For years, buying a GoPro was the only real option for FPV pilots wanting an action camera with good image quality and enough durability to handle some crashes.
These days however there are so many decent alternatives to GoPro action cameras that we decided to dedicate an article just to them.
We’ve picked out some amazing action cams for any size of FPV drone, so keep reading to find the perfect action camera for your FPV filming needs.
We also have an article that looks at the best GoPro action cameras for FPV! Check it out here.
Four Factors for the Best FPV Action Camera
FPV pilots don’t really care about the features of an action camera except for its resolution and framerate, so if you’re using your action camera just for FPV, these factors are for you.
If you’re considering using it for other things as well, then keep reading because the DJI Action 2 might be perfect for you!
A good action camera for FPV needs to be durable. Crashes are inevitable in FPV, so any action cam you decide to strap to your drone needs to be able to stand up to some punishment.
An action camera needs to be light enough to be carried on a drone without impacting its ability to fly too much.
Image quality is king when it comes to choosing a camera to film with. There is no point in buying the lightest, most durable camera in the world if the video is unwatchable!
Once you pick out your favorite camera, the final decision on which one to buy is probably going to come down to price. We want to recommend the best cameras that also fit your budget.
Best Action Cameras for Micro FPV Drones
GoPros are heavy, so you can’t use them on micro drones. One of the great things about these action cameras is the options you get for HD filming on your micro FPV drones.
Runcam has been making action cameras for years, for both FPV and airsoft.
Runcam designed the Thumb specifically for FPV micro drones and at just 9.8grams, it is easily the lightest HD action camera on the market. It can do 1080p@60FPS and is powered by the drone’s 5v power source, not an internal battery.
The Thumb is perfect for getting HD footage from even the smallest of drones, like whoops and micro drones.
There is built-in stabilization, instead, the Thumb uses a built-in gyro to record gyro data during flights. You can then use an electronic image stabilizing program called ‘GyroFlow’ to process your video along with the gyro data to help make your FPV drone footage look smoother and easier to watch.
With the right setup, you could use a 65mm whoop and the Thumb to create an HD video drone that weighs under 40 grams! This means you can pretty much fly anywhere and get yourself some decent footage. At just $50 the Runcam Thumb is amazing value for money.
Probably the biggest negative is that there is no internal battery, so it can’t be used as a traditional action camera and can only be used on drones.
Good for whoops and small micro drones.
You can get the Runcam Thumb on Banggood.
Insta360 GO2 and the Caddx Peanut
The Insta360 GO2 and the Caddx Peanut are the same cameras…almost. Confused? Let us explain.
Insta360 is a relatively new action camera company, but they have proven themselves capable of keeping up with GoPro over the last 3 years. The Insta360 GO2 is the follow-up to the popular Insta360 GO released a couple of years ago.
These tiny cameras were designed to be small and easy-to-use vlog/everyday life cameras that could be worn easily on a hat or clothing. They were also good for action sports where you don’t want to have to strap something as big as a GoPro to yourself. When the FPV industry got a hold of it, the Insta360 Go ended up being one of the best options to get HD footage on a micro drone.
Insta360 improved on their original design and gave us the GO2.
The biggest drawback of the GO/GO2 is the battery life. Such a small camera means you only have room for an even smaller battery, and at max resolution, you’re not going to get more than a couple of flights recorded.
Because of this battery issue, the Caddx Peanut was designed, and it’s an Insta360 GO2 redesigned specifically for FPV. Unlike the G02 with its internal battery, the Peanut relies on an external power source from a drone to run – which means you can record for basically as long as you like.
Caddx also redesigned the casing to make the Peanut more durable and water/dustproof than the Insta30 version. The Peanut is also cheaper than the GO2, but you miss out on extra accessories like a charging case.
If you want an action camera for FPV that you can also vlog and record other activities with, get the GO2. If you just want a small HD camera for your drone, get the Caddx Peanut.
Good for 2-inch micros and above.
BetaFPV/Insta360 SMO 4K
The SMO 4K is a product of BetaFPV working with Insta360. BetaFPV is an FPV drone manufacturer and retailer. BetaFPV wanted a lightweight camera they could sell with their cinematic drones, so they partnered with Insta360 and developed the SMO 4K.
Much like the naked GoPro, the SMO 4K is a stripped-down version of an action camera. To help save weight, there is no internal battery. The camera is powered by the drone using 6-27 volts. It also uses a lightweight casing and minimal features – leaving us with a camera weighing just 30g.
Because it is so stripped down, the SMO 4K has poor durability. The case is designed mainly to just hold everything together and won’t stand up to serious crashing. Where it starts to make sense for use in FPV is using it on a cinematic drone, like a cinewhoop.
Cinewhoops are usually flown low and slow, so you’re not moving fast enough to crash with much force. Still, having a ‘naked’ action cam means you have to be very careful about how and where you fly. Aside from being naked, the SMO 4K is decently priced and offers 4K@60FPS – perfect for capturing some high-quality cinematic footage. In terms of resolution vs weight, the SMO 4K is the clear winner of all the cameras we are looking at today.
