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Studio flash fill added to P4.
1201 22 2016-12-18 13:42:18
fansa84fe8a4
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For those who want to use their Phantom P4 for still photos shot from up higher, seems DJI forgot to add a flash socket for studio flash units on the ground to light a subject.  So I had to.

Hard part was busting open the case and putting a socket in parallel with the release button on the RC unit's corner as the tabs on the tiny micro push-button switch there are the size of a pinhead.  With some small guage wire (26-28g), and a dot of flux and Ag-bearing solder on the pins, I managed to do it with a fine tipped pencil iron.

Then there is the matter of the delay between the signal to the drone's camera shutter and that ot the wireless transmitter for the flash.  Turns out it is about a 175ms delay between them with the delay needing to be on the flash side.  Done with a microprocessor and a bit of simple timing programming for the two lines out: One to the jack on the RC and other delayed one to the flash trigger.  I trigger the pair at the timing microprocessor as I put the shutter release button/cable on it and not at the RC unit (Think a pushbutton as on a cable like old cameras.).

Fwiw, the P4's 'rolling shutter' takes about 1/10 second - actually 1/12.5 sec. - to travel the frame on the P4 regardless of the shutter speed set.  So that is the maximum sync speed for flash with it.  The mechanical ones on the newer cameras might be better suited, but you can use a ND-64 filter outdoors with it once you establish your daylight setting and the amount of flash-fill needed.  My Nikon said 1/160 and f/11 @100 ISO on the wig stand shot below and the studio flash was a 700 ws unit with a 28 degree focused beam about 20 feet away.  I may try for a stronger flash down the road, but 20 feet isn't too bad.  Now to figure out how to get more distance between the drone and the subject, i.e. An Inspire with a 45mm lens perhaps as the P4 in the following was about 4 feet from the wig stand and just too close for comfort for people.

You can see the flash unit in the glasses in the lower right of each lens on the one where I activated the wireless flash.  Sun is the topmost one.


Flash socket to release button.

Flash socket to release button.

Flash jack on RC.

Flash jack on RC.

No flash vs. Flash Fill.

No flash vs. Flash Fill.
2016-12-18 13:42:18
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Geebax
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Can you explain the point of this? I would have thought that if you are close enough for flash to be effective, then you would use a ground based camera.
2016-12-18 14:25:25
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fansa84fe8a4
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Geebax Posted at 2016-12-18 14:25
Can you explain the point of this? I would have thought that if you are close enough for flash to be effective, then you would use a ground based camera.

I thought the first sentence explained it.  

When you want the camera up higher rather than resorting to a crane, boom, ladder, or scaffolding.  Examples: To get up over an arbor, bushes, or over a roof or other obstacle on the ground, etc.  Instead, just hover the drone in place there and shoot away.  Cinematographers, and some wedding and architectural photographers shooting stills, have to deal with cranes and booms all the time. Then they have to link up their gear to the flash too.  Seems DJI forgot those people and concentrated too much on video and less on stills.



2016-12-18 14:49:44
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Geebax
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fansa84fe8a4 Posted at 2016-12-19 09:49
I thought the first sentence explained it.  

When you want the camera up higher rather than resorting to a crane, boom, ladder, or scaffolding.  Examples: To get up over an arbor, bushes, or over a roof or other obstacle on the ground, etc.  Instead, just hover the drone in place there and shoot away.  Cinematographers, and some wedding and architectural photographers shooting stills, have to deal with cranes and booms all the time. Then they have to link up their gear to the flash too.  Seems DJI forgot those people and concentrated too much on video and less on stills.

I understand, but DJI has not forgotten those people, they have ignored them because they make a flying camera for the masses, not professionals. Still, if you need to do that, good job.
2016-12-18 15:02:30
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Grizz 1
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wouldn't it be simpler to affix a set of lume cubes to your phantom for your lighting ?
2016-12-18 17:22:49
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Grizz 1 Posted at 2016-12-18 18:22
wouldn't it be simpler to affix a set of lume cubes to your phantom for your lighting ?

Yes, that was my exact thought as well. ;-)

So much easier, and effective while controlled from the free smart device Pro app.

RedHotPoker
2016-12-18 17:50:41
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fansa84fe8a4
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Grizz 1 Posted at 2016-12-18 17:22
wouldn't it be simpler to affix a set of lume cubes to your phantom for your lighting ?

Sorry, I have the Lume Cubes and they are not all that bright compared to a studio flash unit and why I had to resort to adding a flash system to the P4's RC unit.

If the sunlight shot of the wig stand above was ISO 100, 1/125 sec. at f/16 on the P4, then to add a bit of fill to the shadows for a 1:2 ratio would need to be f/11 worth of light to do so.  If you take a Lume Cube and put it at full power, to get f/11 worth of light out of it at 1/125 second at ISO 100 for fill, you'd have to place it 3.5 inches away from the wig stand head to do so as in the shot below with the light meter.  That's too close, and it will be a small area lit too as it is a concentrated point source of light.

