Choosing a dash cam
Please Check out our store for our selection of quality cameras: http://www.dashcamownersaus.com.au/store/
How does a Dash Cam work?
A dash cam is a small digital video recorder that attaches to your car windscreen, It plugs in to the vehicles cigarette lighter socket which on most vehicles is accessory switched (This means the socket only gets power when you turn the key in the ingition). When you turn the key in the ignition the camera receives power and automatically begins to record footage onto the memory card in the camera. When you turn the ignition off the camera stops recording and saves the last file before turning off.
Dash cameras require this power connection in order to properly operate, Dash cameras are not designed to run from the internal battery that can be found in some models, these batteries are only designed to allow the camera to shut down safely when power is lost.
Dash cameras record to removeable memory cards, in most cases a Micro SD card, these cards are available in sizes up to 256gb, however not all cameras support such large capacitites. The larger the memory card the more footage your camera will store. Cameras record in blocks of videos (Commonly 1, 3 or 5 minutes) this means that if you do a 30 minute drive and your camera records in 5 minute blocks you will have 6 X 5 minute videos. Once the memory card is totally full, the camera will automatically delete the oldest video and start again from the beginning.
The average recording time of a 32GB memory card in a camera recording at 1080P HD will be roughly 4-5 hours, this means you will always have the last 4-5 hours of footage on the memory card at all times. There is no need to manually delete files, however we do recommend formatting the memory cards after each time you use them in a Computer or every 1-2 months to keep them in good order.
It is important to note that like a video tape, memory cards have a limited amount of times they can be recorded over and are considered a consumable item. Eventually they will fail with extended use.
Recording when parked / Parking mode
Many people wish for their cameras to record while their vehicle is parked and they are away from it. Some cameras support "Parking mode" which means the camera will record if the camera detects motion / bump while parked, For more information on parking mode and what is required please see our additional guide: Parking Mode: Is it worth it?
Purchasing A Dashcam - What to Consider
Budget - How much do you wish to spend?
Straight off the bat this is going to determine what you will end up with, Cameras can be had for anywhere between $50 all the way up to $500+ depending on features. Set yourself a limit for spending and shop around. Be aware that cheap and cheerful is not always a good idea when it comes to a camera. We constantly have people telling us how their cheap camera wasn't recording when something happened. We usually suggest if you are buying a camera that you should always go for something decent, We have many people buy a cheaper ebay / no name model and 3 months down the track wan't to buy a higher end model because they weren't happy with the cheap one they bought.
Coverage - Front facing only or Front and Rear camera.
There are a few different styles of these cameras around, the First being a unit with a forward facing camera that has a secondary camera that records the vehicle cabin. These can be useful for clearing yourself of accusations of using a mobile while driving but usually don't offer much of a view out the back of the car. The second style of camera has the standard front facing camera but also a rear mounted camera, usually attached by a length of cable that allows it to be placed on the vehicles rear window. This offers a useful view out the rear of the car in case of a rear end accident) These camera can be quite expensive and many people have turned to buying 2 individual cameras and having 1 front and 1 rear as it can be cheaper depending on what you buy. However the convenience of only needing 1 Memory card and power cable may be more appealing to some. Installing a dual camera can be more tricky than a front only camera and in many cases professional installation is recommended as the video cables can be easily damaged.
Battery or Capacitor - How the camera saves if power is lost.
Many people new to dash cams do not understand that the inbuilt batteries are NOT designed to run the cameras. All dash cams require constant 12 volt power from the supplied charging cable to work properly. The in built batteries or capacitor are there to ensure that if the camera loses power due to an accident it can still save the footage safely and shut the camera off without losing the file. Batteries are more common in the cheaper models of dash cams, while they do the job they are susceptible to issues relating to the constant charging and discharging of the battery, which can lead to them dying, Also batteries are less resilient to Heat and we often see cases where they "Pop" during summer, this is where capacitors are more effective, although they keep less of a charge they still shut the camera off safely and are far more resilient to heat, something to bear in mind if you live in a very hot area.
Do I want GPS/ Speed overlay
This feature can be a double edged sword so beware. It is nice to be able to prove where an incident happened and the speed you were doing but this can shoot you in the foot if you are speeding yourself. Something to keep in mind. GPS / Speed data is usually hardcoded onto the video by some cameras and others require the use of Computer software to show.
Resolution - 720P, 1080P, 1296P, Higher?
Most cameras are now 1080P Full HD, With some even higher resolutions, However it is important to note that not all 1080P is the same and just because a camera is full HD does not mean it will be good quality. There are a number of factors which can affect the quality ranging from the Image sensor used, the camera lens and the bitrate of the recording. For the average consumer telling the difference based off of specifications alone will be near impossible so it is important to look at sample videos for any cameras you are interested in to ensure that the quality stand up to your expectations.
Memory Card - Picking a size and brandO.K, Lovely. You have bought a camera, but have you put any thought into a memory card? This is where things can get a bit confusing. Many cameras do not come with a memory card included when you buy them, and as such it comes down to you the consumer to pick the right card, this can be difficult as many cameras have different requirements for memory cards. Some cameras only support cards up to 32gb in size, where others can support over 128gb memory cards. The other important factor here is the class rating of the memory card. Not all memory cards are suitable for use in recording high definition video as they cannot keep up. Be sure to check what class rating is required with your camera before purchasing a card. We recommend Lexar, Kingston, Transcend and Samsung EVO cards for all models we stock. If you are unsure about what memory card is suitable for your camera, you are always better off asking first to save disappointment later.
Size - What will suit my vehicle bestAnother consideration that you need to make is the size of the camera. There are many different sizes on the market to suit a wide array of vehicle types. At the end of the day this is entirely personal preference but some people may prefer to be subtle and hidden. Where as others may prefer theirs to be larger and easier to operate (Heavy Vehicles or Large 4X4's)
Where to purchase.This is mainly personal preference. It comes down to what you are willing to risk, many Ebay sellers are not "official distributors" so you may have a hard time with warranty. Physical stores will also severely limit options of what is available. After years of reviewing cameras and getting feedback from thousands of users via our Facebook page we decided to open our own store to have a 1 stop shop for reliable, high quality cameras.
You can find our store here: http://www.dashcamownersaus.com.au/store/
You can save an extra 5% off any dash cam purchase in our store by using the coupon code "DCOA5" upon checkout.
How to Install A Dash Cam
A dash cam does not require any special tools or skills to install, it is achievable in a matter of minutes depending on the vehicle and the cleanliness of the install desired. Cameras can be hard wired to achieve a very discreet install, I highly suggest the use of an Auto Electrician for this path.
Our suggested models:
Dual Channel Cameras (Front and Rear):
Truck cams: (More suitable for long haul drivers and heavy vehicles)
Remote Lens / Motorcycle Cameras: