Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

Stabilised cameras - good for aerial photography?

The camera moves the sensor around, and/or uses a movable lens element. This is controlled from accelerometers in the camera body, taking into account the current lens focal length.

Does this try to achieve a simpe non-moving camera, or does it take into account a degree of panning?

For sharp airborne shots one needs to pan, even if only a little.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I don’t know about the cameras you’re talking about, but the Nikon and Canon stabilised lenses have a panning mode specifically for this purpose.

Having said that, the shaking moves the stabilisation systems are designed to offset have a very different character (amplitude/mean reversion/frequency) compared with a smooth panning movement, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t work.


Peter, things are moving very fast in this area. The stabilized heads we use in the film industry are half a million dollar heads. But with the drones and RC technology, things are changing. DJI already has a stabilized 4K camera and head that you can buy for sub $1000. Can’t change lenses on it, but it can track a subject. On the screen, you mark an object in the frame (someone’s head, a plane, a car etc) and the rig will track that object stabilized no matter what. I’ve played with it and it’s amazing. At the prosumer level, Movi has a bigger head that will fit any DSLR or even stripped Arri or Red camera. They’re about $10K.

I predict that within the next 2 years you will have 3-axis stab heads that can take loads up to 20lbs for sub $5K. My advice is to not go and buy a fancy DSLR with stab lens at this point – the avalanche has just begun. And BTW, DSLR is a market that will disappear more or less. Sales are declining year to year as the delta between camera phones/smaller mirrorless cameras to the pro gear is closing.

I agree. I have a DJI Osmo and it delivers that it promises except for the build-in audio, which you better manage through an audio tecorder or external mike. See:

Now GoPro is coming out with stabalised cameras. Once you start working with this stuff, you don’t want to go back.

EHRD, Netherlands

Just a historical view of it. When we got the Saab Safir in the club, in the mid 90’s (if I remember correctly), we flew several aircraft to take aerial photographs. I flew with the photographer (a retired air force photo rec fighter pilot, who was a photographer in his older days taking pictures for aviation magazines). He used what looked to me as a standard SLR camera with zoom lenses etc. On the bottom, it was mounted a mechanical gyro, it looked like some kind of battery pack. It was all hand held, he could use only one hand, as the camera just stayed put. It was really strange to hold though Excellent pictures.

Most of you guys are talking about movies. I should have made it clearer that I was talking about still shots.

I had a Pentax K3 for 3 years and have just got the full-frame K1. Amazing in every way except the ever increasing size and weight (1.4kg to 1.8kg, though to be fair most of the increase is the f2.8 lens) and so well stabilised one can do handheld shots at 1/4 sec at 70mm and they are pretty sharp. In fact the improved stabilisation was the main reason I got the K1… Stabilisation is an issue with airborne shots which is a big thing for me and there is no way to support the camera properly. The wifi and gps were just little bits which are “nice” to have; wifi means you can email someone a pic while travelling (via a transfer to the phone).

However I have not yet had a chance to try panning it.

Movie stabilisation is moving fast. The Sony FDR-1000V I have been using externally for flying movies is stabilised (not at 4k; for that you need the new x3000 model, and Go-Pro have only just brought out stabilisation) and a Canon G40 camcorder I have is stabilised. The previous G10 was stabilised; amazingly well too. David brought a little DJI 4k movie camera with him to Carcassonne and that was a brilliant gadget.

DSLR is a market that will disappear more or less. Sales are declining year to year as the delta between camera phones/smaller mirrorless cameras to the pro gear is closing.

I am sure mirrorless will eventually take over from mirrored DSLRs but it is taking a while. A few months ago I had a very close look at the mirrorless scene and decided it isn’t any good yet. They are OK if you like crappy viewfinders and if you want to use prime lenses (and then carry several of them). By the time you have put a decent zoom on, there is very little difference in weight or size. My son has just got a Sony A7 which cost the same as the K1 and weighs only a bit less.

Phones have a very long way to go, but they do the job for the bulk of the market. Stabilisation on them is poor, too.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I moved away from the Nikon D3 DSLR camera with all their prime lenses. Sold them all and moved to the Fujifilm X-Pro2, which is mirrorless and has a lot less weight.
The image stabilisation is there in, for example, this lens: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 LM OIS WR. The strange thing is that I use this stuff, but am not even aware of how the stabilisation works. This stabilisation in the lens is rated “5 stops improvement.” It automatically detects and deals with panning, but I have no clue how it works. I have only used this lens in Africa and hardly now take even the Fuji and its lenses with me in the aircraft when flying and use now mostly this:

EHRD, Netherlands

5 stops seems to be a common marketing goal right now. The Pentax K1 claims 5 stops of stabilisation, just by moving the sensor around. The previous one I had, the K3, claimed 3 stops IIRC and the difference is immediately apparent. The advantage of the Pentax system is that it works with any lens which you can attach to the camera.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I have just tested the Pentax K1 airborne and the performance is stunning. Both stabilisation and autofocus work very well – much better than any previous DSLR I have had.

Handheld shot, arm’s length, 1/1000, from 4000ft

Autofocus works better on clouds too – this can be surprisingly difficult

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

DJI Osmo Mobile camera phone stabiliser


I wonder how many people use this for flying movies – obviously not with outside-mounted cameras. Some of the “super-trendy” special effects in their intro video I have seen before.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
32 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top