Dedicated FPV cameras are used to put eyes on your quadcopter drone. When connected to a FPV transmitter you gain the ability to see what your drone does in real time via your FPV monitor or goggles. However when it comes to buying a camera there are several factors you might want to consider. These include things like cameras using a CMOS, or CCD imaging sensor. What field of view is best? Or how many TVL resolution do you need? If you want to learn more check out our FPV camera buying guide over on dronetrest.com
To add to the experience, you might even want to try a 3D FPV camera such as the NerdCam 3D, which adds the ability for you to sense distance when flying. Once you use a 3D FPV camera you will never want to go back to single camera FPV flying!
Why do I need an FPV camera?
You need to have a decent dedicated FPV camera when you get into the world of FPV racing. There are latency issues with you action camera such as the GoPro, or Mobius that will cause crashes if you tried to use these in racing and so the FPV camera comes in to save the day; there’s negligible latency and so they save racing drone lives.
Which image sensor do I need; CCD or CMOS?
You’re basically looking at two types of image sensors for FPC cameras; charge-coupled devices (CCD) or complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS). Don’t worry what these actually mean (unless you want to of course), we can just focus on what these mean to the FPV racer.
CMOS cameras are cheaper. CCD cameras provide a better video quality. That’s really the core of it and it is up to you which one matters most to you. CMOS is the most widely used in the FPV racing world due to their availability and, of course, the cost.
How many TVL do I need?
Another slightly confusing aspect of FPV camera is the number of TV lines (TVL). Common resolutions are 420TVL, 480TVL, 600TVL and 800TVL but which one to go for? These numbers relate to resolution and so, intuitively, the higher the TVL number, the higher the quality (in some sense). It’s important not to rely solely on this as an indicator of image quality however as such things as colour reproduction, latency and dynamic range also play their part.
After some research around this particular question, you will find there is much debate on what is better. There are limitations of TVL due to the bandwidth of your FPV transmitter (higher TVL require more bandwidth) and so some say you can’t really go above 600TVL.
Field of View?
There are such things as fields of view of your FPV camera. Much like with the human eye, a camera can only see through a specific angle (up and down) and so you need to think about what you want to capture when considering what field of view to get. A heads up, some FPV cameras do not specify the field of view in angles, but in lens focal length in millimetres. So see what angle relates to what focal length, see the DroneTrest article on FPV cameras.
And what’s this dynamic range?
This is pretty simple, the dynamic range of a FPV camera dictates how well your camera copes with light contrast. This is pretty important when FPV racing as you’ve basically always got the horizon straight through the centre of your picture, creating this light contrast with the ground.
Basically, you need wide dynamic range (WDR) enabled on your camera and ideally you want a high dynamic range. Unfortunately, the dynamic range is not usually published but most FPV camera have this enabled straight out of the box; ask the seller about this if you’re not sure. It’s also useful to look at reviews of a camera before deciding on which one to go with.
To learn more to become an FPV camera expert check out our full FPV camera guide