3689632680?profile=originalThis camera may be able to improve the quality of shots taken from drones for those jobs where you need the ultimate in precision and texture quality ( I think? ). This is, according to the manufacturer, a camera with smartphone capabilities. It has a Leica Lens, 1" sensor and takes 20MP photos and will go for $1,000 in the US. It weighs 206g, so slightly more than a Canon. I think the benefit is that it doesn't have a zoom lens anymore, so it should be easier to keep the focus.

What remains is to figure out how well the battery lasts and how quickly it can snap pictures and maintain the correct exposure when you fly over land with different reflectivity. This thing having android, I see great opportunities to make it simpler to snap pics, using even for example the 3G connection so you can control it from the ground station. Of course, GPS should be included already.

If you're at CES, give us some feedback on your experiences with the phone when it comes to snapping speeds and exposure compensation :)

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  • Sounds like a reasonable sensor size, but the weight without lens is already 216g. NFC could also significantly increase interference on-board and interfere with other receivers.

  • If I ever go this route I would also be switching to a UHV transmitter,
    assuming there was going to be a need for wifi connectivity.

    The nice thing about the QX1 is that it has the Near Field Communication
    chip on board that I assume could be used for triggering.


  • Any thoughts on using WiFi with camera when using 2.4Ghz RX/TX for copter? WiFi is 2.4 Ghz. . .

  • @Gerard I hear you. For me raw is necessary because I want to map with the sun close to the
    horizon. This means deep shadows and high highlights especially depending on the terrain.

    I watched a video on the CM1 and it's impressive tool to have in your hand or back pocket.
    I didn't realize it was a phone till I saw the video. That alone means you could have remote
    control over it via cellular network, assuming there will be a SDK available to control the camera

    Take a look at the Sony QX1 i mentioned earlier.
    APS-C sized sensor (larger than 1")
    NO LCD screen
    Wifi connectivity
    SDK for remote camera control

  • @Azhar: It depends a lot on the size of the lens too. On some platforms you do need 1/800 shutter speed, so your aperture and ISO is under pressure. This is why it's best to shoot at noon to reduce both shadows and maximize light intensity. On my Canon, I use shutter priority and the script calculates iso, the camera manages aperture. Sensefly seems to turn off the motor to reduce the impact of vibrations, which is the reason why the high shutter speed is needed. On quads though you can't do that :).

    To reduce vibrations, one of the best ways is to use a kitchen sponge, apparently. Then it's possible to reduce shutter speed and increase aperture.

    On Canon's, I haven't really seen a lot of improvement due to aperture settings. It's also because of the distance of the objects. When objects are > 20m away, you can set focus to infinite on any aperture settings and you won't have much DOF in those cases. So I fly with fixed focus too (reduced snapping time), since it's all > 20m.

    There was one camera that was disastrous for me, the Canon A3400. The center was in focus, the corners were completely fuzzy.

  • @Oscar:

    1. Yes, sensor size is also very important. Many people ignore this. Cambridge in colour explains this really well and also has other bits of tech info about photography: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-si...

    2. RAW or JPEG for me is almost irrelevant, except that for jpeg it's not just the encoding, but also sharpening or other photo tricks that are applied prior to saving the data. Obviously, when saving in RAW exposure compensation and white balance are much easier to get right, but on many cameras it takes 4-5x as long to save RAW images vs. JPEG (Canon at least).

    3. When zoomed in, you're also decreasing FOV and increasing necessary flight time. So although you get more distortion and out of focus areas, I leave this at 10-20% zoom to reduce total time.

    4. with a full battery, you can play a cellphone game for probably 40-50 minutes, so I'd expect the battery to last quite well even if the screen is on (less chip processing as there's no game running). If this does pose a problem, it's really easy to just hook up a 5v source for the battery to recharge on the USB port, probably easier than P&S cams.

    Regarding smart sensors, flying platforms are getting more reliable, but it's still relatively cumbersome to just slap a sensor on it. What we need are smart sensors that are easier to interface with from uav control equipment and have less features for hands-on P&S shooting (no LCD, fixed zoom lens, etc), so the cam is lighter and simpler and more capable regarding its main function. So remove the features for direct user control and insert features for remote control and hardware interfacing.

    I've seen hacks for cams, but so far no projects that build a decent camera from the ground up, where you can choose sensor size, etc. Do you think that C/CS mounts are suitable enough for the quality we require?  Those are typically fixed lenses and have a reasonable amount of glass in them and should be easy to mount on a PCB.

  • Just a thought... Focus distance of minimum and maximum distance of an object that is in focus (a.k.a depth of field)  is determined by aperture or f-stop. The higher the number of f the more chance things on the edge is going to be in focus. I wonder what f-stop do people usually use for surveying. I am guessing f/11 is good whenever possible.

    I don't really do mapping much, but if one is to set the camera on aperture-priority.. and set it to f/11 (or more).. we just need to adjust the ISO so that the minimum shutter is above 1/250 to compensate the movement of the airplane. The automatic shutter speed is used to compensate for changes in lighting condition.

    I've met several people doing mapping that sets the camera in auto and complaining about the result. When I asked about what was their aperture and/or shutter settings they simply said "i dont know". Which is kinda sad.

  • @DG I can vouch for what Gerard is saying.
    I did a test run with my Iris and the canon S100 this afternoon.
    I plan on posting a full write up on the items I used to make
    this mapping platform possible.

    GoPro optics can be corrected with a profile setting in post production.
    The biggest downside to using a gopro is that you have no control over
    shutter speed. I've tested down to a 1/400th on my set up with good success.


  • @Gerard I work as a commercial photographer and I'm starting to experiment with a mapping platform.
    For now I'm using the Canon S100 on a 3dr Iris. 

    I would say 3 things make a big difference for me when I'm considering a camera.
    I would add a 4th when it comes to putting a camera in the air.

    1. sensor size to pixel count (this can be a good indicator for performance and dynamic range)
    2. RAW image format (its a big chunk of workflow post processing and well worth it)
    3. lens options (most lenses are optimized to perform best stopped halfway through total range)
    4. smart capability (a well supported API with documentation can go along way)

    I know little about the CM1, the coolest thing this camera has going is the fixed lens and android OS.
    I'd be weary of battery life especially if the screen can't be shut off. 

    Have you considered the sony QX1
    I'm watching sony closely because they keep interrupting the market.

  • I was always hopeful for my canon sx230, but the OIS was making the video unwatchable. I'd love to know if and how anyone has modded the camera to have a fixed, unmovable sensor.

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