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Info guides and mods

DVR Car Cameras

Here is what I have learned about in car cameras

Modification Details




What Are In Car Cameras?

Have a look at the Techmoan video, it's very good.

Why Have One?

18th November 2011, a Polish lorry decided to change lanes on the M25 right into the side of my 6 month old car.



It was a lot of hassle, his English was as good as my Polish, his crash investigation sheet that I had
to fill out was confusing and looking at the lorry, he had done the same thing a few times before.



My car was undriveable and his lorry was fine. I took all manner of photos as proof of everything
and despite quite a few people witnessing the incident, none of the fuckers stopped.

Luckily enough I had put down so much detailed information on his crash sheet, he couldn't say it was
anything but his fault. The insurance people obviously said I had driven into him so they wanted a 50/50
blame, I wasn't having that. I went all legal on them (like I have done with the DVLA and Pioneer and
won outright both times) and they agreed I wasn't to blame so it was all good.

The photo showing his side indicator not working helped.

Wouldn't It Have Been Easier If...

However, from that day on I thought that it would have been so much easier if I had an in car
camera recording everything as evidence. Back in 2011, amazingly, there wasn't much to
choose from, the specs were average and the prices were a bit high. Since then, a lot of
Chinese companies have been releasing their own versions of the in car camera, each trying to out do the
other. This increases the specs and drives down the price so you really are spoilled as to which one to get.

This page is to help you decide what specs you actually need, it'll tell you the pros
and cons of each camera so you can work out exactly which camera suits you.

What's The Best Camera To Buy?

I will keep this updated but for the last couple of years, I have finally settled on the following 3 cameras. 

The DDPai Mini 3 has a massive 1600p resolution. It's easy to fit, set up and temporarily remove.
Wide dynamic range gives excellent low light and night video quality.




The DDPai Mini 2 is the predecessor to the Mini 3 shown above.
It has a 1440p resolution but still excellent video quality.




I bought one of these to test in 2018 as I wanted a dual camera, front and rear. This is easier to set up
but ultimately, I'd recommend 2 separate cameras like a Mini 3 facing forward and a Mini 2 facing backwards.



Where To Buy?

Amazon or eBay. Click the links above.

DVR Camera Specs

Night Vision

Many of these cameras have infra red LEDs mounted on the front that are supposed to light up what is in front of it. Unless you are filming the inside of the car there is no point having these. They will not light up the road in any way shape or form. If anything, the light (which is invisible to the naked eye but visible to the camera) will reflect on the windscreen giving you a worse picture.

Resolution

480, 720, 1080, 1440, 1600 are numbers that tell you the resolution of the camera, they refer to how
many horizontal lines make up the picture. Ignore cameras that are 720i or 1080i, this just
means that they render every other line so the refresh rate is half what it should be.

Cameras will normally say 720, 720p, 1080 or 1080p. Don't even entertain a 480 camera. Standard TV
broadcast resolution and DVD is 480, Blu-Rays are 720p or 1080p. The better the resolution, the more
detail you will see. Ideally you will want to be able to read number plates from a reasonable distance.

The resolution number isn't all you should go by though as some companies sell 1080 cameras that are
just upscaled 720p. It's best to actually look at the output of the camera to decide if it suits you or not.

Frame Rate

A decent resolution is worth nothing if the picture stutters. Most cameras will state 720p at 30
frames per second, 1080p at 15 frames per second and some at 1080p at 30 frames per second.

Obviously the higher frame rate will produce a smoother video. 15 frames per second can look a little choppy.

Again, don't be fooled by the numbers as cheap processors are used and many don't get that close and drop frames.
Take a look at actual footage taken by the camera. Remember that footage on YouTube has been
compressed by YouTube to reduce the size, therefore expect higher quality footage than that on YouTube.

Using a low "class" memory card can also cause choppy playback and dropped frames.
Try to use a class 6 memory card or higher if possible to help the DVR out.

Display

Some people want a display on their cameras, some don't. Personally I do, I like to know what I'm filming.
Many DVRs have an option so that the screen turns off after a while so it doesn't distract you or light up the cabin.

GPS

Some cameras have built in GPS that plots your position onto the memory card so you can show where you were on Google maps for example. It can also show your speed so be careful about using it for evidence.

Incident Reporting

Some cameras have G meters or vibration sensors in them. If the camera experiences a knock as if the car had hit something or been hit then it will automatically lock the current recording so it can't be recorded over accidentally.

Loop Recording

Quite an important one for an in car camera if you don't want to have to mess about with it constantly.
This setting records clips of set intervals until the memory card is full up, it will then rerecord back over
the oldest file. If you don't have loop recording then when the memory card is full it will just stop
recording until you blank the memory card again.

Movement Sensor Recording

Some cameras can be made to sit on standby and record when any movement occurs in front of the cameras.
I'm not sure I see the point in this feature but you may think of something.

Auto Start

One of the most important features on a car camera is that it automatically starts up and begins recording as
soon as it receives power. This means that you don't have to manually start recording every time you set off.
Auto start and loop recording are bare minimum specs so only cameras with these functions are shown below.

DVR Cameras

Luckily enough, there is already a guy called Matt (smart owner) who has made it his mission to buy loads of these cameras and do an excellent job of reviewing them.  Check out TechMoan for review of many things, not just DVRs. They are very entertaining. I have a few cameras that he hasn't covered so I will put up a quick bit of info for those.

Any Dedicated Forums?

Yes of course. Rob sent me an email bringing my attention to DashCamTalk which is a site that reviews
DVRs and has an open forum for people to discuss their own experiences, issues and discoveries.

Setting Up Your DVR Camera

Have a look at this page.


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