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Old Jan 04, 2014, 07:33 PM
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Need method for controlling shutter remotely

Here's my setup:
Phantom 2 with no Zenmuse, wanting to add a high quality and very light weight P&S such as the Sony RX100 or Lumix DMC-GM1. Problem is, I have no way of tripping the shutter since I'm using the DJI transmitter and therefore do not have any extra switches (no, changing transmitters is not an option). I've read somewhere (should have bookmarked it) that there is a small hand held device which looks like a key fob that will control one or two servos that can be stuck right to ones transmitter.

Anyone know where I could find that again or perhaps have another solution for remotely controlling a P&S camera at distance? I would be flying up to 2000' on occasion so the range is an issue.

Also, (as if I'm not asking too much already), I would like to adjust the tilt of the camera without necessarily using a standard brushless gimbal (stability is not a big issue in this case).
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Old Jan 04, 2014, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by QuietRiot View Post
Problem is, I have no way of tripping the shutter since I'm using the DJI transmitter and therefore do not have any extra switches (no, changing transmitters is not an option). I've read somewhere (should have bookmarked it) that there is a small hand held device which looks like a key fob that will control one or two servos that can be stuck right to ones transmitter.
I don't have a direct solution to your situation --- but I would assume WiFi control of a digital camera will soon be standard for the industry. Given that we are now in the "Age of Selfies" and smartphones --- seems inevitable that every DSLR camera's menu of features will be controlled with an iOS or Android app.

CamRanger Remote DSLR Controller: Product Review: Adorama Photography TV (6 min 55 sec)
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Old Jan 04, 2014, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Mitchie 88 View Post
I don't have a direct solution to your situation --- but I would assume WiFi control of a digital camera will soon be standard for the industry. Given that we are now in the "Age of Selfies" and smartphones --- seems inevitable that every camera's menu of features will be controlled with an iOS or Android app.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyLXUhPWKto
Just watched a Phantom fly-away video into the ocean (filmed in Greenland) due to trying to control his Sony RX100 II via the camera's wifi/app setup.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 12:02 AM
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Just watched a Phantom fly-away video into the ocean (filmed in Greenland) due to trying to control his Sony RX100 II via the camera's wifi/app setup.
Ouch !!

There's still a lot of kinks to work out with WiFi control apps --- but sure beats adding a bunch of servos to control separate features on an aerial camera Of course, with range out to 2000' then WiFi control is probably not going to work for you (even with a good WiFi extender).
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 03:37 AM
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2.4GHz systems don't play nicely with other 2.4GHz systems.

My first experience with this was using the WiFi interface to a Gopro Hero3 on an RC airplane. As soon as I turned WiFi on, the control surfaces all started jittering. DOH!

This is why I use a different band for my video downlink. WiFi control apps are neat and all, but while everyone is trying to play on 2.4GHz there will be collisions.

As far as controlling the camera and mount goes, you could always add a completely separate system and use a second person to control the camera and mount while you fly the aircraft. Given the number of RC systems out there, you should be able to pick something that won't collide with your DJI system.

I've used a keyfob system that worked on 433MHz, but it wouldn't have nearly the range you're looking for. I've also used a Hahnel Inspire, which plugs into a DSLR rather than a compact camera. But it's also range-limited, and operates on (you guessed it...) 2.4 GHz! So it would collide with your DJI system as well.

No easy answers that I've found.

Tom
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Mitchie 88 View Post
I don't have a direct solution to your situation --- but I would assume WiFi control of a digital camera will soon be standard for the industry. Given that we are now in the "Age of Selfies" and smartphones --- seems inevitable that every DSLR camera's menu of features will be controlled with an iOS or Android app.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyLXUhPWKto

It is for all the newer Sony's giving you a viewfinder and remote camera controls, but don't expect more than 10ft of range.


The amount of wifi bandwidth and amplification needed for shutter/viewfinder control is so much there is no way you could do it at a reasonable distance for AP without freaking out everything onboard the quad. As people said, even the factory low power versions can cause interference.


