Dr Mike J Smith

Plymouth University

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Mike Smith

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You're Waiting For a bus... and a SenseFly Comes Along
I commented late last year about DJI becoming a camera manufacturer... this is an interesting and exciting move simply because the quality of imagery from drones has lagged significantly behind the rest of the camera industry....

posted on: Sat, 27 Jan 2018 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Zenmuse X7 DxOMark Tests
DPReview report report on DxOMark's tests of the Zenmuse X7 and it makes for some impressive reading... it's a quality sensor that has nearly 14 stops of dynamic range with good low-light performance. This line from the review pretty much sums things up: it delivers results that compete closely with those from a high-scoring APS-C format DSLR, despite being housed in a camera that’s mounted in a stabilized gimbal and specifically designed for aerial photography.

posted on: Thu, 09 Nov 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

DJI is a camera company
Two years ago I blogged about the introduction of a micro four thirds camera by DJI, followed last year by the Phantom 4 which allowed RAW capture....

posted on: Fri, 13 Oct 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Photogrammetry Round Up
With being fresh back from EGU, it seemed an appropriate moment to provide a few brief links to things relevant: 1....

posted on: Fri, 05 May 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Canon is droning on....
Industrial drones are it... whilst the media spotlight has been firmly on cheap and cheerful like the DJI Phantoms delivering drugs to prisons or involved in near misses with commercial aircraft, the heavy lifting (literally) is being done by commercial drones in the industrial sector....

posted on: Fri, 07 Apr 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Uber Drone?
Is this the next Uber Drone, coming to some skies near you? As the article says, would like to see 1000 hours of safe flight time first and the ability to fly with only two motors by feathering then should there be a failure. Exciting times though - I get a sense of scenes from The Fifth Element coming true (that would be Ruby Rhod first maybe)!!

posted on: Tue, 14 Feb 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

And the cost of hiring a UAV is being driven down.... Dronebase is your AirBnB of UAV operators. Don't pay over the top and go to one site to find them. The growth has been extremely rapid - see what their investors think. Its a great idea and, well, a very useful resource.

posted on: Thu, 02 Feb 2017 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Don't just fly a drone... BE THE DRONE!
We've long been able to view remote video footage from a remote camera - when I was developing the kite aerial photography workflow I currently use, I experimented with a small spy camera that transmitted video footage back to an analogue LCD TV....

posted on: Fri, 09 Sep 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

DPReview report on a new DJI/Hasselblad tie up that sees Hasselblad bundle their A5D (see my earlier post) medium format camera with DJI's industrial Matrice 600 drone....

posted on: Wed, 13 Jul 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Olympus NIR Sensor
An interesting article over at Amateur Photographer which picks up an Olympus press release about the development of an RGB/NIR sensor for use in consumer grade cameras....

posted on: Tue, 14 Jun 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Ultra lightweight KAP cameras?
I briefly commented on KAP cameras when looking at the PhaseOne iXU180 - a great medium format camera for medium weight UAV use....

posted on: Sun, 27 Mar 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

DJI Phantom 4
The rapid development roadmap for DJI continues (see Phantom 3 camera review). Camera improvements continue abate and onboard you'll find a 12MP stills camera with a 1/2.3-inch (8.8x6.6mm) sensor. ISO goes up to of 1600 for photos and, crucially, records Adobe DNG RAW. This is a BIG step forward for a drone camera as it allows much greater headroom in post processing. The field of view is 94° which is about equivalent to an 18mm lens on a full frame camera (which means wide and with lots of distortion).

posted on: Wed, 02 Mar 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Digital preservation
What do you do when an artifact you have is in danger of loss or destruction?? Preserve it of course!...

posted on: Sat, 14 Nov 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

SkyTech Event (and Commercial UAV Show Report)
I attended the Commcerical UAV Show last month at the Excel Centre, sharing a slice of the vast area with the Robotics Show....

posted on: Fri, 13 Nov 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

DJI announce micro four thirds camera
DJI have announced a micro four thirds camera for their drones which seems to be specifically targeted at the film industry but has important implications for photogrammetry....

posted on: Fri, 11 Sep 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Commercial UAV Operators Double
An interesting summary piece over at Amateur Photographer.... and particularly noting that "The number of CAA-approved commercial operators now stands as 862, compared to 549 in April and a reported 359 in October 2014."...

posted on: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

With the press reporting on UAV near misses in the UK there is increasing pressure on how to effectively deal with drones encroaching on airspace and a rational approach to safety....

posted on: Thu, 20 Aug 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Drone Rangers
Great short "Future Works" film from The Economist on the Drone Rangers..... very nicely researched and presented looking at monitoring poaching in South Africa, to disaster response in the USA and then construction site monitoring. Lots of nice examples (thanks to Paolo for passing on).

posted on: Tue, 21 Jul 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Be bold, Be Blad
DPReview report on the latest aerial camera range from Hasselblad, the A5D. These are medium format cameras that compete directly with the Phase Range range I reported on earlier (the 80MP iXU180). Three models at 40, 50 and 60 MP, with up to 14 stops dynamic range with a 53x40 or 44x33mm sensor (technical specs here). Weighting in at 1.3kg (body only) its slightly heavier as well. Clearly the medium format aerial imaging space is heating up a lot - sales are likely much higher than bespoke large format cameras and used across a range of platforms including UAVs. Expect this to get better and cheaper with the competitive drive. Exciting times!

