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03-19-2014, 05:42 PM   #1
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Drone / UAV videography

Hey everyone! I am looking to expand my skills to be able to fly and record scenes from the air. If anyone knows about this, please feel free to comment.

Major things I'm looking in a copter

-GPS (ability to load coordinates and follow a given route)
-3 axis gimbal to steady the camera
-ability to pan and tilt camera fov
-Enough power to lift my K5 with Sigma 10-20 f/4 (total weight:1420g (3.1lbs))
-operating time of at least 5min.
-Under $2k

Minor things:
-ability to view cameras fov in real time
-contracting legs
-really fast (25mph)

Where do I start my research? It seems every website is full of product placement and I can't get straight answers.


Last edited by Scootatheschool1990; 03-19-2014 at 06:31 PM.
03-19-2014, 05:50 PM   #2
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Sounds like fun and something I have been interested in as well. Seems to be strictly illegal in the USA however from what I have read. Which is a shame as the potential for this is very large. I guess potential for misuse would be large as well though.
03-19-2014, 06:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Seems to be strictly illegal in the USA however from what I have read.
Maybe not. An US court decided against FAA drone policy.

Judge strikes down small drones ban - Kevin Robillard - POLITICO.com

QuoteQuote:
The judge’s decision could open up the skies below 400 feet to farmers, photographers and entrepreneurs who have been battling the FAA over the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles.
03-19-2014, 06:07 PM   #4
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DJI Phantom Vision 2.

It's all you need.

The bigger optacopters to lift DSLR's are silly money and look tricky.

03-19-2014, 06:12 PM   #5
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Or maybe nobody really knows: Washington Nationals face FAA fine for using drone to take promo pictures | Ars Technica and FAA Halts Man’s Drone Photography Business Over Regulations | Video | TheBlaze.com

FAA says you cannot do this, but have not published rules. So court says FAA cannot regulate something for which they have no rules. From what I've read as long as you are not charging (making it a commercial enterprise) then FAA will not bother you. But lots of reports of real estate agents and home inspectors getting warned.

Here is some information on what works: So You Want to Shoot Aerial Photography Using Drones? – News Watch
03-19-2014, 06:31 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parry Quote
DJI Phantom Vision 2.

It's all you need.

The bigger optacopters to lift DSLR's are silly money and look tricky.
I would need more than a minute of flying time. The Phantom is barly able to hold a t2i and 50mm.
03-19-2014, 06:36 PM   #7
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The camera on the vision 2 is superb. You don't need to lift a DSLR unto the sky.

A friend has one. Even has the adobe lens profiles for it.
03-19-2014, 06:48 PM   #8
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Check this thread, using a Q with the DJI Phantom. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/147-pentax-mirrorless-cameras/240457-aeri...i-phantom.html

03-19-2014, 07:43 PM - 1 Like   #9
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As an engineer over the last 40 years, all I can really say that in a past life I have had some experience in this area. So, let's divide this problem into is parts and address each part, and see what you should be looking for, based on the requirements that you have laid out so far....

Let's divide the problem initially into three separate areas - the platform / vehicle and the camera system, along with a pointing capability (getting the camera pointed in the right direction, both azimuth and elevation). Also, I'll keep it pretty simple.

