This page is regularly updated as new products come out. This page was last updated on May 18, 2020.
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If this will be your first time ordering from Banggood, you should know a few things.
Your goggles may be the single most important piece of FPV equipment you’ll buy. Quadcopters will come and go, but you’ll look through the same goggles every single flight. If you can’t see where you’re going, you can’t fly well. If the goggles are uncomfortable or hard to use, you won’t enjoy flying as much as you could.
This section focuses on analog, standard-definition goggles. Until recently these were the only choice for FPV. But recently, DJI released the first really viable digital high-definition FPV system. There’s a whole section of the Shopping List dedicated to DJI FPV gear. This section focuses on analog gear, which many pilots still prefer, mostly because the digital gear is more expensive.
If at all possible, it’s recommended to try on a set of goggles before you buy them. Especially if you have very narrow or wide-set eyes, some goggles may not work for you. If trying on goggles is not an option, buy from a vendor with a generous return policy. Some vendors will refuse to take back open-box items that are not defective.
Excellent features include an on-screen display that shows battery level, frequency, and signal strength; and a DVR so you can record your flights for later viewing. In addition, the front half of the EV800 splits off from the face-piece so that you can mount the screen on a tripod or use it hand-held if you like. Using the screen this way can be a big benefit when working on your copter, because you can work on your FPV system without having to put the goggles on your face. The EV800 also has a great push-button system for controlling the goggles.
Every goggle at this price point has some compromises. This goggle has the best balance of features, price, and not-too-many compromises. It’s not a great goggle, but it’s an okay goggle at a price you can stomach.
This goggle has been my “cheapest worth having” choice for almost as long as I have had this site. I keep watching to see if anything better has come out. I even keep an eye on other “best budget goggle” threads to see if other people have a new favorite! Eachine has a winner here, and so far, nobody has beat them at this game.
BEST FOR GLASSES
FXT VIPER V2
What makes the FXT Viper better than other box-style goggles? It’s mounted to a head-band, so it “floats” in front of your eyes instead of being squeezed up against your face. This makes it perfect for people who wear glasses, since you can keep your glasses on while you fly. Switching between FPV and line-of-sight is easy. You can even remove the silicone sun-shroud and maintain peripheral awareness while you fly. The FXT Viper also uses a mirror mechanism to increase the focal distance, so you don’t go cross-eyed from staring at a screen 6″ in front of your face like other box goggles.
None of this would matter if the FXT Viper wasn’t a great goggle. Good news: it’s a great goggle! Image quality and resolution are comparable to others in this price range. The user interface makes it easy to find the channel you’re looking for and switch to it quickly. RF performance is impressive. There’s a DVR. It’s even got an HDMI input so you can use it as an auxiliary display when you’re not flying FPV.
If you wear glasses and struggle to use other FPV box-style goggles, I highly recommend the FXT Viper. If you don’t wear glasses, a cheaper goggle like the Eachine EV800D (linked above) would probably make more sense. The Viper is quite good, but it’s hard to justify the price premium unless you really want the unique things it brings to the table.
There are a few FPV goggles that are stupidly cheap and total garbage. There are several goggles that are really good and super expensive. And there are only a very few that manage to be somewhat-reasonably priced and still decent quality. The Eachine EV200D is one of these.
The screens on the EV200D are large, high-resolution, and bright. At a price of $300, it comes with not one, but two diversity modules, which work together to balance the signal from up to four antennas at once. It can also be ordered without modules, letting you use whichever 3rd party module you prefer (but only one of them at a time; quad-versity only works with the factory modules). The DVR on the EV200D is one of the best in any FPV goggle.
For me to recommend a goggle, it has to clear two hurdles. First, it has to be good enough in overall design and quality. Second, it has to be reliable enough that most people who buy it feel they got their money’s worth. The EV200D passes this test. The manufacturing quality and durability is not up to Fat Shark standards, and Eachine doesn’t even come close to matching Fat Shark’s after sale support. But you’ll save between $150 and $300 by buying the EV200D over a Fat Shark and a receiver module, and for many people, that’s a welcome trade.
If you have only $300 to spend on an FPV goggle, the EV200D is my recommendation.
THE ONLY OLED SCREEN AROUND $300
FAT SHARK ATTITUDE V5
The Attitude V5 marks Fat Shark’s re-entry into the battle for the $300 price point. It’s the only goggle in this price range with OLED screens, for superior color, saturation, and contrast. It’s got Fat Shark’s legendary build quality and support. The included RF module now has diversity. And it comes with an 18650 battery case instead of a 2S LiPo.
