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Jan 25, 2010, 02:06 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
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FPV Camera Review (Mega Thread)


Where can I find an objective and comprehensive FPV camera review?
Shall I start one for my fellow beginners?
Feedback from the experts is very welcome.

[Editing of this thread is under progress. Please bear with me.]

I just discovered there is a similar thread like this. It is more a personal comparison of what works and which is better.
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...ghlight=kx+131

If you say so-and-so camera is good, please show the video and all judgment will put to rest.
There is no "best" camera per se, depends what you want it to do.

FPV Camera Review

Using this format
Camera
Link to online shop
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage
Other Specs
Cost
General Comments/Review
Advantages
Disadvantages
Sample videos

---------------HD CAMERAS FOR FPV--------------

GoPro Hero HD
Link to online shop
http://www.goprocamera.com/index.php...2&productid=33
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage
CCD, ? lux , 0.6 m to infinity, 167g (with case) 94 g without case, internal battery 3.7V (5V USB powered)
Other Specs
Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m – ∞), glass
Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
Angle of View: 170 ultra wide angle in WVGA, 720p, or 960p mode
Angle of View: 127 wide angle in 1080p mode
Resolution: 5 megapixel
Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC)
Sensor Type: 1/2.5" HD CMOS, 2.2m-sized pixels
Light Sensitivity: Super low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
Cost USD 259.99 (Naked)
General Comments/Review
Advantages
HD video recording with video out, large FOV, lightweight compared to other HD cams, relatively small front area, waterproof and shockproof (add 80 g for case), comes with snap mount
Disadvantages
Not so good in low light condition (dawn/dusk), a little risky procedure to get video out... not so safe, camera outputs its own text with the video out which may conflict with some OSDs.
Sample videos


-------------------CMOS CAMERAS FOR FPV---------------
CCD Killer Camera
Link to online shop
http://hobbywireless.com/cart/index....roducts_id=339
http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/index....roducts_id=349
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage
CMOS, ? lux, ? focal length, ? g, 3.3-5.5 V
Other Specs
420 line "CCD Killer" CMOS Camera Performance that rivals CCD at half the cost. Fantastic light handling and crisp image. Low power and light weight make it a perfect choice for smaller aircraft.
CostUSD 65 (with pan-tilt)
General Comments/Review
It is good for the price and is very small and light making it easy to mount the supplied pan and tilt is ok but prone to breaking / striping servos on heavy landings. The stereo mics are a nice touch. I think the color is good but it dose struggle when its getting late in the day and the sun is setting the ground goes quite dark. as this is cmos its not good for a plane/heli that has lots of vibration the pic can go wigaly. it is nice to have a better resolution than 480 its hard to see details like a tractor in a field with this one. Not a bad one to start with especially as it is plug and play with some video TX great for just thrashing around the field.
Advantages
Small, light, cheap. Has mics.
Disadvantages
Jello from vibration. Low resolution.
Sample videos

(3 min 25 sec)


"$11 dollar CMOS Camera"
Link to online shop
http://cgi.ebay.com/Super-Mini-1-3-C...item335d1a6a65 USD 11 + USD 10 shipping worldwide = USD 21
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CMOS, 3 lux, 3.6 mm focal length, 28g, 12V/5V (cut off the regulator and you have 5V)
Other Specs 1/3'' Color CMOS , PAL/NTSC, Effective pixels: PAL: 628*582, NTSC: 510*492, Image area: PAL: 5.78*4.19mm; NTSC: 4.69*3.45, Scanning frequency: PAL/CCIR: 50Hz; NTSC/EIA: 60Hz, Horizontal Resolution: 420TV Lines (?), MIC / Audio: integrated, LENS: 3.6mm, minimum illumination(F1.2): 0.5Lux/F1.2, size: 23mmX23mm
Cost USD 11
General Comments/Review
ggtronic -i think this could be a serious competitor to the famous CX161
but we need it airborne to confirm...

