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Best, simplest safety camera for capturing license plate numbers

Old 03-01-19, 09:04 AM
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suburbanbeat
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Best, simplest safety camera for capturing license plate numbers

Hi all. I've put off getting a safety camera for too long. Now that I'm looking again though, I remember why I keep shying away - the number of options is dizzying.

I'm seeing a ton of very cheap (<$60) GoPro clones on Amazon that somehow get glowing reviews. Seems to good to be true.

Anyway, what are y'all using? Thanks in advance!

My criteria:
-Minimal bells and whistles. Just need this to capture plates
-High enough quality to capture plates in day, night, rainy conditions, etc.
-Looping record so that old footage is automatically deleted to make room for new footage
-Waterproof
-Helmet mountable preferred (what is the best practice here? Helmet, bars, or rear?)
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Old 03-01-19, 09:21 AM
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What is your budget, sir? I would say to get the best camera you can that's within your budget. I don't know what state you're in, but if people in your state don't mount front license plates, a rear-facing camera would be useless for capturing plates. I think Ideally, you would want both front and rear-facing cameras, but that's gonna run you $500 or so for decent setup, unless you go with cheap generic rigs.

I suspect that the longer you wait, the more quality will increase and prices will decrease. But you gotta jump on the technology train at some point, and $250 is about the minimum now for a camera that does everything you want:

https://www.amazon.com/CYCLIQ-Fly12-...SIN=B077NNB6QR
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Old 03-01-19, 12:08 PM
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What kind of riding are you doing? The batteries on those GoPro clones last for less than 2 hours, so they aren't really useful for recording long rides. The Cycliq cameras have much better battery life, but they are more expensive than the cheapies.
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Old 03-01-19, 12:39 PM
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I did a product review of the Fly6 for an LBS that went out of business, but it included a couple videos that I can link to:

Hereís my instructional video
And hereís my demonstration video investigating if the Fly6 video quality is good enough to recognize license plates of passing cars Ė thatís really what youíd want to know, right?

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Old 03-01-19, 12:57 PM
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The first issue with capturing license plate numbers is Angle of View; The narrower, the better. Unfortunately, every consumer grade camera out there takes the opposite approach and likes to brag about their wide-angle lens. This makes everything look smaller and more distant, causing the plate its self to lose resolution.

As for capturing plates as night: That is pretty much a pipe dream. But if you want the best chances for it, then choose a camera that uses a Sony Exmor sensor. In all the reviews I've found, nothing else is as good at night.
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Old 03-01-19, 01:02 PM
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Fly12. I had a go-pro clone and it worked great for about a month and then just died. Caveat emptor.
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Old 03-01-19, 02:06 PM
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I bought a Cycliq Fly6 CE (the newest one) and I despise it. It's never worked (shuts off mid ride/doesn't record), their instructions are confusing garbage, and their support has been mediocre at best. I'm working on returning mine, cuz a $200 light setup shouldn't have this many problems. Maybe I got a dud.
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Old 03-01-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by suburbanbeat View Post
.....
My criteria:
-Minimal bells and whistles. Just need this to capture plates
-High enough quality to capture plates in day, night, rainy conditions, etc.
-Looping record so that old footage is automatically deleted to make room for new footage
-Waterproof
-Helmet mountable preferred (what is the best practice here? Helmet, bars, or rear?)
Capturing plates at night; very hard. In the dark and raining; even harder. ContourGPS:
For documentation; helmet is preferred. Front & back is ideal. Polaroid CUBE:
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Old 03-01-19, 02:57 PM
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I bought a cheap USB night vision surveillance camera for like $20, uses infared, works great in the dark, but everything is in "pink and white". Why can't someone put that feature on a $250 bike camera?
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Old 03-01-19, 03:19 PM
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suburbanbeat
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Awesome resources so far, thanks everyone. This definitely gives me some perspective. I appreciate the time some of you took to produce these demo videos - they're exactly what I'm looking for.

The Fly6 is the one that comes up most often when looking specifically for safety cameras, and the reviews are always mixed at best.

To answer some of the clarifying questions that were asked - I'd like to spend less than $250 on a setup if possible. Then again, if something is a perfect solution, I suppose shelling out is worth the peace of mind in knowing that someone would have a very hard time avoiding repercussions after hitting me.

I am a daily, urban commuter and my ride is about 7 miles each way. Hit and runs are a constant issue here.
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Old 03-01-19, 03:59 PM
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I'd just try out a cheap one, intending to upgrade, in order to better figure out which features you want / need. That can always serve as a back up camera, or second camera facing the other direction. 2 cameras really is the ultimate in safety and redundancy.
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Old 03-01-19, 06:30 PM
  #12  
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I am still working through my $50 gopro clone that goes up to 4k resolution. It does everything you want but I haven't had it for a month yet and it's battery life in the cold is vanishingly small (apparently after a 30-40 minute morning commute in the 20s I need to recharge it for the return trip, and then charge it again over night for the following morning). It hasn't just flat out died yet, though. I keep mine on the handlebar.

I have recorded for 80 min up in the 40s/50s.

Rain drops on the case can interfere w/ level of resolution and lightning.
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Old 03-01-19, 07:22 PM
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Yeah, I rode in the rain once, and you could not see anything, it was like a rainy tour de france stage where they forgot to wipe off the camera.

