FPV Camera angle is a very personal thing. It is the single most significant part of your setup that is not directly related to tuning equipment. What it says about you as a pilot, is more telling than the color props you use or the Botgrinder motors you just picked up. If one were to say clothes makes the man (or woman if it were the case). You might also say that camera angle makes the pilot. And yet, if you ask the average experienced pilot they can tell you it is important. They can tell you that you need to move your angle up to go faster. But we all seem to have a hard time articulating exactly what that means.
That is what we will address today, as we unlock the mysteries of full throttle forward flight.
When we start out, many of us start at a similar FPV Camera angle of 20-25 degrees. (Or even lower if you start with a Tiny Whoop).
This makes things easier as you have a clear view of both the ground and what is in front of you. Once you try to start racing though, or doing some Matty Stuntz airborne acrobatics. You quickly realize that this angle will not work.
The people you fly with, have probably witnessed you hovering and bobbing around. The bobbing up and down like a floating fish lure is a symptom of a camera angle that is to low. Because the camera angle is low, any quick throttle movement will result in you popping more up, than forward.
They probably told you need to increase to an FPV camera angle of 35 or even 40 degrees! But when you tried this, you crashed straight into the ground (or worse a tree). And then you went straight back down to your comforting 20 degrees and cried to Mommy.
My self esteem is as low as my camera angle right now…
Math and Concepts
Why does increasing your tilt allow you to fly faster? Well let’s take a moment to discuss the thrust and lift vectors of your quad copter. Because you have 4 motors all spinning in alternating rotations, your lift /thrust when hovering at a level angle is all angled in a straight up direction perpendicular to your quadcopter (fig1). All your thrust is providing you with straight up lift. When you pitch your quad forward, you are now adjusting that thrust to an angle that is between the angle of attack, (the angle you are moving), and the thrust vector which is still perpendicular to you. As this angle increases, you have more thrust pushing you forward (fig2). More thrust in this direction means you fly faster. Now what else are you noticing as you increase this angle? The thrust that is pushing you up, is decreasing as the thrust pushing you forward increases. This means not just that you can fly faster, it means that you HAVE to fly faster to maintain a constant altitude at that angle.
Now what do we notice about the 3 quadcopters above? In the first image our camera is pointing up, in the 2nd, it is pointing level, and in the 3rd we are looking straight at the ground.
By increasing our fpv camera angle, we increase that angle of attack in which we see our quad flying at a level angle in relation to the horizon.
Where did this idea come from?
Now that we know what is going on, let’s discuss why it becomes easier once you start to approach a higher tilt. A few extreme free stylers like Matty Stuntz, have been flying super high camera tilt for a while. Certain racers have been doing this lately as well. In fact super high tilt has started to be known as “Dolma Tilt” after Piro team pilot Andy “DolmaFPV” Marachillian started sharing his builds. People commented how his camera was pointed to the sky. When asked for comment on his recommendation for racing camera angle. Marachillian responded with “70 and go!”
Why is it easier?
If you have ever seen Joshua Bardwell’s videos where he talks about turning using cross coordination that when you turn to the left at a forward clip, you need to use a combination of yaw to the left on your left stick and roll to the left on your right stick (for mode 2 pilots).
Now the interesting part. The higher you start to increase your camera angle, something starts to happen. That dual stick cross coordination that needs to happen to turn starts to diminish. Somewhere around an FPV camera angle of 60 degrees plus you start to be able to take turns, especially quick turns using only (or mostly depending on angle) roll. Those mechanics also seem to get a little slower, similar effect to lowering your rates, it’s like you now have a little more fine control even though you are moving more quickly. This is due to having single stick control over turning.
For me this was like stepping through a door to another dimension where things suddenly started to become more clear. I realized that in order to safely buzz the tower Maverick could only have been using single stick input, no way he was cross coordinating anything on that move.
You are now flying using mechanics that are much closer to what you would play a video game with. Flying around using one stick to turn, instead of a perfect combination of 2, can be much easier to fine control for some pilots used to playing video games.
We have all been training for this for decades.
Why is it more difficult?
As we mentioned before, the higher you increase the more forward thrust you have, but your vertical thrust (what keeps you in the air) is now lessened. This means you need to apply more throttle to maintain a level forward flight. More throttle is now also more focused in thrust forward, than vertical lift. In other words, you have to fly faster to maintain altitude. I know for me, being able to process the information fast enough for my eyes and hands to react took a long time to adjust to. Once you punch the throttle at FPV camera angle 60+degrees, you no longer are punching into the sky. You are cranking the knob to Ludicrous Speed!
If you watch a faster pilots videos, and it looks like they are traveling at Warp 7, you may not be ready to crank it up to 70 degrees just yet.
