RunCam HD Camera | Mobius GoPro Alternative Recording FPV

RunCam sent me their latest HD Camera, and I am fortunate to be one of the first users to review it. At the time it arrived, this action camera was still not released on the market, we don’t even know what the price is yet. (update: camera has been released, priced at $49.99)

However there are already quite a few technical reviews of the RunCam HD camera on Youtube, analysing the electronic and hardware aspects. I don’t want to repeat the same stuff so I will just examine the quality of the camera, from a user point of view.

Runcam-hd-camera-name-enscribing-oscar-liang Love the beautiful engraving :)

In this review I will compare the footage of the RunCamHD with the Mobius. I won’t compare it with the GoPro though, since they are not in the same class. These tests will be carried out:

All settings on Mobius are default. I have not change any settings on the RunCam either, it was straight out of the box. Both using Sandisk Ultra class 10 32GB SD Card.

Flight video:

The RunCam HD seems to be very similar to the Mobius in appearance, with a few alterations in the design. Someone on the forum asked RunCam why we would use this camera instead of the Mobius. RunCam replied, saying the main selling point of this camera is “Cost Effective”, so I suppose they might sell this camera cheaper than the Mobius.

Runcam-hd-camera-box Runcam-hd-camera-content-items-parts-cables

I also reviewed a FPV camera for RunCam before, check the RunCam SK2 800TVL Camera.

Appearance, Shape, Weight and Dimension

First impression of this Camera is, it looks similar to the Mobius: the buttons, Indicator LEDs, Heat sink, Microphone, Mini USB port and the SD card slot are all in the same places. The case is silver plastic that feels similar to the type of material used in Mobius.

The biggest difference is the camera lens. The whole camera is now symmetrical, as the camera lens is right in the middle (which I am really happy to see). Unlike the Mobius it’s on the left.

Runcam-hd-camera-mobius-compare-3

On the RunCam HD’s product page, they described this camera as “designed for FPV”. They are clearly targeting the RC hobbyists primarily, unlike the Mobius which is Marketed more for general purposes. Undeniably the form factor of the RunCam HD and Mobius is better for FPV, when mounted on a quadcopter or RC air plane, due to the better aerodynamic shape to the GoPro. Apart from that I failed to see how much more it’s designed for FPV than the Mobius.

Weight and Dimension wise, they are almost the same.

Runcam-hd-camera-mobius-compare-identical-size mobius-camera-weigh Runcam-hd-camera-weight

  • 60mm(Length) * 35mm(Width) * 18mm(Height)
  • 41 grams

Colour, Image Sharpness, and FOV

I like the vivid colour offered by the RunCam HD, except the sky blue looks a bit unnatural. I would probably turn the colour a bit warmer as well in the software.

The Mobius has warmer, and slightly faded colours (like overcast in light haze). But the footage has more detail to it. The magnified Image (500%) appears sharper on the Mobius than the RunCam HD, on both image centre and edges.

Runcam-hd-camera-2 Runcam-hd-camera-1

The wide angle lens Mobius has 112 degree FOV, and the RunCam HD claims to have 120 degree FOV. But in the result the Mobius clearly has wider FOV than the RunCam HD.

To RunCam’s defence, I received an email from them about two weeks ago, saying that there might be issue with the the type of glue they used to fix the camera lens. It would get unsticky with large temperature changes, and cause the camera to come loose and become out of focus. I am not sure if my camera is one of those affected, so there could be a quality difference between the camera I am reviewing, and the new cameras that they will be selling.

* Update (07 March 2015)

RunCam saw my test, and reckons there is a problem with the camera lens I have, which caused the degraded focus and sharpness. They have suggested to send me a replacement, and I might test it again if they do send it to me.

WDR Capability, and Dark / Dim Lighting Condition

WDR and expose level transition speed are similar on both cameras (e.g. pointing towards the sun and move to less bright view). However I think the RunCam works slightly better in dim/dark condition, objects have a bit more colour and appear to be clearer.

Runcam-hd-camera-mobius-filming-compare-back

Video-out Delay Latency as FPV Camera

Video out delay (latency) are pretty similar on both cameras, whether when recording or not recording. Latency is pretty huge when it comes to flying acrobatics, proximity and racing in the wood, I probably would stay away from using these cameras for FPV video out. But for general flying they should be fine.

