We’ve all been in a driving situation where we wish we could simply see more of the road. Whether your view is blocked by cargo, people, or pets, rear visibility can sometimes become compromised.
Since the introduction of the mass-produced automobile, mirrors have been the best way to help us see what is going on around our vehicle. But it’s 2022, is there anything better we can come up with?
That’s where the rear view camera comes in. Rear view mirror cameras can replace the functionality of a mirror by using a camera to get a better view of the road behind your car. In this article, I will explain what rear view cameras are, how they work, and list the advantages and disadvantages. My goal is to provide you with information, so you can decide if rear view mirror cameras are worth it.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links for the products mentioned
What are rear view mirror cameras?
A rear view mirror camera is made up of two things. There is the display, which is integrated into a rear view mirror. And then there is the camera, which supplies the image to the display.
Rear view cameras are designed to be both a regular mirror, and a screen. When in screen mode, you can see what the camera sees. Typically, this camera is mounted on the rear window, pointing directly behind the vehicle. If you ever want to revert back to a traditional mirror, you just hit a button to turn off the display.
These camera systems are starting to become more common on automobiles, as camera and display technology goes up in quality, and down in price. You’ll find a rear view mirror camera available on many new cars, including the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. But they are also available aftermarket, and can be retrofitted to almost any vehicle. The Brandmotion FullVUE Rear Camera Mirror System, pictured above, replaces your existing mirror and is available for almost any vehicle.
Rear view mirror vs camera mirror
The major difference between a rear view mirror and a review view camera is how the view is generated. Mirrors simply reflect light from objects back to your eyes. You have to angle a mirror in order to aim at the object you want to see.
A rear view camera, on the other hand, uses a camera to capture a life video feed. That video feed is then displayed on an integrated screen inside the rear view mirror. Because the camera is capturing the image, only the camera has to point at the area behind the vehicle. The angle of the display, or any objects in the back of the vehicle, don’t really matter like they do with a traditional mirror.
Do rear view cameras work at night? Yes! The cameras run software that allows them to auto focus, and adjust for the lighting outside. You can use a rear view mirror camera at night just like you would use a regular mirror.
Benefits of a rear view camera
One of the primary benefits of a rear view camera is the increased field of view (FOV). Typically, the camera in a rear view setup has a wide angle lens, allowing you to see a much larger area behind your vehicle as compared to a regular mirror. Blind spots are a major safety hazard, especially when trying to merge. Rear view cameras can virtually eliminate blind spots thanks to the wide field of view.
Another advantage that can make getting a rear view mirror camera worth it is the lack of visual obstructions from people and cargo. If you’ve ever used your car to move, you know what I mean. Boxes stacked up high, and every last inch of space used. You get in your car and go to back up, only to find a view of your stuff in the rear view mirror. Rear view cameras eliminate this concern, since the view comes from the camera, not the mirror itself. This makes driving with cargo, kids, and pets a lot safer since your view will never be obstructed.
Finally, rear view cameras offer a lot of image adjustment. With a mirror, you can only adjust the angle. With a camera, you can adjust the field of view, pan left and right, or tilt up and down on the fly. If your car is shared by multiple people, you’ll never have to worry about trying to readjust the mirror ever again. With rear view cameras, the seating position or mirror angle doesn’t affect the view from the camera.
Drawbacks of rear view cameras
The main drawback of rear view cameras is the price. With new vehicles, a rear view camera option is only available on the higher trim levels. You’ll have to spend more money to gain that feature from the factory. For aftermarket rear view cameras, you’ll also have to invest several hundred dollars to retrofit one to your car.
Another disadvantage for rear view mirror cameras is that, at night, image quality is reduced. Some cameras may not work well with bright headlights. With a regular mirror, you can dim it at night. With a camera, you are stuck with whatever image quality you get, unless you just turn it off and revert back to the mirror.
Rear view cameras typically don’t boot up very fast. Depending on the brand, it can take several seconds from when you turn on the car, to when the rear view image is displayed. With a normal mirror, it’s obviously on and available all the time. With a rear view camera, the image only displays when the car is on, and after it has had time to boot up.
Rear view mirror cameras are worth it if you value safety and visibility while driving your vehicle. Rear view cameras provide much more field of view compared to regular mirrors. Also, they are not affected by any obstructions within the vehicle, like pets or cargo. That means you’ll have more of a view behind you at all times compared to a mirror.
The main drawback is price. OEM rear view mirror cameras usually only come with the top level trims. Aftermarket cameras tend to cost several hundred dollars to purchase and install. But at the end of the day, safety is a top priority, and many will consider the price a worthy tradeoff for added safety and practicality.