Compared to the EV200D, the Attitude V5 has much smaller field of view (about 30°, compared to 42° for the EV200D). This means the screens will take up less of your vision and be less immersive. The Attitude has only 640×400 resolution, although this matters less than you might think, since the video is a standard-definition feed. Finally, the Attitude has an unusual 16:10 aspect ratio, which means no matter which camera you choose, the image will be a little distorted (but 16:9 cameras will be least distorted).
If you care most about a large, high-resolution image, the EV200D will pull ahead for you. If you care about image quality, build quality, and after-sale support, the Attitude V5 is the one I recommend.
One more thing: the Attitude V5 is confirmed to work perfectly with the RapidFire module. The EV200D is known to have incompatibility with some high-performance diversity modules. So if you are thinking to buy a RapidFire at some point, the Attitude V5 might be your choice.
TOP OF THE LINE
The HDO2 is the best goggle Fat Shark has ever made. It’s got the highest resolution, 1280×960, of any Fatshark goggle to date. The OLED screen gives blacker blacks, better contrast, and richer colors. If you’ve noticed “screen door” effect on other goggles, the high-resolution screen of the HDO2 may be the answer for you.
The Field Of View (FOV) at 46° is close to the perfect balance between large, immersive size and edge-to-edge clarity. The HDO2 is also the first Fat Shark goggle to have built-in focus adjustment, from +2 to -6 diopter. This means you can get perfect focus without corrective lenses.
And yes, it’s got a power button. And no, you don’t have to plug in the balance plug to activate the fan.
Skyzone finally did it. They finally released a goggle that competes with–or even beats!–Fat Shark for image quality. The first time I put these goggles on, I was blown away by the bright, clear, and detailed image. Then Fat Shark released the HDO2 and the tables turned again. The Sky03O image is still amazing, but the HDO2 and Orqa image are just as good–maybe better.
But the Sky03O is still a contender. Because it costs a little more than $400, while the HDO2 costs $500 (and it doesn’t even come with a receiver module). This means that the Sky03O is still the best choice for someone who wants great image quality at a slightly friendlier price point than the HDO2 or the Orqa.
As good as the Sky03O are, the Fat Shark HDO2 or the Orqa are still my personal pick. How come? Because high-end FPV modules like ImmersionRC RapidFire still beat the Skyzone goggles for RF reception, and I will take better reception in exchange for a slightly worse looking screen.
TOP OF THE LINE
Orqa set out to make the “perfect” FPV goggle. The one that Fat Shark wouldn’t make. With giant 44 degree FOV, 1280×960 resolution, and big OLED panels for edge to edge clarity and gorgeous colors.
Then Fat Shark fired a shot directly across Orqa’s bow with the HDO2. The HDO2 has the same FOV, resolution, and screens. And it’s over $100 less than the Orqa. So the big question you have to ask is, what do you get if you buy the Orqa instead of the Fat Shark?
Orqa comes with a battery pack and a set of antennas; the HDO2 doesn’t. That makes up some of the price difference. But here’s the real reason you might choose the Orqas. Fat Shark’s philosophy has been that they release a goggle, and if you want a better goggle, you buy a new one a few years later. Orqa’s philosophy is to release the best screens possible today, and then add features via software updates going forward. The processor in the Orqa is ridiculously over-powered for what it’s being asked to do today, and that’s to leave room for things Orqa plans to add to the goggles in the future. Watch my full review of the Orqa for more details about things Orqa can do that Fat Shark can’t.
Other than price, the main reason some people would hesitate to buy the FPV.One is that Orqa is a new company with an un-proven track record of customer service and support. Fat Shark has service centers on four continents. Orqa’s HQ is in Croatia.
One more thing: by the time you are thinking about spending $500+ on a set of goggles, you have to be thinking about whether the DJI digital FPV system is right for you. Both the FPV.One and the HDO2 are ready for digital systems that might be invented in the future, but the DJI system is ready right now.
Most people prefer Fatshark-style goggles to Box-style goggles. But what if you don’t have perfect vision? You can’t exactly wear glasses underneath your goggles! And contact lenses don’t work for everyone. Here’s the answer!
