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Using different drones/cameras for aquisition

We have been using a single Phantom 4 and Pix4D for some time now with a lot of success. We have a couple of much larger projects coming up with timing constraints and we will be purchasing a second drone. Because the newer Phantom 4 Pro has a different camera, we would need to process image sets separately. My question is, which of the following options would be the best?

1.) Keep the Phantom 4, purchase a Phantom 4 Pro. Then, process image sets individually as sub-projects and merge them together.

2.) Keep the Phantom 4, purchase a matching Phantom 4 (older version). This way, image sets could be processed together, regardless of which drone they are flown on.

3.) Sell the Phantom 4, purchase (2) Phantom 4 Pro drones. This way, image sets could be processed together, regardless of which drone they are flown on.

 

Any input/comments would be greatly appreciated.

 

Jon

This is a good question without perhaps a clearcut answer.  Either drone can produce a good end result, however the camera operation and optics are a bit different.  The Phantom 4 is  a 1/2.3" rolling shutter 12.4M sensor, While the Phantom 4 Pro is 1" Mechanical 20M sensor.  So the Phantom 4 Pro will take better pictures…(Better Pictures = Better Data = Better Result).  I think this boils down to economics.  I’d look into using two Phantom 4Pros for the mapping mission (if it was up to me personally and money/cost wasn’t a factor), but you could also get good results from using 2 Phantom 4’s.  You can experiment with the Pix4D GSD Calculator   https://support.pix4d.com/hc/en-us/articles/202560249-TOOLS-GSD-Calculator#gsc.tab=0  to see how changing Camera Optics can affect Ground Sampling Distance given various flight heights.  Using the same cameras/sensors will make the project easier (can use same flight parameters which could vary if different sensors are used).  

I previously used an Inspire 1 with X3 camera (same general optics as Phantom 4) and then acquired a Phantom 4 Pro.  Now the Inspire 1 sits as an emergency backup for mapping missions (& dual operator cinematography rig) as the Still images just aren’t as good as what I get from the P4P…

 

 

Thanks a lot Aaron for this useful practical information. 

To clarify even if you use two drones of the same model (e.g. two DJI Phantom 4), the camera optimization procedure will be performed for both of the cameras separately in any case (even using them in a single project). Also, both of DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Phantom 4 Pro cameras models are in our database and thus compatible with Pix4Dmapper.

I hope this helps,

Thank you both for the very helpful information.

Just a clarification Margaux-you are saying if I have 2 flights that overlap, but are taken with different drones (both P4’s let’s say), they need to be processed separately?

Currently, I do multi-flight missions with the same P4 and am able to process all of the photos together (except in some cases where I can tell it recorded very different elevation data). Is this the wrong procedure?

Hello Jon,

What I meant is the following: 

  • if you use images coming from two drones being the same model (i.e. two DJI Phantom 4 drones) and thus using two cameras being the same model as well
  • or if you use images coming from two drones being not the same model (i.e. DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Phantom 4 Pro) and thus using two cameras of different models

In both cases , the software will create two camera models as shown in the screenshot below. The reason for this is that even if being the same models the cameras will be optimized slightly differently depending on the manufacturing details, on the flight conditions etc.

Processing multi-flight mission in subprojects and then merge them is not something mandatory, it will depend on several factors like the number of images, the difference in flights heights, the presence of nadir and oblique or terrestrial and aerial imageries etc. Therefore, depending on these factors you can either process the imagery from multi-flight mission together or separately.
For more information about merging recommendation and procedure, please have a look here.

Hope this helps

Very interesting, thank you Margaux!

Hi Pix4D Team

We have two drones Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 pro with two Flir Vue 640.

At one drone we use Ios Pix4DCapture App which is good, because it has the possibility to choose the different camera in the settings and we are able to fly without the microSD Card and don’t save any pictures during flight.

At the other side I can not import KML Files from Google Earth which would be awesome.

So now I bought an Samsung Android device to get the KML Files loaded but here I can not choose a different camera in the settings and also the settings are much less with android app.

So, do I missing here something or could you please tell me a way to change the camera.

The only thing is when the check sum during the upload pops up and it will not start the mission because of camera and sd card error:

 

 

Hope you can help me out here, thank you very much for your feedback

 

Best Regards

Zoran

Hi Zoran,

If my understanding is correct, you did an integration of two cameras Flir Vue 640 with a P4 and a P4P.

Then you summarize it quite well.

  • Using the iOS version of Pix4Dcapture, you have the ability to set a custom camera but the ability to import a .kml/.kmz file is not implemented. The custom camera option allows users to plan and fly missions with the correct overlap even if the camera is not included in the database of Pix4Dcapture. 
  • Using Android version of Pix4Dcapture, you will have the ability to import a .kml/.kmz file but when having a custom camera integrated, the flight plan and overlap will not take into account the Flir Vue 640 but the P4P camera specificities, which can lead in an insufficient overlap and bad image acquisition.

If properly integrated on the drone, you should be able to make a flight plan with both Android and iOS version of Pix4Dcapture. In your case, it will probably be better to use the iOS version to be able to set a custom camera.

About the screenshot, I would suggest you go all along with the basic checks and troubleshooting steps on this article on our Knowledge Base. If properly followed, it will solve most of the issues that can occur when making an image acquisition using Pix4Dcapture.

Best,