Help building a 2-channel shortlist?

IamFODI

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Hi, All! Currently feeling out 2-channel options and would love some input. Not worried about finding "THE BEST" dash cam for these criteria; just hoping for some suggestions of models to look at. Having a hard time trying to drink from the firehose of info.

Priorities:
- High detail resolution in the greatest possible variety of lighting conditions
- Really good parking mode (want to reliably catch door dings and parking accidents)

Would also like:
- Long-lasting battery for parking mode
- Really wide viewing angles
- IR (maybe just for the rear cam)

Don't care about one way or the other:
- High framerate
- Basically any other feature

Must NOT have:
- Screen
- GPS that can't be disabled

Haven't decided on a budget yet; wanted to get an idea of how much it'd cost to tick all the boxes, and go from there.

Any thoughts? TIA for any help!
 
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IAmATeaf

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For your long lasting battery spec you’ll need an external battery pack so that’ll be around 400 to start with?

If you really want every thing then have a look at the Thinkware and Blackvue 4K cams, they have most of the all singing all dancing features, then add your battery pack to power the cams when parked up.
 

SawMaster

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Welcome to DCT @IamFODI :)
First I think you might be misunderstanding the purpose of the battery in a dashcam; it is not intended to operate the cam for parking but only to ensure that the cam shuts down correctly when outside power is cut. All dashcams require external power (usually your car battery) to record. One popular work-around is to use a powerbank to feed the cam while parked, and there are some systems which do this automatically for you, recharging while you drive. Your car battery can offer power while parking, but it's life will be significantly shortened if it's voltage drops too far; hardwire kits (HWK) have a low voltage cut-off that powers down the cam when the battery voltage drops to a point where battery damage is possible. You can almost always get 2 hours recording while parked with a 2-channel cam, and sometimes as much as 8 hours- this depends on the specific cam and the car battery size and condition.

Of the 2-channel cams with good reputations, all have good to excellent video resolution. That does vary and cost isn't always an indicator of what you'll get. And of the 2-channel cams some have a small remote rear cam module while others meant more for Uber and taxi use will have a rear-facing cam built into the front unit. For driving and parking use, the remote cam type offers better rear coverage. I think this type is what you have in mind. Also be aware that FOV width claims range from somewhat misleading to utterly bogus. Actual horizontal FOV on "wide angle" cams is around 130 degrees; sometimes slightly more and sometimes considerably less. You need to watch vids or see screenshots of each cam and compare them to determine if it's enough for you. Also be aware that wider lenses lose clarity, and again that loss varies from lens to lens.

Almost all 2-channel cams have a LCD screen, but these have a 'screen saver' function where the screen turns itself off shortly after startup, with the cam still recording. Usually the screen is on only a few seconds after startup.

Some cams have a separate GPS module which plugs in, some have GPS built into the mount, and some can be bought without GPS. You can almost always disable the GPS via the cam menu function so I'm afraid there is nothing available where the GPS cannot be turned off somehow.

"Parking mode" is a broad term, and there are several approaches to it. Most folks prefer either pre-buffered recording or low-bitrate constant recording; both have pros and cons. Also to consider with pre-buffered is what activates the recording- usually the cam detecting motion or detecting an impact. That activation may not be reliable based on which cam you choose, or it may cause other issues. Low bitrate is always recording so you cannot miss an event, but it may not give you an indication that something has occurred. Again this varies by cam.

So those are the basics. Among what I feel are good cams to consider here are the Street Guardian 9663DC, the Viofo A129 Duo, some Blackvue and Thinkware models, and the K2S dual remote cam. Best video quality overall is probably the Viofo, most features will be either Blackvue or Thinkware. Best design and best build quality probably goes to Street Guardian. The K2S is good all round and it's main unit can be hidden away with only two very small cam modules visible. A newer "Pro" version is out now with better sensors. There are also some cams intended for motorcycle use which can also be used in a car, but they tend to lack the features most car drivers want. Other 2-channel cams are IMHO not worth considering due to issues they have with reliability or low video resolution.

So have a look at the cams I recommended and see which one(s) you think might serve you best, then we can discuss them in more detail ;) You might not be able to get everything you want in a dashcam but there is always a very good choice that will get you close to your ideal cam.

Phil
 
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IamFODI

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Thanks for weighing in, Phil!

First I think you might be misunderstanding the purpose of the battery in a dashcam; it is not intended to operate the cam for parking but only to ensure that the cam shuts down correctly when outside power is cut. All dashcams require external power (usually your car battery) to record. One popular work-around is to use a powerbank to feed the cam while parked, and there are some systems which do this automatically for you, recharging while you drive. Your car battery can offer power while parking, but it's life will be significantly shortened if it's voltage drops too far; hardwire kits (HWK) have a low voltage cut-off that powers down the cam when the battery voltage drops to a point where battery damage is possible. You can almost always get 2 hours recording while parked with a 2-channel cam, and sometimes as much as 8 hours- this depends on the specific cam and the car battery size and condition.
Yes, the kind of battery pack I'm interested in is to feed the cam while parked and then charge while I drive. I'd like the option of being able to let the cams run for more than a few hours while the car is off. I'm (perhaps a bit too) concerned about draining my vehicle's main battery while the car isn't running.

