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Optimill Reverse Camera

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I have seen mixed reviews of the Optimill number plate reversing camera and I thought I would share my experience.

The first camera I had installed didnt have the best picture - but I wasnt expecting much. The picture quality however soon deteriorated.




You can see the difference in the first and second picture above and below. Clear conditions, broad daylight, clear lens. No reason at all for such a poor picture.




Lens is clear, no obvious signs of water ingress or internal fogging.




Foleys were kind enough to send me a replacement camera. Its a very easy part to replace. The licence plate light holder is fitted through the rear panel with two bolts.

I didnt fit the unit myself, but it appears to use the mounting holes of the original light - please correct me if im wrong.

The retaining clips pop the camera out the front of the surround. The cable is held in place with a recessed retaining plate. You can see it angled up in the image below.

The bolts go through the gasket, retaining plate and into the light housing.




Now this is where things go wrong again. The o-ring stretched around the cable shouldnt be there. Good thing its a reasonably easy fix.

I dont have circlip/ snapring pliers but you can screw the housing apart by hand if you try hard enough.




The purpose of the o-ring is to act as a friction surface so the camera holds its position. Its an easy fix to re-seat the o-ring in the groove and re-assemble.


Fixed Camera feed:




I couldn't find the actual sensor resolution listed. 'HD' is pretty vague with 'SD' topping out at 480p. In my case this doesn't really matter though. My Pioneer AVH-Z7200DAB only has a screen resolution of  800×480 which is slightly less than 480p at 16:9.

Others with higher resolution displays may get better results.


Night Vision:

Or lack thereof. From what I can see the camera has no night vision mode. Even very cheap cameras like the wyze cams I have at home have a simple switching lens assembly which moves the IR pass filter to one side letting in a lot more light.

The image as shown on the left is about right compared to what I could see with the naked eye although the image is slightly darker. The birdhouse is approx 7m away and just about comes out on camera.







This test shows the best case scenario by placing a COB LED work light on the back step. In person the light provides a LOT more illumination. This doesnt really translate to the camera with only the shrubs in the foreground being more illuminated.

This is a good example showing that resolution and image quality don't necessarily go hand in hand.


Final Verdict:

At the end of the day, it does the job. Its the only option in this form factor that I'm aware of, and the billet machined 6082 aluminum housing is top notch.

I wouldn't be suprised to find out that the aluminium housing accounts for at least 75% of the production cost of the unit. Given how inexpensive HD cameras are these days, it would have been nice to see a higher quality sensor with a night vision mode.

Given that two of these units had defects, I think its fair to say that Optimills quality control leaves a bit to be desired. That being said, the camera units are almost certainly bought wholesale from china and just clipped into the housing by optimill.


As a backup camera it does just fine and generally doesn't attract road grime. Being off-centre doesn't impact its performance. When adjusted to point down and inwards as shown in the daytime image, the very edge of the displayed area (end of the red lines) is still about a foot away from the spare wheel. Not so great for accuracy but gives a decent safety margin.


Would I recommend it? As already mentioned, being the only horse in the race does help matters. But generally yes.

For those who would rather prioritise function over form, there are definitely better options out there.


Edited by PolarBlair
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Very useful review 👍

I have been thinking about getting one of the Optimill reversing cameras for a while as it looks to be a very neat (but pricey) solution.

I think I'll have another look at the alternatives before taking the plunge 🤔

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Glad this has been useful.

I'm also considering a 360 degree camera system.

There are several China options but anything that involves me putting a hole in my bodywork needs to come from an established company. They image quality generally appears poor with bad warping which is reflected in the very mixed reviews.

You get what you pay for.

More comprehensive solutions are usually fleet systems designed for small vans and lorries. At over 5m not including the spare wheel, I think the 130 qualifies. But for a good system I wouldn't expect to see much change from £2k.


Synergy Smart Vision 360 looks reasonable but I can't see much regarding the actual camera specification or mounting hardware. I believe the side cameras mount to the underside of the wing mirrors. Certainly possible, but defender wing mirrors don't have the same flat underside that most modern cars have.


They also have an overhang camera which seems very promising. This does list the type of image sensor and it's specification:





Stonkam is certainly overkill. I have no idea how much the system costs, but when you have to inquire to get a price, you can guess it's probably going to be eye-watering.

Buuuuuuuut, they do actually show you the hardware, properly list the specs, and the cameras appear to have decent mounts. Given the high flat sides of the defender, it also strikes me as the perfect vehicle.

Sure, it's an extra display I need to find a home for, but I would probably just mount this to the headliner to flip down or simply replace the rear view mirror.

This would be less for me, and more for wifey to get her more comfortable with parking. Our other cars do show some marks of a certain lack of spatial awareness.

To be fair, it would come in handy for towing.


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On 11/27/2021 at 9:41 PM, FridgeFreezer said:

So the optimill thing is a standard £5 ebay reversing camera in a very expensive CNC machined housing? :ph34r:

That is EXACTLY what it is. As I mentioned, Wyze make tiny camera modules with very reasonable IR LED assisted night vision and a small but reliable lens assembly which pysically flicks the IR pass filter to one side. I've had one appart and can tell you there is enough space in Optimills CNC housing to fit not only the lens but the board components too.

It really is a shame. If they were smart about it, they could even sell a 'Pro' version with an improved camera module. I may play with it in the future but for now its functional and I have too many other projects.

I was probably being overly generous suggesting that the housing accounts for only 75% of the overall value of the item... :wacko:


Edited by PolarBlair
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On 11/25/2021 at 3:31 PM, PolarBlair said:

That looks like a neat install and a great viewing position. Hadn't thought of that at all but picture quality looks great too.

Can you post the link so others can see if they want to replicate your setup?

Thanks - yes, perhaps I’ve been lucky with the camera but so far so good. I don’t think it was anything branded.

I don’t really have much else on it - a fairly ordinary Sony double DIN radio and the camera is on a switch rather than connected to reverse light…. Meaning I normally have it on while driving - quite nice to watch what is going on behind whilst trundling down the road!

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