This FPV camera guide explains what makes a good FPV camera.

Other Aspects

UHF Noise

Cameras are well known to produce noise around 430MHz frequency band, and the noise around this frequency mainly affects UHF Radio gear. It could significantly reduces your range. In RCModelReview’s video, he discover the RunCam HD has much lower noise level than the Mobius, by using a spectrum analyzer.

That’s because the conductive shielding in the camera casing interior, that helps block/reduce some of the noise coming from the camera. I believe you can now also buy a Mobius with a shielded casing.

Audio Quality

I wanted to compare the audio quality as well, but when I came back and check, the audio from the Runcam HD was extremely quiet. Not sure if that’s something I can change in the software, I will play around with this later and update this one. But it’s odd that they would disable or lower recording audio volume by default.

File Format

Same as Mobius, in “.MOV” format.

Still Picture Test

I don’t think many people would be concerned about still picture quality, as I am sure most would use it for videos recording only. But here are two pictures I took from RunCam HD and Mobius anyway. Compare away!

pic-example-runcam RunCam HD Camera Picture

pic-example-mobius Mobius Camera Picture

Software – RunCamTool GUI Configurator

There is a software to change camera settings just like the Mobius. Maybe because it’s new, it’s quite limited what settings you can change compared to the Mobius at the moment.

This is the Mobius Software.

mobius-software-gui mobius-software-contrast-exposure-sharpness

This is the RunCam Tool software.

runcam-hd-software-interface-gui-system-set runcam-hd-software-interface-gui-movie-set

It runs perfectly on my Windows 7 machine.

Battery Life

In my battery life test, I have both camera recording at 1080p 30fps video, and see which one run of out battery first. The RunCam HD shut down at 77 minutes and the Mobius lasted almost 87 mins. As for as I know the Mobius has a 820mah built-in LiPo battery, and that’s a 750mah in the RunCam HD, so that explains the difference in Battery life.

Runcam-hd-camera-mobius-filming-compare-front

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Conclusion and FPV Flight Video Example

Things I like about the RunCam HD Camera

  • I like richer colour (except the sky blue), just need to go a bit warmer, would be great.
  • Silver casing makes it easier to find when lost in the field
  • Option for live video out (PAL and NTSC), comes with cable too
  • Smaller lens, and it’s in the middle, making the camera symmetrical
  • Great RF shielding, less noise for UHF radio gear
  • Low drag form factor like the Mobius, better aerodynamics

Thinks I don’t like

  • Relatively smaller FOV
  • When recording reach a time limit, it will create a new video file, and the first second or so overlaps with end of last video, making it harder to edit footage.
  • Sharpness could be improved, though it’s only noticeable when zoomed in. (Interesting that some people commented it’s better than the Mobius, maybe to do with the colour)
  • Software lacking functionality

FPV flight Video Coming soon in a couple of days!

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Possible Improvements

No doubt there will be criticism about how one product copies another. In my opinion, the RunCam HD is indeed very similar to the Mobius in terms of what it does and how it looks. For them to compete with Mobius, apart from prices, there are a lot of improvements they can do to make their product to stand out in the market.

Here are a list of ideas for RunCam to consider.

  • SD Card Slot Cover, so it doesn’t pop out in quadcopter crashes (design for FPV?! Start with this one!) This issue bugged me for a long time with my Mobius.
  • 1080p 60fps – a lot of people fly proximity or do aerial filming would love 60fps. Currently only the high end GoPro cameras are capable, if they can make a cost effective camera that does 1080p 60fps, they would take over the market from Mobius and SJ series :)
  • Built-in buzzer indicator – useful when you can’t see the LEDs well under the Sun
  • Bigger LiPo battery for longer recording time
  • Improve image sharpness and larger FOV
  • Improve on configuration software

RunCam HD Camera Manual

For my own future reference.