Good for micro cinematic drones
Buy from BetaFPV here.
Best Action Camera for Freestyle/Cinematic Drones
This is where it gets a little harder for the non-GoPro action cameras.
GoPro is arguably still the king of action cameras for anything larger than a 3.5-inch drone. (check out our GoPro article here).
However, we still managed to find three GoPro alternatives for larger FPV drones, each with different features that make them a great option for your next FPV action camera.
Runcam 5 Orange
We looked at Runcam earlier when we covered the Runcam Thumb. As mentioned there, Runcam has been making action cameras for years. The box-style action camera was originally made popular in FPV by GoPro and their Session 5.
After it was discontinued, Runcam released their own version and was then sued by GoPro for copying the design a bit too closely. Fast forward a few years later and the Session 5 is still discontinued. Runcam altered and perfected their design and gave us the Runcam Orange 5.
The RC5 is lightweight, at just 56g and the box form factor makes it easy to mount on a drone. It can record a solid 1080p@60FPS and can be found for around $115 USD. While it lacks the overall build quality, feature set, and image quality of a modern GoPro, the RC5 holds its own when you factor in the price.
The RC5 is durable and can be used with the image stabilization firmware GyroFlow, leading to some pretty decent 1080p footage.
The RC5 is our pick for the best value full-sized action camera on the market and is perfect for new pilots who don’t want to risk a $500 GoPro every time they fly.
Good for drones 3.5 inch and above.
DJI Action 2
DJI has been trying for years to break into the action camera market. They are the largest camera drone manufacturer by a long way but have never really taken much market share away from GoPro with their cameras.
The Action 2 is their latest attempt and it ended up being a pretty decent option for FPV. The main benefit here is the weight and form factor. Like the Session 5 and Runcam 5, the Action 2 uses a box shape – making it easy to mount on a drone. Weighing just 56g, the DJI Action 2 can deliver an amazing 4K@120FPS – the highest resolution of all of the cameras we have looked at for this article.
Where the Action 2 falls down a little is its durability. It doesn’t seem to hold up as well as a GoPro or the Runcam 5, but will still be better than a ‘naked’ action camera.
The Action 2 is probably best used on a cinematic or long-range drone where you can sacrifice durability for image quality. Just try not to crash too hard as the Action 2 is the most expensive camera on our list.
Good for cinematic/long-range drones.
Insta360 One RS
If you liked the look of the G02 from Insta360 we reviewed above, you will love their full sized action camera.
The Insta360 One RS is a solid action camera. It is more durable than the DJI Action 2, with a slightly lower max resolution of 4K@60FPS. This is still more than enough to capture some high quality FPV footage.
Insta360 uses their own image stabilisation firmware Flowstate to help make drone footage look smooth. (If you want to use this camera with GyroFlow, you will need a drone with a flight controller capable of recording blackbox gyro data.)
The main drawback of this camera is the weight. Weighing around 121g, it is in the same league as a GoPro Hero 8. This extra weight comes down to it being designed to withstand high impact, water, and dust damage – making it perfect for FPV freestyle drones that crash a lot.
The Insta360 One RS is also modular. We have only linked the standard 4K camera version, but you can buy a 360-degree module that snaps on in place of the standard camera. So if 360 drone footage is your thing, the Insta360 One RS is for you!
Good for 5” and above freestyle drones.
Best Action Cameras for FPV Comparison Chart
|Weight||Image Quality||Price (USD)||Drone Size||Durability Rating|
|Runcam Thumb||9.8g||1080@60FPS||$50||65-85mm whoop/micro||7/10|
|Caddx Peanut||27g||2.5k@50FPS||$259||2-3.5” micro||8/10|
|Insta360 GO2||28g||2.5k@50FPS||$299||2-3.5” micro||7/10|
|SMO 4K||30g||4K@60FPS||$239||2-3.5” micro||3/10|
|DJI Action 2||56g||4K@120 FPS||$329||5-7” freestyle/cine||6/10|
|Runcam 5 Orange||56g||4K@30FPS||$115||5-7” freestyle/cine||8/10|
|Insta360 One RS||121g||4K@60FPS||$299||5-7” freestyle/cine||7/10|
Those are all the best non-Gopro action cameras for FPV drones! We think the overall best value camera for FPV has to be the Runcam Thumb for micros and the Runcam 5 Orange for larger drones. For their price, they are both very hard to pass up.
The best image quality we think goes to the DJI Action 2, with the Insta360 One RS coming a close second. If you just want the most durable action camera we again have to give it to the Runcam 5 Orange because of its low weight and form factor.
If you’re still unsure about which action camera is best for your FPV journey, check out the comparison chart above! It should make it easy to see which one will suit your needs the best.