Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?

Started Jul 5, 2013 | Discussions
Robert Anderson
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Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
Jul 5, 2013

I recently got a DJI Phantom quadcopter and have been shooting video with it. I am thinking about attaching my Canon S95 to it to shoot still shots from the air. I can use CHDK to provide intervalometer functions.

My GoPro cameras have this ability but the lens is fixed focal length and fisheye. The stills are only 5MP.

The quadcopter can lift a DSLR but I would not want to risk it.

Canon PowerShot S95
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BackroadsTraveler
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Re: Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 5, 2013

I'm fascinated by this. I looked at a smaller quad device about a year ago which could lift a GoPro.

I've love to lift a DSLR, but not certain of the lift capacity of this quad at elevations over 5000 feet where I live. I'd have to be convinced of a safety factor before I risked it, but your Canon should be safe enough.

I recall building and launching Estes AstroCam rockets with the kids years ago. They used a basic, single shot camera with 110 film, (one shot per flight) and could be effective. Got some decent shots of our neighborhood from about 200 feet up.

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Chas Tennis
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Re: Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
In reply to BackroadsTraveler, Jul 5, 2013

How stable do you expect these things be in low winds?  Camera weight 2.5 oz..

[The winds blow more frequently at low velocities such as 2-3 MPH than at 0 MPH.]

Is it feasible to hover the quadcopter over a tennis server for a rare above server camera viewpoint?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FpeYGG9XAg

Chas Tennis

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chris_uk
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Re: Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 5, 2013

There are some FAA problems with using these for commercial purposes in the USA at the moment. Not sure what the current situation is in different states but this is a link to a recent article about it.

http://photographyforrealestate.net/2013/06/11/oregon-and-texas-ban-photographing-from-drones/

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TrapperJohn
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Played around with the idea about twelve years ago
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 5, 2013

I started, as an interesting tech hobby, a project to turn a traditional RC helicopter into a remotely piloted vehicle, using an onboard embedded processor, wi-fi link to a base station with a joystick, and onboard video. Ended up with a large RC chopper that had a six foot rotor blade span, that could carry up to ten pounds of extra weight and remain flyable. Onboard GPS gave me location, and the possibility for autonomous guided flight. Stabilization was a real problem, helicopters are directionally unstable in all axes, and at that time a 6DOF gyro was very expensive.

Attached my Oly E10 in a dampened mount, rigged up a servo shutter release, and got a few interesting shots.

Abandoned this after 9/11 - what with the general paranoia after that, it didn't seem to be a good time to building a device that can carry a 10 pound payload and navigate to within three feet of its target.

But even then, I could see this concept had a big future. Being able to get live video from inaccessable locations... over a burning building for firefighters, in hazmat spill areas, any place it wasn't practical or safe to put a person.

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pavi1
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Re: Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 5, 2013

Robert Anderson wrote:

I recently got a DJI Phantom quadcopter

Like this

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Carey Brown
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I got a DJII Phantom a week ago
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 6, 2013

... and I'm hooked. It's taken a bit of getting used to flying it. I started off flying with the "home-lock" setting off (which is what DJI recommends), and then after using that till I got the hang of it I turned this setting on, now it's much easier to pilot. I've had a blast taking video with the GoPro Hero3 Black, but, to be honest, without some additional hardware the results are limited. And, there's no way a Phantom could carry a DSLR, way too heavy for it.

  • Phantom quadcopter base price $700
  • hard case (yes, you'll need one of these) $200
  • extra battery, props, and vibration dampening $100
  • GoPro Hero3 Black $400
  • FPV (First Person Viewer) $300 - not necessary at first but needed for quality videos
  • Gimbal mount $300-500 - not necessary at first but needed for quality videos

The FPV setup allows you to see, either via goggles or battery operated TV monitor, what the camera sees as it is happening. Without this you are limited to piloting the thing near enough that you can see the affect that moving the controls is having; flying very close to things is pretty impossible from far away.

The gimbal automatically keeps the camera level (based on gyroscope feedback) as the copter tilts in various directions. Something that is also needed for quality video. One of the neat tricks that the Phantom does is compensate for breezes; it attempts to stay in one place. A side effect of this is lots of sporadic tilting.

The thing is pretty darn sturdy; I've crashed it a few times.

Oh, and did I mention that it's addicting.

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Robert Anderson
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Re: I got a DJII Phantom a week ago
In reply to Carey Brown, Jul 6, 2013

Carey Brown wrote:

... and I'm hooked. It's taken a bit of getting used to flying it. I started off flying with the "home-lock" setting off (which is what DJI recommends), and then after using that till I got the hang of it I turned this setting on, now it's much easier to pilot. I've had a blast taking video with the GoPro Hero3 Black, but, to be honest, without some additional hardware the results are limited. And, there's no way a Phantom could carry a DSLR, way too heavy for it.

  • Phantom quadcopter base price $700
  • hard case (yes, you'll need one of these) $200
  • extra battery, props, and vibration dampening $100
  • GoPro Hero3 Black $400
  • FPV (First Person Viewer) $300 - not necessary at first but needed for quality videos
  • Gimbal mount $300-500 - not necessary at first but needed for quality videos

The FPV setup allows you to see, either via goggles or battery operated TV monitor, what the camera sees as it is happening. Without this you are limited to piloting the thing near enough that you can see the affect that moving the controls is having; flying very close to things is pretty impossible from far away.

The gimbal automatically keeps the camera level (based on gyroscope feedback) as the copter tilts in various directions. Something that is also needed for quality video. One of the neat tricks that the Phantom does is compensate for breezes; it attempts to stay in one place. A side effect of this is lots of sporadic tilting.

The thing is pretty darn sturdy; I've crashed it a few times.

Oh, and did I mention that it's addicting.

I have the same one. I use the older GoPro Hero 1. The video is pretty good but stills are not.

I am considering mounting my Canon S95 on it and using CHDK and scripts for intervalometer function.

Actually there is a video online of a Phantom carrying a DSLR. Flight time was short but it would lift it and fly for a few minutes. Be careful with FPV. Some users say that the Phantom can get confused with the different radio signals and fly away.

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chkproductions
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Re: Anyone using a quadcopter for aerial stills?
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 6, 2013

Apparently the use of a UAV is different depending on the state (US) that you're in.  I heard a story on National Public Radio about flying in CA where you could use the images for personal use but could not sell them commercially as part of your business.  Some states/cities/towns have banned even their own police from using them because of privacy.

I've been considering them for some time for commercial use here in RI but have been waiting until there is a decision on their use as a business.

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Carey Brown
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Re: I got a DJII Phantom a week ago
In reply to Robert Anderson, Jul 6, 2013

Robert Anderson wrote:

Some users say that the Phantom can get confused with the different radio signals and fly away.

I ordered the 5.8GHz system which supposedly doesn't have that issue.

One of my practice runs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO-9226nnIY

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