Recommendation for Best Video Quality

ReburialGratify

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Hey, Everyone,

Can anyone recommend a dashcam which produces the best video quality? One that's good enough to allow legible license plate numbers from a moving car a few car distances away? I don't need any fancy features like WiFi or cloud connectivity although I'm fine with that too. The key factor is that license plates are legible.

Background. I was recently driving on the highway, behind a construction truck which was about 3 cars away. A pebble fell off the truck and struck my windshield, which created a crack bigger than a quarter. I actually have a Rexing V1 dashcam which captured this. Sadly, although it had a clear view of the truck, it was impossible to make out the license plate even though it was only a few feet away. This was one of the major reasons for purchasing a dashcam in the first place so I'm a little disappointed. So, I'm looking to upgrade my dashcam for one that would enable me to make out license plates.

I've read a lot of the posts here. Am I right that most believe the Thinkware X1000 has the best video quality? Is there a lesser known brand that is better but might have less features?

Watching videos that show Thinkware's performance, it looks like the technology isn't there to read license plates if the car is more than a car-length away. So, maybe I'm asking for too much?

Thank you for your help!
 
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SawMaster

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Welcome to DCT @ReburialGratify :)

There's no dashcam which will capture every plate. At best you can usually get most of them on a sunny day when the sun isn't low. At night it's a crapshoot with bad odds. So unless you drive mainly at night you might want to have a look at the Viofo A129 Plus and the A129 Pro; these have some of the best vid quality you can get and will definitely out-perform your V1. Rexing is much better than they were a few years ago, but they are not at the level of most of the cams you'll find discussed here. A large percentage of DCT members have many years of dashcam experience and we are big on good video quality- that and reliability are the two most important aspects of dashcamming.

Most of the member-generated cam reviews here will have raw video files linked to their YouTube vids. Viewing the raw vids will show you exactly what the cam captures whereas platforms like YouTube compress them which degrades the vid qyality when viewed. Some formats like ".ts" files and h265 encoding don't play well (or at all) on certain video viewing software so you may need to use "Dashcam Viewer" or "Potplayer" (my go-to) for those. Freeze a vid then go frame-by-frame and see how clear the plates are and how long they ate readable; most cams look good with running video but frame-by-frame exposes all flaws.

Once you see what is possible with a good dashcam you'll likely find one that suits your needs well, but no dashcam is perfect especially with license plates, and with US plates that's doubly true.

Phil
 
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ReburialGratify

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Phil,

Thanks for your help.

Tell me if I'm wrong but from what I've read is that the Thinkware U1000 has slightly better video quality overall but the Viofo might slightly do better with fast motion. The Viofo also has better cloud features and is much cheaper ($430 vs $250). Is that right?

One problem that I see with the Viofo A129 Pro Duo is the number of complaints on Amazon. People have complained that they've had problems.
 

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I can't say on the cloud features but Thinkware was onto that earlier so would probably do better. Viofo will best any Thinkware or Blackvue cam for vid quality; the bitrate of the recording shows the amount of information being processed and Viofo is higher, so therefore it's capturing and processing more detail to do that. All these cams use good lenses and well-tuned FW, but I think Viofo has the better-tuned FW. All this is subjective, look at the raw vids as I said and you'll see the difference.

As to price Viofo is the clear winner. If you're not using the features of the Thinkware you're spending the money for nothing. In dashcams price means little, performance is everything, and very good vids can be had at lower prices than Thinkware gets. Any of these cams will vastly outperform your Rexing so none will be a bad choice in that regard. Get whichever one has the features you want, but know that no dashcam is perfect or ever will be- they all have issues and trade-offs involved. Your money and your choice, plenty of good info on all these cams here on DCT coming from owners worldwide, so do your research- you'll be glad you did.

Phil
 
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ReburialGratify

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the Viofo has no cloud features
Thanks. I guess I was confusing it with the Blackvue.

Any update on improvements to the Street Guardian? I watched a video that said the Street Guardian had the best video quality but that was a few years ago. I guess other products have made some strides. Any upcoming rollouts for the Street Guardian, which will improve video quality?
 

kamkar

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I think SG have new / a new 1440p product in the end of the pipeline, but they too been hit by the corona thing, and also they dont jump right on any passing FAB, so took them a while to get into parking guard for instance.
So just getting into 1440p now and for now just looking at the options to do a good 4K system.
Otherwise their current products are based on consolidated 1080p sensors.
Their latest product is the SG9663DR that launched last year, it is based on the already existing DC systems, but then the DR is Dual remote so you have the 2 camera units on a wire from the main unit you can then hide somewhere in the car. ( this should give a better chance of doing parking guard in a hotter climate as the main unit will be out of the sun )

There was also talk about a overall firmware update, that would improve footage on already existing products, but i think corona halted that one, but no doubt from what i have seen of testing it beta it do give a nice lift to what is already there.
 

