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What camera for your drone?

The drone world has a few favorite camera models; the all-conquering GoPro is amongst them but it’s not the only one. Indeed the price of the GoPro and its flat-on proportions don’t lend it to smaller racing quads, where the compact Mobius dominates.

Sacre Coeur, by Amos Chapple Sacre Coeur, by Amos Chapple

GoPro

The original ‘action camera,’ the GoPro Hero series is popular with broadcasters and action enthusiasts because it was the first camera designed to make capturing sports footage easy while staying close to broadcast standard. It didn’t hurt the company’s image that the founder outwardly epitomised the surf lifestyle, talking up the money he raised selling beads (and mentioning rather less the huge investment from his parents).
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There are regular refreshes to the GoPro, but the Hero 3 and Hero 4 have most support in the gimbal and follow-me drone market; any changes to the form factor (shape & positioning of buttons and ports) that post-date this book might pose problems, so make sure you’re selecting a compatible GoPro.

  • MAX VIDEO RESOLUTION: 4K
  • MAX FPS: 120 (@1080p)
  • Field of view: 133.6° 41 x 59 x 30mm
  • 88g (83g for Hero 3 series)

808

This bargain keychain video camera, which can be found at online stores for about the price of a Big Mac meal, is a favorite for fliers expecting to crash! It’s rugged and cheap, which is where its appeal lies, but its certainly not for the faint of heart; typically found from retailers who don’t provide a lot in the way of instruction, especially not in a language you can read.
There are numerous versions of this product—the 720p version was #16—which means you need to check the specs carefully when ordering from your hobby supplier. A downloadable Windows app can be used to alter camera settings.
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  • MAX VIDEO RESOLUTION: 720P
  • MAX FPS: 30 (@720p)
  • Field of view: varies with model 50 x 32 x 16mm / inches
  • 38g (1 1⁄4 oz)

Mobius

A successor to the still-popular 808 series, the Mobius embraces the ‘action camera’ status with faster frame rates, improved picture quality and Full HD. The camera is sold with a clip-case that features a standard tripod mount. Additionally a number of mounting attachments and housings are available for cycling, watersports and so on.
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The metal ‘buttons’ are actually a heat sink, allowing the camera to disperse the heat the processor generates while encoding video. A useful feature for pilots is that the video can be recorded either way up, so the mounting isn’t too problematic. As with the 808, Windows (and Android) apps access settings.

  • MAX VIDEO RESOLUTION: 1080P
  • MAX FPS: 60 (@720P)
  • Field of View : 116 at 1080p, 63° at 720p60 61 x 35 x 18mm / 21⁄2 x 11⁄2 x 3⁄4 inches
  • 38g (1 1⁄4 oz)

Panasonic Lumix GH

The Panasonic Lumix GH3 and GH4 cameras are popular because they use the well established Micro Four Thirds lens system, an interchangeable lens standard agreed between several manufacturers. This means you will have no trouble finding a good lightweight lens for aerial videography.
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The Lumix offers a high bitrate, a generous 100mpbs (mega bits per second), but the data rate is the same for 96fps as 24, so the quality is lower at high frame rates. It also offers 48fps, exactly double the classic movie frame rate making editing together with pro footage easy.

  • MAX VIDEO RESOLUTION: 4K
  • MAX FPS: 96 (@720P)
  • Field of View: Depends on lens
  • 133 x 93 x 84mm / 5.2 x 3.6 x 3.3 inches 560g (19.75 oz) without lens

The Complete Guide to Drones is Adam Juniper’s comprehensive introduction if you’re thinking of dipping your toe into the world of drones. This book will show you everything you could need to know. What types you can buy (or build), how they work, how to fly them, all the relevant rules and how to keep ahead of the weather.

The Complete Guide to Drones, Adam JuniperThe Complete Guide to Drones
Adam Juniper

 
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RRP for print edition: £14.99