- 4K 25FPS Front Recording (Sony IMX415)
- 1080p 25FPS Rear Recording
- Built-in Capacitor
- Wi-Fi Capable
- Starting Price of around $99 – $110 depending on sales for the front camera, about $139 for the dual channel.
The DDPai Z50 is inexpensive and well-built, but the arbitrary 25 FPS limitation and lack of polish on the firmware keep it from being a hit. Some features like the super capacitor are generally only found in more expensive cameras, and even adding the optional 1080p rear camera keeps the price under $140. While this camera at least turns on, records and turns off with the car, other options in this price bracket are more mature software wise.
This camera has a minimalist design made from matte black plastic. The camera is solid feeling with smooth rounded curves and a smoothly rotating lens. The only markings on the camera body are a gold 4K badge up front beside the lens. The buttons are not marked, instead showing their function on the display. This keeps the camera super low profile and allows it to blend into a vehicle, as it looks like OEM equipment. Good thing it’s easier to hide, as this camera is not removable from its sticker mount. There’s no way to remove it from the vehicle without undoing the sticker mount. The Z50 would not be suitable for someone who wants to use one dashcam in multiple vehicles.
The UI of the Z50 is super simple. There’s a preview of the video footage, playback of existing footage and few settings. On camera, the only advanced setting available is setting the screensaver or formatting the memory card. Nearly everything else needs to be done through the app. But even in the app, few settings are available. For video resolutions the options are:
- 2K 1600p (squished)
The app does not show the frame rate or offer any high frame rate modes. Other settings include basic parking mode settings (available with the parking mode hardwire add-on only), display timeout and flip rear camera. Notably lacking are a 50/60hz switch and the ability to adjust exposure settings for the cameras.
There is a nice help guide on camera which explains memory card issues if they do pop up.
Video Quality – Front Camera
Make sure to set this camera to H265 mode. By default it operates in H264 mode which is wildly compressed at a 27,000Mb/s. This results in lots of blocky artifacts. The H265 mode is at the same bitrate but due to better compression does not have as many issues with artifacts. Other than that, there is a good amount of detail during the day thanks to the IMX415 image sensor. DDPai has set the sharpness and saturation to high, providing footage that is super vivid. Color balance on the front camera is good. In some settings the highlights are blown out, but for the most part front video is overall fine detail wise.
The biggest downside is the 25FPS cap. Even at 2K, this camera only films in 25FPS. It’s not super choppy, but it is definitely less smooth when compared directly to other cameras that film at 30 or 60FPS. Plus, at night there can be subtle flickering with lights due to North American power infrastructure being at 60hz (divisible by 30, not 25). I even tried filming with just the font camera to see if it would offer increased frame rates, but this is not the case. There is some motion blur with oncoming license plates but the camera does a respectable job freezing motion for the low FPS.
Audio quality is just awful. It’s super quiet and over compressed, which makes it sound like talking over a bad phone connection while standing in the next room over. DDPai needs to increase the volume and compression of the audio if they don’t change anything else about this camera after this review.
Night footage is about average in the budget 4K category. This camera gets a passing grade because some license plates are readable when stopped and the camera overall does a decent job with exposure. When it is pitch black where there are tons of noise but that is a trade off with using a real 4K image sensor versus something with bigger pixels and the ability to gather more light.
Video Quality – Rear Camera
The rear camera is decidedly average, but I would recommend adding it to the package since the increase in cost is minimal. Like the front camera, it is capped at 25fps, and it has a 1080p resolution. In some situations the license plates are readable, but from time to time cars were too bright and blown out. Since there is no exposure adjustment in the app, DDPai needed to get the exposure right and currently when the sun is lower in the sky sometimes white cars and license plates will be way too bright. When pointed into the sun the camera does a good job with exposure. And at night, the rear camera does pick up what’s going on but license plates and fine details are for the most part not readable.
What About D2 Save?
I couldn’t find any information on how D2 save actually worked other than the marketing material. I tested by using a fake capacity micro SD card. After 5 minutes of driving the camera told me that there was an SD card error. I bumped the camera to simulate an incident (it locked the footage) I then replaced the fake SD card with a real one. Footage was not saved to the card. I could not plug the camera directly into my computer as my laptop USB port did not provide enough power. As well, there was no footage from the incident while the camera had the bad SD card on the app.
This camera has the most basic dashcam functionality: turning on with the car, recording and turning off, but it lacks the software polish of a mature dashcam that has been on the market for a while. The good news is that most of the issues can be fixed by firmware update but there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. The camera has a lot of good features that stand out at this price point, such as the super capacitor and low profile design, but it is held back by software bugs and unusual limitations. If DDPai puts the effort into making fixes in the near future I will revisit this review.