12 Common CCTV Problems and Their Fixes

11th April, 2023

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    Table of Contents


    1. The colours on my camera are off
    2. I only get black and white images
    3. There are horizontal lines on CCTV video
    4. My CCTV video is flickering
    5. My CCTV camera footage is noisy
    6. No video signal
    7. My CCTV camera shows a black screen
    8. My CCTV camera isn’t working at night
    9. My Camera Shows Deteriorated Images at Night
    10. My CCTV Camera Is Not Working on Mobile
    11. My CCTV Camera’s DVR is Not Recording Anything
    12. My Camera’s Video is Choppy


    CCTV cameras are a common and cost-effective feature of modern security systems. But a CCTV camera’s security guarantees are only as good as the camera’s reliability and the quality of the footage that it produces. Picture quality is one of the essential requirements that the Home Office lists in the UK police requirements guide. Consequently, any CCTV problems should be treated with care.

    Even something as innocuous as occasional flickering can hide crucial details from a picture — like a thief’s face or a vehicle’s number plate.


    Modern CCTV cameras are sturdy, operator-friendly devices, light-years ahead of the finicky and trouble-prone cameras from thirty years ago. But no matter how much effort manufacturers put into making their devices operate well without much configuration, some problems still occur.

    Don’t want to deal with CCTV problems on your own? We get it! Give us a call or send us an email and our CCTV specialists in London will fix any issues in record time!

    This is to be expected of any camera. You are bound to run into trouble even with high-end equipment from reputable manufacturers. Many common CCTV problems are simply a symptom of imperfect installation or incorrect configuration.

    Fortunately, some of these problems are easy to fix. Here are 11 of the most common CCTV problems — and their fixes!


    CCTV Camera Colour Problems


    The Colours on My Camera Are Off


    If your CCTV camera’s footage reminds of you those peculiar psychedelic rock videos from the 1960s, there’s a good chance it has a problem with the white balance settings.

    When we look at a white object, our eyes will perceive it as white even if it’s not illuminated by a perfectly white light. That’s because our eyes have a fairly wide colour range, and because our brains can compensate, to some extent, for a certain range of ambient lighting parameters. Cameras attempt to do the same thing, through a setting called “white balance”, which can be either manually or automatically adjusted. When it’s not set correctly — and that’s especially common on cameras that can adjust it automatically — it can visibly distort colours.

    Here’s how to fix it:







    You may need to repeat this exercise under different ambient lighting conditions until you get a setting that works right at all times. And if you have to reposition the camera, make sure it’s still covering the areas that you need it to cover!


    At the same time, it’s important to remember that cameras don’t have an unlimited colour range. Depending on the sensor’s capabilities, some cameras may simply not be able to show the right picture under all ambient conditions.


    I Only Get Black and White Images


    There are two common reasons why colour CCTV cameras will give you black-and-white footage.


    CCTV camera colour problem


    CCTV cameras can “see” colours only if the ambient lighting level is high enough.


    Cameras that are rated for night use (“see in the dark” cameras) can record pictures in low-intensity ambient lighting conditions by illuminating the scene with infra-red LEDs. However, they can’t distinguish colours under infra-red light.


    So even a colour CCTV camera will get black-and-white pictures when it’s dark. Some high-end cameras have limited support for colour output even in low ambient lighting conditions, but even that will only take you so far.


    Here’s how to fix this problem:





    A test monitor may come in handy here: if you get a colour image on the test monitor, there’s likely nothing wrong with the camera. If the lighting conditions are right and there’s no problem with the connectors, reaching out to the camera manufacturer for help may be your best option.


    There Are Horizontal Lines on My CCTV Video


    Horizontal lines on CCTV footage can make it difficult to distinguish fine details, and they make it difficult for staff to monitor sensible areas for long periods of time.


    CCTV camera horizontal lines


    The good news is that there are just two typical root causes — interference from ambient lighting or electrical interference. The bad news is that the latter can be tricky to diagnose.


    Here’s how you can troubleshoot these problems:






    If the problem is lighting, rather than electrical interference, and you cannot avoid it, you can look into using a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) camera or a CMOS sensor cameras. However, it’s a good idea to cover all other avenues before looking into additional equipment.


