RunCam Owl Plus review – Your eyes during night flights
Probably everyone knows that owl’s eyes are large in order to improve their efficiency, especially under extremely low light conditions. This is why RunCam equipped their Owl Plus StarLight camera with a larger image sensor. While their other FPV cameras have smaller 1/3″ image sensors, the RunCam Owl Plus has a 1/2″ senor. Larger sensor means bigger pixels which results in better light sensitivity. Certainly, for night flights you need a dedicated FPV camera which provides fast response on light changes and extreme good light sensitivity. Of course, if you don’t want to fly totally blind :)
Over the time, RunCam became a pretty popular quadcopter camera manufacturer among RC enthusiasts. They have two kind of cameras, analog ones like this Owl Plus which are dedicated for first person view flights and digital ones with DVR function like the RunCam2 which allows to record the journey of your flight.
Although I already reviewed many FPV cameras, unfortunately I didn’t had the chance to test the RunCam Owl which is the predecessor of this “Plus” edition. These two cameras have few significant differences:
|Lens filter||IR – sensitive||IR – blocked|
|Input power||3.3V (5 – 24V external DC to DC)||5 – 22V|
|Camera mounts||No||Two types|
|Dimensions||19 x 19 x 25 mm||26 x 26 s 30 mm|
|Weight||9 g||15 g|
Basically, the Runcan Owl Plus camera is a tuned version of its predecessor in the shape and size of the RunCam Swift.
RunCam Owl Plus quadcopter camera review
The package was delivered relatively fast considering that was slowed down by the niggling of those from DHL. Anyhow, at least the package was intact, not as it has happened last time with another RunCam camera which I received for review.
In order to ensure that you get what you paid for, RunCam added a security label on the box. After you scratch it, you can check the 20-digit security code on the manufacturer’s webpage to get confirmation that you purchased a genuine product.
My first impression, peeking inside the box, was that the RC Owl Plus package is very generous. Besides the orange camera and its lens cap I found inside the box the following: back cover, base bracket, hanging bracket, screws, OSD cable, 3 wire FPV cable, AV-out & power cable, user manual and warranty card.
Unlike its predecessor, this new RunCam Owl Plus camera is encapsulated in a much nicer protective case and is delivered with two type of mounting accessories.
Instead of the usual RunCam logo, on the top of this camera there is a cool owl face.
On the backside of the tiny camera there are two small connectors. Through the two-pin plug (OSD and GND) can be connected the included OSD cable which allows to configure and fine tune the Owl Plus camera. You can play with the settings without any worry because you can revert to the factory default any time.
The second, 3-pin plug (VCC, GND and Video out) severs to power the camera and connect a TX module, DVR or directly a display (CRT/LCD).
RunCam Owl Plus specifications
- 1/2″ image sensor;
- 700TVL horizontal resolution;
- Ultra wide 150 degree FOV lens (2.4 mm);
- Wide input voltage rage, DC 5V to 22V (suitable for 2s – 5s LI-POs);
- Extreme light senility, 0.0001 Lux/1.2F min. illumination;
- Electronic shutter speed for PAL video standard is 1/50 to 1/100,000sec;
- Digital Wide Dynamic Range (D-WDR);
- Digital Noise Reduction (2DNR);
- Automatic gain control (AGC);
- Back light compensation (BLC);
- OSD menu;
- CVBS (RCA) video output for real-time image transmission:
- Compact design, 26 mm x 26 mm x 30 mm;
- 15 g net weight.
On Wikipedia I have found that 0.0001 Lux means surface illumination in a moonless, overcast night sky (Starlight), I know, it sounds damn promising :)
Being curious what’s inside of the camera, I removed the back cover. Inside I found a single PCB build around the NextChip NVP2040 CCD image signal processor.
In order to test this RunCam Owl Plus camera, firstly I opted to connect it directly to my Eachine LCD5802 FPV display via AV-in. After two seconds of normal operation a got black screen and I thought that the camera died. After checking the cables I found out that it was my mistake. I forgot to plug in the power adapter and the camera worked only on the energy stored by the capacitors :)
The camera performed pretty well, I even closed it in the wardrobe to see how it works in the dark. It was truly remarkable to see that is offering enjoyable video quality in very low light conditions.
Thanks to the 150° lens (2.4 mm), the RunCam Owl Plus has a wide field of view (FOV). I know, probably experts will say that the optimal lens size for FPV is between 2.8 and 3.6 mm.
Next week I’m planning to mount the Owl Plus camera on one of my quads and test it during some night flight. Promise that I will update my review with the results.
Performance and image quality
RunCam Owl Plus review - Verdict
Maybe the camera not performed exceptional in daylight, but frankly I didn’t expected this.
This camera was designed especially for night flights, where truly excels. In my opinion in this market segment the RunCam Owl Plus is probably one of the best FPV camera that you can currently buy.
It is light weight, supports wide range of batteries (2s-5s) and the included mounting accessories allows to attach the camera to your quadcopter in several ways.
For those who are interested in this StarLight FPV camera, it can be ordered from the manufacturer’s online shop. According to your taste you can opt between orange and black, but I recommend orange because it is more visible in case you’re losing it during a crash.
RunCam Owl Plus unboxing and quick test video
This camera has been provided by RunCam in order to make a fair review.
- Small and lightweight;
- Protective case and lens cap;
- Extreme light sensitivity (0.0001 Lux);
- OSD configuration menu;
- Can be installed in various ways.
- FPV cable not compatible with Walkera racing quadcopters;
- A bit too wide for FPV;
- no status LED.
RunCam Owl Plus review – Photo gallery