FOR SIMPLE PRESCRIPTIONS
FATSHARK DIOPTER SET
If you are simply near-sighted, then the Fatshark diopter inserts are perfect for you. They come in a single set, with strengths from -2 to -6 diopter (ask your optician if you’re not sure). They’re made of plastic, so the optical quality is “acceptable” but not “fantastic”, and they scratch easily if you’re not careful with them. But they’re pretty inexpensive and to be honest, I used my original set for more than a year before I upgraded to RHO-Lens.
These lenses are referred to as “Fatshark Diopter Set”, but they fit some other major makes of goggles including Skyzone.
FOR MORE COMPLEX PRESCRIPTIONS
If you’re very near-sighted (more than -6.0 diopter) or if you have any astigmatism or other abnormality, the standard FatShark diopters won’t work well for you.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just get your actual eyeglass prescription made into lens inserts? You can! Simply send your eyeglass prescription to Optik-Fischer and they’ll make a custom corrective insert made exactly for your eyes. If you have any questions about whether they can make your prescription, reach out to them and ask!
I have very bad eyesight (-6.75 diopter with astigmatism). I’ve used corrective lenses in my Fat Sharks since September, 2016 and I love them. Check out my review to see my reaction the first time I try them!
In the past, I have recommended RHO-Lens for this slot. RHO recently switched to shipping their lenses in a 3D-printed carrier which I find to be a little more fragile than I prefer. Optik-Fischer hand-bevels each lens, which I prefer.
FATSHARK RECEIVER MODULES
The Fatshark goggles on this page come with an empty receiver-module bay. The job of the receiver module is to pull the video signal out of the air and put it onto your screen(s). Fat Shark’s OLED receiver module has decent performance; aftermarket modules typically beat the Fat Shark in performance and have convenience features like in-goggle menus.
The modules below can be separated into two categories. Traditional Diversity modules like OwlRC have two receivers and the module switches between them depending on which one has the strongest signal. Advanced modules like RapidFire and True-D X add two main features: sync reconstruction and frame combining. Sync reconstruction prevents the image from rolling or tearing when it is weak. Frame combining means the image from the two antennas is “averaged out” rather than switching from one to the other. This prevents the white flashes that can happen when a diversity module switches between receivers.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
When I first saw this module, I assumed it must be garbage. It’s HALF the price of the Realacc RX5808. But I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m really impressed. The build quality is slightly worse than the Realacc (especially the screen) but put a good cover on it and you won’t notice the difference.
Here’s a link to a good cover for the module.
What makes this module so special is that it’s got a faster, more capable processor than most others. When you combine it with the Achilles Pro firmware, it unlocks features like Ultra-Search and RF Lap Timer.
So it’s cheaper and it has more features than the competition. What’s the catch?
The catch is, it doesn’t have a USB port to let you easily install the Achilles Pro firmware. You need a special adapter, and the electronics skills to hook it up to the module. If you’re looking for a budget module, and you’re not scared of getting your hands a little dirty, the Eachine Pro58 is the one you’ll buy.
Finding a mid-priced receiver module was pretty difficult. There used to be a fair number of decent modules in the $50-$70 price range, but now it seems like there’s very little below $90. And that’s tricky because $90 is hardly “cheap” by most people’s standards. But that’s where we find ourselves. $30 for the cheapest module possible. $150 for the absolute best available. And a vast chasm in between.
Foxeer Wildfire sits squarely in the middle of that chasm. It’s got decent performance, but not quite at the level of an ultra-premium module like RapidFire. The menus and features are sparse (but hopefully will improve in future versions). It’s a bare-bones receiver module with better-than-average performance, at a slightly higher-than-average price point.
If you’re looking for improved FPV range and penetration, but you’re not quite ready to shell out $120+ for a premium module, the Foxeer Wildfire is the one you’ll buy.
TOP OF THE LINE
IMMERSIONRC RAPIDFIRE MODULE
RapidFire is fundamentally different from other RF modules in this test. It offers improved sensitivity and range compared to traditional modules. RapidFire has a special technology to prevent screen rolling and tearing when signal gets weak.
RapidFire has an OLED display on the outside, as well as an in-goggle on-screen display (OSD). However, the OSD doesn’t offer full access to all functions, so you’ll be taking your goggles off when you need to change settings or channels.
