Thread Tools
Mar 06, 2009, 11:57 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Discussion

FPV Flying - Best Cameras


Edit: I'll post a summarized list of cameras here, rated in order of FPV performance. If you see anything that should be changed in this list, please post or PM me. Thanks.

Video Camera Rankings for FPV, From Best to Worst:
List Updated: 2010-03-03

1. Best performing FPV camera: the KPC-650CH, but it weighs 117g = 4.1oz, so it's rather heavy for most small model aircraft. Can point toward the sun and the ground is still visible, colors are very good.

2. Next Best FPV camera: RCV922, can point toward the sun and the ground is still visible, but colors are muted, almost becomes black & white. Quote from Daemon: "RCV922 has decent resolution, under saturated colors and an exposure bias toward the bottom half or third of the frame, which means if the camera is upright you can always see the ground no matter whether the sun is in frame, or the sky is simply very bright (overcast, or after sunset). It's a pilot's camera."

3. Next Best FPV camera: KX-131, can point toward the sun and the ground is still fairly visible, colors are better than other cameras. Quote from IBCrazy: "I have flown with many cameras and I must say the KX-131 has excellent colors. The image resolution isn't excellent, but it's more than adequate. "

4. Next Best FPV camera: SN777 / VSN505: Quote from Daemon: "SN777 (VSN500) is very high res and has nice saturated colors but Rf noise that doesn't play nice with most UHF control systems. VSN505 (5V version of VSN500) is same but seems to produce measurably less noise."

Best Value #1: DPC-161, can point toward the sun and the ground is still fairly visible, colors are good, it's on clearance for $30, at www.dpcav.com, and the servo cable is already soldered on.

Best Value #2: QVGA "plug & play" cameras, with built-in video transmitters, good for starting out in FPV. I bought one at Walmart.com, and there are many other vendors. The QVGA, "CMOS" cameras have far fewer pixels than the above, higher-performing & more-complicated-to-setup cameras, so the imagery is not as clear as the "better" cameras... but these QVGA cameras are a lot less expensive and a much easier way to start with FPV.

Not Recommended for FPV: KX-171, KX-191, & DPC-171 cameras. These have a VERY BAD problem when looking toward bright sky, causing the ground to look very dark, with no detail, preventing the FPV pilot from seeing the ground well enough to navigate the aircraft.

Please post with YOUR favorite camera for flying via FPV, and please tell us why you like it for FPV.


=================================================
The original post follows:
=================================================

Hello Veteran FPV Pilots,

I'd like your advice, please, since I destroyed my FPV camera today...

I've been flying FPV with my KX-131 camera, and enjoying it... until I damaged my KX-131 camera today... I found some 2mm bolts which fit the threaded holes in the side of the camera's metal case, and screwed the bolts into the camera, as part of a new pan & tilt mount.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, that the threaded holes are open to the inside of the case... so the screws damaged the internal electronics, and the camera no longer works. I now plan to buy another video camera for FPV, and I'd like to know which camera would perform best, for say under around $200.

Either a 5V or a 12V camera would be fine; I'll adapt my wiring to supply whatever voltage is needed.

In case it's important, here's my FPV setup:
-VTx: 500mW 2.4GHz
-VRx: 2.4GHz Rx with 8dbi patch antenna
-Goggles: RVision from RangeVideo
-DVR at Ground Station: Archos 604

Thanks!
Kevin
Last edited by kevinhines; Mar 05, 2010 at 09:25 PM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Mar 07, 2009, 12:27 AM
my karma ranover my dogma
galaxiex's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinhines
Hello Veteran FPV Pilots,

I'd like your advice, please, since I destroyed my FPV camera today...

I've been flying FPV with my KX-131 camera, and enjoying it... until I damaged my KX-131 camera today... I found some 2mm bolts which fit the threaded holes in the side of the camera's metal case, and screwed the bolts into the camera, as part of a new pan & tilt mount.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, that the threaded holes are open to the inside of the case... so the screws damaged the internal electronics, and the camera no longer works. I now plan to buy another video camera for FPV, and I'd like to know which camera would perform best, for say under around $200.

