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Old May 29, 2014, 03:19 PM
jlv
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Joined Dec 2010
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Idea
Built-in gimbal for dslr

Hi!
I got for a few days ago an idea of a bit different gimbal for aerial and normal photography. I have been researching if there would already be gimbals like this, but I wasn't able to find anything similar. So I started this threat to introduce my idea.

Normally gimbals that are made for dslr´s are quite big and heavy. I have build myself one for my hexacopter and it is heavier than my dslr. Then I came up with this idea, why not make a dslr where the gimbal is build in the camera (the picture below shows what I mean).

The idea would be to stabilize just the lens of the dslr not the whole camera. To get this work the sensor must be taken out of the body (the red part in the picture is the new housing for the sensor) and that is a problem: how to extend the wires so that the camera will still work?

Then to the most important part: why a built-in gimbal would be so good? I think the main thing is that it would be much better to use, because the body is there where it is supposed to be - in the hands (if using on the ground). That lets the user to operate all camera functions more easily. And of course the smaller size and weight would allow to use it in the air and on the ground more conveniently.

I would like to hear if something like this exists already and how the camera could be modified. I think it would be interesting to try this out in practice, but I need first more information to be able to do it.

I hope you understand what I'm trying to explain

(The pictures below are showing just roughly the idea)
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Old May 30, 2014, 12:03 AM
thepurplekoala
United States, CA, San Jose
Joined Jan 2013
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You can't just bend the lens like that. It needs to be perfectly aligned with the body for proper image capture and video. That is why the entire camera is placed on a gimbal. Also, this decreases the mass on the gimbal, causing more vibrations.
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Old May 30, 2014, 12:23 AM
jlv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unitedheavy View Post
You can't just bend the lens like that. It needs to be perfectly aligned with the body for proper image capture and video. That is why the entire camera is placed on a gimbal. Also, this decreases the mass on the gimbal, causing more vibrations.
As I said the idea is to take the sensor out of the body and make a new housing for it. The housing is then attached to the lens like a camera body. So the light doesn´t anymore come into the body. The data from the sensor is then transferred over the wires into the body.
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Old May 30, 2014, 01:32 AM
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Auxsburg
Joined Dec 2007
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The question is if a DSLR is the best camera to have in the air.
In my point of view the big advantage of a DSLR is:
-you can change lenses
-you have a larger sensor
-good ergnomics

I don't know exactly what you really intent to do with the camera on your aircraft. but unless you are flying in the dark i don't see a good reason.

So anyhow:
Do you know that this is allready done?
There are several systems for "stabilized" lenses on the market. Nikon, Canon and others move a lens(group?) inside their lenses. Sony and others move the whole sensor to stabilize the image.
At my Nikon lens, you can clearly see the effect in the viewfinder, but it has not even close the range of a gimbal.
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Old May 30, 2014, 05:45 AM
jlv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HugePanic View Post
The question is if a DSLR is the best camera to have in the air.
In my point of view the big advantage of a DSLR is:
-you can change lenses
-you have a larger sensor
-good ergnomics
The idea is to make it so that the lenses could be changed, such as before. Of course the gimbal needs to be adjusted after changing the lens, but it sould not be that hard.

Quote:
I don't know exactly what you really intent to do with the camera on your aircraft. but unless you are flying in the dark i don't see a good reason.
The idea of the gimbal is to stabilize the pictures(useful in the dark) and of course the video, that is why gimbals actually exist.



Quote:
There are several systems for "stabilized" lenses on the market. Nikon, Canon and others move a lens(group?) inside their lenses. Sony and others move the whole sensor to stabilize the image.
At my Nikon lens, you can clearly see the effect in the viewfinder, but it has not even close the range of a gimbal.
That is true. I have a lumix lens with stabilization and it works great, but it is not enough to stabilise the video like a gimbal would.
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Old May 30, 2014, 02:17 PM
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I remember at either a CES or Photokina a few years back (maybe five?) someone was touting a camera that had a removable sensor. (Ricoh?) It took interchangeable lenses, and used a Wifi connection between the sensor and body. They were talking it up as a cool way to do crowd shots at concerts and stuff. It'd be a good start for something like this.

I took a look around to see if anyone pursued the idea past the prototype phase, but couldn't see any evidence that any manufacturer had. I guess they either realized cameras are banned at most concerts, or they decided it was a feature people wouldn't use enough to pay extra for.

There's another issue that's working against you, though: The sensor block would need a lens mount, the sensor itself, readout electronics, memory, a battery, and either a short wire or a wireless radio. By the time you add all that up it's not too different from the weight of a mirrorless body. Yeah, you shave off the screen and buttons, but when you balance that against the weight of the lens you're probably not saving much. At that point a gimbal and a mirrorless camera may perform just as well without much added weight and whole lot more simplicity in the system.

I'm not knocking your idea, though. Stick that on the end of a spring-loaded arm and you've got a full blown Steadicam system without the extra complexity of a gimbal, sled, weights, etc. etc. etc. It's got a lot of appeal.

Tom
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Old May 30, 2014, 03:15 PM
jlv
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Thanks for your interesting opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benedict View Post
There's another issue that's working against you, though: The sensor block would need a lens mount, the sensor itself, readout electronics, memory, a battery, and either a short wire or a wireless radio.
But what if the readout electronics and memory would just stay in the body? Then in the lensmoutblock would just be the sensor and the mechanical shutter and they would be connected with wires to the body. And no additional battery would be needed.

