Backup Camera Terms Explained

Here we have tried to provide you with clear accurate definitions of the technical jargon associated with backup camera system descriptions and specifications.

We hope that our plain English terms will make it easier for you discover those features and benefits that you want in your reversing camera kit. This should ensure that you purchase the best equipment for your vehicle – and within your budget.

If you think we have missed something please let us know so we can improve this page. Thank you.

Aftermarket cameras are those added to cars, suvs, motorhomes, campervans and trucks after production. They can be wireless or wired systems.

Automatic system switching (occasionally abbreviated to ASS) refers to the feature that automatically switches on your camera when you engage Reverse. Some systems offer the facility of a manual switch as well.

A Backup Camera. Also called Reversing Camera or Rear View Camera is a special type of video camera that is attached to the rear of a vehicle to aid in backing up by showing the rear blindzone on a screen in front of the driver.

Backover. An accident in which a motor vehicle reverses over an unseen person or animal – one of the main reasons for the NHTSA legislation requiring new vehicles to have integral backup camera systems by 2018.

Blindzone or Blind Spot. Refers to the area that lacks visibility behind a vehicle. On average, most vehicles have a blindzone behind them that measures approximately 7-8 feet wide and 20-30 feet long.

Camera screen. Can set into the dashboard, mounted on the dashboard, as a replacement rear view mirror or within I Phones or I Pads.

Camera’s Viewable Angle. The total angle from the lens as it views horizontally away from the car to the rear.  See our post on Field of View.

For instance, a camera with a 120 degree viewable angle offers 60 degrees of coverage from each side of the vehicle's centerline, covering the vehicle's rear blind zone.

CRT (cathode ray tube) and LCD (liquid crystal display) are the two types of monitor used in rear view camera systems. CRT monitors usually produce monochrome (black and white) pictures and LCD produce colored images.

CCD or charged couple device and CMOS or complementary metal oxide conductor. These are the two types of sensor used in back up cameras. CCD is usually more expensive and considered to produce the better overall image regardless of light conditions.

Infrared LEDs (light emitting diodes) are used to provide better images under poor light conditions – at night for instance.

Installation Cameras can be fitted to bumpers, number plates or on to the bodywork – in commercial vehicles installations often the actual camera is above the rear entrance. Instructions are available for self-fitting but there are professional technician services covering most locations.

Mirror Image capability means that either the backup camera or the dashboard monitor has the ability to reverse the image being filmed so that the driver sees exactly the same image as shown in the rear view mirror. (A normal video recording shows the opposite to this). Some more expensive systems allow for changing from ‘Mirror’ to ‘Normal’ images.

NVD or NOD mean Night Vision Device or Night Optical Observation Device allow images to be produced in poor light and near darkness. The image is typically a monochrome shade of green and considered easier for use than grey/black and white. Originally developed for the military.

NHTSA. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

NTSC. National Television System Committee is the normal TV video system in USA.

TFT LCD rearview monitor. Thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display that uses thin-film transistor (TFT) technology to improve image qualities and contrast of your screen picture.

Voltage regulator or Filtering Circuit is necessary where the vehicle has a higher voltage system than the normal 12 volt DC.

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