Platform -
  • Since you want to get the platform up into the air, fly it to some point in the air (called a station or way point), probably have it hover while you do some photography, then return to you - landing gently. So, do you want to manually have to "fly" it - take off, fly to where you want it to go, and then have to "fly" to hover, and then to fly it back and land. Think of the R/C craft (either planes or helos) - that is a lot of work and its going to take a lot to both fly it and take images at the same time. The bottom line is that there are two types of systems - the R/C where you actually fly it, or the ones (via autonomous flight) where you load up a flight plan with some way points - point 1 where you currently are, point 2, 200 yards out and 500 feet up - hover there until commanded to proceed, and then return to point 1. Also, I'm thinking that you are thinking of a copter 4, 6 or 8 motors, etc. with an autonomous flight controls with GPS.
Pointing -
  • This is going to require some sort of gimble arrangement, especially for the elevation - so as to point down in a controlled manner. Azimuth may be able to be taken care of by having the platform rotate on station - or better yet taken care of by the pointing system, so the "target" is lined up and framed for the camera. This will probably be a WiFi control also that will down link to a laptop/netbook that you will probably be controlling the camera from.
Camera -
  • As much as I like Pentax for a lot of reasons, I don't think that this is going to be the most appropriate camera for this application. I could be wrong, but here is my thinking. The ability to view cameras in real time, I would not consider this as minor. This ability, along with size and weight are some principal requirements. In order to view (control) the camera's image, you are going to need a camera with some wireless capability. Viewing the image is one thing - a WiFi SD card will do that for you. However, to zoom in and command it to take an image, you are going to need a card similar to the Pentax FluCard - i.e. tethering ability. Right now that is only available on the K3. The K cameras are fairly large and heavy. The larger and heavier the payload the larger and heavier and more expensive the platform - the copter. Other than size and weight the K3 has everything - via the FluCard - and I don't know about the FluCard's range, which draws from the K3's battery. You will have all the controls available other than zoom, so you are going to have to pick your focal length prior to take off. Metering, shutter, ISO and aperture should be controllable via the FluCard. But the pointing system would need to support it, and that would be a problem, in terms of stabilizing the platform with a large camera and lens slung under it, moving around a lot (a moving center of gravity is not good here). A slightly smaller camera will probably work better. A smaller sensor will give you better depth of field - and that would bring up tethering / WiFi capabilities again. Built in body stabilization would certainly help. I don't think that having inter-changeable lenses body is really an option at this point. Smaller and more specialized is where the industry currently is at.
Here is a recent article on the industry highlighting one company, along with some additional links to various other websites. The article indicates a reasonable copter starts in the $600 range, so your budget appears to be reasonable on the lower end. However, this needs to be a system, not just a copter or camera, there is all the other items that needs to be considered too.I have no specific knowledge in any of these companies or products. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to put the parts together. I am thinking that a platform with a pointing capability is one package - and they would certainly have camera suggestions.

Hope that helps...


Last edited by interested_observer; 03-19-2014 at 07:51 PM.
03-19-2014, 07:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parry Quote
The camera on the vision 2 is superb. You don't need to lift a DSLR unto the sky.

A friend has one. Even has the adobe lens profiles for it.
What? Are you meaning the GoPro Hero 3? -a fisheye lens? I need a DSLR on mine.

---------- Post added 03-19-14 at 06:49 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
As an engineer over the last 40 years, all I can really say that in a past life I have had some experience in this area. So, let's divide this problem into is parts and address each part, and see what you should be looking for, based on the requirements that you have laid out so far....

Let's divide the problem initially into three separate areas - the platform / vehicle and the camera system, along with a pointing capability (getting the camera pointed in the right direction, both azimuth and elevation). Also, I'll keep it pretty simple.

