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BLC, HLC and WDR - What's the Difference?

Published 2019-07-19

BLC, HLC and WDR - What's the Difference?

Learn about the different Image Modes to get the best results from your CCTV installations.

Have you ever installed a CCTV camera, but found the resulting footage to have uneven lighting that makes important details too bright or too dark to make out?

If your cameras are installed in areas with challenging lighting conditions, such as facing a window or in a dark area with bright lights, you’ll need to configure your camera’s Image Mode (aka BLC Mode). BLC, HLC and WDR modes allow your IP and HDCVI cameras to capture clear, detailed footage in any lighting.

Different cameras have different Image Modes, depending on the camera's image sensor. Knowing the differences, strengths and weaknesses of each image mode is essential to delivering detailed and unobstructed video evidence.

See the improvement that BLC/HLC/WDR makes for yourself.

Backlight Compensation (BLC)

In scenes where light is shining through into indoor areas, such as through windows or front doors/entrances, the camera will pick up all of the natural light, resulting in objects and people in the foreground becoming darkened and removing image detail.

Backlight Compensation (BLC) optimises the camera to increase light exposure for darkened areas, making subjects appear more naturally lit and increasing detail. However, note that using BLC will make bright outdoor areas appear very light – almost completely white. For a more balanced image, see WDR.

Highlight Compensation (HLC)

At night or in dark areas, strong light sources can obscure a large part of the image behind an overwhelming bright light. Highlight Compensation (HLC) automatically detects strong light sources and reduces light exposure, greatly improving the clarity of bright areas.

One useful application for this is preventing a blinding effect from car headlights at night, allowing for an unobstructed view of their numberplates. This makes HLC an ideal image mode for car parks. Not recommended for indoor uses - note that in the above example, HLC did not improve the clarity of the darkened foreground objects.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

Delivering the best of both worlds, Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) clearly displays both the foreground subjects and the background in balanced detail. How does this work? The camera simultaneous captures the scene twice with two different image sensors, each one at a different exposure level, then merging the images to output one balanced image.

WDR is the preferred image mode in most CCTV applications, but note that older or cheaper camera models may instead have lower quality Digital Wide Dynamic Range (DWDR), which instead have only one sensor and uses software to modify the image by brightening dark areas and darkening overly light areas.

VIP Vision Tutorial: Network Camera Imaging Modes

This helpful video guide explains the best situations to use the Backlight Compensation (BLC), Highlight Compensation (HLC) and Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) imaging modes on IP Network Cameras.

The guide also covers how to change your camera's Image Modes from the recorder (NVR or DVR).

See the full NVR Guide Playlist here


Having a good grasp on the 3 image modes is vital to delivering satisfying CCTV installations. In review:

  • Backlight Compensation (BLC) brings more clarity to dark areas of an image, particularly when bright light is shining from behind. This is useful when the image is mostly bright.
  • Highlight Compensation (HLC) brings more clarity to light areas of an image, particularly when there is a bright light source such as a headlight or spotlight in the image. This is useful when the image is mostly dark.
  • Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) brings balanced clarity to both light and dark parts of the image. This is useful in most CCTV applications, but may not be available for older, cheaper or specialised cameras.
  • Digital Wide Dynamic Range (DWDR) uses software to replicate the effects of WDR, but doesn’t achieve the same quality as the real thing.

While browsing our range of IP cameras and HDCVI cameras, it's important to know the capabilities of your cameras before installing. You can find the BLC/HLC/WDR capabilities of a camera by looking for Lighting Compensation in the specifications.

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