best night fpv camera

Best Night FPV Camera: RunCam Owl Plus Review

In Review by Mike Tseng6 Comments

Best Night FPV Camera: RunCam Owl Plus

I live in Texas and summers are brutally hot.  The only time I can really fly is early in the morning or late at night when the temperature drops below 90 degrees.  I’ve been looking for the best night FPV camera for a long time.  And I’ve found it.  I bring you the RunCam Owl Plus.

There are two versions of the RunCam Owl, the original Owl and the Owl Plus.  I’ll be reviewing the Owl Plus.

I’ve wanted to try the Owl for a long time but I read the original Owl was good for night but terrible during the day.  So I was a bit skeptical when I bought the Owl Plus.  Does it live up to it’s hype as the best night FPV camera?  Let’s find out.

Mounting

The RunCam Owl Plus can be mounted in a variety of ways.  It includes two different back plates, a hanging loop mount and a variable angle metal bracket.

best night fpv camera

best night fpv camera

best night fpv camera

Specifications
  • 700 TVL
  • 5-22v input voltage (2s-5s)
  • 150 degree FOV
  • an insane 1/2″ 0.0001 Lux capable sensor
  • f/2 large aperture lens
  • IR-Block version only.  IR sensitive is not needed with .0001 lux
  • 26 x 26 x 30mm
  • 15g
Tech Nerd Talk

The sensor on the RunCam Owl Plus is nice.  Most FPV cameras have 1/3″ sensors.  The Owl Plus sports a 1/2″ sensor capable of 0.0001 lux!  In the photography world that’s like comparing a Canon Rebel with it’s crop sensor to a Canon 5d MK4 with a full sensor.  On paper the size difference from a 1/3″ to 1/2″ doesn’t sound that impressive but it’s actually a big jump in performance.  Pair this with a big f/2 aperture lens and you have a light sucking monster.  Most FPV cameras use f2.8 lenses.  The difference between f/2 and f/2.8 is double the amount of light it lets in.  On paper it looks like it’s the best night FPV camera already.

I was a photographer for 8 years so I know cameras and lenses.  Ok, enough camera talk.  Let’s get to the results.

Comparison

In the video above, I tested the Owl Plus with the good old HS1177 as benchmark.  The test environment is a parking lot with normal night lighting.  It was around midnight so it was really dark outside.  I tried to use similar parts on both test quads.

Parts used in the test quad

HS1177

RunCam Owl Plus

Night Flying

best night fpv camera

When cameras do not get enough light hitting the sensor, they switch to black and white mode.    The reason for this is because it has to turn up the sensitivity on the sensor.  It takes a lot more processing power to do this and processing color in low light takes even more bandwidth.  That’s why it switches to black and white.

In my night time flight comparison of the HS1177 vs RunCam Owl Plus, the HS117 had to switch to black and white about 60% of the time vs 10% on the RunCam Owl Plus.  Most of the time it ran in color.

The sharpness on the HS1177 seemed to be better, same with noise.  The HS1177 also seem to have less halos around the street lights.

Overall the Owl Plus was really nice to fly at night.  Owl Plus wins at night FPV flying.

Daytime Flying

best night fpv camera

This is where the RunCam Owl Plus shows it’s issues.  There is a considerable amount of color noise (rainbow dots in the darker areas of the picture).  The color rendition is terrible.  Check out the orange and red grass.  The HS1177 still edges out the Owl Plus in sharpness.  HS117 handles dynamic range better also.  Dynamic range is the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of the screen.

Conclusion

Is the RunCam Owl Plus the best night FPV camera?  I think so.  In the dark it handles scenes pretty well and can still run in color.  But would I run the Owl Plus in my main all round quad?  No, I wouldn’t.  A basic camera like the HS1177 has much better image quality for normal daytime flying and can hold it’s own in the dark.

If you are looking for the best night FPV camera for night flying, the RunCam Owl Plus is a great choice.

Disclaimer: In full transparency, I was offered a free Owl Plus from RunCam to do a test.  I declined their offer and purchased my Owl Plus from GetFPV with my own money.  I didn’t want this review to be skewed by free product.  

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If you found this post helpful, it would be super cool if you purchased the components from my store or purchase items from my Amazon links.  These posts are expensive and take a loooong time to make!  The purchases make it possible for me to keep making them.  Thanks in advance, I greatly appreciate it 🙂

 

Comments

  1. You’re a great guy, Mike. The review is excellent and useful. But the best part is how you said: “I was offered a free Owl Plus from RunCam to do a test. I declined their offer and purchased my Owl Plus from GetFPV with my own money. I didn’t want this review to be skewed by free product.”

    That to me puts you in a league of your own. Keep up the good work!

     
    1. Author

      Thanks Mark! I try to stay as neutral as possible 🙂

       
  2. I have IR blocked HS1177’s in all my quads. Did you use a non IR blocked HS1177? I bought one thinking I needed that feature for night flying. But you are using the same camera day or night. I didn’t know you could do that. Do you have a specific set up for your HS1177’s or just run the defaults? Thanks!

     
    1. Author

      Nope, the camera used in this video is the HS1177 IR-BLOCK version on the factory settings.

       
  3. Very nice review,

    I was looking at this cam because of the 4 point mount system. However I think that the HS1177 is still be better choice for pure picture quality.

    …if some some would just improve the bracket

     
    1. Author

      I would not get this camera just for the mounting system. There are lots of ways to mount the HS1177 also.

       

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