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(newb alert!) Phantom FC40 camera upgrade....

Discussion in 'Phantom FC40 Discussion' started by james22, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. james22

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    Hi Guys/Gals, new to the forum and new to multirotors!

    Got myself an DJI Phantom FC40 a couple of weeks back and I must say I absolutely LOVE IT! Up till now I have only owned/flown cheapy syma gyro helicopters (big and small) which I enjoyed, but the Phantom is a completely different animal all together, and I'm just realising the possibilities of such a machine.

    That said, i'm already wanting better image quality from the on board camera. I'm not knocking the FC40 camera, its what I expected, and I already had a Gopro upgrade in mind before I even purchased it. Photography is my main hobby, I use a Canon 5DII for most of my work, so I guess naturally I'm going to be a bit critical of image quality, although i'm not expecting anything DSLR quality wise from any compact/action camera, I am realistic....

    Ultimately I want the best STILL image quality I can possibly achieve with my phantom. I'm not over fussed about video quality, although it's nice to have and I will use it for fun. I want to take nice aerial shots.

    I'm guessing something like a GOPRO Hero 3 or 3+ is going to be my best option? unless you guys have other suggestions..?

    Because I'm only worried about still shots, is an expensive gimbal really going to be needed? or could I get away with a cheaper less complex mounting option?

    An lastly, I would like to retain FPV. Am I best of keeping the FC40 camera mounted on the phantom for this, or should I /can I use the Gopro for FPV...which I guess would be very handy for previewing the compositions of the photos I take.

    Could someone explain to this dummy, exactly what components I would need to run FPV from the gopro, and roughly how it all works...?

    Would very much appreciate any advice, and I apologise if the above questions are done to death on this forum.

    James. :)
     
  2. lake_flyer

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    I had the same dilemma, shooting with pro Nikon (D)SLRs since the early 80's. I now have the little FC40 cam only for FPV, although the video quality is really not that bad compared to a 720P/30 fps from a Gopro, and use a Gopro Hero3+ silver for stills. Great combination. I have the Gopro for only a week now. Still figuring out if I like the FC40 vids better than the Gopros. They seem more fluid. The 100degree field of view from the FC40 is only mildly distorted. The Gopro almost has a fisheye distortion. But the 10MP stills are great and full of detail. I would suggest to fly with dual battery to get enough flight time over the subject as well as improved balance and inertia which helps to get fluid flying and steady shots.
    Although I will probably add a gimbal sooner or later I manage to get pretty steady shots after some practicing in Atti mode. The quad is a part of the wind that way and will keep a steady attitude during the takes.

    So my advice: a Gopro is certainly a good add on but keep the FC40 cam for the FPV and video while you take the shots with the Gopro. The Gopro has a terrible lag in wifi, 2-4 seconds so not usable for FPV. You would need a 1.3 or 2.4 GHz videoTx/Rx set with a separate video monitor to be able to do that. The FC40 camera is just absolutely brilliant for FPV if only we could extend the range a bit. But a lot of ideas are already successfully tested, search the forum. Learn to fly in Atti before investing in a gimbal. Eventually you will find that even with a gimbal, Atti flying is the way to get the best shots. And Atti can save the live of your Phantom when it has trouble with GPS reception.

    tip: http://www.eglobalcentral.eu/gopro-hd-hero-3-silver-edition-en.html. I paid 226.99Euro incl shipping and it arrived with DHL Express in 3 days from Hongkong to Netherlands last week.

    Cheers
    Jan
     
  3. james22

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    Hi Jan, thankyou for your reply, very helpful. I'm supprised about the gopro 720p quality, I thought it would be better than the FC40. The fisheye distortion concerns me a bit, but I can probably minimise that a bit in a program like photoshop.

    I do a few local craft fairs with my normal landscape photography, and I "was" quite excited at the idea of adding in a few aerial shots of local rural areas, but I have since read that to do this i need to apply to the CAA for permission, as I guess this would be deemed as "valuable consideration" if I end up selling any prints made from my flights? and as far as i can tell, it would cost me £1000+ to get the qualification for this!!!?? I must admit, I'm abit gutted about that.

    Maybe another UK flyer on here could comfirm exactly where I stand with regards to the law on taking aerial landscape images to sell on..?

    Thanks

    James
     
  4. lake_flyer

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    Hi James,

    I don't think the quality of the FC40 cam is actually better than the Gopro. What i find is the field of view is perfect and the 30fps doesn't stress the memory card much so the video's are quite smooth. And in broad daylight the performance is quite good. I may need a faster micro SD card for the Gopro, after all, full HD @ 120fps is a whole different ball game.

    Both are great in their own field.

    With the Gopro you get GoproStudio with templates that automatically remove lens distortion for the various Gopro models.
     
  5. CarlJ

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    GoPro Hero3+ Silver - 1080-60 @ 30 Mbps
    FC40 Camera - 720-30 @ 12 Mbps

    It's simple math guys, the GroPro blows the doors off the FC40 camera.

    The FC40 camera doesn't stress the memory card because it uses so little data. Now if you're happy with the FC40 camera, I'm happy for you, but new members need to understand which camera is better and why.

    Edit:
    And this is the exact reason that you need the faster capacity MicroSD card for the GoPro because it's recording twice the resolution at twice the frame rate with more than double the bit rate.
     
