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After almost being murderized at least thrice this week by people attempting to ram me, I thought it was high time for a dash cam. I read a ton of stuff over on dashcamtalk and settled on the Viofo A119v3. To be completely honest, I actually want the Viofo A129 Duo or A129 Pro Duo, but I’m also looking to replace the Prius in the near future, and I didn’t want to go to the trouble of installing the rear camera only to have to pull it out, then redo it on the new one, so I went with the front only A119v3.
I figure I can move it to the Xterra or whatever truck I end up with, and put a dual dash cam in the hypothetical future Prius if auction prices ever calm the FUCK down.
I also ordered the hard wire kit with it, which enables parking mode, and a high endurance micro SD card. I went with 128gb on the MicroSD just so I don’t have to worry about running out of space on a long trip or something.
I didn’t both detailing the installation, because it’s super straight forward. The hardwire kit has three wires. Black is ground. Red goes to constant power. Yellow goes to switched power. The plug goes into the camera. That’s about it. Make sure you put the camera on the passenger side of the windshield, or it will interfere with your range of adjustment on your rearview mirror. I’ve made that mistake before.
I went ahead and updated to firmware 2.0 before I even messed with the camera. Firmware 2.0 adds 60fps in 1440p resolution, as well as a new “HDR” mode to replace “WDR”.
The first thing I noticed is that you definitely need to get the CPL filter. At least on a Prius. That long, low windshield catches all kinds of reflections. It was very disorienting. I ordered the CPL filter on Amazon and got it the next day, I just popped it on and that solved most of my reflection problems and also made colors more saturated. This is definitely a plus for me, because in addition to protecting me from being blamed for an accident I didn’t cause, I’m probably going to use some of the footage for B-roll for my Food and Travel blog, assuming travel is ever a thing again.
My next order of business was framing. I tried to aim it pretty low for better exposure, but that totally backfired. Since the Prius has a long windshield and a long dash, aiming it low got a LOT of the dash in the frame. That made the camera expose for the dash. That meant that as soon as I encountered any shadow, it jacked up the ISO to get good exposure on my dashboard, and in doing so totally blew out the footage of everything outside of the car. I moved it back up one click and it’s much better. Exposure still changes a bit when you go under a tree or something, but it doesn’t completely blow everything out now.
My next decision involved frame rate and HDR. I knew I was going to use 1440p resolution, it’s the max native resolution, and thus the best quality. With firmware 2.0 I had to decide between 30fps and 60fps, and whether I wanted to turn HDR off or on. I tried HDR, but it didn’t seem to add much of anything during the daytime. At night it does make stuff more visible, but it also makes the footage look pretty terrible. It seems to basically be just jacking up the ISO, so while you can technically see more, everything is VERY grainy. I elected to turn it off. If it’s super important to see things on the side of the road at night, you might want to turn it on. I can see this being useful if you live in a city where a pedestrian walking out in front of you might be a real concern, but for me I’ll go for better quality footage.
For frame rate, I started at the default 30fps. It looks good overall, but when there was super fast moving cross traffic, there was a decent amount of motion blur. I decided to try the 60fps option. It looks fantastic during the day, super smooth and fluid, but the higher shutter speed makes the night footage look pretty terrible. Maybe if you ONLY drive during the day, go with 60fps, but otherwise, I’m gonna suggest 1440p, 30fps, and HDR off. Check out the video for some sample footage.