Review: Runcam 5 HD Camera | The New Session 5?

by Oscar
Published: Last Updated on

Runcam is dropping yet another new HD camera to the FPV market – The Runcam 5! After testing it a few days now, I really think it has the potential to be BIG! Thanks to Runcam for sending me a prototype unit for the review.

GoPro is no longer making the Session 5, we are all wondering which HD action camera is going to take over the FPV market. The new Hero 7 Black looks sweet especially with the new Hypersmooth feature, but it’s so damn expensive and fragile to crash.

For under $100, the Runcam 5 follows the same form factor as the Session 5, and it’s capable of recording 4K 30FPS and 2.7K 50FPS. Maybe it’s the answer?

Runcam 5 compare GoPro Session 5

Note: The unit I have is a prototype, there might be changes to the specs and features in the final production.

Where to Buy?

What Happened to Runcam 4?

They did release the Runcam 4 earlier this year, and I did a review on it.

But they decided to use it for the airsoft market, and not to push it to the FPV market. That’s probably why you haven’t heard much about it. Anyway I do think it makes a pretty good choice for airplanes and wings due to the aerodynamic shape.

Runcam 5 Features and Specs

Here are the specs of the Runcam 5 action camera:

Note that the Runcam 5 does not support WiFi, and the battery is not removable.

It’s great that the Runcam 5 is the exact same size as the Session 5, which means all the 3D printed TPU mounts created for the Session will work on the Runcam 5 too.

Runcam 5 in Session TPU mount

Runcam 5 fits perfectly in TPU mounts designed for the Session

Closer Look at the Runcam 5

The camera will be available in black. I do hope they offer other colors as well or I will have a difficult time searching for the camera if I crash :)

Same size as the Session 5, and it has built-in tempered glass for protection.

There is a micro USB port on the side for charging and connecting to a computer. As you can tell, it’s not a waterproof design.

Similar to the Runcam 3S, you can use the Runcam 5 as the FPV camera. The video out signal comes out of the Micro USB port. You can also power it through the Micro USB port with 5V to 15V DC so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery.

On the other side, there is the SD card slot which is protected by a sliding door. This is a much better design than the covers in the Runcam 3/3S.

Although it claims to support up to 128GB SD cards, I was having trouble getting my SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB to work. I formatted the card inside the camera but it didn’t want to record. I swapped it out with a Samsung Evo 32GB which seems to work fine.

To learn what SD card you need, see my tutorial.

There is a tiny hidden button above the SD card slot, for SD card formatting as well as camera hard reset.

There is only one push button which is located on the top, with a color status LED right next to it.

Superview?

Although Superview isn’t mentioned in the specs (well they can’t really, because GoPro owns the patent), but I believe the equivalent effect is totally achievable now thanks to the newly added 1440p 4:3 resolution. That’s one reason why I think the Runcam 5 is going to do well!

Right now, there are two possible ways we can achieve “Superview” on the Runcam 5:

  • custom firmware
  • video editor

I will do a tutorial on how to create Superview on the Runcam 5 in the near future.

Changing Camera Settings

Since there is no screen in the Runcam 5, and they have removed the WiFi module due to space limitation, the only way you can change camera settings is through a text file on the SD card.

By plugging in the USB cable, you can access the SD card in the camera. The settings are stored in a file called “CameraConfig.ini”.

You can open the file in a text editor. It should feel familiar enough as it’s a bit like playing with CLI in Betaflight. All the setting options are listed in this file.

However this is quite counter intuitive, so Runcam made online app where you can change the settings on a graphic user interface. You can then download the file to replace the one in the SD card.

It’s not the end of the world as we don’t change camera settings that often.

But still, I do find it inconvenient as you can only do it when you have access to a computer. The good news is, Runcam is working on a new exciting method for changing settings, which won’t require a computer or cable. I am not allowed to say much right now, but it’s an exciting feature and I will keep you all updated.

Runcam has already uploaded the manual describing in detail how the camera works.

Bit Rates

There is an option in the camera settings to change video quality which basically changes video bitrate and file size.

High Quality M Quality L Quaity Codec
4K 50FPS * 150Mbps 120Mbps 100Mbps MJPG
4K 30FPS 60Mbps 50Mbps 40Mbps H.264
2.7K 50FPS 60Mbps 50Mbps 40Mbps H.264
1440P 60FPS 40Mbps 30Mbps 20Mbps H.264
1080P 120FPS 60Mbps 50Mbps 40Mbps H.264
1080P 60FPS 30Mbps 22Mbps 18Mbps H.264

* Update (15 April): Runcam decided to remove 4K 50FPS.

How Long Does Battery Last?

  • 1080p – 90mins
  • 4K – 60mins

Image Quality

I’ve done some initial testing, all I can say is the image quality is awesome :D I am helping Runcam to tweak a few things so it’s pointless to show you right now. It’s going to be different in the final production.

Here is my first flight with the Runcam 5. I filmed at 1440p (4:3 format) and stretched it to 16:9. Looks pretty good I have to say.

