Review: Runcam 3S Camera | FPV Mini Quad Drone

Since GoPro discontinued the Session 5, it’s good to know that we will have a new alternative for FPV – the Runcam 3S HD action camera. In this review we will take a look at the performance and how it compares to the original Runcam 3 and GoPro Session 5.

Learn how to choose HD camera for FPV and multirotors.

Where to Buy Runcam 3S?

What’s Special about the Runcam 3S?

  • Even wider FOV than the 3
  • Higher default exposure settings
  • Better audio quality
  • New case design – slightly bigger than the 3
  • Screws are accessible on the outside of the camera for convenient self-repair
  • Removable battery – a 1S 850mAh LiPo
  • You can still use it for FPV (live video out) and latency is the same as the previous version or the Split 2

Here is a quick comparison between the three popular HD camera options for mini quads:

Runcam 3S Runcam 3 Session 5
Price $99 $99 $300
Weight 70g 69g 73g
Dimension 40x38x37mm 38x38x37.5mm 38x38x36mm
Video Resolution 1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
4K 30fps
2.7K 48fps
1080p 90fps
720p 120fps
WiFi & APP Yes Yes Yes
Video File Format .MOV .MOV .MP4
Video Max Bitrate 30Mbps 30Mbps 30Mbps
45Mbps(protune)
Still Photo 2MP 2MP 10MP
Recording Time 85 mins @1080p60fps 90 mins @1080p60fps
USB Port Micro USB Micro USB USB-C
Superview No No Yes
Video Out for FPV Yes Yes No
Water Resistant No No Yes
Image Stabilization No No Yes

The hardware spec looks very similar to the Runcam 3, except it’s a little bigger. Since the Runcam 3S is designed for FPV, waterproof and Digital Image Stabilization are not necessary IMO.

What’s in the Box?

The Runcam 3S comes with the following accessories:

  • Instruction manual
  • 2x velcro straps
  • TV-out cable (micro USB to servo connectors)
  • USB cable (for data and charging)

A Closer Look at the Runcam 3S

The Runcam 3S has a familiar design with a slightly different shape to the original Runcam 3 HD camera.

Learning from the previous Runcam 3 which was a nightmare when it came to repair, they decided to put all the screws on the outside of the case. This makes it much easier for the users to take the camera apart whenever needed.

By removing the battery compartment door on the side, you can swap out the battery, and have access to the micro SD card slot.

The Shutter button is located on the top of the camera. It’s also the power button. There is a battery indicator next to the shutter button (3 tiny LED lights).

There is another smaller button on the back – the mode button. You can change between video mode and photo mode using this button. You can also enable WiFi with it.

It’s using micro USB port and NOT USB-C just like the original version.

There is an RGB LED light at the corner of the front. It flashes when it’s recording. When it’s in video mode it’s red and when it’s in photo mode it’s green.

Note that the 3S is NOT water resistant.

How to Change Settings?

There are two ways to change camera settings, using a smartphone or tablet through WiFi, or using analogue video out.

WiFi password is 1234567890

[screenshot of the app]

Image Quality

Based on the video comparison, I would say the Runcam 3S has improved from the 3 in terms of image quality, especially audio quality.

I think the default settings in the 3S is better: colour is more natural and vivid, exposure also seems to be set higher, you can see more shadow details. The 3S has an even wider FOV (field of view) than the 3.

Here is the comparison between the Runcam 3S and Runcam 3 cameras.

Runcam 3S vs. GoPro Session 5:

The GoPro footage looks a bit “dull” in the comparison because it was a cloudy day. The WDR works so well on the Runcam, no matter how I tried “color grading” the GoPro footage, the Runcam footage just looks a lot more vivid… But some might consider that’s “over saturated”… you be the judge.

Conclusion

I really like the image quality! It’s a lot better than the Runcam 3 based on default settings. There are design improvements from the original Runcam 3, such as the replaceable battery and battery level indicator.

It’s a real shame that they made it bigger, now it won’t fit anymore in 3D printed mounts for the Session or the original Runcam 3. However it’s a bit lighter than the Session 5 (70g vs. 73g).

Runcam is trying to get the image to look more like “Superview” by using lenses with wider FOV. However it also causes some distortion to the image. Some people like it, some don’t.

I like the GoPro because you can use “Flat Color” which maximizes the potential of colour grading. For people who love spending time editing videos, this is godsend! But for those who don’t care about color grading, the Runcam 3S is just fine. It’s actually better as the raw footage color looks pretty good already :)

The biggest advantage of the Runcam 3S over the Session 5 is the better WDR (wide dynamic range). Now we just need Superview and 2.7K resolution, and it would be the clear winner :)

If you liked and wanted to get the Runcam 3, now the 3S is an even better option. It’s a great camera for bashing around, flying over water and long range :) For $99, it wouldn’t hurt as much if you lose it compare to the GoPro.

Still Prefer the Session 5?

There are still some Session 5 stock left on the market, and GoPro is trying to get rid of them for a discounted price. I bought a new one recently for £120, original price was like £250. You can get them here: https://amzn.to/2we9FtO

Overheat?!

The Runcam 3S gets really hot during my testing, it actually “froze up” when left it recording for 20+ mins on the bench. I recommend only use it for FPV (on a multirotor or wing) where there is good air flow.

7 thoughts on “Review: Runcam 3S Camera | FPV Mini Quad Drone

  1. Wes

    hi,
    I received mine last week, and i am totaly disappointed with this device. Especially the overheating issue and the runtime. 30 minutes if its not freeze cause overheating? Thats a joke.
    The footage an my cam is not smooth and it skips frames. Sound is although skipping.
    Not shure, but maybe i got an broken device.
    But anyway those high temperatures will kill the cam soon or later.

    I didnt want to by a gopro session, and thought that would be an good choise, but it isnt.

    Wes

    Reply
  2. Terry

    How does the Runcam 3s compare to the Split2 for HD only? I know latency is too much with either for proximity FPV. I’ve debated using the Split2 for HD because the camera is cheaper to replace if it breaks. Downside is it draws mah since its in the stack. Also, maybe the Split2 is more prone to break? Is video quality comparable between the two, though? Thank you for your work!

    Reply

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