Back Up Camera Buyer’s Guide
- Also known as a “reversing camera” or “rear view camera,” the back up camera sends horizontally flipped video footage of the area behind your vehicle to a display screen on the dashboard.
- The area immediately behind the vehicle is a blind spot for the driver. The back up camera lets him view this area.
- The cost of a new back up camera varies between roughly $11 and more than $246. You can get individual units or a set of 2 cameras.
- The location, sensor type, and lens size of a back up camera affect its performance and cost.
- The surface-mounted back up camera sits on the trunk hood's surface. The flush-mounted back up camera fits near the hood's keyhole or the center of the vehicle's rear end. Finally, the license plate back up camera fits in the space holding the license plate.
- Optical cameras rely on visible light from the vehicle's tail lights or its surroundings while night vision cameras use infrared light.
- CMOS sensors offer adequate performance at affordable prices. In comparison, the more expensive CCD sensors can handle bright lights and deliver better performance in low light conditions.
- To get the widest field of vision, pick a back up camera with a sensor that measures 0.5 inches.
- Back up cameras with small lenses see further but cover a narrower space. Wide lenses give you a wider field of vision.
Backing up your car has never been easier since the back up camera got introduced. The camera makes it easier and safer to drive your car in reverse. Even the dreaded challenge of parallel parking becomes a mundane task.
Whether you want to install a back up camera on your old vehicle or need to replace the stock camera following a failure, this buyer’s guide can help you get a better understanding of this device and your available options.
What is a back up camera?
Also known as a “reversing camera” or “rear view camera,” this video camera appears on a spot at the vehicle’s rear end, where it can get an unobstructed view of the area behind the vehicle. It sends horizontally flipped video footage to a display screen on the dashboard where you can easily see the mirror image.
The back up camera uses either a wide-angle lens or a fisheye lens to cover the widest area. To spot objects shorter than the vehicle that you may otherwise miss and unwittingly back up into, the camera aims its lens downward.
Back up cameras first appeared as an optional feature on high-end vehicles. Today, they appear on many vehicles as standard equipment.
Early units relied on physical wires to carry their video feed to the display. Nowadays, wireless back up camera models transmit their data, making the cameras much easier to install on vehicles that didn’t come with such a system in stock configuration.
Reasons for installing a back up camera on your car
The area immediately behind the vehicle is a blind spot for the driver. Depending on the model’s design, length, and ride height, various things can block your view of the rear, such as the headrests of the rear passenger seats and the people in those seats. Many car accidents and collisions stem from a driver losing track of something as it entered his vehicle’s blind spot.
If you own an older model produced before back up cameras appeared, your vehicle likely lacks this feature. You will also harbor personal knowledge of the dangers and difficulties in backing your vehicle out of the garage or parallel parking with only the rear view mirror or your eyes looking over your shoulder to guide you.
Luckily, some aftermarket parts manufacturers offer back up cameras designed for older vehicles. You can modernize your ride and make it easier to drive in reverse with one of these devices.
How much does a back up camera cost?
Interested in upgrading your older vehicle? Or are you looking to replace a stock unit that broke down or wore out after the warranty ended? The cost of a new back up camera varies between roughly $11 and more than $246. You can get individual units or a set of 2 cameras.
The filter bar on our website can quickly find a part guaranteed to fit your vehicle. Enter the year, make, and model in the field.
Selecting the best back up camera for your car
The location, sensor type, and lens size of a back up camera affect its performance and cost.
While the back up camera always goes on the vehicle’s rear, its exact location can vary. Cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs have differently-designed rear sections that may restrict the camera types they support.
Surface-mounted back up camera - The most affordable camera type, this external video camera relies on brackets to secure itself to the surface of the trunk hood. You may have to drill holes into the trunk for the bolts that hold the brackets in place.
Flush-mounted back up camera - Designed to operate from inside the vehicle’s trunk, the flush-mounted camera fits either near the keyhole of the hood or the center of the vehicle’s rear half. Given its location, it needs a hole to look outside the trunk, so you will need to bore through the lid.
License plate back up camera - Some back up cameras can fit in the space holding the rear license plate. You don’t need to modify your vehicle to accommodate these cameras, but the license plate holder of some vehicle models may not have enough room for them.
The amount of light varies according to the time of the day and the area you drive in. Daylight hours enjoy more light than nighttime, and urban areas generate more artificial light at any given time compared to rural places.
Keep these light conditions in mind when deciding between conventional optical-based back up cameras and their night vision counterparts.
Optical cameras - Most back up cameras use optical systems that rely on either the vehicle’s tail lights or light from its surroundings to help it see at night. Bright lighting may cause glare that an optical sensor can capture and send to the screen.
Night vision camera - A night vision back up camera uses an infrared light that projects a light beam invisible to the human eye. Its sensor can pick up IR light reflections and the camera converts the video feed into imagery that you can comprehend.
