Car Camera Features

In parts of Europe and overseas, car cameras, or dash cams as they are sometimes called have proven themselves to be very popular; however, for the UK motorist they are still a relatively new and uncommon piece of kit. If you’re unsure about any of the benefits or technical terms, deciding which car camera to purchase can seem a lot more daunting than it actually is. The following list explains all the key features you’ll need to look out for before selecting which in-car camera will suit your needs.

Continuous (Loop) Recording

When using a normal video camera, to create recording space you’d usually have to remove the SD memory card and spend time downloading the images or video to your PC. Car cameras however are specifically designed for in-car use and have a special function know as loop recording. This basically means that the car camera will continually record until its memory card is full; the camera then automatically overwrites the oldest files with the newest footage, thus enabling it to record indefinitely.

G-Shock Sensor (Motion Detection)

G-Sensor or G-Shock sensors as they are sometimes called are designed to measure, detect and record any significant or sudden movements of your vehicle. When an impact or emergency brake occurs the sensor will detect this and automatically lock the video footage on to the car cameras memory card for safe keeping. Once the file has been locked it will not be overwritten by the loop recording function, this means any video evidence of genuine incidents or accidents will always be fully protected.

Parking Protection Function

Some modern car cameras now come equipped with parking protection; this offers complete peace of mind whilst you’re away from your vehicle, if someone happens to collide with it and then drive away the camera will capture as much evidence as possible. This feature automatically engages parking mode once it detects the ignition has been turned off, using motion detection to save the vehicles battery the camera will only record when it detects movement. (Note: The camera must be hard-wired into your vehicle for this function to work).

High Definition Recording (HD)

All car cameras record footage of the road ahead, whilst the images may seem adequate, when it comes to using the video files as evidence they may not be of much use. Installing a dash cam with a higher quality camera allows you to record significantly more visual detail. HD video allows you to capture crystal clear images of   number plates as well as other important details; these can make a vast difference when it comes to proving your innocence after an accident or collision.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS, (Global Positioning System) is a system that can either be already built in to a car camera or can sometimes be added as an optional extra. It enables the unit to record and document a vehicles speed of travel and exact position. This information, along with the video footage captured can then be viewed back using the included software via a Google maps screen.

Power Supply

As a rule, there are two ways of powering your in-car camera; the first and most cost effective method is to use the vehicles cigarette lighter/12v socket, simply plug your camera into this socket with the appropriate lead and when your ignition is turned on, the car camera will be activated. The second option is to have your dashcam hard-wired into the vehicles electrical supply, this is highly recommended if you wish to use a camera that has a parking protection facility.

Adhesive and Suction Mounts 

There are two mounting options available for your car camera. Both mounts will hold your camera securely in place whilst on the move. The first option is an adhesive pad; this sticks permanently to the windscreen, but does allow you to detach the camera, leaving the mount in place. The second option is to use a suction cup mount, these are very simple to install and remove and an ideal choice if you wish to relocate your whole camera quickly and easily to another vehicle. Both mounting options will allow you to make adjustments to the cameras angle and ensure it is always positioned correctly.

Photo / Snapshot Mode

With modern car cameras having very high megapixel lenses, some will now enable you to capture still images. This can prove to be very useful after an accident as it means you can gain additional detail such as photos of the scene and also other drivers involved.

Wide Angle Lenses

All car cameras use wide angle lenses, this is to ensure as much activity and detailed information is recorded on video. Because most cameras boast a horizontal viewing angle of least 120 degrees it can record the whole width of the bonnet and both sides of the road too, this gives the driver a full panoramic view of everything that’s taking place.

Dual Lens

Dual lens car cameras not only feature a forward- facing lens but are also fitted with a rear-facing one too; this allows the camera unit to record the road ahead and also the interior of the vehicle. Dual or Multi lens cameras are therefore ideal for the taxi or minicab industry as they allow the driver to monitor passenger’s activity. This type of camera system could also be of benefit to driving instructors as well as their students, it would enable both parties to review the camera footage recorded on the lesson and analyise how good or bad the students driving was. Other types of Dual lens camera actually offer the ability to mount a second separate lens elsewhere in the vehicle; this could be placed facing out of the rear window to record activity on the road behind.

Rotating Lens

Some dash cams on the market come with the ability for you to rotate a single lens 180 degrees, this give the driver the option of adjusting the viewing angle to record either the road ahead or, with a quick twist, from inside the vehicle.

Emergency Recording

There may be an occasion where you need to record an event that the internal G-Sensor feature didn’t detect. This is ideal if you happen to be a witness to an incident on the road ahead of you, it could be a road rage attack or maybe even collision that you’re not involved in but may like to keep a record of. Some car cameras have an emergency recording function, to activate this you to simply push a single button on the camera and it will record a file and then lock it to keep it safe from being overwritten.

Time and Date Stamp

Making sure any recorded files have a time and date stamp could be crucial to them being used as evidence. It is important to do this correctly as once it has been set this information will usually be displayed in the corner of the video once it’s played back.

Display Screens

Having an LCD screen can help make your car camera much more user-friendly, it will allow you to navigate the menu with ease and will also enable you to view back recorded footage immediately. For safety regulations, the screen on a car camera can be turned off during transit.

CPL Filters (Circular Polarisers)

Some car cameras give you the option of adding a CPL Filter, these special polarising filters cover the dash cams lens and are easily fitted by using a special mounting bracket. Using a CPL filter will help minimise dashboard reflections when recording in sunny weather and can also dramatically improve the quality of your recorded footage. Having a CPL filted also provides your camera lens with an extra layer of protection against dust and scratches. We usually recommend that CPL filters should be removed when driving at night as this may result in very dark footage.

SD Memory Cards

The majority of car cameras accept either an SD card or a micro SD card. These cards are fairly small in size and come with different size capacities, the most common for car cameras being 8, 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes. Always be sure to check the technical specifications as not all dash cams will accept the 64 gigabyte cards. We recommend you always use good quality class 10 memory cards for best results.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

WDR technology is used in dash cams to give a well-balanced exposure at night or in dark areas. It makes night shots brighter, and reduces strong light exposure to always achieve the clearest picture possible.

Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)

If you are constantly on the road, driver fatigue can be a serious issue and will greatly increase the risk of having a collision. Some car cameras provide a very useful solution known as a Lane Departure Warning System. If a driver, for whatever reason begins to veer off track, the dash cam instantly sets of an alarm to inform them of any potentially dangerous movement.

Video Playback Software

More and more car camera ranges are coming bundled with their very own bespoke software. This allows you to not only view back any video footage you may have, but you’ll also be able to see a complete map of the area you were in along the time, speed and date you were traveling. This kind of software really does make it extremely easy to manage all your important video files.

Mobile Applications (Apps)

If you opt for a dash cam without an LCD screen then some manufacturers now offer the option of using a mobile application (App), this allows you to manage all your camera settings and view back any video footage immediately via your mobile phone. The apps are often available for both iPhone and android handsets.

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