Runcam-hd-camera-manual-1 Runcam-hd-camera-manual-2 Runcam-hd-camera-manual-3 Runcam-hd-camera-manual-4 Runcam-hd-camera-manual-5

 

Lens Replacement and re-test

Runcam reckoned there was something wrong with the lens module on the camera I received, so they kindly sent me a recplacement. Here is how I replaced the Lens module.

runcam-hd-camera-lens-module

And right after that I tested the two cameras on my quad for FPV flight. And here is a quick zoom in test for sharpness comparison again. Left is the Mobius, right is the runcam HD. After replacement, the sharpness is now about the same.

mobius-zoom-in-detail-sharpness runcam-hd-zoom-in-detail-sharpness

16 thoughts on “RunCam HD Camera | Mobius GoPro Alternative Recording FPV

  1. Gary Bruce

    Hi Oscar,
    I know this is about a year after the artical was published. But I do have a question. I have a RunCam HD, And currently fly with a 2 axis gimbal (made for GoPro). I’m looking at the Quanem 3 axis gimbal for Mobius. The info at HobbyKing states it come with the Mini USB connector for the Mobius. Could you tell me it the Mini USB Connector is the same size for both cameras? I can always rewire it if the wiring is different.

    Thanks…..

    Reply
  2. Carlos

    Hi Oscar

    I would like to use my RunCam for FPV but I would like to ask you which transmitter do you recommend? Is it possible to see the video on my Smarphone? I’ve a Note 4. Do you know an online tutorial to do this?
    thank’s in advance

    Carlos

    Reply
  3. Cyril

    Hi Oscar,
    I read your news for a while and there is noone who can do such a good and precise work!

    -Do you plan to re-do the comparison between mobius and runcam hd with the latest firmware V15.4.2.1?
    -Shall you compare runcam and mobius C (which is the latest one) or still with B one?

    Kinds regards,
    Cyril

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      thanks Cyril!
      I did a comparison video with my mini quad recently, both cameras were running latest firmware. hope you have seen it…
      I don’t think I will run any more tests on them, unless there are major changes. :) I was testing against the B lens Mobius.

      thanks
      Oscar

      Reply
  4. Bill

    Hello,

    I believe the lower volume would be good for FPV if you listen to on board audio while you fly. The motors can get pretty painful to listen to.

    Reply
  5. Salle

    Thank’s for the review Oscar.
    The cam has been released now. $50 is a nice price, I’m tempted to buy it as a replacement for my broken Mobius. But I wonder if the lens mount is the same size? Can I use my old mobius wide lens on the RunCam HD?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      no they are not the same size.
      The RunCam lens is smaller in diameter, and it’s shorter than the MObius.
      I am not sure if you can just swap the mobius lens over… but interesting thought!

      Reply
  6. RunCam.Com

    Dear Oscar,

    Thanks for your review, really helpful and important for us.

    You improvements you listed were forwarded to our development team, and we will try our best to make it better.

    Please note: the link for “RunCam HD’s product page” is not correct, can you change it to here: http://shop.runcam.com/runcam-hd/?

    From the still picture you offered, I am afraid this camera is out of focus due to the glue issues as our mentioned in email. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

    How about we send a new lens module to you to replace it? Can you please just hold on to do the flight review?

    Any other questions, please contact us via email: [email protected]

    Best Regards,
    RunCam Support Team

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Thank you RunCam.
      I am sure I will have many more suggestions for you as I use your camera more.
      I have corrected the link now.
      I will also wait for you to send me the replacement lens module, replace it and hopefully redo the test.

      Thanks
      Oscar

      Reply
  7. Chris Taylor

    I think you need to rewatch your own videos. the mobius clearly has more dynamic range and clearly does better in low light. it is not even difficult to see this from your own video review.

    I think you are confusing color temperature with dynamic range and low light capacity.

    the mobius shifts slightly red (which is why the ground with the fence looks nicer on the mobius) while the RUNCAM shifts more blue green which is why the sky is bluer and why the bushes are greener.

    in your own video you can clearly see more shadow detail (when you were panning the sky with the large building to the left you can see further down the building into the shadow detail in the mobius than you can in the runcam) same with the night shot (less pronounced) and inside the tunnel

    latency was indistinguishable to me from your video. appeared the same.

    one downfall I see is the runcam has significantly lower resolution than the mobius. That alone would keep me from buying it unless it was SERIOUSLY cheaper than the mobius say $40)

    I did not see any wiggles in the runcam so that was good.

    if they can up the bitrate a bit and improve clarity it might be a contender.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Thanks for the comment.
      I made the video and watched it countless time when editing it. I can confirm what I described is what I see.
      I am happy that you let me know your opinion though.

      Reply

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