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5.1 Camera Settings

In this lesson you'll learn the best settings for your aerial camera and how to avoid problems with aerial footage.

2 lessons, 06:29

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Free Lesson
Drone Project Uses

2.Equipment and Setup
2 lessons, 09:33

Technical Specs

Cameras and Gear

1 lesson, 04:46

Shooting Techniques

4.Outdoor Factors
2 lessons, 07:29

Weather Factors

Timing and Time of Day

5.Camera Setup
2 lessons, 12:46

Camera Settings


6.Maintenance and Preparation
2 lessons, 11:23

Routine Maintenance

Planning for a Shoot

2 lessons, 07:30

What Is Legal?

How to Obtain UAV Insurance

8.Drone Services
1 lesson, 02:36

Service Ideas

1 lesson, 02:05


5.1 Camera Settings

In this lesson we're gonna learn about the best settings for your drone camera and how you can avoid common problems with aerial footage. The settings on your drone camera are easy to overlook. However, they play a huge factor in determining how good your aerial footage is gonna look in the end. Think about it this way, no matter how great the flight and the scenery is on your shot, If the settings aren't set up properly, your shot's gonna still be sub-par. Think of your camera settings as your foundation. If they aren't set up properly before the shoot, everything is gonna be affected. I'm gonna be covering a lot of camera settings inside of the DjI pilot app. However, these camera settings are pretty universal. So, even if you're not using the DJI Pilot app or using another camera setup, these setting recommendations are the same regardless of camera or brand. The first setting you're gonna wanna adjust on your camera is probably the most important in my opinion, is the picture profile. Depending on your camera, this may also be listed under color profile or style etc. For this setting, you're gonna wanna select the flattest profile possible, which is likely gonna be listed under the profile called flat. Or you can manually adjust the settings to be flat, which is what's required on the DJI Pilot app. Filming in flat, low-contrast picture profile will give you better dynamic range when filming. This is gonna prevent the highlights from blowing out and the darks from being too black, and it's gonna retain the most color information. And this is gonna help immensely when grading footage in post. While you're recording in a flat profile, the image will look washed out, with low saturation and low contrast. This is normal, again, to give you the most leeway in post-production. If your camera doesn't have a flat picture profile to select, cameras typically have a custom option you can set up to be flat. This is what DJI users will have to do. Under the Custom style options, set the sharpness to -1, the contrast setting to -2, and the saturation setting to -2. Feel free to play around and tweak these settings that fit your style. Some cameras may also offer a color option along with a style option, for artistic options like filters and etc. If your camera has this options it's a good idea to set it to none or to log. The log code options will pull the most color information from your camera sensor, again giving you more leeway and color grading in post production. Next is your white balance option, this is gonna pin down on what and when you're shooting, but typically you're just gonna shoot in a daylight or a cloudy settings. I don't think I've ever filmed in any other white balance modes with my drone. I usually film with the cloudy white balance mode, because it adds a bit of a warmer tone to the footage. This is really just a personal preference. However, one white balance setting I highly recommend never using is the auto white balance. This can change your white balance between shots at the same shoot, and it's gonna be a nightmare to color-correct and post. Now let's take a look at ISO. ISO may also be referred to gain on your camera and this could help bring up the exposure of your image when filming in dark location. However, this introduces more image noise the higher you go. And since most drone camera sensors are small, this noise can quickly turn your image into a mushy mess, degrading everything about the image. They can also be quite deceptive when you're viewing it on your small controller monitor. What looks great on a small screen can look horrible when reviewing the footage on your computer. My recommendation is to set the ISO as low as it can go on your aerial camera and leave it there. If you need to adjust your exposure use your shutter speed instead. And just know that if you do increase the ISO the image will suffer. Shutter speed is a very important and powerful aspect of aerial footage. It can make your footage look tech sharp, blurry, or even cause the footage to strobe. All these may or may not be desired results, so it's a good idea to understand them. Shutter speed is often confused with frame rate. Whereas frame rate is how many frames per second your video captures, shutter speed is how quick each one of those frames is captured. This is important when it comes to drone footage. Just as a reference, here is a picture that I took with a DSLR while it was spinning. This is at a 1/30th of a second shutter speed, and this is at 1/1000th of a second shutter speed. These are just one frame, but it will give you quite different results. And then you may be thinking, well, I'll just always use a higher shutter speed all the time. But that can only do another problem called strobing. Because there is less motion blur and the frames tend to jump or strobe instead of flowing smoothly. This is the most common when you're flying closer to the ground or to trees instead you're moving past the camera to faster rate. Here's an example of a shot with a lower shutter speed. [MUSIC] And here's the exact same shot in a higher shutter speed. [MUSIC] You can use higher shutter speeds when you're up higher in the air. I typically try to find a good medium, around 120th of a second for my shutter speed. This gives me good sharpness on my image, and doesn't struggle as much. However, if I wanna be flying closer to treetops or objects I'll lower my shutter speed to prevent strobing. I'll also lower my shutter speed in the evening, if it's a little bit darker and I need to brighten up my image. You can also increase your shutter speed if you want to darken your image. Let's say you're filming on a real sunny day and the highlights are getting blown out. However, a better solution for this may be to use a Indy filter. Like this one that comes with a DJI Inspire1. This will cut down on light entering the camera and allow you to use a lower, more manageable shutter speed and prevent the image from being overexposed. Most aerial cameras have the option of using an indie filter or you can purchase them from third party companies that manufacture them for your camera. For video resolution size, I would select the highest resolution you can for the frame rates you want. Even if you're gonna be out putting the final video at a smaller resolution. The higher the resolution you record it in generally will result in more detailed image when you downscale the video. An example of this would be filming in 4K or 2K and then in the editing process, editing at 1080p, essentially downscaling the footage. Which is gonna help the footage look better. Doing this results in a sharper image than even if you just film in 1080p with your drone. Filming at a high resolution, like 4K will also give you the flexibility to crop in on your image in post and not lose much resolution. You could also do this with 1090p footage if you're gonna be outputting at 720p. The only times, which you should be forced to film at a low resolution is when you need to film at a higher frame rate. Like 60 frames per second, which might mean you have to only film in 1080p. Filming in 60 frames per second will give you the option to convert the footage to 30 or 24 frames in post, giving a smoother slow motion effect on the footage. [MUSIC] One thing to know, is all the camera settings I've covered so far are for video settings. However, if you wanna do photos, you don't have to change much. The one setting you would wanna adjust for aerial photos would be the shutter speed. The higher the shutter speed is on photos, the better the image is gonna look, because there's gonna be less motion blur. You may also wanna adjust the sharpness setting under your Picture Profile from 0 to +1. Hopefully you found these recommended camera settings useful. I'm also gonna include a PDF download for this lesson that shows the exact camera settings I use with my DjI camera and my GoPro Hero 4 camera, so you can use them or compare them with your own. In the next lesson we're gonna examine the DJI Go app, examining its various options and features.

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