Best Backup Cameras

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

16 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
103 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best rearview backup cameras

Last Updated September 2019

A good rearview backup camera offers numerous advantages when driving. With a rearview backup camera, you can see behind you without craning your neck, which means you retain better control over your vehicle when backing up. You’re less likely to hit other vehicles in tight parking garages or anything on the street with a rearview backup camera. And with a rearview backup camera, you have no problems with visibility even when the back of your vehicle is packed with gear.

But the list of fittings and features can be bewildering when it comes to buying an aftermarket rearview backup camera.

Along with our top recommendations, our comprehensive buying guide will help you fully understand your choices.

Rearview backup cameras should reverse the image – so what you see on screen is exactly like looking in your rearview mirror. Some cheap models don’t, which is surprisingly confusing.

Key considerations

Camera quality

Although camera quality is important, and some rearview backup cameras are certainly better than others, all but the very cheapest devices deliver a satisfactory image. Essentially, you get what you pay for, though reviewing customer comments can also provide valuable insight.

Camera mount

There are three ways to mount a backup camera to the rear of your vehicle: by drilling a hole, using brackets, or via your license plate.

Drilling a hole in your vehicle may not appeal to everybody, but rearview cameras need good protection from the weather, so there shouldn’t be any adverse effects on your bodywork. Alternatively, it might be possible to fit a camera in the bumper. Some clip in through the hole, and some are flush-mounted. The latter are among the most compact and discreet cameras.

Cameras with integral metal brackets can be fitted with tape or a couple of screws. This type is popular with drivers of vans, trucks, and other commercial vehicles because of the flexibility of positioning. They could be fitted to part of the chassis, for example.

Rearview backup cameras mounted to your license plate come in two forms: either a bar that fits to the top of the license plate using the existing holes or a complete replacement of the license plate frame. If your vehicle has a non-standard plate, you’ll need to check the fit carefully.

Some rearview backup camera systems offer from one to three additional cameras. These are either of the bracket-mount type, designed to be fitted to other parts of the bodywork (primarily for buses and large trucks), or face forward from inside the vehicle.

Regardless of the mounting type, cable will have to be run from the camera to the monitor. Most cables run internally, but a few are external. With the latter, it’s vital to make sure the cabling is waterproof and that connectors are the locking type, not just push in. Push-in connectors can become detached, and any moisture that gets in will stop the system from working.

Screen mount

The cheapest rearview backup cameras don’t come with screens, so unless you can wire the camera into an existing screen like a GPS (which can be problematic), you’ll need to source one. There are many available, and the only real requirement is that they accept RCA socket connections. DVD monitors are a popular choice. When screens are provided, they’re either dash-mounted, fit over your existing rearview mirror, or replace your rearview mirror completely. Better-quality screens are HD.

Dash-mounted screens are 4.3 inches, 5 inches, or 7 inches. The larger the screen, the more clearly you’re going to be able to see what’s behind you.

Screens that fit over your rearview mirror do so using elastic or Velcro straps, which means they are quick and easy to install and can fit almost any vehicle. There are exceptions, though, so it’s worth checking.

Screens that replace your rearview mirror attach to your windshield, just like the original mirror. Having the screen where you normally look is comfortable and convenient, and when the camera is not in use, they work like an ordinary rearview mirror. The image is often 7 inches wide, though on high-end models it can be as big as 10 inches. These screens are the most likely to have forward-facing cameras with video recording – something that could be very useful in the event of a collision.

Great quality and clarity

License plate-mounting is arguably the easiest to fit, and nothing looks better up front than a screen that replaces the rearview mirror. The image is sharp, and clear guidance lines make it easy to back up. Night vision is included, and waterproofing is to the international IP67 standard. A larger screen image would have been nice, but that shouldn’t detract from this excellent, top-value rearview backup camera system.

Features

Backup grid

All the rearview backup cameras we looked at offered some kind of projected grid or lines for guidance. This might seem strange at first, but it soon becomes second nature.

Night vision

Night vision is a feature that’s frequently offered but not always properly implemented. Almost all rearview backup cameras have lights to brighten dark corners, but for true night vision, cameras need to have infrared LEDs.

Touchscreen

Touchscreens are offered on some systems, giving you access to features like video recording and camera tilting.

