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New here, looking for basic help with setup for stills

Discussion in 'Phantom FC40 Discussion' started by sokalled, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. sokalled

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    We are hoping this will be a great tool for obtaining still pictures that showcase our products (large commercial playgrounds) from cool new angles. We are not interested in video, FPV, or automated-gimbals at this stage, we just want nice images we can use for product presentations on widescreen TV's, slide shows, and maybe in catalogs and printed brouchures. We recieve the hardware this week, but I want to be prepared.

    Right away I intend to do these mods:

    -Install rotor guards, paint the front two for better visual reference of direction
    -Extend the landing gear with a liteweight plastic to help it be less tippy when on the ground
    -Afix GoPro nut to stock camera mount, swap out stock handscrew
    -Sandwich 3M tape between stock camera mount and main body to reduce side-to-side vibrations
    -Verify rotor screws are tight
    -Mount Hero2 camera

    I've practiced flying with toys and intend to be very cautous with this model, we also have an arial RC field nearby where I intend to safety familiarize myself with it. We will have an extra battery and will build some sort of portable case as well.

    Over the next few days I will be studying the LED light patterns, reading more posts, and watching more videos, but are there some other intiail tips I should be strongly considering?

    Also, perhaps some of you could:
    -Suggest a flight plan for our intent?
    -Suggest an ideal H2 camera angle for our intent?
    -Suggest the ideal light/positioning for our photography? (sun behind/infront/to the side of subject, wait for overcast, wait for sun to be high/low,
    -Where should I be?
    -Suggest H2 settings (res, timelapse frequency, etc.)

    Thank you.
     
  2. jerrymac12000

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    Having been in the real estate business and taking thousands of pictures over many years, I will try to give you some ideas or perhaps raise more questions in your mind.

    In the air, as on the ground you MUST have some way to see what you are taking a picture of. You need some kind of first person view (FPV). How else are you going to aim the either the camera or the quadcopter? You did not say what model of quad you were purchasing, FC40 or the Phantom version. The camers on board are different . The FC40 model does not have an electrical angle adjustment for the the camera. That means you must adjust the camera tilt angle manually before the flight to take pictures. The Phantom 2 model has an angle adjustment as part of the control system for the quad. Both camera systems have lens adjustments for wide angle or close up views as part of the transmitter control functions. The software for the camera is part of the system.

    Before taking pictures, you will need to purchase a memory card for the camers to store the pictures on. I would recommend a Class 10 memory card verse a normal Class 4 card. If you are taking many pictures in a short period of time, the Class 10 card writes or stores the information faster.

    About the pictures. You are NOT in a hurry to take the pictures. The weather, property location, job requirements along with you skills at the camera, control your time on the job. Walk the property first so you can form in idea in your mind as to how the picture layout will evolve. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES. It's better to have taken too many pictures than not enough and have to go back and have to re-shoot again. TIME IS MONEY.

    If possible, try to take the pictures in the morning. Usually, the winds are lower than in the afternoon. Try to have the sun at your back, rather in front or at a front angle to you. This will cut down on the glare in the camera. If there is glare, you WILL see it as you review the pictures. This rule may change depending on what effect is wanted for the photo shoot.

    The angle of the camera will control the height that quad is flying. If the camera angle is shallow from horizon, then the quad won't be very high. If there is a large angle downward from the horizon the quad will be higher in the air. The FAA has fits if you fly higher than 400 feet (I am guessing that you are in the US). They are worried that you might fly into an airplane. They are not suppose to be that low except when taking off or landing. Helicopters don't have that requirement. There also is a rule about flying within 3 miles of an airport. Try not to do that if possible. There are discussions within the FAA as to are we flying "toys" or drones. They don't have their act together on this. It has to do with the aircraft weight and intended use. It's in the courts now.

    My final words before you start taking pictures for real is: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE first.
     
  3. T0Rtur3

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    An $80 gimbal from ebay, and the FC40 can change the camera angle while in the air with 7th channel on transmitter.
     
  4. mediaguru

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    Two points for you:

    1. Rotor guards will likely be in your photos.

    2. GoPro's suck for still images.
     
  5. T0Rtur3

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    I guess it depends on what he's trying to accomplish with the stills. If having the novelty of aerial photos outweighs the poor quality of gopro stills, it still may be worth it.

    Also, shot with camera straight ahead and no gimbal, rotar guards do not show up in my footage.
     
  6. lostkiwi

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    Agreed. I have Vision guards on my FC40 and with the camera pointed straight you cannot see the guards.
     
  7. BladHaund

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    To achieve your goals, you'll need a way of framing the picture in real time - an FPV system. The GoPro alone might not do the job, because the WiFi image has a very long delay. I know of people that forgo the FPV system, but they achieved this goal after prolonged training, and the cost of an FPV system does not justify the learning curve.

    Then, you must decide what Phantom you buy. The FC40, the Vision and the Vision+ operate on the 5 GHz band. The FPV image on this models is transmitted via WiFi, on the 2.4 GHz band. If you get the Vision or the Vision+, you can forgo the GoPro, their stills quality is adequate. The FC40 stills quality is sub-par, as the image is only 1280x720. If you want to go the GoPro route, then you only need the Phantom 1.1.1 or the Phantom 2. Then you should get a gimbal and an FPV system. These models operate on the 2,4 GHz band.
    So, depending on your Phantom, you must get the FPV system to operate on the free band: 2.4 GHz for the FC40, Vision or Vision+, 5 GHz for the Phantom 1.1.1 or 2.

