A129+ new user... finally

ursamajor

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My DVR arrived, in fact I ran for the courier, because I had to pick it up, because I'm going for a trip in the mountains. I finally opted for another than A119 V3, respectively an A129 Plus single.

I chose it because it seemed like the natural step, because:

- It's newer,
- the sound is very good,
- the construction is better and the design more pleasant,
- it has something extra, for example WiFi or dual mode (if I want the rear camera),
- I would add to the advantages a slightly wider angle of visibility.

If it will have the same firmware support as the V3 (it is said to be the subject of the same firmware team), I think it will be OK.

It came with the well-known accessories:

- 12V charging adapter
- power cord
- short USB data cable
- an electrostatic pad (if you do not want to mount it directly on the windshield)
- clips
- mini plastic lever to hide the cable
- two double-sided adhesive pads
In addition to what is mentioned in its manual:
- a non-functional Viofo microSD card reader, unfortunately. Or maybe it just read Viofo cards. IOL

I let it warm up a bit (here it's very cold outside) and tested it quickly. The image and sound are OK, ie as it should be, unlike the V3 sound (it seems that recent specimens suffer from this), more I do not interested. The WiFi is good, the Android app resembles the one from 70mai Pro. I don't know how often I will use it, because all the options are available in the DVR menu. It has the latest firmware v. 1.4@24.12.2020.
I am going to mount it when I have time, to start its service period.
 

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shockwave199

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Only other thing I'd suggest is the polarized lens filter to cut down on the dashboard reflection and just a better overall exposure. Since having it I like it.
 
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ursamajor

ursamajor

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I like so much these sort of people who don't even bother to read/watch/look (pictures) the postings of the others... but they come with advices. :facepalm:
 
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ursamajor

ursamajor

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I'll try to make a brief review of my new camera after I tested it a little.

What I like:
- good / selectable bitrate,
- acces to some advanced exposure features, I mean EV value,
- good viewing angle ,
- good readability of license plates on daylight, but with sufficient light,
- solid / good construction,
- good image quality during the day (the CPL filter also contributes DECISIVELY to this, even at night in some condition of good light),
- Wifi is a plus, but I don't know how much I will use it...

What I dislike:
- much poorer image quality in the evening, even in cities, on artificial street lighting, but especially when the background is dark, for example outside cities or on unlit streets,
- much worser readability of license plates, up to absence, as daylight decreases,
- readability absent at dusk, difficult or absent when it's cloudy (more seriously, not with those white clouds, as I saw that some reviews at Viofo and they say it's cloudy, lol),
- likewise, evening/night: completely absent readability of the plates,
- a wrong White Balance at dusk, turned blue... too cold WB,
- WDR is a disaster, HDR is definitely better, but let's see if it will be implemented on A129 + as Viofo representative said here,
- some complain on dashcam forum that buffered parking mode does not work (I can't check),
- a bit high price for what it offers at this moment (it's MY opinion).

After 70mai Pro, Viofo A119V3 and the one I now have (A129 +) passed through my hands, I would say that, if I refer strictly to the image quality, 70May Pro is the best buy. I ignore the fact that it has a battery vs. a capacitor. I had the camera on accu. and it worked from 2013 to 2020 - LS650W. I'm really thinking of replacing its battery and using it as rear camera. Coming back to 70mai Pro, instead, it has ADAS (funny and even functional), it has WiFi, like the A129+ and it's much cheaper.
I would recommend 70mai Pro without hesitation to those who only want the camera part, not the parking surveillance part. I hope that this manufacturer 70mai will develop, because I am almost certain that we will have good car DVR, but also cheaper ones. Anyway, I don't want to be misunderstood, I like the camera, I mean the A129+. But it doesn't have that WOW factor, that's the point.

Some tests (all with CPL filter):
daylight

daylight@60fps

night@21:9@EV -2/3

It's possible to change my mind in some aspects and I'll be back with impressions after thoroughly testing.
 
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ursamajor

ursamajor

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More tests. This time I set EV to 0. Also in very difficult conditions: out of town, unlit road sections, dimly lit streets...

Outside the town:

Dimly lit street, with/without headlights:

What is interesting is that it seems that noise reduction practically doesn't really exist. I notice, from some comparisons made with RAW files of A119V3 (taken in similar conditions), that on A129 + it seems that they preferred not to apply noise reduction (or it is at a lower level), but to let the details be seen better. It's like a trade off, because some might say, like me, that the image is too noisy....
 

SawMaster

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it seems that they preferred not to apply noise reduction (or it is at a lower level), but to let the details be seen better. It's like a trade off,

Exactly. As you gain with one you lose with the other so the setting is a compromise of what they think best. It won't please everybody but most seem to like it.

