Take the Pilot’s seat with the best FPV Camera
The rise of drones’ popularity in the past couple of years has ushered in a new age of drone hobbyism and venues for entrepreneurship. Everywhere people are finding new uses for their newly acquired flying robots. From helping farmers monitor crops and assisting police authorities to delivering groceries, the sky is the limit (no pun intended) for what other uses could be thought of.
It was only a matter of time before somebody thought of mounting a camera to their Quadcopter. Aerial photography is no longer the privilege of helicopter owning filmmakers now that anyone with a quad and a small camera could stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Here we discuss which is the best FPV camera currently on the market.
If you’re in the market for a camera, here are some of the best FPV Cameras money can buy:
Below are top three cameras according to our opinions reviewed.
FPV camera reviews
GoPRo Hero4 Black 4K Action Camera
GoPRo Hero4 Black 4K Action Camera review
GoPro’s top-shelf product and arguably the best FPV camera on the market. Delivering ultra HD video quality and an astounding 1080p in market dominated by security-grade cameras. The framerate and the different shooting modes this GoPro allows make it the holy grail for filmmaking drone-hobbyists. Hero4 Black’s videos speak of themselves. From time-lapse videos to ultra HD slow motion while delivering a smooth mouth-watering 1080p. More importantly, the GoPro’s top notch engineering minimizes noise and vibrations, making it an ideal pick for Quadcopters.
Having the best specs on the FPV market comes with a heavy price. In addition, the camera’s high performance takes an unfortunate toll on its battery life. Users with no DIY experience would also have to rely on the camera’s battery. Without significant tinkering, the device does not allow for a Quadcopter-Powered setup. Reported problems of overheating can also affect the camera’s longevity in the long term and possibly that of drone as well. More importantly, the GoPro’s heavy weight of 1.3 pounds limits the number the Quadcopters on the market capable of comfortably supporting it without noticeable compromising performance, making it a sub-par choice for competitive drone racers.
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Neewer HD 700
Neewer HD 700 review
The Neewer comes with a 700 TVL and a built-in OSD (On screen Display) allowing for good capture on the camera and on the ground. It comes with a 3.6 mm lens that produces a 90 degree field of view angle. With a weight of 96g, the Neewer appeals to a wide range of copter hobbyists looking for lightweight options. Power consumption wise, this camera is battery-powered and could be easily set up to be Drone-powered with no significant energy burden. Its very low price is making it a great option for FPV beginners.
If using a vision goggle is paramount to your FPV experience, Neewer’s 3.6 mm lens might not be the ideal choice. A 2.1mm lens should be what you’re looking for. The camera’s 200mw transmitter could limits your flying radius and also prove problematic if you’re flying in an interference-laden area. With a bit of DIY and research, transmitters could be upgraded to your liking.
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RunCam SKY2 800 TVL
RunCam SKY2 800 TVL review
Also marketed as the SONY 960H Effio. The 800 TVL makes for a better resolution than the Neewer. The camera also comes with its own On Screen Display. The 2.8 mm lens makes the RunCam the perfect FPV camera to use with goggles thanks to the wide field of vision it displays. Also, IR sensitivity gives the camera the capability to provide quality video-feed at night. Weighing 17g, the RunCam is the lightest camera on our list, an ideal choice for Quadcopter-racers and users concerned about their device’s ability to support bigger weights.
Although IR sensitive cameras can capture videos in lighter and dim conditions alike, the RunCam favors low-light environment. The camera’s ultra-sensitivity to brightness can negatively affect picture quality and color vividness. Some users have reported a miniscule 180ms lag that can affect control and make seem a bit sluggish.
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About the cameras
FPV cameras (stands for First Person View) offer a unique experience to any hobbyist who decides to jump into drone photography. Providing a direct video feed to the pilot whether on screen or goggles, these cameras present an unparalleled immersion for the user allowing them to witness first-hand the view from the quad’s perspective. This can be a valuable asset for any filmmaker interested in directing an aerial take, explorers and hikers scouting out an area or even Quadcopter racers looking to put themselves in the race and fine-tune their maneuvers in real-time.
In a FPV setup, it could be argued that the camera is the most essential component. As a result, it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for a camera appropriate for your activity.
- Lenses: The lenses determine the Field Of View of the camera, and consequently, what you see on the live-feed. Cameras come with different focal widths each offering a field of view angle. 6 mm, 2.8 mm and 2.1 mm widths offer 90 degrees, 115 degrees and 150 degrees respectively. If, for example, you plan on equipping goggles for your FPV setup, a camera with highest field of angle would be most suitable.
- Weight: The camera has to be equipped to the drone at some point. This means that how much it weighs will affect the Quadcopter’s ability to fly and battery life by making it heavier. For drone racers, weight could be a deciding factor when shopping. FPV cameras average about 50g, but it is generally a good idea to research beforehand whether your Quadcopter model will support the camera without any significant drawbacks.
- Resolution and IR Block/IR Sensitive: A TVL number stands for TV Line which affects the camera’s resolutions and video feed’s detail. The higher the number, the better but a TVL of 600 minimum is the rule of thumb. The choice between IR Block and IR Sensitive cameras is more on the subjective side. IR block favors a bright environment but gives rich and vivid colors to your photography. IR Sensitive, however, favors dimmer environments but captures lighter ones as well at the cost of video quality.
- Customization: Some cameras come with On-Screen settings that allow the user to fiddle with different parameters such as color, light sensibility and contrast etc… It’s also advisable to check whether the FPV camera you consider acquiring allows for interchangeable lenses, giving you complete control over the feed’s quality and resolutions as well as access to different filming modes. The ability to upgrade camera transmitters should also be considered if the user’s willing to pick up the basic DIY skills required for upgrades.
More experienced users and DIY hobbyists can also build their own FPV setup. This allows them to fine tune every minute detail for optimal performance. Transmitters, voltage and wiring, type of casings and frames are some characteristics that a DIY-savvy user would consider when looking for a camera.
Some notes about FPV cameras
It should be noted that flying an FPV-equipped drone should be generally by more experienced pilots. Because of the immersive experience FPV flying offers, it could be hard to maneuver a quadcopter while watching the live video-feed. One should always remember that a camera’s view is way more limiting than the human eye.
On the other hand, once you have the basics of flying a drone down, feel free to start experimenting with FPV flying. Initially, a spotter can help the pilot get acquainted with the trickeries of flying a Quadcopter while paying close attention to the surroundings. Find a safe area or consult your local drone-hobbyist group for advice. Make sure to pick an area with low chances of radio-interception to avoid your Quadcopter losing signal. Once safety is taken care of, feel free to start playing.
We hope this article provided you with all you need to know about FPV cameras and the best FPV cameras available on the market. Happy flying!