As for an extra trigger, why not buy a cheapie used 72mhz radio / receiver and use it for a trigger. The biggest issue really would be routing the 39" antenna.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 09:05 AM
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It is for all the newer Sony's giving you a viewfinder and remote camera controls, but don't expect more than 10ft of range.

The amount of wifi bandwidth and amplification needed for shutter/viewfinder control is so much there is no way you could do it at a reasonable distance for AP without freaking out everything onboard the quad. As people said, even the factory low power versions can cause interference.

Is there a 2-device (Tx and Rx) system that can convert a 2.4GHz WiFi signal into 1.2 or 1.3 GHz (and vice versa) so you have maximum range but still have all the menu commands on the camera?

I suppose most amateurs just doing a quick "fly and shoot" wont care about changing settings on the DSLR while it's in the air --- but most professionals and semi-pros will want to have maximum control over their DSLR in flight. Trust me, a realtor trying to sell a $1 million property is going to want to adjust settings on the DSLR in flight because it makes economic sense to get the best photos and videos possible in 1 or 2 AP flights rather than spending all day on multiple flights. I have friends who are realtors and they are too busy talking and schmoozing potential buyers to be wasting all their time flying AP craft.

Assigning separate servos and frequencies to operate shutter and zoom seems like a lot of extra work (and weight to the quad) and the ultimate goal in the future will be having all this available via WiFi controller of your DSLR
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Here is a device that will give you interval shooting by using a servo to continually nod giving adjustable shutter intervals.:
http://www.gentles.ltd.uk/control/gentimer.htm

Looks like you should be OK fitting the Sony RX100 at a pinch as you only have 300 grams payload available on the Phantom 2.

If I was looking to do this I would use a Canon s110 then installing CHDK running a intervalometer script to take the shots.

Hope this is of some help.

Gray.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Mitchie 88 View Post
I suppose most amateurs just doing a quick "fly and shoot" wont care about changing settings on the DSLR while it's in the air --- but most professionals and semi-pros will want to have maximum control over their DSLR in flight. Trust me, a realtor trying to sell a $1 million property is going to want to adjust settings on the DSLR in flight because it makes economic sense to get the best photos and videos possible in 1 or 2 AP flights rather than spending all day on multiple flights. I have friends who are realtors and they are too busy talking and schmoozing potential buyers to be wasting all their time flying AP craft.
I'm curious what specific settings you're anticipating changing on a DSLR in the air and what would prompt those changes.

Tom
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 12:56 PM
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I'm curious what specific settings you're anticipating changing on a DSLR in the air and what would prompt those changes.
Just about everything on the DSLR's menu --- depending on circumstances and lighting conditions during the flight --- for example:

1) Stills vs. Video -- self explanatory
2) Zoom -- self explanatory
3) Shutter Speed -- depending on UAV and subject relative speeds
4) Focus Options -- depending on single or multiple targets in view
5) Lighting Modes -- if sun or clouds suddenly appear
6) ISO -- adjust ambient light conditions changing rapidly (day or night)

There's other stuff that's coming in the next few years -- such as motion tracking synched with the gimbal to automatically track a moving target.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 01:43 PM
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It's funny. We've got very different approaches to aerial photography.

I treat the camera's menu and the camera's photographic settings as two different beasts. The menu on my camera has tons of stuff I don't touch when I'm in the field, even when I'm on the ground. I almost never want to touch any of it in the air. I tend to treat that more as camera setup - something I do at home before setting out.

As far as photographic settings go, here's my take on each of the ones you mentioned:

Stills vs. video I get. But I'd still rather fly two cameras or make two separate flights.

Zoom... yeah, I can sort of see that. But with the ability to reposition the aircraft at will that's less of an issue. I know, I know, an 18mm from up close is not the same as a 50mm from a distance, even if they have the same footprint on the ground. But in close to seven years of flying cameras I've only really wanted this feature a handful of times. Mostly that was when I didn't set it the way I wanted before I sent it aloft. I may change my opinion on this when I fly from a stabilized gimbal. I don't know.