Adjusting to avoiding crashes
This also means that if you do need to pull out of something, (quickly pull up). You need to get used to pulling back on the pitch stick to level out before you hit throttle to go up. (The reverse of the 3 quads above). It is a new type of cross coordination that you must perform in these instances. Usually you are not navigating obstacles when moving up. So you have more room, I prefer the fine control moving around obstacles and through gates.
One thing you must be aware of, is getting your actual camera settings set perfect for where you are flying so that you can see everything coming at you. To do this review this article about Getting the Right FPV Drone camera settings.
How to keep moving up?
Best strategy is to move up incrementally. Try moving 5-10 degrees at a time, do 10-20, 50 packs until you are comfortable and then move up again. Make sure you do plenty of practice sessions like this before you show up to the race. And be ready to hit the throttle to stay in the air.
My interpretation of “Dolma Tilt”
Landing becomes more tricky.
How can you land when you cant see the ground!? This is one of the most difficult parts to adjust to. I find that by coming in slowly in a corkscrew motion slightly pointing down I can gauge how high I am. Just keep going in circles until I am very close to the ground and disarm. This is what is often referred to as the racers tumble. Skilled pilots can angle to the sky, and still throttle down slowly for a smooth landing.
Practice makes Perfect
Once you have moved your camera angle, you need a ton of practice.
Setup some practice gates if you are a racer, or go to a field with grass (not concrete) for you freestylers and practice flying around, taking turns. Practice taking off, practice landing, and keep away from anything you don’t want to crash into. (including yourself!) Just as the driveway mechanic that runs over his own foot bears the ultimate humiliation, so does the FPV pilot who flys into his own face.
Liftoff Pro Tip
Liftoff is an awesome drone flying simulator that lets you practice free style and racing. In Liftoff workbench settings only allow you to increase angle up to 60 degrees. In the game though, you can hit the Up arrow key to increase a degree at a time up! I have been playing with 70-80 degrees. This has really allowed some key practice in transitioning my camera pointing to the sky.
So rack up some virtual crashes before you turn your new Stingy frame into shards of broken carbon fiber.
In conclusion, start cranking up those angles. This was an idea that took me a very long time to understand. The concept of moving camera angle up to go faster is simple. But the idea that moving up to a certain point actually can make flying fast easier and more precise is not something I really understood. Bottom line, is that ultra high angle means you can turn with only one stick instead of two. I just happened to figure this out through a lot of trial and error.
If you find it just doesn’t work for you, just go back down to whatever feels best. I know plenty of people faster than me that are still in the 50-55 degree range. If you are a gamer though especially, give it a try and see what happens. You just may be end up going from last place to first place at your local races in no time.
Please dont run 80* on your stingy frame. lol
there is also cam tilt compensation to try out 😉 the center that you turn around becomes clear, no guessing 🙂
For freestyle 25°-35° is ideal for race u can go up upto 70° or more but mostly pilots are on 45° on there race builds…
I have seen race pilots jump up from 45 degrees in the past 4-6 months. I would say the average angle is closer to 55 degrees now, I am personally having great success with 65-70. Sometimes it becomes difficult to know if a change such as this is making the difference, or it is just experience getting 20-40 packs a week as our skills progress.
For free style, I have also noticed that I have a smoother flight and an easier time doing powerloops with a higher 55+ degree camera angle. It allows me to say in a powerloop, keep the obstacle in frame the entire time as I go over it.
This is insane. It’s life changing, as far as quad flying life goes. I happened to stumble in here looking around and read this great read by Jon Escalante above. After I read through it the second time, it clicked and the light went on above my head. It all makes sense now and it’s so simple really, not complicated at all. For the first time in my quad flying years, I can now fly and when I increase throttle it moves the quad forward instead of up. Forward….instead of up.
When Jon described the bobbing up and down, for a minute I didn’t understand what he was talking about, until I realized that this is a major frustration I have struggled with and just learned to compensate for it over time. I have had an issue with bobbing up when I increase throttle and I have to compensate by pushing back down, trying to stay somewhat level on the path I am flying.
The reason is the camera angle. I fly at 35 degrees, sometimes 40, but never higher and I would have never thought about going up near 70 degrees. I always thought it was just for show, trying to be the rad quad pilot and all, but I am/was completely wrong.
I haven’t tried flying with an increased angle with any of my actual rigs yet out in the real world, maybe tomorrow, but I have spent 1.5 hrs flying on a SIM (RotorRush) with the camera angle increased from 40 to 70. Gradual increases didn’t seem like the best way to me. I don’t want to spend time and frustration learning to fly at a lesser angle that I am not going to use, doing it over 2 or 3 times as you increase upwards. To me, it made more sense to suffer once, get it over with, learn and practice on the angle I want and be done with it. Sometimes it felt like I was learning to fly all over again but it eventually started working and I could make 3 laps on a course through gates and around flags without crashing. On top of that, I improved my previous fastest time from a year ago on one course from 49 seconds to 30 seconds on my second try.