However, as I said, it's not a must-have.


Of the 2-channel cams with good reputations, all have good to excellent video resolution. That does vary and cost isn't always an indicator of what you'll get. And of the 2-channel cams some have a small remote rear cam module while others meant more for Uber and taxi use will have a rear-facing cam built into the front unit. For driving and parking use, the remote cam type offers better rear coverage. I think this type is what you have in mind. Also be aware that FOV width claims range from somewhat misleading to utterly bogus. Actual horizontal FOV on "wide angle" cams is around 130 degrees; sometimes slightly more and sometimes considerably less. You need to watch vids or see screenshots of each cam and compare them to determine if it's enough for you. Also be aware that wider lenses lose clarity, and again that loss varies from lens to lens.

Almost all 2-channel cams have a LCD screen, but these have a 'screen saver' function where the screen turns itself off shortly after startup, with the cam still recording. Usually the screen is on only a few seconds after startup.
Great to know.


Some cams have a separate GPS module which plugs in, some have GPS built into the mount, and some can be bought without GPS. You can almost always disable the GPS via the cam menu function so I'm afraid there is nothing available where the GPS cannot be turned off somehow.
Apologies if I was unclear: I do want the GPS to be absent or able to be disabled, so this is good. :]


"Parking mode" is a broad term, and there are several approaches to it. Most folks prefer either pre-buffered recording or low-bitrate constant recording; both have pros and cons. Also to consider with pre-buffered is what activates the recording- usually the cam detecting motion or detecting an impact. That activation may not be reliable based on which cam you choose, or it may cause other issues. Low bitrate is always recording so you cannot miss an event, but it may not give you an indication that something has occurred. Again this varies by cam.
Saw this much in the research I've done so far. Definitely leaning toward pre-buffered.


Among what I feel are good cams to consider here are the Street Guardian 9663DC, the Viofo A129 Duo, some Blackvue and Thinkware models, and the K2S dual remote cam. Best video quality overall is probably the Viofo, most features will be either Blackvue or Thinkware. Best design and best build quality probably goes to Street Guardian. The K2S is good all round and it's main unit can be hidden away with only two very small cam modules visible. A newer "Pro" version is out now with better sensors. There are also some cams intended for motorcycle use which can also be used in a car, but they tend to lack the features most car drivers want. Other 2-channel cams are IMHO not worth considering due to issues they have with reliability or low video resolution.

So have a look at the cams I recommended and see which one(s) you think might serve you best, then we can discuss them in more detail ;) You might not be able to get everything you want in a dashcam but there is always a very good choice that will get you close to your ideal cam.

Phil
Roger that!

I'm liking what I'm seeing from the Street Guardian line.

Am I inferring correctly that you're not a fan of 4k models?
 

kamkar1

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Current 4K models are lacking a little in low light performance, but this do by no way mean that they are garbage after the sun set.
Those 4K models will log your lane holding according to markings or side of road, and they will also record just fine the color of any light you go thru.
But the already marginal ability of dashcams to capture plates in low light will be less for the 4K cameras than the best low light 1080p sensors like the IMX 291
This don't worry me as i hope to never be the victim of hit and run while driving or parked, and if you are parked you will only stand a chance of a plate capture if its in a well lit place and the speed are very low ( parking lot speed or lower )
Some idiot tearing your mirror off at speed when you are parked curbside, you only stand a chance of capturing if it is on a nice sunny day,,,,,,,,, that's just the limits of dashcams today.

Parking mode in general run off your car battery, with a low voltage discharge protection, but a few brands offer stand alone batteries for this, but i am not sure if all of those can work with any model from street guardian.
As i understand one of the power packs from another brand can be made to work with SG cameras, but better tag the boss @jokiin in so he can verify

Depending on your vehicle, you can also put a large AGM battery in the car "beside" the factory one, and then put one of those splitters / discharge protectors in camping folks use to insulate their power batteries from the mobilhomes / campers start battery.
In that case the dashcam battery will be charged while you drive, and be isolated so the dashcam can only use that for power.
This is the route i would prefer to go if i was to get a need for long term parking mode.
STILL ! You have to drive some to charge any battery, its no good to only drive 1 hour daily and use parking guard the other 23 hours of the day,,,,,, good thing a car generator do provide a lot of Amps for fast charging.
And fast charging are something that are a bit lagging in the dedicated dashcam power packs, where i think 10 or 12 Amps are the max for some of those batteries.
Where as a AGM battery you can "hit" with any number of amps that are not used on the factory battery, and i think car generators do something like 50 Amps in charge rate.

