Runcam2 Camera Review

Runcam2 is a small HD camera specially designed for FPV, that is capable of capturing 1080p video at 60fps. In this review we will have a look at the features Runcam2 offers, and compare the performance with other cameras of similar capability such as the GoPro and Xiaomi Yi.

With the success of Runcam HD camera just a few months ago, Runcam has quickly developed the Runcam2, which I believe is based on the feedback from many users. The most wanted feature was probably 1080p60fps video capturing.

Get your Runcam2 from Runcam.com

runcam2-camera-fpv-box-package runcam2-camera-fpv-content-parts-includes

*Note that the camera I reviewed was a sample version, which means there might be improvements and changes in the final released version.

Runcam2 Features

Many new features, or enhanced characteristics on the Runcam2 over the previous camera, the Runcam HD.

  • 1440p 30fps, 1080p 60fps and 720p 120fps
  • Wifi connection for setting changes with Android App
  • Light weight: 49g including 850mah battery
  • Long battery life – over 70 mins recording time.
  • Video out capable – Outstanding video out latency.
  • Built-in lens hood for crash protection
  • Can be powered directly from external 5V-17V (up to 4S!) via USB port.
  • Shielding effect against 433 MHz and GPS radio frequency interference
  • Manual on 4 languages: English, Chinese, French and German
  • G-Sensor Image auto flip
  • Digital Image Stabilization

Other changes from Runcam HD includes:

  • Micro USB Port

Check out the manual for more information about this camera.

runcam2-camera-fpv-manual-1 runcam2-camera-fpv-manual-2

They have reduced latency on Video-out (TV-out) quite a lot and the lag feels less than the GoPro or Mobius. But I personally don’t use recording camera for FPV flying as the delay is still significantly longer than a board camera.

I love the fact that the new camera accepts a wide range of voltage input, so it can be powered directly from a 2S, 3S or even 4S LiPo battery (5V to 17V). That means you can now get rid of the camera battery and power the camera via the USB port. It’s perfect for people who want to fly the lightest quad possible, such as mini quad. The 850mah LiPo battery weights 14 grams by the way.

runcam2-camera-fpv

The G-Sensor feature is quite interesting, it’s basically an accelerometer that detects the orientation of the camera, if the camera is upside down it flips the image 180 degree. I am not sure if this feature will be very useful for people who fly acrobatics, where we do a lot of flips and rolls in FPV. But it would be interesting to see what happen when you do that, hehe. It can be disabled by the way.

The Digital image stabilizing feature sounds interesting. However when I zoomed in at the buildings when holding the camera where my hand was shaking (in the Test video @ 1:33), I don’t see much stabilization compared to other cameras. Also I don’t know if this is actually the reason for the smaller FOV.

 Appearance and New Designs

The shape of the Runcam2 remains similar to the Mobius and Runcam HD, which is much better shape for FPV than the Yi or GoPro Hero series. It looks much more stylish than the Runcam HD in my opinion, but I kind of wish they could offer brighter colour as it’s easier to find when lost in long grass, such as white, orange, pink, or yellow. (Update 24 Nov 2015: they actually make an orange version now)

runcam2-camera-fpv-runcamhd-side-by-side

It uses 2-button rather than the traditional 3-button design, “power” and “wifi”, but they are also used for “select” and “scroll”. I personally think it’s a good move which makes things easier.

runcam2-camera-fpv-led-power-wifi-light

The RGB LED on power button shows you the current mode, either video, photo or charging. The other LED above the Wifi button indicates operation.

Great siding back door design, no worry of popping off and lost SD card during a crash (happened to me a few times on my Xiaomi Yi). USB port has changed to Micro USB, which I think is also a good move since Micro USB cables are more common than Mini USB these days.

runcam2-camera-fpv-back-usb-connector runcam2-camera-fpv-battery-door-inside runcam2-camera-fpv-runcamhd-side-by-side-2

The Runcam 2 has a smaller form factor overall than the GoPro and Xiaomi Yi (including lens):