Either a 5V or a 12V camera would be fine; I'll adapt my wiring to supply whatever voltage is needed.

In case it's important, here's my FPV setup:
-VTx: 500mW 2.4GHz
-VRx: 2.4GHz Rx with 8dbi patch antenna
-Goggles: RVision from RangeVideo
-DVR at Ground Station: Archos 604

Thanks!
Kevin
EDIT / UPDATE AUG 10 2009

I am now using the SN555 camera and I like it alot!
Pretty good colors and no dark ground problem.
I also have, but not flown yet, the SN777 and expect it will be a good one too.

Original post follows....

Well.... Kevin,

There are a number of cameras that would be suitable.

I have to first say that I have never owned the KX131, but I know many people use it and like the (reported) great colors they get from that camera.

That said, almost any other camera you choose will probably not have the color saturation that you may be used to from the 131.

I have tried the KX171, KX191 (not the osd version), and the RCV922

The 171 and 191 both have great picture and good colors, but the problem I had with these cams was the ground becoming very dark, or black, when there was any bright sky in the picture.
In other words, I could not see!
I don't know if this is a concern for you, but it sure bothered me!
I understand that the 131 may have more-or-less the same problem.

The RCV922 allowed me to see the sky AND the ground, even when pointed directly at the sun low on the horizon.

The bad part is, the colors from this cam look very "washed out" almost black and white at times.
Also the RCV922 has been reported to have a "non standard" video signal output, if you use a OSD there may be issues with that.

I still prefer to fly with the 922 because it allows me to see where I am going!

I am still looking for a camera that will give me good colors AND allow me to see the ground when pointed to the sun, or even with bright sky in view.

Other cameras I am considering... but have not seen any reports on yet...

Range Video DX201
Hobby Wireless SN777

Sorry to hear your 131 got damaged.

Doubtless others will chime in with their choices...

Here are some threads on FPV cameras...

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=972647

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=631723

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=920495

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=935296

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=889225

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=925292

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=899780

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=963921
Last edited by galaxiex; Aug 10, 2009 at 01:24 PM.
Mar 07, 2009, 07:30 PM
Suspended Account
Got the new one from RV yesterday but have not tried it yet
Mar 07, 2009, 08:27 PM
Gravity is patient............
The PQ on the SN777 is the best I've seen. I've seen a kx131, 191

The SN777 is far superior to those two cameras.


It's a noisy camera though, I had to add two ferrite cores to the camera power and transmitter power along with wrapping the camera in NI-CU tape in order to get good reception on my GPS (yes this was directly attributable to the camera itself). However it doesn't have any negative impact on any other FPV equipment as far as I can tell, so if you don't use GPS the SN777 has no downside. It is extremely small and light too.
Mar 07, 2009, 11:53 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by galaxiex
Well.... Kevin,

There are a number of cameras that would be suitable.
...
The 171 and 191 both have great picture and good colors, but the problem I had with these cams was the ground becoming very dark, or black, when there was any bright sky in the picture.
In other words, I could not see!
I don't know if this is a concern for you, but it sure bothered me!
I understand that the 131 may have more-or-less the same problem.
Galaxiex, Thanks for your detailed & thoughtful reply!

Yes, I plan to use the camera for FPV flying, including at dawn & dusk, so the problem you mention with the KX-171 & 191 would be an issue for me.

My KX-131 did NOT have this problem...with the KX-131, I could normally see the ground well enough, even with the sun in the field of view. For example, in this video, immediately after takeoff the sun is in the field of view, and the ground can still be seen without a problem:
(1 min 50 sec)


Quote:
Originally Posted by galaxiex
The RCV922 allowed me to see the sky AND the ground, even when pointed directly at the sun low on the horizon.

