The wind was steady and strong and the windsurfers were out today at Ho'okipa. The waves were smaller than yesterday but the swell was still putting up head to slightly overhead surf. All of these windsurfing pictures were taken from a DJI Phantom 2 with a modified GoPro Black 3+ on a timer every 2 seconds so maybe you will understand how lucky I was to capture so many of these guys mid-air. I really enjoy trying to capture windsurfing content because it is so challenging because of all the wind, you really have to pay attention!
We headed to a spot that was getting some huge south swell and got a chance to watch and film Ty Simpson Kane, a 10 year old big wave surfer. This kid defines the term "super grom". Nice work, I hope I get to film him again real soon.
I finally had a chance to test out my new 5.4mm Lens that I put onto my GoPro Black+. The results are interesting! First of all, it makes flying FPV way more difficult because you lose all of your peripheral vision, so be careful if you are flying low. It also ampliifies the effects of wind (I was flying the video below in about 15-20 mph winds). It also amplifies every little movement that you make with the drone and the gimbal. Despite these limitations and drawbacks, the output is pretty good and opens up lots of new opportunities for filming stuff that would not look good with a fish eye lens. I only have the 2 axis gimbal but I think the 3 axis one would make this fly better in the wind, so you might consider upgrading to that as well if you want to use this as your primary lens.
The still pictures are going to be much better for showing off the views and things in the distance. This is something I covered in my book on aerial photography and this might just be the inexpensive solution for those shots! Use the stock fish eye for shooting the actual structures and switch to this lens if you need to show the structure and the view. This way you do not need to fly a huge hexacopter or larger camera drone to get the different shots - you just have two GoPros that you swap out. Note that the horizon is NOT curved or fish eye, just a nice normal looking picture.
If you want to modify your GoPro Black + (this is the only one that seems to work easily with this mod) you need to know that you will void your warranty. I would recommend having two different cameras, a stock one and the modified one for serious aerial work. For most people the regular GoPro will be fine, but if you really want to add to your photo toolbox, it is so much easier to just add another GoPro than to build a different copter to fly a different camera. This is a great solution for me because although I might actually need an S900, I really want to avoid getting one if the phantom can get the job done. It is cheaper, simpler, and safer.
I bought the actual 5.4mm lens from here OSTRC.COM for $155
I also bought a dust ring cover and hood from PeauProductions.com who also sells the same lens. The dust ring cover fits over the lens when you screw it in and covers all the electronics underneath. I really needed this because I can fly in some pretty dusty and wet climates and I did not want my GoPro black+ to get all that gunk inside. The lens hood prevents lens flairs and I would recommend it. Both parts are very inexpensive and worth the extra trouble to get them.
Installing the lens is pretty straightforward, just watch a few different videos on Youtube to get up to speed. The focusing of the lens is critical and you should watch this video as well as some others before you try it. The GoPro LCD backpack is a great tool to help with focusing .
If you need more specific information or you have questions, please ask in the comment section of this blog post so others can benefit.
The contest has ended and there were 4 submissions. I was hoping for more but I got some good ones. The winning video is from Ethan at HI-Flight. This video demonstrates some serious RC skill, he shoots his Hubsan X4 through a 45 degree slanted opening about 3 inches thick among other cool stunts. He also had the best production quality and put together a really fun video. I really liked the FPV Quadcopter powered Hubsan balloon that Ian from DroneMaui.com submitted. That was a really creative hack for the Hubsan and I think others will be interested in building something similar. The "Drone Impossible" video from Jared Apperson shows the onboard camera perspective from the camera equipped version of the Hubsan X4 as he flies through an enclosed slide and around his son inside the slide. Nice flying skills through one of the best nano drone arenas - the playground! The final video features a dual view / picture in picture as Joel Liebeskind flies out of his balcony window over what looks to be a difficult to recover if crashed area. It reminds me of the time I flew it out of a condo window on the 6th floor and crash landed on a neighbors deck who was not around. I had to put my tail between my legs and go get the front desk to let me in to get it back!
I really appreciate you guys testing out your skills and taking the time to make a video showing off your skills. Ethan wins the contest, but the 3 runner ups are all going to get brand new Hubsan X4s shipped to them for entering the contest! Please shoot me your mailing address at the contact page!
The surf was big and heavy. I was having a hard time keeping up with the waves even when I was flying at full stick - these waves were fast. There was a 10 year old named Ty Simpson Kane who was riding some of these big waves. It was amazing seeing such a young man out there enjoying some serious waves. He had a huge support network helping him and making sure he was safe and I am sure they play a huge part in his success.
