Got a Dashcam? What type & how do you like it?

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Gadget Tech' started by ChevyFan, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

    Dashcams can be an important part of helping shape the news these days. Just curious how many people on here have a dashcam ... and if you do have one, what type do you have and how to you like it? Let's hear some stories.
  2. dobey

    dobey Member

    Don't have one yet, but I've been looking at them. The GoPro and BlackVue so far seem like the best options to me.
  3. canadiantowman

    canadiantowman New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2013
  4. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

    what's the standard operational method of using one of these things? I would assume, 99.9 percent of the time when you're driving in recording there's nothing eventful at all. However, is it just for like the owner of a truck to see what the drivers doing if they were an incident?

    I mean,most of the really really cool asteroid footage From Russia was shot from some type of mobile dash cam.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Plus what's the best method of recording, transfering, cataloging, viewing, long-term storing these videos?
  5. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    I, too have a FineVu CR-500HD in my truck. I love it, as it's tiny, unobtrusive, highly functional, and has wonderful video quality for what it is. Here's a link to a dashcam-dedicated forum section with piles of info on the model: http://dashcamtalk.com/finevu-cr-500hd/

    Notes:

    • The U.S. version of the camera has a black ring around the lens instead of a silver one.
    • The GPS unit is optional and external. Some people want GPS but I didn't because I don't like the idea of having my speed recorded on a device that might be used against me.
    • There's an optional CPL filter for the unit. It must be added/removed depending on lighting conditions. Don't waste money on it.
    • There's an optional FineVu Perfect Power device that you can buy/use to supply power to the camera in parking mode while monitoring the battery for discharge. Don't waste money on it; get a Power Magic Pro device, instead, as it's far more configurable for about the same dough.

    What it does:
    Think of it like a VHS recorder that's recording on a loop ... except it uses a Micro SDHC card and over-writes the oldest files with new ones. All files are, of course, time-stamped.

    When it does it:
    Most dash cams are configurable to record when the vehicle is parked and off (i.e. 'parking mode'). Most can be configured to record when they detect motion and shock (i.e. 'events'), too -- and sensitivity can usually be set. Combinations of these become useful. All of them record when the vehicle is on (i.e. power is given to the camera).

    Why it's useful:
    Regarding combinations and utility, let's say your cam has a battery discharge preventer (like Power Magic Pro) and you have parking mode enabled and shock sensitivity recording enabled and set to normal sensitivity. Let's also say you parked the truck at an airport and were traveling for business. You come back and notice body damage to the front bumper that suggests a 1-3mph impact. The camera recorded steadily ... and that impact would cause an event to be written to the events folder, so you pop the micro SDHC chip and scan through the recorded events. You find one where a car pulls into the spot in front of you and then backs up a little bit. You can now use the timestamp of THAT file to look in the normal recording folder and also see footage before and after that event ... so you get a clear idea of who/what caused the impact. You might even get a plate number from it if you're in a state that requires front plates.

    Why I have one:
    My concern, as a driver of a lifted rig, is that some kid in a riced out import with a fart muffler will get tired of not being able to see past me (happens all the time), zip around me (happens all the time), dart in front of me to the space in which his car barely fits -- only to be stymied by the car that was in front of me (happens all the time), then slam on his brakes and cause me to plow into him (has yet to happen, thankfully). Without a dashcam that'd be ruled my fault because I was 'following too closely' and rear-ended him ... but with a dash cam I'd have footage of it and it'd be ruled riceboy's fault based on the the evidence I could provide. This is why I have one -- for that specific scenario.

    There are other uses, too, that I would find beneficial -- like recording a cop's interaction with at a traffic stop so that he's not the only one with audio and/or video. Or perhaps there's an accident happen in front of me, and now I can pony up something that makes the cop's life easier when he shows up -- especially since I can just pop the chip out of the dashcam, slap it in my smartphone, then go find the file and show it to him or even give him a copy. You get the idea.

    Russia's apparently very corrupt -- so corrupt that people NEED these things to make sure the cop who was greased doesn't rule them at fault when an accident occurs. So I'm told, anyway.

    • Recording is as simple as setting the camera up and letting it do its thing.
    • Transferring is a different matter. A 3min file at 1080p on my cam runs about 260MB in size ... and the largest size micro SDHC card (which must be class 10) that it'll take is 32GB. Do the math and you'll find that you can't store a ton of files on the device, and as noted, above, it's built to over-write the old ones. If you want everything you'll be popping the card out or cabling the camera up (via USB cable) very frequently ... unless the unit is WiFi-enabled (some are, but it's immature technology, so far) in which case you'll wirelessly connect to it and then hassle with the files. Frankly, the idea of trying to keep it all is somewhat, insane, so you should probably note the time when you see things ... and then go back and grab the file for that timestamp. (Or look across the files for things you might not have seen ... and copy what you like.)
    • Cataloging I have no idea, because I don't. I grab what I want to keep, trim it in MS Movie Maker, then YouTube it. (It becomes YouTube's cataloging problem, then.)
    • Viewing varies from camera to camera. Those with TFT displays often let you review right on the device -- but they're bulkier devices, which means more visible in the vehicle since they now have the burden of a screen. When it comes to viewing off the camera, some (usally older cams) record in proprietary formats and need a special viewer. Most record in AVI or WMV format so you can watch the output on pretty much anything. (And then there are the weird ones that require a special viewer for the AVI or WMV formats, but only if you want to see GPS info; the files view fine without the viewer ... but lack GPS data.)
    • Long-term storage I again punt to YouTube; that's what they do for a living so there's no need for me to reinvent the wheel.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  6. TRPLXL2

    TRPLXL2 New Member

    I use my GOpro black edition for all my automotive video, best camera I ever used.
  7. PantheraUncia

    PantheraUncia New Member

    I have both a Canon 1080p handy cam camcorder mount and a cell phone mount with the Torque android software for 2 camera's.