    As for your concerns:
    You don't need that, unless you are unskilled or you fly close to objects or trees. They eat about 2 mins of flight time and they appear in the stills.
    Careful so that the extensions do not apperar in the shot. You can buy extended legs, extended and widen legs or you can get a piece of thermal pipe insulation and extend the legs cheaply, in minutes.
    If you plan to take stills, you shouldn't care about vibrations.
    All current Phantoms have self-tightening propellers, there's no screws to verify. Unless you buy an older second-hand Phantom.
    If you plan to do commercial shots for the kind of business you're describing, I should think the cost of the gear is insignificant and you should go for the best: Phantom 2 Vision+ or Phantom 2 + H3D3 gimbal + GoPro 3 black +. In the long run, especially since you're trying to earn money with the thing, you'll find the better gear makes your job easier.
     
  8. mediaguru

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    On the GoPro BTW, you could set it to shoot pictures as low as every .5 seconds. Shoot the hell out of it and pick the good ones if you don't have an FPV.
     
  9. T0Rtur3

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    Vibrations can affect stills.

    As mentioned already twice in this thread, don't worry about prop guards showing up in your images unless you're flying with a gimbal in forward momentum.
     
  10. sokalled

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    Thank you all for your help, the wisdom from your trials and errors is priceless.

    We have the Phantom 1 - Model P330 (I thought I posted in FC4) and a Hero2. We simply are not ready to spend double or complicate my life with a aftermarket, seperately controlled gimble. I look at it like giving a GoPro to a diver the first time they go out, it's a dangerous distraction that shouldn't be introduced until you are comfortable with the basics. We will have to make this setup work for now.

    My plan will be to set the H2 on 0.5 time-lapse and adjust the angle after 1 flight, 2 flights total. This should yeild about 1,600 photos..ee gads..hopefully this will produce a few ok/usable results.

    I would be interested in an $80 plug-n-play tilt gimbal that can be controlled via the stock controller (mentioned above). As this would likely be our next step, do you have a link to more information about it?
     
  11. lostkiwi

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    I'm in the process of working out how to get my Panasonic GF6 mounted under my Phantom. Ive sorted in my head how to do a simple mount with no gimbal (weight is pretty important as the camera weighs 380g). Fortunately its image stabilised and WiFi enabled with a real time app to control it remotely so I'm hopeful a basic antivibration plate will be sufficient and have bought some carbon fibre to make the base mount bolted to the (wide) landing skids. Should be good to go in a couple of weeks I hope.

    Other options include Panasonic GM1 or the ruggedized TZ5 (which has 5 axis image stabilisation but a smaller sensor). Ive also seen footage using a Sony RX100 that looks pretty good.
     
  12. BladHaund

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    If you want to go gimbal-less, then you must keep in mind that, when moving, the tilt angle (and, consequentlly, the FOV of the camera) will be different than when hovering. If you don't mind examining all the shots, then it's more than likely you'll get something useful. Also, if it's windy, the Phantom will tilt to counteract the wind and your shots will be tilted to an arbitrary angle.
    It's plug&play for GoPro3/3+. Maybe for GoPro2. Anyway, the said gimbal is tuned for the weight of GoPro3.

    Finding it is very easy: it's known as the "ebay gimbal" or "goodluckbuy gimbal" or "CNC machined gimbal" or "CNC gimbal" or "2 axis brushless gimbal". You can find it at about 80$ on banggood.com, goodluckbuy.com or ebay.com - some Chinese sellers. Actually, the most reliable of them was, for me, banggood.com. If you don't mind the wait, the shipping should be free from all of them.
    The disadvantage of the said gimbal is that it's kinda heavy (230 grams). I have seen a newer "goodluckbuy gimbal" advertised at 160 grams. It's called GL-2X. Or go locally and buy from a distributor in your area, the products are the same and the origin is the same: China.

    If you go the gimbal route, do yourself a favor and add a simple FPV system: for example a Boscam TX+RX combo (about 60$) and an el-cheapo car LCD monitor (about 20$ for 4"). Of course you can go with a better monitor, for example one that has the receiver built-in, but it's more expensive. You can find all said items on the Chinese sites I mentioned above or you can buy locally, form a hobby seller, as you prefer.

    However, you have nothing to worry about: the Phantom is very easy to fly, much easier than toy-like quadcopters from Hubsan, Walkera & co. You'll get the hang of it in no-time and you'll start experimenting with camera settings and such very soon.
     
  13. mediaguru

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    If you want your Phantom to fly away, this could be good. Otherwise I would not use the wifi. Read/search here and other forums about wifi and Phantom interference.
     
  14. lostkiwi

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    Don't see why this would be an issue as the FC40 camera is on the same WIFI as the GF6. Also given its 2.4GHz on the Wifi and 5.8GHz on the Phantom controller there should be no issues (thats why FC40s and Visions use 5.8GHz and not 2.4GHz transmitters).
     
  15. T0Rtur3

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    You're right. Over the past few months of lurking on here, and other RC forums, I've learned you have to filter through advice people give on here. Some people will give you downright wrong advice. So be careful, and always use common sense.
     
  16. mediaguru

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    Ah hell if I was mistaken my apologies. I'm in Phantom 1.2 mode.