When I got an email that starts with the ‘EMBARGO till…‘ words, I always get enthusiastic about what new product is secretly prepared to be revealed. This time was about a new ultralight action camera for FPV drones made by BetaFPV in collaboration with Insta360. I think this killer cooperation announces the end of the Naked GoPro project (if they lower the price of the SMO 4K).
The SMO 4K is an ultralight action camera designed for mounting on an FPV drone. Weighing just 30 grams and shaped like a credit card, the camera is stripped back to include just a 4K wide-angle lens and a processing core, powered by the aircraft’s main battery. Unfortunately, this design approach doesn’t allow standalone operation.
SMO 4K is developed by FPV drone company BETAFPV using Insta360 technology. The camera is backed up with Insta360’s FlowState image stabilization, allowing FPV pilots to get ultra-smooth video using Insta360’s mobile app and desktop software.
BetaFPV x Insta360 SMO 4K camera technical specs
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||61.5×39.4×29.2mm (2.42×1.55×1.15in)|
|Power supply range||6-27V (2S-6S Li-Po compatible)|
|35mm Equivalent Focal Length||16.4mm|
|Video Compression||H.264, H.265|
|Video Modes||Normal, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift, Basic stabilization (in-camera), Pro stabilization (export with Insta360 app/Studio to apply FlowState stabilization)|
|Wi-Fi||5G (standard range approx. 2m)|
|Micro SD card||UHS-I V30 speed class, exFAT format SD cards with a max storage of 1T are recommended.|
|Use Environment||-20°C to 40°C (-4°F to 104°F)|
|Color||Black and Red|
|Official release date||December 18, 2020|
Ultralight, stripped-back design
An average action camera weighs more than 100 grams. That may not seem like much—until you mount it on a tiny FPV drone that weighs less than the camera it needs to carry. SMO 4K’s streamlined design keeps the camera’s weight to just 30 grams, allowing you to fly faster, longer and do more maneuvers. Its size is also smaller compared to top-end action cameras (61.5×39.4×29.2mm vs 71x55x33.6m). As you can see in the image below, the housing has lots of vent holes, so we can’t talk about any kind of weather protection (rain or snow).
For years, DIY gurus in the FPV community have been re-engineering action cameras and making them more lightweight for FPVs. They removed all the non-essential parts like battery, case, and live-view display. The most popular and well-documented project is the ‘Naked GoPro’. Now SMO 4K offers an out-of-the-box solution for FPV pilots who want to step up their FPV content without the hassle and risk of taking apart a brand new $399 action cam.
Plug-in and control
The camera comes with a 6V to 27V power cable (soldering required!) that supports 2S to 6S LiPo batteries. SMO 4K has only two control buttons (power and record). You can also connect the camera to your radio controller (via flight controller + radio receiver) to start and stop recording remotely without having to stop flying. The Insta360 x BetaFPV Smo 4K also features built-in WIFI connectivity which allows customizing the camera settings remotely via your smartphone.
4K ultra-wide angle shots
Although all FPV drones are installed with a camera for sending a live video feed, these cameras often cap out at about 1080p resolution. With an action camera, you can shoot 4K wide-angle video with greater details, smoother stabilization, and better dynamic range.
SMO 4K shoots UHD@60fps footage with a new ultra-wide FOV option in Insta360 Studio that removes distortion from your shots. Meanwhile, a 100Mbps bitrate and H.265 encoding deliver crisp details. You can also capture FHD (1920x1080p) slow-motion videos with up to 200 fps.
Stabilized for FPVs
The most fun part about flying FPVs is all the flips, rolls, and acrobatic stunts you can do with the drone. But these maneuvers can also be a challenge for image stabilization algorithms to handle, often leaving you with shaky footage.
SMO 4K is backed up with Insta360’s proprietary FlowState stabilization algorithm, using the Insta360 app or desktop Studio software. FlowState will keep your shots so smooth, you’ll be able to fly to your heart’s desire. The tiny Insta360 GO camera also uses FlowState stabilization allowing it to capture incredible FPV footage in just 20 grams.
No more jello effect!
One of the challenges of shooting cinematic FPV footage is the “jello effect”, or having strong vibrations in your video. To help combat this, SMO 4K comes with an ND16 filter in the box which gives you more natural motion blur in bright conditions. Meanwhile, a UV filter is also included, which can double as a lens protector during your flights.
Easy to mount
The SMO 4K camera can be easily mounted on a variety of FPV drones including CineWhoops (3-4” ducted quads), Thootpicks (Ultralight 2-4″ quads), Long-range FPV quadcopters (4-7″), and fixed-wing FPVs.
Coinciding with the launch of SMO 4K is the launch of the new Beta95X V3 CineWhoop quadcopter. This drone has a built-in mount for the SMO 4K camera for easy out-of-the-box installation. Plus, its “pusher-style” inverted frame maintains a low center of gravity and makes the drone easier to maneuver. Other drone brands like Diatone and FlyWoo also promise FPV drones compatible with the SMO 4K camera.
If you’ve already got your own FPV drone, STL files will be also available for 3D printing your own mount. The download link was published (probably accidentally) prior to the official release day and shortly removed from support.betafpv.com.
Price and availability
The new SMO 4K camera is available globally starting on December 18 at Insta360.com and retails for $239.99. At this price, you get a spare back cover, power cable, UV filter, ND16 filter, and some spare screwes. A Get-Set Kit is also available, which includes the camera and the Beta95X V3 CineWhoop style FPV drone.