Fat Shark Base Edition Review

July 14, 2011 20:14 | By | Add a Comment

See someone flying FPV? Chances are they are wearing a FatShark. With a brand this ubiquitous, can they actually live up to the hype?
It should be noted that RCModelReviews have made a excellent review, so we’ll try to shed light on some of the aspects that weren’t the focus of that review. Read on to find out the details!

The first thing that stands out is the streamlined shape of these googles, and the snug but comfortable fit of the foam. That’s both a blessing and a curse as we’ll explore later. The plastic quality is low, it’s disappointing to spend that kind of money and then get that kind of cheap, brittle material. It’s shiny but relatively fragile.

Unlike the Cinema Glasses reviewed yesterday, FatShark goggles allow to adjust the interpupillary distance. As a consequence it is much easier to get a very sharp picture with almost no border blurriness.

The base edition goggles have no internal 5.8GHz receiver, in contrast to the more expensive version which also has an SMA antenna connector on top. A switch for selecting the receiver channel is available on the base edition nonetheless, probably because it was cheaper to leave this in. The receiver itself probably costs a few dollars, yet the retail price difference between the different versions is breathtaking.

The video connector on the goggles is a Futaba-esque rectangular one, it fits snugly and securely without requiring additional fixing. A simple four-way rocker joystick on top lets the user adjust brightness and contrast.

The business end of the FatShark goggles, without dioptry lenses…

…and with the corrective lenses. Note they should be installed with the label text reversed, unlike on this photo.

 

Wearers of prescription glasses are in a precarious situation here: On one hand FatShark offers corrective lenses that can be slid into the goggles, and they do work pretty well. On the other hand they are only available in +2, +4 and +6 dioptries, and they correct only basic astigmatism. If you’re like me and need a cylindrical correction factor to see a perfect image, you’re out of luck and you will either have to pilot with a warped image or -quite literally- look somewhere else. Extra care needs to be taken not to lose these lenses too, as they can slide out quite easily while transporting the goggles.

The light blocking properties of the foam padding are excellent. No need for silly floppy rubber gaskets here. You’ll come to love how the FatSharks just press snug and tight against your face, sealing off your eyes from all outside light. Incidentally, that’s something you will also come to hate during the hot summer months as these goggles get very hot in direct sunlight. But the biggest problem during summer is the danger of fogging. The humidity given off by your eyes and the surrounding skin can be enough to cause the lenses to fog up, since the evaporated sweat and moisture has nowhere else to go. This may sound like nitpicking, but it’s a very real problem out on the flying field when one suddenly cannot see more than the blurred outline of the horizon, and has already caused a very rough emergency landing. The same problem applies when flying outside in the cold too of course.

Test image feed from GoPro HD, as seen in goggles

Test image feed from CCD camera, as seen in goggles

Image quality is pretty good, the sharpness is excellent and the colors are much more vibrant than those of the Cinema Glasses reviewed a few days ago. The contrast is considerably lower however, and you will find yourself reaching for the contrast joystick when flying in twilight due to the tendency to overbrighten. Overall however the picture feels very “alive” and makes flying very enjoyable.

FatShark feed shows a slight lack of contrast, but very vibrant colors and excellent overall image quality

 

The VR1400 Cinema Glasses look pale and drab in comparison, even though their contrast is better.

The direct comparison proves that the overall image quality of the FatShark goggles is indeed better, despite the sometimes suboptimal contrast.

 

Summary

FatShark is a solid choice with a few problems. Black plastic is not a smart choice during summer, the fogging lenses can be a real problem when you’re in the air, and the overall build quality leaves something to be desired. On the other hand, the image is bright and colorful, the optics are good and can be adjusted for pupillary distance. It’s a mixed bag really. In short, people who don’t sweat much, wearing no prescription glasses or having only a basic astigmatism should go for the FatShark. People with cylindrical astigmatism or folks to need to change shirts every few hours during summer should consider a more open and well-ventilated solution like the VR1400 Cinema Glasses. It’s not very reassuring to see that the FatShark website, www.gowiththeshark.com, is defunct at the time of writing, here’s hoping that they are merely transitioning servers right now.

 

Positives

  • Bright and colorful image
  • Lightweight and lightproof
  • IPD adjustment and optionally available lens kit

 

Negatives

  • Gets really hot in summer, danger of fogging
  • Can not be worn with glasses at all, it’s lens kit or bust
  • Mediocre build quality

 

Source

 

 

 

 

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FPVCentral is a private, independent news and review site for all things related to First Person View RC model flight. Covering everything from hobby, commercial and military drones, RC models and electronics related to FPV flight, we are not sponsored by any manufacturer or affiliated with any company or project.

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