Choosing the Right Drone and Camera for Reality Capture
Choosing a Drone TypeThere are negatives and positives to the type of drone you choose. Again, Gemmell stressed starting out small and cheap. A tricopter (three-armed) is inexpensive, light weight, and easy to fix if you crash it. However, it's not as powerful as other multi-armed drones like the ocotocopter, which provides good lift and a redundant power supply system. However, it doesn't do well in windy conditions and has a short flight time. What's essential to getting good reality capture shot data is control and steadiness. "Drone flying for Recap is much different than drone flying for recreation," he Gemmell states, "Drone flying for Recap is basically hovering, and fighting the wind, and putting this thing in the right place in space to take an effective picture that will make a 3D model."
Cameras for DronesGemmell experimented with several cameras including the GoPro Hero 3 and the Sony A7R. Obviously weight is an issue when equipping a drone with a camera. The lighter the better. So the GoPro would seem to be a natural choice; however, Gemmell also concluded that the GoPro's smaller sensor just didn't' provide the resolution needed when zooming in on architectural details. One of the things you have to also consider with a camera are settings like ISO and shutter speed. Many settings have to be adjusted prior to launch of the drone since you obviously can't change them from the group. Lens choice for you camera is also a crucial decision. Overall, Gemmell said that he found the following characteristics important for a drone camera lens:
- Prime (fixed focal length) better than zoom (you can "zoom in" by moving the drone closer)
- Wide angle usually better than longer focal distances
- Manual focus to infinity better than auto focus