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The Backup Camera Buying Guide

Backup Camera

Backup Cameras

By far one of the most practical add-ons you can get for your vehicle, backup cameras are rapidly becoming more and more common on high end luxury vehicles. Yes, you can look over your shoulder or at your mirrors, but you can’t see everything behind you. Over 50 children every week are injured by someone backing up out of their driveway — Out of those 50 injured, 2 of them are fatalities.* Clearly, looking over your shoulder doesn’t always cut it. Using them to back into parking spaces easier is a convenience aspect of a backup camera–safety however, is the primary function.

So what do you look for before buying a backup camera? Let us guide you through the features—what they do and why you need them. If you know what some fo them do, feel free to use the jump links below to skip around. Or read all the way through!

Click the links below to view a specific section or scroll through and read it all!

1. Mounting Type

2. Night Vision

3. Reverse Image

4. Parking Guidelines

5. Built-In Microphone

Backup Camera Install
A Tailgate Handle Mount Backup Camera

Mounting Type

What Is It?

There are lots of different ways to mount a backup camera onto your vehicle, so how do you choose? It mostly comes down to cosmetics, but your install will be affected by the style you choose as well. Keep reading!

What To Look For When Buying

Remote Mount-Remote mount backup cameras are the most versatile in terms of installation options. Most remote mount cameras are what’s called a ‘bullet style’ which means they are a cylindrical shape and meant to be mounted into the vehicle—typically into the bumper. This of course will require you to drill a hole into your vehicle so be careful when installing. This makes installation a little more complicated but it also gives you a nice, stealthy install. Some cameras even have a paintable surface so you can match your factory color. Other remote cameras sit in a bracket and can be mounted in any convenient location on the vehicle.

Top of License Plate Frame- One of the more popular camera styles, a top of license plate frame camera does exactly what it sounds like—it mounts on the top of your license plate frame. This style is very popular because it’s relatively discreet and very easy to install since you don’t need to drill a hole into your vehicle as well as being an inexpensive route to take.

Full License Plate Frame- A full license plate camera will replace the license plate frame you currently have so if you have a witty phrase or heart-warming sentimental quote on yours, you’re kind of out of luck. But what you lose in customization, you gain in durability. The full license plate camera easily beats the other styles in durability and as long as you use all four screw mounts, it’s less likely to be damaged from bouncing around—great for vehicles that frequently travel rough terrain.

Hitch Mount-A less commonly used option, these cameras are designed to mount directly into the hitch of a vehicle. This way, it tucks in nicely and isn’t very noticeable and also increases your field of vision on the ground level.

Tailgate Handle Mount-The tailgate handle mount style is pretty new but it looks great installed on trucks. This does require a more complicated install but the results are worth it!

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Night Vision Backup Camera

Night Vision

What Is It?

Some backup cameras use LED lights or Infrared LED’s so you can see even at nighttime. A standard LED light will create a beam of light that you can see to light the way while an Infrared LED emits a light that cannot be seen by the human eye but will be picked up by the backup camera lens. They both have their advantages and drawbacks: standard LED lights will display a color image so it might be easier to see small obstructions on the ground behind you like bottles, or nails. The drawback however, is that the range of the light will not be as far an Infrared light. Infrared lights will display a high contrast black and white image with a farther range than a standard LED. Even though the image is black and white, the sharp contrast makes it easy to pick out objects from the pavement. We made it easy for you look for cameras that have these lights with our guided browsing tool. Simply click one of the links under the “Night Vision” section to filter out the cameras that do not have the Night Vision feature you want.

What to Look For When Buying

We sell 3 different types of backup cameras as far as night vision is concerned: No night vision cameras which do not have any sort of lighting, Infrared LED’s, and standard LED lights. Once you have your filters set, the next thing to look for is the LUX rating which can be found in the description of the product or under the “Features and Specifications” tab on the product. The LUX rating determines how sensitive the lens is to light. The lower the LUX rating, the more sensitive the camera is to low light. In other words, the LOWER the LUX rating, the BETTER it is in low light conditions. A .1 LUX rated camera is much better in low light conditions than a 1 LUX rated camera.

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Reverse Image

What Is It?

Reverse image will horizontally flip an image so that the image you see would be the same as if you were looking in your rearview mirror. Obviously it can be very confusing if the image you saw from your camera was the opposite—the stuff you saw on the right would really be on the left and vice versa. Cameras without the reverse image feature are meant to be used on the front of your vehicle, not the rear.

What To Look For Before Buying

We have 3 different options to choose from: Reverse Image, No Reverse Image, and Adjustable. Reverse Image and No Reverse Image are fixed and set to have or not have the feature. Adjustable means you can program the camera either with the connection of a specific wire or with a setting on the menu. These cameras can be used for either the front OR rear of your vehicle.

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Backup Cameras with Parking Guidelines
This is Why Backup Cameras Are So Important!

Parking Guidelines

What Are They?

The parking guidelines feature will display lines or a grid, with distance markers to assist with backing into tight spaces and to give you an idea how far away you are from whatever is behind you. This feature is very convenient for any vehicle but especially useful with larger vehicles since it can be harder to judge your distance.

What To Look For Before Buying

We have 3 different options to choose from in our Guided Browsing tool: Parking Guidelines, No Parking Guidelines, and Adjustable. Parking Guidelines and No Parking Guidelines are fixed and set to have or not have the feature. Adjustable means you can program the camera either with the connection of a specific wire or with a setting on the menu. If you like the feature you can leave it on, or, if you’re fine without them then simply turn them off. The next thing to look for is whether or not the guidelines are a grid or lines. Not all manufacturers list this information for us, but if we have it we’ll list it. Both the grid and the lines will work just as well as one another so it’s really a matter of personal preference.

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Backup Camers with Built-In Microphone

Built-In Microphone

What Is It?

Backup cameras are no longer just for backing up: They’re for surveillance too. A built-in microphone can be useful to hear what’s going on outside your vehicle when it’s a little too loud inside your vehicle, like if you have kids, or the music is too loud. With a built-in microphone you can still hear if an ambulance or cop car is coming up behind you. You can also use this feature in conjunction with an in-car DVR system along with a motion detector and have a video surveillance system in your car.

What To Look For When Buying

We only have 2 options when it comes to a built-in microphone—it’s either there or it isn’t. Just use the handy Guided Browsing tool to filter out backup cameras with or without a built-in microphone.

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*As cited from www.kidsandcars.org

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Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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