How many lumens to illuminate a person during the day?
January 22, 2021 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Got a doorbell cam, works great mostly. The only problem is that it faces east, so when a person is at the door during the day, the back light of the sun tends to darken their actual face, so it's hard to see the person's features, especially if they have darker skin.

Am thinking of getting a motion light that will turn some light on the person when they arrive at the door, but am clueless as to how many lumens (the start measure of light on the various options I'm looking at) would be needed.

How many lumens would you recommend to illuminate, but not blind or discomfort, a person in this situation?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get an infrared light (they sell these inexpensively); this way you don't have to worry about blinding people as they're not visible.
posted by many more sunsets at 1:52 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

A plain white card mounted near the camera could bounce enough sunlight back on your subject for a decent exposure, and it wouldn't require a power source or triggering system.
posted by Uncle Ira at 2:00 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]

A mirror is another option.

Any visible electric light that will let you see someone backlit by the sun is going to be pretty startling and discomforting for someone if it suddenly turns on from a motion sensor.
posted by yohko at 3:26 PM on January 22

Automatic porchlight with an itty-bitty solar panel to power itself will be fine. Those battery-powered ones should not require new batteries for months if you adjust the sensitivity to low, i.e. had to come all the way to the door.
posted by kschang at 4:54 PM on January 22

Any such light might be a little startling, but for reference, 800 lumens is equal to what an old 60W incandescent used to be (i.e. the standard one most people would stick in room lamps), and 450 is equal to a 40W incandescent. I'd go closer to 450 lumens, since 800 lumens right in the face might be too much, especially after sunset.

Perhaps choose a frosted bulb, not a clear glass one, to diffuse the light and make it seem softer. And if you can, look for something that has a colour temperature of 2700K (or less), rather than something at 3000K or 5000K: 2700K puts out a more "yellowy" light, which will be less harsh on the eyes at nighttime.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 4:29 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

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