So I set out on a quest to find the best quadcopter camera on a budget.
The first thing i did was look for a camera that records 1080hd at 60fps with a CCD sensor.
This was the tricky part, most cameras today are made with CMOS sensors... Long story short, CCD sensors don't have rolling shutter at all. Up until now there hasn't been a decently priced/sized camera made with CCD sensor/1080 60fps
I found one that offered 1080p at 30fps with the glorious CCD sensor but not just that...
It is orange.
It is dustproof.
It is shockproof.
It has a 24mm leica lens.
It is waterproof up to 20 feet.
It has a gps built in so it records where it goes.
It has a barometer in it so it will also record how high it goes.
And the punchline?
It costs $265.
The below video was shot over the course of 4 days and entirely with this camera. I actually messed up several potentially great flights because I was still experimenting with the different settings.
The only flight I had with the below optimized setting was the long shot of the yellow house.
My optimized setting- Turn autofocus in video mode off, be sure to focus on one far away object before recording... Set to scene mode, and then click on the sunset present.
If using a Mac for the upload, don't format the SD card- simply insert it in the computer and upload via final cut pro/imovie/image browser... if you copied the files over and formatted the card you can still extract the files by showing the package contents of the large avcd file and then you'll find the .mts movie file hidden away in one of the files... I used iVI for the conversion. It's $3.99
I only had to convert the files because I forgot to upload directly from the SD rather than copying the files.
The other neat features of this camera?
Panorama mode. Below is one example I snapped earlier today.
Timelaspe mode. Especially good for aerial photography.
Support for 64gb SD cards. I used my 64gb Sandisk, it took forever to fill up the card.
Now onto the bad news:
This doesn't have live out while recording. There is a supplied AV cable but as of right now the screen goes black when recording. This isn't a big deal for most people but for me I would have loved to use it as my FPV camera as well... the canon DSLR line has this ability to do this but unfortunately am supplied with harsh price tags and rolling shutter. So we'll have to wait a little longer for a new camera or a hack.
There's a ugly sensor flare when exposed directly into the sunlight. You can see the purple line in the very last shot when the sun comes into the shot. It's because of the CCD sensor and how it handles light. At the time of this writing there isn't really a solution. It's just part of the cost for ultra stabilization but to put things in perspective... I would get about 10 usable seconds on a regular flight on my 5d mark 2 and with this camera I get at
least 1 minute of usable footage.
Also it claims to have 60i 1080p but I can't find the setting anywhere so if anyone knows about this please notify me but 30fps was good enough to stabilize with the CCD sensor. The original footage looked pretty shaky but since there's no rolling shutter final cut X was able to stabilize everything almost perfectly.
Finally a number of people report it not being truly waterproof... I have used it in the water a few times now and had no issues but I would suggest buying a different camera if looking to use underwater on a regular basis.
I feel like I've only touched on the iceberg of what's possible with this cheap camera.
It can't be a coincidence that this has 'quad' in its name.
I never thought I'd love a point and shoot.
My grade: A-
Pros: CCD sensor allow for crisp stabilization, 24mm leica is perfect for action sports, shockproof, gps, barometer, 1080p 30 fps, timelaspe, panorama mode, and the list goes on.
Cons: No live out during recording, 60fps is no where to be found, horrible sensor flares when exposed directly at sunlight, and the case might not be that waterproof according to some reviews.