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  • There are COTS cameras available that would work. I did a project not long ago using a 75mp imaging sensor. The real issue is cost. The camera was industrial grade, the sensor Grade 1(very few bad pixels), the lens custom built for no vignetting and 95%+ light transmission from 380 to 680nm. Total cost: $43,000

    The only better grade is military/space. The sensor could cost over$10K. There are multi-spectral line scan sensors over $250K. The good stuff is real expensive.

    By the way the Nokia 41mp sensor is a horrible Grade 3 consumer grade sensor(a lot of bad pixels), as are all sensors in cameras you find off the shelf in retail stores. Software can correct the issues only to a point.

    If you are doing image analysis, the cost may be justifiable? Taking pretty pictures, not so much.

  • I don't think you understand the cost and size required for a optical lens to be able to a truly resolve a meaningful 50MP picture.  Just because you put a 50MP sensor behind a piece of glass, does not mean you will actually get 50MP worth of data.  The lens needs to really good, like thousands of dollars good.  Unfortunately, good lenses are also heavy.  In order to resolve to a finer level of detail, chromatic aberration must be nearly eliminated, and this requires using more internal lens elements to bring all wave-lengths to focus correctly.  These additional elements add weight, which require a better housing to hold in proper alignment... which adds more weight.  If $800 is over your budget, just forget about a 50MP camera, it's not going to happen.

  • @Superwalloon recommended you a great camera - RX100 is a great choice, especially if you buy it on DigitalRev.com where the first version is almost $400 cheaper than the III including free shipping. 

    RX100 I

    RX100 II

    RX100 III

    • Thanks but I'm looking for >50MP camera that a UAV with 500 grams payload can carry.

      • It might be difficult to find a typical camera with such specifications - for instance Hasselblad H4D-50MS weights 2450g! Number of megapixels is not everything though.

        The only option I find plausible is to buy the best photo-smartphone, Nokia Lumia 1020, which has a 41MP camera sensor. In this case, the problem that you will have to solve is how to remotely trigger the camera; but with the sort of money you have to buy a >50MP camera, it will not be hard - you can always hire someone to do that.

  • let's say if there's a 50MP or 250MP camera which weighs less than 500 grams for UAV -- what would be its application and significance in aerial imaging? 

    I guess it would be okay, technically speaking, to fly a small fixed-wing or vtol UAV that can carry 500 grams imaging system to an altitude of ~300 meters for natural resource monitoring, urban planning etc. So, if there's such a device wouldn't it be commercially sound?

    Also, such a HD imaging system may be extended to a better all-angles virtual PTZ camera for UAV . When it works with oculus rift its would be a whole new experience isn't it :)

    Superwalloon, thanks for the info! 21MP + Zeiss lens + 263 gram… almost a dream comes true except its $800 price tag. orz

    • The RX100 MK1 and MK2 are still for sale. There's a big price difference between the MK2 and MK3. The MK3 has an electronic view finder which is not interesting if the main activity is aerial shooting. Worth a second look... :-)

  • The Sony RX100, whether the original one, the MKII or MKIII are incredible cameras. If you can afford it, I'd advise you go straight for the RX100 MKIII which has very luminous lens. The sensor is 1 inch, much larger than what you usually find on other pocket cameras. Pictures are just stunning. Reviews of the MKIII are all very positive, with one downside however which is the price. The MKIII is 21 megapixels but definitely on par with many DSLRs from an image quality perspective. For movies, it can shoot in XAVC S with a 50MBps bit rate.

    After taking pictures with a GoPro for a long time, I'm now buying the RX100 MKIII. It's 290gr including battery.

  • No man, you're out of luck. We can go up to 16MP with ease, but after that your equipment is quickly going to get bulky. At such resolutions you need really good quality glass and with higher resolutions like that your storage requirements will go up significantly. The SD card has certain limitations on how quick it can store an image, so if you do this kind of work you're looking at hard disks. The power requirements also go up.

    Even if it were possible, you're unlikely to do anything with it. These resolutions are great if you're at > 300m altitude and want to capture intricate detail. Then you also need to cover larger areas to get anything useful out of it and you'll be hitting the limits of endurance pretty soon with bulkier equipment.

    There isn't any need either. What's important is the GSD on the ground, not the resolution of the capture. So if you fly lower you can just use a simpler camera @ 10MP instead and get the data you want. You'll be taking more pictures to get the same amount of data.

    If you insist on that resolution, get a real plane, put an ultracam in it (250MP) and contract a pilot.

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