Car Backup Camera Buying Guide


As more cars have in-dash video screens integrated into them, more and more cars feature backup camera systems to aid in driving in reverse and for safety. Even if a car does not include a camera, the vehicle can still be retrofitted with a backup camera system. The principle behind car backup camera systems is quite simple. A camera is mounted to the back center of the car usually above the license plate or rear insignia. The camera then automatically sends data to the in-dash video screen, allowing the driver to have instant feedback when driving in reverse. When shopping for a backup camera system, there are a few things to check in order to have the maximum safety and quality in a camera.

Types of Backup Cameras

When selecting a backup camera after market, there are three types that can be installed on most cars. The first type of camera is a surface mounted backup camera. These are placed onto the center of the trunk of the car and are held into place with mounting brackets. Surface mounted cameras are by far the least expensive option, but can alter the looks of a car. The next type of backup camera is the flush mounted camera. In this type of configuration, a small hole is cut into the truck lid of a car in which a small camera is placed. This is usually placed near the keyhole for the truck or in the center of rear of the car. Finally, newer cameras are mounted directly to the license plate frame.


The first thing a buyer should consider when purchasing a camera backup system is the type of sensor that is included with the camera. Two main types of sensors dominate the market: charged couple devices (CCD) and complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). For optimal quality and clarity, buyers should select a CCD sensor. CCD’s work well in low light and have good resolution and color fidelity, making it easy for the driver to see what is behind the car. CCD technology is more expensive than CMOS sensors, but the price difference is worth it.

Viewing Angles

Viewing angle refers to the size of the field of vision of the camera. When it comes to backup cameras, wider is always better as it shows the driver the maximum area behind the car, which is important for safety. The viewing angle of a car backup camera is directly proportional to the size of the sensor. In today’s industry, most CCD sensors come in a range of sizes from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. 1/3 and 1/4 inch sensors predominate the market and offer adequate viewing angles. The lens used in the camera also makes a difference in the viewing angle. In cameras, the size of the lens is measured in millimeters. A smaller size lens offers a wider viewing angle. Larger sized lenses are capable of seeing objects that are father away, but have a more limited field of vision. 1.7 mm lenses are ideal for car backup cameras. When shopping for a backup system, it’s a good idea to select a camera with a combination of a large sensor and small lens to maximize the effectiveness of the backup camera.

Orientation Reversal

One important feature that a car backup camera system should have is a built in software feature that reverses the picture that the camera takes. This feature is needed to give the driver the same view on the screen that would be had if looking in the rear view mirror.


A backup camera is exposed to the elements and must be durable to ensure longevity and functionality. Back up cameras should be water resistant and shock proof, able to withstand minor bumps and impacts.


Having a car backup camera is an option that every driver should consider. Every year thousands of children and pets are hit by drivers who cannot see them in the rear view mirror. With a camera backup system, these tragedies can be avoided. Car backup systems are an investment in convenience as well as safety.

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