These days, most newer cars have backup cameras already installed. In fact, the government here in the US will mandate the use of backup cameras for ALL new vehicles starting with the 2019 model year. But what about the millions of older vehicles already on the road, that don’t have backup cameras? Luckily, there are tons of aftermarket options which can be bought affordably and installed easily. If you’re in the market for a backup camera, we put together this backup camera glossary to help you understand key terms and features related to these gadgets.
Backup Camera Glossary & Key Features
Here’s a quick breakdown and explanation of some of the most common features and terms that you’ll need to understand about backup cameras. If you’re in the market, be sure to check out our guide to the best backup cameras, as well!
Night vision – refers to the camera’s ability to “see” at night. Typically this combines a actual tech in the camera – such as WDR (see below), with physical lights on the camera itself to illuminate the area behind your vehicle.
Wide dynamic range – otherwise known as WDR, this is a technology that allows for the balancing of light and dark patches of camera footage. It helps cameras improve nighttime visibility. WDR is a more prevalent feature of dash cams, but it’s also found in high end backup cameras.
Wide angle lens – a camera lens with a wide angle to help you see more of the road behind you.
Video quality – the recording quality of the camera, usually listed in a pixel rating like 720p. Video quality is not very important for backup cameras, so most retailers won’t heavily advertise these figures.
Two way/front and rear – refers to a type of camera that offers a dual channel setup, with a front-facing and rear-facing camera. These can be two separate camera units, or one unit with cameras facing in both directions. This is more popular for dash cams (see our guide to front and rear dash cams) but some of these setups can double as backup cams.
Wireless/wired – most backup cameras are wired, and require a physical wire to be connected to the camera monitoring system from the camera itself. Wireless backup cameras, however, transmit a signal wirelessly via WiFi or BlueTooth, and are therefore easier to install.
Waterproof rating – since backup cameras are typically attached to the exterior of your vehicle, they need to be waterproof. There are various waterproof ratings, with IP67 and IP68 being the most common for camera housings. The higher the rating, the more waterproof it is. This guide does a good job of explaining the difference (in relation to smartphones, but the principle is the same).
Display – most backup cameras also come with a separate display unit so you can see what the camera is seeing. Typically these displays will be installed on the dashboard of your vehicle. They are described by screen size, with the measurement referring to the diagonal length of the screen from corner to corner.
Hopefully this backup camera glossary has helped define some features and terms for you, and will help you on your quest to finding the best backup cam for you! Let us know if you have any questions.