If you’re on the road a lot or in accident prone urban areas, a dashcam could save you a lot of hassle in the event of a prang. We’ve reviewed dashcams (member content) to see which ones are easiest to use, work the best and deliver the highest quality video. For general advice, check out our dashcam buying guide.
Do you own or use a dashcam? Share your experience in the comments below.
I have a dashcam and it came in useful for a neighbour, when another neighbour driving by hit their parked car (because the moving car still had the passenger door open). I just happened to be coming in the opposite direction and saw what happened and captured the event on the dashcam.
The driver stopped but denied it being their car and claimed that a tree branch must have fallen & hit the parked car. The passenger corroborated the story. They then drove off saying it had nothing to do with them.
Requests to pay for the damage were rebuffed until I gave the neighbour with the parked car the dashcam footage. After a bit more to and fro-ing, the driver begrudgingly paid up for the repairs.
In this context I feel they are fine, used only to support ones case where an identifiable victim actually exists. There are plenty of examples like this where perpetrators lie through their teeth with no conscience and clearly to another persons detriment …
What concerns me is my perception of their every growing use by worrywarts, for increasingly puerile things - supported by the equally puerile ‘if you have nothing to hide and do nothing wrong you have nothing to fear’ brigade who seem to coalesce into posses and lynch mobs in Facebook groups … of course there is no privacy today, that’s the real issue … we still have as much as we could ever expect, but technology has made that a thing of the past.
I bought a dashcam after having an “incident” with a teen in a car who thought I should be punished for having stopped at a roundabout (when she wasnt looking and almost rammed my rear end)… she flew past me a few yards down the road, then slammed her brakes on. Charming. Not.
So I got my cam… a Navman 380 (IIRC, its not in the car anymore) and it was fun for a while but in the heat of summer, it kept falling off the windscreen, and it was only a matter of time before the battery would explode or just die. I intend to replace it with a capacitor model with Dual channels (a rear camera is just as useful as a forward facing one).
Since the first incident there has been nothing unusual, certainly nothing like you see on youtube… where I think people go out to find bad drivers… but I like it for insurance purposes… if I can show I was not (or even that I was) at fault in any future accident, I think its a good thing. Currently looking at a Viofo 119
We’ve been considering a dashcam for a couple of years, but haven’t been very impressed with the image quality of the few that we’ve seen. I have a rear camera for my bike with records to a micro SD card, until the battery goes flat after 6 hours or the 32MB card is full, which takes a bit longer. I used it in the car on the way to Nelson Bay on Sunday, connecting it via the velcro strap to the internal rear-view mirror stem, which hides it from view for the driver very well. There is also no danger of it falling off in the heat.
However, once again, image quality isn’t much chop. You can read car number plates directly in front, but it is almost impossible to make out the number plate of oncoming cars on the other side of the road. They are either blurred due to video compression, or poor lens quality.
On the bike it is cars directly behind that are the main issue, and I can read number plates on cars within 10m or so behind me on the video.
I don’t remember seeing any images in the Choice review (and I haven’t been able to load it for the past 20 mins or so, so can’t check. I’m on NBN satellite). Is there any chance that some could be posted to show what sort of image quality they deliver? A photographic resolution chart for example, if number plates cant be shown.
In the reviews, 73% or 67% doesn’t really tell me much.
GoPro style? I may have missed it, but nothing in the Choice roundup mentions water/weatherproof (it’s not even one of the ‘criteria’). Not all road users have a roof, even if they have four wheels, and even less have a roof if they have three wheels or less …
Not this one, its a Fly6, camera+rear light. I do have a GoPro style cheap copy for the front, but the mounting system is not rigid enough (by a long way) and camera jitters around way too much on the rough roads around here to be of much use. On smooth hotmix surfaced roads it is much better. It too suffers from the same image quality issues as the rear-facing camera. It comes with a tightly fitting waterproof case, which does work under shallow water at least.
Our latest dashcam purchase was from China (DDPai mini dashcam at AliExpress). It is a 1440p wide angle camera which is permanently mounted on the windshield above the mirror, and hard wired to the aux fuse of the car. It is unobtrusive, being the size of a roll of 5c coins, and is mounted east-west to have the lens pointing forward.
The images are of good quality and can be blown up to a reasonable size. It also has a separate fob shutter release which I have hung onto the dash, to take stills.
The photos can be blown up to a reasonable size without pixelation, but if the windscreen is not clean in front of the lens, the photo obviously quality suffers.