  6. DKDarkness

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    If you want to go straight up, take a picture and use FPV to see what the camera is seeing... Consider using a Sony Rx100 mrk II or III with WiFi and do a custom mount for it. (Remember to get insurance for the camera!) Use the build in WiFi as FPV and remote shutter etc. The build in WiFi runs 2.4 gHz and should not interfere with the FC40 5.8 gHz control (more than the FC40 camera does). You can even build a WiFi repeater for the Sony RX 100 mrk II/III. I use this setup for my P2V and GoPro Hero 3, and it is working out for me :)
     
  7. CarlJ

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    I think in terms of cameras we should all be mindful that the Hero 4 looks to be a real ball buster once it's released (should be this year). My main concern is the form factor...can they squeeze all that 4K resolution at 30fps (1080@120fps!), image stabilization, ect into the current size of the Hero3/+?

    I think we're all going to want one, but will it require us to change out our gimbals?
     
  8. DKDarkness

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    Having a look at the AR Drone 3.0 (BeBop) might give an impression of what is in wait. No gimbal, just camera and software to stabilize the footage http://www.parrot.com/usa/products/bebop-drone/
     
  9. CarlJ

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    I stabilize everything in After Effects, and software stabilization works well, but it's far from perfect. I think many of us are giddy at the prospect of 3 point stabilization. I hate to say it, but I consider the BeBop little more than a toy.
     
  10. DKDarkness

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    The difference between stabilizing your 1080p footage in After Effects, and stabilizing on the fly, is that you have to crop your 1080p (1920x1080) footage to stabilize it. If you stabilize footage from a 14 m/pix (4320x3240) camera on the fly, you will still have true 1080p after stabilization.
     
  11. CarlJ

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    Given the effect of the new 3D gimbals, this seems counter intuitive to me. In fact Ian's new film was done with zero stabilization besides the 3D gimbal...unbelievably smooth.

    I'm still pretty blown away by the glass like smoothness of the video, and I'm not sure about the rest of you, but that's the direction I'm planing.
     
  12. pert

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    Mobius camera. very nice .cant beat it for the price, no problem with GPS. guess I got lucky on that. the fc40 ok but want to get as much DJI crap off of it. cheap bastards could of put sound on it . but guess that's whats expected from a scum bag company that don't answer email or fix there f ups. hope your reading scum bags :twisted:
     
  13. CarlJ

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    I have sound...you're not missing a thing.
     
  14. lake_flyer

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    Yeah, I realised that myself as I already posted. But you're totally right.
    I A-B'd the Gopro and FC40 yesterday with a class10 card and the Gopro result clearly was much better now.
     
  15. lostkiwi

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    The biggest issue with any stills camera on a Phantom will be the WiFi range. Sony can do about 20m reliably (50 at a push). Thats not going to be enough for most people.
    This is where the GoPro comes into its own. Its light enough not to upset the balance of the phantom too much, high enough resolution to get reasonable results.
    The fisheye effect is a pain but you can correct afterwards in software if its too bad. If I shoot video I use the Narrow or Medium view settings on the Hero 3+ Black I have. That removes the distortion pretty much entirely.

    For still photography the GoPro is seriously compromised in my view. It lacks interchangeable lenses, image stabilisation, aperture settings (not so important when 100 metres up I guess) and any of the sophistication that a good many pro and even prosumer cameras have. I'm still working out how to get my Panasonic GF3 aloft - I think I have it sussed now - just need the time to make the mount.
     
  16. CarlJ

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    I would like to be your friend.

    I like the fisheye lens, but you don't...and I thought we were friends, but I agree that photos with the GoPro are crap, so we're still on the same side there.

    But why do I feel like I'm the only one working at this relationship? :cry:
     
  17. Silicastorm

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    I am considering the FC40 for possible hobby photography on vacation, primarily for still shots.

    And videos taken would be a bonus

    Could anyone provide actual still photos from the FC40 camera? Or a link?
     
  18. mikey

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    I only received my fc40 last week (a whopping 4 flights under my belt).. I'll see if I can snap a few stills this weekend for you - providing weather cooperates. My understanding the stills are no better than 720p... which isn't crash hot when converted to mp (maybe someone can chime in on that conversion)
     
  19. zerodb

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    It is literally less than a 1 megapixel still camera. There doesn't seem to be any real advantage to shooting stills when they're basically just the same as a single-frame capture from video. I just start recording when I take off and keep recording till I land.

    It does seem that when recording, the FPV feed from the FC40 is laggier and possibly lower quality, so if you can put a better camera like a gopro on for recording, and use the FC40 cam for FPV, you at least get better results on both live and recorded video. If it's stills you're after, set the gopro to shoot constantly on an interval, and be sure you match up (as well as possible) the framing of the FC40 live feed with the GoPro, so you can use it as a viewfinder of sorts.
     
  20. njpollard

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    The FC40 video is pretty good, but the stills are poor, unfortunately. Resolution is bad, exposure and colour balance are all over the place. The photo below is the best of a bad bunch (and that's after some editing).

    The advantage of the GoPro 3 for me is the fact that you can use a gimbal to stabilise video, and the stills are much better than the FC40 camera.

    As far as the GoPro 4 goes, software stabilisation will solve the shakiness, but won't be able to compensate for very much pitch and roll.
     

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