The bad part is, the colors from this cam look very "washed out" almost black and white at times.
Also the RCV922 has been reported to have a "non standard" video signal output, if you use a OSD there may be issues with that.

I still prefer to fly with the 922 because it allows me to see where I am going!

I am still looking for a camera that will give me good colors AND allow me to see the ground when pointed to the sun, or even with bright sky in view.

Other cameras I am considering... but have not seen any reports on yet...

Range Video DX201
Hobby Wireless SN777

Sorry to hear your 131 got damaged.

Doubtless others will chime in with their choices...

Here are some threads on FPV cameras...
...
Wow, thanks! I read through all of those threads (it took a while ), and I think I can summarize the consensus of what is posted in those threads as follows:

The best performing FPV camera is the KPC-650CH, but it's "too heavy" for an EasyStar (I am flying an EasyStar for FPV) ... I wonder what this camera weighs.

The next best FOV camera would be a KX-131.

RCV922 does allow you to point toward sun, and ground is still visible. colors are muted

KX-171 & 191 have a VERY BAD problem when looking toward bright sky, the ground is black.

Hopefully, I summarized these findings accurately.

Thanks for your help!
Kevin
Mar 08, 2009, 12:00 AM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by Targetlocman
The PQ on the SN777 is the best I've seen. I've seen a kx131, 191

The SN777 is far superior to those two cameras.


It's a noisy camera though, I had to add two ferrite cores to the camera power and transmitter power along with wrapping the camera in NI-CU tape in order to get good reception on my GPS (yes this was directly attributable to the camera itself). However it doesn't have any negative impact on any other FPV equipment as far as I can tell, so if you don't use GPS the SN777 has no downside. It is extremely small and light too.
Thanks for the info.

When you say "The SN777 is far superior to those two cameras", exactly how it is superior? Better to see the ground when the sun is in the field of view, resolution, color, etc.? (I've never seen nor used a KX191 nor a SN777... I have only used a KX131 and a couple of cheap QVGA cameras).

Thanks for the info about the noise causing problems for GPS... I am planning to add GPS, hopefully soon, so that is a factor for me.

Thanks,
Kevin
Mar 08, 2009, 12:40 AM
my karma ranover my dogma
galaxiex's Avatar
Kevin, Nice video

I have stayed away from the 131 camera because I thought it had the "dark ground" problem too.

The trouble with watching online videos is you can never be sure if the poster has "tweaked" the vid to appear better than it actually is...
And of course, we all want our vids to look good.

Not that I am accusing anyone of subterfuge, it's just hard to judge a camera from an online video....

May I ask what you are using to record your videos?
They look very nice.
Any post processing?
Mar 08, 2009, 01:37 AM
Suspended Account
been experimenting tonight with the new rv video splitter
that seems help out with better video quality for the goggles and recorder

Seems like the trick id to have a good camera and combo

now it is time to make the ground station
Mar 08, 2009, 02:35 AM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinhines
Hello Veteran FPV Pilots,

I'd like your advice, please, since I destroyed my FPV camera today...

I've been flying FPV with my KX-131 camera, and enjoying it... until I damaged my KX-131 camera today... I found some 2mm bolts which fit the threaded holes in the side of the camera's metal case, and screwed the bolts into the camera, as part of a new pan & tilt mount.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, that the threaded holes are open to the inside of the case... so the screws damaged the internal electronics, and the camera no longer works. I now plan to buy another video camera for FPV, and I'd like to know which camera would perform best, for say under around $200.

Either a 5V or a 12V camera would be fine; I'll adapt my wiring to supply whatever voltage is needed.

In case it's important, here's my FPV setup:
-VTx: 500mW 2.4GHz
-VRx: 2.4GHz Rx with 8dbi patch antenna
-Goggles: RVision from RangeVideo
-DVR at Ground Station: Archos 604

Thanks!
Kevin

Kevin,

This camera is awesome, on its own merits...and for $40, how can you go wrong?
http://www.dpcav.com/xcart/product.p...cat=264&page=1

It comes with a wider FOV, standard.

