Aerial Imaging

May 9, 2017
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Newbie Here, looking to learn about the 3DR Solo. Been looking for a platform to fly light mirrorless cameras with for a while. As a photographer, the 1/2.3" sensors just don't cut it. I'd looked at the 3DR Solo in the past for video with the GoPro but missed at the time the ability to send video via HDMI to the ground.

If I used a static mount and a Sony A5000 or RX100 with micro HDMI, and the Sony apps for invalometer, am I going to hit any other snags getting this flying camera to shoot? My thought is to just Sony's Timelapse app, run RAW+JPEG once every 2-5 seconds, and just pause where I want the image taken long enough to get a few frames. As long as I can see framing on the ground I'll be happy.

Anything I need to know? Lots of talk about mounting other cameras, but not a lot of detail, want to make sure before I dive in. Thanks.
I use a Canon S110 payload with a weight of 13 oz. on a static mount with zero issues. No HDMI out though. Looking for a camera with the video out so I am not flying blind and guessing what I'm talking pictures of.
Thanks David, flying blind is what I'm hoping to avoid! I see plenty of comments on it, seems straight forward enough but I've been down "that" road too many times so wanted to do a bit of homework before I purchase a bunch of stuff.
I also am looking for a similar camera as your idea. It needs to have a video out HDMI that is active all the time and be able to take a picture on it's own every x amount of seconds. Hooking up to the static Solo mount is easy. I do recommend rolling up ear plugs and inserting them in the damper balls on the static Solo mount when carrying heavier cameras. Keeps the heavier camera more stable. 12 MP and flying blind is so 5 years ago.
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Great tip, thanks. The Sony NEX-5R or 5T looks like it might be a good fit, only 16MP, but good APS-C output. . As far as I can tell it outputs HDMI while recording according to other posts on the web. It'll also run Sony's TimeLapse app (which I've used and already bought). I'm not sure if it'll output HDMI while running that app though, might have to buy that camera first to test it. The thing about Sony apps, they run in their own little world, with access to some camera features not available. I can test on my A7II, but doesn't guarantee it'll work on Nex 5T.

According to this, it seems the A5100 may as well, then you've got 24MP, though its a good bit more expensive. Sony A5100 for Filmmakers (Atomos Ninja 2 and Tascam DR-60D): Sony Alpha / Nex E-mount (APS-C) Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
I'll be looking for something 20MP plus. Bigger sensor the better but also keeping the weight under control is a plus. I may go to best buy with my Solo, controller and tablet and try and test a number of cameras. Sales people will probably get bored with me though.
Ha, they'll leave you alone after a while. A5100 is your best bet then. It has the Sony A6000 sensor in it, 24MP, great IQ at reasonable ISO. The 16mm and 20mm pancakes are 70 grams each I believe. The 20 is better optically but a stop or two down the 16 isn't bad either.

The only question about testing at BB, is HDMI out while using the app. One problem you may have at BestBuy is their display's usually power via the Micro USB, which will block HDMI port...
Also keep in mind that just because a camera outputs HDMI does not mean that it will be compatible with the Solo. There is a good chance that it will, just not a guarantee.
As a different option you could mount a separate FPV camera and Vtx which is coaxially mounted to provide a live video view. Not ideal, but if you have a good mapping camera without HDMI , it would be cheaper to just add an inexpensive FPV system than buy a new $700 camera.
Obviously you would need a matching ground video receiver, but it would not need to interface with Solo at all.
Nokia 808 Purview has a 1/1.2 sensor and the live feed works. I use mine all the time
I have a F 450 with a Pixhawk 1 and gimbal plus 600Mw Vtx. Runs on 3.4.6 Arducopter. Trying to have one of my Solo's have a decent high MP camera and be able to use the system as if it just had a Gopro on it with out the gimbal. Not like the attached picture


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I've seen the Sony A5000 listed as working for live view, the question to me is triggering. On the one hand I'd love to play around with more complex setups for better results, on the other I don't have as much time to devote to this as I'd like. Which is why I'm willing to go static mount and use the software intervalometer.

One other I'm thinking about is the EOS-M, running magic lantern as the intervalometer. It has an HDMI out, but haven't seen any mentions of it working...

Scrub, how's the Nokia in challenging light (sunrise, etc...)


Couple of images of the mount I came up with. It was part of a selfie stick and a gopro attachment. I swapped out all of the steel gopro screws for aluminum screws and aluminum nyloc nuts because they are lighter and will help with "Magnetic Interference "
We use a Ricoh GR2 for mapping a lot. With manual mode you can lock down the settings to get good shots.
I've seen people using a few different cameras with success. Decisions, decisions. Panasonic, Ricoh and one other a can't recall at the moment.
For David and others, I found a Best Buy refurbished 3DR for right at $200 and decided to jump on it (mine doesn't seem to be one of the horror stories that 3-4 of the reviews on there mention.

Anyway came in today, I don't have the A5000 or A5100 handy, but tested on my A7II and can confirm that HDMI live view works, and Timelapse app will run while HDMI out is running. Just need to set HDMI Info Setting to Off, otherwise the LCD on camera will shut off.

I'm not a drone expert though I know a good bit about cameras and I'm confident the A5100 (24MP APS-C) is going to be the best large sensor you can easily fly on this (though I saw someone mention an RX1 - I don't have those stones). Camera is 275g, the 16mm and 20mm pancakes are about 70g. I also have an RX100MkIII I'd wanted for normal photography so may use that as well since it clocks in at about 280g total. The app is simple to use and only costs $9.99. You pick a time delay and a number of shots (30 minimum) and it'll tell you the total shooting time, then pick a format in the menu. I'm thinking 5 seconds to avoid wasting too many shots without having to wait too long to take the next. When the camera shoots the live view temporarily blacks out so you know it's shot. I'll have to test more how to set exposure settings. I think you're going to want to setup the camera before entering the app.

Look forward to testing more this weekend.

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