Control Systems

Camera control technologies range from Silly Putty to radio systems -- gather your notes on how to set up the cradle here

What's new in 2020?

Hello, and greetings from Bahrain! I've been away from this forum for some time, but still fly kites and my (Canon S100) camera from time-to-time.
I'm curious to know what's new in 2020?

  • Anyone still flying dSLR's?
  • Has 1" (sensor) cameras became popular? (Was really excited about the Sony RX0, but all sample GoPro stills looked better.)
  • Most interesting: is live feedback common among Kapers? I saw a DJI drone with live feedback on an iPhone, and was blown away with the quality, distance and refresh rate. If so, how is it done? WiFi? 4G/LTE? Other dedicated frequency / protocol?
  • Do modern cameras support remote-triggering?
  • Are modern cameras still hack-able (CHDK / SDM)? I still rely on SDM and my trusted gentWIRE-USB or CAMremote.
  • Anyone using Smart Phones to control (pan/tilt) the rig? (or trigger the shutter?)
  • Any advancements in image/camera stabilization for KAP?

Here's a photo I took during KAPiNED 10 in May 2010 :smiley:


  • Hello Bahrain flyer, hqasem, and to all others ;-)
    your post is teasing me as I'm also impressed with the "comfort" in drone flying wrt our kap constraints ! I cannot answer all your questions, but some of them.
    I'm an ahppy flyer of Canon G7x (1st) with SDM and camremote for years and appreciate the 1" sensor.
    I've started exploring wifi options for months now, and although progress are significant, I cannot yet recommend similar way unless you are ready for some frustrations ;-)
    However some current positive options, keeping in mind that flying wifi means very ligth equipment as you already have the phone with you. and you can easily access camera function (eg zoom if camera is equipped with) . At the end this is helping escaping from all other constraints: (shutter cables, video out and dowwnlink...)

    • Canon G9x (1st version) is a light camera (similar to s100) allowing a significant range (+- 100m) with no additionnal equipment.
    • with JDC support we recently flew a fuji xf10 (aps-c) in NotreDame de Monts, reaching approx 200 m: camera application was used while a cheap 433 Mhz remote was controlling the rig.
    • the same rig can be used, with wifi control (with an ESP module) for rig moves, and camera shoot if you can 1. set the camera as a station connected to the rig wifi (the fuji cannot do this this is the reason we used another small device) 2. display simultaneously the camera app and the browser for rig control. Again range is around 200 m for this config with some small delay in refresh rate.
    • last but not least, some camera with canon CCAPI can be controlled with html commands. this mean you can then have a unique display with live view and some camera controls. I'm currently suffering a lot on this, as I'm a desesperately poor software "penpusher": a small change takes me hours !!! and can even hardly read what i've previously written :(
      I'm also dreaming about options for sniffing camera protocoles to "simulate" some basic commands (shoot... for other cameras) but this is by far unreachable for me...
  • edited September 21