LDWS

LDWS (Lane Departure Warning System) may be available on forward-facing cameras, alerting you if you accidentally stray into another lane.

Security features

Some cameras can be left on when you leave the vehicle – in a parking garage, for example. In the event of a collision, they can capture an image, which might help identify another vehicle later.

EXPERT TIP

Wireless rearview backup cameras can be quick and easy to fit, but wired systems usually offer superior images.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

RV and truck drivers should check the lengths of cable supplied to connect the rearview backup camera to the monitor – longer cables may be required.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you’re concerned about mounting a rearview backup camera on your bodywork, look for one that replaces your existing license plate frame.


Staff  | BestReviews

Price

There’s nothing wrong with many of the inexpensive rearview backup cameras in the $25 to $35 range, as long as you’re aware that you’ll need a monitor. If you’ve already got a screen that will take RCA connectors, they offer excellent value.

All-in-one backup camera and monitor systems start at around $60, though at this price you probably won’t get proper night vision (though you may get lights). The best of this type cost around $250, but for your money you get a remarkable feature set and day and night images of superb quality.

Wireless camera systems can be found for under $100, but only with 4.3-inch monitors. Reasonable 7-inch models run from $130 to $300. The most expensive are three- and four-camera systems used for monitoring all around a bus or big rig. These rearview backup camera systems can reach $1,000.

Budget-friendly backup

This is a compact, straight-forward rearview backup camera at a remarkably low price. You’ll need to find a compatible monitor, but even if you have to buy one, you’re still looking at a low-cost solution. Fitting is simple with a choice of flush-mount or brackets that will suit any vehicle from a compact car to an RV. Images aren’t of the highest quality, but you’ll struggle to find better for the money.

Tips

  • It’s natural to assume that a wider viewing angle is better. In fact, angles over 140° can cause a fisheye effect, which means considerable distortion around the edges that can lead to misjudging distances.

  • Audio alert systems are seldom provided with aftermarket rearview backup cameras. Fitting can require an extra hole in your vehicle’s bodywork for sound output. If you choose this type, make sure it offers good weather protection.

  • High-end rearview backup cameras that provide image recording will need a microSD card, which is usually not included. Always check compatibility before ordering.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a license plate rearview backup camera, it’s tough to beat the low-cost Esky License Plate Backup Camera. While CMOS isn’t the best sensor, LEDs that turn on automatically in low light do a lot to compensate. You will need to provide your own monitor. Truck and semi drivers, in particular, will want to check out the ZEROXCLUB Backup Camera System Kit. Fifty feet of tough extension cable means you can fit this high-quality, feature-rich unit to just about any kind of trailer. TadiBrothers makes some of the best backup camera gear around, and their Wireless CCD Steel License Plate Night Vision Backup Camera is a fine example: a great camera, slender 7-inch monitor, and fast and simple fit.

Conveniently, some rearview backup cameras automatically turn themselves on when you engage reverse gear.

FAQ

Q. Is a rearview backup camera easy to fit?

A. It depends on the type. The camera is the easy part, just requiring mounting where appropriate. It is then usually connected to the vehicle’s rear lights for power supply. If you’ve chosen a wireless iOS or Android system, images will be sent directly to your smartphone. If a screen is supplied, you need to run a cable through the cabin to connect it to the camera. Power is usually taken from the vehicle’s cigarette lighter.

If you’re using a different monitor, things can get more complicated – and unfortunately the manufacturer’s instructions aren’t always as clear as they should be. If you know your way around your vehicle’s electrical system, it should be straight-forward (and there are some online videos that might help). If not, it’s probably best to get the system installed by an expert. If the system turns on automatically, you probably need to run a wire to your backup light circuit.

Q. Will a wireless rearview backup camera work in my RV?

A. Yes. There are two kinds you can choose from. The range of a standard wireless camera transmitter is around 60 feet in ideal conditions. That will be fine in most RVs, but there are some very big vehicles out there. Digital wireless cameras can transmit up to 150 feet, so even if your RV is the size of an 18-wheeler, it will still work.

Q. Is there any difference between CMOS and CCD camera sensors?

A. Quite a lot. CMOS camera sensors are much cheaper to produce and therefore often found on budget cameras. CCD sensors, while more expensive, tend to produce superior images, particularly when it’s very bright or nearly dark.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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