KAP Cameras

Contemporary KAPpers use cameras ranging from single use film cheapies to Digital SLRs. Use this category to tell us what you use and why or to pose questions on matters photographic.

Sony RX0

edited April 21 in KAP Cameras

After my PowerShot S100 died an unfortunate death in a bay where I was trying to KAP, I took the opportunity to buy this camera that I've been eying for some time (with the blessing of my financial manager, aka wife). Compared to the likes of the S100, it is a bit expensive, but I got a used one in very good shape, and I think it is worth the cost. The benefits of it are:

  1. A large 1-inch type sensor, which has 2.7 times the area of the sensor in the S100 and 4.6 times the area of a typical compact camera sensor. That makes a big difference in real detail resolving power and dynamic range.
  2. A sharp Zeiss lens with low distortion and other aberrations.
  3. It is super light at 110 grams.
  4. It is waterproof and shockproof.

The downsides are:

  1. No built-in intervalometer or IR triggering. It may be possible to do it over USB, but I have not looked into that. I use a servo, which isn't a big deal to me.
  2. No 4k video or stabilization, so despite the action-camera looks, it's more suited for stills.
  3. I mentioned the price already. Of course, that's all relative.

If downsides #1 and 2 are deal breakers, there is a Mk ii version which takes care of both of those things, although it is a little heavier and also more expensive.

I designed an AutoKAP rig around it. Here is a video overview.

I've only had one chance to fly it so far, and the wind wasn't good enough to gain as much altitude as I wanted, but the results so far have met my expectations for image quality. Here are a couple from that session. I'm looking forward to using it more in the future.

Edit: after a search, I see there was some discussion of this camera a few years ago when it first came out, but I don't see any other samples of people actually using it for KAP. Maybe now that it can be had for cheaper, the cost/benefit ratio is more agreeable for other KAPers besides myself.


  • Looks great. Love the innovation and very light weight auto KAP rig. Pictures look sharp. Almost looks like the Chesapeake Bay area!

  • Thanks WW. And it is the Chesapeake Bay area. These were taken at Solomons Island, Maryland.

  • Looking good. Hope to be sailing in the Chesapeake on Friday off Havre de Grace..... with a bit of kite flying....maybe even some KAP.

  • edited May 3

    I had some better wind today so I took another shot at the same location. This is more like what I was going for. This camera is definitely living up to my expectations. Only problem is that the nice spring pastel colors are mostly gone now. I'll try to catch them again next year.

  • Congratulations to your new camera and thank your for sharing hi-res pictures!
    These pictures - as far as I can remember - are the first example of KAP with an RX0 I came up to and they show the capabilities of this small camera very well. Very helpful for those of us considering a purchase!
    Coming from the lightweight-fixed-rig class myself (all my rigs are in Bieck's tradition sub 400g loaded), it at first glance seemed a bit contradictory for me to put such a 110g-light camera into such a rather bulky rig. Also, using a trigger servo for lightweight cameras in my eyes runs totally against the purpose of using a light camera – servo, battery, all that extra weight :s (Just for you to understand my set of mind: I sometimes hear small Monty Pythons singing in my head "Every gram is sacred, every gram is great" when it comes to weight reduction on the rig ;) ).
    BUT I think, this rig is totally worth it. The image quality of this camera makes it worth to be treated like the big 300-400g cameras that usually get built into rigs. So yeah, go ahead. Even with this small camera the otherwise big rig flies still some 200g lighter than these bigger rigs usually do. Great job, we look forward to more of that!

    PS: How much actually is the take-off weight of your RX0 rig?

  • edited May 3

    Thanks, Baltickap. I'm surprised I didn't put the takeoff weight of the rig in my original post. It is 305 grams. I think the rig seems bigger on the screen than it actually is. The camera is tiny, and the rig is just big enough to accommodate it and the electronics. What I like about it is that since the camera is so light, you can build a fully capable rig around it that takes excellent pictures and is still really light. If you want the absolute lightest weight possible, you could use the Mk ii version of the camera with a built-in intervalometer, and just make it fixed with no servos or anything.

    By the way, for anyone wanting to make a rig similar to mine, I have since switched the HS-55 shutter servo for an HS-65HB, which is stronger and better quality. A couple HS-55s died on me during testing. (The HS-65HB is only one gram heavier.) It's also recommended to set up the throws so that the servo moves just enough to reliably trigger the shutter, and no more. Otherwise you'll be putting unnecessary force on the servo and the shutter button, which is a bad idea since the shutter may be pressed hundreds of times per session.

  • edited May 3

    305? That is great! Thanks for telling me about the servos... well, servos and electronics are ususally surprisingly lightweight, I remember that from my days as an r/c plane hobbyist. What usually is the biggest caveat is to me the weight of the battery needed for the (well, ANY) control system. Which one did you use to come out that light?
    I currently switched to 14150 e-cigarette/torchlight batteries. They fit in standard AA battery holders and weigh a little more than one AA cell (I think 27 vs 24 grams or something like that), but with 3,6V they provide the voltage of 3 AAs. Enough for a 3-6V video transmitter, but a little weak for servos I think (but they work at least on my workbench, without wind pulling on them).

  • edited May 3

    I am using a 2-cell lithium polymer battery, the same kind used for small R/C airplanes and drones. It's rated at 360 mah and 7.4 volts and weighs 23 grams. At first I was thinking I'd need a bigger battery, but it has turned out to be plenty of capacity for several sessions (at 400 shots per session) before needing to recharge. It's a good match for the Pololu Micro Maestro servo controller, which needs 5-16 V.

