Camcorder Settings when used as a dashcam

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I have always used dashcams but the video is not great when it's dark. Due to this I am going to mount my Sony FDRAX53 so adjustments can be made to the settings. What settings do you recommend while using this as a 4k dashcam? I figured landscape mode with manual focus set to infinity. I cannot find much info online so thanks for any replies.
 
I leave my Sony CX900 in manual/infinity focus and auto everything else while driving. Get a good mount too. The filmtools windshield mount is what I use.
Thank Ben! If that's all that is required I am golden. I bought the filmtools mount last week and tested it out... It's perfect. Thanks again man and I hope to see you out there soon... It's been a while.
 
Best bet in the future is to go with something like this. I've used this for a couple of years and love it. It takes up very little vision on the upper windshield near the mirror and it's basically plug and play. No worry about settings since it's always on infinity. The suction cup is iffy, like most of them so I used permanent 3m sticky tape. A small, b-sized RAM suction cup could also be rigged to hold it.

 
I use the FDRAX53 as my dash cam for live streaming but I find the quality is lacking at night. It has a night time mode button but I haven't tried it out yet because I always forget it's there when I'm busy driving/chasing. May have come in handy with the Alta Vista storm a couple of weeks ago.
 
Best bet in the future is to go with something like this. I've used this for a couple of years and love it. It takes up very little vision on the upper windshield near the mirror and it's basically plug and play. No worry about settings since it's always on infinity. The suction cup is iffy, like most of them so I used permanent 3m sticky tape. A small, b-sized RAM suction cup could also be rigged to hold it.

I actually have this exact one as my rear cam. It does a good job in that position
 
I use the FDRAX53 as my dash cam for live streaming but I find the quality is lacking at night. It has a night time mode button but I haven't tried it out yet because I always forget it's there when I'm busy driving/chasing. May have come in handy with the Alta Vista storm a couple of weeks ago.
Yeah that storm was the last straw for me... I want to add the Sony AX700 with the 1" but it's sold out most places
 
I'm using Viofo A119 V3s as my dashcams with the faithful 2015-era Street Guardians still mounted as backups. The A119s record in 2K.

I haven't run a dedicated camcorder on the dash for a long time, but this has made my video documentation of chases suffer. This thread is making me reconsider that! Even the best traditional car dashcams have subpar video/audio quality compared to camcorders or even GoPros. They can't zoom. They have far worse rolling shutter than the cheapest camcorder, so lightning captures are poor. They're not of much use for production-quality material. They're nice for capturing unexpected things that I wasn't recording on my main A camera, but they haven't been as great of a utility for production work as I'd hoped.

The CX900 looks like a good solution, about the only thing I'd want to do is leave it locked on infinity focus with everything else on auto as Ben said. Does it maintain infinity through the zoom range? I've had that problem with all of the camcorders I've owned since 2012: if I set infinity lock at wide open, it goes out of focus as soon as I zoom in.

The other big reason I stopped using a dash-mounted camcorder was that it was too distracting to operate properly while driving. I just couldn't do framing shots/panning/zooming safely, it took my eyes off of the road too much for my liking.
 
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Good thread. I've mainly used GoPros as my dashcams to date. The pros are the wide field of vision which basically captures everything out your entire windshield, from left to right and top to bottom; and the ease/simplicity of use. Just put it on the mount, set the tilt, get the screw good and tight, press record and forget it. No framing/panning required.

Cons: The wide field of vision and lack of zoom means that even things relatively close appear far away. Even with the newer 4K models (Hero 10 Black I got in 2022 and Hero 12 Black later last year-haven't used that one for chasing yet) you can only blow the picture up so much before the quality starts to noticeably suffer. Second, these things (going back to the Hero 3 White I got in 2013) suck battery power like there's no tomorrow. If you start them recording and "forget" (as above) for too long, it's easy to run them out of juice or fill up the SD card.

First and second attachments are example frame grabs from the dash-mounted Hero 10 footage of the Ottumwa/Martinsburg, IA (before the closer Keota EF4 developed) and Plato Center/S. Elgin, IL tornadoes from March 31 and July 12 of last year.

Ever since I got a newer camcorder with 4K capability (Canon VIXIA HF G60) in 2020, the VIXIA HF G10 I bought off @Dan Robinson in 2013 has been stored in the G60's box in my closet. I've occasionally mulled over repurposing it as a dashcam for chasing, but that would run into the issues he mentioned in the post above and its own low-light performance is not stellar, as evidenced by the fact that I had to put it in its slow-shutter "night vision" mode for the Hanna City, IL tornado in March, 2016. The frame captures are decent enough, if a bit grainy (third attachment), but the video itself looks like choppy security-camera footage (as a YouTube critic pointed out when I re-uploaded it for the 8th anniversary earlier this month).
 

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I use a Sony AX700 4K an upgrade in 2023 from a Canon HV20 that I had used for many years. I also have an attached GoPro to the windshield for very wide angle shots. The problem with the AX700 and many other 4K camcorders is the focus goes beyond infinity. In other words, if I just turn the focus to infinity in the heat of the chase, the focus will go slightly past infinity and blur my video. It's very hard to focus manually, and the autofocus is often useless in low contrast rainy gloom. I miss the HV20 where I would just push a button and get infinity lock. I haven't found a decent solution for the focus issue.
 
The CX900 looks like a good solution, about the only thing I'd want to do is leave it locked on infinity focus with everything else on auto as Ben said. Does it maintain infinity through the zoom range? I've had that problem with all of the camcorders I've owned since 2012: if I set infinity lock at wide open, it goes out of focus as soon as I zoom in.
That is the problem with the FDRAX53 too... When you zoom in you then have to adjust the focus again which is very hard to do when mounted.
 
You do have to refocus on the CX900 when you zoom. I use the ring to focus around the front lens. You can also use the button on the right side of the camera to focus magnify. I've had to fidget with it minimally, but I do a lot of full zoomed out wide shots. Not all of you like to be as close to your subject matter
 
I actually have this exact one as my rear cam. It does a good job in that position
I needed to replace my dashcam in Spring 2024 and came across this recommendation. The Rove R2-4K was about $80, had a screen, and none of the extra features I don't need to pay for. It worked well on 4/26 and posting here so others may find this recommendation too.
 
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