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yb2normal

Smallest Digital Still Camera with video out?

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I've been bitten by the Aerial photography bug, with a bit of a twist. I took the live video preview output from my Olympus Brio still digital camera, piped the signal into a video transmitter, and watch the preview on the ground, snapping a picture when I see something I like.

Problem is the Olympus Brio is relatively heavy at 8 ounces with batteries.

I'm looking for a good replacement camera with the following specs:

1) CCD based

2) Lightweight

3) > 1 mega pixel

4) Has a live video preview output

5) Lightweight :)

6) can either be forced to stay on, or turned back on by hitting the shutter.

Regarding #6, this is a nifty feature of both my Olympus Brio and Olympus Camedia C2020Z. The cameras will go into a power save mode after a short period of inactivity, but come back on when you hit the shutter button. I have no desire to hack into the body of a new camera, and much prefer a simple servo-over-the-shutter approach.

I appreciate any personal experiences you can share!

Regards,

Bill

Edited by yb2normal

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The Mustek MDC3500 & MDC4000 have video out and weigh 100 grams plus 2 AA cells (about 4.5 ounces ready to use). The sleep setting can be set for 5 mins of inactivity, which should work to your favor (just snap photos before the timeout).

Image quality is good, but not perfect. The camera is limited by the low cost optics that are used. I did not try the video out feature, so I do not know what limitations may exist when the feature is used. I had a couple MDC3500's just long enough to develop a CamMan PIC for them, then they were shipped off.

I see that they now sell for around $135 (I paid $200), so perhaps they are worth a gamble for you to try. Just keep in mind that they are consumer cameras built at low cost. In other words, if you need the quality of the Olympus then stick with what you already have. ;)

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The funny thing is that I only paid $99 for my Olympus Brio after rebates, so I got an optically-better camera for less money.

Hopefully Olympus continues to drive down the size of their cameras, but still retain the video out functionality. I went to Best Buy to shop for cameras, and the lighter CCD cameras with video out still tipped the camera at around 6 ounces.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my new Soarstar (may my old Wingo rest in pieces) so I'm itching to find a light camera to point out the nose of the plane!

Bill

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Hi Bill,

How is the video quality on these Olympus cameras? I remember testing Canon's S100 and S200 video out and found it to have unacceptably low refresh rate for FPV flight.

Regards,

cyber-flyer

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Hi cyber-flyer,

In bright sunlight, the refresh rate was almost a full 29fps. I have a video clip shot from the Olympus Brio, it is the first link you'll find on this page:

Video example from Olympus Brio

As you can see the refresh is very good, although the colors are more muted than from a CX161.

The short breakups you see in the video coincide with the camera taking a picture, I think it looses video sync when it switches from live video to a quick preview of the picture I just took.

Regards,

Bill

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I recently purchased a Pentax Optio S, which is a 3.2 megapixal compact digital camera. They came out in April this year and I am very pleased with it. I had been waiting a while to buy a very small full featured digital camera with at least 3 megapixals. It cost about $600 CND which is about $400 US. I use it for work and play. Very convienent, truely a throw-in-your pocket quality digital camera.

It has a video/audio out connection that can be left in place while shooting and playback. Weight is about 4 ounces. It has very good macro and super macro if that interests you (not a flight requirement obviously). I think if there is an external power supply attached to it, it will not power down if idle, I'll have to try that.

I think someday (not too soon) I will have to mount it in a plane, right now, it is still too precious to me to risk doing so. :o

Oh, you can get an infrared remote for it, which could be a simple hack to activate the shutter from RC, however, you would still have to hack into the camera if you wanted remote zoom control.

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Bill, thanks for the video. It seems that video is not as smooth as C161 output even if I disregard pauses for picture taking. Whould you use the output for FPV flight?

I've finally decided to buy a camcorder to fit on my helicopter instead of small board CCD with the hope that image stabilization circuit will remove shakes and some low frequency vibrations. I'll keep this board posted.

