MJX C4022 (In-Depth Review)
MJX is a company that has a knack for releasing products that cater to niches that bigger brands tend to ignore. Case in point is the release of the Bugs 3 last year which filled a gap in the sub-$200 brushless drone segment that had few offerings.
Though the Bugs 3 lacked the level of sophistication found in more expensive brushless RTF drones, it had one thing that many buyers couldn’t resist — a highly attractive price tag and a reliable design that worked. MJX’s move to release the Bugs 3 was a good one as evident in its popularity today. In fact, so popular is the Bugs 3 review that it is currently in the top 10 most read posts on The Drone Files.
Another key reason why the Bugs 3 is popular (besides its affordable price) is its versatility and compatibility with a range of accessories such as FPV cameras. The MJX C4022 panoramic camera is one such accessory that can be mounted in the Bugs 3 and is the subject of this review.
- HD 720P resolution
- 1.39mm f1/8 fisheye lens
- Built-in WiFi FPV transmitter
- 6 viewing modes (in MJX Go app)
- Compatible with MJX Bugs 3
Like the Bugs 3, the C4022 is a camera that fills a niche that not many brands have chosen to tackle — that of FPV panoramic cameras for toy drones. There are plenty of FPV camera systems around in both WiFi and 5.8G variants but you’d be hard-pressed to find one that has a panoramic fisheye lens.
The C4022 features HD 720P resolution and a 1.39mm f1/8 fisheye lens. It also has its own built-in WiFi FPV transmitter. Installing the camera on the Bugs 3 requires the removal of the canopy cover. The Bugs 3 has a camera bay at its nose which has forward-facing and downward-facing holes. The forward hole is occupied by the white LED light which can be removed if a forward-facing camera is installed. Since the C4022 faces downward, there is no need to remove the LED light.
Simply install the camera behind the light and plug in its power connector to the main board to power it up. The C4022’s FPV antenna can be guided out of the fuselage via one of the cabling ports near the landing legs. I secured mine to one of the rear motor arms using a cable tie and made sure it was positioned as far away from the drone’s receiver antenna. And that’s all that needs to be done.
With the panoramic camera installed, it is advisable to remove the tall landing legs and just use the shorter built-in legs located under the motors. This is because the tall landing legs will appear in your FPV feed due to the wide fisheye view of the camera’s lens. The image you get from the camera is round which fits into a 720P frame.
The C4022’s ability to capture a 180 degree angle can be used in a variety of niche applications such as building inspections and construction site surveys. With such a wide angle, the drone operator only needs to hover at one location and everything underneath the drone covering a wide area can be observed. A conventional wide angle lens camera facing downwards can only offer a limited view when compared to the C4022.
Accessing the FPV feed from the camera requires the MJX Go app which is available for both iOS and Android. The Android version is only available at the MJX website and not the Google Play Store. Make sure your Android smartphone has been set to install APK files that have not been approved by Google Play or it won’t install.
Once the app has been installed, power up the Bugs 3 and the camera will start broadcasting its own WiFi hotspot. Before launching MJX Go, turn on your phone’s WiFi and connect to the C4022’s WiFi hotspot. On Android devices, you’ll notice an exclamation mark (!) on the WiFi icon once you are connected. This indicates that the hotspot does not have an internet connection.
At this point, if you launch the MJX Go app, it will not display the FPV feed. You’ll see a blank screen instead. The trick is to open up your WiFi settings and just accept the “no internet connection” status to remove the exclamation mark on your WiFi icon. The app will only display the FPV feed only after you do this.
It is in the MJX Go app that things get pretty interesting. Due to the fisheye lens, the raw video feed from the camera is round in shape and looks a bit odd. Not quite useful if you want to use it on its own but the app has 6 viewing modes which allow you to make the most out of the videos. The modes are:
- 3D VR
- 4 screen
- 6 screen
I reckon most people will be using the Expand mode. This mode allows you to expand the round image to fill up your screen and is similar to how 360 VR videos work. You can click and drag the view in a recorded video to look around while in the app.
Take note that the raw footage from the camera needs to be converted first into VR video before they can be displayed as VR videos on YouTube.
3D VR mode splits the screen into left and right views and is meant to be used with a VR headset. Although called 3D VR, there isn’t any 3D quality to the videos (no perception of depth). What the app does in this mode is use the phone’s accelerometer to allow you to change your viewing angle by turning your head left or right in VR space.
4 screen and 6 screen modes allow you to slice the original video into 4 or 6 screens with different views so you can view all of them simultaneously while cylinder mode superimposes the video onto a 3D cylindrical shape.
When taking photos or videos with the app, one copy of the file is stored on the camera’s micro SD card and another copy is stored on your smartphone. If no memory card is present, then the app saves the files only on the smartphone which is not the best option since WiFi FPV is usually affected by signal interferences and latency lags which will appear in recorded videos.
The C4022 isn’t without its drawbacks. The memory card slot is located at the side of the camera which is a bit hard to reach and accessing it requires you to remove the drone’s canopy first. Image quality is moderately good for a toy-grade camera though don’t expect the sort of quality you’d get from more expensive mirrorless cameras or DSLRs.
With that said, the C4022 is more of a novelty gadget and not really intended for professional use and imaging. It would be great if MJX could release a premium version of the cam equipped with a larger sensor and better optics for professional use.
With the release of the C4022, MJX has covered yet another niche market with few competitors. Though it’s a bit hard to come up with a long list of potential customers, I’m sure there are some buyers who are looking for a lightweight panoramic camera capable of capturing videos with 180 degree angles from the air.
While 360 VR cameras provide an even more immersive experience, they are somewhat expensive and quite heavy to lift for most drones except for bigger professional aerial photography drones. The C4022 is light and doesn’t cost much yet is capable to capture panoramic views most entry-level drone cameras are not capable of capturing. With that said, it stands in a class with very few rivals.