Experimenting with aerial photography makes flying RC airplanes even more addicting than it already is, if that’s possible! Whether it's taking bird’s eye photos or first person videos from the cock pit, the sky’s literally the limit with today’s technologies!
Most of us get into RC aerial photography simply because it’s awesome to take pictures from our RC airplanes. However, many have turned this hobby into successful businesses. Not only is it cheaper to take pictures from an RC airplane, often times our RC planes can capture unique perspectives that’s not possible with a full scale plane.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to dabble with RC aerial photography. All you need is a cheap electric RC airplane and a lightweight camera. And of course, you need a way to activate the camera from the ground.
Just about any RC airplane can be used for RC aerial photography, as long as it can carry the weight of the camera. For obvious reasons most RC pilots prefer electric powered airplanes for RC aerial photography.
Fixed winged planes with pusher props like the extremely popular Bixler from Hobby King are perfect for mounting a camera because you don't have to worry about getting the propeller in the field of view. These are often used for FPV flight for the same reason.
Quadcopters have become extremely popular for taking picture and video from the air. The latest flight stabilization technology incorporated with most quads make them perfect for the task...
The DJI Phantom Quad is specifically made for filming with a GoPro Camera. It's a little on the pricey side, but it's actually fairly inexpensive considering it's equipped with GPS navigation and autopilot with return to home function.
If you're like me, you probably have an old digital camera or two lying around the house. Can't live with out the latest high resolution camera or snapping family memories right?
A remote camera tirgger makes it possible for you to snap pictures with most any digital camera aboard your plane. This is a good and inexpensive way to get your feet wet in RC aerial photography.
First Person View(FPV) Piloting has recently emerged as a controversial yet amazing extension of our hobby. You can actually fly your RC plane by means of an onboard cameras. You can even wear video goggles linked to an onboard camera that rotates as you turn your head! It’s controversial because of the safety aspect.
Whether you want to try your hand at First Person View(FPV) Piloting or just want to take some video from your RC plane, the technology required is nearly the same. Obviously it is much more critical that you have the best equipment and technology available for FPV piloting!
If you want to capture live video from your RC airplane, you will need a video downlink. A video downlink consists of a camera, on board transmitter, and ground receiver. The camera plugs into the on board transmitter, which transits the signal to the ground receiver. Your monitor then plugs into the ground receiver so you can see the video in real time.
The downlink systems listed below are high end systems designed specifically for RC Aerial photography.
Many wireless camera systems are available, such as these 2.4 GHz Wireless Spy Cams, that aren't designed specifically for RC aerial photography. These systems are great for capturing live video from your RC airplane, although it's not recommended to use such a system for FPV piloting.
You can capture video without a downlink if your camera is capable of storing the video to be viewed later. The same Aiptek PenCamera mentioned above for taking photos also provides an inexpensive cheap way to record video from your RC airplane. Again, make sure to get the "SD" version so you can use an SD memory card to record large videos files.
The FlyCam One is another very popular inexpensive camera used to record in flight video. This angle of the lens can be adjusted making it very easy to tweak the camera view. An SD memory card can be used with both the Aitpek Pencam SD and the FlyCam One for storing the in-flight video.
Basically any camera that takes and stores video can be used, as long as your plane can tow the weight. A mini servo or any of the switches mentioned above can be used to trigger the camera to record aerial video.
Some people strap their cell phones to their RC planes to capture video! I've even seen people using Sony MiniDV cameras to capture in flight video. This works awesome if you’re confident in your flying abilities, because I don’t image that camera would survive much of a crash.
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