Regards,

Val.

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Hi cyber-flyer,

You are right, it is not quite as smooth as the cx161. I think I would be willing to use the camera for FPV on a very stable platform that did not require a lot of correction to keep flying.

Rob, thanks for the feedback, I'll have to go touch and feel one of these at my local electronics store.

Regards,

Bill

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Cyber-flyer,

Check out the FCBEX780S and the FCBIX10A block cameras from Sony Professional at bssc.sel.sony.com.

The FCBEX780S has an image stabilizer built in. It is the smallest block camera from Sony that I found that had the image stabilizer built in it. The link is

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/weba...&sp=10&id=63993

I just bought FCBIX10A for $450 - http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/weba...&sp=10&id=64384

I really like it for the following reasons: It is only about double the size of the Panasonic 171, but for that you get a 10x zoom, automatic focus, better exposure control and much better signal processing. In fact, I have not observed the blooming in direct sunlight that I found with the 171. However, alas, it does not have an image stabilizer built in.

Buying these cameras from Sony Professional services was a bit of a challenge. I had to spend about 3 hours to find a distributor that actually stocked them. To save you time I finally used:

Judy at Aegis Electronics at 800.362.3447. This is not an endorsement of Aegis, but just a sincere effort to save you guys time since most people at Sony had no clue about where to buy these block cameras. If you do get the FCBEX780S, please let me know how you like it since it looks like a great camera.

Best of luck,

- Happy Electron

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Good link about these block cameras. They look very interesting, please do put some videos for us to see. I've already acquired Sony's IP5 on Ebay for $300. I will let you know how it works on a heli, particularly if stabilization function is of any value.

Regards,

Val.

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If a mini DV camera can be had for that price, my hope is that pricing pressure will drive down the cost and size of the block cameras.

I really like the idea of a block camera with image stabilization, but not until it is cheaper than a camcorder! Good news for us is that traffic and weather monitoring are becoming more and more common place, so these small good quality block cameras are sure to come down in price as the market expands.

Regards,

Bill

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I ended up purchasing a Pentax Optio S recently based on rcRob's feedback and some feedback on the Ezone.

This is an extremely nice camera! It fit all my original requirements and has some excellent features that will make it a great ground-based camera also.

I've flown it twice now on my Soarstar and created a page showing some of the first pictures:

http://www.yb2normal.com/soarstarapresults.html

Regards,

Bill

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Hi Bill,

Nice shots! I hope you can convince your town that a sports field without runway for R/C models is a no-no.

How does Soarstar handle the load?

Regards,

Val.

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The Soarstar handles the extra weight fine, although I suppose I should have mentioned that I upgraded to a brushless motor... I'm using a Mega 16/15/7 with 8x6 prop and Castle Creation 25amp controller.

It cruises at just over half throttle, and lands at a reasonably slow speed. Before attaching all the extra equipment my roll-out at landing was about 1 - 2 feet. With the extra weight the plane comes in a bit hotter and slides almost 5 feet :P

Regards,

Bill

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I just purchased one of the older sony block cameras, the EVI-310. I haven't started work on the R/C to serial control interface that will allow zoom from the r/c transmitter. From the looks of the code it won't take long. I will do it thursday or friday on my day off. I don't know how it will handle vibration cause it rattles a little (they are supposed to rattle, I asked).

I will post some video results next week.

Matt

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Picked up a ViviCam 3340 1.3 megapixel w/64 mg SD at Wal-Mart for 49 bucks the other day. Takes excellent shots. Video out also. Would like to modify this for electronic activation. Anyone done anything with one of these?

Edited by Gideon007

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If it takes a ground at the shutter button to take a shot, the CamMan should work.. I have the 2.1 version of the vivicam, and you can program the auto shut down out to 30 min of non activity... With 2 AA for power, the rx power should power it o.k. A vreg would be safer, but who knows till ya try! :D

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