The CMVision CM-IRP12-850 is a sleek looking infrared illuminator that can be used to provide additional IR light to help security cameras see better in the dark.
It has twelve high power LEDs that create a very even 90° wide floodlight pattern of 850nm infrared light that's usable to over 100' away from the illuminator.
Keep reading to see why I like this so much and while I'll be getting a few more in the future.
I tested this CMVision IR illuminator with two different Dahua cameras mounted on my test platform that I have on the back of my house.
Here's a daytime shot from both cameras just to give you a reference to what we'll be looking at in the night images. The far license plate at the end of the wooden privacy fence is approximately 105' away from the cameras and IR illuminator.
As you can see, they're both covering approximately the same area horizontally, but the 4431 is pointed a littler higher and covers more sky, and the 5231 is pointed lower and covers more ground. No real reason for that, it's just how the cameras were setup when I started looking at the CMVision illuminator.
On the other end of the spectrum, here's a snapshot from each camera with no intentional illumination. The camera's internal IR lights are all turned off and the CMVision illuminator is not powered on.
The neighbor with those white buildings does not have a working yard light at the moment so it's a little darker than usual back there. It's so dark in that back left corner that my aging eyes see nothing but pitch black darkness when standing out by the cameras and looking that way.
The only real light sources are a mercury vapor yard light on a pole and a 13 Watt CFL bulb that are to the left and behind the cameras. You can actually see two separate shadows of that white Birch tree trunk cast on the white building in these photos, one shadow from each light.
Those two images above without any intentional lighting show why the Dahua 5231 camera was included in my article about the best night vision security cameras. It can see much better in low light levels than most common cameras like the Dahua 4431 next to it. No worries though, let's help them both see better in the dark by powering on the CMVision IRP12-850 illuminator!
I didn't get the CMVision illuminator pointing exactly towards the center of the cameras field of view, it's pointing a little to the right of center as you can see in the photos above. Had I gotten it perfectly centered I'm sure it would be lighting up that left side of the image much better.
I have the illuminator positioned pretty much vertically, so by tilting it down we could light up the area by the cameras better, or by tilting it up we could light things up higher in the trees better.
CMVision rates this for use out to 50 meters (164 feet) and I think that's a little overly optimistic. It does cast IR light out that far, but it's very weak at that distance and I wouldn't consider using this particular model much beyond 100 feet.
I have images from each camera with individual camera IR lights on, both camera IR lights, and also in combination with the CMVision illuminator. Please let me know of you want to see any other combinations, but for now I will end this review with images from both cameras with each camera's built-in illuminator on as well as the CMVision CM-IRP12-850 on.
The CMVision does such a great job of lighting up this area that there isn't a whole lot of improvement when the camera's built-in IR light sources are added to it. The one area where it's most noticeable is in the center of the images at a distance.
The powerful IR lights of the Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z can light things up better at a distance than the CMVision, but they're also concentrated in a smaller area. The light from the 4431 is also so powerful that it can wash out and overexpose objects that are extremely close to the camera when it is on, like a person approaching the camera.
I used the Dahua SmartIR setting when turning on the IR for each camera, and looking back I probably should have used the manual mode because the SmartIR function may be running them at reduced power due to the CMVision already being on.
Here's a look at what they look like from the outside when they're on, with and without the cameras IR on. The greenish glow on the right edge is from the neighbor's mercury vapor yard light. These were taken with my Canon S5 IS as best I could in the dark.
The CMVision IRP12-850 is a little over 7" tall and a little over 6" wide, so it's not a small unit by any means. This larger size is also what allows it to have such a nice, wide, and even light pattern. The light performance from this unit is much better than it is from the Univivi U06R IR illuminator that I reviewed here.
Installation and adjustment is easy as long as you can get 12 Volts DC to the illuminator. It does not come with a power adapter so you will need to provide your own.
CMVision has a complete line of illuminators and after trying out this one I wouldn't hesitate to buy more of these or try out other CMVision products. I may just get the CMVision IRP24-850 next, which is similar to this one but with twice number of IR LEDs!
Here's a video from each camera covering the same time frame while our dog runs around.