Datakam G5-City Pro-BF review: the registrar of the future from Russian defense engineers

    My acquaintance with Datakam brand products began with today's review. I only knew that it was like a Taiwanese brand of car DVRs, in the assortment of which there are only top models. As a result, it turned out that the brand is actually Russian, and the registrars are not just top-end - they are simply unique.

    Why did I like the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF and I decided to talk about it? The model is interesting for a large number of innovative solutions that are not in the registrars of other brands. And even to seemingly standard things (like fasteners or menus), Datakam found its own original approach.

    For reference

    On the Datakam website, the company is described in some detail, but as it turned out, there are a few very interesting details. For example, it is not written that Datakam has a design office with two departments - one in Taiwan and the other in Moscow. The staff of the Russian design bureau consists of eight engineers with many years of experience in the defense complex of the Russian Federation. Apparently, the Moscow branch is the main one, because in the latest news I constantly came across the wording “Russian research and production company Datakam”.

    It is clear that the development is original - I repeat, many interesting moments I first saw in the same Datakam G5-City Pro-BF. The devices are assembled in their own workshop in Taiwan, where the maximum production capacity is 10,000 units per month. Naturally, the Taiwanese work there, but the whole process is controlled by three Russian process engineers. Another interesting point is that the initiators of some of the innovations in the Datakam registrars are ordinary users who are setting forth their proposals here.

    According to the company, half of all their sales are in Russia. “We have our own atmosphere here”, the Russian driving culture (or rather, its absence) certainly requires the presence of a video recording tool in the car. Hence the increased demand for registrars in our country in principle. Although the Russian market is not limited to one. Datakam registrars are also sold in the UAE (Arabs, as you know, love everything expensive and pathos), in Ukraine (where road conditions differ little from Russian) and in EU countries, in particular Germany.

    I note that the G5-BF series consists of two “branches”. The first is CITY-BF , which I am talking about. This modification has a wide viewing angle of 170 degrees (diagonal). The second - " REAL-BF”, Where the angle is already limited to 120 degrees. The approach is weighted, and is explained on the main page of the company's website. A wide angle allows you to capture more objects in the frame, but reduces the maximum distance distinguishable license plate numbers of cars. If on the video from CITY-BF the numbers are read from a distance of 12 meters, then at REAL-BF the readability distance is much more serious - up to 20 meters.

    Both versions are available in the following versions. “ G5-BF ” - costs 8 500 rubles, but there is no GPS + GLONASS module. And that means all related functions. In “ G5-PRO-BF ” (the one in the review) for 10 900 rubles, GPS + GLONASS and numerous functions associated with this module appear. The most expensive Datakam " G5-MAX-BF"Costs 12,900 rubles and is distinguished by a complete microSD card manufactured by Samsung for 32 GB and a high-quality (at the time," felt "live) two-section bag for storing all kinds of accessories.


    Datakam has been surprising since the box. Firstly, the main "casing" of the package is made of transparent plastic with a thickness of about 3-4 millimeters, and not of cardboard - as in 99% of other registrars. The device is literally hung from the lid, the body rests on a neodymium magnet. Two supporting legs (those that rise from the black box) were made for reinsurance, you never know with what kind of love and care the model will transport, say, Russian Post.

    The package is extensive, I will begin the listing with a small case made of solid eco-leather and fabric. A cloth napkin is also attached - it is useful for wiping the case and lenses.

    The listing of paper components will start with stickers - three pieces of different colors (white, blue, red - clearly in tone with the Russian flag). Although I don’t really imagine where it is better to glue them in the car, maybe one of the readers will tell you in the comments.

    Three books of the same size are a warranty card, an instruction manual and a separate description of the menu.

    The menu description is very - there should be three exclamation points - great. See how much the presentation takes? And that’s not all, on the reverse side the same amount of information is given. And this is good, because there are really a lot of menu items, and the manual provides clear explanations for all points. In general, I strongly advise future owners of models of the G5 series at least once to carefully and leisurely study both the general manual and the description of the menu. Because only from them you can find out about some not at all obvious, but useful options of the registrar.

    There are two pieces of brackets, this is very rare in registrars. Depending on personal preferences, we choose - install the video controller on a vacuum suction cup or pad on 3M tape (a spare sticker is attached). So to say, the basic element for any option is a component with a pin and a power connector. I will talk more about fixtures below.

