If your UAV is big enough to carry a DLSR, here's a great way to control the lens. From Hackaday:

[Vladimir] built an Arduino-based pass-through ring (translated) which intercepts automatic lens controls. It’s meant for use with the Canon EOS lenses which have their own electronics allowing control of things like focus and zoom.

It seems like part of the motivation here was to uses the lenses with other brands of cameras. But [Vladimir] does also talk about the possibility of improving on some of the sensors that don’t perform well in certain climate conditions (think of how crystal oscillators will drift as temperature changes).

The machine translation is a bit rough to follow, but it seems the adapter ring still uses the settings sent in from the camera but has the Arduino clone to translate them into a format that the lens is expecting. In addition to this there is a set of buttons on that small PCB beside the lens which allow for fine tuning the aperture.

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Comment by Jack Crossfire on February 24, 2012 at 5:34pm

Why he spent so much energy using a Sony battery & a Sony camera instead of a bare image sensor & a Lipo is a great mystery of human nature.  Of course, we're all slaves to human nature & even though I once had a fully functional EF lens mount from a broken camera, some facet said it wasn't worth keeping & the idea of someone eventually reverse engineering the EF protocol just never seemed possible.

Comment by Andrew Radford on February 25, 2012 at 1:43am

Probably because this is now a usable(-ish) portable camera. 

EF reverse engineering has been around for years, Tokina, Sigma etc all have done it. 

This is pretty cool though, there is a massive array of EF lenses out there!

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on February 25, 2012 at 7:39am

@Jack "instead of a bare image sensor & a Lipo'

The explanation is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_lens, section chromatic aberration. If it would be that easy, I would just drill a diffraction hole in the bottom of the fuselage.

The problem is, that the camera setup mentioned has maybe 20cm vertical length (plus protection, cover and spacing!) and is useless for NADIR photos in anything smaller than 30kg AUW, without a fuselage larger than human head (at least mine).

Controlling the zoom is also worthless without very powerful stabilised head (you would hit anything except the target). There is also no point flying high with huge zoom, as you would get lots of air between you and the target.

Controlling focus is almost pointless as everything between 200 and 300m is practically infinity, also you cannot reduce focus depth to less than 30m because depending on smallest tilt angle you would be out of focus every 0.2s of flight, leading to random focusing.

Comment by Sandro Benigno on February 25, 2012 at 8:29am

"Canon EOS lenses which have their own electronics allowing control of things like focus and zoom."
@Chris, I'm not sure about the "electric zooming". Usually, EOS lenses has no electric zooming. This kind of hacking would need an external servo with a timing belt. Electric zooming is a resource restricted to compact ones (Power-Shots).


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