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I recently started using my phone as a dash cam in my car. It's got great resolution (4k) and image quality and I'm planning on retaining the footage I shoot indefinitely, so I don't want cheap throw-away quality. I'm trying to figure out the most economical maintenance I can periodically perform to avoid some issues I am seeing, which are:

  1. vibration - I've got a windshield/dashboard mount. I found that the only place I could mount the phone where it wouldn't have the mount or excessive portions of the dash/car visible while still having a good view of the road and not getting in my way was near the top of the windshield next to the mirror. But I see excessive vibration while I am driving - the phone is jiggling practically the entire time I am driving. In addition, bumps in the road are rather jarring.

Is there something I can do to reduce this vibration? I have already turned on image stabilization which seems to do an amazing job, but it seems to introduce a lot of distortion (where parts of the image are continually "flexing" in and out). I suspect what is really happening is that minor bumps in the road one wouldn't even notice are introducing an impulse in the windshield, and the arm on the mount isn't dampening it fast enough (probably because this would cause other issues). However, sometimes it happens while idling at a light, maybe due to low engine RPM.

As far as the bumps, I have heard anecdotally that one can tune their shocks (struts?), even so much as to not feel speed bumps. But I don't know if you can just walk into a shop and have them do this or how you would request it. And I suspect there may be some performance reasons to not do it, otherwise everyone would do it, right?

What about tire pressure or the specific type of tires to get? I don't want to dangerously under-inflate my tires (and in fact the TPMS would get cranky with me if I did), but are there any other tricks?

  1. windshield - the fact that there is glass between the lens and the road results in lower quality for a number of reasons. Obviously washing both the inside and outside frequently can keep the actual surface clean. I'm already experimenting with various black fabrics to cut the dash reflection. But there are a lot (maybe hundreds) of tiny gouge marks in the glass. I don't know where they come from, maybe tiny bits of sand or grit being thrown up from vehicles in front? These cause flares to some degree from the sun, but especially from street lights at night. In addition, under certain lighting conditions they contribute to focus loss, sometimes for several seconds at a time. The windshield isn't broken so I don't think replacement is an option (you might not notice most of them if you weren't obsessing over dash cam image quality), but is there anything that can be done (DIY) to deal with these marks? At some point in the future when I do replace my windshield, is there something special I can look for?
  • Is there a setting to turn off the auto-focus feature and use fixed infinity? BTW a decent dash cam with wi-fi connectivity is probably now cheaper than a phone. – Weather Vane Jan 29 at 20:25
  • @WeatherVane Yes, but for some reason it doesn't work. I previously asked a question on the SWRecs SE better apps. I have looked at other cams as it would be great to not have to use my phone, but I have had trouble finding any that match my current specs - most aren't [true] 4k, don't support large enough uSD cards, etc.plus have things like a visual display, loop recording, etc I don't want. They might handle vibration differently or they might not, but I think I my windshield questions would stand nonetheless. (don't care about WiFi, it wouldn't really be a benefit to me) – Michael Jan 29 at 20:41
  • The windscreen gets pitted and scratched by the grit etc being disturbed and lifted by traffic ahead of you. At say 70 mph your windscreen is being subjected to a form of sand-blasting. As for the vibration, I have a phone on a cradle. It wobbled annoyingly until I found a position where a corner of the phone was also touching the top of the dash, which in my car has a slightly rubbery texture, and seems to act as a shock absorber. I thing looking at the structure of the car itself is a no-go, and may compromise safety. "Officer I have a perfect video of me losing control on this bend". – Weather Vane Jan 29 at 20:46
  • ...you may also invalidate your insurance by fitting non-standard parts to the suspension, or having the wrong tyre pressures. – Weather Vane Jan 29 at 20:52
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    IMO it is only "boy racers" and development engineers who tune the suspension system of cars for the public highway, apart from what adjustment might be built into the cars. That's great if you are on a track, but this question smells as though you are getting obsessed with the photography to the extent that it is becoming more important than the driving. – Weather Vane Jan 29 at 21:42
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This is the solution I went with - I researched all the available dash cams and purchased the best quality one I could find. Here is what I discovered.

The best quality dashcam I could find was not 4k video. It was about half that, about midway in between 1080p and 4k. However, it also offered a 1080p mode at 60fps. The increase in frames per second actually winds up being a bigger plus than resolution. The decrease in resolution (along with the wider angle) and the fact that the lens can be very close to the class has resulted in the disappearance of most of the windshield pitting - it is either out of the frame, or too small to be picked up. The only time I notice it is when it causes lens flares when driving towards the sun.

This has also solved the vibration problem as the mount is directly between the cam and the glass, so there is not any assembly that can vibrate.

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