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WDR? What is it? Is it important?



The Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) feature on Video Security Cameras is one of the most important image improvements on security cameras, alongside the higher resolution cameras evolution we see in the video surveillance industry today. WDR is the camera’s ability to see in contrasting levels of light such as when a camera is pointed towards a glass door or window, the background becomes “washed out” with the sun at different levels.

WDR is intended to provide clear images when the intensity of illumination varies in the FOV when there are very bright and very dark areas concurrently in the FOV. WDR correct the image for the intense lighting surrounding an object and enhances the ability to distinguish features and shapes within the image.

WDR is intended to provide clear images when the intensity of illumination varies in the FOV when there are very bright and very dark areas concurrently in the FOV. WDR correct the image for the intense lighting surrounding an object and enhances the ability to distinguish features and shapes within the image.

Wide Dynamic Range Applications

Not every camera in a CCTV System needs to incorporate WDR functionality. Applications are scenarios in which stark contrasts and differences in darkness and brightness within the same image view can be expected. A typical scenario:

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Exit/Entry Doors: A camera is focusing in visitors entering the building through glass doors. The background outdoor scene is very bright and the camera uses AES or an Auto-Iris to tune the overall image brightness down. This results in the display of too dark faces of the entering visitors and facial details are lost. The CCTV Installer activates the Wide Dynamic Range function => The outdoor area brightness is tuned down without affecting the image area displaying the customer.


WDR is intended to provide clear images when the intensity of illumination varies in the FOV when there are very bright and very dark areas concurrently in the FOV. WDR correct the image for the intense lighting surrounding an object and enhances the ability to distinguish features and shapes within the image.

Security video applications have various lighting situations that cannot be controlled, therefore the proper camera selection is critical to covering selected FOVs. In many video security situations there will be many locations with very contrasting brightness areas, which are not managed effectively by a standard non-WDR camera. Place a 1080p nice camera without WDR at the west-setting sun covering a parking lot, and you will get high-resolution flash-out with the results being useless video and poor results.

True WDR vs Software WDR – Digital WDR (D-WDR) is a software-based technique that optimizes image quality by adjusting the gamma (γ) value to enhance dark areas. Digital WDR does not offer the same quality as True WDR. True WDR is achieved by a double exposure technique that takes one exposure with longer exposure time to get the detail in dark area. Then another exposure is taken with a shorter exposure time to get the detail in very bright areas. The two or more exposures are then combined into a single frame. WDR is a feature that would benefit most all camera locations and should be a requirement for any outdoor camera covering any critical areas.

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