I did not have my new 5.4mm lens on the GoPro black yet, but I am really looking forward to trying this out. I am hoping I do not have to get so close to the waves and riders to get good footage with this new lens. There were some close calls with the waves but somehow the Phantom will live to fly another day!
A big south swell was pounding the southern coast of Maui, especially La Perouse Bay. Ekolu Kalama told me he was going out so we packed up and cruised down there. I did not nail this shot but it still turned out great. After this wipe out, Ekolu described the following beating he took as violent and said there was nothing to do while you are being held under but sing church songs to yourself. He also said "There are no atheists in the impact zone" and it really stuck in my head. These waves have some serious power! More pictures and video coming soon!
Ekolu Kalama catches a big wave at La Perouse Bay. After I filmed this he was describing what it was like and what stuck in my head was "There are no atheists in the impact zone." The wave before this one, before I was flying, was even bigger and he nailed it. I have been bummed all day that I missed it. These waves are moving really fast and I can't get my Phantom to keep up. It was flying full bore 11 m/s and was falling behind. Not a shining example of drone flying, but I still think it is interesting.
Some friends of mine decided last minute to head over to Lanai because there was some south swell coming in. We loaded up on the ferry and headed over to camp and surf. The reef was really shallow and rocks stuck up near the peak and I managed to ding my surfboard within the first 5 minutes. After that, I started being really careful and didn't catch too many waves. After surfing alone with my friends for many hours, I came back to the beach and pulled out the DJI Phantom to try and get some surf and beach footage. These guys got lots of waves that were way better than the ones that I captured here but the long time between sets made it difficult to get the best waves.
Lanai is a beautiful place and it was not crowded. Surfing with only a few friends was a new experience for me as the breaks around Maui are always crowded. Below is a short clip that hopefully shows how cool Manele Bay is and what it is like to surf there.
Keith is doing some great work with his Phantom and he agreed to an interview about how he got started and what he does. Be sure to visit firegroundimages.com or check out his youtube channel to see all of his awesome drone photography work with fires. Thanks Keith for the interview!
- Full time career firefighter in Bridgeport, CT for 15 years.
- Own and operate a fireground photography business for 15 years ( www.firegroundimages.com). This is done while off-duty.
- Recently added aerial photography by drone to my fireground photography business as well as to my non-fire photography.
Why did you decide to start using a Phantom to shoot aerials of fires?
- I always enjoyed seeing aerial views of major fires from news choppers throughout the years. I have been photographing fires traditionally for about 15 years now, and that was one view I obviously could never get. This was just a whole new take on fire photography for me. I would be able to get 360 views around the buildings (allowing you to see sides that might not have been accessible, or just too dangerous to get to), shooting at a higher altitude (allowing you to see the firefighting roof operations that you can't see from the ground if the structure has a parapet or the operations are taking place on the other side of the ridge from where you are shooting), etc.
Gear currently being used:
- DJI Phantom 1
- GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition
- Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal for video stabilization.
- 600 MW Immersion RC 5.8 Transmitter for FPV
- Immersion RC 5.8 Circular Polarized spiroNet Antenna
- 5 inch LCD Monitor for FPV
- I chose to use the Phantom because it seemed to be the best possible option for what I wanted to shoot. New to the RC field, it seemed like the most affordable, dependable, and could still produce the quality that I would want to publish. I have been using this rig for about 9 months now and have recently purchased a DSLR Pros Phantom 2 Sundance Edition Kit with a few added custom upgrades ( http://www.dslrpros.com/brands/sundance-aerial-kit.html )
Did you have any previous RC experience (if not, how did you learn to fly)?
- I had no previous RC experience before purchasing the Phantom 1. Before ordering it, and while waiting for it to be delivered, I read and watched absolutely everything I could find on drones, quadcopters, and aerial photography. I still do this to this day. I would also speak to people who did have experience. This is how I met Justin. I purchased his first e-book which had a lot of great info for the beginner like me. Then I actually emailed him with a few questions and he was incredibly helpful and knowlegeable. Once the Phantom arrived, I started out small. I flew it around my back yard, at a low altitude, and with very small and slow maneuvers. Once it started to feel a little more comfortable to me, I would take it to a large open field and keep practicing with maneuvering and filming, only now taking longer and higher runs. I would take it back home and review the video to see how the different movements of the craft would affect the footage.
How else could drones be useful to firefighters in general?
