Lifting a DSLR - What would it take?

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nah we get that you still guys are a little odd
but that is a good thing since most of us video guys are just plum bat sh*t crazy
 
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Ed,

I definitely respect your desire to put a DSLR in the air...but I would say, after thinking about this a LOT myself, that something like an RX100, a Panasonic GM1/5 with maybe the PanLeica 15/1.7, or even better perhaps, the APS-C-based Ricoh GR, all will take pretty darn good pictures. Of course not as good as a D810, but wow, esp with the Ricoh GR, even small drones can easily lift it, and the image quality is really good...I like the image quality about as much, depending on the subject and lighting, etc, as my D600 and 24-85 VR

Depending on your audience and your display device, I think the GR could go a long long way to satisfying the need for D810-type quality, and with a WHOLE lot less $$/complexity flying in the air.

If a person would say the GoPro image quality is a 5 (on a scale of 1-10), and a D810 is a 10, I'd say the Ricoh GR is a 9.5.

Anyway, my 2 cents. :)

--

Bill



I've been flying the Solo and posting over on the Solo board for a while now. I hope this is an OK question (not too stupid).

I'm a professional photographer. I got into drones because I have a pilot certificate and with a Section 333 I had a market advantage. The thing that's always ticked me off about the Solo package is the image quality. I'm not going to be happy until I can lift a DSLR to get the kind of images I want.

At the same time I need to watch my budget, I can't justify lifting $10k worth of drone and gear.

My perfect scenario is:
  • Lift a Nikon D800 (31.1 oz / 880 g)
  • Add a 24mm f/2.8 lens (12.6 oz / 355 g)
  • Mounted on a 3D gimbal which I can change the angle on.
  • Get a visual feedback on an iPhone or Android tablet
  • Be able to program Smart Shots (this is a stretch scenario, as I also like Tower to program flight paths).

I'd be willing to use a lesser camera, like the Nikon D7200. It weight less, but lacks the full frame.

Both cameras have HDMI and USB ports.

I'm not worried about being able to start and stop shots in flight, I'm OK with turning video on before takeoff or using my interval timer.

Is this even a feasible scenario?

Any pointers on what to use to accomplish this?

Thanks,
 
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there are a lot of smaller cameras competing easily with DSLRs
a new trend in photography is using stills from 4K video
Now days the key is being able to shoot raw. and many compacts do that, and 4K
Not saying they are as pixel perfect as larger cameras, just saying the results are very good on some of the mirrorless size compacts
 
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I think the payload you're asking it to carry would be too much without changing the power profile via props/motors.
YouTube has a lift video - Must watch - Stock SOLO will lift up to 3 1/2 lbs easily.
 
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Interesting thread! So Ed, have you flown your D800 yet? I want to do the same thing. You can control a gimbal by remote control but how do you remote control a D800?
 
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I've been flying the Solo and posting over on the Solo board for a while now. I hope this is an OK question (not too stupid).

I'm a professional photographer. I got into drones because I have a pilot certificate and with a Section 333 I had a market advantage. The thing that's always ticked me off about the Solo package is the image quality. I'm not going to be happy until I can lift a DSLR to get the kind of images I want.

At the same time I need to watch my budget, I can't justify lifting $10k worth of drone and gear.

My perfect scenario is:
  • Lift a Nikon D800 (31.1 oz / 880 g)
  • Add a 24mm f/2.8 lens (12.6 oz / 355 g)
  • Mounted on a 3D gimbal which I can change the angle on.
  • Get a visual feedback on an iPhone or Android tablet
  • Be able to program Smart Shots (this is a stretch scenario, as I also like Tower to program flight paths).

I'd be willing to use a lesser camera, like the Nikon D7200. It weight less, but lacks the full frame.

Both cameras have HDMI and USB ports.

I'm not worried about being able to start and stop shots in flight, I'm OK with turning video on before takeoff or using my interval timer.

Is this even a feasible scenario?

Any pointers on what to use to accomplish this?

Thanks,
Ed,

I've thought about this quite a bit as well. The option I've come up with us a Ricoh GR (or GRII)... APS-C, and sharp as heck 28mm lens...for about 280 grams, which almost any drone can lift.
 
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That's a good idea, downsize the camera rather than upsizing the drone. May be the only workable solution for under $10K. As a fine art photographer like you, I am finding it painfully hard to give up the glorious sensor in my D800E. I'm attaching a sensor comparison between the GRii and the D800. As you can see - big big difference.d800 ricoh gr2 sensor delete.jpg

Re your thoughts on ISO earlier in this thread, take a look at the Sports ratings. DxOMark defines this number as: "the highest ISO setting for a camera that allows it to achieve a SNR of 30dB while keeping a good dynamic range of 9 EVs and a color depth of 18bits". They rate the D800 at 2853 ISO which is quite a bit higher than your desired maximum ISO setting of 1,000 or less. Using this as a benchmark, I calculate that the Grii ISO equivalent to your 1000 benchmark would be 377.

That certainly takes it out of the range of fine art photography, even in bright light. I don't know if you are aware of this, but if you are shooting stationary subjects you can take a burst of maybe 10 frames. Then you use the magic of image processing in Photoshop to smush all that information together to produce either (a) one image with much higher resolution, or (b) a much larger image with the same resolution. This works because the image noise is random while the real image is not. So if you add 1/10th of each of 10 images together, you'll reduce the noise by a factor of 10 (about 3.5 f/stops). Also, after aligning the images, the processing looks at the same pixel for all 10 images and performs a median filter to decide which pixel value best represents it. If you combine that with some HDR to get the bit depth back up to 14 bits, I think you can approach D800 image quality pretty closely. So that is a good way to get away with a cheaper, light weight camera. But I don't think I would go as low as the Ricoh. Probably better with a Sony or Lumix.
 