    The funny part is that the cell phone camera does better in low light and has a clearer HD picture than the actual camcorder.

    With the Cell phone and Torque + the recording plugin, I can overlay map and OBD II stats as transparent layers over the video, and use the GPS on the phone if needed, making it a pretty sophisticated setup for the cost involved ($15 in software), I already had the cell phone so that cost is already absorbed.

    The only other cost was the OBD II Blue tooth adapter, which you can get the ones for $20 or you can get the one that you know will work for $149.
  8. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    How often do you run your dashcam? I'm asking because in all the times we've met I've never once seen it in the window mount you have up. Also, do you let it record while you're not in the truck? If so, how much recording time do you get out of it before it runs out of space, runs out of battery power (probably a long run time given your dual battery setup?), or overwrites?
  9. PantheraUncia

    PantheraUncia New Member

    The canon camcorder is only in the truck when I am with it, if I go into a store, or restaurant, etc. ; I pull it out of the window so someone does not see it and try and break in and grab it.

    The camcorder has extended batteries that give me 480 minutes of record time, it also has in internal 120gb hard drive which they claim is 11 hours of record time at 1080p.

    My Galaxy S3 (Cell Phone w/ Torque) has 96gb of space and depending on the format I record in can get me 8-14 hours of record time. (I do not leave that in the truck either, the phone is on me at all times when not in the truck).

    I was tempted to get a GS3 out of contract to keep in the truck for the sole use of dashcam, and OBD II live diagnostics.

    I like what I see from that fineview 500 series though, I might look into that. I also thought about a gopro, but having to switch memory cards out all the time would be a pain.
  10. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    Pretty much all of the manufacturers of dashcams that use micro SDHC cards advise that the cards be reformatted once per month. Some cameras (like the FineVu) can actually do the reformat for you (manually activated, not scheduled); most can't. As such cards to have a finite number of writes per cell, this makes sense -- so plan for it if you go the route of a dashcam.

    As for buying a new one, I'd recommend you wait a little bit since you already have two. The latest implementations entail WiFi on the dash cams, making them convenient to config, copy from, and review from a smartphone ... without the dashcam having a monitor (which is important as this reduces the dashcam size). Currently the few that have WiFi are reported to have GPS interference issues, but allow this technology to mature and I think it's the way all dashcams will eventually go.

    You and I tend to have similar tastes so I'll give you a heads-up, too. If you begin looking at dashcams the IONE-3800FU looks great on paper and in videos... at a solid price point for what you get. However, it's only been on the market about 7 weeks and has reliability issues. One of my co-workers in Kansas has one ... and has extreme buyer's remorse about it. Maybe the second generation of that unit will be better...
  11. PantheraUncia

    PantheraUncia New Member


    One of my biggest gripes about these dedicated dash cams and the IP/ Wifi home surveillance camera's (GoPro included) which is odd, is that their firmware/ Operating System's don't support "exFAT" which allows them to support Micro SDXCHC cards from 64gb - 2TB).

    And their "low light and "refresh rate" capabilities. For a moving vehicle, you would want at least a 240hz refresh rate for motion.
  12. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    I suspect we'll see larger micro SDXCHC support in the next year. Low light and refresh rate improvements will probably be incremental, since what's there is absolutely adequate from a security surveillance point of view (and far better than many existing security CCTV systems).
  13. dobey

    dobey Member

    Recording frame rates probably won't get any higher than 60 FPS. Unless you're trying to record mosquitos hitting the windshield, it's also not that useful. Even multi-million dollar ultra high def movies recorded in 4K with $50,000 cameras are only recording at like 40-48 FPS max, and then get downsampled to 24-30 FPS for theaters/dvd/bluray/whatever.

    There isn't really any market for recording bullet time in dash cams, so anything that does record that fast will be extremely rare, and quite expensive, if it ever does come out.
  14. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    I agree that we probably won't see higher FRAME rates than 60fps -- and that it'd be largely wasted if we did. However, do note that I didn't mention the frame rate.

    PantherUncia mentioned the refresh rate, not the frame rate ... as did I. I believe PantherUncia was referring to the screen refresh rate on those cameras that have screens/monitors. I base this on the 240hz commentary he made.

    There's also the sensor refresh rate ... which is the sampling rate of the sudden motion sensor.
  15. dobey

    dobey Member

    It wasn't clear what exactly he meant by refresh rate, and a search for "refresh rate" relating to dash cams was all about the recording of frames, from what I saw in the search results. But I doubt you'll see higher than 60 Hz refresh rates in the LCD panels for those that have them, either. The 120/240 Hz refresh rate nonsense that gets marketed on LCD TVs is just that, nonsense. It's some software processing to smooth the picture, and make some educated guesses about where things on the screen will be in the next several frames, and fakes it, displaying something that isn't quite there yet, where it will likely be. This is why it makes scrolling text look a bit better, but heavy action sequences in movies and such, can look quite horrible with it. The LCD panel side you actually see the light come from is still actually only refreshing at ~60 Hz.

    Were you also talking about this, or the sensor refresh rate?
  16. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member

    I left it generic so that it would apply to both.

    I don't like dash cams with displays -- because to me it makes no sense to have the added bulk (which draws attention to the cam) to see an image of something you can look right out the window and see, yourself. As long as you can stream data off the cam or simply pop a chip out to snag the video, I'm happy. Thus, the only refresh rate that I personally care about is the sensor refresh rate.

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