Dash Cameras Buying Guide
Purchasing Dash Cams
Consider the following when shopping for a dashboard camera:
- Some dash cameras come with a built-in LCD viewing screen. While this can be useful, it is also likely to increase the size of the unit.
- Consider how you intend to access recorded footage. Almost all cameras can be connected to a computer but know that some enable you to watch footage through a mobile app.
- For round the clock recording, be sure to opt for a dashboard camera with night time recording features. If you plan to leave your dash cam in position all the time, consider a model with some level of heat resistance.
Types of Dash Cameras
Single Lens Dash Cameras
Single lens cameras record footage through the windshield of your car. They are easy-to-install, uncomplicated to operate and are often the most affordable option.
- Most single lens dash cameras are powered through the cigarette lighter on your car so you can set it up with ease. Note, installation may require some cable management to keep your view unobstructed.
- Some GPS navigators come with a built-in, single lens dash cam. These are a great space-saving option for anyone who needs to have both devices in operation at the same time.
- The downside of forward-facing dash cams is that they can miss incidents that occur to the sides or rear of your vehicle. It is worth noting that rear-ending remains one of the most common accidents in Australia.
Multiple Lens Dash Cams
Multiple Lens dashboard cameras allow you to record footage of what’s in front, behind and in some cases to the side of your vehicle so you’ll always be covered if you need to make a claim.
- Front and rear dash cams come as one or two units. Single unit models are easy-to-install. Two unit cameras may give you a better recording angle but they can be more complicated to power.
- These power restrictions may mean that the dash cams need to be hard wired into the electrics of your car. This should only be undertaken by a trained professional so factor this cost into your budget.
- Single unit models can be of particular use to anyone who needs to record events within the car. Taxi drivers and couriers, for example, may benefit from such functionality.
Hybrid GPS & Dash Cameras
Combine all your in-car device into one with a Hybrid Dash Camera. This type of dash cam also includes GPS functionality for extra convenience.
- Don't have enough space to put both a dash cam and a GPS in your car? A hybrid solves your problems and saves you space.
- As with single lens dash cams, hybrids rarely allow you to record what's happening at both the front and back of your car.
- Consider cost when opting for a hybrid dash camera as many are more expensive than either a single lens or standalone GPS navigator.
Dash Camera Features
Dash cams use loop recording, which means old footage is constantly being replaced with new footage. Be aware of the following if you are keen to use your dash cam to document journeys as well as record incidents:
- Practically all dash cams record footage on to an SD card. Some models are sold with an SD card included. If not, you will need to make a separate purchase to start using the camera.
- The amount of footage that can be recorded comes down to the size SD card. Modern SD cards offer as much as 64GB of space. However, if you need to buy a card for your camera, check capacity compatibility before making a purchase.
- It is also important to purchase an SD card that can cope with the resolution of the camera (higher resolutions require faster speeds). As such, it is advisable to shop for a class 6 SD card or above.
Resolution and Frame Rate
Resolution and frame rates are an essential consideration when shopping for a dash cam as they can dictate whether or not recorded footage is good enough to be used as evidence.
- In the broadest terms, the higher the resolution and frame rate, the better. Be aware, however, that resolution above 1080p and frame rates above 30fps can use a lot of storage space very quickly. Bear this is mind if you want to record footage that you can keep.
- We recommend that you shop for a dash cam with a minimum of 720p (high definition). Drop below this and footage may be too grainy to be admissible as evidence.
- Similarly, it is advisable to choose a camera that records in a minimum of 24fps. Most dash cams record in 30 fps, which will produce perfectly smooth footage.
Features to Look Out For
Dashboard cameras are available with a range of functions and features that can improve performance and usability. Look out for the following when making your choice:
- Always choose a model that can detect impact or sudden changes of direction. Good cameras will mark and lock footage at such times to prevent overwriting.
- Many dash cams come with GPS tracking so you can pinpoint exactly where footage was recorded and in many cases, how fast you were travelling. Some dash cams can even issue speed camera and red light camera warnings.
- Parking modes ensure your interests are covered when you're not driving. Impact sensors can set the camera to record if anyone bumps into, or tries to enter, your vehicle.
Dash Camera Accessories
Make sure your camera is ready to record footage with a new or replacement SD card. Match resolution to SD card speed for the best results and the clearest pictures.
Arrive at your destination on time and in control with a GPS navigator. As well as giving you clear directions, GPS can also keep you informed of traffic updates, local landmarks and more.
Keep your dash cam running throughout even the longest of journeys by making sure you have right cables to power your device. Shop USB cables of differing lengths to find the one you need.