Regarding battery life, I've heard of some people using external auxiliary batteries to extend the time you can run the camera. Get enough of those and I would think you could keep running indefinitely.
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Old 03-01-19, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Capturing plates at night; very hard. In the dark and raining; even harder. ContourGPS:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jf...IoDLA&index=71
I love videos like this... Watching a ride from this angle is strangely mesmerizing
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Old 03-01-19, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by suncruiser View Post
I love videos like this... Watching a ride from this angle is strangely mesmerizing
Same cam; different bike.
More angles from a Polaroid CUBE:

Last edited by 1nterceptor; 03-01-19 at 10:28 PM. Reason: added video
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Old 03-01-19, 11:40 PM
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The OP has unrealistic expectations.

If there is a camera that is less than 100USD, waterproof, good in low light and rain, this is news to me.

I don't ride in pouring rain, and I use low end sony action cameras, front and rear, generally can catch a plate # during the day, sometimes at night.

Plate design is also a major factor, I've read that in CA and AZ electronic type plates are available, complicating this task even more.

Last edited by SHBR; 03-01-19 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 03-02-19, 04:13 AM
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I'd avoid the GoPro clones;. I'm on my third in less than a year and this one is failing now. It's going back for a refund this time rather than an exchange.

@1nterceptor - how reliable has your Polaroid Cube been? Amazon UK have them listed at a good price.
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Old 03-02-19, 08:20 AM
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I went to the local police a few years ago with the license plate number and a photo of a van that intentionally forced me off the road, and the police said there was nothing they could do. Maybe they would have done something with video? I kinda doubt it. Has anyone ever had any success using video evidence to get the police to go after bad drivers?
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Old 03-02-19, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Plate design is also a major factor, I've read that in CA and AZ electronic type plates are available, complicating this task even more.
Ever see dashcam evaluations done by a European? Their plates are so easy to read that they probably don't even need 1080p resolution. Of course over there, the plates seem to be designed for the purpose of identification, as opposed to the US where the design goal is to make an artistic statement. Jump to 8:58 in this video:

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Old 03-02-19, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by suburbanbeat View Post
Hi all. I've put off getting a safety camera for too long.
Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
The OP has unrealistic expectations.
Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I went to the local police a few years ago with the license plate number and a photo of a van that intentionally forced me off the road, and the police said there was nothing they could do. Maybe they would have done something with video? I kinda doubt it. Has anyone ever had any success using video evidence to get the police to go after bad drivers?
The OP could get a camera for bicycle riding activities for personal entertainment or enlightenment but:

The OP has unrealistic expectations from the get-go if he believes that a video camera will provide any credible chance of increasing his "safety" or providing any risk reduction for himself, or of being a useful tool for resolving any legal issues involving any traffic incidents, and has even less likelihood of providing any substantial help in any legal action in the event of near misses with an alleged motoring miscreant.

Yes, there are a few reports of incidents where bicycling videos have led to police or legal actions but then there are also reports of man biting dog stories too. Possible, may even happen from time to time, but so unlikely that it isn't worth seriously considering.
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Old 03-02-19, 03:47 PM
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^^ Needlessly pessimistic ^^

There is no downside to having a camera going (at all times) that I can think of, unless you're worried that something illegal you're doing is being videoed, like riding reckessly, running lights, or whatever.
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Old 03-02-19, 05:11 PM
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Well. I have an employer that does not allow cameras. I know if I rolled up with a GoPro Iíd never prove to their satisfaction I wasnít filming. Or Iíd forget. Thatís why I donít.
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Old 03-02-19, 06:14 PM
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I give my vote to the Cycliq 6 CE.

I use it together with the Garmin Varia RTL500 rear radar. The combination gives me added peace of mind.

The Cycliq 6 CE had, to put mildly, teething pains (see the review at DC Rainmaker along with the comments from users).

After the FW update mine has worked flawlessly.

I highly recommend it.

Here is a picture of the light and the radar mounted on the C60ís seatpost.



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Old 03-02-19, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
^^ Needlessly pessimistic ^^

There is no downside to having a camera going (at all times) that I can think of, unless you're worried that something illegal you're doing is being videoed, like riding reckessly, running lights, or whatever.
Sensibly realistic, rather than dreamily optimistic.

The downside is for individuals who feel unsafe without a video recording device but believe that buying, mounting and recording with any video camera while bicycling will somehow make their cycling safer in any way, i.e reduces their bicycling risk in ANY credible manner.

FWIW, the alternative downside that you do you recognize (recording illegal "whatever" riding by the video recording bicyclist) is hardly a remote possibility for a large percentage of bicyclists.
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Old 03-02-19, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Sensibly realistic, rather than dreamily optimistic.

The downside is for individuals who feel unsafe without a video recording device but believe that buying, mounting and recording with any video camera while bicycling will somehow make their cycling safer in any way, i.e reduces their bicycling risk in ANY credible manner.

FWIW, the alternative downside that you do you recognize (recording illegal "whatever" riding by the video recording bicyclist) is hardly a remote possibility for a large percentage of bicyclists.
I rode for 30+ years without video camera or radar. Neither radar nor camera can protect me from distracted or uncaring drivers.

Now that the technology is available, my inner geek wanted it and got it.

Neither the radar nor the camera make it safer. I know that.

I am not afraid to die on the road. I got plenty of insurance to take care of my family...thatís the ultimate protection.

Having said that, part of the fun of cycling are all the cool gadgets now available for not all that much money.
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