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Background. I was recently driving on the highway, behind a construction truck which was about 3 cars away. A pebble fell off the truck and struck my windshield, which created a crack bigger than a quarter. I actually have a Rexing V1 dashcam which captured this. Sadly, although it had a clear view of the truck, it was impossible to make out the license plate even though it was only a few feet away. This was one of the major reasons for purchasing a dashcam in the first place so I'm a little disappointed. So, I'm looking to upgrade my dashcam for one that would enable me to make out license plates.
Were you able to continue driving or did you have to immediately pull off the road?

If you were able to continue driving, and after you'd recovered from the shock, if you can read the truck's licence plate and other details (like company name, telephone, truck's id number, etc) then shout it out so that your dashcam's microphone can pick up the information- this obviously only works if your dashcam has audio and if you've switched on audio! It sounds like you were in a queue of traffic, were you able to get nearer to it or get past the truck either by overtaking or because it took a side road?

I'm very happy with the Viofo A119 v3. In fact, I now have two of them (one front and one rear) instead of a dual camera dashcam. This gives me two separate dashcams and camera redundancy. The most important view is the front, so should my front camera ever fail then I just swap the rear camera to the front. Hint: Never use the same SD card again when swapping dashcams, until after you've formatted it! I once had a front-facing RoadHawk dashcam fail on me and I swapped the rear-facing RoadHawk to the front and used the old Front SD card (I wanted journey continuity) - turns out the failure was caused by a faulty SD card which bricked both RoadHawk dashcams! Whoops! :oops:

Regards,
 

Lothar

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Try posting the video here and the /dashcam subreddit.
A lot of times, internet privacy investigators could pickup many things that you may have missed in analyzing your own video.

Also, if any of the license plates were partially readable, you could try this:
 

kamkar

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You Americans are pretty "handicapped" in regard to plate capture.
Your plates are smaller, it seem to be legal with other graphics on the plate, and some / many states only have 1 plate most often in the back.
We EU boys have larger plates with large letters and numbers, no graphics allowed and cars must have a plate front and rear, and still it can fast be a problem filming one of those little SOB's.

So IMO Americans at least need a dual system to have a fighting chance.

But then we get into the technicalities of a plate capture, and here is there things get tricky.
Under ideal circumstances almost any dashcam will give you a plate capture at most sane speeds and distances, personally i test that on Danish highways which is 80 km/h speed linit, and just 1 lane in each direction.
Only a select few places can you drive faster ( 90 km/h ) and still only have a white line in between you and the oncoming car.

And even i am still amazed some times getting almost no captures on a day where the day before with as far as my eyes go was the same light levels and i got all plates.
And some times also the other way around, still freak me out some times.

And even on the best of days lightning can still be a problem.

Here is a couple of videos i have made testing cameras, both of the videos demo plate capture from both front and rear camera,,,,,, and it is not too bad here, but a few less LUX of light at least on the rainy day and i would have been so out of luck.


You can also get a plate capture at night in a town, but then you need so many things to line up, most prominent a extremely low aggregate speed, i use to say as fast as a baby can crawl.
you might see demos from brands, but then it is filmed in a town with higher night time ambient lighting than Denmark have in the middle of a summer day, and the difference in speed on the camera car and the target cars are also crawl.
If a guy sideswipe you ar speed at night tearing your mirror off, and then do a runner, your best option is to see the plate and call it out for the microphone in the camera to hear.

In general due to the wide angle lenses of dashcams you cant get a plate very far off, 3 car lengths or so and thats about it, a 4K camera might extend that a little bit for daytime.
This is also why many of us have a long range camera in the windscreen, in my case a dashcam retrofitted with a 12 MM lens, this mean in the video footage i can read plates a bit further out than my tired old eyes can sitting in the car.
The price for that as you can see below is a very narrow field of view, so you cant just have a zoom camera in the car.


As i am a addict, i even have side cameras, on a sunny day these cam also get awesome recordings, this include plates, even if filming at that angle at speed, you only have a few frames to do good with.

 
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Kremmen

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The only comment I have about video quality, from personal experience, is to avoid any dashcam that hangs off a stalk from the windscreen mount.

In nearly all examples I've seen, other than smooth roads, the dashcam vibrates and ruins the footage.

I've got examples of 2 previous stalk models where the dashboard and parked wipers can be seen 'vibrating' due to dashcam movement.
 
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ReburialGratify

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Try posting the video here and the /dashcam subreddit.
A lot of times, internet privacy investigators could pickup many things that you may have missed in analyzing your own video.

Also, if any of the license plates were partially readable, you could try this:
I just noticed your reply. That's an awesome link!
 
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ReburialGratify

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Were you able to continue driving or did you have to immediately pull off the road?

If you were able to continue driving, and after you'd recovered from the shock, if you can read the truck's licence plate and other details (like company name, telephone, truck's id number, etc) then shout it out so that your dashcam's microphone can pick up the information- this obviously only works if your dashcam has audio and if you've switched on audio! It sounds like you were in a queue of traffic, were you able to get nearer to it or get past the truck either by overtaking or because it took a side road?

I'm very happy with the Viofo A119 v3. In fact, I now have two of them (one front and one rear) instead of a dual camera dashcam. This gives me two separate dashcams and camera redundancy. The most important view is the front, so should my front camera ever fail then I just swap the rear camera to the front. Hint: Never use the same SD card again when swapping dashcams, until after you've formatted it! I once had a front-facing RoadHawk dashcam fail on me and I swapped the rear-facing RoadHawk to the front and used the old Front SD card (I wanted journey continuity) - turns out the failure was caused by a faulty SD card which bricked both RoadHawk dashcams! Whoops! :oops:

Regards,
Privateer,

Unfortunately, I didn't read out the license plate because I just assumed the dashcam got it since I had a clear line of sight. That's why it annoyed me so much that I didn't get the license plate. I had purchased this dashcam specifically for situations like this and it didn't work. My fault though so I have nobody to blame.

I'm thinking of getting the Viofo Pro Duo 4k. Looking at test footages, it seems like it has a slight edge over the Thinkware U1000. The only problem is that there have more than a few complaints by Amazon buyers that the device breaks after a few months.
 

SawMaster

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With any mass-produced product there will be some failures- that's what warranties are for. With a reputable seller that shouldn't be an issue, however you do want to look for a pattern to reported failures to be sure your usage doesn't involve the issue, and you should also consider how numerous reported issues are among knowledgeable users. Many complaints arise from people who do not understand the correct uses and limitations of a product, and without reading each and every complaint you won't know which is which.

In general, the higher a cam's performance level the more stress there is on the hardware, so given equal quality builds a cam not being pushed so hard may be more reliable and/or long lasting. In the past when few 2-channel cams existed many of us chose to run 2 single cams for better video and better cam life; that's still an option today, but now there are some very good 2-channel cams so the game has changed somewhat. Yet you can still not get best vid quality front and rear from a 2-channel cam simply because of the limitations of the SOC approach and because the available processors are not capable of such top performance on both channels. Dashcams are essentially cheap consumer-grade devices and aren't going to excel at the job. Even the expensive commercial-grade systems aren't much better with most having even poorer vid quality.

There's no perfect solution and you still need to do things like saying plate numbers aloud to be absolutely sure you get the evidence you want, but there are much better cams than Rexing which make that effort less critical. That's all that is made so that's all you can get unless you make your own system where you'll find personally how tough it is to get good vids in every condition reliably. Or you can hire a videographer to aklways be filmiing and continuously adjusting their cam for optimum results all the time. Somewhere in the (far) future AI and their necessary computers will become affordable enough to get what we want, but until then all we can really do is choose a dashcam which seems to be the best for us, and hope that it is enough.

Phil
 
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ReburialGratify

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Thanks for the helpful advice. I appreciate it.

With the Viofo A129 Duo Pro 4k, the problems don't appear to be due to user error. For example, people would complain that after a few months, the unit would just turn off by itself constantly. What was even more troubling was that many of those people stated that Viofo wouldn't honor their warranty. They stated that Viofo was very unresponsive, and when they did respond, they would insist that users go back to the merchant that sold them the product.

The Thinkware U1000 also had a number of complaints but they were more glitches in the features, something that I can deal with. However, there is a major problem - the price. It's $430 while the Viofo is $230. That's almost twice as much!

So, I need to decide whether the risk of getting a dud is worth $200.

Again, thanks for all the helpful advice.

From what I've read, it seems that the Samsung Endurance Pro is the best SD card. Not only does it appear to have the highest quality, the price is not crazy either. I noticed the Viofo also sells an SD card but it's twice the cost of the Samsung.

With any mass-produced product there will be some failures- that's what warranties are for. With a reputable seller that shouldn't be an issue, however you do want to look for a pattern to reported failures to be sure your usage doesn't involve the issue, and you should also consider how numerous reported issues are among knowledgeable users. Many complaints arise from people who do not understand the correct uses and limitations of a product, and without reading each and every complaint you won't know which is which.

In general, the higher a cam's performance level the more stress there is on the hardware, so given equal quality builds a cam not being pushed so hard may be more reliable and/or long lasting. In the past when few 2-channel cams existed many of us chose to run 2 single cams for better video and better cam life; that's still an option today, but now there are some very good 2-channel cams so the game has changed somewhat. Yet you can still not get best vid quality front and rear from a 2-channel cam simply because of the limitations of the SOC approach and because the available processors are not capable of such top performance on both channels. Dashcams are essentially cheap consumer-grade devices and aren't going to excel at the job. Even the expensive commercial-grade systems aren't much better with most having even poorer vid quality.

There's no perfect solution and you still need to do things like saying plate numbers aloud to be absolutely sure you get the evidence you want, but there are much better cams than Rexing which make that effort less critical. That's all that is made so that's all you can get unless you make your own system where you'll find personally how tough it is to get good vids in every condition reliably. Or you can hire a videographer to aklways be filmiing and continuously adjusting their cam for optimum results all the time. Somewhere in the (far) future AI and their necessary computers will become affordable enough to get what we want, but until then all we can really do is choose a dashcam which seems to be the best for us, and hope that it is enough.

Phil
 
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