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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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