I love my Canon mark 2 and gopro camera but it's absolutely terrible as a quadcopter camera.

The vibrations coupled with the CMOS sensor wrecks the whole image beyond repair.

Nearly all of today's cameras are made with CMOS sensors rather than the classical CCD sensor because CMOS offers better image quality and at lower power consumption... But there's a heavy cost that comes with this.

Rolling shutter.

Even with my stabilization software i can't really correct rolling shutter because the original image is distorted in the first place, thus yielding me warped stabilization that looks like an acid trip rather than beautiful aerial imagery.

CCD sensors do not have the rolling shutter because the image production process is completely different and the below video is a clear demonstration of the difference.



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.

Views: 58575

Comment by Austin Chapman on August 3, 2012 at 1:13pm

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on August 3, 2012 at 1:48pm

I guess it depends on the camera. The Sony NEX cmos sensor has no visible rolling shutter that I have seen so far. And ironically the GoPro which is sold as a sports head-mount camera (quick movements guaranteed) has some of the worst rolling shutter problems I have ever seen.

Comment by YureZzZ on August 3, 2012 at 1:54pm

What is the exact model name of your perfect camera?

Comment by Austin Chapman on August 3, 2012 at 1:58pm

John, You're absolutely right about the gopro having some of the worst rolling shutter issues but the sony NEX still has rolling shutter, it simply does a better job of hiding it.


A few of today's CMOS cameras have rolling shutter prevention and it's clear that the NEX is one of them but as I said in the post there is no rolling shutter on cameras made with the CCD sensor. It doesn't exist at all, for further reading check this out- http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/newsLetter/Comparing-Image-Sensors...

Comment by Sandro Benigno on August 3, 2012 at 2:00pm

"...because CMOS offers better image quality and at lower power consumption."
Lower power consumption, OK. However "better image quality"?... no no I'm sure not.
CMOS is more sensitive but it has lots and lots of noise. So, all the newest camera's have their image-processors trying hard to filter it. The result of this is a big crap. The main point is that CMOS is cheaper than CCD and easiest to produce.
All the really great quality cameras like RED Cam Mamiya Leaf and other professional ones has a big (and expensive) CCD sensor (or sensors). ;)

Comment by Austin Chapman on August 3, 2012 at 2:05pm


I wish all the great cameras had CCD sensors but that's simply not true. The RED epic uses a CMOS sensor and so does the ARRI Alexa. 

Image quality is subjective. There will be people who prefer the look of CCD over CMOS and vice versa. I see pros and cons, there's another great read on image quality of the sensors overhere

Also for the product link you can find it on my original post over at art of the story.

Comment by Dan on August 3, 2012 at 2:19pm

Might I ask what kind of camera mount is that on your quad?

Comment by Flying Monkey on August 3, 2012 at 3:10pm

Get rid of your vibrations and the rolling shutter goes away.  Focus gets tighter too.  At the very least try the "earplug isolation mount" it's amazing how well it works.  The downside is that the camera has to sit on top of a plate with the earplugs glued to it, with as wide (and long) a base as possible to prevent it from swinging around. 

Comment by Quadrocopter on August 3, 2012 at 3:32pm

Most Lumix cameras will support Video out, you can try putting in video mode, and then holding the trash button for 10 + seconds, it can take up to 30seconds.... then Voila video out :-)

Comment by Sandro Benigno on August 3, 2012 at 3:41pm

Austin, oh yeah... you're right. RED cams has CMOS sensors with faster reset. So they suffer on rolling shutter but it is almost irrelevant on the result. I was sure that RED were all CCD... but so, I noticed that I were remembering  of Mamiya backs... not RED cams. Here is the link: http://www.mamiyaleaf.com/products_aptus2.asp


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