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3rdGen
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Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:18 am

I'm looking to buy a camera for use in the cockpit.

In this day and age of locked cockpit doors we cannot even take our family into the cockpit to see what we do on the job, a real shame. So the next best thing is some still shots and videos so the family can have a look.

I would want a camera which will take good videos and stills. Still not sure whether getting a still camera that can shoot good vids or a video camera that can shoot good stills?

I am not looking for professional quality, but nor do I want point and click quality. Something like a micro 4/3rds which is somewhere in between is ideal.

My big concerns are:

1. Getting a camera with good image stabilization. It's essential especially if the camera is going to be strapped to a vibrating, moving fuselage, which brings me to my next concern...
2. A mount. No doubt very important, but how important? Will the mount play a bigger role in stabilizing the image or will the camera, or are they both equally important?
3. I notice when I use "amateurish" cameras that it's difficult for the camera to be able to focus both inside and outside the cockpit at the same time, or sometimes if the camera focuses on the scenery outside, and if it's bright, everything in the cockpit seems to disappear from view. Likewise if the camera focuses on something inside the cockpit you lose the picture of what's going on outside. Since I'm not going to have my hands on the camera and won't be able to focus manually I'd want something that is going to be pretty constant and won't be losing the picture by focusing inside and outside the cockpit all the time, ideally i'd want something that can focus on both. When I select a lens, what am a looking for in order to get a good field of view and good focus for both near and far objects

Anyway, this is what springs to mind for now. If you have anything else to add please do.

Thanks
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NZ107
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:38 am

Quoting 3rdGen (Thread starter):
1. Getting a camera with good image stabilization.

Then you'd want a DSLR. As long as you have the cash, getting a wide angle lens for the camera will b good and you'll enjoy the photos - the compacts just don't have lenses which reach as wide as the ultra wide angle lenses for DSLRs. If you're not so keen on a DSLR, I'd suggest the Canon G series range.

For a mount/tripod, I'd look for a Gorillapod. The use of a gorillapod which is fixed to an item means that image stabilisation becomes ineffective. Image stabilisation is only really needed when hand holding the camera. Chances are you'd use flash a bit in the cockpit so that'd reduce the need for IS even more.

Your other option could be a GoPro video camera. I'm pretty sure it takes stills as well but it's small and has a suction mount so you could stick it to the window (if that's ok to do).


With your third point, it comes down to being able to use manual mode (the Canon G series has this, and of course all DSLRs will) and adjusting for the conditions. You use the flash and aperture to control the brightness of the cockpit and the shutter speed for the outside. You focus on the instrument panel or thereabouts and let a small aperture capture a depth of field large enough for the keeping the outside in focus too. An external flash does help in this situation to get a brighter light source to brighten up the cockpit and bounce the light off something to minimise shadows. But trial and error is the way to do it.

Hopefully some ideas here for you.


Cheers,
Nicholas
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airkas1
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:17 am

First thing I thought of was the GoPro. It has enough accessories for all your needs and the video options are really good. The photographs aren't of that good quality, but the video is.
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ckw
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:31 am

GoPro isn't stabilised unfortunately. M4/3 is a pretty good choice (I like the OM-D) and a huge range of lenses can be used on it from various makers via adaptors if you can't find a suitable native m4/3 lens. The OM-D stabilisation is excellent, and it's smaller than DSLRs - esp the lenses - which may be a factor in finding somewhere to mount it.

But you are also dealing with some basic photographic problems which go beyond the camera type. You want inside and outside the cockpit to reproduce well. The problem is the range of lighting involved will generally exceed the dynamic range of the sensor - you can correctly expose for outside with black inside or expose for inside with white outside. You may find a sweet spot in certain conditions which allows you to get some detail both in and out the cockpit, but it won't be pretty!

Usually it is necessary to use an exposure which works for the outside and then artifically illuminate the interior (flash).

An alternative would be to use two cameras, suitably mounted, one set for exterior and the other interior, then combine the image/video in post processing - but that entails a whole other set of skills which you may not want to get into.

Cheers,

Colin
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NZ107
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:52 am

Quoting ckw (Reply 3):
An alternative would be to use two cameras, suitably mounted, one set for exterior and the other interior, then combine the image/video in post processing - but that entails a whole other set of skills which you may not want to get into.

Ugh, even I wouldn't want to be merging those!  
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ckw
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:50 am

Just wondering, as I've not tried it, would cameras with built in HDR work? Ie. a bracketted exposure is combined in camera to give the required dynamic range?

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
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3rdGen
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:12 pm

Just took a look at the Go-Pro. Is it better compared to a high end compact camera? I am not going to be using this camera to film the depths of the oceans or to strap it to a mountain bike so I don't need the adventure aspect of it. If i could get a compact with as good or better features then I might as well go for that. I have now realized that mounting something like a Micro 4/3 is not going to be easy and the smaller the better.
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mjgbtv
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:55 pm

Quoting 3rdGen (Reply 6):
Is it better compared to a high end compact camera?

I think not, at least in terms of still image performance. The version that I have (next to latest) has, IIRC, little or no ability to adjust settings. I would expect that most modern compacts in that price range have much more control available. I don't believe that the GoPro has any flash or illumination either, which as noted above might be desirable in a cockpit.
 
Dehowie
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:36 am

Get the gopro..
I use mine at work(im a 320Captain) all the time.
Very little vibration due to great wide angle perspective.
Most pilots if you give them it to use will know how to use it to get you some great video.
By far the best video ive used for so many reasons the main ones being size and ability to put it anywhere on great mounts.
Utterley superb camera..
2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
 
Silver1SWA
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:51 am

Sounds like a GoPro would do exactly what you need. Get the new "Black" one for most video options and best still capabilities. With a GoPro mounted and set to a wide angle, I see little reason for stabilization. I've mounted GoPros externally to small aircraft and they are a lot of fun and a really powerful video tool for a great price. $400 for the top-level GoPro is a great value, in my opinion.
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Dehowie
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RE: Camera For The Cockpit

Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:38 am

Value for money and fun per dollar they are almost impossible to beat.
Havnt used a black but will get one sooner or later as its night performance is supposed to be quite a bit better.
Great value..
2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L

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