Edit: I was told there is some tiny stuttering with the last video, so I uploaded a different video with 30FPS. Because the raw footage is 60FPS, my video editor can only export 50FPS maximum, maybe that’s causing some issues. It had nothing to do with the camera.

Comparing to Session 5

I get asked many times how does the Runcam 5 compare to the Session 5, and that I should do a side by side comparison. I will do that in the near future, but I can tell you right now, the Runcam 5 is still not as good as the Session 5.

The biggest disadvantage is the smaller FOV. Although the gap in Image quality is closing, the GoPro has more neutral color, and you don’t have to fake Superview… However sharpness is just as good as the GoPro if not better.

I guess GoPro charges $300-$400 a camera for a reason!

But the Runcam 5 is definitely an improvement from the previous releases. And it’s actually something I would personally use a lot more for my future videos. Especially the long range stuff!

Why is it impossible for an FPV company to make a camera that is as good as the GoPro?

Well… GoPro has millions of users, Runcam probably only has a few thousands… (think about how big the FPV market is). Now can you imagine how much each of these companies can invest in R&D?

It’s a mathematical problem that passion cannot solve.

By the way, Runcam just sent me a new firmware today, I will test it this weekend.

What is “XV” in the List of Resolutions?

In the config file you see [email protected], and [email protected] (XV). “XV” basically means wider vertical FOV.

Non-XV resolutions, like the [email protected], take the image from the 4:3 sensor, and crop the top and bottom to make a 16:9 image. XV resolutions take the image from the whole sensor in 4:3, and stretch it to 16:9, so you get more vertical FOV.

It’s the first step in achieving Superview, but the stretch is linear so it won’t look totally like Superview. The real Superview effect stretches the image “non-linearly”, leaving the center of the image less distorted.

May 2019 Update

The Runcam 5 was set to be released in end of April, but it’s now end of May and there is still nothing. I checked with Runcam and they told me they are working on a new feature – changing settings by scanning QR code on your mobile phone, so the users don’t need access to a computer to change settings. They don’t want to release a half finished product, which is respectable.

Edit: On the 8th of Jun 2019, Runcam is now finally taking pre-order.

Edit History

  • Apr 2019 – Runcam 5 revealed
  • Jun 2019 – Finally released, added links to product page

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42 comments

Bill 14th May 2020 - 9:20 pm

This camera cannot take still images?

Thanks…

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Oscar 3rd June 2020 - 12:36 am

No, it’s an FPV camera.

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Kristopher S Norris 15th January 2020 - 3:34 am

Can we not use green anymore for extra video settings? Also did you ever go back to this for setting up configs? Runcam seems to of dropped the config link above.

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Oscar 24th January 2020 - 4:47 pm

You have to use their smartphone App now to change settings.

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Taimo 3rd January 2020 - 2:28 pm

Played with Runcam mobile app and there is a new camera: Runcam 5 Orange.
For this possibly upcoming camera there are more resolution options with XV and SV (superview?)
Also options to set shutter speed manually, select normal/flat color style and electronic image stabilization.
Cancelled my order for original Runcam 5 after seeing this :)

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James 3rd January 2020 - 8:56 am

How can I put callsign in the Runcam 5? Email me to let me know. Thanks.

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Rune 1st August 2019 - 11:37 pm

The distortion is real! 😱🥴
What’s up with that?

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rahil 19th June 2019 - 4:49 am

This may be very noob question, but i need a camera in this form factor for live stream. Does this connect to a phone/ tab over wifi and provides a live view? Whats the maximum resolution over wifi in case it does?
If not, may i know which one out of 3s, quelima sq23 , hawkeye firefly 2 does? Sorry for asking too many questions but i dont wanna end up ordering something thats of no use to me.
TIA
Rahil.

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Stewart Brough 14th June 2019 - 7:19 pm

Aha! I see that you are up near Falmer! Is that Stanmer House grounds you are in? I’ve always wondered where that open area is as it’s in a lot of your videos.

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Nicolas 6th May 2019 - 2:54 pm

Hello Mr Oscar !

Thanks for this article !
Do you know if we’ll can change the shutter speed ? Flat mode ?

Could we change the glass ? Is it easy ?
A cam for FPV need a removable glass..

Thanks a lot

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Oscar 13th May 2019 - 2:31 pm

No, you can’t change shutter speed, no flat mode.
Not sure about changing the glass yet, will have to wait for instructions from Runcam.

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kevin 4th May 2019 - 2:17 pm

so just to clarify the best resolution to mimic superview would be [email protected]
or [email protected]

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Oscar 13th May 2019 - 2:23 pm

Both of these uses full image sensor data, they’d look the same, just different resolutions.

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Matoy 1st May 2019 - 9:48 pm

Is there a gyro in this cam?
Any chance videos have GPMF data?

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Oscar 13th May 2019 - 2:09 pm

as far as i know it doesn’t.

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Steve 22nd April 2019 - 12:23 pm

I wonder if it will have the old remote shutter option that you had with the original runcam 3? I know they removed it from the 3s. Obviously not a problem for short free style flying, but on an endurance build the remote shutter – recording on/off feature via a pwm signal was just great to have. I would upgrade my original runcam 3’s to a 5 if it does incorporate the option of remote control. Only other comment would be the usb port on the side – this can be a big problem if your using the usb out for your fpv feed – most mounts or gimbals will cover the usb port making it useless.