    The heaviest electronic component other than the camera is the rotation servo, which is a standard size continuous rotation servo.

  • Hallo everyone! I used the Sony RX0 II for the first time a couple of weeks ago on a bright sunny day to photograph the new cricket pavilion on Hackney Marshes with the urban landscape of North London as background. I set the focus manually (rather fiddly with such tiny buttons), set a 3 minute delay before the intervalometer started (this is a nice touch, it saves wasting battery on all those near-ground shots) and I got a nice set of well-exposed photos at f4 and 1/800sec.
    Over Hackney Marshes
    Looking closely though, it was disappointing to see that detail at the edges of the photos was poor compared with the other cameras I’ve used for KAP recently (Sony RX100 and Ricoh GR II). Normally you’d stop the lens down to improve edge sharpness but you can’t with this camera because it hasn’t got a diaphragm, the aperture is fixed at f4. The camera only lets you control exposure by varying either the shutter speed or the ISO rating. I didn’t know they made cameras like this. On the positive side, the camera is waterproof and it weighs a mere 130g but I'm not sure that's enough to compensate for blurry edges.

  • edited May 4

    Hm, you're talking about softness away from the center of the photo, or details of edges like trees and buildings? I think I might see a little bit of motion blur in your picture actually, so it's hard for me to differentiate those two effects. I used 1/1600 sec exposure for mine, and the ones I posted don't have any noticeable motion blur. How do the ones I posted compare to yours in terms of edge sharpness, in your opinion? My camera is the Mk i, but it has the same lens and sensor as the Mk ii.

  • Edge fall-off is a common problem with smaller lenses. However, I second montagdude that you should also try with a faster shutter than 1/800s which is sometimes still too long for shooting from a wobbly kite line. BTW, fixed apertures are a common thing in smaller cameras also from Canon (which due to CHDK are still highly popular amongst KAPers). The point that you could manually switch them but only between two apertures (literally open and closed) was a clear indicator of not using a diaphragm but an ND filter which darkens but does not stop down (and does not increase the depth of field). However, most lenses today are already optimized for shooting wide open and do not gain from stopping down anyway.
    Concerning this example picture: In the Flickr resolution, it still looks acceptable to me. Though, you may try using a sharpening tool with a radial filter in post production if you are using Lightroom, (or Capture One, Photoshop, Affinity or what ever software) to spice up the corners a bit. I wouldn't care for the upper corners though, as they might actually disappear in the background field (they are much further away than the foreground... think you know what I mean).

  • Hi Montagdude, I think It’s hard to compare the resolving power of two different lenses that have photographed different scenes under different light conditions because comparisons will inevitably be subjective, so I did a quick test. I used three cameras (tripod-mounted to eliminate camera shake} and photographed the same page of a newspaper, then I took 200% crops from the top corner of each image. I can’t work out how to embed the image on this page so it’s here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1r499qv070q8ayj/test.jpg?dl=0 To my eyes, the Rx 0II image doesn’t look as sharp as the other two.
    The Rx 0II does have an ace up its sleeve though: it weighs only 130g. This will increase flyability when the windspeed drops and, when the wind roars, I’ll be able to use a smaller, easier to manage kite and that will please my arthriticky hands. No camera is perfect, so I think I just need to make the most of the Rx 0II’s virtues and not get too upset when I can’t see my house clearly in the corner of a photo taken from three miles away.
    Hi Balticap, I’lll certainly try a faster shutter speed as you and Montagdude both suggest. I normally do KAP with 1/1000sec and faster but, unlike my usual camera, the Sony has image stabilisation so I thought that would let me get away with 1/800sec.....

  • edited May 5

    I definitely see what you mean from that crop. I'm surprised the difference between the RX0 ii and the RX100 is so big. I would have expected the fixed Zeiss lens of the RX0 to be better than the zoom lens of the RX100, if anything. How does it look in the center? I don't have the same other cameras as you, but I will try a similar comparison with my EOS M50 when I get a chance.

  • The centre of the Rx 0II image is nice and sharp, no complaints.

  • edited May 5

    Here is my comparison. They are 200% crops from the top left corner and the center. I used the kit zoom lens for the M50 because at 15 mm it has the same field of view as the RX0. I also used the same f-stop, though I didn't control for shutter speed. These are JPEGS straight out of camera. I didn't use a tripod, but just did it hand-held and tried to match camera position as much as possible. So they're not super scientific, but enough to satisfy my curiosity anyway.

    Other than the resolution and exposure differences, I'm not seeing a huge difference between the two. I know the kit zoom lens on the M50 isn't a world beater by any means, but I'm more than happy getting nearly equal to that out of this tiny camera.

  • edited June 6

    I'm still loving this camera. The detail and colors combined with such light weight make it a real winner for KAP, in my opinion. I got the photo below, shot a couple weeks ago, printed in 18"x12" size and hung it on my wall. Now my mother in law wants one for her house, but bigger. I'll have to go through my photos with her and see which one she wants, or maybe shoot a new location. I've gotten similar positive comments on the quality of the photos from other people.

    I shot this one today from a nearby park where I fly often. It's probably not framing worthy due to lack of an interesting subject, but the image quality doesn't leave anything to be desired, for me anyway. Since it's my local area, it's fun to zoom in and see all the familiar landmarks, even things miles off in the distance that you might not expect to be visible.

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