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Sep 15, 2001, 06:01 PM
Registered User

Best plane for aerial photography

What is the best plane for aerial photography. Is one that flies slower better than a faster one?

It seems that most people on Ezone are using twinstars or wingos.

I saw one thread that said soarstars handled wind better than wingos. Is this because of different design, or simply the gearbox and prop difference?

If I were buying or building a plane whose sole purpose was to carry the camera equipment, which should it be?

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Sep 15, 2001, 06:25 PM
Registered User

Soarstar / Wingo

Either of these planes work great. (REALLY don't want to get started on another SS vs. W thread)

These planes make fantastic camera platforms because they float so well. Neil Morse is the innovator on this subject. Here's a link to his explaination:

Weight of the camera does dictate that you will want to go with a gearbox, unless you get a super-small digital.

The link above mentions Neil's pics on squid-ink. Be sure to check those out. Very cool. While there, search for mine under my full name, Chad Towle.

Sep 15, 2001, 09:01 PM
Registered User
ShinySteelRobot's Avatar
My question is...who pushes the button to take the photo?

I'm guessing you set the camera to take a picture using the self-timer. Doesn't the self-timer only shoot one picture though? Wouldn't you get one picture per flight that way?
Sep 15, 2001, 09:41 PM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar
I used my Crazee because it was the biggest model I had (least impact on loading). Now it's sold, I'm planning to use the Cutie for my aerial video experiments..
Sep 15, 2001, 09:44 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
I have several different types of camera planes detailed on the Angelfire site.
Neil has done some wonderful stuff with the Wingo.
Those of us with electronic skills can adapt digital cameras for the task. I'm stuck with film cameras, which require a servo to push the shutter.
There's an external mount on my e-Seniorita which I've ginned up recently which works well..
The Canon ELPH LT is about the smallest I've seen,and the price is quite reasonable. With 400 or 800 film vibration from the plane isn't a factor.
Sep 16, 2001, 01:47 AM
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
I hate to say it, but define "best" from your point of view.....

What sort of pictures do you want to take - APS, 35mm, digital stills, video with downlink or carry a video camera into the air? How much does your chosen camera weigh?

Where do you want to do this? An R/C flying field, smaller places, bigger places? Runway? Fly from water?

Will you want to take pictures of specific events (and therefore have to take whatever the weather dishes out) or do you just want to take a few casual pictures when the mood and the weather come together?

What do you want to take pictures OF? The flying site, other planes, stuff going on on the ground, stuff going on from the air? Do you want/need to point the camera(s) any other way than by pointing the nose or a wingtip of the plane? Do you want to take pictures in a precise way (therefore manage the exact field of view)?

All those questions aside you want a plane that you don't have to think about to fly (so you can concentrate on the pictures), and that can carry the weight (and drag!) of your chosen camera. I've taken aerial pictures (35mm stills) from a 7 cell geared can motor powered plane called an Elf 1-20 (which struggled with the extra 7 ounces and the asymmetric drag) and I've flown the same camera on my LT-25 (which hardly notices it's there, even when on floats). I've flown downlinked video from a Slomowatt and a clipped-wing T-52 (1.5-2 ounces of added weight). I'll be doing more with that one tomorrow. But it's very easily tossed around by gusts (I'm going to try a GWS gyro on the roll axis as soon as I can) making the video hard to watch.

Bottom line - define your mission a little better and we can give you some more specific direction. For the occasional snapshot of your flying field, I think a TwinStar would be a good choice. Stable, easy to fly, and can lift the weight of a film camera (the Elph LT Paul mentions is about 5 ounces). A Wingo/Soarstar would take some time to get to altitude - it would work, but less well.

I've said enough....
Sep 16, 2001, 03:02 AM
Registered User
Thanks for all the help so far.

I would be taking either 35mm or digital still photos of stuff on the ground mostly.

I thought about downlinking video but my Panasonic PVDV400 does not have video inputs. And, since I was mostly wanting still images, I was not sure how sharp a frame taken from the video would be.

I would be flying from smaller areas.

Hope this extra information helps.
Sep 16, 2001, 07:11 AM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar
Hi dgt!

I'm assuming that you've seen Steve DiStasios web site;

I use a Twinstar as it enables me to handlaunch and fly to take pics from a lot more locations than if I was using a larger, heavier model.

There's only so many times that you can photograph your own flying field!

A cheap 35mm compact, with a motor drive is pretty cheap these days (no need for autofocus, since everything is at infinity), although digital has the advantage of immediate picture editing. Using conventional film means waiting for the film to be processed before you can view the results.

