How to capture drone images for optimal results in PIX4Dfields

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PIX4Dfields is an advanced agriculture mapping software for aerial crop analysis and digital farming. Capture high-resolution natural-color or multispectral imagery using any modern drone, including multi-rotors and fixed-wings, where and when you need it. PIX4Dfields provides easy access to a range of tools and capabilities for creating orthomosaics, vegetation indices, and annotations for statistical analysis. However, proper data acquisition is the foundation for generating quality outputs.

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Choose your drone and camera

Both multi-rotor and fixed-wing drones, depending on project goals and constraints, are viable platforms. Considerations for the different platforms include survey area size, budget, and camera selection. The camera selection falls into two broad categories: RGB for natural-color orthomosaics, and multispectral for the generation of vegetation indices. PIX4Dfields can process datasets from the most common multispectral and RGB cameras available today. For more information about supported cameras: Supported cameras - PIX4Dfields

 
Important: If a camera is not supported in PIX4Dfields, it is still possible to process a dataset if a file with the internal camera parameters is provided. For more information: Your camera is not supported at this time.
 
Important: PIX4Dfields cannot process thermal imagery. However, PIX4Dfields can process the thermal bands of the Micasense Altum and Sentera 6X cameras. For more information on how to process thermal images with other Pix4D software: Processing thermal images.

Plan a mission

PIX4Dfields requires careful consideration of flight planning parameters, regardless of the type of drone or camera, in order to acquire and process a good dataset. A failure to fly the drone properly may cause the outputs to be of substandard quality or cause processing to fail.

  • Plan a grid flight with a minimum of 70-80% side, and 80% frontal overlap. Less overlap may cause processing to fail or create artifacts in the orthomosaic.
  • Ensure the grid flight is bigger than the Area of interest. 

    planning a grid flight

    Grid plan settings.

  • Imagery must be nadir. A nadir image is an aerial photo taken vertically, or pointed straight down. If the camera is at an oblique angle then processing will fail. Some apps will set 0⁰ as down and some will set 90⁰ as down

    oblique_nadir_imagery_v2.png

    Orientations of the camera.

  • Use auto exposure.
  • Acquire imagery at full resolution. Do not alter the aspect ratio as this reduces the amount of viable data, and can cause the camera to be unsupported.
  • Consistent light. Full cloudy or full sunny conditions will create quality outputs. Intermittent sun and clouds may induce artifacts into the orthomosaics.
  • Fly with the sun overhead when conditions are sunny (if possible).
  • Flight lines should be perpendicular to the sun (if possible).

For more information:

Plan a great flight.

Capture imagery

Once the flight parameters have been determined, a flight plan must be created and uploaded to the drone via a flight application. The application, typically an app on an iOS or Android device, will automate the drone flight according to the inputted flight parameters.

PIX4Dcapture and PIX4Dscan are the two flight applications developed by Pix4D. These flight applications allow for the creation and execution of missions for many common multi-rotor drones available today.

However, all of Pix4D's software is image acquisition app agnostic. PIX4Dfields can process images acquired from virtually any flight application as long as the images are of good quality and overlap. For more information on third-party flight apps: Which image acquisition app can I use with Pix4D's software?

After planning the mission, upload the flight plan to the drone, and let the automation fly the drone.

Download and process

ILL_AGR_DRONE_SD_PROCESS_RD1.png

Drone to computer workflow.

Once the drone has landed, simply remove the SD card from the drone, create a project in PIX4Dfields, and import the images (.tiff or .jpg) or the folder with the images. Processing can begin immediately.

Processing.png

Import menu for adding images or adding the folder with images.

For more information on importing images: Image import and process steps - PIX4Dfields

For more information on processing options: Processing options - PIX4Dfields

 
Note: Try PIX4Dfields now! Register for a free 15 days trial, and download our Example datasets to learn how easy it is to process imagery.

Visualize and analyze

After processing is complete, perform complex vegetation analysis using the predefined index templates, or create custom indices with the built-in index calculator. Create annotations for statistical calculations such as areas, lengths, and mean index values.

Export and share

Share your outputs with our Share to PIX4Dcloud for greater collaboration, or export your data to any farm management software, or third-party GIS software for further analysis.

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