Review: Runcam Racer FPV Camera

As the name suggests, the Runcam Racer FPV camera is designed specifically for drone racing. In this review we will find out what makes it great for racing, and how it compares to other FPV cameras in image quality.

Check out this post to learn more about FPV cameras.

Where to Buy?

Specifications

  • Latency as low as 6ms
  • M8 2.1mm lens – 150° FOV
  • 700TVL
  • CMOS Sensor
  • Switchable 4:3/16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Input Voltage: DC 5V – 36V
  • Power consumption: [email protected] or [email protected]
  • Supports Camera Control via UART
  • Weight: 5.3g

What’s Special about the Runcam Racer?

The low latency and high image sharpness are crucial for racing. Close proximity flying will also benefit from these characteristics as they help avoid crashing into obstacles, so it’s not limited to racing only.

It’s great to see another FPV camera capable of switching between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio, apart from the Runcam Eagle 2 Pro, Micro Eagle and the Foxeer Falkor.

The most interesting feature for me would probably be “Wide Screen” (previously known as Racing View). I am told it’s similar to the GoPro Superview which gives you a very wide field of view. A wider FOV offers more vision of things around the quad. However depth perception gets worse with wider FOV and it becomes harder to judge how far away things are.

Runcam only recommends enabling this feature on 16:9 displays and FPV goggles, because it would look “way too distorted” in 4:3.

The default settings including saturation, brightness, contrast and sharpness are all fine tuned with suggestions from racing pilots according to Runcam.

The Racer camera offers all the standard features such as OSD for battery voltage, pilot name and timer. It supports a wide input voltage from 5V to 36V, meaning you can power it with a 2S LiPo up to 8S.

Finally, it has TX and RX pins to replace the OSD pin. You can’t change settings using a dongle (OSD Joystick), but you can hook it up to the UART on a flight controller for changing the camera settings. We talked about how camera control via UART works in this article.

Close Look at the Runcam Racer FPV Camera

The camera comes with a mounting bracket, a 19mm to 28mm adapter, some M2 screws and washers and a silicone harness.

With racing in mind, the camera is fully enclosed in a protective housing for maximum security against crashes and dirt. Here is a comparison between the Racer and Swift Micro 3.

Most 5″ frames are designed for standard size FPV cameras (e.g. the HS1177), therefore micro size cameras don’t always fit well in these frames. You could use some sort of 3D printed mount but you can’t always get a snug fit.

As a solution, Runcam recently released an ABS mount/adapter for micro cameras so that you can convert micro size cameras to standard size (from 19mm to 28mm). It’s good to know that the Racer comes with this mount.

To keep this camera as light as possible (at only 5.2g), they’ve gone with the small M8 2.1mm lens which gives you a 150° FOV. See this post for more info about FPV camera lens.

Latency Testing

The average latency of the Runcam Racer is measured at 14-15ms, the lowest latency is around 5-6ms.

See this post for results of other cameras and detail of the testing.

Image Quality Testing

From the comparison footage here are my observations:

  • Very sharp image with some digital artifacts
  • Excellent wide dynamic range, you can see shadow detail well
  • Color looks a bit washed out compared to the Swift 3
  • Smaller FOV than the Swift 3 in 4:3 mode even though they are both 2.1mm lens
  • Exposure change is much faster than CCD cameras
  • Works better than the Swift 3 in low light

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