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Underwater Photography - Phantom 3 Pro Settings

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by Tenly, May 26, 2016.

  1. Tenly

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    I'll bet that subject line catches some attention...

    Sorry to disappoint, but I don't actually plan to try flying my Phantom underwater. As I mentioned in another post, I do need to run a search mission in which I'm looking for something underwater. The depth of the water varies, but during a practice flight the other day, I flew at 10m shooting 4K video and had pretty decent visibility of the bottom of the lake. I even managed to see a few fish...

    But I have a very large area I need to cover so I'm hoping some of you might have some advice/suggestions on how to it do it with maximum efficiency. Obviously, the higher I fly, the more area I can cover in a single frame/shot - but how high can I go and still see the bottom of the lake. Would pictures or video be better? Are there any camera settings that would be better than others for ensuring that I focus on the lakes bottom instead of its surface?

    As of now, I think I'm going to have some trial/error ahead of me - but with your suggestions, I'm hoping to limit my trial and error to a single flight.
     
  2. ack

    ack

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    Altizure software gives you nice pattern for your shots. You can stitch them together later..
     
  3. alokbhargava

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    One thing you need for sure is to have polarizer filter for your camera lens to minimize the reflections from the water.
     
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  4. MasterBlaster

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    I would use Litchi app, set up waypoints that slightly overlap. I have done a search mission over a large area for a lost drone. This way was the most efficient for me. And very easy to set up. You can set altitude as well.
    Afterwards I took it in and watched a few times on my bid screen tv.
    Found the drone in a pine tree :)
    Just a suggestion.


    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
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  5. alokbhargava

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    Altitude app is mainly to create 3D models and he may not really need it. Best for him would be to use missions using apps like Litchi.
     
  6. peter west nz

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    There is nothing wrong with dji ultimate from Ken Argo either. I use it for autonomous missions all the time.
     
  7. Tenly

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    I'm going to try an app called Map Pilot. It allows you to create an area to be mapped that can exceed the capacity of a single battery. It will automatically return to home for battery changes and then resume the mission until it is complete.

    ImageUploadedByPhantomPilots1464252242.445025.jpg

    Using something like Autopilot or Litchi with waypoints is too inaccurate. It would be too easy to miss a spot.

    The apps that are built to fly grids know exactly what route they need to take for the altitude you specified in order to get complete coverage. The only problem is that they want you to fly patters that enable capturing overlapping images which I don't need in this case. It's not really a "problem". It just means that it will take a little longer.

    I've never used it before but it's the only app I've been able to find so far that allows you to specify areas to map that exceed the capabilities of a single battery. DroneDeploy and Pix4dCapture will not allow you to create a mission that requires a battery change.

    How long until some company creates a fish-finder app that flies a grid looking for the best place to fish?
     
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  8. happydays

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    And the fish will have swum away by the time you get to examine the shots :D:D:D
     
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  9. sonof40

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    Not if the water is moving (river).
     
  10. yojo182

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    What about drone deploy works great creates a "google maps" from your drone


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
  11. Wolfiesden

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    Invest in a good polarizer filter. This will remove or substantially cut surface reflections and allow the camera to see into the water better.
     
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  12. Wibble

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    As others have said a good polarised filter is essential. Altitude is also a big bonus. The higher you are the deeper you will see within reason.
    Natural lighting will also make a huge difference. The angle of the sun will vary the results considerably.
     
  13. Tenly

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    Thanks to everyone that suggested a polarized filter. I've got one and I'll definitely use it.

    The problem I see with using DroneDeploy or any similar grid flying software is that most of them seem to isolate they're jobs by the battery. I've got a large area I want to cover. It could take 10 or more batteries to cover it. When setting up a Drone Deoloy mission, there is no way to see which areas I've already covered and which are remaining. It would be very easy to miss a small strip or end up duplicating coverage because of the way mission creation works.

    I like the looks of Map Pilot. It will let me define a very large area that spans multiple batteries, and it will return home for battery changes and then resume mapping where it left off. This seems like the best way to ensure complete coverage with the minimum possible duplication/overlap - at least on paper. In practice I may find something negative about it - but we'll see.

    As for altitude - I'm not sure why you say the higher I am, the deeper I'll see. That doesn't make sense to me. The benefit of being higher is that I'll cover more area with each pass - which means less time/fewer batteries/fewer pictures - but I'm wondering where the sweet spot will be. Once I get too high, the resolution of the lake bottom will not be high enough to use. I flew 2 days ago and recorded video at 45 feet altitude. The vid was very usable. Using pictures will be higher resolution and so I should be able to go higher - hopefully the software will be able to correct for motion blur and produce clear photos without having to stop, settle and shoot at each grid location - if not, it will take a lot longer and I'm wondering if video might make more sense.

    In any case - I guess I'll throw on a polarized filter and go do another test flight and see what happens! In terms of weather and time of day - what do you think makes the most sense to avoid reflections? Mid-day when the sun is directly above? Or morning/evening when the sun is at an angle? Better to shoot on a clear day or overcast?
     
  14. Wibble

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    Regarding altitude just personal experience flying over the Persian Gulf and Red Sea in a variety of aircraft. Our local seas are way too cloudy to see anything the joys of 45' tides!
     
  15. Tenly

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    I can imagine! This fortunately is in a lake - and much of the search area is in fairly shallow water and the proximity of a large island makes for calmer waters the majority of the time...
     
  16. Tenly

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    Well - Map Pilot was a big 'ol fail. The only thing it has going for it is its ability to span multiple batteries - but quite honestly, the UI for their app make me think that it was a "first project" for a retarded child. It really is that bad.

