How to choose the best dash camera that’s right for me?
People often ask, How to choose the best dash camera? Or, what is the best dash camera for my car? These are common questions and the answer is different for everyone. So in this article, we go through the main features, functions, and settings of dash cameras so you have all the information to make an informed choice when buying a dash camera for your vehicle.
Single or Dual Camera Dash Cam Kits
Which type is the best dash camera all depends on your needs. A single lens car dash cam kit comes with the one camera to record what is happening in front of your vehicle this can be suitable if you dont have a large budget and will provide a full recording of all that happens in front of your vehicle.
A dual camera dash cam kit will have a front facing camera and a camera that can be mounted to record what is happening behind the vehicle. This provides realiable footage so you can prove what happend if someone runs into the back of you as well as recording the road ahead.
Alternatively the second camera can be used to record what it happening inside the vehicle. This setup where the second lens can recording inside the vehicle is common for taxi drivers and those working for Lyft and Uber. In some instances the two lenses may be built into the say camera such as with the Z-Edge F1.
If you opt for a dual camera setup it’s important to consider the resolutions that both cameras can record at simultaneously. Our dual lens Zero Edge dash cameras such as the S3 and T4 dash cameras can capture full HD 1080P resolutions when both cameras are recording simultaneously. Also take into account that when recording from two cameras at the same time you will use up space faster on the storage card. Because all our dash cameras have loop recording this isn’t too much of an issue but worth keeping in mind if you want to keep recordings of a scenic drive.
If you want to use the second camera to monitor what is happening inside the vehicle we would recommend the Z-Edge F1 dashboard camera. This camera has 4 IR LEDS surrounding the internal facing camera which ensures better night time recording inside the vehicle so it can still capture good quality recordings at night.
All of our Z-Edge car camcorders can record in at least full HD 1080P which ensures you get a high quality video. Most are able to record higher resolutions such as the Z-Edge Z3 that records in resolutions up to 2K. Ensuring the camera you get can record in 1080P is important as it lets you have a pin sharp images that shows events as they unfold and also lets you see road signs, traffic signals and number plates clearly. All this is essential information if you want to use the camera footage as your eyewitness in event of an incident on the road.
Most dual camera dash camera kits allow you to record using the font camera in a higher resolution if you’re not also recording with the rear facing camera. This is good for capturing beautiful footage when on scenic drives. Just remember that when both front and rear cameras are recording simultaneously the recordings will probably not exceed Full HD 1080P. This resolution restriction is due to the amount of image processing required to be processed and recorded on the dash camera and also helps minimize the amount of space the recorded footage takes up on the storage card.
The majority of car DVR cameras will have rear facing screens. This makes it quick and easy to ensure alignment when installing the camera. This screen also lets you view recorded footage and photos easily at the side of the road and offers an easy interface with access to all the settings and parameters. Dash cams without a screen will typically have a smartphone app that can pair with your iOS or Android device, this app typically allows access to all the settings as well as reviewing recordings and can also make it quick and easier to share video footage. However if you do use a dash camera with a smartphone app ensure you have a proper way to mount your phone where it’s easy to review footage and remember there are strict laws about using cell phones while driving.
Suction Cup Mount or Adhesive Pad
A car DVR is normally mounted to the windshield with an adhesive pad or a suction cup mount. The adhesive pad mount is usually more compact and allows the dash camera to be mounted closer to the windshield which generally makes it less conspicuous than cameras using suction cup mounts. These adhesive pad mounted dash cameras such as the S1, S2, S3 and S4 have a more stealth like design. Being mounted closer to the windscreen typically avoids more glare or reflection in bright conditions.
The second benefit of using an adhesive pad mount is that it forms a stronger bond and will typically hold the car camera in a more stable position so you get a smoother recording, especially when driving on bumpy road surfaces. The Z-Edge dash cameras with adhesive mounts have a quick release option that allows the adhesive mount to be detached from the camera so it’s easy to remove the DVR. Most will come with an extra adhesive mount to allow the camera to be switched between two vehicles.
With a suction cup mount such as the Z4 and Z3 dash cam it is fast and easy to install and remove the camera from your windshield in just a few seconds. Additionally once removed there is very little evidence that the vehicle has had a dash camera installed in it. With a suction cup mount you can use the dash cam on multiple vehicles easily switching it between them which is the main advantage. Also with a suction cup mount you can easily swivel the camera around to record a traffic stop interaction for example. This isn’t always as easy with an adhesive pad mount.
There is also a third type of dash camera setup that is attached over the rear view mirror on your vehicle. This normally fixes in place over the existing rearview mirror on your vehicle being help in place by some rubber straps. The main think to consider with these is what the size of the camera is and what the size of your mirror is. Some larger vehicles with bigger rearview mirrors may have large mirrors that overlap the rear view mirror dash camera.