Best thing about this camera is that it has servo wire leads instead of a fragile connector.

Me personally, I don't see any need for a mroe expensive camera.

Hope that helps.

Stavanger Winter Day (4 min 1 sec)


JBB
Mar 08, 2009, 02:36 AM
Registered User
FPV-UK's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinhines
The best performing FPV camera is the KPC-650CH, but it's "too heavy" for an EasyStar (I am flying an EasyStar for FPV) ... I wonder what this camera weighs?
117 grams
Mar 08, 2009, 08:49 AM
Registered User
Kevin,

How's that Archos 604 working for you? You need that dock add-on to record video in, correct? Does it do ok recording through video noise - the blue screen problem people talk about? Expensive recorder, but you're getting a decent little monitor as well?

And my eternal question: Do you think those RVision specs will work with eyeglasses?

And I'll be following your camera decision with great interest!

Thanks
Mar 08, 2009, 12:14 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by galaxiex
Kevin, Nice video

I have stayed away from the 131 camera because I thought it had the "dark ground" problem too.

The trouble with watching online videos is you can never be sure if the poster has "tweaked" the vid to appear better than it actually is...
And of course, we all want our vids to look good.

Not that I am accusing anyone of subterfuge, it's just hard to judge a camera from an online video....

May I ask what you are using to record your videos?
They look very nice.
Any post processing?
Galaxiex, Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful reply.

My experience with the KX-131 video camera is just with the one, single KX-131 camera I have; I cannot speak for others' experiences with this camera, nor how other KX-131's perform. And I can only compare my experience with the KX-131 to the only other two cameras I've had, which were both QVGA (i.e., 240 x 320 pixels, which are far fewer pixels than the KX-131); the KX-131 is a huge improvement over the two QVGA cameras.

Here's a video I made, comparing the KX-131 to one of the two QVGA cameras, with a couple of notes:
Note 1: in this video, the KX-131 is teamed up with a 500mW 2.4GHz video Tx, versus the QVGA's built-in video Tx (VTx), which is proabably only 10mW, so some of the improvement is likely the more powerful VTx ... everything else was the same equipment;
Note 2: At the end of this video, I state that the KX-131 plus 500mW VTx combo is better than the QVGA camera, which is true in terms of image quality, but for a newbie starting out in AV & FPV, the QVGA camera are a good & much less expensive way to get started:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...52457182396251

Regarding post-processing: For all the videos I've made with the KX-131, including the two I have posted in this thread, I have simply recorded the video with an Archos604 DVR, which saves the video (when it's working, which is only about two-thirds of the time) to an *.avi format file; I transfered the avi to the PC and imported it into Windows Movie Maker (WMM), where I selected clips from the avi file (I used the best clips, and I didn't use clips with a lot of static. The only "post-processing" I've done are to add fade-in & fade-out transitions, and add titles. I don't know if WMM has more advanced processing abilities, but if it does, I have neither found nor used them.

I doubt the above would count as post-processing or tweaking... I'm still a newb at recording AV & FPV video.

Galaxiex, I hope I answered your questions.

Thanks,
Kevin
Mar 08, 2009, 01:08 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrtsqrl
Kevin,

This camera is awesome, on its own merits...and for $40, how can you go wrong?
http://www.dpcav.com/xcart/product.p...cat=264&page=1

It comes with a wider FOV, standard.

Best thing about this camera is that it has servo wire leads instead of a fragile connector.

Me personally, I don't see any need for a mroe expensive camera.

Hope that helps.
...
JBB
JBB, Thanks! The camera you recommend, the DPC-161, looks like a very good deal, at only $40... wow, I just went to the web site, and they appear to have lowered the price to $30. And having the servo cable already soldered on will save me the time to solder on my own servo cable.

