Garmin Dash Cam 56 - impressions so far

Philip F

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I recently purchased two Garmin Dash Cam 56 cameras and have been using them daily, everyone should have a good dash cam in this day and age! Just wanted to share my impressions so far.

Initially I was kinda disappointed by the video quality, originally had it on the highest resolution and when viewed on my PC I immediately noticed that the video quality is very noisy and as such, not terribly sharp. I then decided to step the video quality down to the 1920 x 1080 30fps HDR ON setting since my PC monitor is only capable of that anyway, and while not improved, happy with that resolution for now and still have plenty of recording time possible on the 64GB micro SD card.

Back to the video quality though, I have got two old GoPro Hero 2 action cameras which I've used for many years now and I was surprised that the daylight video quality on the old GoPro action cameras is quite a bit better, sharper and far less noise, but when it gets dark, that's where they fall flat on their faces and where the Garmin Dash Cam 56 is so much better! Sound recording quality is also noticeably better on the Garmin Dash Cam 56 compared to my old GoPro action cameras. Now I get that action cameras and dash cameras are similar but different, so this in not a comparison as such, just interesting differences to note.

Another interesting observation is that the 30 or 60 fps causes some street lights to flicker - we are 220v 50Hz, so that makes sense. Would be nice if more video modes with maybe 25 and 50 fps were added.

The Driver Aids are very handy, but I found that the Lane Departure, Proximity Warning and Traffic is Moving can be annoying, and especially if and when reviewing the footage, so eventually disabled them. The Event Detection is good, but I don't like that it chops the minute before and after the saved incident.

For the one Garmin Dash Cam 56 which I am using, I also bought the optional suction cup mount which is a lot more practical, especially if you are driving multiple vehicles which aren't your own. I am also getting the optional Polarizing Filter next week, so will add my impressions of that here later on.

Overall, I am very happy with these dash cameras, they do their job well as far as I am concerned!
 

matti

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F900LHD , G1W-CB , 70mai , 70mai Pro , Garmin 56
Xukey Dashboard Cover Dashmat Dash Mat. This eliminates reflections. Improves the driver's view. The goods remain in place. It is admirably stylish.

 

lacibaci

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I am using Garmin polarized filter to limit reflections. Works great during the daylight. There is a small brightness fall off at night, barely noticeable.
The filter will not fix the cheap blinking LEDs though :)
 

Kaspiic

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I also use polarized filter - without it videos from my car are bad because of reflections.
About video quality... grainy! In sunlight grain are not visible, but when light is a bit lower- grain starts to be visible.
 

NC35

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Hiya,
How are you finding the safety/speed camera warnings?
TBH I am more interested in this feature on a dash cam in the UK than anything else.

Sent from my SM-N976B using Tapatalk
 

Gary E

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Hiya,
How are you finding the safety/speed camera warnings?
TBH I am more interested in this feature on a dash cam in the UK than anything else.

Sent from my SM-N976B using Tapatalk

I do not use those features in either of my 56 cams.
 

lacibaci

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Hiya,
How are you finding the safety/speed camera warnings?
TBH I am more interested in this feature on a dash cam in the UK than anything else.

Sent from my SM-N976B using Tapatalk
I had a subscription for one year - never once I got a warning. It probably works better in EU than here.
 
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Philip F

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Just a quick follow up, and thanks for the various replies.

So far still happy with my Garmin Dash Cam 56 cameras, and definitely happy with the Polarized filter, it is definitely a worthwhile investment! It is effective at cutting most of the dashboard/windscreen reflections during the day when the sun is at that tricky angle, and it has a negligible affect on night lighting, so honestly worth it. The only issue I started experiencing was the supplied car charger adapter doesn't always make very good contact in one of my cars, and it's not the cigarette lighter power point that is at fault, it's as if the pin of the Garmin car charger adapter doesn't extend deep enough like all other charger adapters that I have used over the years. So while I hate mixing brands, I settled on a good quality general car charger adapter which has a small blue LED power indicator and that seems to work fine.

Now for a more significant criticism of not the camera itself, but the optional (and expensive) suction cup mount. Now it works well most of the time, but it has two annoying issues. First one being, on video review, you hear a significant rattling of the suction cup mount against the glass, it seems to pick up all sorts of vehicle vibrations, for the idle or low rpm diesel engine vibrations, to slightly noisy tyres or rough tar. But then the most annoying, and scary issue, I have had the camera fall off the windscreen a number of times on all of the vehicles that it has been used in. This seems to happen when a somewhat noticeable ring trace on the windscreen is left from the suction cup, it doesn't seem to allow the suction to remain stable and then the slightest bump or temperature change sees it fail and the camera goes tumbling, which is NOT what you want to have happen. So I have been taking care to clean the windscreen and the actual suction cup on a fairly regular basis, not after every use, but still often enough, and the suction cup mount and camera is never left mounted when the car is parked out in the sun for any significant length of time (has only so far been exposed to Autumn and Winter conditions so far mostly). On a recent road trip, which was the last straw for me, the camera fell off the windscreen 3 times! So I have retired it until it has to be used and just mounted the standard magnet mount disks instead which has never had any of these issues.

