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Full camera control - is it even possible?

Hello everyone,

I have some experience with both ardupilot and DJI drones, DJI drones with DJI cameras and other cameras etc. From my experience, DJI integration of DJI cameras and drones made imaging relatively easy task, however, cameras that DJI has maybe are not the best cameras that can be used for e.g. mapping.

For that reason, we have a few Sony A7RI/II cameras. Those cameras are full-frame mirrorless cameras that on the paper - should have really high-quality images. In practice, unfortunately, I struggle to get the same quality as with DJI cameras with the drone.

The book says that during mapping missions most parameters of the camera have to be manually set on the fixed value and not change during the mission. This makes it hard for me since I have a lens (samyang 24mm AF) with electronic manual focus and focus ring does not have a full stop, and when it is turned to the furthest point, objects in the infinity actually become less sharp. Anyways, it is very hard to adjust focus on the ground and have sharp, crisp images from the air. I get unsatisfactory results from imaging missions using this approach more that I would like to admit, and it is a bit frustrating.

This issue is nonexistent with the DJI cameras and drones because seamless integration allows for e.g. flying to the planned flight distance and spending a minute to tweak a camera, set the ISO, shutter speed, manual focus etc.

I know it can not be expected to have this possibility with every consumer camera that is out there but I have to admit that it makes a job far easier.

First, I would like to know your workflow when conducting mapping missions. Camera settings, fixed and free parameters etc.

Other than that, do you know any solution to increase the number of parameters that can be controlled remotely? I am aware of e.g. gentles limited six-function camera controller, but unfortunately, out of those six controls I use only one - shutter. I would like to be able to change ISO, aperture, shutter speed, EV and focus remotely. Another solution that I have never used and haven’t ever seen being used or mentioned on this forum is - CAMremote - http://camremotes.com/ or old site - https://vp-systems.eu/support.html

CAMremote
The CAMremote is highly integrated miniature remote control device for cameras and camcorders.
It can control the camera’s remote features like shutter, zoom, aperture/shutter speed values, manual focus etc.

Anyone ever used it? And also, please give me your view of setting the right parameters for mapping mission!

Brs,
Luka

Sony cameras can be fully controlled trough the python api (a7r 1 2 3) or trough the new sdk sony released for the a7r iv.
Python api supports wifi, while new sdk supports only usb-c connetion.
We control pretty much everything on a sony a7R IV with the new sdk, we use it for photovoltaic job.
In the past we used a samyang 135mm for wich we built a focus motor based on lidar distance from subject, now we use a sony G series 135mm with autofocus and change the zone that we want to have in focus with the sdk.
Why don’t you use an auto focus lens?

regards,

Corrado

Nice!

So how do you do it?

Apparently you have to connect PC to camera WIFI to make it work? I assume that WIFI does not have the same range as RC, so is there any way to ensure a bigger range?

This lens (Samyang 24mm AF) is an autofocus lens, but I do not want autofocus as it would be different for every image and that would lead to instability of camera calibration parameters. Having the AF would be nice to capture the first image and lock it, however still difficult since I can not control this in the air.

Luka

We use an on board pc (raspberry) connected to the camera and change camera settings trough it. Control the pc from remote is a bit more complicated, can do in few different way, we use an ipmesh so that all the appliances of the drones are on same network with the ground station.

Hmm, that sounds a bit complicated if companion PC is used only for the camera control. I suppose you do not use it only for camera control.
I contacted those guys that produce CAMremote and apparently it can be used to control almost all functions of the camera, but not sony A7R and A7RII (A7RIII and A7RIV can). That seems like a simple way to do it.

It depends what you mean by can control almost all functions. Trough the api you can control hundreds of parameters, it depends what you need to change in your application.
If i had to do what you described, i would use autofocus and lock it after first shot, you can do that with the api but not with that remote you linked or maybe you can but i couldn’t find any good manual of it.
Corrado

Yes, that is true. If you need to have total control of the camera I guess that is a way to go.
Meanwhile, I checked again with the guys that produce CAMremote, and they have most functions implemented, but then again some are not. However, toggle AF (focus and maintain that focus) is implemented!
Having this device weigh 3g and being quite straightforward solution, I think this is what I am going to get!

Great solution!!!

Corrado

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