an expensive model but we would not recommend buying secondhand from sellers on eBay because you may save some money but you are much more prone to falling into traps like it not being the listed model, it being a Chinese 'grey' import, or it being faulty and not properly refurbished. Also, if you do encounter any issues with it you will be relying on the seller's help because Hikvision will not cover warranty or offer technical support to customers who have bought through unauthorised sellers.

The other thing is the age of that refurb model, the hardware it uses will not deliver as good images (especially at night) than the newer 7A26G0 model.
 

Mpayne

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Understood, thanks Dan. I'll have a think on it, like you say saving 300 quid is pointless if the objective still isn't met. Just whether or not to try a 12mm lens or not and save some money.

Oo also, might be a dumb question but what about the hikvision PTZs? They seem to go up to 75mm but maybe they don't have the low light perf? e.g. DS-2DE4215IW-DE or DS-2DE4A225IW-DE (smaller)?

Before I spend, I'll experiment with moving the camera I have closer to the location to see how short it is falling, to see if I can get any more info. Will post back results here in the hope that it helps someone when done, but thanks so much for all your help.
 
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Dan

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Yes, PTZ is another option but models like the 4215IW are quite big for residential properties (they hang down about 29cm from a wall mount) and although the IR on models like this is usually around 100m it will suffer from similar plate read issues to the ones I mentioned in my original reply as standard IR cameras (e.g. 2385G1) especially at that distance, angle, and vehicle speed. I think with those 3 factors you will be stretching the plate reading capabilities of any non-ANPR camera and so for the best most reliable results, I think the ANPR model is the best thing to use.
 
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