*** please add to the review here ***

Advantages
*** please add to the review here ***
Disadvantages
*** please add to the review here ***
Sample videos
Ground video
(2 min 8 sec)

*** Please post FPV video ***
*** please add to the review here ***

DX-201
Link to online shop http://www.rangevideo.com/index.php?...98bd923a12b9cd
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CMOS, 5 lux, 3.6 mm, 36g, 12V
Other Specs 540 TVL horizontal resolution, 1/3" DPS (Digital Pixel System) wide dynamic range sensor, Programmable OSD menu,
Cost USD 150
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...+review&page=2
Advantages "One thing you should be aware of is that CMOS DX201 has a global snap shutter. This is important in our application because if the camera has a rolling shutter, the video will “wobble” with an airbone platform", "I have a KX-131 and a IF OSC and the picture from the 201 camera looks much better for me.", "DX201 looks a good camera, no vigneting, no wobble, no smear effect, high resolution, and 50 mAh less power consumition than kx191", "Well, I can't comment on the DX201, but I've been flying with a Pixim based camera for a while and I'm pretty happy with it."
Disadvantages "nothing bad but the rolling shutter scanning system of cmos sensors.",

"You know, i can NOT for the life of me see what all the hype is about these camera's.
They are
1/ really expensive.
2/ have dreadfull colour change issues, blue to purple to blue to green, whack stuff
3/ rainbow effect on props is poor form
4/ everyone seems to need to endlessly mess around with settings
5/ Exposure is pixel by pixel, yet the sky still blows out
6/ wierd tint over the whole image
6/ never seen a decent video with one yet, with the exception of fpv-leif"
Sample videos

--------------CCD CAMERAS FOR FPV-------------

KX131
Link to online shop
http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/index....products_id=43
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 0.5 lux @ f2.0, 3.6 mm, 30 g, 5V
Other Specs 1/4" SONY Super HAD CCD, Total pixels: 537(H) x 505(v), Effective pixels: 510(H) x 492(V), Horizontal Resolution: 330 TV Lines, Electronic shutter: 1/60-1/100, 000(sec) Automatic Sensitivity: 0.5Lux / F2.0, Current consumption: 22mA or less, Input Power Source (w/o reg): DC5v,
Lens: 3.6mm
Cost USD 89.95
General Comments/Review
Advantages "can point toward the sun and the ground is still visible, colors are good."
Disadvantages ***Please contribute to the review here.***
Sample videos
(1 min 50 sec)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...52457182396251
(0 min 59 sec)


DPC-480A
Link to online shop http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/index....roducts_id=213
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 3.6 mm, 36 g, 12V
Other Specs 1/3" Sony color CCD sensor., Industry standard composite video output, Pixels NTSC: 768x494, PAL: 752x582, 480 TV-line resolution, Minimum Illumination 0.5 Lux. , OSD Menu for camera parameters, Integrated line-level microphone, RCA equipped A/V cable, 2.1mm x 5.5mm DC Power Jack, Micro Size, 1.2 (H) x 1.2 (W) Inch [30 x 30mm]
Cost USD 169.95
General Comments/Review
Advantages ***Please contribute to the review here.***
Disadvantages ***Please contribute to the review here.***
Sample videos
(7 min 16 sec)

(6 min 27 sec)

(25 min 51 sec)