In blind testing, the RapidFire module beat every other module it went against, usually decisively. This includes the Iftron ClearView module, which is more than twice the price. If price, features, or usability are your concerns, you might consider another module. But if you care about range, penetration, and the ability to pick up a clear signal in challenging environments, RapidFire is the hands-down winner.
Early in its production run, RapidFire had compatibility issues with some cameras and flight controllers. This caused unpredictable and sudden loss of image. This issue has been fixed in the latest firmware.
TOP OF THE LINE
TBS FUSION V2
When the TBS Fusion first released in 2019, people wondered whether RapidFire finally had a competitor as the hands-down best analog receiver module. In 2020, TBS released the V2 hardware update for Fusion, and the answer is finally: yes. In my head-to-head testing, the V2 hardware update of the TBS Fusion matches or beats RapidFire’s performance. And that’s saying a lot, since RapidFire has dominated this field without any meaningful challenge for several years.
TBS Fusion brings a lot to the table. It integrates with other TBS products like Unify video transmitters and Crossfire receivers in something called “TBS Cloud”. The devices all communicate together wirelessly and sync up. For example, when you change the video transmitter channel in the Unify, the Fusion module can automatically change the channel in the goggles to match. Telemetry data can be communicated directly to the goggle via Crossfire link, so you still see your on-screen display even when your video blacks out. Imagine flying a long-distance quad by instruments only after a video loss. TBS Cloud could make that possible!
Here’s the last thing you need to know about Fusion: it’s about $20-$30 cheaper than RapidFire.
Lower cost. More features. Too-close-to-call performance? What more do you need to know?
Some people have accused me of being too picky when it comes to FPV cameras. The cheapest cameras are terrible and nobody should use them. They go dark when the sun is in the sky. They take forever to adjust exposure when you fly from a sunny field into a shady forest. If you can’t see where you’re going, you’re going to crash. More than usual.
I won’t steer you wrong. The cameras on this list cost a little bit more, but every one of them will give you a solid picture that you can rely on. Buy one of these cameras, and you’ll have to find something else to blame your crashes on.
One of the main decisions you’ll make when you buy an FPV camera is which focal length of lens to get. Focal lengths range from about 2.8mm to 2.1mm. A 2.8mm lens will have a narrower field of view, like a telephoto lens. A 2.1mm lens will have a wider field of view, like a fisheye lens. For FPV, I recommend a focal length between 1.8mm and 2.3mm. The wider FOV gives more “peripheral vision” in the goggles and makes it easier to tell how close you are to obstacles.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
FOXEER ARROW MICRO PRO
The Arrow Micro Pro is priced around $20, same as the Caddx F2. They’re both excellent cameras for the price. The Arrow uses a CCD sensor, so it’ll have a slightly more contrasty image, and slightly better exposure handling. However, to my eye, the Caddx looks better overall. You won’t go wrong with either, but if you know that you like a “CCD style” or “CMOS style” image better, pick the camera that suits.
The Runcam Micro Eagle is my pick for “best FPV camera, period.” But my ethics as a reviewer force me to tell you that many people disagree. Strongly.
The Micro Eagle has astounding resolution and dynamic range. It can make a flyable image out of challenging lighting conditions that crush other cameras. The Eagle also has improved light sensitivity, so you can keep flying even when the sun is going down.
The flip-side of this is that the image has digital processing artifacts that some people really, really hate. I recommend that you watch my review of the Runcam Eagle 2 and decide for yourself.
There are better cameras than the Swift, and there are cheaper cameras than the Swift. But the Swift stays on the list in large part because it’s widely available and almost always in stock. The Swift wouldn’t be my first choice for a build today, but if you’re having trouble finding a place to buy one of the others, or you can’t find a vendor who will ship to your country, the Swift will probably suit you.
A killer feature of the Swift is that it includes an on-screen display (OSD) that lets you monitor your battery voltage, as well as put your pilot callsign on screen. Some flight controllers include an OSD, but if yours doesn’t, this is the simplest, easiest way to add one.
The Swift 3 is one of the first Runcam cameras to use Runcam’s digital camera control interface. This means that you can wire the Swift up to your flight controller UART and change camera settings using your transmitter sticks. However, this also means that you cannot use a traditional joystick to adjust the camera settings. If this would be a deal-breaker for you, select a different camera from this list. Here’s a video showing how to set up and use Runcam digital camera control. That video is using the camera control adapter board, which is basically built in to this camera. The rest of the setup is the same.
