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If this will be your first time ordering from Banggood, you should know a few things.
GOPRO HERO10 BONES
THE BEST “NAKED” CAMERA
The Hero10 Bones is a “naked” GoPro Hero 10. So all the features, functions, and image quality of the Hero10 are here. What’s missing? The battery. The screen. The speaker. And the metal case.
This brings the weight of the camera down to only 60 grams, which means any quad that would have carried a full-size GoPro is instantly about 100 grams lighter. And any small Cinewhoop that might have settled for an Insta360 Go style camera can now have the quality of a full GoPro.
Why is the Bones 60 grams, when a home-made “naked” GoPro comes in closer to 25 grams? The Bones includes hefty heat sinks to help avoid overheating problems that other “naked” GoPros struggle with.
The big advantage of the Bones is that you can buy it with a GoPro subscription that includes up to two replacement cameras per year ($100 per camera). With a homemade “naked” camera, once it dies, you’re paying full price for a replacement.
The Bones is definitely not ok for hard-bashing freestyle. It hasn’t got the durability of a regular GoPro, DJI Action 2, or even a Runcam Orange. If you’re looking for the best image quality possible in a 60-ish-gram action camera, the Hero10 Bones is perfect.
Unless you live outside the USA. Because GoPro is only selling it into the USA right now. Oops.
The Hero 11 finally does something really different that I think is good for FPV pilots. As expected, the 11 improves on all the specs of the 10 in small ways–but that’s not what excites me. What excites me is the 8:7 aspect ratio sensor. This nearly-square sensor means that you can record in native resolution and then export to nearly any aspect ratio you want in editing. Need to generate 16:9 widescreen and 9:16 vertical for tiktok? Now you can do it using the exact same source footage. The wide FOV is also perfect for post-flight stabilization.
The main disadvantage of the Hero 11 is its size and weight: 153 grams! This brings us to the Hero 11 Mini, which shaves off 20g of weight and gives up the back and front screens. At first glance, the Hero 11 Mini seems perfect for FPV. We just break the screens anyway! But firmware issues have plagued it, and it doesn’t seem to have the same durability as the old Hero Session that it hearkens back to. Only time will tell if the Hero 11 Mini really lives up to its promise.
GoPro keeps making new Hero cameras and I keep adding them to the List. They’re all amazing, and each one improves on the last. But it also seems like each one is just a little bit worse for FPV. They keep getting larger, heavier, and harder to repair.
The main upgrade of the Hero 10 is the larger 5.3k sensor. This gives additional resolution and wider FOV than previous Hero cameras. Even if you don’t shoot in high resolution, the wider FOV means you can activate HyperSmooth (which crops in on the frame) and still keep the ultra-wide FOV you’re used to from previous cameras. The Hero 10 can shoot at up to 240 fps in 2.7k resolution, and can finally shoot 4k or 5.3k at 60 fps.
Vloggers will appreciate the front-facing screen, which makes it easier to frame self-shots; but FPV pilots might think it’s just another thing to break. The weight is only a little more than a Hero 9, but the Hero 9 was pretty chunky. The Hero 10 also uses a larger battery, so all your batteries and chargers from your old GoPros won’t work.
The main reason I think the Hero 10 is overkill for FPV is that the upgraded image capabilities aren’t worth it in exchange for the increased weight, size, and price. If you’re flying a 7″ or larger cruiser or an FPV wing, then go for it. You don’t care as much about weight or size. If you’re a pro who needs the absolute best image quality, then go for it. But for a typical FPV pilot, my opinion is the Hero 7 is a much better value and the Hero 8 has excellent stabilization. The real odd one out here is the Hero 9, which is less capable than the 10, at about the same size and weight.
At least the Hero 10 finally brings back the removable lens cover!
