It’s really strange that there’s been so much development in all other aspects of UAV Mapping, except one – the camera!

Currently most of us are using the Canon S100-120 or Sony Nex7 etc, running custom firmware or tricky wiring and triggers to fire the shutter in flight.

So over the years I’ve been working on a wish list of what my perfect UAV mapping camera would be like and decided to post it here, maybe someone knows of such a beast somewhere or can add to the wishlist and perhaps a manufacturer can build one for us!

For NDVI I’m using Tertracam’s great cameras, which are perfect for UAVs, so most of these points already exist for NDVI cameras.

  • A light case, perhaps plastic
  • A fixed 9mm lens, no zoom
  • No flash
  • No LCD
  • Mounting holes
  • Optional battery (less wires) or external power (lower weight)
  • A built in intervalometer
  • An external GPS unit
  • A very large optical sensor – 1” or more for 20-30M pixels
  • A way to trigger the shutter externally (from APM) for those that prefer this method
  • 1/2000 sec shutter at a low F stop
  • Permanent infinity focus
  • Replacement parts – i.e. lens, board, case in case of “intendents”
  • Sync on-board clock with GPS

Is there such a thing? Do you have any more to add to the wish list? Can somebody build this for us please?

Views: 6951

Comment by Tom on April 18, 2016 at 1:37am

have you thought of 2 stripped xiaomi yi with a 4.35 no fisheye lens. then angle align them to get a 75% sidelap of these 2? settings could all be done with script, yes a diy solution but i guess it could be valid.

Comment by bijoux-de-lithotherapie on April 18, 2016 at 1:42am

It's a good list for me...I would like to have the same camera video !: )

Comment by Hein du Plessis on April 18, 2016 at 2:06am

@Guy I know about the QX1, but as you mention it seems a very complicated way to implement a simple requirement for us. Let alone expensive.

@Tom Yes but those sensors can't really be used for high resolution mapping - they simply can't come close to what a 1" CCD can offer - meaning you'll have to fly 4 or more times longer even with 2 cameras.

@Bijoux - perhaps the Garmin Virb?

Comment by davidbuzz on April 18, 2016 at 3:28am

my extra wishes:

 * global shutter ( no more rolling shutter when operating without a gimbal )

 * no battery required - just connect it to the systems power with deans or XT60 etc.
 * live image preview of pics via Wifi to a cellphone or laptop on the ground, which works in all modes ( like intervalometer mode), and does not hang-up the system if the wifi goes out of range temporarily.  Use for pre-flight validation that everything's working right, and in-flight validation of camera etc by doing a pilot fly-over and connecting to the camera wifi / app while it's overhead.
  * doesn't cost thousands.  ( under $500 would be great, thanks )

Comment by Tommy Larsen on April 18, 2016 at 4:04am

I would like an s-bus input for easier camera control and settings :)

Comment by Hein du Plessis on April 18, 2016 at 4:22am

@Davidbuzz - excellent points - I did have optional battery (sometimes nice not to have to worry about extra power leads etc). Video output on analog would be good, too! Then one can switch to the camera in flight to see if it's working properly - would be great to have a little OSD like the gopro.

Not a fan of the wifi bit though - adds cost, nukes 2.4ghz.

Tommy - great to have camera control, but how would you encode the SBUS from APM or your receiver?

Comment by Tommy Larsen on April 18, 2016 at 4:31am

There is a special update for APM to use s-bus on input 1

Comment by Cala on April 18, 2016 at 7:02am

Interchangeable different sizes lens in mm and with interchangeable filters capability 

Comment by Hein du Plessis on April 18, 2016 at 12:16pm

Good one.

Comment by Chris Jackson on April 19, 2016 at 6:07am

Feedback to the flight controller via pwm or whatever of when the actual image was taken


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