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Nordby 17th April 2019 - 10:35 pm

Looks promising, but I will still spend that little extra on the Foxeer Box 2 4k.
I appreciate you showcasing this though – I only just found out it exists.

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DaffyDubz 15th April 2019 - 11:51 pm

Usb on the side is fail. If the battery is anything like the 3s that usb port is a MUST so you can power from the pdb. When you stick it in a mount and strap it down, guess what you just lost your usb port. Doesnt look much better than the 3s imho. And why doesnt runcam market to all gopro users? Who said runcam should only be for fpv? It’s a camera, simple as that.

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Pierre 15th April 2019 - 9:45 pm

Max ISO limit is an important feature to reduce noise and increase motion blur.

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Sunol FPV 15th April 2019 - 9:38 pm

Looks good! Put this quality in a Split!

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Bill 15th April 2019 - 6:28 pm

Does the Runcam do live video out that can be fed into a transmitter for FPV? Thanks

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Oscar 23rd April 2019 - 5:28 pm

Yes, same as the Runcam 3S in that regard.

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Vincent 15th April 2019 - 4:16 pm

I know it’s pobably very messy to do by now, but a option for a maybe 160 or 155 degree fov specifically for those who want to put superview on it and a option for iso would make this cam perfect! Then we would still get this huge fov with superview to cancel out the fisheye and a lower fov with less fisheye for those who doesn’t want to mess with putting superview on the footage.

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Janusz 15th April 2019 - 3:26 pm

This or Foxeer Box 2, which one in your opinion?

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Oscar 23rd April 2019 - 5:27 pm

I have not tried the Foxeer Box 2 yet, they offered to send me one for review a month ago but I haven’t heard anything from them since.

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Moritz Beyer 15th April 2019 - 11:23 am

Hi Oscar,
as always thank you again for your review part 1.
What about audio? The audio quality was one of the issues with the runcam actions cameras I recon.
Second, there is also a similar action camera from foxeer. Would be interesting, too.

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Oscar 23rd April 2019 - 5:26 pm

For audio, see the last 15 second of the first video.

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Eric-Jan van den Bogaard 15th April 2019 - 9:44 am

Thankyou, Oscar for this review ! Looks like a good alternative !

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the13 13th April 2019 - 2:02 pm

are you ganna make Firefly2 comparison test also ?
Firefly – also interesting camera – and lighter and smaller than others
2.7k video

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the13 13th April 2019 - 1:57 pm

it would be nice to have at least bluetooth for remote settings and control – because this camera has potential not only os FPV recorder.
but if that super feature you are not allowed to speak us is settings access via smart port – it will be fail.
anyway atleast Polaroid cube + has only one button to control photo and video features.
so will see

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CesiumSalami 12th April 2019 - 2:27 pm

Very interesting – pllleeease communicate the need to allow for specifying / fixing the shutter speed.

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Flagadajones 12th April 2019 - 12:08 pm

I think a good option for settings is :
A mobile application with good gui which generate a config QRcode readable by caméra

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rcschim 12th April 2019 - 11:03 am

ha, I bet the method to change settings is something like:
app creates an QR code and the cam scans it.

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me 12th April 2019 - 10:18 am

pls make them do the fillets properly

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s00lfly 12th April 2019 - 9:56 am

Did they think about ND filters? It would be nice if they could do like the Foxeer Box 2 with the ND filters built in facade.

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Damo 12th April 2019 - 7:33 am

Seems a stupid move on the part of GoPro to drop the session cameras 🤔. Runcam and Foxeer are spending big copying the design. GoPro already did all the hard work and had a market for there product so why did the pull it from there line up.
Crazy fools

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Geraldo Robson de Souza 11th April 2019 - 11:45 pm

Well this is something that I will buy for sure… Hero 7 is not an option for me, to expensive for a freestyle drone imo.

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Dustin 15th April 2019 - 7:37 pm

I would completely agree. I’ve been dabbling in mid-range flying lately where the chance of losing a quad or wing and HD camera is much greater than just free-styling in close proximity. $100 for me isn’t “disposable” money, but I just don’t think I could strap a $400 GoPro onto a quad and risk losing it, along with the quad, a mile or two out.

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Blackout 11th April 2019 - 9:26 pm

That’s a good start for beginners and intermediate users. Too bad it doesn’t have ANY of the gopro features like Flat colors, exposition, iso, shutter. All those things makes a big difference while editing. I hope that someone will address this for our beloved fpv cameras in the future.

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Scott Cline 11th April 2019 - 9:14 pm

Can’t wait for the release. Excellent price point and features.

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Gregorio Costa 11th April 2019 - 9:06 pm

Thank you

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Mike Finley 11th April 2019 - 8:15 pm

Awesome to hear! Looking forward to seeing the actual tests and video. Hopefully you will be able to change the settings without a computer. Thanks for doing this!

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