Runcam is probably the best manufacturer of FPV cameras at the moment, you cant go to an FPV meetup without encountering at least a few quads running Runcam gear. However, Runcam has recently released a new range of cameras going by the name of sparrow. But what makes this camera new, and is it any better than the swift?
On the surface, it might be hard to tell which camera is better. They both look identical, they both are the same weight/size. Both cameras have integrated OSD to display battery voltage and flight time. The sparrow cameras are slightly cheaper.. but what sets them apart?
CCD vs CMOS
In general CCD sensors (as used on teh swift cameras) are better in terms of dynamic range and low light sensitivity which is what makes the swift series of cameras so popular among FPV pilots. And this shows with the excellent picture you get from the runcam swift series of cameras. The CCD sensors used on the swift series of cameras perform great in just about any enviroment you plan to fly in, they even peform well even in low light situations.
Traditionaly CMOS sensors are not as good, but that is not neccesarily the case with the sparrow FPV cameras. Runcam has worked their magic to produce a picture that has super low latency (lower than the swift) while still achieving respectable dynamic range. The only drawback is if you are flying in low light situations like dawn/dust the CMOS sensor cant handle these low lighting conditions as well as the swift’s CCD sensor.
Reasons to get the Swift
If you are looking for the best all round FPV camera, the swift 2 is the best one to get. The CMOS sensor is superior especially in lower light situations. The only drawback is when comparing directly to the sparrow you get a lower resolution (600TVL on Swift vs 700TVL on Sparrow) and an ever so higher latency (~20ms on Swift vs ~15 on Sparrow). Also if the one-touch scene setting option is something you care about this is not offered on the sparrow cameras.
Where to Buy
Runcam Swift 2 or Micro Swift 2
Reasons to get the Sparrow
If you only fly in the day, then the slightly cheaper price of the sparrow cameras will let you spend money on other things for your FPV quad. The sparrow cameras also have a marginally lower latency when compared to the swift 2 cameras (~20ms on Swift vs ~15 on Sparrow). If you fly late into the evening when things start to go get dark, you will start to notice the degradation in image quality on the sparrow.
Another advantage of the sparrow is that it offers 16:9 aspect ratio, whereas the swift cameras are fixed to 4:3. You also get a higher resolution (600TVL on Swift vs 700TVL on Sparrow). So if you have some wide angle goggles this is much better as the image is not stretched.
When it comes to the micro sparrow it has an advantage of the swift as it is a few grams lighter and also slightly shorter
Where to Buy
Runcam Sparrow and Micro Sparrow
The runcam swift series is still the better camera with a superior CCD sensor. However, if you are only going to be flying in the daytime, the lower latency and cost of the sparrow cameras make these excellent options too. Runcam has also done a great job to ensure the sparrow CMOS sensor has the excellent dynamic range we have all come to expect from runcam FPV cameras.
If you have any extra questions, comments of thoughts, please let us know!