BEST IMAGE QUALITY FOR THE MONEY
Let’s face it: even the best FPV cameras look terrible compared to the HD videos we’re all used to. A great FPV camera must be carefully tuned to pack the necessary image information into the standard-definition video feed. What looks good to a spectator isn’t necessarily what will make the pilot able to fly their best.
The Caddx Ratel is a great FPV camera. It’s got just the right balance between dynamic range and contrast. It’s got a high-resolution CMOS sensor, but without any of the “shimmer” and digital image noise that drives some people away from the Runcam Eagle. This might be the best that I’ve seen a CMOS sensor look. And it’s even reasonably priced!
The Ratel comes with either 1.66mm or 2.1mm lens. The 1.66mm lens is for if you intend to use the camera in 4:3 aspect ratio; the 2.1mm is only usable with 16:9 aspect ratio. The camera itself can switch aspect ratios, but if you have the wrong lens on, you will see the edges of the lens. The 4:3 camera has one of the largest vertical field of views I’ve ever seen in an FPV camera. This gives amazing peripheral vision, but it also results in an exaggerated fisheye effect that gives some pilots vertigo.
The Ratel’s reasonable price comes with a few compromises. Reliability and durability are lower than premium cameras like the Eagle. Caddx cameras sometimes come from the factory with the lens un-focused (easy to fix, but annoying). Caddx cameras don’t have Runcam’s digital camera interface, which allows easy configuration of the camera through a flight controller UART.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced CMOS camera with some of the best image quality available, the Caddx Ratel is the one you’ll buy.
BALANCED QUALITY AND PRICE
RUNCAM PHOENIX OSCAR LIANG EDITION
I think of this camera as slotting in somewhere between the Ratel and the Eagle. Like the Ratel, the Phoenix has a CMOS sensor, but without the digital sharpening artifacts of the Eagle. The tradeoff is that the Phoenix doesn’t have quite the same dynamic range as the Eagle, and it has much less low-light sensitivity. The Phoenix is less expensive than the Eagle, but more expensive than the Ratel.
So why not just buy the Ratel? Because Runcam’s build quality is typically higher than Caddx’s. In addition, the Phoenix has Runcam’s exclusive digital camera control interface, which lets you connect the camera to the FC and control the camera’s menus remotely with your transmitter sticks. Some may appreciate that the Phoenix is switchable from 4:3 to 16:9 and supports image mirror and flip. It’s also switchable between PAL and NTSC.
This camera is excellent in bright daylight, but its image suffers in low light. If you plan to do a lot of flying close to dusk or in dark areas, you should probably steer away from this camera.
GOPRO / HD CAMERAS
High-Definition cameras on quads aren’t just for YouTube superstars. Yes, a GoPro can be used to make the next great cinematic masterpiece. But lots of people want to review HD recording of their flights, whether it’s for inspecting objects, to fine-tune the quadcopter’s flight characteristics, or just for entertainment.
There’s no question that GoPro makes the best action cameras you can put on a quad. But many people can’t afford to buy a GoPro, especially if crashing and breaking it is a likely outcome. Inexpensive action cameras tend to give up a lot in terms of features and image quality, but there are a few worth considering.
One last thing: If you live in the United States and you are within driving distance of a Best Buy, the Best Buy Protection Plan means that a GoPro is probably more affordable than you think. When you buy the camera, you pay an additional $40 to $60 for the Plan. When you break the camera, you take it into Best Buy and they refund the price of the camera (but not the cost of the plan). You buy a new camera with that money and you pay another $40-$60 for a new Plan on the new camera. Basically, you get a new camera for $40-$60.
If you don’t have access to Best Buy, you may be able to get similar coverage from SquareTrade off of Amazon.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
RUNCAM 5 ORANGE
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.
BEST EVER MADE
GOPRO HERO5 SESSION
Here’s why the Hero5 Session is still the best GoPro for FPV, even though it’s officially not made anymore. It records 1080p60 and 2.7k30, which I consider to be the minimum requirement for typical YouTube-style content. It’s about 40% (50 grams) lighter than its full-sized GoPro brothers. More importantly, it’s way, way more durable. There’s no screen to break (you configure it with your phone) and the front lens protector is easy to replace if it’s damaged.
Technically, the Session does record 4k resolution, but the bit-rate is too low to produce acceptable results for FPV, and superview isn’t supported except at 24 fps. If you absolutely need great 4k resolution for your cinematic masterpiece, you’ll want a full-size Hero instead of the Session. The Session has image stabilization but it’s pretty basic, especially compared to Hypersmooth (introduced in the Hero7).
