Rear vision cameras are essential for safety and handy for convenience.

REVERSING CAMERAS aren’t really optional these days. Ask any insurance company, and they will tell you that reversing accidents are the number one cause of claims. Can you, dear reader, claim never to have hit anything in reverse? I can’t. My worst incident was when I was driving a military Defender in a rush, parked, leapt out, got what I needed and leapt back in about one minutes late. I slammed the Landie into reverse and right into a sportcar that had just pulled up behind. Driver error of course, but a reversing camera would have helped.

Now it’s a myth that 4X4s have the worst rear visibility of any vehicle, but when they’re modified for touring you don’t generally see a lot out of the rear vision mirror as you’re packed chock-full to the ceiling. And in the case of my ute, there’s no visibility at all thanks to the service body.

What’s the difference between a rear vision camera and a reversing camera?

The two are related but different:

  • Reversing camera – designed for reversing.  Activated when reverse is selected, may have backup lines/guides, very wide angle, usually 150 degrees or so.
  • Rear vision camera – designed to give a general view out the back in place of a rear vision mirror. Not quite as wide-angle, maybe only 90 or 120 degrees.

What is this product?

A permanent rear-vision camera from Safety Dave. The model on test is the SD 5.8″ 2-Channel Rear View monitor with a SD Square Camera.

The camera is IP69 waterproof and has a visor. The camera can be adjusted up or down, and has 18 LEDs for night driving, and a built-in microphone.

The screen has basic controls for brightness and channel selection. It has two input channels, but we’re used only the one for the moment. There’s also a remote control.

There are two mounts; a dash mount, and a windscreen suction mount which we’ve used to replace the interior mirror which is now totally useless due to the service body.

Being a rear-vision system the screen is designed to stay on all the time. There’s a sunshade around the unit too, always a good idea for screens. And there’s a even a bag for the screen.

What we like

The camera works pretty well. The screen is nicely large, but I wouldn’t want it any bigger as it would start to enroach on forward visibility. There are smaller and larger versions available.

Screen quality is good, but not outstanding like a GoPro or some of the very best reversing camera on the market – it’s better than Toyota but not as good as Ford. The unit is very well built, and there’s plenty of cable available – some cameras come with cables too short for utes. The cable is three part – unit, camera and a connecting cable of varying length.

The camera itself can be angled and then locked into place with an hex bolt which is good, not all offer this, and even the visor over the top of the camera can be angled too. The microphone works but mostly picks up exhaust noise. However, if you were hooking up a trailer you could easily hear and see someone.

The screen unit also instantly responds to controls and can be switched off entirely if it is distracting. Mine is set to be permanently on, so it’s a rear-view system and when doing tight multi-point turns I don’t need to wait for the screen to go on and off.

Recently I had to reverse a long way down a snow-covered track after we gave up trying to get through fallen trees. The camera was invaluable as It was very hard to use the snow-covered wingmirrors to see where I was going, and often they had to be folded in.

And that’s what it looked like in reality.

It’s not a reversing camera per se, but here’s how it works when backing into a car park space:

And from outside:

The following weekend I had numerous people working on a recovery around my truck – it was good to be able to see out the back and hear them.

The unit is also properly supported in Australia and comes with a manual. In this market there are a lot of cheap Chinese units with questionable support and quality. Not the case here.

The camera does get a bit of water and dust on it, but it’s pretty minimal considering where it is and what I’ve done with it

Not so good

One annoyance is that there’s very tiny interference lines on the screen, not ideal but liveable. I would also like the screen mirrored properly, as lettering appears backwards which is not ideal. It is possible to mirror the image so lettering appears as it should, but then the orientation of the image is changed so when you look at the screen what appears to be on the left is actually on the right.

As it is to be used as a replacement mirror I’d prefer a bit less depth and a bit more width too, but that’s a bit of a tradeoff with rear-vision vs reversing cameras.

Other than that, the only other comments would be improvements such as a dashcam recording function. And maybe a remote mic to get it away from the exhaust. The screen is large and bright at night, but the brightness can be turned down – although we’d prefer an automatic light sensor.

Bottom line

Overall, I’m very happy with the camera. The build quality good, it’s got local support, two-year warranty, the screen quality is acceptable and now I can see out of the back of my ute!

RRP – approx. $330-$400 depending on the camera and cables selected.

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