Fatshark RCV922 CCD
Link to online shop http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/index....roducts_id=131
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 3.6 mm, ? g, 3.3-5V
Other Specs
COMPACT SIZED COLOUR SQUARE CAMERA , 1/3" Sony CCD / 420TV Lines, Board Lens : ships with f3.6 mm lens mounted and an extra f2.8mm lens, Dimension : 25 X 25mm, One additional lens included in the pakage, 3.3-5V
Cost USD 85.95
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...69&postcount=3
Advantages "The explanation for the light handling advantage is that it biases the exposure toward the bottom half of the screen so the ground is almost always able to be seen even if the sky is very bright. On the other hand it also means the sky is often blown out completely in the name of keeping the darker ground lighter. The video of mine posted above, cruising over Green Mountain demonstrates the light handling fairly well. Another advantage: It's a proven night flying capable camera.", "This cam works well for me while flying in difficult lighting conditions. Can ALWAYS see the ground, even with sun low on the horizon and camera pointed into the sun!" "can point toward the sun and the ground is still visible, but colors are muted, almost becomes black & white."
Disadvantages "The disadvantage listed about non-standard video output was reportedly fixed.", "The RCV922 is the only one I know of that has that "non standard" video signal that some OSD do not like. (OBSOLETED) "The video signal from this cam is reported to be "non standard" and will not work with some OSD's although there is a work around. Add 75 to 100 ohm resistor across video output and ground before it goes to your OSD. (OBSOLETED)"
Sample videos
Night Flying
(5 min 25 sec)

(6 min 4 sec)

(5 min 34 sec)

(5 min 15 sec)

(4 min 23 sec)


Hobby Wireless SN777 aka KPC-VSN500NH KT&C
Link to online shop http://www.123securityproducts.com/kpcvsn500nhb.htmlhttp://www.spytown.com/kpc-vsn500nhb.html
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 0.2 lux, 3.6 mm, ? g, 12V
Other Specs Sony’s latest ICX638 Super HAD CCD, extremely low current consumption of only 90mA , smallest mini square CCD Camera for High Resolution Display, Light Sensitivity of 0.2Lux , Dimensions: 25 x 25mm
Cost USD 75
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=1053024
Advantages "Here is a very high quality camera that is really nice for FPV flying, it is very tiny and handles a bright sky with dark ground very well...this camera seems to outperform much larger and more expensive cameras for FPV ", "...in almost all other respects it's a fantastic camera. Very small (low drag), light for a hard metal case camera, and very high resolution with pleasing saturated colors. "
Disadvantages "Is this the same camera that has been reported to generate a lot of noise, to the point that some receivers loose a lot of range?", "There is an easy fix for the noise generated by the SN777." "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. ", "Contrary to what's quoted already, the Rf noise is not constrained to affecting GPS. Maybe the GPS problem can be fixed with ferrite rings alone, but that's only half the problem. It totally thrashes the two different 433Mhz UHF control systems I have and does it with no physical connections between them on the plane. In other words, if I hold the independently powered camera anywhere within a foot of the UHF Rx or its antennas, it cuts the effective control range in half or more. It's a shame, because in almost all other respects it's a fantastic camera. Very small (low drag), light for a hard metal case camera, and very high resolution with pleasing saturated colors.
"
Sample videos
FPV Plane FPV (5 min 49 sec)

(9 min 33 sec)


Hobby Wireless SN555
Link to online shop http://hobbywireless.com/cart/index....93a92f64ed51e2
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 0.1 lux, 29g, 12V
Other Specs NTSC, Sony 1/3” High Res CCD, 811(H) 508(V), 410K, 550 TV line, Electronic shutter:1/60 ~1/100,000sec
S/N ratio: More than 45 dB (AGC OFF), 0.1 Lux, DC12V, 90mA, 30 x 30mm, 29 Grams (1 ounce)
Cost USD 129
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=864175
Advantages "Pretty good colors and no dark ground problem.", "Pretty good colors and no dark ground problem.", "The SN555 or
SN777 is high res with good dynamic range, so it handles bright sky ok, but
not as well as say the RCV922 which always biases its exposure for the
bottom half of the frame, at the expense of sometimes blowing out the sky. "
Disadvantages ***Please contribute to the review here.***
Sample videos
Prova Pan/Tilt e Microcamera SN555 550 linee (1 min 34 sec)

(4 min 49 sec)

(4 min 2 sec)

(4 min 37 sec)

The Chase - FPV Easystar vs Twinstar + Headtracking (5 min 3 sec)