With the studio unit, the flash was 20 feet away for f/11.  Now that's serious light that no LED can provide, and it's in a very short burst too for still work, about 1/1000 seconds worth.  With the LED at that distance, it would be seconds to accomplish that sort of fill which would then grossly overexpose for the sunlit areas.

And yes RHP, I too can control my studio flash units from a remote control for power output. And they do run on portable power packs too.

Lume Cube at full brightness.

Lume Cube at full brightness.
2016-12-18 19:47:43
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RedHotPoker
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Whatever works for your needs is always best. ;-)
Nice that you have figured out a method, to do that for you.

RedHotPoker
2016-12-18 21:07:49
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Nigelbrinkmann
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RedHotPoker Posted at 2016-12-19 13:07
Whatever works for your needs is always best. ;-)
Nice that you have figured out a method, to do that for you.

New avatar! What happen to the duck??
2016-12-19 00:59:53
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RedHotPoker
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Nigelbrinkmann Posted at 2016-12-19 01:59
New avatar! What happen to the duck??

Have you tried duck la orange, under glass? Hahaha
image.jpeg image.png
It's all good!! Haha

RedHotPoker
2016-12-19 10:45:53
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Jester
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Very creative, great job figuring it out!
2016-12-20 23:19:29
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fansa84fe8a4
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Jester Posted at 2016-12-20 23:19
Very creative, great job figuring it out!

Thanks Jester!

I was trying a rough run with a normal DSLR and found that a 60mm lens on a DJI X5S camera would put a standing couple about 60 feet away from the drone.  Sixty feet should be a good safety margin, and a lot better than maybe 3 or 4 feet with the current wide-angle lens on the P4.  A 60mm on the DJI X5S would be a 120mm telephoto on a 35mm.  So far, the max lens focal length DJI approves on the X5S is a 45mm but it should work too, just maybe 30 feet out or so.  Sigma makes a small 190 gram 60mm lens that might work with counter-weighting.  Dunno.

A couple of strong flash units could be about 10 feet away or more and not appear in the scene so flash-fill in bright sunlight is possible with a drone.  A couple of Paul Buff X3200's on their battery pack, CyberCommander wireless control, and a beauty dish or umbrellas should work well.  Even back-light flash with gels too for effect.

Too bad DJI does not provide a flash jack to do so.  Maybe the CAN-jack (or the mini-USB?) on the new Inspire 2 units with some flash outlet jack on a  cable?  That or I'll transfer the design to that RC box which might be easy to do with the current jack and release buttons out of the P4 I have now if the parts are the same.  Soldering to that uber-tiny release button was tricky!  I tried that "Conductive wiring glue" but it didn't work out where the solder did.

So where's the forgotten flash jack or cable adapter DJI that real camera maker's add for real pro still photographers?  Send me a free Inspire 2 with a X5S camera and a 45mm lens and I let you know how it goes!
2016-12-21 08:04:35
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fansa84fe8a4
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Example of drone needed here:

This was a test for a location for an upcoming fashion shoot at an area where someone took large white rocks and spelled out "LOVE" with a peace sign for the letter "O".  Clothes are some hippie era stuff that seems to be coming back in fashion once it all comes together (Some hippie garb I'm being sent is on the wigstand above too.).

The "LOVE" lettering is about 8 feet tall, but the angle is so flat it doesn't appear that well, especially if they sit.  A drone or crane would be a better angle, just anything with wheels leaves tracks in the red pumice rock which then needs raking.  I prefer not to disturb the area as someone already has and it needs to be raked again when we are ready.  A drone would be the answer, but nothing made currently allows for flash fill (DJI, ahem!).  Large 3' diameter flash softbox was about 20 feet away, or else the model would be too dark as would any clothes due to bright desert sun.

DJI, ya'all listening?

Test-Love_Rocks_DSC0521-12.jpg
2016-12-21 09:02:28
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rainer1
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Great idea fansa84.

Perhaps dji could even add a remote flash transmitter?
Just like the hdmi module is an accessory.
This way the photographer that's need it can buy it.

In photography light is everything.

Again, very creative of you and thanks for sharing.

Rainer
2016-12-22 19:46:17
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fansa84fe8a4
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rainer1 Posted at 2016-12-22 19:46
Perhaps dji could even add a remote flash transmitter?

Yes, an accessory cable out of the DJI RC unit would be my guess too.  Once the camera goes into still camera mode, then some signal out of the mini-USB port to a cable to some opto-coupler would be all that is needed. I believe that a low-voltage opto-coupler is the trigger now used in most modern digital cameras too rather than the dead-short switch in older ones.

Currently, most wireless transmitters for flash use either a 2.5mm or 3.5mm mini-jack to plug their cables into.  Paul Buff and Yongnuo use a 2.5mm mono plug on a cable to plug into their transmitters, and PocketWizard and Phottix uses a 3.5mm plug.  Some CAN-jack on the Inspire RC box, or maybe a mini-USB accessory cable, to either of those jacks might be an optional accessory.  That, or find out the RF protocols of the mentioned flash transmitters and use them and make it totally wireless to their flash trigger receivers on their channels to keep the frequencies tidy and interference free.