The sensor detects the light reflecting off the surface of an object and converts it into an image your brain can understand. Back up cameras use either CMOS or CCD sensors.
Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors (CMOS) - The CMOS sensor combines adequate visibility with affordable pricing. It cannot handle bright lights.
Charged Couple Device (CCD) - While the CCD sensor costs more than its CMOS counterpart, it performs much better in both bright and low light conditions.
Field of vision
The wider the camera’s field of vision, the more you can see of the vehicle behind you. To get the widest field of vision, pick a back up camera with a sensor that measures 0.5 inches.
Small lens versus big lens
Besides the size of the sensor, also consider the size of the camera lens. A small lens takes up less space and can spot smaller objects at greater distances. This long-range performance comes at the cost of a narrower field of vision.
Conversely, a large lens doesn’t see as far, but it enjoys a wider field of vision that lets you see more of the space behind your vehicle. Back up cameras with big lenses make it easier to keep track of the surroundings as you carefully back up your car into a cramped space.
Helpful Tips When Buying a Back Up Camera
Backing up and out of your driveway can be pretty tricky. Yes, you may have your rearview mirror to help you out, but this mirror only shows you a fraction of what you should be seeing. No wonder many parking mishaps happen when a vehicle is moving in reverse. The good news is that there's one way to make backing up a little easier-and that's through investing in a quality back up camera.
The Back up camera explained
Back up cameras are attached to the back of a vehicle to help the driver see better when moving in reverse. The image created by a back up camera is flipped horizontally, so it becomes an exact mirror image of the original object. Since most back up cameras use wide-angle or fisheye lenses, it's possible to see the entire rear area of a vehicle. This makes it easier for a driver to maneuver his vehicle in reverse. Additionally, back up cameras are angled downward to prevent the driver from backing up into smaller road obstructions.
Types of back up cameras
- Surface-Mounted Back Up Camera- This type of back up camera is placed in the middle of the trunk and is held in place by brackets. Surface-mounted back up cameras are the cheapest back up cameras right now.
- Flush-Mounted Back Up Camera-This camera is installed near the keyhole or the center of the vehicle's rear end. It usually requires creating a small hole on the trunk lid of the vehicle.
- Night Vision Back Up Camera-This back up camera uses infrared lights to help you back up easily when there's very little light available.
- License-Plate Back Up Camera-As the name implies, this kind of back up camera is installed in the license plate. Because of its unique location, there's no need for drastic vehicle modifications when installing it.
- Charged Couple Device Sensor (CCD)-This is the most effective and widely used sensor right now. The CCD sensor offers superb visibility and above-average resolution even in low light.
- Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors Sensor (CMOS)-The CMOS sensor is used by some vehicle owners because of its affordability. The downside to this sensor is that, unlike the CCD sensor, this one can't handle as much illumination from a bright light source.
Field of vision
When choosing a back up camera, a wide field of vision is a prerequisite because it lets the driver see the entire rear portion of the vehicle. If you want the best field of vision possible, choose sensors that are 0.5 inches in size.
Camera lens size
You have two main lens sizes to choose from: big lenses and small lenses. Big lenses obviously offer better vision for distant objects. Small lenses, on the other hand, give you a wider viewing angle for a more comprehensive field of vision.
Back up cameras can set you back anywhere from 150-450 US Dollars. Prices vary according to the brand, type, and model of the back up camera.
How to Install a Back Up Camera
Back up cameras are useful add-ons that can help maximize your driving visibility-particularly, when you're backing up. With this type of camera, you can see directly where your vehicle is headed as you move in reverse. Now, if you've recently bought a wired back up camera, the following instructions should help you install your new vehicle accessory.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Tools that you'll need:
- Electric tape
- Cordless drill
- Self-tapping screw
Step 1: It's important that you figure out the perfect place to mount the back up camera. To attain the biggest and widest field of vision, the back up camera must be installed at the center of the vehicle's rear end.
Step 2: Back up cameras generally come with mounting hardware. Be sure to use the mounting hardware correctly by reading the instructions in the product manual.
Step 3: Find the reverse light wire and test it using a multimeter. When your vehicle is moving forward, the multimeter should read 0 volts. However, when the car moves in reverse, the multimeter should read 12 volts.
Step 4: Using a solder, attach the power wire of the camera to the reverse wire. That way, the camera activates the moment you move your ride in reverse.
Step 5: Cover the connection of the power wire and the reverse wire with an electric tape.
Step 6: Attach the ground wire of the back up camera using a cordless drill and a self-tapping screw.
Step 7: Test the newly installed back up camera by driving in reverse.
If you followed these instructions to a tee, then the back up camera should work properly. However, if you find that the camera isn't activating when you move in reverse, check its connection to the reverse wire. If all connections appear good, we recommend seeking help from your local mechanic.