All of the things that make the Session great for FPV make it worse for nearly every other action-camera application. And so GoPro discontinued it. But you may still be able to buy refurbished Hero5 Sessions for a price not that much more than the Runcam 5 Orange. The GoPro’s image quality is way, way better, and it supports Superview, which I consider a must for freestyle edits. If I were considering a Runcam 5 for $100 and a Hero5 Session for about $150, I would take the Session every time.
The Hero7 Black is not the newest or the “best” GoPro you can buy today. But it’s still my “top of the line” for FPV because of several changes that GoPro made with the Hero 8. The Hero7 has a removable lens protector, which is easy to replace if it’s damaged, and easy to swap filters on and off the camera. It’s also a little bit smaller and lighter than the 8. Finally, it’s significantly cheaper, since it’s no longer the flagship of the line.
Compared to the Session, the Hero7 offers higher framerates at higher resolutions and allows the use of Superview at higher resolutions too. It’s also got better image quality at 4k, although I still don’t consider 2.7k or 1080 to be the optimal resolution for fast motion on this camera. The Hero7 has a screen on the back for “no-smartphone-required” configuration in the field, and you can also playback your recordings or check framing. However, a typical freestyle pilot is basically guaranteed to break the screen sooner rather than later, so I’m really on the fence as to whether it’s an advantage or not.
The Hero7 is about 50 grams heavier than the Session, which significantly affects the handling of most freestyle quads. The place where it really excels is in smooth, cinematic flying (less likelihood of crashing and the additional weight matters less) but lots of freestyle pilots have moved on from the Session and run the Hero7 as their primary camera.
The Hero8 Black is GoPro’s flagship camera. It has higher resolution, better image quality, and higher framerates than ever before. 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.
Like I discussed in the Hero7 description, I dislike the Hero8 for FPV, due to its internal lens protector and its additional weight. As soon as you scratch the front lens protector, the entire camera is basically a total loss. Tempered glass screen protectors are an absolute must for this camera. In addition, the internal lens makes mounting filters on the camera harder, although this problem can be solved with the creative application of a 3D printer.
The only reason I would run a Hero8 on an FPV quad would be if I absolutely needed Hypersmooth Boost or the improved 4k footage, such as for a Cinewhoop shot that I didn’t want to stabilize in post. Any application where I had a high chance of crashing the quad and damaging the camera, I would just be too scared of damaging the Hero8, even if I did have insurance.
The Insta360 One R 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 R “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 R 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”.
ND FILTERS FOR FPV
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.
The video transmitter (or “vTX” as it’s usually written) takes the video signal from your camera and transmits it wirelessly to your goggles. The single most important function of the video transmitter, to me, is how easy it is to change channels and transmit power. FPV video transmitters operate like old analog television signals. (That’s an analogy, but it’s also literally true! Your quadcopter is a tiny television station!) If two transmitters are on a channel too close together, they will interfere, and both pilots won’t be able to see to fly. When you fly with other pilots, you’ll have to organize who is on what channel. If you can’t quickly and easily change channels, that becomes a hassle. You’ll be “that guy” who everybody else has to make room for.
Once upon a time, you’d have paid twice as much for a video transmitter with these features. It’s tiny and light (8 grams!). It’s got an MMCX connector, for secure antenna connection without the bulk of an SMA. A built in heat sink helps keep the signal stable even when you’re at maximum output power. Speaking of output power: up to 600 mW? Yes please. It can be powered from 2S to 6S battery voltage, so no fussing around with voltage regulators. And it supports SmartAudio, which lets you change output power and channel from the flight controller’s on-screen display (OSD). (But it does have a push-button if you need to change channel manually for any reason.)
All of this for about $15? Why spend more? Look, I’m not going to try to tell you this has the same build quality, durability, and range of the more expensive entries on this list. You can’t get something for nothing. But with the PandaRC VT5805, you get a heck of a lot, for a ridiculously affordable price. If you’re a builder on a budget, the PandaRC VT5805 is the video transmitter you’ll buy.