Shutter speed... eeeeh... Again, I tend to pick that on the ground. So far in the air I haven't been after any sort of motion blur in an image, so I tend to set it fairly fast and not mess with it.

Focus - I like having a single focus point, and use AF in the air. It's the same trick people used to use with film SLRs back in the day: aim at the subject, half-press to focus and get exposure, recompose, and fully press the shutter. That way you know where your focus is, you still get the composition you're after, and it's a heckuvalot quicker than moving a focus point around. This is how I use my camera on the ground, too, unless I'm working from a tripod. Maybe it's force of habit, but it's effective and efficient in the air.

I don't even look at the lighting modes. I do everything with RAW these days and dial in color temperature during post-processing.

ISO is another one I set on the ground and leave alone. If I'm working in broad daylight I set things to the slowest ISO to drive the noise down. If I'm working near sunset I'll set ISO to Auto and dial in either the aperture or shutter speed I want and let the rest float. Even on the ground it's rare that I'll mess around with ISO in a given session. Again, this may be force of habit from the days of film. But I've rarely found it to be an issue.

Keep in mind I almost exclusively do stills. So I don't know how any of this translates to video. Also keep in mind that I'm only describing how I work in the field, not how one should work in the field. So there may well be a need for the features you're describing among a good number of photographers. I'm just not one of them.

To get back to Quiet Riot's question:

This may sound utterly sacrilegious, but here's another option for triggering the shutter on your camera: Don't.

If the camera supports it (I'm pretty sure the Sony doesn't), set up an intervalometer and stick a big memory card in the camera. Start it going on the ground, fly until you have to land, and turn it off when you land. Pull out the keepers during post-processing and cull the rest.

A typical DJI flight is going to be no longer than 15 minutes, or 900 seconds. At one frame every five seconds that's only 180 frames. Even if you ran one frame per second and shot RAW, 900 files would fit on a 32GB card pretty handily. If in doubt get a 64GB card and be sure you won't run out of space.

This sounds pretty random, but it actually makes it easier to fly. Position your aircraft, aim, and hold station for two to three times your intervalometer period. Then move to the next position. This will give you two or three frames to choose from for each location.

Tom
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 05:01 PM
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It's funny. We've got very different approaches to aerial photography.

Also keep in mind that I'm only describing how I work in the field, not how one should work in the field. So there may well be a need for the features you're describing among a good number of photographers. I'm just not one of them.
That's basically what I was trying to enlighten you about. It's easy to develop a very narrow skewed view of what capabilities you need if you only perform a certain scenario with regularity. From the numerous videos on YouTube, right now the majority of people have no need to adjust DSLR settings while in flight because they are just taking off for 5-10 minutes and snapping some general pics. If they do want to make a change, they land and push the right buttons and take off again. Easy peezy. I think that will change as more people find specialized needs for AP.

Technology keeps getting better and cheaper like it always does, so AP hobbyists are going to expect full control of their cameras while in flight. For example, I have friends who are avid hunters who like to scope out game in the late summer in preparation for fall hunting seasons, and they desire the best possible still photos of deer in the fields so they can make decisions about where to hunt later on. Changing zoom and focus modes while in-flight will give them those desired stills, and repeatedly landing/taking off to change camera settings is a good way to lose out on getting that awesome photo of the trophy buck! Wild animals don't make a habit of just loitering around while a human UAV pilot makes changes to his/her DSLR.

I see the aerial photography industry increasingly focusing more on camera control than UAV control in the coming years. I just dont expect the average Joe Schmo consumer to spend most of his time learning how to be a great UAV pilot in order to get really nice aerial shots. Instead, the drone makers will fine tune the GPS hover locks on their machines, and the short-attention span Joe Schmo's can then concentrate on operating their pan-tilt-zoom DSLR/gimbal systems to get their tasty photos + videos.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 09:56 PM
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Yup, we've got different approaches.

You said, "Wild animals don't make a habit of just loitering around while a human UAV pilot makes changes to his/her DSLR."

