The choice of mini quad FPV camera massively affects your flying experience, factors including wide dynamic range, latency, FOV, etc, all determine how well you see obstacles and how fast you can react to avoid a crash.
In this article I will feature some of the best analogue FPV cameras out there, and discuss the features and benefits of each camera. Make sure to learn about the basics of FPV camera before making your decision.
For other mini quad products recommendation, check out our “Top 5 Best” lists.
Index of Content
Major Brands and FPV Camera Lines
Popular FPV camera brands are Foxeer, Runcam, Aomway and Caddx. Here is a list of product lines they offer according to the feature and application.
|CCD with VBAT OSD||Swift 2 (Full, Mini, Micro)||Arrow V3 (Full, Mini, Micro)||S1 (Mini, Micro)|
|Basic CMOS||Sparrow (Full, Micro)||Monster||F1 (Mini, Micro)|
|High Performance CMOS||Eagle 2 (Full, Micro)||Predator (Mini, Micro)||SDR1 (Mini, Micro)|
|Low Light||Owl 2||Night Wolf V2|
|Night FPV||Night Eagle 2|
|Nano Size CMOS||Nano|
|HD Recording||Split (Full, Mini)|
The Best Micro FPV Cameras
As the technology in FPV advances, cameras are getting physically smaller and smaller yet retaining the same performance.
The four most popular micro size FPV cameras have to be the Foxeer Predator Micro, Runcam Micro Swift 2, Caddx Micro SDR1, and the latest Micro Eagle. In this round up we will test their performance in various locations and under different lighting conditions.
Foxeer Predator Micro
Light weight, low latency, and with its ultra fast exposure change, I cannot think of a better camera for racing than the Predator Micro. It has very vibrant colour and a contrasty image, but showing shadow detail and working in low light isn’t its strong suit.
Runcam Micro Eagle
The Micro Eagle performs every bit as good as the full size version, it’s even more flexible now with the adjustable WDR level in order to achieve higher contrast in the image. It has an ultra wide FOV of 170 degree and switchable aspect ratio between 16:9 and 4:3. However the Micro Eagle is the most expensive camera in this list, and it weighs about 3g more than other Micro FPV cameras. If you are looking for the clearest image, this is my pick.
Caddx Micro SDR1
The Caddx Micro SDR1 is the cheapest option in this round up. It’s not the best when it comes to image detail and sharpness, however it provides the brightest and most vibrant colour image. It can switch between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio but it’s missing features like VBAT OSD. A overall great day performer but not optimal in low light, if you only focus on flying during the day it’s not a deal breaker.
Runcam Micro Swift 2
The Micro Swift 2 is a tried and tested product, with the exact same capability as the full size Swift 2 in only half the size and weight. There are things that CMOS cameras can do better, such as latency, image detail, WDR, natural colour etc, but If you prefer CCD image over CMOS, then you should definitely consider the Micro Swift 2.
Micro FPV Camera Testing
How you like an image to look is very much a personal preference, I cannot stress this enough.
You can find my favorite camera settings in the reviews for each cameras (which I also used in the test). Here is the testing footage:
My Take on the Test Result
For the most accurate comparison, please watch the video, the screenshots are only used to assist my commentary and do not represent the cameras’ full ability.
I first tested the micro FPV cameras in a car park during the day.
When I was standing outside of the building, all the cameras can see pretty well inside the dark carpark, except the Predator. This is where good wide dynamic range comes into play here IMO.
I think the Micro Eagle is performing the best in this situation, although the image does look a bit more washed out than other cameras.
The Caddx SDR1 has the brightest image of all, though I have turned down “Brightness” from the default 13 to 9. The original brightness level was way too bright for me, it actually loses some image details. However the SDR1 doesn’t look as sharp as other cameras, for example if you look at the yellow “F” sign on the left, it just seems a bit blurry.
Looking out from inside the carpack, I am blown away by the Predator. It can see the outside environment in bright sunlight totally fine while all other cameras really struggle and just become over-exposed.
This is what confused me, does the Predator have good WDR or not?
It seems the Predator tries to “suppress high lights”, this allows you to see things well in bright light, but doesn’t show you good shadow details, so it’s only doing half of what “WDR” is supposed to do. The Predator image color also appears to have a blue cast in low light, which you cannot seem to improve in the setting.
It was pretty dim inside the car park, and I am happy with how all these camera performed there.
In the next test I moved outdoor and tested the camera in direct sunlight.
The Predator Micro has a very contrasty image with vibrant colour, but still suffers from the same issue on the Mini, which is the red lens flare.
The Micro Swift 2 with 2.1mm lens has the widest FOV in all the cameras. In fact the Micro Eagle has even wider FOV of 170 degree when it’s in 16:9 mode, in 4:3 the FOV is chopped down to 140 degree. The FOV of the Predator looks to be around 150 while that of the SDR1 is around 155.
When it comes to sharpness and image detail, both the Predator and Eagle are doing brilliantly. I actually don’t see too much shimmering from the Eagle after reducing its Sharpness level.
However the Micro Eagle looks to be a little more “washed out” than the rest. I found you can actually improve it by reducing the level of WDR in the settings, but it will also reduce your ability of seeing shadow details. Since WDR is the selling point of the Eagle I decided to leave it at max (6).
Anyway I think I like the Eagle more in this test, it has the clearest image and the best in image detail, you can see the branches clearly, and the buildings in shadow a lot better than the rest.
At night under some lampposts, surprisingly all the CMOS cameras performed really well compared to the CCD Swift.
