Why buy a car camera?

Dash cameras record what’s happening around your car.  Backup, or rear view, cameras make reversing a bit easier and safer.  So, if you’re looking to buy a car camera, then read our reviews first for the best advice.   You might be pleasantly surprised at just how affordable they are.

Before we start, this is all you need to know about Camera resolution, lens and speed.

Image Resolution

Image Resolution is usually quoted as width × height in pixels: for example, “1920 × 1080” means that the picture width is 1920 pixels and the height is 1080 pixels. This is the basic standard TV size image. So a Dash or Backup camera should not require such a large resolution as the Monitor is rarely more than 7”. However one of the main reasons for installing a Dash camera is that the video footage can be used as evidence in an insurance or other dispute; in which case the monitor might be a TV sized screen.

So it is worth looking for a dashcam with 1920*1080 and many on sale are within this size.

Most rearview cameras are below 720p in the horizontal plane because the monitor is used whilst you are reversing with the image being displayed on a monitor of 7” or less (it might well be within your rear view mirror) and the resolution is sufficient at a lower intensity. So a horizontal resolution as low as 480p can be enough with a small 4” monitor.

Camera Lens

Camera Lens is usually quoted as wide angle or 140/170 degrees. Most Dash cameras are 170 degrees but many Backup cameras are from 140 degrees to 170..

Dashcams are required to cover a wider field of view than Backup cameras and the image when you are reversing must be high quality very close to the vehicle. So a lesser angle of view by the lens is adequate.

One other measure you might see in a camera specification is focal length of the lens and this is usually described in mm. A longer focal length means a larger zoom facility and therefore a narrower concentrated image. So because both front and rear facing video cameras require a fairly wide to very wide angles of view these cameras should be lower in focal length usually  between 20 and 30mm.

Recording Speed

The Recording Speed of a video camera is measured by its Frame rate and is expressed as FPS or frames per second – the number of frames the camera can take per second.

The current industry standard for clear, smooth video even with moving objects is 30 fps. (Film and TV is usually 24/25fps.)

A lower frame rate can result in choppy movement in a moving picture, but it is fine for locations without fast moving objects such as when reversing a vehicle.  But to record moving traffic as with a dashcam then 30 fps would be more likely to provide a smooth footage. Higher fps will increase the overall space needed in the recording file and thus shorten the overall footage. There is no need to go above 30fps for either camera.

The best car cameras for 2018:

Sendow dual Front view and Rear view cameras system

Here’s a fairly new name in this fast growing marketplace. Sendow sells successfully in USA and UK with a growing reputation for product quality in both countries.

Features:

Sendow’s mirror monitor system offers a touch control method. We are becoming used to touch screens so why not on your dash and backup camera system? The 4” image displays on a normal-sized rear view mirror.  There is also  a larger,  7” image, on a 12” wide rearview mirror, but it is currently out of stock. The mirror monitors are clipped firmly to your existing driving mirror.

We like:

  • The smaller front camera covers 150 degrees angle of view whilst the larger is wider at 170 degrees. Both kits include a reversing waterproof camera with 140 degrees view.
  • Otherwise both systems provide the same facilities:
  • Endless loop recording of both cameras’ footage that can be seen independently using the touch controls;
  • Supports micro cards up to 32GB – recommend that at least class 10 card is used;
  • HD 1080 resolution for the dash camera but 720 for the reversing camera;
  • Sufficient cabling to accommodate most vehicles (6 metres for backup camera to monitor) and from the monitor to the cigarette lighter fitting around the windscreen and dashboard;
  • Built-in G-sensor that will ensure your recording is locked in and secure in the event of a sudden impact or sudden severe braking;
  • Automatic Parking mode to detect movement close to the vehicle.

A compromise:

  • Whilst the front facing camera has automatic adjustment for light conditions the reverse unit relies on 6 LEDs for night reverse parking (this is perfectly acceptable for most backup situations);
  • 12 Volt supply, so to hardwire to 24V supply, you need a power convertor.
  • For the Automatic Parking mode to work the dash camera must be powered with ignition on or hardwired.

Our conclusion: 

For these prices both the 4” and 7” systems are very good value and Sendow give a 12 month warranty and an email support service.  Click on the image for full information on both and prices from Amazon.

 

 

 

Toguard Dual Lens DashCam

This is a Dual Camera – a system that has both reverse and dash cameras using the same monitor.

Features:

Toguard is a popular choice for Dash Cams and security recording devices. This dual facility kit includes an excellent front camera ( 1920*1080 HD image) but a lesser rear camera (only 720*480 image).

We like:

  • The clear glass screen is about the size of the smaller iPhones (11*3*6cm) but gives an excellent image in all light conditions.
  • The main unit housing the front view camera includes easy to use control buttons on its right side.
  • The manual is in fair English so learning to operate your new dual dashcam should be straightforward.
  • It can take up to a 32GB Micro card so that will give plenty of footage.
  • There is a choice of three time periods for recording and an automatic safety stop will safeguard the recording in the unfortunate event of a collision/sudden halt.

The compromise:

  • A maximum of 16GB micro card
  • The Backup Camera is small and gives only a moderate image.
  • It has 4 LEDs  that provide sufficient luminance for reversing in reasonable light conditions.
  • It seems an odd partner to a superb front view camera. You will need to connect both units via the 18ft of cable supplied. Unless you are a capable DIYer we suggest you consider using a professional mechanic for this if you wish to hide the wires.

Our conclusion:

The supplier is an agent for the China manufacturer and might need to refer technical problems to that company. Replacement cameras, presumably, can be sent from a UK base. 

 

We think this is a worthwhile purchase if you do not require high quality backup recording and not expect to be reversing in total darkness. For more information, click on the image to see full specifications on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Old Shark Dash Camera

Old Shark is a big seller in both UK and USA. Their cameras are HD high resolution and record up to 32GB of footage in 3,5 and 10 minute segments on a continuous loop.

This is a great value dashcam that covers an angle of 170 degrees giving an HD resolution image on the 3.0” LCD screen on the camera. Mount the unit on the windscreen and plug into your cigarette lighter and it is ready for use, automatically starting to record once the ignition is on and turning off when the engine stops.

We like:

  • Continuous loop recording with a selection of 3,5 or 10 minute video clips in very good imaging;
  • The emergency lock system (EMS) will lock the recording in the event of a crash or violent stop or turn. To avoid unnecessarily frequent locking you can set the EMS to Low, Mid or High levels;
  • The casing of the dash camera is zinc alloy and should withstand high and low temperatures;
  • You can add Motion and Vibration detection when your vehicle is parked. The unit switches on for a few seconds if there is movement of a sharp noise near the car. This feature requires hard wiring to supply power;
  • A 32GB micro card is provided with this unit as is a USB adaptor for easy transfer of data from the dash camera to your phone or computer;
  • Built in microphone and speaker.

Conclusion:

Whether or not you want the Motion and Vibration feature, this Dashcam is a kit worth considering.  Click the link below to find out more from Amazon:

 

 

We wish all our readers a very happy New Year.

If any terms on this page are unfamiliar to you, see our Glossary for more information.

Why should you install a backup camera?  See our post.

What is a dash camera?  See our post.