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That's a good idea, downsize the camera rather than upsizing the drone. May be the only workable solution for under $10K. As a fine art photographer like you, I am finding it painfully hard to give up the glorious sensor in my D800E. I'm attaching a sensor comparison between the GRii and the D800. As you can see - big big difference.View attachment 9924

Re your thoughts on ISO earlier in this thread, take a look at the Sports ratings. DxOMark defines this number as: "the highest ISO setting for a camera that allows it to achieve a SNR of 30dB while keeping a good dynamic range of 9 EVs and a color depth of 18bits". They rate the D800 at 2853 ISO which is quite a bit higher than your desired maximum ISO setting of 1,000 or less. Using this as a benchmark, I calculate that the Grii ISO equivalent to your 1000 benchmark would be 377.

That certainly takes it out of the range of fine art photography, even in bright light. I don't know if you are aware of this, but if you are shooting stationary subjects you can take a burst of maybe 10 frames. Then you use the magic of image processing in Photoshop to smush all that information together to produce either (a) one image with much higher resolution, or (b) a much larger image with the same resolution. This works because the image noise is random while the real image is not. So if you add 1/10th of each of 10 images together, you'll reduce the noise by a factor of 10 (about 3.5 f/stops). Also, after aligning the images, the processing looks at the same pixel for all 10 images and performs a median filter to decide which pixel value best represents it. If you combine that with some HDR to get the bit depth back up to 14 bits, I think you can approach D800 image quality pretty closely. So that is a good way to get away with a cheaper, light weight camera. But I don't think I would go as low as the Ricoh. Probably better with a Sony or Lumix.
For what it's worth...

I totally disagree that a Ricoh GR with it's APS-C sensor is "certainly out of the range of fine art photography, even in bright light".

I'll admit I'm not a "fine art" photographer, but I know the Ricoh GR, and it's very sharp lens, can create quite a pleasing/excellent image, even when compared to a D800/similar (and after all, the OP was considering a Nikon APS-C camera as an alternative to the D800, meaning the Ricoh GR is clearly up to the task).

Look it just depends if a person wants that last 5 to 10% of image quality (in good lighting I'm talking), that carrying all that extra weight/cost will provide.

And also remembering that the best camera you have is the one with you...meaning being able to FAR more conveniently get the Ricoh GR up in the air means a person will have FAR more opportunities to produce "great" images.

My 2 cents...
 
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Is your name Ed too? With respect, my reply was taking Ed's original inquiry into account (see Mar 1 2017) in which he meticulously discusses his requirements as a fine art photographer. Nevertheless, with respect to your comment, the objective sensor data I posted says it all. There is no fixed subjective standard for what constitutes a "fine art photograph" other than the fact that the artist has done everything s/he can do technically to produce the best image possible for the purpose for which it is intended. E.g. using a tripod. That in turn depends on a number of factors such as whether you are doing commercial photography or fine art photography. It also depends on whether you are going to print the images and if so, how large. If the Ricoh were the equivalent of the D800 or newer full frame sensor cameras, the big camera manufacturers would not keep making better and better 35mm format cameras such as Nikon's D850 and Z7. There must be a demand for these or the manufacturers wouldn't keep pushing the limit to make them better. My subject matter is stationary and by using the multiple shot technique I described above, I can produce an image of 100 Mpixels or more, which I can then print on 4 x 6 foot paper for exhibition purposes. Otherwise, to maintain the standards of my colleagues, I would have to buy a medium format camera. Most fine art photographers do not run around snapping handheld pictures with smaller format cameras unless they are either printing them small, or distributing via the internet. May I ask: what is the end purpose of the pics you are taking with a Ricoh G or equivalent? If you know somebody with a high res 35mm sensor camera such as the D800, I suggest you do a side by side trial of identical subject matter. You will clearly see a difference.
 
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Is your name Ed too? With respect, my reply was taking Ed's original inquiry into account (see Mar 1 2017) in which he meticulously discusses his requirements as a fine art photographer. Nevertheless, with respect to your comment, the objective sensor data I posted says it all. There is no fixed subjective standard for what constitutes a "fine art photograph" other than the fact that the artist has done everything s/he can do technically to produce the best image possible for the purpose for which it is intended. E.g. using a tripod. That in turn depends on a number of factors such as whether you are doing commercial photography or fine art photography. It also depends on whether you are going to print the images and if so, how large. If the Ricoh were the equivalent of the D800 or newer full frame sensor cameras, the big camera manufacturers would not keep making better and better 35mm format cameras such as Nikon's D850 and Z7. There must be a demand for these or the manufacturers wouldn't keep pushing the limit to make them better. My subject matter is stationary and by using the multiple shot technique I described above, I can produce an image of 100 Mpixels or more, which I can then print on 4 x 6 foot paper for exhibition purposes. Otherwise, to maintain the standards of my colleagues, I would have to buy a medium format camera. Most fine art photographers do not run around snapping handheld pictures with smaller format cameras unless they are either printing them small, or distributing via the internet. May I ask: what is the end purpose of the pics you are taking with a Ricoh G or equivalent? If you know somebody with a high res 35mm sensor camera such as the D800, I suggest you do a side by side trial of identical subject matter. You will clearly see a difference.
Never said the Ricoh's APS-C sensor was the "equivalent" of a full-frame sensor (I understand and agree that a full-frame camera, with, in this case, a VERY sharp lens, will produce a better image), just that the Ricoh GR is worth considering given that it's so much easier/cheaper to mount and fly on a drone.
 
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