    Hey Hqasem,
    I recently starting doing KAP and I am using an S100 per the good reviews I saw on posts from the likes of you, windwatcher and others. I read all that I can on this site to figure out the best modes to put the camera in for optimal image quality. From reading your posts and others in reference to this camera, many suggest the highest shutter speed and auto iso and let the camera do the rest. I notice in your old post that you did not use the fastest shutter speed, I think you stated 1/640th / sec. Is there a reason you have not gone with 1/2000 / sec like most others suggested? Is it to control aperture for better image quality? I have been using the highest shutter speed and I must say there is hardly any motion blur which is good. The picture quality is good but not great as it may lack some sharpness. I have not done any image editing and I just view the raw photos, but comparing to the photos I see on here I am wondering if I have not set up my S100 for optimal performance or are most people using photo editing tools to sharpen their photos? I know the S100 is a cheaper camera and I should not expect the world from it, but I am curious to see what is a realistic expectation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Hey HQ - good to see you back!
    Lots of questions there. I think a general answer is that only the really dedicated KAPers (and ones that make a little money) will be using the best equipment/most recent tech.
    I believe Cris still flies a Canon Rebel (450D or similar in Europe?) for his salt pond adventures in the SF Bay area.
    I think the best way of finding out what people are flying would be to do an informal survey.
    As my KAP activity has been limited in recent years due to flying the evil DJI machines, I'm a bit out of touch with what kind of gear is preferred right now. I would bet that, like yourself, the majority of KAPers are still flying the same cameras they have been for many years. My favourite long term camera is my Sony A5000 (purchased 2014) which still gets airborne occasionally and is used regularly at ground level too. I'm also returning to my Nikon D5200 at a DSLR level and am selling my awesome but massively overkill Nikon D800E, because I don't need that amount of pixel power in my photographic life!
    Looking at your live feedback question - DJI live stream back to the operator is with wi-fi 2.4 or 5.8Ghz. The flight controllers recognise your location and will adapt between US and European frequency restrictions. In the US you can achieve insane distances from your home position. Even within Europe the operating range is vast if you ignore the different flight rules from country to country. I may once have tested the limit of my Phantom 4 Pro (now sold) somewhere within the continent and recorded nearly 4kms separation before I lost video feed.
    Be great if you shared more recent pictures on your Flickr stream!

  • edited September 22

    Much of my South Bay salt pond work was indeed accomplished with small Canon dSLR cameras. I started with a Canon 400D with a 10-22mm lens from 2008 to 2010, then shifted to a Canon 550D with the same lens from 2010 to 2014. That rig weighed around 3.3 lbs. (1.5 Kg). In 2014, I shifted to a mirrorless APS-C Canon M camera with an EF-M 11-22mm lens and used this until 2016 when I adapted that same cradle to the Canon M3. The mirrorless rigs have weighed around 2.2 lbs. (1 Kg), I am still using the M3 and have been quite happy with it.

  • I just continue using the same old gear.
    So for interchangeable lens camera I use a Panasonic GX1 (micro four thirds, 16MP), dpreview says it came out in 2011, I've been using the GX1 since October 2016, shutter count has got to 159427. The shutter is controlled via the intervalometer mode on a Gentles gentWIRE-FOCUS, the video downlink I use an AltitudeRC 5.8ghz 25mw vtx (cloverleaf antenna), the shutter control and the VTX both run off a single 16340 880mah battery.
    I normally use prime lenses (x2 for 35mm equiv), 14mm f2.5 normally on the KAP camera, in the bag are 25mm f1.7 and 42.5mm f1.7, but can use any of my other lenses that i might use on the ground from 7.5mm - 200mm, at 200mm (400mm in 35mm equiv) there are few hits with the huge number of misses.
    I've been using the same manual rig since 2012 'D' KAP rig MK4 , it could do with a new Brooxes Picavet.
    For viewing the video on the ground I have a 5" monitor with an ImmersionRC UNO5800 receiver on the back (I also have a Uno2400 for use with a very lightweight actioncam rig given to me by Wolfgang Bieck). I've looked at using a 5.8ghz UVC receiver with my phone or tablet, but have experienced trouble with range and picture quality/stability - I may experiment more with this in the future.

    For smaller camera for the last couple of years I have been using Canon Powershot S100 with CHDK and modified WindWatcher script, on a smaller version of the rig used with Panasonic Camera. no video downlink, but I do have a spare transmitter I could use.

    I'm happy using equipment that works, and doesn't cost too much. Any new camera your back to the old questions of how are you going to fire the shutter? can you get video viewable on the ground? remote control via an app isn't helpful to me when the camera is a hundred metres away (if there are solutions I'm sure they'd be technically beyond me). It was servo finger issues that made me switch from the Panasonic GF3 to GX1 in the first place -- actually I really miss having that servo on top of my camera pressing the shutter, I used to get so many photos of people when I showed them how my rig works.

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