Other than that, still very happy with my Garmin Dash Cam 56 cameras!

Maybe those street lights are LED.

It's definitely LED street lights that's causing the flicker, was just an observation and a remark based on the fact that while you can set different resolution options, there's no option for different FPS other than double the frame rate which doesn't solve this. But it's not really such a big issue.
 
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Philip F

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I am using Garmin polarized filter to limit reflections. Works great during the daylight. There is a small brightness fall off at night, barely noticeable.
The filter will not fix the cheap blinking LEDs though :)

Correct, it has no affect on frame rates, so won't directly influence this issue. However, when I compare older video samples that I have kept before adding the Polarized filter and current videos with this filter attached, the flicker is definitely not as apparent. It's still there, just not as noticeable.

Changing the frame rate won't help with the flicker from the led lights anyway

Of course it will, as per my original post suggestions. And I in fact know it does, my two old GoPro Hero 2 action cameras are set to 1920 x 1080 25fps and there is no flicker from any street lights. Simple mathematics - 25fps goes into 50Hz cleanly, 30fps doesn't go into 50Hz cleanly, so that's why you get a noticeable flicker.
 

kamkar

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Changing to one of the standard frame rates might not work - 25 / 30 - 50 / 60 FPS, changing to some nontraditional and i assume much higher FPS might.
Same as the 60 / 50 Hz option in most cameras, many LED billboards ASO dont care and still flicker, here it is most often the prices for fuel at the gas station.
The street light i never had any worth mentioning problems with.

People should also remember this is accident recorders, and not cinematic film recorders, and it dont matter if you have a accident on a road with flickering light.
If you want cinematic you should at least go to high end action cameras, but then you have left the world of dashcams and the features unique to them.
 
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Philip F

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Changing to one of the standard frame rates might not work - 25 / 30 - 50 / 60 FPS, changing to some nontraditional and i assume much higher FPS might.
Same as the 60 / 50 Hz option in most cameras, many LED billboards ASO dont care and still flicker, here it is most often the prices for fuel at the gas station.
The street light i never had any worth mentioning problems with.

People should also remember this is accident recorders, and not cinematic film recorders, and it dont matter if you have a accident on a road with flickering light.
If you want cinematic you should at least go to high end action cameras, but then you have left the world of dashcams and the features unique to them.

Unless they've added other FPS options since I last checked, it has only offered 30fps or 60fps, and as I have clearly indicated above, 25fps eliminates the flicker. Also, interestingly, it's not the newer LED type street lights that flicker on the footage, it's the older incandescent type street lights that flicker. Also, as I stated in my original post, this is simply an observation, not an actual criticism.

Sure, for a dashcam that is solely purposed to record what happens as you drive, doesn't need to be cinematic quality, but at the end of the day, image quality is still important, and high resolution of course too. And there are loads of other equivalently priced dashcams that do offer slightly better image quality. And again, as I mentioned in my original post, I am especially impressed with the image quality at night versus my, admittedly old, GoPro Hero 2 action cameras which are terrible in night light, but still really good during the day.

At the end of the day, these are all minor things and does not take away that much from what this dashcam offers.
 

kamkar

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Yes thats about it 25/50 if you use PAL, and 30 / 60 if you use NTFS.

Personally i have always used NTFS and 30 / 60 FPS though i do live in a PAL country.
And from my testing / studies there are no gains in going with 60 FPS other than you can slow it down to 50 % speed and still have okay footage.
 
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Philip F

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Yes thats about it 25/50 if you use PAL, and 30 / 60 if you use NTFS.

Personally i have always used NTFS and 30 / 60 FPS though i do live in a PAL country.
And from my testing / studies there are no gains in going with 60 FPS other than you can slow it down to 50 % speed and still have okay footage.

Yes, NTSC is 30Hz and of course PAL 25Hz, and similarly, and it relates, our AC is 50Hz which then matches the PAL video system versus AC 60Hz for NTSC.
 

SawMaster

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Power supply and FPS can be out-of synch slightly, which can produce odd effects, but generally they come together well enough to make a difference in florescent-type lighting. LED lights are now almost all pulse-width-modulated where each type will have a much higher frequency all it's own, and only luck can have that coincide with one of the selectable frame rates well enough to be visibly different. If the PWM is fast enough you may not even see it.

In dashcams, we're generally looking for detail quality over image quality- a slight difference that can matter when reading plate numbers, but we call it IQ anyway. I'm not a Garmin fanboy but I have admired their IQ since I first saw vids from one. They do a good job with that compared to a lot of similarly-priced cams (y) Now if they'd just ditch the LiPo's and go to supercaps across their range I could like them a LOT better ;)

Phil
 

Kaspiic

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Hiya,
How are you finding the safety/speed camera warnings?
TBH I am more interested in this feature on a dash cam in the UK than anything else.

Sent from my SM-N976B using Tapatalk

Interesting situation with those speed/safety cameras.

Example:
when you drive from A to B - there is camera only on right side (non-uk) :) . Dash cam will warn about it.
When you drive same road/streef from B to A- there are no warnings!
But as we know- speed camera can "fire" in both directions! At least in my country...
 
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