    Charging from the cigarette lighter is designed for 12 and 24 volts - suitable for ordinary cars, and trucks, and buses. The charging cable is very long - 3.7 meters. Even if you have a “station wagon” car, you will be able to hang the recorder on the rear window, and carefully lay the wire through the cabin. And if there is an extra wire, it can be twisted and fixed with a special twist on Velcro (this is usually the case for laptops, I see this for the first time at the registrar).

    I was slightly embarrassed by the small thickness of the cable (two times thinner than in other registrars), which I did not fail to express technical support to Datakam. In response, they assured me that the cables are very durable and cost much more than those in competitors' charges. The wire used does not break when bent, and does not allow a voltage drop, despite the large length. The unit with contacts and a USB connector has a very modest size; it literally peeks out 5.5 millimeters from the cigarette lighter socket.

    The thin cable runs perfectly under the sheathing. If you need additional fixation (say, in the glove compartment area), you can use two hooks on 3M Velcro from the kit.

    Rounding out the list is a microUSB cable and a spare sticker for the 3M mount.


    As I said, the brackets are two pieces to choose from. The option with a vacuum suction cup is best suited for those who want not to leave any traces of the presence of the recorder on the windshield. A sensible thought: a street scumbag can break glass and get into a car when it sees an empty fastener on the glass. They are aware that many motorists simply hide gadgets in the glove compartment, rather than taking them with them. On the other hand, knowledgeable comrades with suction cups have one association - during the first frosts, the bracket will certainly begin to fall off. Installation can only be carried out normally after warming up the passenger compartment.

    I myself do not particularly regret the 3M mounts in the registrars (it is too painful to often have to change the DVRs), but in this case I sympathize with just such an option. The plastic platform is extremely tiny, from the outside it practically merges against the background of a dark interior or a rear view mirror, and therefore, it certainly will not attract attention from the outside.

    The mentioned basic component for both mounts contains two neodymium magnets that hold the case. Now, almost every first registrar indicates the possibility of instant removal of the registrar from the bracket, which in reality, most often, is far from reality. Significant efforts have to be made to remove the mount that fits snugly in the connecting groove of the camera. In the case of the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, the recorder can be removed without effort literally in half a second.

    A logical question is how firmly the magnets are held, does the recorder “tremble” with strong shaking? No, with all the desire to “stir up” the model, I did not succeed. An additional stabilizer is a pin made of metal, on which the recorder is mounted. No wires need to be connected directly to the case - power is supplied through the same pin.

    The power connector on the mount is round, so you won’t be able to use the more familiar miniUSB recorders. As everyone in the same technical support told me, the connector in the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF is more durable, while over time the miniUSB may become loose, and the contacts may oxidize due to the formation of moisture when the cold compartment warms up. True, there is one minus in its own connector. If the “native” cable is lost or torn, you will not be able to find a similar one in free sale in stores. However, the same technical support assured: if anything, they would be happy to sell a new “lace” to the registrar's owner.

    Adjustment of fastenings is possible in two planes. You can tilt the recorder closer or further away from you. And rotate in increments of 90 degrees. This is another interesting point, since the design of the holder contains a special groove for quick rigid fixation when turning the recorder sideways. The option is effective, since I always knew exactly what was in the frame. In registrars with hinged mounting, after turning the case to the side, the “sight” of the camera on the road when it returns to its original position usually goes astray. You have to, in fact, re-engage in tuning in order to shoot what is happening right in front of the car. The Datakam G5-City Pro-BF is completely free of such a flaw.

    In general, the bracket was definitely a success - it is extremely compact, easy to use and, which is especially flattering to me as the owner of the device, it is unique. I dare to suggest that attempts to create a similar fastener by other manufacturers will not be made soon, at least because of the complexity and high cost of such an accessory. It’s easier to continue to “rivet” the plastic holders.


    The case of the device is small - 95x39x39 mm (without a removable lens and a blend filter), if desired, quietly hiding behind a rearview mirror. The assembly is monolithic, the registrar responded with steady silence to all twisting and attempting to squeeze - it did not give out a creak or a crack. The main part is made of matte, slightly rough plastic. It is unrealistic to stain the coating with your fingers, unless microscopic dust particles have to be blown away if they appear.

    At the top and bottom there is perforation - this is necessary for cooling. In general, the manufacturer made sure that the registrar did not suffer from heat. Partly from the same considerations, it was not a plastic holder installed, but a metal holder connecting the lens to the matrix. Such a holder does not warp and the recorder does not lose focus, as this can occur under the influence of heat in inexpensive recorders with plastic holders. Even in Russia, the registrar left under the sun on the windshield is seriously heating up. Can you imagine what could be in the UAE?