  • GoPro Hero 4 / 3+ (dimension: 41mm x 59mm x 30mm = 72570 mm^3)
  • Xiaomi Yi (dimension: 60mm x 42mm x 34mm = 85680 mm^3)
  • Runcam2 (dimension: 67mm x 37mm x 21mm = 52059 mm^3)

runcam2-camera-fpv-lens-front

Although the lens hood is a good intention that aims to protect the lens, I personally don’t think it would be very effective against pointy or sharp objects. Maybe a lens cover is needed after all.

runcam2-camera-fpv-runcamhd-side-by-side-3

Video Quality and Performance

I tested the Runcam2 against the GoPro Hero4 Black, Xiaomi Yi and Runcam HD cameras. To be honest these kinds of test isn’t everything, the result of video can likely be optimised on the camera settings depending on the kind of environment we are filming. (especially for the GoPro, there are so many settings you can play with depends on what you need, that’s one of the reasons why it’s a top end action camera on the market.)

Anyway to give you an idea what the footage from the new Runcam2 looks like, here is a comparison video. All cameras are using default settings.

runcam2-camera-gopro-xiaomi-yi-runcam-hd

Here is the summary of good and bad about camera image quality from the footage I took, compared to the other 3 cameras. I will also show you some snapshots of the footage to show you what I mean.

Positives

I really like the Image colour of the Runcam2, vivid but not over saturated. Image is also very sharp and comparable to the GoPro Hero4. At least we know it doesn’t have any lens focus issue like the Yi. See below snapshots of the footage from Yi and Runcam2 for example.

runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-colour-detail-xiaomi-yi runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-colour-detail

Light condition handling of this camera is excellent, in the tests it appears to be even better than the Yi and Gopro.

At night, this camera also works very well, the colour seems to be more neutral than the Yi and Runcam HD. See below screenshots of the footage from Yi and Runcam2 for example.

runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-colour-detail-Yi runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-night

Bit Rate on the Runcam2 video files appears to be the highest among the cameras tested:

  • Runcam2 – 35000 kb/s
  • Gopro Hero4 Black – 30000 kb/s
  • Xiaomi Yi – 22000 kb/s
  • Runcam HD – 15000 kb/s

Negatives

However FOV  (field of view) is a bit disappointing, the angle is not as wide as the Xiaomi Yi or GoPro (even when superview is turned off), and appeared to be similar to the Runcam HD. Not sure if this is caused by the “Digital Image Stabilization” feature.

Sharpness is probably too high for default. See below images from the GoPro and Runcam2 for example.

runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-sharpness-gopro runcam2-camera-image-quality-comnpare-sharpness

Audio

As you could hear in the test video, the recorded Audio of the Runcam2 is clearly too quiet, and there is no way you can turn the volume up currently. I know this camera will be mainly used on planes and multicopters, and recorded audio would mostly likely to be motor noise anyway, but It would be cool if you can still pick up your conversation with your flight buddies after you land, or record the audio well when you get harassed and attacked by angry anti-drone people.

WiFi and Android APP

The Camera has built-in Wifi capability that allows you to connect it to a Smart phone and their Android App.

Interface of the Android App is not the best, but very basic and easy enough to use. User options are very limited, not many parameters you can change apart from:

  • Video resolution
  • Switch Mode: video/photo/time-lapse
  • Play back Photo/Video on SD card
  • Basic Camera settings such as White Balance, Date Stamp etc.

runcam2-camera-fpv-android-app-settings

runcam2-camera-fpv-android-app-live-preview runcam2-camera-fpv--android-app-video-resolution

I wish they could add more settings to the App, such as:

  • ISO or light condition
  • Saturation
  • Sharpness

Range of the Wifi isn’t that great either, it gets unreliable more than a few meters. Often I need to place my smart phone next to the camera, to get a smooth live video preview.

When WIFI is enabled, LED1 blinks. and when connected it becomes solid.

Conclusion  and Suggestions for Improvement

Runcam2 has great image quality and the picture colour is rich. Light dynamic is also excellent, switching between bright and dark objects is really quick. But personally I hope they fix the over-sharpened image, or provide user settings to change sharpness.

I still don’t know how much this camera is going to be. Pre-order price is $99. Given the current prices of Xiaomi Yi ($63 from Banggood) and Foxeer Legend ($90), I think it might need to go a bit lower to compete with these guys.

