Car cameras or dash cams are an increasingly popular option for drivers of vehicles in the UK or internationally to install in a vehicle to record what happens as you drive and use when required as evidence in an incident should it be required. With Crash for Cash and Flash for Cash costing the UK motorist £392 million in 2013 a dash cam is the perfect way to provide indisputable evidence should you be involved in a collision or fall victim to an insurance scam.
Dash cameras come in an array or different sizes, features, capabilities and prices.
In this post we look as best as possible to list and explain all the different features and functions that you might get or come into contact with when deciding on a car camera. In our post ‘Should I buy a Car Camera‘ we look at the pros and cons as well so with all this information you can make an informed decision on which to go for and ultimately purchase the best one for you.
This is a solution with just one camera which is usually mounted in the front windscreen and is powered by the car power adapter or can be hardwired.
This is a solution comprising of 2 cameras, usually one for the front and one for the rear.
This is a more permanent power solution whereby an auto-electrician or competent person can connect the power for the camera to the vehicles electrical system so power is available at all times as well as being linked to the ignition.
A common and flexible solution where the camera is powered from the vehicle power adapter.
Depending on your vehicle and the camera being used will depend on whether detaching the power will stop recording.
Some vehicles may have only one vehicle power adapter and thus charging other products may not be possible unless you stop the recording.
A dash camera with a suction mount is designed to be more portable from vehicle to vehicle for easy fitting and removal. It generally takes up more space and can be visually less appealing if you need to disconnect cables.
Cameras with adhesive mounts tend to have a smaller mounting area and are generally more secure. The camera usually detaches leaving the mount attached to the windscreen.
Adhesive mounts are generally designed for more permanent installations.
Whilst a camera is designed to protect you in the case of an incident, a camera can cause an incident of theft if it is on show. Whilst the likelihood of theft is low, a smaller and more discreet camera that appears more hidden when you look at a vehicle is often beneficial.
Some cameras have an LED that you may wish to turn on or off to show it is recording or avoid drawing attention to it.
Probably one of the most important factors, aim to purchase a camera with a high video recording resolution as is possible based on your budget.
The higher the resolution the better the level of detail which can be extremely important come reviewing footage.
1080p of Full HD as its known records at 1920 x 1080 pixels and is what you should be aiming for, but 720p which records ar a resolution of 1280 x 720 is also referred to as HD and is passable.
Resolutions lower than this often lack in detail and truthfully are best avoiding.
Some cameras even support higher resolutions which offer big advantages but be considerate of the costs and other implications this may bring.
Cameras that record in 1080p will usually record good footage during daytime and nighttime lighting conditions but as low light can make it harder for the camera try if possible to view sample of footage captured by the camera to ensure you are happy.
Better quality cameras will have software or tools that automatically or post capture allow you to enhance the image results.
Realistically this is a must and is standard on any reputable dash cam.
When the memory on the camera becomes full from the recordings, it automatically overwrites the oldest saved file.
This means that you can record indefinitely without needing to touch the camera.
Of course be aware that if you need data on the camera to pull it off quite quickly as most will have storage for only a few hours of driving if recording at HD resolution.
Most cameras with G-Sensors or impact detection will securely save clips so they do not get overwritten.
At times you may want to ensure a particular bit of footage is captured.
A button on the camera will allow you to do this with most then saving a pre-determined number of seconds before and after pressing the record button.
These clips are usually then saved in a secure location.
The cameras will either have built in memory or a memory card slot. Sometimes referred to as an expansion slot, the card used is usually microSD.
It is the memory either internally or in the expansion slot where the recordings are saved to.
The size of memory will affect how much footage can be stored.
Some cameras come supplied with memory cards others offer it as an option.
More advanced cameras will offer the ability to save footage to either the internal or external memory or both.
Many will save to the external memory as the primary option but in an incident activated by a G-Sensor will also store footage on the internal memory as well. THis means should the memory card fail a copy of the incident will be on the internal memory too as a backup.
Generally clips saved on the internal memory are smaller and the memory often fills up quicker. It is worth checking before purchase.
Imagine having to turn the camera on and off every time you began and ended driving. All to easy to forget let alone the ongoing annoyance of having to do so.
This is where the Auto/On off feature comes into play. Those with it will commence recording within a few seconds of the ignition being switched on.
The camera detects a motion in the vehicle and begins recording.
The point at which the camera detects this motion will depend on the sensitivity it is set at. Some have pre-configured sensors, others you can control. Just be aware if the sensor is not set correctly, impacts may not be picked up.
Recordings triggered by motion or the G-sensor usually store footage for a set period of time before and after the impact. This file is then generally saved in a secure location.
It is worth checking on your camera as to these times so you are informed.
Using the G-sensor and motion detection if configured, usually with hardwired options the camera will commence recording for a period of time and save the file to a secure location so you can see what happened when you were not there.
More advanced cameras will have options to avoid battery drain.
Whilst not key critical, any footage stamped with the correct date and time offers greater accuracy and could prove beneficial in any dispute that may arise post incident.
Ensure you set the time correctly on your camera.
By no means essential cameras with screens can often playback footage if needs be at the scene of the incident and sometimes makes it easier to change settings as and when required rather than through software.
In some instances it can be used as a rear view camera option when reversing.
Those with screens tend to be bulkier and less discreet.
GPS or Global Positioning System as it is short for, takes the exact location at the time of recording.
Premium cameras have this built in. Cheaper cameras may offer an add on module or not at all.
GPS tends to make the camera a little larger as a result but can be useful for tracking your driving and proving your location if necessary through the footage.
This GPS data is usually accessible only by the dedicated software that comes with the camera.
Do they come Safety Camera Alerts?
Be it fixed or mobile camera alerts, these can prove useful when driving in unfamiliar areas.
They will often give advanced warning of their location and the speed limit in the area.
The information is based on databases that the manufacturer has so they can not be relied upon as 100% accurate. Checking for updates is advised.
What software comes with my dash cam?
Many cameras come with their own software to install on a computer or MAC. Some files can be read like a mass storage device without the need for software, however the manufacturers software will often bring many benefits.
The software is often organised with the ability to find different recordings, view them, the speed, GPS data and more.
We hope that has answered more of the frequant questions customers have about buying a dash camera but if you'd like more help in getting the right camera for your needs drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01202 552936.