Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about photogrammetric calibrated drone cameras. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
I’m looking for commercial off the shelf, photogrammetric calibrated drone cameras. The only ones I have found are the Phase One cameras. Are you aware of any others?
You stumped me on this one, so I reached out to my friend, Patrick Stuart, who is the Senior Director of Product, Web and Mobile at Skycatch, a San Francisco-based startup that uses software to make commercial drone maps and models processed in the cloud for construction, mining and energy. Here’s what he told me:
“It all depends on the use-case,” he said. “If you need to do millimeter-resolution 3D mesh then, yes, perhaps this would be necessary. For example, you may need to get a 100000% “perfect” 3D mesh of a large statue or something.”
A Phase One camera is going to run you thousands of dollars. If you don’t need THAT much precision, there are cheaper options.
“For normal mapping and surveying it’s complete overkill,” Stuart said. “Use a DJI camera and you’ll be in great shape. Their new 20 megapixel sensors do really good work.”
You can get a 20 megapixel sensor in something as simple as the DJI Phantom 4. In fact, most software that makes 3D maps from aerial photogrammetry, including Pix4D, Drone Deploy and of course Skycatch are optimized for DJI products or other low cost drones –even Parrot’s Bebop.
“A mechanical shutter is best, but most photogrammetry engines have built-in correction for rolling shutter artifacts and do well enough for most use cases,” Stuart said. “Skycatch uses a custom-built 20 megapixel mechanical shutter camera on its drones, which produces beautiful maps and meshes.”
Skycatch also makes its own drone that offers centimeter-level accuracy without any ground control points. A standard drone like the Phantom offers accuracy within 500 centimeters, while the Skycatch drone offers accuracy within 5 centimeters. I would also recommend you look into Kespry’s drones, which have a 35mm industrial Sony APS-C Sensor.
Happy flying, and happy mapping!