using gopro for survey?

Has anyone tried GoPro to do aerial survey for farms? Given GoPro have wide angle camera of 170 degrees, do you think it would be matter of concern when generating orthomosaics?

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  • I use the GoPro for surveys all the time, it's just so convenient due to weight and having the gimbal to stabilize the pictures. Buy PTLens for $20 or so, it corrects the fisheye distortion in a batch process (meaning that you don't have to correct one picture at a time). Then you can get the pictures geotagged for stitching.

    • Eric, what process and software are you using to geotag GoPro images?

    • I use geosetter after having a hard time w/ MP  A GoPro works fine, Pix4D corrects the fish eye.  If you have photoshop, you can change the properties to 35mm and geotag in Lightroom.  Agisoft isn't very user friendly, the Pix4D is the way to go.  There are settings in the new mapper version that aren't supported.  The best way to do it is set it on 12MP & I use 1FPS.  Takes a ton of data, be prepared to clog your computer.  

      The good thing about the fish eye is you have to fly 500' from roads, people etc.  It still captures it if you fly it high enough, and it will come out in the final mapping.  

    • Heller, that´s interesting, could you comment which of the Pix4D services are you using, and how much it costs? TIA!

    • On my laptop, I have the Pix4D mapper that was around $250 a year for a subscription.  They just updated it & limited the GoPro settings to ONLY 12MP or 4K video, otherwise not supported.  That just happened last week in the update.  

      The full version is around $350 a month or $8k with the full license.  I did see something through 3DR's website for a full version for $5K.  

      What you want to know is what file formats a client wants.

      My husband owns an engineering firm, that's how I got started doing this.  

      We're buying the full version with a designated computer at the office for this.  That will support all the formats.  It looks like Pix4D is working with DJI to finally get an all inclusive system going.  It's in Beta (what isn't?).  SenseFly sells the full license w/ they're drone as well.  

    • Thanks Eric, I am planning to use pix4D for processing and looks like they autocorrect fisheye problem for gopro cameras

  • I have experience with AgiSoft Photoscan, and the GoPro. Photoscan has a lens calibration procedure to correct for the fish-eye lens and it works pretty good. I think you need the pro version of Photoscan though. 

    • Pix4D also does this as well and i think most mapping services will eventually come around to including this feature.

  • You can find the characterized lens (based on different cameras/manufactures) online or you can generate a model of it yourself by running a simple lens calibration. What this entails (in the most basic sense) is taking many pictures of a checker-board image (on a large-screen/high resolution image) and using Agisoft Photoscan or another image-processing tool to output the lens characteristics. Then once you have the aerial survey data you can process them WITH the lens calibration which should significantly improve your orthomosaics.

    Something I should add is that the Go-Pro camera may not provide geo-referenced images with the altitude unless it is connected to the flight controller and it tags the images. I'm looking into seeing how to do this using a script to add the EXIF data to the imagery.

  • I used to have the original fisheye lens but it became cost effective enough to change the lens out to a non-fisheye lens - it cost $135 and was an easy changeout. Explaination below!

    The fisheye lens has too much distortion at the edges to be much good using stitching. I stopped using the stitching because of it. After I swapped out the lens, I have simple missions for my 3DR to fly up to a specified height for a specific field. Each field is different so a different height may need to be entered. The height is high enough to get a good picture of the whole field. I created a GPS location for each field as well so that all of the photos that I create from the video are the same and can be manually overlay-ed. Because I want to see things as the 3DR is climbing, I use video then simply leave the 3DR locked at the GPS location for 10 second before running off to the next field or coming back to RTL. This seems to work best and I don't have the cost of stitching anymore. 

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