The FC40 is a keychain type camera that is being sold with the Phantom 1 that can be controlled via a iPhone or Android app with FPV capability. Now FPV is nothing new, it means First Person View, so like the critter cam, you can strap it to your dog or pet Moose and have them wander around giving you an idea where they are going. Don’t expect this to be long distance though. It has a limited range of around the ballpark of 100m.
In flight, you probably are able to get far more distance since you are down on the ground but put this camera around tall buildings and you will see it fail. As a GoPro competitor, the FC40 offers real value for money on the cheap. Think of it as a toy, which you can rough up but it is not waterproof or for that matter shielded from everyday grime and mud use since the ports, and buttons are totally exposed.
The 720p output should not be an issue since the majority of you guys don’t even mind downloading 720p porn. So why should this be an issue? The quality of the video however isn’t great. The FC40 may have a 30 frame rate but that doesn’t quite translate to better video quality. It is smooth when you move around but when it goes too fast, the 30fps capture isn’t going to hold up. For high-speed recording, you need 60fps and that’s a GoPro device. There is a slight lag when you hit the capture controls on your smartphone or iDevice so it’s not really for fast action responses. the FPV video feed is low resolution so things don’t look as sharp or bright but the actual recorded footage stored on the microSD card is much better once you download it. Remember to use microSDs that are below Class 10, Apparently there are some problems when you insert a Class 10 card into it. When it gets a card it can’t access, the FC40 will freeze up on you, refusing to work and connect to any device for FPV. Even though the settings menu does allow you to format the card, it is hardly useful. Once the camera freezes up, you won’t get pass the WIFI connection phase so it’s totally useless.
The other thing with the FC40 camera is that it comes with its own holder which is very user unfriendly for the use. It also protects the camera from everyday exposure to use. Furthermore the FC40’s indicator lights are very dim (probably to save on battery life) so in bright light, you’re not sure if you have turned it on and running. For about US$80, you can’t expect too much from a camera like this. The GoPro Hero3 has a WIFI operating distance of 150 meters and for that price, I doubt it will be a huge draw unless of course you want better image quality. Trusted that the GoPro cameras offer far better overall imaging and video and is more robust than the FC40, I think you have to draw the line on what your imaging and video goals are before you decide on this. For home users on a budget, the FC40 is probably a fairly good compromise.
The FC40’s WIFI signals can’t be boosted. It is pretty much made that way but you have the option of investing in a GoPRO Hero 3 and with a optional signal booster for FPV and capture control. What’s more, you can get a stablizing gimbal for the GoPRO for less than US$100 for mounting on the Phantom but that’s another story. The FC40 is a compromise.
But in use, both the iOS and Android app suffer from the same problems, if you have too many applications opened in the background, chances are you won’t be able to run the FC40 app. All images are in JPG. There is no White Balance settings for the camera or for that matter, RAW file saving. This is after all, a 2 megapixel camera and images are at best, very subjective depending on the weather. WIFI transferring of photos and videos are supported within the app but the Android app only supports transfer to device storage and not external storage. Before you run off to record, please do remember to sync the time stamp on the camera with your smart device. That’s the only way to set the time on the FC40.
Importing the images from your FC40 camera to your iDevice or Android is simple, just tap o the image and it will be transferred via WIFI and you can connect the camera via a cable to your PC to do this as well. Generally speaking, the operations were smooth and the only time when the camera acts up is when you lose the line of sight of the device. Signals aren’t strong enough to penetrate through walls so even if you use this as a critter cam, you need to stay within the line of sight of the camera.
The image quality of the FC40 camera is probably idea for sharing on social media. Making that jump to selling stock video footage would be a tad too ambitious.
1) Image sensor: HD 720p/30fps
2) Resolution: 1280*720
3) Lens: Aperture f/2.2
4) FOV: 100 degree wide angle
5) Focal range: Minimum distance of 25cm
6) Wireless: IEEE 802.11 b/g compliance
7) Wireless mode: Direct mode
8) Mobile Wi-Fi video size: WQVGA
9) Storage: Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 64GB
10) Battery: Built-in 700 mAh Li-ion battery