Also these are the features I would like to see in the Runcam2:

  • Battery LED light: Green LED flashing when running out?
  • Brighter camera case colour, choice of colour (or make camera protector/cover that has bright colour)
  • Lens Cover/protector?
  • Angle Adjustable Lens.
  • In App, allow users to change more video parameters such as sharpness, Light condition (ISO) and so on.
  • Turn up recording audio volume.
  • A more extreme way to make it cheaper, completely remove Wifi: I don’t know how much people use this feature, but I personally don’t change settings that often, and I find doing it on a computer easy enough (for example on the Mobius and Runcam HD). If the price can drop a reasonable amount, I am happy to see they completely remove the WiFi module.

19 thoughts on “Runcam2 Camera Review

  1. Sherv

    No matter what I do… I can’t get video out to work. I’ve updated firmware and after playing with 2 different tx/rx and cameras… the only thing that seems to not work is the runcam hd 2 and video out. all other Tx/Rx work with every other VTL camera I have. I’m about to give up

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      is the ground connected ? try to record as well while doing TV out? I would also report this to Runcam see if they can sort something out for you if nothing works…

      Reply
  2. Ltomi78

    Hi Oscar!

    Congrats for your blog and great reviews and tutorials you are supporting the RC world! I usually read your previous tests and tutorials/build logs when i stucked during setup my race copter….
    In case of runcam You ve wrote that G sensor is not a useful feature when runcam hd2 it use on racing quads. Based on our recent tests it seem it can be adjust (in time sec) and also switch off from the menu. Probably it was update in the new fw?!.
    Thanks for your reviews
    BR
    Ltomi78

    Reply
  3. MauiMacMan

    Aloha, re the RunCam2 Review:

    Its IMHO Horrible at sunsets! What setting is everyone using? I think it they set the algorithm to the rule of thirds, i.e. if the upper third is bright and the sun is detected, it should automatically turn down the contrast so the bottom 2/3 don’t blacken. There are only moments when the quadracopter I’m using, tilts, that the colors of the sunset are shown and the ground doesn’t get blocked up in darkness. But it naturally in level shooting, constantly gives the worst sunset image of any camera I’ve owned. Please fix and as suggested, if a big spot of ultra bright light exists, and you the app is set for sunset, a very special algorithm should be called into play.

    Let me know when you fix it! Great little camera.

    Reply
  4. Fred

    Thanks for the review. Cam works and all, but when I supply 5V for use without the battery, the cam just keeps on blinking red and pauses briefly every second or so. I can’t turn it on or switch modes… re-inserting the battery and everything works again like it should. Any thoughts? My step-down can supply up to 3A, so that shouldn’t be the issue…

    Reply
  5. Dylan

    Hi Oscar,
    Your website is so helpful. Is there any way of (after taking off the case) increasing the distance between the camera module and the circuit board by maybe installing a longer cable between the camera and pcb? Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Diandi Zhu

    looks the two runcam are a lof sharper, dunno if the run a lot of post processing or the lens is sharper?
    and dynamic range looks pretty bad? is it possible to reduce contrast on runcam2?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      no post processing. my guess is Runcam uses higher sharpness as default in their footage. Some people would prefer softer footage so it’s easier for editing. at the moment it’s not possible to adjust contrast.

      Reply
  7. Sergey

    LOL, I think the engineers designed it only for direct sun light protection, but the marketing team understood it completely wrong :D

    Reply
  8. Sergey

    Hi Oscar, the lens hood is not for crash protection. It blocks sun light to prevent glare and lens flare, like the ones on DSLR cameras ;)

    Reply
      1. Sergey

        Really? I only found this statement on their website: “Lens hood better protects the lens against stray light and glare.”

      2. Oscar Post author

        LOL, the introduction next to the huge picture of Runcam2:

        Others:
        built-in lens hood for crash protection, RF shielding,
        WIFI enabled & much more.

  9. Thomas Gabriel

    Hi Oscar

    Could you test live out latency? I doubt it would make a viable FPV cam but it would be nice to know nevertheless.

    Reply
  10. TJ Martin

    One feature I would like to see is since these are more than likely used by the RC community is to add RC control of some sort. Camera snapshot or video start/stop. These are things that can be done via USB and replace the WiFi

    Reply

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