The www.dpcav.com web site is new to me, and I already like it ... I really appreciate that on their page about the KX-131, they specifically warn the customer about the danger of driving screws into the threaded case holes, and how this will damage the electronics! I don't recall any such warning on the RangeVideo site (where I bought my KX-131) ... that could have saved me from destroying my KX-131 camera... I think I will need to give www.dpcav.com some of my business just for being so upfront.

JBB, How would you say the DPC-161 compares to the other cameras, in terms of its FPV performance?

I downloaded & read the DPC-161 pdf spec sheet. One concern I have is that on the spec sheet, it shows that the back side of this camera appears to be uncased, so the circuit board is exposed... Can one purchase a fully cased version? What do you do to protect the rear circuit board?

On www.dpcav.com, it shows the price of the DPC-161 as lowered from $90 to $30... why is this camera so heavily discounted? (Edit: I just saw on the web page "Now out of production", so it is being discontinued... maybe I better buy two while these are still available!)

PS - JBB, that's another great video... Stavanger looks like a very scenic town, on the coast, with all those islands in view... very nice.

Thanks,
Kevin
Last edited by kevinhines; Mar 08, 2009 at 02:50 PM.
Mar 08, 2009, 01:19 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by FPV-UK
117 grams
FPV-UK, Thanks!

Do you have one of the KPC-650CH cameras? If so, do you use it for FPV?

So lets see... 117grams = 4.1 ounces... yes, that's a little heavy for an EasyStar.

I supposed a servo-operated P&T mechanism for this camera would need to be stronger and larger than one for a smaller camera.

If I build a larger FPV aircraft, which could carry the added weight, I will keep the KPC-650CH camera in mind for it.

Thanks,
Kevin
Mar 08, 2009, 02:00 PM
Robot, RC Pilot & Builder :-)
kevinhines's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by misfire
Kevin,

How's that Archos 604 working for you? You need that dock add-on to record video in, correct? Does it do ok recording through video noise - the blue screen problem people talk about? Expensive recorder, but you're getting a decent little monitor as well?
Misfire, Thanks for your post.

The Archos604 is a beautifully crafted device... but it does NOT work well for FPV recordings, based upon my experience... I do NOT recommend this DVR for FPV recording. Here's why...

The Archos604 DVR saves approximately one-third of my recorded FPV flights' videos as a "copy protected" file, which means I cannot play the file on my PC, nor can I edit or use that file in any way. The best answer I have been able to find, is that the static in the radioed video signal sometimes causes the Archs604 DVR to think that I am copying a copy-protected DVD. After many calls and emails with Archos tech support, they have done absolutley nothing to help me, and so I recommend NOT using an Archos604 for FPV recording.

And yes, the Archos604 needs an add-on part to record the vdeo... more money down the drain... I'd get a different DVR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by misfire
And my eternal question: Do you think those RVision specs will work with eyeglasses?

And I'll be following your camera decision with great interest!

Thanks
The RVision goggles do NOT work with eyeglasses. I wear corrective eyeglasses, and I cannot wear both my eyeglasses and the RVsion goggles, as there is no room available. I found that I can take my glasses off and wear the goggles, and I can see the video "well-enough" to fly...

There are so many other factors involved (i.e., one's lenses' prescription, one's IPD, etc.), and I don't want to sidetrack this discussion about video cameras... if there's another thread about goggles to post in, I'll be happy to post more of my experiences with these goggles there, if you ask me to. I work in the optical field, so I could talk about corrective vision lenses at length.

Thanks for your post!
Kevin


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Which radio for FPV SouthPawPaul FPV Talk 18 Feb 15, 2009 01:49 AM
Discussion Please Advise: What makes for a QUIET electrical power system? kevinhines Power Systems 9 Dec 03, 2008 04:11 PM
Question Digital Camera for FPV Slick1 FPV Talk 0 Jul 31, 2008 05:23 PM
Question Please Help. Which motor for a 4lb prop jet for speed? Tumbler Power Systems 17 Oct 01, 2007 04:39 PM
Please Help: Which ESC for Johnson Motor Allan_A Power Systems 5 May 19, 2004 06:52 AM