Railfan HQ

Virtual RailfanVirtual Railfan


Overall Rating: A-

Video Quality: B+

Audio Quality: B-

Number of Cams: A+

Cost: B

Virtual Railfan (VR) is one of the most popular railcam providers, providing many free cameras on Youtube, and a pay service for access to all of their cameras on both their website and Youtube. Numbers of free cams vary due to camera sponsorships. In May 2023 there are 46 free cam locations on Youtube. Their website lists 56 locations with cams, although the total number of cams is higher, as many of these locations have multiple cameras.

Video Quality: Virtual Railfan broadcasts at a maximum resolution of 1080P. Both on their website and on Youtube, the videos stream smoothly.  My video ratings are:

A - Above 1080P

B - 1080P

C - 720P

D - 480P or less


If it streams smoothly, it will be rated with a +. If it streams choppy, a -. Video quality for Virtual Railfan is rated B+


Audio Quality: The sound from the VR cams is adequate. Sound volume from camera to camera varies, so whenDynamic Range La Plata watching multiple cams, it may be necessary to adjust the volume of each camera. There is some depth to the sound. The rumbling of the bass sound when an engine passes is noticible, but not as deep and full as some other camera providers. When a loud fast train passes, such as at La Plata, the sound overwhelms the microphone's capacity. The sound gets muddy and harsh as it gets loud. Nearest analogy I can think of...it's like pouring a gallon of water into an 8 ounce cup. You can hear what's going on, but its a mess. This phenomena is apparent for cameras close to the tracks. The further away the camera, the less overwhelmed the microphone is. For comparison, La Plata's dynamic range tests at 7 (see picture at right), whereas Railstream tests at 13.


Multicam Viewing: Thru their website you can create a multicam view, with up to 9 cameras. If you are viewing thru Youtube on a computer, Viewsync can be used to create multicam views.


Camera Locations: Virtual Railfan is the leader when it comes to the number of cameras available to viewers in the US. As of May 2023, there are 46 free cam locations appearing on Youtube, with many more available if you subscribe to their service.


Cost: The cost for subscribing to Virtual Railfan's service is $16.99 - $21.99 thru their website, and $24.99 for VRF Super Fan level on Youtube. Lesser Youtube levels are available. Of the three pay railcam services, VR is the most expensive...but they do provide the most free cams of any service. Although the cost is more than other pay providers, it is still a good value.


Social Media: Virtual Railfan has a business page on Facebook, and their are two groups that members can join. Virtual Railfan Gallery is for people to post pictures taken from VR cameras, and Virtual Railfan Lounge is for pictures from non-VR sources