As I noted last week, just when I thought things were going quite well with the MJX, the dash cam started playing up big time. While the dash cam was working OK while on direct power after the internal battery ballooned and was removed, for some reason video recording suddenly became sporadic and unreliable. One minute it would record and the next, nothing. I lost a lot of practice footage thinking the camera was recording, but when I went to view the footage, I’d have large files on the SD card but all I’d see is a black screen on playback. Basically, the camera recorded nothing, but still used space on the card. Given that the entire point of buying a drone was so that I could take aerial footage on our Cruises and other places, not just to fly the thing around, I now needed another camera and therein lay the problem. What to get that would be drone compatible, provide good video and that was reasonably priced?
Action cams like the GoPro and its clones were out; I’d had enough of these awkward and usually poor-performing cheap cameras and I wasn’t getting an expensive GoPro just for this sort of work. So a torturous Google search commenced. The first promising camera I came across was a RunCam 2. It had a form-factor quite different to regular action cams and appeared to be used by many drone flyers. I was poised to get this, but continued my search and then came across the Mobius 2, which was also used by many drone operators. These were the only two cameras that seemed to fit the bill for what I wanted. Mobius has been around for some time as I found out and, after some more searching on YouTube, I found some reasonable comparisons regarding video quality of both cameras. It really was a tossup, as no two videos were entirely consistent. In some videos the RunCam looked good and in others not so good. The same applied to the Mobius. One of the major problems that I found was that the YouTubers reviewing these cameras were more interested in showing off their drone flying skills than the qualities and capabilities of the cameras.
What sealed the deal at the end of the day were some technical features of one over the other and this review, which led me to choose the Mobius 2. I liked the fact that the Mobius had the ability to directly use a 1/4″ tripod screw mount, where the RunCam required an additional housing. The second important, for me, feature was that I could make all adjustments via a Windows PC/tablet (I always have a tablet with me in the bush). The RunCam used an iOS or Android app and I have had many poor experiences with Android apps and action cams. The RunCam supposedly provided live view on a mobile phone, but I didn’t need it and was dubious about its functionality. Thirdly, the Mobius could be mounted either way and would record normally, so I had added flexibility.
I can also power the Mobius on the go with my USB power bank, where the RunCam had no such option. The other thing about the Mobius was that it was also a genuine dash cam; so I could use this as a second dash cam if I wanted, giving another point of view on our Cruises. Given my experiences with the video quality of the dash cams I’ve owned, I was more confident about video quality with the Mobius than the RunCam. I thought that the power bank might be useful as, when I turn it on, the camera turns on and when set to start recording immediately it would start recording (I can set it to start recording when turned on). That’s exactly what a dash cam does and it means I don’t forget to start recording video when I start the MJX. This is something I’ve done numerous times as you go through the various initialising procedures before you can start flying.
Anyway, I now have my Mobius 2 and I’m hopefully going to provide a somewhat better review of its video capabilities than you might find on YouTube provided by excited drone owners showing their flying skills. Being potentially an ‘all-purpose’ camera because of its form-factor and the 1/4″ screw mount, my view is that it’s going to be a much better camera than the GoPro style cameras. Obviously the proof of the pudding will be in the video quality and no matter what the form-factor, if the video quality is poor then it’s a waste of time. But before I go there, a bit of advice as to what everyone should do before anything else, once you receive this camera. Format your micro-SD card in-camera and save yourself a world of hurt. That really does apply to any digital camera.
One of the things that I like about the Mobius 2 is the simple, yet effective, way to make adjustments. When you connect the Mobius 2 to a PC (after installing the software), you get a screen that’s reminiscent of the old Windows 3 days. No fancy app, eye candy, or anything like that, just a business-like interface that is simple to understand and use. It’s a complete turnaround from what you get with a mobile phone app and I like it. I’ve only shown four screen shots, as these I think are the main ones that you’d be using. The first two are for general camera settings, the third for specific settings if you want to adjust the actual recording settings and the last one for software and firmware updates. With most action/dash cams, these things are done either on a very small screen or via a mobile phone app and I’m not sure if any of them are this comprehensive. If you don’t have a Windows PC, there is another way to make adjustments with either Linux or Apple.
OK, so these are the major technical or hardware aspects about the Mobius 2 that are of interest to me, so what about video and/or photographs? I’m glad you asked. I really don’t think many would be using the Mobius 2 for stills photography, but I guess to be complete it doesn’t hurt to show what it can do, as it could be useful in an emergency. It’s also important to note that what you photograph with any camera is within the capabilities of that camera. And take note that every photograph that I take is post-processed in order to produce the best results possible (up to a point), so I’m not even interested in showing anything out of camera, that’s like putting a car on sale without any detailing. The first three photos are still images taken from a video file, just to show how these can look; especially important if you want a still image from your dash cam. I took some stills as well, but they were no better than the stills captures from the video.
Now as for video, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the quality. If there’s one thing I would have preferred with the Mobius 2 camera it’s a slightly narrower angle of view, so that there’d be less distortion. This distortion is most notable when using the MJX drone, especially when the camera pans up and down and there’s a horizon in the field of view. As you can see from the first two videos, one from the Olympus Tough TG-5 and then the Mobius 2, there’s nothing wrong with the video quality produced by the Mobius 2. The other thing with the Mobius 2 is that no one, as yet, makes a weatherproof housing for the camera. This means that I’m very loathe to use it mounted to the bull bar, as the camera is fully exposed to the elements and that’s not a good thing when traveling on bush tracks. The final video is from the MJX drone using a fixed mount and when the conditions are right, the video quality can be quite good.
So in summary, I’m totally pleased with the Mobius 2 and, had I known about it earlier, I would have bought one to replace my broken dash cam to use as a dash cam. I would, without hesitation, recommend this camera for use as either an action cam or dash cam and the fact that it doesn’t have a screen shouldn’t be an issue at all, whatever the intended use. The small physical size means that the Mobius 2 can be placed just about anywhere and it’s innocuous appearance wouldn’t draw a second glance from anyone. And if Mobius ever develop a 4K equivalent, I’d say that would be well worth considering.