RACEDAYQUADS MACH 3
The Mach 3 has got transmit power up to 1000 mW (1 watt) and down to a proper, real pit mode. It supports SmartAudio for changing channel and power using your Betaflight OSD or Taranis. It can be ordered either with a UFL or (my favorite) MMCX connector. You can direct-solder the wires to it instead of using some oddball connector. It’s a little bigger than the Unify, but it doesn’t overheat and shut down if you leave it powered on too long without moving air. It has a built-in microphone, so you and your DVR will have sound. There’s a button to let you change channel and power if you don’t use SmartAudio for some reason. And it’s $25.
As good as this is, why isn’t it the best hands-down? The main reason you might pass up this vTX is its size. For ultra-tight builds, you will want a thin vTX with no LCD screen, such as the Rush Tank. The Mach 3’s power output is also not as consistent as higher-quality vTX. I found that it puts out significantly less power on some channels, and significantly more on others.
TOP-TIER PERFORMANCE; MID-TIER PRICE
What makes the Rush Tank stand out is its incredibly robust hardware design–hence its name. The Tank’s output power is calibrated at the factory, meaning you get consistent output power no matter what channel you’re on. It can run at full power without additional cooling, without shutting down. If you leave the Tank plugged in without an antenna for a few seconds, it won’t self-destruct like cheaper vTX.
The Tank has all the features you’d want from a vTX today: up to 800 mW output power; smartaudio support; pit mode. It indicates band, channel, and power with LEDs, and you can change parameters using push-buttons if SmartAudio isn’t working for some reason.
The main down-side of the Tank is that it comes in a 36mm form-factor, for stacking on top of your flight controller. This is fantastic…. if your frame has enough room for it. Especially if you are using a 4-in-1 ESC, this might not be possible.
TOP OF THE LINE
TBS UNIFY 5G8 PRO32 HV
The Unify Pro32 is the latest edition of what many people consider to be the best FPV video transmitter made. It keeps all the standard features that the Unify is known for: clean power transmission, honest output power rating, bulletproof reliability, and support for pit mode and SmartAudio. The Pro32 HV is not quite as thin as the original Unify, but it’s still pretty trim and will easily fit into even tight builds.
The Pro32 ups the output power to 1000 mW “or more”. This is a refreshingly honest approach. Most vTX advertise a nominal output power then output somewhat less. The Pro32 also supports remote control by Crossfire interface. This is useful for fixed-wing pilots flying without a flight controller. You can connect the vTX directly to your Crossfire receiver and adjust channel and output power via the Crossfire system. This is great because the Unify’s button-press / LED-flash interface is awful to use in the field.
Another feature of the Pro32 is that it has built in USB interface which allows firmware update and configuration via the TBS Agent X software on PC.
PS: If you only need 200 mW output power or less, you can save about $20 by buying the Unify Race instead.
WHEN SIZE AND WEIGHT MATTERS
RUSH TINY TANK
If you want the absolute maximum range and penetration, there’s no substitute for more mW of output power. But that power comes with a price: big, heavy video transmitters. What about lightweight racing rigs or micro-size quads like 3″ and below?
That’s where the Rush Tiny Tank comes in. It weighs only 1.4 grams and is 12.5mm x 17mm in size. It’ll fit in almost any build. And you don’t give up functionality either! It supports SmartAudio (obviously), pit mode, and has output power up to 350 mW. This vTX can’t compete with its big brothers when it comes to maximum range and penetration. But gram for gram, it delivers in ways that few other vTX can.
BIG PERFORMANCE / SMALL SIZE
This video transmitter might be the best whole-package I’ve ever seen. Its specs are on par with other “top-tier” devices. Output power goes up to 800 mW for great penetration and range. MMCX connector for secure antenna connection while still being slim and light. Fast frequency lock means you don’t blast people on other channels when you power up. And of course it supports SmartAudio, so you can change output power and channel using your in-goggle on-screen display.
What sets this vTX apart is its form factor and looks. I hate to think I’m being swayed by how nice looking it is, but I probably am. The smooth metal case is feels really up-scale, as well as helping dissipate heat. At a weight of only 9 grams, it’s only 1 gram heavier than some stripped-down vTX that look like somebody’s high school electronics project. The band/channel indicator LEDs are recessed and the control button is smooth and flush without being hard to press.
The VT5804 comes in two forms: the Q1 and the X1. The X1 has mounting brackets that let it mount onto a 30mm stack, whereas the Q1 is intended for mounting directly to frame plates (e.g. with double-sided tape). If you have room on top of your FC, or if your frame has 30mm mounting holes in the rear, then use the X1.