I´m rather worried about the extended wires. Will the sensor work properly with longer wires?
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:14 PM
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Not easily. Most cameras use some sort of a flex print circuit to connect the detector to the readout electronics. It's partly because of convenience, but partly also because you can plan where your grounds, high speed clocks, analog lines, and low speed clocks are so that you don't get interference. All that goes out the window when you switch to discrete wires. You'd wind up needing to shield the high speed clocks, at least. The problem with the flex is that they're nice and bendy in one direction, but not in the other. Which is why discrete wires would be nice from the motion control standpoint. But from the noise standpoint it's kinda crappy. Having a preamp built into the detector body would help with noise on the analog lines, but it complicates life. Really better to use the flex print.

Plus, if you ran the camera's wires anywhere near the motors, motor drivers, or gimbal electronics, you introduce new sources of noise.

All of these are design challenges and not show stoppers. I'm not saying the idea wouldn't work. It's just not trivial.

Tom
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:34 PM
thepurplekoala
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If you think about it, all you are suggesting is removing the camera's body, screen, and controls and moving them to a remote location. This is essentially stripping down the camera, not actually pulling out the sensor/lens.
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Old May 31, 2014, 03:30 AM
jlv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unitedheavy View Post
If you think about it, all you are suggesting is removing the camera's body, screen, and controls and moving them to a remote location. This is essentially stripping down the camera, not actually pulling out the sensor/lens.
That would be the other way to do it, but then the weight of the stabilized mass would be more and as result the motors should be bigger and then the overall weight would increase.

Probably this could be the only way to do it without losing image quality or something else. Such as benedict mentioned.
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Old Jun 03, 2014, 02:53 AM
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Seems the "right tool for the right job" was born yesterday, and people still try to reinvent wheel instead using the right one...
Airborne a DSLR is one of the most ludicrous things done today, there are multiple ways to get same or better image with less than pound setups, cost in the ballpark of a precious "white lens".
Even your idea, a lens with sensor inside, no camera body, is already on the market, even not intended for our purpose:
http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/cy...eras/dsc-qx100
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Old Jun 03, 2014, 10:52 AM
jlv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renatoa View Post
Seems the "right tool for the right job" was born yesterday, and people still try to reinvent wheel instead using the right one...
What is the right tool then? I would like to hear.

Quote:
Airborne a DSLR is one of the most ludicrous things done today, there are multiple ways to get same or better image with less than pound setups, cost in the ballpark of a precious "white lens".
I think that for some purposes a multicopter+dslr is the best solution.
Quote:
Even your idea, a lens with sensor inside, no camera body, is already on the market, even not intended for our purpose:
http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/cy...eras/dsc-qx100
That camera is rather a toy. It can not even take FHD-video. So it does not help much.
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Old Jun 03, 2014, 11:08 AM
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ok, please enumerate the best solution arguments / purposes that make a dslr better than a nex a6000 for example.

That "toy" has been posted just as a confirmation that lens+sensor idea isn't new, and I am amazed it doesn't features FHD given the fact that inside is the 1" sensor from RX100, that many found to be perfectly appropriate for better professional jobs than a gopro.
But personally I don't give a cent on 1080 content, I think that FHD is no more still real in aerial video with all that movement and vibrations.
Some people is not even able to distinguish between 720 and 1080 content coming from a still camera on tripod in controlled environment.
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Old Jun 03, 2014, 04:21 PM
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For video the "right" camera is the current offering from Red, a Cineflex mount, and a full-sized heli. For stills, pop out the Red and stick in a Hasselblad with a digital back. Past that it all amounts to compromise. What feels "good enough" depends on where you draw your line in the sand when it comes to balancing that compromise.

I do fly a DSLR, but I don't think it's necessary. I could get just as good image quality from the A6000 renatoa mentioned. But a couple of things keep my flying it: 1 - I can lift it safely. 2 - I already own it. 3 - I can't afford a new camera right now.

If you need to be able to swap lenses a mirrorless body is honestly a better idea. The whole reason for the mirror box is to look through the viewfinder and see through the lens. My head isn't up there, so there's really no point in having the mirror box in the air. Strip that out and a fair bit of weight goes away. And if I don't need to be able to swap lenses (just pick a camera that has the FL you want built into it) that opens up the list of "good enough" cameras even further.

Before someone jumps in and says, "But I can do better with camera X, Y, or Z," remember this is a compromise. As an illustration of this at one point I built a 4x5 film camera for aerial work. Yep, it lifted fine. Yep, I wound up with a big honkin' negative I could scan into a digital file that blows away even the best DSLR on the market. But after that first session my thought was, "What a pain in the neck." The line I drew in the sand for my own personal compromise was: I want more than one frame per flight, I don't want to mess with a camera that big, and I can live with significantly fewer than the several hundred megapixels I got on those film scans. I'll take "good enough".

I wouldn't mind getting better stability out of my setup, so I have a choice: Go with a mirrorless camera or a high end point 'n shoot and a smaller gimbal, or keep the big DSLR and go with a larger gimbal. Both solutions have their appeal. Both cost money.

Tom
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