It seems like every time GoPro releases a new Hero, it gets a little further from what I think FPV pilots want. The Hero9 adds a “selfie” screen to the front–just one more thing to break in a crash. It’s 32 grams heavier than the 8. On the positive side, it has 5k resolution which allows for image stabilization without the additional crop-in that previous cameras suffered. And the image stabilization works better than ever before, including dedicated integration with ReelSteady Go, which is now owned by GoPro. I do like that they brought back the removable lens guard.
The Hero 9 is an awesome camera for vloggers, handheld shooting with stabilization, and for cinematic FPV pilots who can stand the weight and who need the image quality. But in my opinion it’s too large and heavy for freestyle bashers and casual cruisers. As long as the 8 stays available on the refurbished market, that’s where I’m staying for the time being.
The Hero8 Black is not the newest or the “best” GoPro you can buy today. But it’s still my “top of the line” for FPV in large part due to its lower weight and cost. I used to prefer the Hero 7 but they’re basically unavailable. At least for now, you can still pick up Hero 8’s with insurance at Best Buy or online, although we have just started to hear indications that GoPro is no longer able to provide them.
Cinematic FPV pilots will love the new HyperSmooth Boost image stabilization, which gives even desktop apps like ReelSteady a run for their money. However, HyperSmooth Boost doesn’t work at the same time as SuperView, so freestyle pilots who are thinking of cheating will have to choose between one or the other. This is also the first GoPro where I felt that 4k FPV footage was actually better than 2.7k, although the size of the files still puts me off from shooting 4k too often. The Hero8 also has selectable configuration profiles, which makes switching between different shooting situations easier. For example, you could have one profile for handheld shooting and one for FPV, and switch between them easily.
The RunCam 5 Orange is one of the few budget-oriented action cameras to really satisfy me with its image quality. It’s not up to GoPro’s standards, but contrast and dynamic range are decent, and most importantly, it hasn’t got the hyper-saturated colors that many cheaper action cameras have. Colors are natural. There’s even a “Flat” color profile for those who color-grade in post.
Supported resolutions include 4k30, 2.7k60, and 1080p120.
The Runcam 5 Orange doesn’t use Bluetooth or WiFi to configure itself. Its smartphone app generates QR codes that you hold in front of the camera’s lens to configure it. In one sense, this is simpler than a WiFi-based app, which can often be buggy. On the other hand, it’s impossible to get an image preview except to record footage then remove the SD card from the camera and playback the video. Live image preview isn’t possible.
The Runcam 5 Orange fits into 3D printed mounts sized for the Hero 5 Session, so there should be plenty of options for mounting it to your quad. It’s about 55 grams, so it’s not going to add much weight either.
The “EIS” image stabilization in the Orange didn’t work well in my test, and I don’t consider it worth using. Flight audio is also basically useless due to wind noise. Nevertheless, at a price of about $100, the Runcam 5 Orange is a good value even if the EIS feature was left out.
Since the Orange was released, Runcam added the ability to log gyro data, which means the camera works perfectly with GyroFlow, a free and open source image stabilization program for PC. This pretty much solves the issue with the camera’s EIS and significantly enhances the value of the camera.
FPV pilots looking to save weight have started gutting their GoPros, removing the main board and lens element from the case and calling them “naked GoPros”. The result is a full-fledged GoPro that weighs only about 30 grams. But what if you don’t want to tear your expensive GoPro apart?
Enter Insta360 and BetaFPV, answering our prayers with a Naked Style action cam specifically meant for FPV pilots. It comes in at only 30 grams, and boasts full 4k wide angle video recording. In addition, you get the Insta360 tools to edit, stabilize, and clean up the video.
The Smo4k comes in well under something like a Hero9 Black, and lines up more closely with the price of a Hero 7 Black at the time of writing this. The image quality of the Smo4k is not as good as a GoPro, but many pilots consider it good enough for their purposes. Durability is also less than a full-fat action cam, but that’s the price of lower weight. If you always wanted a Naked GoPro but wished somebody else would do the “naked” conversion for you, the Insta360 Smo4k is the one you’ll buy.
