Step 1. Before Starting a Project > 2. Configuring the Camera Settings

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Pix4Dmapper is able to process images taken with any camera:

  • Lightweight compact cameras.
  • DSLR cameras.
  • Large format cameras.
  • Action cameras.
  • Camera Rigs.
  • 360 ° panorama cameras.
CompactDSLRLarge formatActionRig360 ° panorama

Using any lens:

  • Perspective (narrow and wide focal length).
  • Ultra wide focal length (Fisheye).

The cameras can be loaded on any platform:

  • UAVs from the hobby world.
  • Professional UAVs.
  • Manned aircrafts.
  • Helicopters.
  • Terrestrial vehicles.
  • No platform, for terrestrial imagery (taken by hand).

Pix4Dmapper can process images regardless of the spectral specifications of the camera:

  • RGB cameras.
  • NIR, Red Edge cameras for agriculture applications.
  • Thermal cameras: 20275534.
  • etc.

 

Summary 

Camera body and lens
  • Perspective and fisheye lens supported.
  • The zoom should be stable.
  • Fixed focal length is recommended.
  • Video frames are not recommended due to low pixel resolution.
Camera settings
  • Stabilization settings should be off.
  • Shutter/aperture/ISO should be on automatic.
  • If images are blurry or noisy, manually set shutter/aperture/ISO. For more information: Camera settings.
  • Select Manual Focus on Infinity.

 

Camera Body 

As a rule of thumb: Heavier cameras (higher pixel resolution) provide better results but require a flying platform with a higher payload.

 

Recommended Cameras

Camera TypeRecommendationTips
Compact Canon IXUS 220HS (135 g)
Sony RX 100 (240 g)
Let parameters on automatic and disable image stabilization.
DSLR Sony Nex 5/7 (270 g - 350 g) Canon 5D mark ii (>800 g) Use a fixed focal length lens to improve the results.
Action GoPro Hero 4 Recommended for close range imagery (up to 50 meters). Take the images with the widest angle and highest resolution possible.

 

Video cameras

  • Videos are not recommended for accurate mapping: The quality of the results will almost always be inferior to the results from still imagery. 
  • 4K video from camera such as GoPro 4 and DJI provides reasonable results.
  • Full HD video is usually not sufficient to get good results.
  • When using a video for processing, it is important to consider the following: 205294735.

  

Recommended Camera Focal Length

There is no limit in the focal length that can be used with Pix4Dmapper.

ApplicationRecommendationWhy
Mapping: aerial project with a flight height above 50 meters. Perspective lens: between 22 mm and 80 mm focal length (in 35 mm equivalent).  To ensure a good GSD that will lead to higher accuracy results.
Indoor / close range reconstruction. Fisheye lens: very small focal length. Flexibility in data acquisition: Ensuring higher overlap.

 

Most lens manufacturers give the focal length (F35) that corresponds to 35 mm equivalent. In order to find the real focal length:

FR = (F35 * SwR) / 34.6 (mm) 

where:

F35 = focal length that corresponds to 35 mm equivalent [mm]
FR = real focal length [mm]
SwR = the real sensor width [mm]

For a given height, the wider the field of view (small focal length), the fewer the images to achieve sufficient overlap. This is especially useful if a regular and dense flight plan cannot be setup.  The spatial resolution, though, will be low leading to less accurate results.

If the field of view is narrow (large focal length), more images will be required to ensure enough overlap when mapping the same area. The spatial resolution will be higher in this case, leading to more accurate results.

For more information about how to select camera focal length and flight altitude considering the desired spatial resolution (GSD) and the area to map: 202558849.

 
Tip: Use a fixed focal length lens, as it will usually result in sharper images with reduced noise.

 

Camera Settings

The shutter speed, aperture and ISO should be set on automatic. If images are blurry or noisy, it is recommended to manually set these parameters.

There is a tradeoff between the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO sensitivity. For processing, the images should be sharp and have the least amount of noise. Such images can be obtained when the scene is well illuminated (scattered clouds should be avoided) and the camera parameters are well adjusted. If the scene is not sufficiently illuminated, images will be noisier and less sharp, thus lowering the accuracy of the results.

  • As a rule of thumb, the shutter speed should be fixed, the ISO needs to be set at a low value that does not produce noisy images, and the aperture should be set to automatic to adjust for varying levels of brightness in the scene. If the tradeoff is not correct, overexposed or underexposed images may be obtained.

    The shutter speed should be fixed and set to a medium speed (as an indication: between 1/300 second and 1/800 second), but fast enough to not produce blurry images. If more than 5% of the images are subject to a directional blur, it is a good indication that the shutter speed should be slightly increased.

    The ISO should be set as low as possible (minimum 100). High ISO settings generally introduce noise into images and drastically reduce the quality of the results.

    The aperture minimum and maximum values depend on the lens. High aperture is translated into low numbers, for example f2.7 (which will capture a lot of light). If both the shutter speed and ISO are adjusted, it is better to leave the aperture (f) on automatic.
  • The electronic and mechanical stabilization should be disabled as it interferes with Pix4Dmapper's algorithms.

  • The recommended focus mode is Manual Focus on Infinity. This mode of focusing should always give focused images for aerial projects. For terrestrial projects, this mode will probably lead to out of focus results, if a long focal length is used.

 
Tip: For terrestrial projects it is recommended to use a wide angle lens.

Problems with images due to wrong camera parameters or inadequate equipment that interfere with the processing:

Blur due to slow shutter speed. Noise due to high ISO sensitivity. Overexposed or underexposed (wrong aperture and/or shutter speed). Distortions due to electronic or mechanical image stabilization. Distortions due to the rolling shutter. Pix4Mapper models the rolling shutter improving the results:202558159. 
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