I too can enlarge my images up to a good size, ie they have plenty of pixels, but that isn’t the issue I have with them. I’d be quite happy with smaller images with higher resolution.
Agreed that a clean windscreen is very important, but after my test on Sunday, I saw that heavy rain blurring the images is an issue that cant really be dodged.
Can you read the number plates of cars approaching on the other side of the road with yours? Are the still pictures of better quality than frame grabs from the video?
[Joke] If it comes up to the handle bars it isn’t shallow and how do you keep pedalling [/end Joke]
The rain blurring maybe as a result of the lack of frame rates (frames per second) and could be addressed by a model that supports better frame rates at the higher res. I would look for say 70 fps rather than 30 fps or less which many only support at high res or many even have these poor frame rates at lower res. Lots give higher frame rates at lower res settings but this leads to pixelation on enlarging and artifacts at higher res.
EDIT: I checked and 30 fps or less will have an element of motion blurring, it is what we usually see as we watch films or similar or watch youtube and similar online views. 60 fps will be much clearer and most cams do not support 70 fps or similar. They are generally 10, 15, 24, and 30 fps at high res settings. So if you want less blurring particularly if moving then 60 fps will be best for less blur but it will use about 2 and little bit times more data than 30 fps. I hope that helps in any issues. It also helps explain some of the reason for the blurry images further out in your captures along with the lens focus. It is important to note that the 60 fps must be the designed frame rate (base frame rate) for the dashcam not an interpretation of images just to increase frame rates as some then will increase blurriness and artifacts as the images are using software to add images rather than capture.
The popular computer/electronics mags used to regularilly review digital cameras. They had no problem providing a series of standard shots from each camera of the same scene under similar conditions. The reviewers provided an objective assessment of the differences between each camera and shot. Choice could so the same including low light and moving targets.
After all if everything else about a dash cam is perfect, IE can mount anywhere and not fall off, vibration free, infinite battery and storage, it is safe to say it is useless if you can’t identify the other vehicle as a Louisville or a Harley?
A couple of years ago I bought a Blackvue DR650GW-2CH camera after I hit a kangaroo that I didn’t see – next time I’d know where it came from! I have it set to wake up and record for a minute if there’s movement, up to 6 hours after the car is parked. Soon after I got it, I parked the car in the street near a friend’s house. In the morning they found they had been robbed and their car stolen using the ignition key taken from inside the house. Our camera had recorded the toe-rags arriving in a car, without headlights, pulling in front of our parked car, and later the neighbour’s car being stolen, at about 12.30am. The toe-rags were very quiet and sneaky and in the dark only vague shapes could be seen, but the toe-rag driver put the brakes on when he stopped, which lit up the brakelights. The Blackvue viewer can magnify a section of the image, which made the illuminated rego plate readable despite the poor light; also, the unusual-shaped brakelights identified the type of car. Needless to say, the neighbour, and later the police, were very interested in this footage.
This camera has many useful features but is not perfect. Having a GPS, it records car speed, which could be useful if in dispute over a speeding fine, but sometimes the GPS function drops out. It has WiFi and can be monitored with an App on a smartphone but it doesn’t come with a screen. It came with a 16g micro SD card which quickly fills (particularly if set to record HD at 30 frames/sec.) and is rewritten, so earlier data is lost; for long trips I use a 128g Lexar micro SD card. To see recordings, I usually remove the card and view it on a computer connected to the internet. The Blackvue viewer automatically maps the position and car speed. The file (files are 1 minute) list shows the time and whether it was taken in normal recording mode, parking mode or event mode; event mode is automatically activated by a bump or sudden speed or direction change. There doesn’t seem to be a way to identify an event or manually place a bookmark for future reference, so if I want to find a file with footage of interest, I manually record the time and use that later to identify the file. The viewer can run at varying speeds between 0.5 and 4 times actual speed and allows frame by frame replay. The latter is very useful if, for example, I want to see the exact instant a bird hit the windscreen and to identify what it was. Also, If the microphone on the camera software was turned on it also plays back sound recordings in the car.
The microSD card can be a bit fiddly to remove; long finger nails help.
The camera runs very hot – probably at or above 50oc, which is probably not good for the electronics (see below).
Driving towards the sun reduces sensitivity and I’ve installed a filter but glare can still be a problem.
