When buying a dash cam, you’re faced with many industry-specific terms that all seem important, though not all of them are familiar to everyone.
And, since dash cams can be very different in terms of memory card capacity, image quality and many other features, you want to make sure that you understand these terms so you can make the best possible decision.
One term that is often mentioned among dash cam specs is WDR. So, what is WDR and why is it so important?
What Is WDR?
WDR or Wide Dynamic Range is a technology that enables the camera to capture a clearer image in high-contrast environments when parts of a frame are much brighter than the rest.
Simply put, WDR allows your camera to produce a clear image when there’s too much or too little light. This can be very useful if you’re driving in the morning or late afternoon when the sun hits the road and it becomes increasingly difficult to capture clear scenes without a lot of reflection.
If you’ve ever tried to take a picture under strong sunlight or at very low light, you’re probably familiar with this effect. The pictures almost always turn out too bright or too dark. Bright areas are caused by overexposure, while dark areas are caused by underexposure. WDR fixes this problem by having a wide range of contrast in a frame, so parts of it can be lighter and parts of it darker, instead of all bright or all dark. This translates to better image quality under these conditions.
People often make the mistake of thinking that the word “wide” refers to the angle view instead of the camera contrast ratio. So, it’s important to know that a camera with WDR doesn’t necessarily have a wider-angle view than other cameras.
WDR vs. HDR
Although they are often mentioned in the same sentence, WDR and HDR are different technologies. They do have one thing in common – they are both used to improve image quality, increase dynamic range and allow for better detail. Like WDR, HDR is also used to improve image quality in a high-contrast environment.
However, the implementations of these two features are different. While WDR is hardware, HDR is software. Their effects are the same, so if you’re buying a dash cam with either technology, you can expect much better image quality in very bright or dimly lit environments.
Why Is WDR Useful?
There are plenty of situations in which you may need WDR. The most obvious ones are in very bright environments, when you’re driving down the road under strong sunlight.
If you’re using a dash cam for safety purposes (recording possible accidents), you want to make sure that your camera is able to record everything, as missing out a detail could make or break your case. The last thing you want is for your video to be considered unreliable because of poor lighting.
WDR is also very useful during the night or in badly lit conditions. For example, you may need a camera with WDR if you want to record everything that happens in an underground parking garage, as these areas are usually very dark. So, if you want to leave your dash cam on while parked, you may want to get one with WDR technology.
Since its introduction, WDR technology has played an important role in the surveillance industry. It’s also used in shopping mall, bank and police monitoring systems. It is especially useful in electronic police systems, as it not only allows us to see the crime being committed, but it’s now also possible to identify some of the culprit’s facial features.
This is applicable to traffic, as we often need to see a more detailed image to tell the whole story of an accident. For example, if someone overtakes you on a busy road and puts your life in danger, you want to make sure you’ve got their license plate number, as they will hardly stop to check if you’re okay. This is where WDR may come in handy, especially if the situation happened in a high-contrast environment or during the night.
Effect on Price
As you might have expected, dash cams with WDR are more expensive. Regular cameras are usually not fitted with this technology, so examine the list of features carefully when you buy online or at a store. It may be a bit more expensive, but it’s well worth the money. WDR technology could save your life some day or keep you from trouble when you’re not at fault.
WDR is a very useful feature to have on your dash cam, as it allows for a clearer image in high-contrast environments which are very common on the road. Not only will it make you safer, it can also be useful if you’re using a dash cam to record your trips or for fun. Getting a dash cam with WDR may be more expensive, but you really can’t put a price on safety.