I’m not even flying well yet but I can see it and feel it and every once in a while for a few seconds I can feel the zone where you are flying with total precision and everything you do just works and moves perfectly the way you want. Has anyone ever tried 90 degrees?
You go forward instead of up! Unbelievable it took this long for me to get it. Thanks for the great description and the fantastic insight. My life has changed. lul
Rook, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your feedback, it really means a lot! I am so glad to be able to share knowledge that took me so long to figure out and spring board other peoples knowledge.
And great idea to try this out in simulator first to get the hang of it before you try it on one of your real birds. Your improvement in lap time is very impressive!
Glad to see techy articles on the getfpv site! it’s nice to see some legitimate information from a group we already trust for equipment. keep the content flowing!
My best advice to any thing new especially camera angle , is to take your time getting a feel for the sticks . Don’t be afraid to learn 25,45,70 degrees all are useful to have in your arsenal as it gives you a leading edge over others who only fly one angle only…Naturally pick one angle and #SENDit, Learn it, Love and move on. It’s not like you can not lower the camera angle and adjusting to something you already learned won’t take long !!!
HAPPY FLYING !!!!!
When I first started I flew with a pretty aggressive angle. This article helped.
When I first started flying larger kwads, my angle with pretty aggressive. Articles like this really helped. I like how this one explains it.
Very well explained! This will definitely help some new pilots fine tune their style too.
i heard my name
I heard rumor that if you summon botgrinder 3 times he will appear… The legends are true.
I’m interested in FPV drones so I downloaded a flight simulator. I have zero drone experience so EVERYTHING felt wrong. I changed my camera angle to 80*, roll and pitch to the left joystick, YAW and throttle to the right joystick—this resembles what I’m used to in Rocket League and made flying much easier for me. Then I wondered if real FPV drone pilots use aggressive angles to race so I did a google search…………and here I am!
*Having the YAW inverted makes barrel rolling seem normal
Sure having some radical camera angle is great for flying fast as your quad is tilted forward a great deal and so you are looking now ahead instead of in the sky when you first take off, then you have the reverse when you slow down. It makes more sense to get used to a angle that is more natural to slow flight and landing, if you have the right camera with a wide enough aspect lens then even at 20 to 25 degree angle you should still get a good view when flying fast, as much as you need to get used to a 70 degree camera tilt for faster flying you can get used to a 20-25 degree tilt even as high as 35 degree for faster flight as well, both are learnable and both valid, I prefer to see what I am looking at in a hover and have better landing abilities. I switch to a camera that has better and wider views, its more a matter of matching the camera to the flying, yes cameras are more expensive, so I guess if you are a budget flyer then using a cheap camera and incereasing tilt to compensate for lack of view may be your only option. Just not for me. Plus if you are doing HD photography you really want to see what your flying towards. This is where the angle and the lens really becomes important, I also have only 3 quads, and really love using them all for various kinds of styles from freestyle to some racing to plain old making some nice scenic videos, I am not much for retooling my camera every time I want to do different flying, so I buy better cameras with better lens and aspect ratio. This my 2 cents worth maybe its not right for you but a fresh perspective on someone else’s views. At the end of the day there is no right or wrong, just one persons opinion.
Just wondering i would like to try and fly at a 70 degree angle but how would you mount a go pro at the same angle? The highest tilt i have seen is 35 degrees for a mount!!
All I want is a G.D. tilt function for my FPV camera. One servo. That’s all. Is that so much to !@#$%^ ask the industry to produce ?
Here I am on the bench, trying to jury rig up something on my own to fit my Flywoo Mr Croc and wire into my Crossfire Nano.
So far my best ideas are:
1. A servo behind the camera, with RC airplane standard white plastic control arms out to the side, one for servo, one for camera, and linked by little metal rods
2. A worm gear servo behind the camera, pushing a little metal rod forward and back / tilt forward back.
3. The camera moved to the top of the truck bed, and attached to the bottom of the servo, and the servo out put fix attached to the quad, and the whole mess rotates.
4. A second camera feed at a set angle, and I switch between views, using the channel switch buttons on goggles, or just ripping the goggles off my head and looking at a different monitor set to a different channel (if I have a digital fpv camera at 45 and an analog landing camera at 0)
I don’t need a pan function, i don’t want a pan function, all I want to be able to do is adjust fpv camera angle during flight from 0 to 45 degrees. I can’t believe all quads do not come with this. Trying to land blind while running a high fpv camera angle is an exercise in frustration.
If you have an ideas please email me and help me. Thanks. Happy Flying.
In diagram “thrust” and “resultant” have their labels switch. Thrust vector is normal to the plane of the rotors.