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Old Oct 17, 2013, 03:07 AM
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Idea
Ideal camera for aerial photography - a challange for camera makers

Hi all,

I am just like most of you here struggling to find the ideal set-up for AP but the most disappointing part until now is the camera choices. I talk here about PHOTOGRAPHY ONLY and not the video part as that is a different thing so lets keep this simple.

My current set up is using a Sony NEX 5n with 18-55mm lens. In my opinion as a photographer there is no other camera that is lighter, shoots raw and has better image quality for this price. But there are so many minuses here that I don't want to start.

The scope of this post is to "create the ideal camera for AP" - virtually and than make a petition to send to camera makers who might find it interesting. I know there are issues and challenges plus cost and R&D etc but it worth a shot.

I will start with what I have in mind about an ideal camera and you can continue with suggestions and features you consider important for AP.

In essence it is like a GOPRO for photography-

1. Camera weight - 150-200g max
2. Camera shape - it can be just a square box or something like the new Sony Lens cameras cylindrical. Easy to fit on a BL Gimbals or if about getting more complicated - like the Panasonic HX-A100. The advantage of the later would be the extreme lightweight of the optical unit that could be easily balanced on a small brushless gimbal reducing the weight of it considerably. Sure the biggest challenge would be to fit a wire flexible enough that will not influence the stabilisation.
3. Sensor size - APS C or full frame as there is great difference in quality below that
4. RAW file support
5. Fixed lens in 18-24mm range f2.8 or lower with optical IS
6. No build in screen for weight issues
7. AV out - analogue thru 3.5mm stereo jack
8. Remote trigger with IR or why not PPM straight from the receiver. IR trigger should allow burst mode too not only single shot like it is implemented now in the NEX. Implementing a 3 pin Ffutaba connector would not be that hard.
9. If PPM trigger we could also control - shutter speed or other camera settings through radio knobs or switches
10. Possibility to run the camera with external power in order to release the strain from the brushless gimbal by making the camera lighter. The lighter the camera, the lighter the gimbal and motors.
11. WiFi for control - mobile phone or remote
13. GPS - for the geo-tagging as this comes in handy for most aerial photographers.
14. Waterproof and shock proof.
15. Sure it can have awesome video recording too and I think this is with no doubt something desirable. But usually creating oximorons is never a great solution.

So ... what do you say about this idea.


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Old Oct 18, 2013, 12:58 AM
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Check again the the market status, you could have pleasant surprises.
Ricoh GR is out for months and is the new benchmark for AP camera. It's simply the lightest APC-C sensor camera, at 245 grams.
24mm 2.8 fixed lens

Also, if you want the absolute quality, for photography only, there aren't much choices, is only one and is so far from the rest of market that you should have any hesitation: Sigma Merill DP1/2.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renatoa View Post
Check again the the market status, you could have pleasant surprises.
Ricoh GR is out for months and is the new benchmark for AP camera. It's simply the lightest APC-C sensor camera, at 245 grams.
24mm 2.8 fixed lens
Yes the market status does improve every day but that camera is not better than my current Sony NEX 5n in any respect but the weight - 245g vs 309g plus it has no remote control shutter and same hdmi video out that requires a converter, is slower in burst mode (usefull for aerial shots)... and it costs almost double.

The features I (we) need in the AP world do not exist all together in any camera on the market. As everybody tries to be original today maybe we can find some company that wants to board this train. I know is far fetched but it is also good to know what other professional photographers think and need.

Daniel
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 03:42 AM
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I stand corrected Renatoa,

This is what I have found for the Ricoh GR -

Half way down there is someone that figured out how to use the USB port to trigger remotely and AV out at the same time. It seems to work well. If that is the case than this might be the camera to replace my NEX 5n

Daniel
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 06:19 AM
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Canon + CHDK?
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 06:30 AM
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I own a 5N too an I would love it weighs 309 grams only my neck and shoulder feel every gram So, mount the lens and weigh again. It is double than GR, and this translate in flight time too, a lot of minutes.

Regarding IQ, I wouldn't never compare a zoom kit of any brand with a prime made by Pentax. The sensors are anyway behind lenses in both cases, anyway.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renatoa View Post
I own a 5N too an I would love it weighs 309 grams only my neck and shoulder feel every gram So, mount the lens and weigh again. It is double than GR, and this translate in flight time too, a lot of minutes.