GPS at least in all SG cameras and many others are a stand alone antenna on a wire, so you can just not plug that in to make absolutely sure, but there are also a few options in the menu yo have things stamped in the footage or not.
In anyway your speed can always be more accurate determined from the video itself, as a result if time spent to cover some distance between 2 things you can go measure the distance in between, this are probably what a court would use as i doubt the consumer grade speed logging are good enough to satisfy the court.
In most cases no one will see your camera if it is mounted as stealthy as possible, so if you play nice with anyone that come up to your window i see no reason for him / her to detect your camera.
And most dashcams have a screen, but it turn off in seconds after start if that is what you set it to,,,, and this is recommended, not wise to have screens going and it also generate more than needed heat for the camera to deal with.
 
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IamFODI

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Current 4K models are lacking a little in low light performance, but this do by no way mean that they are garbage after the sun set.
Those 4K models will log your lane holding according to markings or side of road, and they will also record just fine the color of any light you go thru.
But the already marginal ability of dashcams to capture plates in low light will be less for the 4K cameras than the best low light 1080p sensors like the IMX 291
This don't worry me as i hope to never be the victim of hit and run while driving or parked, and if you are parked you will only stand a chance of a plate capture if its in a well lit place and the speed are very low ( parking lot speed or lower )
Some idiot tearing your mirror off at speed when you are parked curbside, you only stand a chance of capturing if it is on a nice sunny day,,,,,,,,, that's just the limits of dashcams today.
Understood. Makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.


Depending on your vehicle, you can also put a large AGM battery in the car "beside" the factory one, and then put one of those splitters / discharge protectors in camping folks use to insulate their power batteries from the mobilhomes / campers start battery.
In that case the dashcam battery will be charged while you drive, and be isolated so the dashcam can only use that for power.
This is the route i would prefer to go if i was to get a need for long term parking mode.
STILL ! You have to drive some to charge any battery, its no good to only drive 1 hour daily and use parking guard the other 23 hours of the day,,,,,, good thing a car generator do provide a lot of Amps for fast charging.
And fast charging are something that are a bit lagging in the dedicated dashcam power packs, where i think 10 or 12 Amps are the max for some of those batteries.
Where as a AGM battery you can "hit" with any number of amps that are not used on the factory battery, and i think car generators do something like 50 Amps in charge rate.
Good points. I hadn't thought of the dual battery route. I think I'd still prefer a battery pack but will have to chew on that.


GPS at least in all SG cameras and many others are a stand alone antenna on a wire, so you can just not plug that in to make absolutely sure, but there are also a few options in the menu yo have things stamped in the footage or not.
In anyway your speed can always be more accurate determined from the video itself, as a result if time spent to cover some distance between 2 things you can go measure the distance in between, this are probably what a court would use as i doubt the consumer grade speed logging are good enough to satisfy the court.
In most cases no one will see your camera if it is mounted as stealthy as possible, so if you play nice with anyone that come up to your window i see no reason for him / her to detect your camera.
And most dashcams have a screen, but it turn off in seconds after start if that is what you set it to,,,, and this is recommended, not wise to have screens going and it also generate more than needed heat for the camera to deal with.
Again, great points.

One of the reasons I'd rather not have a screen is that it seems like it'd occupy a fair amount of space on my windshield. Maybe that can be resolved with judicious mounting....
 

Nigel

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One of the reasons I'd rather not have a screen is that it seems like it'd occupy a fair amount of space on my windshield. Maybe that can be resolved with judicious mounting....
Normally there is plenty of space, especially on the higher resolution dashcams because the cameras must be big enough to be able to get rid of all the heat generated by the components inside them, if they are too small then they overheat.
 

kamkar1

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Most screens are pretty small, less than 2" diagonal, only some cameras with the pocket shooter style that hand down from the windscreen have larger screens.
Lukas for instance like to do large screens, but that's a brand most should bypass as they failed to keep up.
The wedge shaped cameras that stick to the windscreen very often come off as some form of sensor there from the factory, and if you have a dotted area on top of your wind screen, you can mount most of the camera on that and just have the lens peek down below that, and then you pretty much have as stealthy install as you can get.

Another option we will soon have available to us are dashcams with the camera remote on a wire, in that case the camera unit you have on the windscreen are much smaller, and the main unit with the screen / buttons and memory card you can hide pretty good, just not too deep as you after all need to access it now and then.

The remote cameras on these systems i recon will be around 1 x 1 x 1 inch in size, so substantial smaller than the front unit in current dual systems.

you can get a "taste" of the size for next level remote cameras in this picture of the parts of the K2S system i am currently testing on, something similar will be there from other brands within a few months.
 

kamkar1

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People are often surprised over how small the cameras actual are, if you look at wedge cameras like the viofo ones or street guardian, that screen on there are just 1" or so, so small that me with my tired old eyes i have to remember to bring my reading glasses if i want to make any changes.
So small those screens its only usable for settings and aiming when installing.
Another thing you might be familiar with in size is a gopro camera, the wedge shaped cameras are only a tiny bit larger than one of those action cameras.

In general the LCD screen on a dashcam are not the determining factor of its size, i for one would not be without the little screens, even if i some times have 5 test cameras on my windscreen.


 
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