Choosing a Dash Cam
Purchasing A Dashcam - What to Consider
- Budget - How much you wish to spend.
- Coverage - Front facing only or Front and Rear camera.
- Battery or Capacitor - How the camera saves if power is lost.
- GPS - Do you want the camera to record your speed and GPS coordinates.
- Resolution - 720P, 1080P, 1296P, Higher?
- Memory Card - Picking a size and brand
- Essential Features - What to look out for
- Parking Mode - What does it do and how does it work?
- Size - What will suit my vehicle best
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. I usually suggest if you are buying a camera that you should always go for something decent, I have many people buy cheap 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 bare in mind if you live in a very hot area.
Do I want GPS/ Speed overlayThis 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?
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.
Please note: although Sandisk cards are high quality cards they ARE NOT recommended for dash cam use and Sandisk does not warrant their cards when used in a Dash Cam
Any camera you are looking should be equipped with the following to get the best out of whats available.
Auto Start/Stop - Nearly every camera will have this, it ensures the camera starts when your car does and stops when your car stops. (Here lies the major flaw in using a GoPro as a Dash cam, they do not at time of writing have this feature)
Seamless Recording - This is an important feature, what it refers to is the ability for the camera to change between clips without a delay, you don't want those few seconds missing an incident so ensure seamless recording is a feature.
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) / High Dynamic Range (HDR) - While not essential to a cameras operation they will ensure your night footage is much much better.
Parking Mode - Now this is a feature that appeals to many, however it can be a bit harder to setup. It is as it sounds, a mode for when the vehicle is parked and turned off, It will usually rely on motion detection or the G sensor to detect impacts. This is useful for those bumps in the Supermarket car park. However parking mode almost always requires the camera to be permanently connected to power supply, and this requires you to have some form of Cutoff installed that will prevent it from draining the vehicle battery.
Parking Mode - What does it do and how does it work?
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 (See attached image of Street Guardian SG9665GC) Where as others may prefer theirs to be larger and easier to operate (Heavy Vehicles or Large 4X4's)
Do your research.Don't pick models just because they are the right price, look at reviews and search YouTube for footage to make sure you will not be disappointed with what you are getting. I made the mistake at first of dropping $250 on a camera that could only just read plates in optimal conditions. The best web resource available for doing your research is www.dashcamtalk.com - I highly suggest checking it out and looking at reviews.
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://dashcamownersaus.com.au/shop/ And for $10 off any Dash Cam order you can enter coupon code "DCOAFB" 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. [caption id="attachment_133" align="alignnone" width="150"]
Video: Simple guide to install a dash cam.
Our suggested models:
(More suitable for long haul drivers and heavy vehicles)
Remote Lens / Motorcycle Cameras:
Street Guardian SGZC12RC Remote Head Camera