About 13 months after purchase (warranty is 1 year) it started recording files with incorrect dates, say a date and time several months before the real time. The supplier in Brisbane said they’d never heard of this problem and suggested trying a new SD card. Google wasn’t much help. However, a family member knows about electronics and suggested it might be a problem with the archaic way the GPS gets time updates. He dismantled the camera and identified a small battery hard-wired into a circuit as being dead. Ebay to the rescue ($2.50 for 2 batteries) and a new battery soldered in and hey presto!
The two cameras were a bit fiddly to install but are small and discrete. I use heavy duty Velcro to fix the cameras to the glass
I haven’t hit another kangaroo but I have recorded plenty of near misses from them and emus and wild pigs as well as a mother duck and ducklings crossing a freeway, wild cats and dogs and road hazards, not to mention lunatic drivers and suicidal motor- and pedal-cyclists!
I recently purchased a new BlackVue DR900S-1CH Dash Cam. It’s a top of the line dash cam - 4K UHD video, built in GPS, WiFi, cloud, etc , etc
It wasn’t cheap at over $750 including the 64gb memory card and lense filter… but I’m a big believer in that you mostly get what you pay pay for in life and I haven’t been let down. So far I’ve had the unit for six weeks and cannot fault it in anyway.
There are lots of functions I’m still working out but really like all the high tech functions especially such as uploading footage automatically to the cloud once you set up a maximum of three WiFi hotspots i.e home, work and even via your mobile or iPad. Image quality and sound is as good as it gets and very clear.
My only regret is not getting an external battery ( which is coming) + $350 extra which enables the camera to either record constantly when car is switched off or that it records when sensor is activated by someone walking past or cars driving by.
Reason I decided to go for this unit was the great reviews of it from all over the world, the fact that it is 4K and that it has some cutting edge features that appeal to me. There is even the ability to become part of the BlackVue community and enable others with in that community to share live real-time footage from their camera with you! Although slightly boring seeing many garages from the inside!!! But potentially awesome checking out traffic conditions, etc
In summary, I really wouldn’t be without a dash cam these days given the increasing incidence of road rage, people lying in accident situations, and people wanting to vandalize deliberately or accidentally running into your car in a car park and then doing a runner!! Sad but realistic times unfortunately.
This unit is in a very new, very nice and very expensive Mercedes Benz so compared to the cost of the car and insurance it’s a minor cost to pay for the extra piece of mind and security it offers. At the other end of the scale I also purchased a very compact and much cheaper dash cam for my work Ute… more on that one later.!
I found by down grading to my ancient tired looking ex work ute with oversized bull bar and dents the need for a dash cam has been largely negated.
Agree on the benefits of a dash cam as most of the time the behavior of some other drivers questions their state of mind at the time. Over time perhaps the more wide spread use of dash cams will prove a moderating influence. It may (screams for privacy protection even when in public) assist to identify those who need driver re-education. Of course a dash cam will also record every small error I make. Some days it seems like driving out the gate was a poor choice.
Will car manufacturers seize the day and start offering integrated dash cam upgrades similar to the old GPS scams at $2,000?
Will Jaycar offer a bolt on the car roof pretend dash cam the size of a telephoto lens as an alternative to bring fear into the heart of all around and keep you safe?
Note that the better the capture quality of a dash cam the greater the concerns for other issues relating to use of captured content and privacy.
The possibility of capital punishment in the USA has by most accounts had essentially zero effect on the murder rate. The many, many cams about our shops and streets may or may not have prevented the assaults, rapes, and robberies we read about every day but that they happen fairly frequently, where are the odds? I could go on about the efficacy of ‘after the fact’ prosecution that seems a minimal if any deterrent to louts and hot headed individuals so identified.
A dash cam appears valuable for proving a case in law, but I doubt it would ever become a real deterrent to road rage, doing runners post accidents, and so on.
Also very potentially worrying about the privacy of others caught in the cameras views who are not agreeing to the capture and dissemination of their images and behaviour. While a user may agree to join they cannot do so for the larger community and what legal ramifications does this open up?
I’m glad you asked. I went took some stills while driving and had a look.
Even with the claimed 1440p, the stills don’t make licence plates legible at a distance. Even though the photo looks good, at 20 or so meters, a licence plate is pixelated. At 50 meters, it is totally blurred. Another wrinkle is that the dashboard has a grill in the centre which reflects up onto the windscreen in front of the DVR when the sun is high, making the image even more obscure.