Flying the ITW Triton on the beach (nice on-shore wind)
Although I am very happy to continue to use CHDK and older Canon Powershots for my infrared photo kite flying, I had a look briefly at other options, primarily cameras with a built-in interval timer capability, as well as suitability to be modified for IR, support for RAW files and relatively light-weight – I don’t have the appetite to fly my Sony a7ii or any other big heavy and expensive SLR.
After a quick search, and reading various user guides, a few interesting suitable cameras turned up. There are more cameras with built-in interval timers, such as the new Nikon A, Fujifilm X100F, older Lumix LX and Olympus tough TG series, but these either have an unsuitable fixed (too wide) lens, are expensive to dangle from a kite or the interval timer will only do a small number of shots with an interval of minutes, rather than the ideal of 3-5 seconds.
The interesting ones that did turn up were the:
- Fujifilm X30, X70, X-E2, X-E2S, X-A3
- Nikon J1, J2 & J3
- Panasonic Lumix DMC GX7, GX8, GX80 & GX85
- Samsung NX500
All nice cameras, and interestingly able to capture full-spectrum and use lens-filters (rather than just a fixed near-IR frequency), but also more expensive than a cheap older Canon A or SX models running CHDK; although a used Samsung NX500, Nikon J1 and Lumix GX7 would be less expensive to purchase used.
UPDATE: Sony Time Lapse App
I originally missed that Sony offer an in-cameraTime-Lapse app for a number of their cameras: Time Lapse App
- NEX-5R, NEX-5T & NEX-6
- a5000, a5100, a6000, a6300 & a6500
- RX100M3, RX100M4, RX10M2, RX1RM2, RX10M3 & RX100M5
This looks like a very comprehensive capability and on an older camera like an NEX-5 or a5000, a quality inexpensive option.
As I find more suitable cameras I will add them to this page: Cameras with Interval Timers
The new 660nm modified Canon SX240 (replacement) camera has arrived, from the ever helpful Andy at Infraready, to replace the broken Powershot n as my main infrared camera dangling from a kite.
The Indestructibles site lists the steps perfectly: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Install-CHDK/
CHDK Download page: http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Downloads
One of the first things I noticed is that the SX240, unlike the Powershot n, will reload CHDK after images have been captured – which is great and so much more convenient than having to use a freshly copied SD card each time.
There is also a note on the Wiki that RAW capture does not work correctly when in Auto mode; not an issue, however, as my intention is to shoot purely in Shutter or Manual mode, when flying and Aperture mode when using normally.
The SX240 also has two good features, over the Powershot n:
- Custom white-balance – although capturing RAW with CHDK, this helps with the JPEG files when not using CHDK.
- Shutter Priority (“Tv“) – when swinging off a kite line, having a fixed shutter of 1/500 or 1/1000th is very helpful.
Will post the first sample images shortly.
Rarely do I find infrared shots of people work, but sometimes the anemic lack of color (IR is absorbed by skin) can work to your advantage, plus it is helped by lots of people in wetsuits. Although, I think these shots are made by the determined children in the foreground.
A 590nm image from a full-spectrum modified Sony a7ii with a lens filter. Desaturating of the blue, no channel-swap.
Walking around Baggy Point, near Croyde, Devon UK. Desaturated 720nm & 850nm images (no channel-swap).
Putsborough beach, Devon UK. 3 stitch panoramic of multi-band images from a BG3 filter on a Sony a7ii.
So my little Powershot n tragically died because I rode my luck a few times too many with off-shore winds. The lesson to learn is to stick as much as possible to nice clean on-shore winds.
Why? Because off-shore wind usually is traveling over buildings, trees, sand-dunes etc. which all affect the flow and make for more swirly and inconsistent flow. Whereas, on-shore wind flow is generally much cleaner and less prone to looping or dragging the kite sideways and then into the ground.
if you can get up high enough, sometimes the off-shore wind is fine, but the danger zone, and risk, is always closer to the ground when you are reeling out or in.
Seaton beach, Devon UK. A multi-band image from a Schott BG3 filter on a full-spectrum modified Sony a7ii.
I like working with the multi-band filters like UG1 (don’t use that much as it blocks a lot of light and reduces the exposure options significantly), UG5 and BG3, as they produce dark stickman-like figures, rather than the anemic yellow with pure near-IR images (590nmm 720vm etc.).
A 3 stitch panoramic (the blending on this is poor).
So the little 590nm modified Powershot n finally came to a destructive end from mother nature and, on reflection, my ill-considered kite flying – I should have flown a kite more stable for bigger gusts on the day. We learn.
The lens took most of the impact and will now not extend or retract. I guess it could be repaired, but it is not worth it and I would like to change it for something less fiddly. It has been good as a light-weight flyer, but I have struggled at times, especially while holding the line, with the small touchscreen and CHDK settings.
Next, it is a Canon Powershot SX240, as I decided to continue using CHDK for access to RAW files and interval timer scripts; saving the weight of an external interval-timer unit. The SX240 is still light-weight, inexpensive to buy used and convert. It also has a shutter priority mode, unlike the Powershot n, which should help with swinging around on the end of a pendulum.
I looked at a few other compact cameras, like the Olympus TG (tough series) but could not find anything inexpensive to buy, with a built interval-timer that supported short intervals around 1-5 seconds and unlimited shots (until the card is full), which is what CHDK scripts will do. I also looked at using older GoPro models, which can now be converted for IR, however, don’t like the smaller sensor images and fixed wide angle – fly too high and the images are too wide losing detail.
The Canon A series (good optiA810, A1300-1400, A2300-2600, A3300-4000) are generally cheaper than the SX series to buy used and lighter, however, they don’t have helpful options like shutter priority.
Infraredy (the ever excellent and helpful Andy) are already converting the SX240 to 660nm and it should arrive for the weekend. I decided on 660nm just for something different from the Powershot n’s 590nm and did not want the more color-limited options of 720nm, 850nm etc.
The final flight of the little modified Canon Powershot n – rode my luck with on-shore winds one time too many off-shore winds and the kite and camera crashed. The kite, an ITW Triton, survived but the not the camera.
On reflection, I should have flown the foil, which is happier in heavier winds. The Triton was stable but got hit by a big gust as it was being hauled down and had no chance to recover.
Monochrome 590nm images, processed at 2400K.
Surfers carrying boards off the beach as the weather worsened.
Into the Wind Triton