    Elements on the sides are protected by rubber plugs. On the right is the Reset button, microSD card slot and microUSB slot. I did not have to use the reset key, and in principle I did not encounter any glitches - all settings were saved, the date and time did not go astray.

    Here I note that the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF has the proprietary SmartWrite technology, thanks to which the Datakam registrar never freezes. Just in case, this technology does not concern the overall stability of the device, it only provides stable and continuous recording with a bit rate of up to 15 Mbps to slow memory cards.

    On the other side of the Datakam case is a miniHDMI input and ... a second microSD slot. Correct if I am mistaken, but in other registrars there are no two microSD slots anywhere. Personally, I have never seen! Maximum - 256 MB of internal memory, which is enough to backup 2-5 minutes of video. Here the slots are equivalent - recording can be conducted on any of them. And, of course, copying files between cards is available. I am aware that there is a South Korean registrar FineVu CR-2000S with microSD and SD slots. But there a) without microSD, the model does not work; b) only parking shots can be recorded on SD.

    The screen, frankly speaking, is small - 1.6 inches. Plus or minus, you decide. Personally, I'm tired of the trendy 2.7-inch screens, which by and large are still used once or twice to change settings and calibrate the camera position. For normal viewing of the footage, if it really becomes necessary, I am not too lazy to insert the card from the recorder into my 5-inch smartphone. And for a quick view / delete video and photo 1.6 inches is enough.

    There are four indicators on the sides of the screen, the icons next to which speak for themselves - GPS status, emergency file protection, power and recording. A little further on both sides are two pairs of buttons. They approached the organization of management non-trivially, the calculation was clearly the greatest simplification. Now, in the bulk of registrars, they “hang” on the buttons several functions - microphone control, backlight, etc. In theory - great, in practice - who wants to bother memorizing all the tasks of four or six keys? Despite the fact that these most advanced features are usually not signed on buttons.

    In Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, all the “tinsel” was assigned to a single “M” key. When recording, when you press it, a menu opens in which we calmly and select the desired action. But the dual purpose still remains for the left pair of buttons. By default, the upper one changes the subtitles on the video, and the lower one marks the file as emergency. And the coolest thing is that both buttons can be reprogrammed and assigned to any of a dozen options. For example, to lock a file with one button, I added a screen off to another.

    I left the most “delicious” in the end, namely the front part with the so-called blend filter. This is a unique development by engineers at Datakam Design Bureau. The design consists of a hood and, in fact, a CPL polarizing filter - it has never occurred to anyone to combine them into one device. As a result, glare from the sun and lights is minimized: the hood cuts off the rays if the light source is near the border of the frame.

    And thanks to the filter, glare is eliminated, both on the windshield of the car where the recorder is installed, and on the windows of other cars. Adjust the position of the lens by rotating around the axis only once, until the next adjustment of the position of the recorder.

    You do not need to twist the lens for a long time, there are exactly two positions for eliminating glare: either by turning within 0-180 degrees, or 90-270 degrees. The blender filter is removable, and the lens scrolls easily to adjust directly in the hood. After setting, you can erase greasy fingerprints with a cloth that comes with the kit.

    Settings and advanced features

    Installations in the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF - a prohibitive amount, more than fifty. The full list can be found here, at the top click on the "Menu" tab. In short, almost any aspect of the functions or features of the model’s operation can be adjusted, from the number of nearby cities displayed on the screen to the temperature display from the sensor located on the board next to the processor. There are really exotic moments like statistics on the total time of the device and the path traveled.

    Six text lines fit on one screen, you do not have to squint for reading. For comparison, in almost all registrars with Ambarella A7 with stock firmware, a large 2.7-inch (or even 3-inch) display displays only four lines. In general, the menu is logical and understandable, it is clear from everything - the interface was created from scratch and immediately in Russian, and did not try to translate and bring to mind some kind of original Chinese firmware.

    I’ll start the story about additional features with GPS, on which a significant part of the Datakam registrar’s secondary options are based. First of all, the module itself is hybrid - it supports the search for GLONASS and GPS satellites. The signal reception is stable and is lost only in the room - and even then you need to move away from the window. The “cold start” time during testing did not exceed 30 seconds.

    From the standard GPS-functional - recording a track with the coordinates of movement. Another more or less common feature now in flagships is the warning of speed above a manually set threshold. It's funny - you can set the speed stamp to be disabled on the video when you (hopefully, not specifically) violated the speed mode.

    There are notifications of approaching speed cameras, but with a number of non-standard features. If usually only the camera database in Russia is built in the registrars, then the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF also includes information on Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Belgium.