FWIW I manage a 'hit rate' of about 25%; the remainder go in the bin!

Here's pic of our clubs flying field;

Sep 20, 2001, 01:39 PM
Registered User
Could someone post some details on the TwinStar? Is this the hobbyco twin engine nitro bird? Who makes it?

Thanks in advance.
Sep 20, 2001, 02:49 PM
Registered User

It has two speed 400 motors and a 56 inch 'span.

Do a search for 'twinstar' and you will find hundreds, if not thousands of posts.

Hope it helps,
Ben C
Sep 20, 2001, 04:46 PM
Super Senior Member
I rubberbanded a disposable camera to my Twinstar, and strapping taped a servo onto the shutter button activated by the gear switch on my radio. I would charge the flash so when I snapped a pic, I could tell that it actually activated. You could lose some weight by tearing the paper off the camera and removing the two AA batteries that work the flash. Had to land everytime I wanted to advance the film tho
Sep 20, 2001, 11:31 PM
Registered User
I've used a Walmart Easy Shot, about 12 bucks, the new model is better than the one I have. And I've just bought a Olympus Epic Stylus, about 70 bucks for a potential cross country project. I use one of my modified Push-E-Cats with a Magnetic Mayhem direct. I'm working on a special semi-boomtail version for the future.
Sep 20, 2001, 11:55 PM
Registered User
member73's Avatar
I've recently replaced the DD S400 on my dragonfly with a Graupner gearbox and 9x6 APC eflight prop for this purpose. I have a $40 (with rebate) digital camera I bought from Staples. There is a thread around here about another camera that looks even lighter for about the same price. I just rubber band the camera to the wing and strap a servo to the switch. Only problem is it shuts off after 30 seconds if no pics are taken, but I think I have a fix that will also eliminate the 3 AA batteries. Anyway, back to the platform, the Dragonfly now climbs out at almost 45 deg with no camera and pretty close to that with it straped on. Getting about 6-7 minute flights with 600mah Nicads carrying the camera, 15+ without. So easy to fly, my brother landed it the first time he flew it (first time he flew any plane). Best part is at $70 it's cheaper than the Wingo or SoarStar.
Sep 26, 2001, 12:06 AM
Registered User
joemi's Avatar
I recently bought a Soarstar becuase I was interested in using it for photo/video (and that I wanted something that was easy to learn to fly)
I slapped a Intel Pocket PC digital camera in it, worked pretty good. Im just waiting for the rain to stop now so I can take some more pics!(Looks like I picked a bad time to start the RC airplane hobby, (live in Seattle)
SoarStar with Intel Pocket PC Cam
Sep 26, 2001, 07:59 AM
Registered User
Bill Glover's Avatar
BEC's post was right on the money. If you just want to fire off some snaps to see what the view from a model looks like then a small/light/cheap/simple camera nailed to any model that will cope with the weight/drag is the answer.

As for the 'best' setup, well that depends on what you're trying to achieve. A while back I did some professional aerial photography using models, and this is what I ended up with ...

Camera gear: Olympus OM-1n 35mm SLR (compact, robust, simple) with motor wind. Lens depending on mission (normally 24, 28, or 35 mm). Electrically fired via spare r/c channel. Weight of camera/lens/winder/mounting about 3.5lbs. Mounted internally on CG, shooting sideways (oblique) along wing axis, variable tilt angle (normally set so that neither wing nor mainwheels were in the frame). Hand-held incident light meter used to set shutter speed and aperture before each flight.

Model: 86" span taildragger, thin semi-symmetrical wing section, inboard trailing-edge airbrakes, flapperons. Power was ST90 2-stroke with 2 extension silencers (very quiet) swinging a 14x6 prop.

This model worked brilliantly. Loads of power so able to operate safely in windy weather, or where only a small area was available for takeoff. The TE airbrakes gave huge amounts of drag, so steep landing approaches (e.g. over obstructions) were no problem. The flapperons could be drooped in calm conditions to give a slow cruise for taking pictures, in windy weather the thinnish section meant the model penetrated well (in fact it was a delight to fly, and fully aerobatic).

For a bit of light relief it also had external mountings for an 8mm cine camera with a servo operating the shutter release. I have some footage including inverted spins, snap rolls, low inverted passes, tight touch & goes ... definitely not something to watch when you've just eaten

I also used the same model to piggyback launch gliders and (as a display item) and OS 10 powered IC model. Also had a big pannier that went under the fus. for dropping toffees at club displays. Very popular!

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