Phil
 

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because some might say, like me, that the image is too noisy....
I agree, at night it gets too noisy. But I personally prefer it that way over those that apply noise reduction where things look smeared. But maybe soon we will star seeing new sensors that are more capable at capturing better images with less noise in darker scenarios like these.
Another thing I have noticed from competitors, is that they tend to exaggerate the contrast while recording in a bright day causing darker shadows when these units should be optimized for evidence collection and not cinematic movies where people like darker black tones. That can be added on with post production software if desired to and not the other way around.
 
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ursamajor

ursamajor

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I also think that the lens of A129Plus is much sharper than A119V3's and give more clearer and contrasted images. Then, the noise reduction and smeared portions on V3 images make sense, because a soft lens reduce details, cheating the noise reduction algorithm who smears the image. I made some comparisons using RAW files and I saw that even in daylight the noise reduction is present. See below and note that the files have the same bitrate, same resolution and both cameras had CPL filter:

PS: you can test by yourself from here (see RAW files in description).
 

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ursamajor

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More tests, they can be useful for others who want to buy this camera, because for me it was hard to find videos taken in various and hard conditions of light, not for marketing purposes.



 
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ursamajor

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Next time I'll go for a trip, I'll try a timelapse video... I like that feature. It was better to be 4k, but... 2k is, also, enough.
Usually I used a smartphone for timelapse, but a timelapse from a moving car would look even better, especially if the landscapes help...


 
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ursamajor

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More tests, they can be useful for others who want to buy this camera, because for me it was hard to find videos taken in various and hard conditions of light, not for marketing purposes.
I was referring to these, merged in a single clip, with tests in various low light scenarios: download.
The file is big, about 3.27GB. I removed the sound, but the file is unedited, RAW.
 

Caldinin

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What settings do you find ideal and optimal for the 129Plus + CPL?
 
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ursamajor

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I didn't manage to test it thoroughly, but I think the best settings are those as close as possible to default.

For example,
* I use the resolution 1440p (so called 2k) or the 21:9 format.
* I use High bitrate setting, also always H265 codec, not H264, because of its efficiency. H265 is much better than H264, has better compression algorithms and the files are smaller at same quality. In our case 25 Mbits/s HEVC are far better than 30 Mbits/s AVC.
* I don't use WDR, it's OFF.
* Framerate 30 fps for plate readability purposes (even so, right before and at dusk, in the evening and in the morning at sunrise it is ZERO),
60 fps for artistic effect.
* 3 min. loop recordings.
* GPS on if you have it, off if you don't.
* G-sensor Low.
* Date stamp, GPS info, Custom text, Car number, Camera model, Beep etc. - set them as you wish.
* Frequency - 50 Hz in Russia, the power grid, isn't it?
* I let at final the exposure compensation EV, because it's a setting who could improve somehow the quality of image, but don't expect miracles. You can test different values, such as -1/3, -2/3 to see if it suits you.
* For now I keep it to EV 0, but I used -1/3 and I was pleased.
I don't use Parking Mode currently.
 
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ursamajor

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I installed the latest beta firmware (v. 1.4TST) with 21:9@60fps and I tested it in daylight. It works OK, as far as I saw. I also will test it at dusk and in the night to se how it manages to work in hard condition of low light. After that, I'll upload some of the tests.
 

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ursamajor

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I tested the latest beta fw also at night. It seems to wok good, except some random banding in very low light and, ofcourse, the biiiig noise. Because of 60 fps, they programmed camera to increase gain and image is visible more noisy and soft than at 30 fps. But they struggled to managed to control the gain/noise, so that's no huge (in good light conditions - street lights/city). As a consequence, in extreme low light the image is a bit darker than at 30 fps (that'sperfectly normal, half exposure time) and I realized that I can read better the traffic indicators, but not the license plates. but the noise and softness of image aren't good, but not much, much more than at 30fps. The image is still acceptable in localities, with street lights.

PS: I also tested the new feature with WDR OFF, but WDR absolutely destroyes the image... so, again, we wait for HDR. :D
PPS: by the way, this WDR, how it works today on this Sony sensors (!!!) seems to me worse than in my old AR0330 camera, LS650W.

Wait for final 1440p processing from Youtube...




And then let's remember the beauty of the winter :D:

 
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I can't get why WDR is so bad at IMX335 vs. a much older sensor (ignore the WB)... horrific quality! :eek:


 
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Traffic lights are visible with 21:9 format.
 

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In the old days we use to have lights suspended over intersections, though i think they would still be in sight.
But thank god we have gotten rid of those ugly air wires and cables in most places.

WDR is probably also a place where improvements can be made, it look to also be in the major update to SG cameras.
Judging by the released footage it look like SG cameras will get a significant boost in Image quality, i cant wait to see that even if they are not bad as it, just prove everything can most likely be improved if you bother to.
 
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