That's exactly my point. If I'm messing around with camera settings in flight, I'm missing potential photographs. I'd rather put my camera in the air with a very clear idea of what I want, set up the way I want, and spend my time doing photography rather than messing with the camera.

This doesn't mean I want a "do everything for me" camera. Quite the opposite. I want complete control over the camera. I just don't want to mess with it in the air.

Since you mentioned wildlife, I guess a photo session I did last night is a good case in point. This was from a tripod, not an aerial platform, but the same idea applies. I was photographing sand crabs. I knew the focal length I wanted (100mm), the aperture (f/10), and the shutter speed I wanted (1/250 was fine in this case). So I set it up, put my camera on the tripod, composed the photograph, and waited. It worked great. And over a two hour session I didn't need to make any changes to the camera. I just needed to wait, watch, and trip the shutter.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that some photographers will value having complete remote control over their camera the same way some photographers value the capability of doing a tethered shoot (which I do any time I'm doing studio work.) But it's not a universal need, and doesn't necessarily apply in every situation.

Tom

P.S. My apologies for hijacking your thread, QuietRiot. I hope you've been able to find a method for triggering the shutter on your camera that'll work with your Phantom 2.
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Old Jan 05, 2014, 10:29 PM
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Since you mentioned wildlife, I guess a photo session I did last night is a good case in point. This was from a tripod, not an aerial platform, but the same idea applies. I was photographing sand crabs. I knew the focal length I wanted (100mm), the aperture (f/10), and the shutter speed I wanted (1/250 was fine in this case). So I set it up, put my camera on the tripod, composed the photograph, and waited. It worked great. And over a two hour session I didn't need to make any changes to the camera. I just needed to wait, watch, and trip the shutter.
Hee hee --- well I guess some wild critters actually do seem to wait around and politely crawl into frame once all camera settings are optimized

Shooting stills of whitetail deer from a UAV camera hovering 80 ft. in the air would pose all types of scenarios where quickly changing DSLR settings could mean the difference between a bad shot and a great shot. Are the deer standing still or running across the field? Shutter speed, auto focus mode, and burst rates are all vital to getting the best frames. What if it's getting close to dark and your AF is going wacky and you want to change ISO and manually focus on that huge set of antlers? Many variables here that don't lend well to repeatedly landing a UAV to make adjustments.

I agree with your basic premise that there is no "one size fits all" philosophy when it comes to AP equipment needs and situations. However, I tend to look at overall trends and past history to predict the future --- and it seems like Android/iOS apps are controlling everything with a chip, and I dont see how AP is going to be immune to this trend. AP hobbyists will only be a small fraction of the consumers who want full WiFi control of their DSLR's features and settings.
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Old Jan 08, 2014, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by QuietRiot View Post
Here's my setup:
Phantom 2 with no Zenmuse, wanting to add a high quality and very light weight P&S such as the Sony RX100 or Lumix DMC-GM1. Problem is, I have no way of tripping the shutter since I'm using the DJI transmitter and therefore do not have any extra switches (no, changing transmitters is not an option). I've read somewhere (should have bookmarked it) that there is a small hand held device which looks like a key fob that will control one or two servos that can be stuck right to ones transmitter.

Anyone know where I could find that again or perhaps have another solution for remotely controlling a P&S camera at distance? I would be flying up to 2000' on occasion so the range is an issue.

Also, (as if I'm not asking too much already), I would like to adjust the tilt of the camera without necessarily using a standard brushless gimbal (stability is not a big issue in this case).
I have been asking the same thing.

I bought a Mobius just for this reason.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1904559

It shoots great 1080p video, but at 3.0 MP stills, the quality is far from what I would like.

The good part is that it is very light and is only $70.00

I set it on time lapse to shoot a still automatically every 10 sec and on a 5 to 10 min flight it is great.

I thought about doing the servo arm on a P+S camera "shutter" button but I have put that off thinking there must be a better way in this age of technology.

I would think the guys doing Aerial Photography for real estate would have a easy reasonably priced solution for this.

I look forward to reading more posts.
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