    What came as a surprise to me - the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF warns about mid-speed cameras, in particular, Avtodoria complexes. Let me remind you, in this model, two cameras are located at a distance of 10 km and calculate the average speed of the car throughout the route. Traditional radar detectors are 100% powerless before Avtodoriya and unable to fix it. And it is clear that a mere warning in itself will not work. Bundles of cameras are clearly “registered” in the Datakam recorder, the model calculates precisely the average speed of movement and warns in case of excess.

    Datakam G5-City Pro-BF at the same time warns of "dangerous intersections", railway crossings and even speed bumps. At first glance - nothing special, in Moscow every bump is documented and entered into some database. But when the Russian-Taiwanese registrar warns you about a speed bump in a small Belarusian town with a population of 19 thousand people - involuntarily, eyebrows are raised from the driver, and even more so from local passengers.

    In the same town I tested an option called "geolocation". On the screen, the registrar shows which city you are in. And at the same time, tells / shows the next five settlements directly with arrows. Datakam warrants that all the cities of the world have been “flooded” in memory of the registrar - go traveling anywhere, you will still know where you are. Well, or at least in which direction to go in order to get to people.

    The accelerometer in the Datakam recorder is interesting in a very useful revision. I was always confused when in other registrars the G-sensor worked and marked only one file as protected. This was especially dubious when “slicing” for one minute. With such success, you can easily save a video with a couple of seconds of an accident at the very beginning or end, and can you erase everything else? In the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, the accelerometer looks at which part of the video triggers the first or second. There is a signal closer to the beginning, at the same time they will mark the previous shooting, if closer to the end - the next file. This trifle may well be decisive!

    Video recording

    I already talked about the blend filter, so I’ll immediately turn to the hardware platform of the model. At first, I was somewhat puzzled by the choice of processor - in the top-end recorder in 2014, the Ambarella A5 looks rather strange. Upon closer examination, it turned out that they were seriously and thoughtfully “tricked” over the “hardware” - here you will find overclocking and all sorts of exclusive firmware chips. The most remarkable innovation is customization, which allowed to record video with an “overclocked” bitrate of 20 Mbps. It’s not that other companies didn’t try to achieve this, but only Datakam did it - apparently, the “straight-handedness” of Russian engineers and the exclusive cooperation with Ambarella are affecting.

    The lens consists of seven glass lenses - of course, with an enlightened coating. Plus a glass IR filter. It is believed that some companies even with five to six elements are cheating, including this very filter in the number of lenses. I specifically checked - I found exactly two recorders with seven "glass", and one of them was discontinued. Datakam claims that all lenses in the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF are twice as expensive as in other top registrars.

    I categorically approve the choice of the OmniVision OV2710 CMOS sensor - the matrix managed to prove itself perfectly in registrars that have already had to test. It differs from its competitors by the largest pixel size among the matrices installed in the registrars - 3x3 micrometers. And the sensitivity here is the highest, 3.3 V / lux-sec.

    The shooting is in Full HD resolution at 30 fps, no surprises. The duration of the videos varies from 1-45 minutes, the new video includes only one frame of the previous fragment. The quality of shooting can be estimated by the examples below. I note that the range of readability of numbers reaches a limit of 20 meters. At night it all depends on the lighting and speed of the cars, but in principle, from 10-12 meters you can consider the numbers of passing cars.

    Example of a day shot:

    Night shot example:

    There are approximately five shooting modes, including two for parking mode. Normal shooting - recording by the video parameter set by the user (or left by default). If there is a long trip, we activate TimeLapse, shooting with a lower frame rate, since in a many-hour race to strive to capture every millisecond to nothing. Or you can put the receptionist somewhere on the balcony of the hotel by the sea and take a beautiful sunset.

    The issue of parking shooting was resolved in a very original way. As a rule, this mode implies automatic inclusion of recording when motion is detected in the frame. Which under different circumstances can be completely ineffective. In Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, by default, when the car is stationary, a mode called “Very economical” is activated - the minimum bitrate and frame rate, only Full HD resolution is saved. If the shock sensor worked (say, from hitting the ball), we encounter the “Economy” mode with a higher bitrate and frequency of 5 fps. If after 15 seconds the “goal” has not been repeated, the “Very economical” scenario is turned on again. When the sensor shakes, tilts or moves (or even all at once), the most ordinary recording of 30 fps begins with a normal bitrate. In general, if I confused you, look at the detailedexplanation of the operating principle of this mode from Datakam.