posted on: Fri, 05 Jun 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Phase One iXU 180
DPReview reports on the latest Phase One Industrial medium format aerial camera, the iXU180. This is a 10,328 x 7760 sensor at an optical size of 53....

posted on: Wed, 01 Apr 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Amazon Prime Drone
Clearly Amazon are very keen on the whole drone/UAv delivery thing.....the BBC reports on a recent FAA draft ruling that require operators to have "line of sight" with their kit. This pretty much puts paid to delivery for the time being. However expected this (air!)space to become crowded as a number of delivery operators will push for the this. I guess to start with we might see extended trials in some regions.... one to watch as it will clearly affect the wider UAV debate. And take a look at the Small UAV Coalition.... the only thing "small" is the UAV. Some big backers (see the members)behind this advocacy group...smiley happy website though!!

posted on: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

UAV Update
Thought I'd provide a brief update on some UAVs I was observing during some collaborative work with Wagengingen....

posted on: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

This drone's a'smokin!
What a great story!!

posted on: Wed, 21 May 2014 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

UAVs and the law
UAVs are starting to the hit the big time with everything geospatial and are driving a hardware, data and software revolution along the way (more in later posts, but think open-source designs, open source software, massive datasets)....

posted on: Tue, 05 Mar 2013 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Perfect KAP camera??
Well, Nikon made a big splash by announcing the D600, the first consumer level full-frame (FX) DSLR (and plenty of reviews)....

posted on: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

KAP Camera Coverage
When mission planning for a Kite Aerial Photo (KAP) survey it's useful to know the approximate coverage of each photo and pixel size....

posted on: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

KAPping in Delft
I've just spent a couple of days delivering an introduction to KAP for MSc students at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft....

posted on: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

KAP Camera Settings
Capturing aerial imagery from KAP can be a hit and miss affair (although far less so with digital cameras) and therefore setting the camera up carefully prior to imaging is essential....

posted on: Tue, 20 Dec 2011 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Netherlands KAPping
I'm currently involved in a project led by Paolo Paron (UNESCO-IHE) looking at beach development in the Netherlands....

posted on: Sat, 03 Dec 2011 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Back to KAP
I spent a day with Paolo Paron (co-editor of our book on Geomorphological Mapping) kicking off a new kite aerial photography project....

posted on: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Big boys UAVs: RQ-4 Global Hawk
A nice article over at Wired on the diversion of US military UAVs to Haiti to provide reconnaissance imagery for the relief effort....

posted on: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Aeryon UAV
The UAV market continues to develop at a pace. The Aeyron Scout as an example of a neat quadcopter design for military and security applications....

posted on: Sat, 08 Aug 2009 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

KAP Photogrammetry
I was recently in touch with Ryan Strynatka, the product manager for ERDAS' Leica Photogrammetry Suite, over my recently published paper on photogrammetry using vertical imagery from a kite. He was interested enough to write a summary which is worth a read. And, if you haven't come across his blog, it's worth following as he regularly updates it with all things photogrammetric.

posted on: Wed, 11 Mar 2009 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Continuous Rotation Servos
The rig designs I have used for flying my cameras (from kites), all use model aircraft servos (e.g. Hitec, Futaba) to drive the rotation (horizontally) of the vertically pointing camera....

posted on: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Fisheye Panoramas Continued
Well it's been a month since my last blog on creating panoramas from fisheye lenses. I had said I would come back to using Hugin to create panoramas, it's just taken longer than I thought!...

posted on: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Fisheye Panoramas
Scott Haefner had an interesting idea in combining a fisheye lens with kite aerial photography to create some 360 panoramas....

posted on: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Ultra-Light KAP Rig
As a result og my KAP experiences in China, I spent a while thinking about a new ultra-light camera rig....

posted on: Sat, 02 Dec 2006 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Chinese KAPping
I took the Dopero 125 kite out with me to Wuhan to demonstrate KAPping to our hosts at the China University of Geosciences (yes, a whole university of over 25,000 students just doing geoscience!)...

posted on: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Stonehenge KAPping
I had a trip to Stonehenge today. A unique experience as normally you are not allowed within 200m of the stones, however certain groups can book to actually wander amongst the stones for a private viewing prior to opening....

posted on: Sun, 16 Jul 2006 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

KAP: Loch Lomond
I've just returned from two days field work in the small village of Duncryne, just south of Loch Lomond. This was a two-fold trip designed to further test our kite-based remote sensing platform as well as acquire some imagery of an esker deposited during the Younger Dryas. As you can see from the photo the system was working well and managed to combine my second interest, that of Land Rovers. This one is a rather luxurious Discovery TD5; much more comfortable than the old Series 3. This trip involved some more surveying and we took with us an aged, but faithful and reliable, Kern theodolite/EDM. So some 600 photos and many control points later we had finished the job.

posted on: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry