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How To Buy  A Rear View Backup Camera System

There are some important things to consider before you buy your vehicle backup camera and the purpose of this guide is to help consumers understand the most important needs from a non-technical perspective.  Furthermore, besides knowing what type of rear view backup features you need, you will also want to select the eBay sellers who are capable of offering the real store warranty for at least 3 months and also providing good post sales technical/customer support.

Needs: View Angle
Options: 100 degree - 180 degree
Comments: Most of the cars only require a 100 degree view angle. Heavy vehicles require wider angles up to 180 degree. Never get 30-40 degree cameras as they are virtually pointless for accessing your blind spots. If it is difficult for you to see the angle from normal head turns, you may want to choose a wider angle view camera.  The camera’s view angle is determined by a combination of the image sensor size and lens focal length. The larger the image sensor, the wider the possible view angle is.  Most of the time you will find image sensors of either 1/3" or 1/4" in the market, and both are ideal for most applications.  If you are looking for a WIDE view angle camera, 1/3" is the best choice. Without changes in other functions, increasing in view angle does not increase price by much.

Needs: Image Quality
Options: CCD vs. CMOS
Options: 420 TVL/480 TVL
Comments: The most critical factor that determines the camera image quality is the type of the image sensor.  There are two basic types of image sensor: CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) and CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor).  CCD sensors are popular for digital cameras and are generally associated with significantly higher quality images.  Compared with CMOS cameras, CCD cameras have higher resolution, lower system noise, brighter night vision, higher system complexity, faster uniform shuttering, and a higher price.  Without the image comparison, most customers cannot tell if the camera uses CCD technology or CMOS technology unless you are a technical expert and open the camera to test it.  Most of the time, if a seller does not claim the camera is CCD, it must be CMOS.  The CMOS cameras are very cheap; you can get one for under $50. You might see a new type of image sensor called CMD in the market; it is the latest developments in sensor technology. It uses the CMOS technology but gives almost the same quality as a Sharp CCD sensor in daylight. However, a CMD sensor is half the price! This camera is small, having a diameter of just 25mm. The night vision on these cameras is not great (around the same as a standard CMOS camera), so if night vision is important to you, the CCD cameras are the best.
Another factor that affects the image quality is the overall resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer the camera image is. Make sure the rear view camera has either a 420 TV Line or a 480 TV Line. This should be high enough to provide a descent camera image.

Needs: Adjustable View
Options: Adjustable Angle 30 degree – 180 degree

Comments: When you purchase rear view cameras such as the license plate/frame cameras, flush mount cameras or side view cameras, make sure the view angle can be adjusted up to at least 30 degrees.  For the license plate/frame cameras, the view angle can be from 45 degrees to180 degrees tilt up or tilt down.  The flush mount keyhole cameras should come with the angle control rings so you can adjust the angle during the installation.  The side view camera usually has less flexibility to adjust the view angle, but it should be able to have the convenient angle adjustment function (up to 30 degrees).

Needs: Mirror/Reverse Image Function
Options: Pre-set Reverse View vs. Normal Image View

Comments: Most of the rear view backup cameras have the reverse image view pre-set by the manufacturer.  The camera is powered by the cables that power your vehicle's reverse lights. When you put your vehicle into reverse gear, your reversing lights turn on and power is sent to the camera sending out a video signal.  When you take your vehicle out of reverse gear, the reverse lights go out and the camera stops sending an image. A lot of rear view systems in the market require you to manually switch the system so that you can see things behind the vehicle - you want to avoid buying rear view systems that do not display the reverse image automatically on the monitor.  Most of our rear view backup cameras also come with the two-pin jumper connectors (tiny white plastic connectors), users can use the connectors to adjust the reverse/normal mirror image. This allows the rear view camera to display both a reversed camera image on the monitor (for vehicle rear viewing to duplicate the normal view seen in a rear-view mirror) and a normal view on the monitor (for vehicle front viewing).

Needs: Water/Weather-Proof
Options: IP 66/IP 67

Comments: One of the important features to consider is the rear view camera housing. The housing should be completely waterproof as well as shockproof.  The IP Code (International Protection Rating) classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures.  Most weather/water-proof rear view backup cameras have IP66 or IP67, both provide good enough waterproof function. However, waterproof here does not mean the rear view camera can be submerged in water for a long period of time.  Two things can help prevent the water from entering the camera when you install the camera in your car: 1. provide additional sealing/protection for the cable connections; 2. make sure the wire coming from the camera is facing up and not down.


Needs: Audio Capability
Options: With Audio vs. Without Audio
Comments: Most rear view cameras don’t have audio capability.  However, it might be helpful to have the audio monitoring function for some vehicles like trailers or buses.  Rear view cameras with an audio function do not have to be higher priced. Most of the time audio capability requires a trade-off between better weather/waterproofing.  The reason is because the microphone hole on the camera housing may lower the quality of waterproofing.  Unless you really need the audio capability for some special use, we don’t recommend that customers choose the rear view cameras with audio monitoring function.

Needs: Wired vs. Wireless
Options: Wired vs. Wireless – strongly suggest a wired system
Comments:
Wireless cameras are easier to install because you don’t need to run the cable from the rear of the car to the monitor on the dashboard, and the antenna is often built into the camera for simple one-piece installation.  However, there is always a problem with devices that share radio frequency channels.  The reception can be a big problem due to the interferences from a variety of sources, so some wireless cameras have a separate antenna on a wire. The antenna can be positioned for better reception, but this complicates the installation.  Compared with wireless rear view camera, the wired system provides much higher quality and much more stable image view.  Especially for the long vehicle like a motorhome or the 5th wheel RV, the wireless rear view cameras may not work too well because of the distance.  We strongly suggest you go with a wired system instead of a wireless rear view system.  The manufactures have not found the real solution for the interference problems of the wireless transmission yet.

Needs: Type of Cameras
Options: Box Surface Mount, Keyhole Flush Mount, License Plate/Frame Mount, Mini Embedded, Side View Style

Comments: There are five basic types of rear view backup cameras (see the options above).  The box surface mount rear view cameras are usually used for heavy/long vehicle like truck, trailer, RV or bus.  The box cameras come with the mounting brackets that can be attached to the flat surface, aiming down at approximately 45 degrees.  For smaller vehicles, there are portable versions of backup cameras that do not need to be installed on the dashboard. These include keyhole flush mount cameras, license plate/frame mount cameras and mini embedded cameras.  The keyhole flush mount cameras can be installed into your vehicle’s key lock hole.  You don’t need to drill a hole on the vehicle and the installation looks much cleaner on your car.  The flush mount cameras come with angle control rings and fix rings that are used to adjust the camera view angle.  The license plate/frame mount cameras provide the easiest and simplest installation solutions.  You simply mount the license plate camera (without license frame) to the existing license plate, or replace your old license plate frame with the license frame camera (with a standard license frame).  No new holes in your bumper and no outside casings!  Another advantage is most of the license plate/frame cameras offer wider view angle around 170-180 degree.  The newest camera model is the mini embedded rear view camera; they are compact cameras approximately 0.75 inch (w) x 1.0 inch (L).  The embedded cameras are small and easy to conceal, providing a clean looking installation.  However, most of the mini size cameras don’t have bright night vision because the camera body is too small to have the infrared tubes built in. The last style is the side view camera. It is easy to understand by the name - the cameras are mounted at the side of the car.  Two things are important when you purchase the side view camera: first, make sure the camera view angle can be adjusted (usually it is -30° to +30° from any direction); secondly, remember to check whether the camera image can be switched between left and right view.

Needs: TFT LCD Monitors
Options: 5” LCD Monitor vs 7” LCD Monitor

Comments: When you purchase the monitor, the first thing you need to do is make sure you go with a TFT LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) monitor if you have a color rear view camera.  Another type of monitor is CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor, which is usually used for black and white rear view cameras, is an old technology.  In the market you may see different sizes of TFT LCD Monitors. Most of them are either 5” or 7” monitors.  The bigger the monitor, the higher the price you will pay.  Both 5” and 7” LCD monitors are good choices for small cars.  For heavy vehicles like trucks, tractors or RVs, you definitely want to use 7” monitors as bigger monitors can provide adequate detail for safe backing.  Beware if you see a monitor price between $60 and $70 - it is not normal as it is too low to ensure a good quality.  Those low price monitors usually are second-hand screens and the inner PCB circuit is usually an issue - many cables are not fixed well and they are easy to loose.  You also need to check the power input range of the monitors. You want to choose the one with a free power input between DC11~32V, which protects your LCD monitor from being burnt by the fluctuation of your vehicle power.

Needs: Extended Cable For Rear View System
Options: Standard RCA Cable vs. 4-Pin Cable

Comments: If you need an extended cable for your wired rear view backup camera, you can get the standard RCA cable from any local store or online for between $10-$40 (depending on the length).  The wire coming from the rear view cameras usually has three connectors: video, audio and power (same as the standard RCA connectors). The RCA cable is a convenient option as it can be used for all the standard rear view backup cameras and monitors, but to make water proofing enabled, the cable connections will require additional sealing/protection.  Another option is the cable with 4-pin connectors, which is waterproof and less likely to work loose with vibration.  The cable with 4-pin connectors is more expensive and it probably cannot be used for all the rear view camera system depending on the wire connectors coming from the rear view camera and monitor.  Sometimes you may need the cable with 4-pin connectors at both sides; sometimes you may need the cable with the RCA connectors at one side and a 4-pin connector at the other side.  Some handy customers just purchase the 4-pin male/female connectors, cut the RCA cable connectors and convert the RCA cable to be the 4-pin cable.

 

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