The purpose of WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) or HDR (High Dynamic Range) is essentially the same. They both aim to make the video clearer and minimize the impact of bright and dark light conditions. If you have high contrast between the light and dark areas of a recording or photo then this technology will help make them clearer. It manages this by taking multiple images at different exposures and balancing out the exposure to correct for under exposed or over exposed elements. This enhances the image making it easier to pick out details. WDR does this image processing through hardware while HDR achieves similar results through software.
All dashboard cameras sold by Zero Edge have the loop recording feature, in fact you could argue that loop recording is what defines a dash camera. This is a standard feature that allows the device to make efficient use of the storage card for recording footage. Most dash cameras let you set the loop recording duration, usually 1, 3 or 5 minutes. This section of video is stored on the micro SD card of the product or on its internal storage if it has any. Once the loop is completed the dash camera will record another section of video, usually the videos overlap by a few frames. Once the storage card is full the dashboard camera will record over the earlier non protected video section. By recording video in small sections it’s easier to manage them and any important video loops can be manually protected at the touch of a button to prevent them being recorded over.
A G-sensor is a built in accelerometer or gravity sensor chip. Normally the sensitive of this sensor can be adjusted from the settings menu. This sensor constantly monitors the state of the vehicle. If a sudden movement is detected such as heavy breaking or swerving the car DVR will automatically protect the video recording that’s taking place at that time. This is to ensure that important footage that may prove crucial in proving the cause of an incident on the road isn’t lost or recorded over due to the loop recording function.
Parking monitoring allows the device to protect your vehicle while it is parked. Usually utilizing the G-sensor to detect any movement of the vehicle this function will detect if your vehicle has been knocked or been the target of a breaking or vandalism. Some dashboard cameras may also use motion detection to aid in this as well.
If the parking monitor is triggered the dash camera will start recording for a predetermined duration which should hopefully record the perpetrator of the incident, such as capturing the registration plat of a car that has bumped into you while maneuvering in a car park.
The camera will normally have a small battery to facilitate this function but can also be hardwired into the cars electrics as well. We would recommend seeking the advice of a skilled motor electrician or garage before hard wiring your dashboard camera yourself.
Some of the best dash camera kits include GPS (Global Positioning System). This system could be built into the device or possible into the windscreen mount. A GPS has the ability to record your location, direction and speed travel as well as keep track of where you have been. This information can be particularly useful for professional drivers or for fleet vehicles where proving where you were at a certain time could be helpful for your job. GPS software can be used on your computer to view the GPS data recorded from each journey and track deliveries, journey times and routes.
Supercapacitor Vs Battery
Dash cameras have a small internal battery or supercapacitor. Both of these provide a short amount of back up power so if the vehicle’s power going to the dash camera is suddenly cut off the dash camera can save the video recording and shut down safely.
However, there are some advantages and disadvantages. Supercapacitors are less susceptible to wear and tear from the charging and discharging which happens in a chemical battery. As a result, supercapacitors will last much longer.
Batteries are more affected by extream heat, which can lead to problems like the swelling and leaking of batteries. Capacitors are more resistant to heat so they don’t pose the risk of overheating.
If you’re going to be using your dash camera in very hot or cold climates buying one with a supercapacitor is probably a better choice.
The one drawback to capacitors is that they hold a smaller amount of energy than batteries. This means that dash cameras with a supercapacitor cant be used in parking mode without being hardwired into your vehicle.
Of course, there is a cost factor as well. Supercapacitors are more costly than batteries so a dash camera with this is likely to be more expensive than a similar model which uses a battery.
Wireless Dash Cameras
Wireless dash cameras are relatively new. These still need to be connected to a power source in your vehicle. The wireless part refers to wi-fi connectivity. Many of these dash cameras don’t have a screen, so it can be smaller and more discreet than those dash cameras with a built-in display.
These Wi-fi dash cameras let you connect a smartphone or tablet PC to the camera through a dedicated wi-fi app. These apps are usually downloadable from the manufacturers, webpage by scanning a QR code or searching in the relevant app store. Once download the app can be sued to connect to the camera and view the footage directly on your phone.
One significant advantage of this is that you can playback footage on your phone screen. This makes it easy to show footage to the police or anyone else at the scene of an incident without having to take the dash cameras out of your vehicle. GPS data is also often available and can be played alongside the video.
The dash cameras footage can also be download and stored on your phone or computer without having to remove the micro SD card. Once downloaded to your phone, you can use the phone’s data connection or local Wifi to upload and share the footage online. Perfect for sharing instant Karma videos or for sharing bad driving with the authorities without handing over your SD card.
The companion Wi-Fi apps will often allow you to change the settings of the camera directly from your phone or another smart device. This can make it easier to adjust settings and interact with the camera.