Regarding IQ, I wouldn't never compare a zoom kit of any brand with a prime made by Pentax. The sensors are anyway behind lenses in both cases, anyway.
If we compare apples with apples we take the 16mm 2.8 pancake from sony.

So - Sony nex 5n body without flash attached - 243 g
Sony 16mm pancake lens -70 g

313 g... I was off with 4 grams. If that weight is making your shoulder than try my 500mm f4 with 7d and bat grip attached ) that should give you a good exercise.

I dont have the 16mm on hand to weigh it but those are the specifications from manufacturer.

Anyway the 68g difference don't worth the double price but the remote shutter and the av out do in my opinion.

That way you have 68g the camera weight difference + the 20 grams the HDMI converter bringing the difference at 90 grams and simplifying the set up further.

If you use an IR shutter the weight would be negligible but if you put a servo for triggering that would bring the weight to 110g. Now that is a difference. The e-calc is showing me only 1 min difference for extra weight of the Nex but in reality I think it will be more.

Daniel
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Mroberts View Post
Canon + CHDK?
What Canon model fits the specifications today? I know the CHDK and it is great but unfortunately besides the s95 to s120 there is no other close to that weight that also take RAW images.

I would never buy a camera for work that has no raw.

Danie
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 03:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielpetrescu View Post
What Canon model fits the specifications today? I know the CHDK and it is great but unfortunately besides the s95 to s120 there is no other close to that weight that also take RAW images.

I would never buy a camera for work that has no raw.

Danie
Dont all the Canons running CHDK have RAW capability ?
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 05:08 AM
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Dont all the Canons running CHDK have RAW capability ?
Yes they do, I forgot about that but still there is the image quality delivered from the small sensor that can not match that of the APS-C or full frame. For pro use the minimum is an APS-C sensor in most cases. Sure there are some exceptions at lower ISO but for me that is not so great.

An action cam type form factor like the GOPRO with APS-C sensor would not weigh more than 150g if you get read of all the gimmicks - Flash - Screen - grip- strap holders etc.

I know a man can dream but still in order to achieve your dreams you have to wake up ... somebody )

Daniel
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 11:38 AM
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Great idea for a thread. I will watch this one.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 01:00 PM
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Rather than trying to persuade the camera manufacturers to produce a few units just for our needs, which you must admit is highly unlikely, it would be much more practical to build the model, sized to suit the camera. Many people have taken this route and you will find lots of details in this thread.
This approach allows much larger payloads so you can stop worrying about the weight and size of the camera and you get a smoother flying rig.
W
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Or get the closest camera to your dreams, and dismount it to reassembly in other package more appropriate for flight.
Before GoPro was a trend to do such hack using various Aiptek cameras, and I should tell you was funny, more interesting than today.
A good platform to start such hack would be Ricoh modular system, and the A12 APS-C module with 28mm f/2.5 fixed lens.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renatoa View Post
Or get the closest camera to your dreams, and dismount it to reassembly in other package more appropriate for flight.
Before GoPro was a trend to do such hack using various Aiptek cameras, and I should tell you was funny, more interesting than today.
A good platform to start such hack would be Ricoh modular system, and the A12 APS-C module with 28mm f/2.5 fixed lens.
Well since you have mentioned it ... I just had a crush with my quad as one of my motor bearings crapped out on a fairly new RCtimer HP2814-810KV motors and it fell free from about 60m... 4 new APC 12x3.8 gone... a servo and my camera's screen... Now I was thinking to remove the screen all together and use the fpv equipment for setting it up. Luckily I had the OSD on and could locate the quad in the grass after 30 min of search. And I was watching it fall...

Tough camera the nex5n...

Daniel
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 08:21 PM
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It doesn't meet every criterion, but the EOS-M is a mirrorless DSLR with almost the same internal electronics as the T2i. 18MP, APS-C, 14-bit RAW, and not overwhelmingly heavy. Analog video out, and lots of options for triggering the shutter.

Tom

P.S. I'm flying a DSLR at the moment. Weight be weight.
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