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Since GoPro has discontinued the Session 5, it’s good to know that we will have a new alternative for FPV – the Runcam 3S HD action camera. In this review we will take a look at the performance and how it compares to the original Runcam 3 and GoPro Session 5.

Learn how to choose HD camera for FPV and multirotors.

  • Better image and even wider FOV
  • Better audio quality
  • New case design – slightly larger than the 3
  • Screws are easily accessible on the front and back for convenient self-repair
  • Removable battery – a 1S 850mAh LiPo
  • You can still use it for FPV (live video out) and latency is similar to the previous version or the Split 2

Here is a quick comparison between the three popular HD camera options for mini quads:

Runcam 3S Runcam 3 Session 5
Price $99 $99 $300
Weight 70g 69g 73g
Dimension 40x38x37mm 38x38x37.5mm 38x38x36mm
Video Resolution 1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
4K 30fps
2.7K 48fps
1080p 90fps
720p 120fps
WiFi & APP Yes Yes Yes
Video File Format .MOV .MOV .MP4
Video Max Bitrate 30Mbps 30Mbps 30Mbps
Still Photo 2MP 2MP 10MP
Recording Time 85 mins @1080p60fps 90 mins @1080p60fps
USB Port Micro USB Micro USB USB-C
Superview No No Yes
Video Out for FPV Yes Yes No
Water Resistant No No Yes
Image Stabilization No No Yes

The hardware spec looks very similar to the Runcam 3, except it’s slightly bigger. Since the Runcam 3S is designed for FPV, waterproof and Digital Image Stabilization are not necessary IMO.

The Runcam 3S comes with the following accessories:

  • Instruction manual
  • 2x velcro straps
  • TV-out cable (micro USB to servo connectors)
  • USB cable (for data and charging)

The Runcam 3S has a familiar design with a slightly different shape to the original Runcam 3 HD camera.

Learning from the previous Runcam 3 which was a nightmare when it came to repair, they have exposed all the screws on the outside of the case. This makes it much easier for the users to take the camera apart whenever required.

By removing the battery compartment door on the side, you can swap out the battery, and have access to the micro SD card slot.

The Shutter button is located on the top of the camera. It’s also the power button. There is a battery indicator next to the shutter button (3 tiny LED lights).

There is another smaller button on the back – the mode button. You can change between video mode and photo mode using this button. You can also enable WiFi with it.

It’s using micro USB port and NOT USB-C just like the original version.

There is an RGB LED light at the corner of the front. It flashes when it’s recording. When it’s in video mode it’s red and when it’s in photo mode it’s green.

Note that the 3S is NOT water resistant.

There are two ways to change camera settings, using a smartphone or tablet through WiFi, or using analogue video out.

WiFi password is 1234567890

[screenshot of the app]

The Runcam 3S has definitely improved from the 3 considerably in terms of image quality as well as audio.

The 3S has better default settings: colour is more natural and vivid, exposure also seems to be set at higher level, you can see more shadow details. The 3S has a larger FOV (field of view) than the 3.

Here is the comparison between the Runcam 3S and Runcam 3 cameras.

I will make another video comparing the Runcam 3S to the GoPro Session 5 tomorrow.

I really like the image quality! It’s a lot better than the Runcam 3 based on default settings. There are design improvements from the original Runcam 3, such as the replaceable battery and battery level indicator.

It’s a real shame that they made it bigger and it won’t fit in the 3D printed mounts for the Session or the original Runcam 3 anymore.

It’s bigger in size than the Session, so it won’t fit their 3D printed mounts, however it’s lighter (70g vs. 73g)

Runcam is trying to get the image look more like “Superview” by using larger FOV lenses. However it distorts the image at the same time. I am not too bothered by this personally but it’s something to consider.

I like the GoPro because you can use “Flat Color” to maximize the benefit of colour grading. For people who love spending time editing videos, this is godsend! But for those who don’t care about color grading, the Runcam 3S is just fine. It’s actually better as the raw footage color looks great 🙂

The Runcam 3S actually has better WDR (wide dynamic range) than the Session! Now we just need Superview and 2.7K resolution, and it would be the clear winner 🙂

If you like and wanted to get the Runcam 3, now the 3S is even a better option. For $99, it’s a lot easier to get over if you lose it than the GoPro. It’s a great camera to bash around, fly over water and fly long range with 🙂

There are still some stock left on the market, and GoPro is trying to get rid of them for a discounted price. I bought a new one recently for £120, original price was like £250. Get them here now: https://amzn.to/2we9FtO

The Runcam 3S gets really hot during my testing, it actually “froze” when I was testing it on the bench after left it recording for 20+ mins. Use it only for FPV on a multirotor or wing where there is good air flow during recording.

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