by Erick Royer
In the world of FPV (First Person View) flying, image quality is everything. There is nothing worse than straining your eyes to make out objects and landscapes in your field of view. Poor quality video goggles can mean the difference between a fun flight and getting hung up in the trees. There are a lot of good quality goggles on the market, but I recently had the opportunity to get some FPV flying in with the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED video glasses and I was really blown away by how much of a different experience it was compared to other goggles. First off , they are OLED which gives you super detailed and very bright video, even when using a small 480p standard definition video camera. The aspect ratio of the screen is 16×9, which replicates more of a movie theater experience. It took a little getting used to, as most goggles are 4:3 or something close to that, but after a few flights I really liked the wider screen and the clarity is out of this world.
The Cinemizer glasses are designed and sold more for personal video entertainment use than for FPV. They can be connected to an iPhone/iPad, smartphone with HDMI or analog A/V interface, gaming consoles, PCs and more. However it was discovered that they provide an FPV experience like no other.
They come with a built-in rechargeable battery that gives up to six hours of use between charges; long enough to watch a couple of movies on a coast-to-coast flight and more than enough to enjoy a full day of FPV flying. The Cinemizers have an integrated diopter adjustment so eyeglass wearers can adjust them to their prescription, from -5 to +2 diopters in each eye via a setting wheel. I found them to be very comfortable to wear for long durations. They have a soft silicon nose pad and adjustable ear clips so they can be adapted easily to your head. The optional Eye shield allows the glasses to fit tight against your face, keeping out the light, which is a must for FPV flight. A tethered cable attaches to the control unit externally, which contains the audio/video controls and battery. This is a nice feature because it makes the glasses as light as possible. A pair of earbud headphones is incorporated into each side of the glasses and there is a handy integrated holder to store them when you are not using audio. This is a nice feature if you plan to use the Cinemizers for personal video, but they are not required for FPV.
I first saw the Cinemizer glasses at the Weak Signals Toledo Show in Ohio this past April and one of the demos had the glasses connected to a 3D video camera, showing off their capability to support 3D video. This is something that I predict we will see more of in the world of FPV over the next year. There are a lot of companies working on 3D camera and video transmission solutions and eventually it will become a much more affordable option.
IN THE AIR
My test machine consisted of a Hextreme hexcopter outfitted with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Editionthat is mounted on a 2-axis gimbal. I am feeding the GoPro video signal to an Immersion RC 600mW video transmitter. I have an Immersion RC receiver with a Spironet antenna that feeds into the Cinemizer. The video quality was nothing short of amazing; very clear and bright. The one thing that I had to get used to was that the video screen seemed a little farther away than I am accustomed to. The best way to describe it is that if you are used to watching a movie at a theater from the first row, the Cinemizers give you the feeling that you are 10 rows back. This is quickly overcome once you immerse yourself into the FPV experience, especially with how clear and bright the video is.
The optional Eye shield is a must for FPV use as it keeps the light out, allowing your eyes to adjust fully to the video screen. I always suggest sitting down when flying FPV and if you feel yourself getting motion sickness, place your chin to your chest as this helps to stabilize yourself; at least it does for me. I have a place that I fly FPV a lot and it consists of fl ying down a wooded path which can be tight in several places. I quickly noticed that I did not have any depth of field issues with these glasses. The experience was as if I was onboard the copter. Some systems that I have used in the past had very poor depth of field, making it difficult to tell how close you are to objects and to the ground. The experience with the Cinemizers is very life-like and I had no issues with determining distances.
Another great use for the Cinemizer glasses is for the camera operator on a two-person aerial video/photo ship. Many times the camera operator uses an external monitor which works well, but in bright conditions or when getting the shot is ultracritical, the Cinemizers really allow the operator to immerse him/herself into exactly what is being shot.
THE LAST WORD
The Zeiss Cinemizers are not the least expensive video goggle system on the market, but when you consider that the quality is unlike any other system currently out there and combine that with the fact that they can easily double as a personal video system, they now become an excellent value. Carl Zeiss is known for having the best optical lenses in the world and after several weeks of using with the Cinemizer glasses, I can see that the same quality has been put into these as well.
Edited for the web by Jon Hull