    Almost at the very beginning of my acquaintance with the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, the “Hidden camera mode” mode left me in a slight confusion. In it, the registrar continued to shoot, but ... apparently did not show any signs of work at all, like a real spy gadget. Before the "shutdown" I was notified that to exit the mode, just press the power button (that is, "M").

    If on the contrary, you do not want unnecessary witnesses - the encryption function is at your service. Another feature that I have not seen before (if you saw where, share the name of the registrar). Actually, we set a password - and that’s all, no one except you can view the files shot by your Datakam G5-BF. Neither on the registrar, nor on the computer without knowing the password, nothing will open. The clips will only be played on the desktop or laptop in the DatakamPlayer proprietary player - and only after entering the password.

    In the course of test trips with an unintentional long standing in traffic jams, I periodically turned off the power of the recorder, and therefore almost immediately revealed a curious feature. Recorders with a built-in battery in themselves are commonplace. Yes, only in practice it is worth removing the adapter from the cigarette lighter, as any recorder instantly turns off - no matter how capacious the battery is. Sorry, then turn on the device yourself and, if you really need to, continue recording - I never understood this approach. So, the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF, when turning off the power, asks if it needs to be turned off or if it is necessary to continue shooting. All this is done without stopping the video recording process.

    In continuation of the "topic of autonomy" - the model’s battery is very serious. When the screen is off, it is enough for 50-60 minutes of recording, depending on the parameters of the video, set alerts and sound volume. The average recorder has four times less battery life - about 15 minutes. I note that it is not necessary to turn off the screen - in any case, the registrar estimates the level of ambient lighting and automatically selects the optimal brightness. And in the dark, the backlight is reduced so as not to waste energy in vain, and not to blind the driver in vain.

    All players - player

    I can not help but talk about the proprietary player-editor DatakamPlayer , which may be familiar to you under the name Registrator Viewer. It is his website right in the first line of the search results that he advises to visit Google for queries related to the choice of player for the registrar. And I note that I used (we dwell on this name) DatakamPlayer long before “branding” - and I continue to this day. Because by “omnivorousness” (working with video from different registrars) no one can compare with the application, I had problems only a couple of times, and even then with registrars with absolutely prehistoric codecs. And so - even Super Full HD calmly “cuts” and exports without transcoding. Saving fragments without any compression is one of the main features of the program. When exporting, we are just in case interested in whether to leave sound, as well as “embedded” GPS and G-sensor data.

    DatakamPlayer recognized information on GPS and G-sensor from any recorders, as if with data directly in the video or with separate files in the material storage folder. I allow myself to complain that a program cannot be a full-fledged video editor. Of the editing functions - only the selection of fragments and their export. You can’t delete fragments, “glue” parts of a video. On the other hand, a) and this is more than enough for video from recorders b) in 99% of complete players, all functionality is limited only to playing clips.

    And, what’s really an “anomaly”, the program exists in the version for MacOS! Again, if you've ever seen a multi-platform complete player with a recorder - be sure to let me know for fun. I have never come across this before; all other manufacturers are limited to Windows support.

    Finally, I note that DatakamPlayer determines by video which model of device we use, searches for firmware on the Internet for it and offers to automatically install the update (if available). And along with the new firmware at the same time, the camera database is being loaded fresh.


    Perhaps I’ll immediately tell you about the cons. More precisely, about the only drawback found - sometimes the registrar annoys with frequent warnings, for example, about “speed bumps" - and begins to click often, often on the entrances to them. At the same time, it is impossible to turn off notifications for a certain type of POI - either we completely deactivate SPEEDCAM, or we listen to everything in a row. The problem was partially solved by lowering the volume.

    Otherwise, as I did not try, I could not identify significant disadvantages. I will not repeat myself, but in the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF there will be at least a dozen features that I have not seen in other registrars. Some features like a magnet holder, most likely, competitors will never risk borrowing. And if they borrow, they will probably put up a price tag higher than for the Datakam models.

    Given that this, in addition, is actually a development of the Russian design bureau, I take off my hat. Because, as a matter of fact, there is nothing to answer the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF to the original legislators of flagship fashion in the person of South Korea or Taiwan - correct if I'm wrong. Therefore, I believe that if you are going to spend about 10,000 rubles on a DVR, the Datakam G5-City Pro-BF will definitely be a good choice.

    PS If I missed something, and the Chinese already have analogues of all the chips mentioned, rather, give a link in the comments to the "originals" available on Alibaba. I checked, like nothing was found! Really original Russian development! :)

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