- There is a tremendous amount of press out there now that outlines the MANY benefits that drones could have over firefighting and the emergency services. One example could be how the department that I work for used it to find hidden pockets of fire in a large commercial building the day after the fire. After having been ravished by fire, structures are left completely unsafe for firefighters to crawl through and search for hot spots. A large multiple story commercial building, like the one I have filmed in Bridgeport, CT ( http://youtu.be/eig7CMtf3w0 ), could have a 360 view by drone looking at all floors to see where master streams, or aerial streams should be directed. Another example could be to use them in Hazmat situations. For example, sending it into the hot zone to find a leak in a damaged rail car, etc. More examples could be in search in rescue. The possibilities are endless.
Any tips or secrets for photographing fires in general?
- It all starts with a scanner. Program a scanner with all of the frequencies of the towns that you feel you can access from your location. And then it's all about waiting.
- Have your camera gear ready at all times (batteries charged, media cards formatted, etc).
- Keep your eyes open on the fireground! Do not get tunnel vision. The fireground is a volatile environment. If you get to a scene early, you might end up closer to the action than you should. Police usually arrive quickly and will set up a safe perimeter for the public, but if you get there before they do, BE CAREFUL.
Where you can find my aerial work:
Fire Photography which now includes aerials: www.firegroundimages.com and https://www.facebook.com/firegroundimages
Non-Fire Photography Aerials: www.kmphotography.cc/Aerial-Views
So far there is only 1 entry to the nano quad contest. The first entry is below. It is really good and you should try and beat it! I am going to add another prize for 2nd place - another Hubsan X4. If only 1 other person enters, they will get a free Hubsan X4 shipped to their door! Enter the contest and have some fun!
If you need to low down on the rules, head over to this blog post:
A friend of mine on Facebook posted this video for me to watch. It was really cool to see the city I used to live in from a drone. I always meant to do one of these with the S800 but never got around to it. After I saw this, I was certain he used a camera without a fish eye lens like the Sony Nex5n. However, I read through the comments and it says he used the GoPro with a different lens attached! He was using a 5.4mm lens from StuntCams. I have been shopping around looking for a way to film without fisheye to get a different feel from my footage when I wanted it. This looks to be the best way to do it. I am going to order one of these lenses and I will keep you guys posted on how it works. I think when GoPro releases the GoPro 4 it will feature interchangeable lenses because it will drive the purchase of more accessories and they are a publicly traded company now after all!
*** Update on the GoPro 5.4mm Lens mod. Turns out that link above is way too expensive and you can get the same thing for around $155 fromTHIS LINK: http://www.ostrc.com/collections/gopro-accessories/products/ost-10mp-5-4mm-replacement-lens-for-gopro
Here is an excellent post reposted from this forum and I found it very helpful:
There are several online vendors selling "5.4mm GoPro lens" (which are flat lenses removing the fish-eye look from your GoPro) and they are selling them for $375 or in that ballpark range.
First and foremost, these lenses (and the others of various focal lengths) aren't made for the GoPro. They are actually manufactured and advertised by the manufacturer as lenses for small security type CCD cameras. They do however fit nicely into the GoPro 3+ Black and Silver camera because the lens mount threading and size happen to be the same as is used in the CCD cameras they are meant for. These lenses do produce some nice, non fish-eye images when used with GoPro cameras. But if you are using the 5.4mm or higher focal length replacement lens on your GoPro and are flying it with a multicopter, make sure you have well balanced props, engines and so forth because this lens will magnify any jello effect on your footage from vibrations of the multicopter.
Secondly, if you do decide to purchase one, you dont have to pay $375 or any such nonsense for this lens. All these companies are getting them from china for around $100 and if you look around, you can find them from one US vendor for around $155 or so. A vendor making $55 profit per lens for the trouble of ordering them in bulk from china is definitely a fair price. A vendor making $275 or more profit on the same lens is a total rip off. There is nothing wrong with making a profit, but one of the most well known companies that are selling these for $375 is trying to strong arm or threaten anyone else that is trying to sell these cheaper because he doesn't want to lose his easy money train (or perhaps be found out how much he has ripped people off for) and that reason alone prompted this post. And don't let that company tell you these are special made for them cause they aren't. In fact, here is the 3rd link I found on page 1 just Googleing "5.4mm ccd lens" where you can see a couple Chinese companies advertising the exact same lens for CCD cameras: http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=&SearchTex t=1%2F2.3+inch+F2.5+M12+10MP+CCTV+lens+5.4mm
Finally, if you do decide to get one of these somewhere that doesn't charge $375 for them, be warned that there are 2 versions of the 5.4mm lens and getting the correct lens DOES matter.
1)The "IR" version is meant for putting on CCDs filming at night where there is a infrared light shining in the area - this is the WRONG lens and you don't want it for daytime shooting. If you purchase this lens by mistake, you will get footage that is bleached pink like this:
2)The "IR CUT" version is the CORRECT version that you want for putting on a GoPro to film in the daytime.