The Insta360 One RS does something really audacious: it splits the camera into three modular parts: the screen/control, the lens, and the battery. The “twin edition” kit includes a 4k wide-angle lens and a 360° lens module. When you consider that the GoPro Max costs about the same price as the Insta360 One RS “twin”, it’s almost like getting two for the price of one. In addition, the Insta’s modular nature means you can replace only the part that broke when something breaks.
None of this would matter if the Insta360 One R was a bad camera. But it’s a really good camera. The image quality is excellent. Despite the fact that it’s modular, it’s still tough in a crash. It’s waterproof to 5 meters (not sure how they pulled that off with exposed connectors).
Like most 360 cams today, the 360 One RS comes with a smartphone app to edit the 360 footage. You can zoom, pan, and tilt the “virtual” camera all around the 360° scene and then export the results to a standard video file. However, only newer phones may be able to run the app, and slow phones, or ones without lots of storage, may struggle. Insta360 also has a really good PC-based app that’s just the right balance of simple vs. powerful.
When it comes to action cameras alone, GoPro has nothing to fear from Insta360 just yet. The Insta’s image quality is not quite as good as GoPro’s, especially when you consider the huge amount of control (ISO, shutter, color, etc) that GoPro gives you over the footage. And the Insta’s interface is not as polished as GoPro’s. But if you’re in the market for a 360° cam, the Insta more than holds its own against the GoPro Max. And with the Insta, you’re basically getting a 4k action camera “for free”.
Have you ever noticed that flights at the end of the day look the best? It’s not just because the sun is going down into the “golden hour”. In bright daylight, the shutter speed of the camera produces an overly-sharp, “stuttery” image. When there’s less light, the camera’s shutter speed goes down, and the moving image becomes a tiny bit blurry. This provides a pleasant softness and sense of speed that professional videographers and pro FPV pilots seek out.
But you can’t always shoot during the “golden hour”. That’s where ND filters come in. ND filters reduce the amount of light going into the lens, allowing for pleasantly soft images with just the right amount of motion blur, even when the sun is high in the sky.
ND filters for action cameras have traditionally come in two styles. The first is a stick-on film, basically like window tint. This is difficult to apply without bubbles and has terrible optical quality, but it’s cheap. The second is pro-grade optical filters. These are really expensive (like $30 per filter) and so when they break in a crash, it really hurts.
Camera Butter ND filters are the best balance between quality and price. They are made of optical glass, so they’ve got great image quality. They attach to the lens using a sticky “gasket” so they’re easy to apply and replace. And they’re less than $10 each, so it won’t hurt as much when they break.
Let’s say you crash your quad somewhere and can’t find it. What do you do? Try to “home in” on the video signal? Beep the beeper? Maybe even arm the quad and listen for the sound of the props thrashing around in the brush. But none of that will help if your battery ejected in the crash and your quad is powered down.
That’s where the ViFly Finder comes in. It’s a super loud (up to 105 dB!) beeper with a tiny 1S lipo cell connected to it. A short while after the quad loses power, it begins beeping, and it doesn’t stop until you find it and disable it (or until the battery runs down). The Finder also acts as a normal beeper that you can activate with a switch on your controller whenever you want.
There are two versions of the Finder: the Mini and the Normal. The Mini is about 3g and its battery lasts about 7 hours. The Normal is about 5g and its battery lasts about 30 hours. In addition, the Normal has a light sensor that turns off the beeper at night. This avoids annoying your neighbors and wasting battery during time when you might not be looking for the quad.
Find this product at these vendors:
Purchase at RaceDayQuads – V2 / Mini
Purchase at GetFPV – V2 / Mini
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – V2 / Mini
Purchase at Rotor Riot – V2 / Mini
Purchase at Banggood – V2 / Mini
Purchase at Amazon – V2 / Mini
Purchase at ViFly – V2 / Mini
The BN-220 is probably the least expensive GPS unit you can buy. And its performance reflects it. In a perfectly clean environment, it performs well. But drones are not perfectly clean environments. They have a ton of electrical noise! Which means the BN-220 will often take forever to lock satellites, and when it does, it may not lock as many as you’d prefer. Frankly, there are a few people who think the BN-220 is not worth buying, but if you want to try to get into GPS assisted flight while spending the absolute least money possible, this is the one to get.