Platform -
  • Since you want to get the platform up into the air, fly it to some point in the air (called a station or way point), probably have it hover while you do some photography, then return to you - landing gently. So, do you want to manually have to "fly" it - take off, fly to where you want it to go, and then have to "fly" to hover, and then to fly it back and land. Think of the R/C craft (either planes or helos) - that is a lot of work and its going to take a lot to both fly it and take images at the same time. The bottom line is that there are two types of systems - the R/C where you actually fly it, or the ones (via autonomous flight) where you load up a flight plan with some way points - point 1 where you currently are, point 2, 200 yards out and 500 feet up - hover there until commanded to proceed, and then return to point 1. Also, I'm thinking that you are thinking of a copter 4, 6 or 8 motors, etc. with an autonomous flight controls with GPS.
Pointing -
  • This is going to require some sort of gimble arrangement, especially for the elevation - so as to point down in a controlled manner. Azimuth may be able to be taken care of by having the platform rotate on station - or better yet taken care of by the pointing system, so the "target" is lined up and framed for the camera. This will probably be a WiFi control also that will down link to a laptop/netbook that you will probably be controlling the camera from.
Camera -
  • As much as I like Pentax for a lot of reasons, I don't think that this is going to be the most appropriate camera for this application. I could be wrong, but here is my thinking. The ability to view cameras in real time, I would not consider this as minor. This ability, along with size and weight are some principal requirements. In order to view (control) the camera's image, you are going to need a camera with some wireless capability. Viewing the image is one thing - a WiFi SD card will do that for you. However, to zoom in and command it to take an image, you are going to need a card similar to the Pentax FluCard - i.e. tethering ability. Right now that is only available on the K3. The K cameras are fairly large and heavy. The larger and heavier the payload the larger and heavier and more expensive the platform - the copter. Other than size and weight the K3 has everything - via the FluCard - and I don't know about the FluCard's range, which draws from the K3's battery. You will have all the controls available other than zoom, so you are going to have to pick your focal length prior to take off. Metering, shutter, ISO and aperture should be controllable via the FluCard. A slightly smaller camera will probably work better. A smaller sensor will give you better depth of field - and that would bring up tethering / WiFi capabilities again. Built in body stabilization would certainly help. I don't think that having inter-changeable lenses body is really an option at this point. Smaller and more specialized is where the industry currently is at.
Here is a recent article on the industry highlighting one company, along with some additional links to various other websites. The article indicates a reasonable copter starts in the $600 range, so your budget appears to be reasonable on the lower end. However, this needs to be a system, not just a copter or camera, there is all the other items that needs to be considered too.I have no specific knowledge in any of these companies or products. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to put the parts together. I am thinking that a platform with a pointing capability is one package - and they would certainly have camera suggestions.

Hope that helps...

Yes. I'm going to read this and get back to you.
03-19-2014, 10:13 PM   #11
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There is a fairly active helicopter drone group in the Portland area who get press every once in awhile. You might try a local RC hobby shop to see where they meet.


Steve
03-19-2014, 10:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
There is a fairly active helicopter drone group in the Portland area who get press every once in awhile. You might try a local RC hobby shop to see where they meet.


Steve
Yeah I met those guys. Super cool guys. I will go into my local hobby shop. thanks
03-20-2014, 12:03 AM   #13
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DJI Vision 2 uses a superior camera to the GP3 Black. You can also flatten the image with the Adobe lens profile.

It takes better video than your K-5.

I can see you incurring a lot of unnecessary expense here, being disappointed and picking up bits of K-5 around a half mile radius.
03-20-2014, 06:00 PM   #14
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I have been in a spiral of replacements from B&H with my Phantom 2 Vision - I love the out of the box but to say the camera is great is a huge overstatement. If you get a good model (I have sent 3 about to send 4th back). Have seen a ton of "good" / "great" shots with the P2V and so continue to send mine back to get a good one. B&H has been beyond GREAT with me.

I should have thrown in the towel and got the P2 with a gimbal and got a GoPro (seen way more good photos from them) but the out of the box options (FPV)for $1200 keep me trying.

If I would a big spender I would skip it all and get a big hex and add the K5 but I am not.

Here are some shots from latest unit I am not thrilled with. Phantom 2 Vision Camera issue - a set on Flickr as you see the circled areas to me are the only spots in focus. I never expected a DSLR quality photo and again have seen a ton of good shots from others with good focus.

Video is good I think but VERY SHAKY. If you want smooth you need a gimbal.

I'll keep you all posted if interested.
03-20-2014, 10:56 PM   #15
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I just read the review that Adam just posted for the FluCard. The WiFi Wireless Range is up to 7.5m (approx.). That essentially excludes using any of the Pentax camera due to the inability to tether. You are also going to have to have a reliable communications system that is going to need to be more capable than WiFi - which is UHF/VHF in order to host the bandwidth, range and reliability. Canon has a very capable tethering capability, and I would expect that their cameras have been fully integrated into the larger systems.

If you go the SLR path, you have one more selection to make - Lenses, zoom or prime (and they are going to need to be AF). If you go zoom you will need some external control to physically zoom the lens. That will need to be integrated into the pointing system.
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