Is the PandaRC the best video transmitter you can possibly get? I’d put the best PandaRC off the line up against the best TBS or Rush vTX. But the big question is whether PandaRC can match the consistent quality and durability of those manufacturers. With PandaRC being a newer entry to the American market, only time will tell.
OMNIDIRECTONAL VIDEO ANTENNAS
There are three important things to know about video antennas. First, they come in left-handed (LHCP) and right-handed (RHCP) varieties, and you must put the same variety on your quadcopter and your goggles. Most pilots fly RHCP, and that’s what I recommend you start with too. There isn’t any performance difference, but having the same type as everyone else will let you watch them in your goggles.
Second, they come with different connectors: SMA and RP-SMA. Whatever kind of connector came on your video transmitter and your goggles, you have to buy the same kind on the antenna, or they won’t screw together. Don’t assume that the goggles and the vTX will have the same connector either.
Third, you should never power up your video transmitter without an antenna attached. This can damage or destroy the video transmitter.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
This antenna is durable, cheap, and it’s available in all major connectors: SMA, RP-SMA, MMCX, and UFL. It’s even available in different colors if you like to coordinate! Its RF performance isn’t up to the level of more expensive ones, but it’ll get the job done. At this price, you won’t feel shy about picking up some spares.
The Axii has everything you could ask for from an FPV antenna. It’s got an even coverage pattern so there are no surprise dead zones when you fly behind yourself or overhead. Its axial ratio is nearly perfect, which means it’s good at rejecting multipath and interference from reverse-polarized antennas. It’s not too big. It’s nearly indestructible. And it’s available in a variety of sizes and connectors, for any application.
When you buy the Axii, make sure you’re getting the right one. It comes in a standard length, with SMA or RP-SMA connector. It also comes with thin coaxial cable and U.FL or MMCX connector, for direct-connection to your vTX. Finally, it comes in “stubby” and “long distance” varieties. My personal favorite is the “stubby”. Placing the antenna very close to the quadcopter’s frame reduces range, but significantly increases durability. If you plan to use the UFL or MMCX version, make sure you’ve got a 3D printed mount to hold it, as the coax itself is too floppy to use for mounting (these are also sold at GetFPV). Finally, remember that you must have matching LH (left-hand) or RH (right-hand) antennas on your quad and goggles. Lumenier colors LH antennas white and RH antennas black to help you remember.
I’ve been using this as my goggle omni antenna for the last few months, and it’s amazing. The most impressive spec is its near-perfect axial ratio, which means it’ll reject multipath distortion better. But the honest reason I like this antenna is knowing that it’s built by the techs over at Video Aerial Systems. When they say that they test every antenna before it ships, I believe them. So I feel confident that I haven’t accidentally gotten a bad antenna without knowing it.
Although this is an amazing goggle antenna, I don’t prefer to use it on my quads. The Ion design is a little too fragile for the kind of beating my quads take. But as a goggle antenna, I think it’s possibly the best omni you can get.
DIRECTIONAL VIDEO ANTENNAS
If your goggles have only one antenna connector, then you only need an omni antenna. If your goggles have two antenna connectors, then they support diversity and you need both an omni and a directional antenna.
CHEAPEST WORTH HAVING
MENACE RC INVADER
Directional antennas are usually big, long, and bulky. Exactly the opposite of what you want hanging off of your goggles. A patch antenna is the answer. It’s directional, and it’s also small and light. But nothing comes for free: good patch antennas are expensive, and cheap ones aren’t usually good. The MenaceRC Invader is a decent patch antenna at a low price. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the one you’ll buy.
Not only do I use this antenna on my personal goggles, it was the directional I chose for my Ultimate FPV Receiver Shootout. It’s got 10 dB of gain and a 120 degree beamwidth, which is perfect for providing enhanced coverage in front of you without being so narrow that you lose coverage every time you move your head.
TOP OF THE LINE
LUMENIER AXII PATCH
This is a great patch antenna for head-worn goggles. Compared to the X-Air, the Axii has slightly lower gain. Lower is worse, right? That’s like saying a smaller shoe is better. The Axii has a wider coverage pattern that gives slightly less penetration directly in front, but more range to the sides. The X-Air has a more focused coverage pattern that gives more penetration in front and less to the sides. The big benefit of the Axii is that it’s smaller so it keeps your goggles less bulky.