    My CCTV Video Is Flickering


    CCTV flickering may be difficult to deal with because they may occur intermittently. In some cases, CCTV video flickering is caused by interference, either due to incorrect installation, malfunctioning equipment or power supplies, or bad ambient conditions. Another typical cause is insufficient powering — often as a result of incorrect design or installation.


    A word of caution first: troubleshooting CCTV flickering — and troubleshooting interference problems in general — takes patience, because interference sources can be hard to track down. If the problem goes away, you should continue to monitor the footage for a while, because the flickering may be intermittent.


    Here’s what you can do:











    My CCTV Camera Footage is Noisy


    Noisy CCTV footage is generally a result of electrical or RF interference. As with flickering, you should check and eliminate typical sources of interference: 





    CCTV camera noise problem


    No Video Signal


    This is, by far, the most frustrating CCTV problem. You can live with flickering or noise for a little while, but what if you can’t get a picture in the first place? This problem manifests itself in various ways:


    Check that your camera is correctly powered. It may seem obvious, but we’ve all been bit by this. Even experienced security engineers will occasionally realize, with an embarrassed look on their faces, that a CCTV camera has no video signal because it’s not powered on.





    Check your camera’s video or data connection. If you can’t get a picture on your CCTV camera but it is powering up, perhaps the images aren’t making their way to the monitor.





    Check your CCTV software. Advanced video surveillance software allows you to disable access to some cameras or to protect some streams with a password. If that’s the case, make sure that you can really view the stream you’re looking for.


    Check your camera for damage. We’re at the end of the road here. If the camera is properly powered on and there are no connectivity problems, it’s time to check that there’s no problem with the camera itself. Make sure the lens and any protective domes are undamaged and the optical path is unobstructed. If the camera shows no external signs of damage, reaching out to the manufacturer for tech support is your next best option.


    My CCTV Camera Shows a Black Screen


    If your CCTV camera doesn’t show a picture and all you get is a black screen, there is a good chance that the DVR box or the monitoring application can’t get a video signal. Just to make sure, have a look at the steps above.


    CCTV camera showing black screen


    If that doesn’t help, or if you have reason to suspect that a video signal is, in fact, available, but all it’s carrying is a pitch black image, here are a few things that you can check:





    My CCTV Camera Isn’t Working at Night


    If your CCTV camera is rated for night use, but all you get at night is a black image, it’s typically because the IR LEDs aren’t working.


    CCTV camera not working at night


    Common reasons why that happens include:





    My Camera Shows Deteriorated Images at Night


    If your CCTV camera does work, but the images are deteriorated at night, there are a few things you can do.




    CCTV deteriorated image


    My CCTV Camera Is Not Working on Mobile


    If you can access the video stream locally, but you can’t see the CCTV stream on your mobile app, the good news is that there’s usually nothing wrong with the camera or its equipment. Barring uncanny problems like defective network ports in a switch, it’s usually simply a configuration problem.


    CCTV not working on mobile


    Mobile access to CCTV camera streams is a fairly new technology, though, and there are no widely-accepted standards in the industry. Many problems are therefore vendor- and application-specific. However, before you start suspecting that it’s a problem specific to your particular camera, you should check a few things:






    My CCTV Camera’s DVR is Not Recording Anything


    If your CCTV camera is working fine but the DVR is not recording anything, common culprits include misconfiguration, lack of storage space, and failing DVR components. Don’t despair: modern DVR boxes are pretty friendly and easy to troubleshoot.







    CCTV DVR not recording


    My Camera’s Video is Choppy


    If real-time video from your CCTV camera appears choppy or suffers from visible tearing, it usually indicates a network problem.

    Video footage from IP cameras will appear choppy if the network doesn’t have the bandwidth required to carry it.  Analogue video signals usually don’t get choppy on their own.


    If there’s a connectivity problem, it will manifest through flickering, noise or blackouts. However, the video output of NVR or network-connected DVR boxes can become choppy due to a slow network, regardless of its source.


    Some of the things you can check are:






    We know all this may sound awfully complicated. Or time-consuming. Or both. We’ve been installing and repairing CCTV systems in London and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. Precisely so you don’t have to deal with any of these common CCTV problems. Get in touch with us and we’ll take CCTV repair off your plate!


    Learn more about having an IP surveillance camera system installed.


    Related topics: CCTV camera types and features CCTV install mistakes Questions to ask about CCTV


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