I recently purchased a video camera for my car. I bought it from Amazon from this link for around £25 – however when I purchased it the company selling it was NowAdvisorUK not Loftk as more recently shown. Also the camera I purchased looked different; it arrived after 7 or 8 days from Hong Kong (I used standard shipping) to the UK in a package with http://www.nowkin.com printed on it. A link to the device I had delivered from NowKin is here.
The car camera I have been using
The device came with suction cup mount (works great) and slim profile device with monitor that can be flipped out. It had 6 infra-red (IR) LEDs on the front. It came with a short mini-USB to PC-USB cable, and a long cabled mini-USB to car-adapter. No SD card included.
The device has absolutely no brand marks, no model numbers, no manufacturer stamps, nothing on the case. The software identifies itself as version 2012-05-21SD which doesn’t give much away. When plugged into a Linux server I can identify the device as “Sunplus Technology Co., Ltd SPCA1527A/SPCA1528 SD card camera”.
The software is pretty straight-forward to use. Put in a class-4 SD-card and a red icon will appear. Put in a class-6 SD-card and a white icon will appear. It appears that you only want to put in class-6 or higher (faster) cards. Class-4 cards will record but the motion might be jerky.
The timestamp needs setting at first. You can only set up to the minute, not the second, but maybe this will be fixed in a later release.
If you have this connected to your car charger the camera will automatically begin recording when power is applied to the USB socket. And the camera will switch off within 1-2 seconds of the power being switched off. There is no 3 or 5-minute stay-on period after turning off – in spite of a menu option provided for this. You can initiate recording without USB power by turning on then pressing the OK/record button – which may be useful for recording outside of a vehicle (and experimenting indoors when you first get it).
There’s very little (if any) break between recorded files. I know this because I’ve taken a lot of the files and joined them together and it isn’t usually noticeable when going from one 5-minute period to another.
The IR LEDs are not very useful – truth be told. They are highly focussed, too. Best to switch them off and just let the camera’s reasonable exposure handling at night do its work showing you what you see when your headlights are on.
The view is very wide. I record in 1280×720 mode. The camera supports 1920×1080 and 640×480 but don’t feel either of these modes are for me. As a result number plates are only visible when almost directly behind another vehicle at the lights.
Audio pick up is good. It might be quiet but consistently clear – so if you turn up the volume you’ll hear yourself and your car stereo and indicator all quite clearly. The track is in mono.
Video files are large. Around 616MB every 5 minutes. My 8GB flash card lasts about an hour before being overwritten. Bear in mind that flash isn’t designed to be abused like this – most flash cards will last between 1,000 and 10,000 complete writes – so expect your flash card to eventually die after that many hours of video (I’m not 100% on this but just saying what I expect).
Device comes with a BL-5C flat rectangular cellphone battery (quite clever really). The internal clock will survive a brief removal of the cellphone battery (haven’t tried taking it out for a long period though).
I’m quite satisfied with the result. I certainly enjoy using FFMPEG to concatenate video files together and speed them up 20x for my friends. I just wish the device was labelled somehow so I could do software updates and/or recommend the device to my friends who could knowingly get exactly the same device.
I have uploaded two videos I have taken – with a mix of sped up and normal speed – to demonstrate the camera image quality in low light conditions without the IR LEDs (and really the IR LEDs add little to nothing). There is a video taken in the evening, and another taken at night.