High-performing GPS units tend to be large. Which means most GPS units on small drones don’t perform very well. The iFlight M8Q is one of the best-performing tiny GPS units you can buy. It’s got a built in compass, as well as a low-noise amplifier for stronger GPS signal.
The GPS M8Q is one of the best-performing, full-featured GPS units you can put on a quadcopter. It’s got a built-in, low-noise voltage regulator, RF filter, and low-noise amplifier means the GPS unit gets the cleanest possible signals. Translation: you can lock more satellites, faster. It’s got a built-in compass as well as a GPS unit. And the included wire harness has high-quality silicone insulation, not the cheap plastic insulation used by most other GPS units.
The iFlight backpack is my daily driver because it took everything I liked about the Torvol Pitstop Pro, fixed everything I didn’t like about it, and added LED lighting. What more do you want?
Like the Torvol bag, the iFlight bag has perfect ergonomics. It’s comfortable to wear for long periods and adjusts to most body sizes and shapes. The main compartment is easy to adjust and has plenty of room for most of the things you’d bring to a day of flying. One thing you probably won’t be putting inside the bags is your quads–especially with props on. For that, you’d need an even bigger bag that might not fit airline carryon restrictions. Straps across the back of the bag hold on as many quads as you could want, and the back is rigid to protect the inside from poky bits. The side compartments have the perfect balance of sub-division for organization and big pockets to toss junk into (I use the biggest side pocket for props).
iFlight improved on the Torvol in several ways. They added a 3rd strap across the back to give more versatility in mounting quads. The main flap has additional zippered compartments instead of the Pitstop Pro’s fold-out work surface (that I never used anyway). Oh, and did I mention LED light pipes? Yeah. Color-changing LED light pipes.
Don’t let the fact that Auline isn’t known for making bags and backpacks fool you. The Auline bag is high-quality, well made, and has some unique design features that will make it the favorite of many people.
The Auline bag’s main compartment is similar to other “camera-bag” style packs, with velcro dividers that can be re-positioned to fit your exact needs. It has a separate hard-sided compartment on top which keeps your controller switches and gimbals safer than if it was stuffed into the bag. You can also use this compartment for a 5″ drone (with props off).
The exterior of the bag is a polyester/polyurethane blend. It’s tough, but not as premium-feeling as some alternatives. A laptop pouch in back fits up to a 16″ laptop and has a side-opening zipper, which makes it easy to remove the laptop even without taking the bag off your back. There are two half-height pockets on one side, and a single full-length pocket on the other side. The full-length pocket has a stretchy pouch on the outside with a strap for holding a tripod or other long accessory.
On the rigid back panel are four straps for holding quadcopters. These have magnetic clips which I found to disconnect a little too easily when jostled. Others replied to this critique by pulling and tugging on the clips, showing that they were secure. That’s true. But if you tap the actual release tab even lightly, it comes loose, and bottom line: this happened to me more than once while setting down the bag or while carrying it in a tight environment.
The Auline FPV backpack was almost my favorite backpack. I love the layout–especially the dedicated top compartment. It’s comfortable even when loaded up, and it seems reasonably durable and well made.
The ImpulseRC “Foam Strip 150mm” is a bit of an OG secret in FPV, Steele Davis said that it’s the best foam he’s ever found many years ago in a build video and boy was he right. The adhesive is incredibly well bonded to the foam itself which is super durable, and it comes in strips so you can cut it to fit any arm width/length. You wouldn’t think that adhesive foam could make you this happy but when it doesn’t rip off on the second concrete landing you’ll be jumping for joy.