    It wouldn't run my mission because it was too far offshore - between the takeoff point and the first waypoint - it exceeded the 500m distance that DJI permits. They could have easily made this possible by dropping in an extra waypoint or two during the travel phase - but no. They thought it would be better to let you create you entire mission and then just present a vaguely worded popup message as you're attempting to upload your mission to the drone.

    I could have added the extra waypoints on my own - but not specifically for travel. As soon as I drop a waypoint within range, their software expands the mapping area to include my extra waypoint as a map boundary - turning a 4 battery job into a 35 battery job.

    It also wouldn't let me fly any lower than 40m which is also a fail.

    Even when creating a mission without the waypoint issue - the UI doesn't make any sense at all. Things are hidden away in non-intuitive spots, only available some of the time, non-intuitive and difficult to press.

    Their back-end technology may be quite good - but I doubt many people find out since there are other options available for grid-flying with a much more professional, intuitive and robust interface.

    I won't be tiring map pilot again until they do a complete redesign of their UI and either make it intuitive or document how to use it - and provide a better description of any errors that occur as well as advice on how to overcome them!

    So - I'm going to try either DroneDeploy or Pix4DCapture next. Will report back here as to how well they work - but honestly, I don't think it's possible to design an app with a UI worse than the Map Pilot one.

    Companies that have most of their IP hidden behind the scenes need to be extra diligent with their UI's. I'm sure they (at the company) see it as an annoyance - a necessary evil - to collect the data that they can run through their state of the art back-end algorithms - and they may think that their time needs to be spent working on perfecting and improving their back end code - but the customer never sees any of that. All they see is the UI and I for one am going to judge them by what I see! If they are sloppy and careless with their UI - I'm going to assume that their product is sloppy and careless throughout and I'll never trust its output. A wise company would know that and not release their product until it had a UI they could be proud of.

    Map Pilot should be embarrassed by what they've released - as I was when I tried to engage the mission with the customer standing beside me. Partially my fault for not being able to test it myself before putting it in front of a customer - but time just didn't allow for it in this case.

    I was just so disappointed by their offering. I wanted to talk them up. I wanted to like it - but there was literally nothing to like. When I tried a shorter, simpler, closer mission to see if it worked at all - their flagship feature - the ability to resume the mission after a battery change - also failed. It looked like it was going to work. It flew back, let me change the battery and then it appeared to resume - but after the fact when processing the captured images, I noticed that there were 7 photos (out of 400) missing from the middle of the mission. For some reason the auto-resume feature just decided to skip ahead 7 shots.

    Anyhow - I hoe this detailed write up helps someone else from wasting any time with Map Pilot. Their are other alternatives out there. My advice is to try any of them and just give Map Pilot a pass.

    It may be free - but for what you get - that's still far too expensive!!!
     
  17. BVC

    BVC

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    So was this a review of an app or you seriously looking for hidden treasures?

    I have some flight time over the ocean in NorCA/OR and I found taking photos in RAW allowed for a much better way to post edit photos for better viewing.
     
  18. Tenly

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    Turns out it's both!

    The "treasure" I'm looking for is the propeller from a very big boat. Apparently, the prop is worth about $20,000 and I know the rough area in which it was reported lost, however for the sake of thoroughness (and because the previous searchers have all failed), i would like to expand the search area to about 2 square kilometers.

    I was hoping to leverage some off-the-shelf grid flying software so I could be assured that I had searched every single tile - without missing any and without searching the same spot multiple times.

    The first, exploratory trip out there I took, I shot 4K video at about 40 feet above the surface and I had very good visibility across most of my sample area - but I was flying manually and only had one battery charged at the time - so it was far from a comprehensive analysis.

    Since then, I went to a closer area of the same lake to test a bunch of options - I wanted to see how high I could get while still making out details/silhouettes of the lakes bottom - and I found that (that day) I could see through to the bottom all the way up as high as 120m!

    This hasn't been the case when I've gone back to the target area. Even at just 40m altitude, I have seen mostly reflections of the sky. I'm not sure I've quite figured out the best atmospheric and environmental conditions for seeing through the water and I'm open to advice. I imagine that depth and calmness of the water also plays a part. Right now, I'm thinking that a rippled surface is better than a completely smooth one so it doesn't reflect as much. As for time
    of day, what do you think? Maybe an hour after "high noon?

    So - I'm also still looking for suggestions for grid flying software. Ideally, something that will keep track (across missions/batteries/days/weeks) of the total area that has already been shot.
     
  19. WetDog

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    If you use the polarizer, bear in mind that when you change the rotation of the P3, the polarizing effect will change. You may get significantly better results by looking down when you are actually filming, rotating the craft until you get the best results and then staying on paths that keep that orientation roughly similar. Of course, this changes with the sun angle so you have to recheck occasionally.

    Another factor is water clarity. This often improves in the winter when algae and it's microscopic friends are quiescent. Since the propeller isn't going anywhere, if you can be patient that might help as well.
     
  20. Tenly

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    Get the fork out of here! Are you making this **** up or is it really true? If you're making it up - then Bravo! It sounds *just* crazy enough that it might be true so I'm gonna go ahead and fall for it! lol

    Seriously though - I had no ofa that's how polarizing lenses worked! But what happens if I'm in Australia? lol

    Ok - so I'll definitely give that a try. You used the word "filming". Do you think shooting video might be better than taking pictures? Pictures have a higher resolution and so can cover more ground, from higher up - but it takes longer to focus on each phot whereas video can be filmed in one continuous runs and just slowed down for review during playback.

    What about best time of day/angle of sun for seeing down through the water.

    As for the clearer water in winter - that's certainly an option if it hasn't been found by then - but waiting is not. I am not the only they've asked for help finding it.