Today we’re going to be taking a look at the Koonlung C81 Single Channel Dashcam. Koonlung is a company from China with a long history behind it and one of the few Chinese manufacturers that has a real brand/company behind it. This is great news for those looking for replacements or repairs for their dashcams, as it makes it easier for all of us to find them. With a 62.5 wide, 67 tall, and 34.5 deep frame, this little guy packs more of a punch than you’d think. The C81 has a 160° wide-angle lens, currently one of the widest in the industry, allowing for a better view of the road and its conditions. While this would typical add what’s called the “fish eye effect” to your recordings, the C81 has a way around it through a software process called “Dewarp”, which straightens out the video feed.
A very important feature that we always keep an eye out for in a dashcam is a dedicated parking mode by motion detection. Unfortunately, the C81 lacks this as is the case with most Chinese products. Chinese dashcams focus more on picture quality than around the clock protection. The C81 can be hardwired to record when parked with a power magic pro kit, but it would use a lot more memory card space than a camera that uses motion detection.
It feels good to hold the C81 in your hands with its elegant leather-like lens-side finish, though you won’t be doing much of that as the C81 has a suction cup mount which mounts it to the windshield, allowing you to keep it close by for easy accessibility. The C81 is directly customizable through the control interface on its back (a 2.4 LCD screen and 4 buttons). The buttons for the interface can be confusing at first, as the menu button doubles as a “back” button. The great thing about the interface though is that it allows you to customize the camera’s functions and capabilities and playback video.
The C81 has many different video settings with a max resolution of 2304 by 1296 at 30fps (frames per second) as well as 1920 by 1080 at 45fps. There's also a wider 2560 by 1080 (21:9 aspect ratio) setting which makes it possible to see more of the road, as seen in the video below. The C81 can also record audio and its mic does a better job than most other dashcams making it a good option for recording traffic stops or even to use as a vlogging camera!
The C81 can support micro SD cards up to 64GB thanks to its Ambarella Processor, lower end Chinese dashcams typically only support up to 32GB. This is useful as the high bitrates and video resolution that make this camera so appealing also mean you get some pretty large file sizes.
The C81 also has an OV4689 sensor, which is very good with high contrast and night-time recording. It is this sensor that allows the camera to also record at 45 frames per second at night with minimal grain and sharp resolution. Combining the C81 with a GPS module allows it to record your car’s speed and can be set to display on the time-stamp of the video.
With the different framerate settings that the C81 is capable of, there are pros and cons to each setting. With 30fps you get a much brighter view at night, but at the cost of a bit more blur with fast moving objects. With the higher framerates, such as 45fps and 60fps, the videos are darker, but the picture is crisper. This is important, because you could find yourself in the situation where key evidence (such as a license plate) is missed because something is too dark, or perhaps the license plate was too blurry to make out. The video above is using the 1080P/45FPS setting so the license plate of the offending vehicle was picked up with very good clarity but you'll notice the overall video seems a little dark.
With all of these functions combined, the C81 is a powerhouse that can record:
- what it sees with whatever setting you want,
- what it hears with its built in microphone,
- when it’s happening with its interface system through date/time stamping,
- where it’s happening with its built in motion detection and GPS functionality,
- The speed that it is going at by working in conjunction with its built in GPS or a separate GPS module.