KPC-650CH
Link to online shop http://www.amazingcameras.com/Sony_E...H_p_28360.html
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 0.01 lux, 1.2 mm, 117g, 12V
Other Specs 1/3" EX view CCD(sony), 2:1 Interlace, H:15.635[KHz] V:50[Hz], 480 TV Line, 1/50 ~ 1/100,000(sec), 0.01 LUX / F1.2
Cost USD 198
General Comments/Review
Advantages "I have 4 of the KPC-650 cameras on 4 different planes, and they are the BEST You can still see the ground even with a bright sky, and the colors are BEAUTIFUL, if you want the closest thing to sitting in the plane and looking out the window, this camera is it. The KPC-650 also works in very low light, I can fly with it when its getting to dark to even see the plane anymore Night flying is also great with this camera. It is a bit heavy, and larger than the others, but it is well worth the extra effort to mount this camera.", "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."
Disadvantages "...But it weighs 117g = 4.1oz, so it's rather heavy for most small model aircraft. "
Sample videos
(KPC-650CHQ)

DPC-161 (may be discontinued, pls check)
Link to online shop http://www.dpcav.com/xcart/product.p...cat=264&page=1
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage
Other Specs 1/4" CCD sensor, 512 x 492 effective pixel format, 380 horizontal TV lines of resolution, Wide view f2.9mm glass optic lens (72 horz), Screw base lens is removable, 5Lux / F2.0, 4.8VDC to 5.2VDC, 160mA, 3-Wire A/V cable with mating connecto, 0.8 ounce (23 grams), 26mm (W) x 22mm (H) x 32mm (D)
Cost 29.95 (sold out)
General Comments/Review
Advantages "can point toward the sun and the ground is still visible, colors are good"
Disadvantages
Sample videos
Stavanger Winter Day (4 min 1 sec)

(1 min 33 sec)


KX-171
Link to online shop http://www.rangevideo.com/index.php?...products_id=96
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 0.5 lux; night 0.05 lux, 3.6 mm, 22 g, 12V
Other Specs 420 TVL horizontal resolution, 1/3" SONY CCD, Auto Gain Control, Auto BLC, Auto White Balance, Illumination sensitivity: day 0.5lux, night 0.05lux, 20x20mm, 22 g with lens, 12V10% DC, 40mA draw
Cost USD 95
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...69&postcount=2
Advantages "I like this cam, great colors and very sharp image, also works well in low light.", "the 171 seems to be pretty good for night flying tho, I launched at like 8:45pm and flew for almost 45 mins and I could still see the ground by the end of the flight. When I took off my goggles I was pretty shocked to see how dark it was"
Disadvantages "The problem I see with this cam is causing to ground to go very dark/black when sky is bright, or facing into the sun.
Makes it hard to navigate by ground reference points.", "Both (KX-191 and KX-171) good cams, just not ideal for FPV, however they both work really well for FPV driving a ground based vehicle, esp at night with LED lights fitted to vehicle."
Sample videos
KX-171 dark picture at dusk (0 min 56 sec)


KX-191
Link to online shop http://www.rangevideo.com/index.php?...roducts_id=111
Specs - CCD/CMOS, lux, focal length, weight, input voltage CCD, 4 mm, 46 g, 12V
Other Specs 520 TVL horizontal resolution, 1/3" Sony Super HAD CCD, Back light compensation, Automatically switches to black and white night mode, f4mm IR sensitive lens, Auto White Balance, 35x35mm, 46 g with lens 12V10% DC, 210mA draw
Cost USD 105
General Comments/Review https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...69&postcount=2
Advantages
Disadvantages "KX191 basically same comments as KX-171.", "Both (KX-191 and KX-171) good cams, just not ideal for FPV, however they both work really well for FPV driving a ground based vehicle, esp at night with LED lights fitted to vehicle."
Sample videos
(6 min 8 sec)


KX and proprietary model numbers
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=631723

Other FPV camera threads

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by etman
Why is the video seen in the video goggles not the same as that recorded in a recording device?
The original scene captured by the camera undergoes a transmission chain which ends up in a recording device as a saved file. The way the recording device processes the video vs the way that the goggles processes it is different. Thus we cannot fully judge a camera quality by its recorded video. True or not? Please discuss.