The biggest difference in the CMOS cameras appears to be the image colour. The Predator shows a more realistic orange colour from the lampposts, while the color of the Eagle is a bit more neutral. Somehow the SDR1 has a unpleasant blue hue in low light.
In the following “torture test”, we put these cameras in an extremely dark environment to see how they perform in very little light. Note that most people probably won’t fly in this sort of extreme condition so it’s not the most important consideration.
The Predator has no “black & white” mode, so it’s really not suitable for night flying.
The Eagle performed the best at night, you can still see… ok… though it’s a lot noisier than the full size Eagle 2 in this condition (see the Micro Eagle review for comparison).
The Caddx SDR1 turned “totally blue” in the dark and the noise is pretty high. I set “black & white” mode to auto in the settings, not sure why it wasn’t switching and just stayed in color mode.
The Micro Swift 2 also struggled and appeared to be unsuitable for night flying.
So which camera is the best? I can’t really decide, there is just no clear winner for me because every camera excels at certain areas, it really depends on what and where you use the camera for.
This is the end of my test! I spent a long time to plan, perform and analyse the test I hope you find it useful. Please consider supporting me on Patreon for more in-depth reviews and tutorials in the future: https://www.patreon.com/oscarliang
Full Size FPV Cameras – My Recommendation
Runcam Swift 2
The Runcam Swift 2 is basically the original Swift with some additional features: OSD for timer and voltage monitoring, audio, wider input voltage and more flexible mounting solution. There are 3 lens options available to meet all your FOV requirement (2.1mm 165°, 2.3mm 150°, 2.5mm 130°).
This is just a simple OSD that reports voltage, you can’t do PID tuning or other advance stuff like that with it. If you don’t need the OSD you can also turn it off. A lot of FC these days offers OSD capability, but if yours doesn’t, then the Swift 2 would make your day a lot easier.
Runcam Eagle 2
The Runcam Eagle 2 is probably one of the most recommended FPV cameras for its outstanding image quality and amazing WDR ability.
The wide dynamic range and light handling is phenomenon IMO and it’s just as good as those CCD’s if not better. In the V2 they’ve lowered the latency to be on par with the Swift, and it handles low light even better in this version with very close performance to the Owl 2.
The Eagle 2 exists in 4:3 and 16:9 versions, so you can choose whichever matches the aspect ratio on your FPV Goggles or display.
However this cameras have some digital processing artifacts which some people really hate. Please see my review to decide whether this is for you.
I personally prefer the “Eagle 2” over the “Eagle 2 Pro” due to the more superior low light performance. Although the Eagle 2 Pro supports both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio, but the 4:3 image is cropped and therefore the FOV is too small for my liking, which I think it’s better for those using 16:9 goggles. The Pro version has added several new features which makes it a better choice for some people.
Foxeer Predator Mini
The Predator is the closest competitor to the Eagle 2 IMO, but with very different image quality and purpose. It provides astounding image detail and colour, nearly perfect saturation and contrast, probably one of the best images I have seen in an FPV camera. Latency is also one of the fastest.
Another good thing about the Predator is that it offers a micro size camera which is preferred by racers.
However it not as good as the Eagle when it comes to dynamic range and showing shadow detail under the sun.
Foxeer HS1177 V2
A very basic, tried and tested camera, capable of producing decent image quality. I would say it’s very close to the performance of the Runcam Swift 1. Main difference I have found is the image colour.
The HS1177 is made by Foxeer and it’s been around the longest in this list. When it came out in 2015, and it kind of revolutionized the FPV camera industry by its compact form factor. HS1177 took over board cameras as the new dimension standard. Since 2016, nearly all mini quad frames are designed to support the HS1177 form factor cameras, and all popular cameras nowadays followed this size.
Because it came out to the market early, many people adapted to it and are still using it today. Due to the high popularity, there are clones being sold more cheaply. Therefore be aware when searching for HS1177, as there is no guarantee on performance of the counterfeit.
Other Top FPV Cameras in the Past
Runcam Owl 2
The Owl 2 is designed for low light FPV, which “turns dusk into daytime”. You can use the Owl 2 for the day flying too, but the image wouldn’t be good as other cameras on this list. After all, there is no so-called “one for all” or “all-around” FPV camera, yet.
It would make sense to get this camera if you plan to fly mostly in the evening or night time. But if you only fly during daytime, then I would recommend getting other cameras instead. I decided to take this one down from the list as I found the Eagle 2 can perform just as good as the Owl 2 (if not better).
If you are looking for a FPV camera that is capable of flying in extreme darkness, check out the “military grade” Night Eagle.
The Foxeer Monster HS1194 is a 1200TVL 16:9 camera. This is the camera that often get compared to the Runcam Eagle, because both cameras are CMOS that deliver some of the best quality footage. From the reviews we have seen, the Monster produces very bright and vivid images, but wide dynamic range isn’t as good as the Eagle.
Typically high TVL cameras have very bad latency. But the Monster seems to be quite good at this, and the latency is fairly close to the HS1177. And the Monster is about $20 cheaper than the Eagle. However I wouldn’t recommend this to those who have 4:3 goggles because image will look compressed.
I decided to take the Monster down because Foxeer has released a much better CMOS camera – the Predator.
- Mar 2017 – Article created
- Oct 2017 – Updated Eagle 2, Added Micro Swift 2, Remove Runcam Owl 2
- Dec 2017 – Added Foxeer Predator
- Feb 2018 – Updated Micro FPV Cameras, added a test between popular options