FPV camera -> Video TX -> Video RX -> Video Goggles
FPV camera -> Video TX -> Video RX -> Recording Device
I'm not quite sure why you think this discussion is appropriate to this thread.
The short answer is true, which should be fairly self evident. They're very much not
the same. What you see in the goggles is the closest respresentation of analog
signal of pure uncompressed video. To record it in virtually any usable storage
format requires some level of lossy compression typically resulting in compression
ratios ranging from roughly 8:1 for MiniDV, up to 100:1 for some of these compact
digital recorders.

When it comes to judging camera quality based on videos, there's a lot more factors
than just the recorder. It depends on Rf link quality, ambient lighting
conditions, recorder bitrate, weather conditions, flying style, video editor settings,
re-rendered bitrate, choice of video hosting provider, whether the person
deinterlaces or not, and so on and so forth. All of which is really a subject for
a different thread.
Last edited by etman; Jul 29, 2010 at 07:42 AM.
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Jan 25, 2010, 02:35 AM
Registered User
i was looking for something like this the other day.
would be nice if it was in a table similar to the OSD comparisons
Jan 25, 2010, 03:03 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffW81
i was looking for something like this the other day.
would be nice if it was in a table similar to the OSD comparisons
Thanks. May I have the link please?
Jan 25, 2010, 03:11 AM
Registered User
Capy-Norway's Avatar
DX-201 (being discontinued) ?
Jan 25, 2010, 03:42 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capy-Norway
DX-201 (being discontinued) ?
Sorry my error.
Jan 25, 2010, 04:59 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by etman
Thanks. May I have the link please?
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...jg&output=html
Jan 25, 2010, 05:09 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks., that would be a nice neat table, but hard to display all that textual information, especially video samples.
Jan 25, 2010, 05:13 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by etman
Thanks., that would be a nice neat table, but hard to display all that textual information, especially video samples.
textual information? why hard?

just have links to the video samples.
Jan 25, 2010, 07:32 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffW81
textual information? why hard?

just have links to the video samples.
Ok I'll try, do I get any reward for this...
Jan 25, 2010, 07:37 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by etman
do I get any reward for this...
the satisfaction of helping a lot of people out.
Jan 25, 2010, 10:50 AM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP

Summary here


Review in table format.
Last edited by etman; Jan 23, 2011 at 09:53 PM.
Jan 25, 2010, 02:16 PM
Registered User
jalves's Avatar
nice work etman, thanks!
Jan 25, 2010, 02:44 PM
Challenging Convention
Andology's Avatar
subscribing
Jan 25, 2010, 02:50 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Couple comments on the RCV922.
The disadvantage listed about non-standard video output was reportedly fixed.

The explanation for the light handling advantage is that it biases the exposure toward
the bottom half of the screen so the ground is almost always able to be seen
even if the sky is very bright. On the other hand it also means the sky is often
blown out completely in the name of keeping the darker ground lighter.
The video of mine posted above, cruising over Green Mountain demonstrates
the light handling fairly well.
Another advantage: It's a proven night flying capable camera.

Disadvantage for the SN777 (aka VSN500) and VSN505..
Contrary to what's quoted already, the Rf noise is not constrained to affecting GPS.
Maybe the GPS problem can be fixed with ferrite rings alone, but that's only half the problem.
It totally thrashes the two different 433Mhz UHF control systems I have
and does it with no physical connections between them on the plane. In other
words, if I hold the independently powered camera anywhere within a foot of the UHF Rx
or its antennas, it cuts the effective control range in half or more.
It's a shame, because in almost all other respects it's a fantastic camera.
Very small (low drag), light for a hard metal case camera, and very high resolution
with pleasing saturated colors.

ian
Jan 25, 2010, 08:02 PM
Flying with the eagles
etman's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks Daemon, I'll make the changes.


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