I can see this being used on the Inspire series since telephoto lenses can be used on it to get it away from being so close to people, and it is also geared to the pros.  If it were universal to the programming inside the RC unit it could be used on the Phantoms and Mavics too.  Maybe to light exteriors or interiors of real estate as in some dusk/dawn shots where real estate is lit during that time, or canyon walls in landscapes, gardens, etc.

All up to DJI though...
2016-12-23 10:07:31
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Dhein Photo
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I'd pay money for that!  Any updates?  I would love to be able to add a flash to the drone toolkit.  I'd have it on stands on the ground though not on the drone.  
2017-3-7 11:38:52
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Dhein Photo Posted at 2017-3-7 11:38
I'd pay money for that!  Any updates?  I would love to be able to add a flash to the drone toolkit.  I'd have it on stands on the ground though not on the drone.

DJI intro'ed some auxillary switch unit for the Matrice 600 that plugs into the HDMI module's Can-Bus port.  It has some "Shutter" pin on it, but what and how to use it as a flash trigger is unknown.  Whether it could be used on other DJI items with the HDMI module and that Can-Bus port is also questionable (Likely not, but with the M200 on the horizon who knows?).

I would think the Inspire 2 would have offered some sort of flash hook-up based on the X5S as it is still camera-like with interchangeable lenses for still photos.  It probably has the capability in the raw form of that micro four-thirds camera from whomever makes it or provided the SDK for the sensor just DJI didn't apply it.

I'll wait until they get the I2 debugged and try it out.  No sense hacking it and losing any warranty until I am 100% certain it won't have to be sent in for some bugs which it seems to have in present form with landing gear sticking, props, and firmware matters.
2017-3-8 07:46:19
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WindSoul
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there isnt detectable difference in your shot. especially that the subject already has enough lighting, your extra light only white-washes it. unless you meant to render creaks and crevices on the stool. joke aside, bravo for the addition, i am sure will improve the lighting when needed.
2017-3-8 09:52:40
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WindSoul Posted at 2017-3-8 09:52
there isnt detectable difference in your shot. especially that the subject already has enough lighting, your extra light only white-washes it. unless you meant to render creaks and crevices on the stool. joke aside, bravo for the addition, i am sure will improve the lighting when needed.

A discernible difference depends on what you are viewing it on.  Below is an image where you should be able to see the black square with the #1 in it if your monitor is good, calibrated, a decent GPU, etc.  Square #1 is RGB=1 or one lighter than the overall RGB=0 black frame, Square #2 is RGB=2, ...etc.

The flash sync gizmo I made proves the sync can work with a drone.  I could decrease the 1:2 ratio by turning up the studio flash output or using a stronger unit which I didn't drag out.  The amount of fill is subjective, but variable and it works.  What people view it on is more likely more contrasty than my Eizo CG-248-4K monitor that has a greater dynamic range than say a tablet or Apple Thunderbolt screen that is far more contrasty and lacks any shadow detail.



Density scale for shadow detail.

Density scale for shadow detail.
2017-3-8 11:39:30
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fansa84fe8a4
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Okay, several have PM'ed me questions and I cannot figure out the off-board messaging system here.  So here are the photos and some building it explanations.

Radio Shack sells the Arduino microprocessor I used for about $25.  They also sell a plug-in that fits on top called a "Relay Shield" (~$20) which is four relays.  You can see them stacked inside the box in the "Insides 2" photo.  On top of that I made up a 10K resistor pull-up board for the Nikon shutter button, but later found out it wasn't needed as that stuff is in the Ardunios.  Since Radio Shack might be going out of business, you might find the stuff cheaper.

How it works:

The Nikon shutter button I had triggers the microprocessor to trip a relay.  That relay is in parallel through the cord to the Shutter Button switch inside the DJI RC box (That jack on the back in the photos at the top of this thread.) so the RC tells the drone camera to fire instead of me pressing the button on the RC box.

When the relay trigger is sent, it times out to trip the second relay by 175 ms in the software in the Arduino to short out the hot-shoe or the plug to my wireless trigger to the flash units.  That puts the flash in sync with the P4's shutter lag due to the time it takes for the P4 camera to trip and use the rolling shutter to cover the frame.

Not that hard to do other than wiring into the DJI box's tiny shutter button.  The programming is Arduino "Sketch" and they have a lot of people on the forum to pick info out of.  Just a simple delay to the hot shoe or wireless trigger is all that's needed.  I played around with the programming by flashing the LED's on the relay board to get the relays figured out.

There is, or was, something called a "Camera Axe" that was sold and maybe still is that uses a lot of flash timing abilities for water drops, flash sequencing, etc.  I think the guy sold it as a DIY kit or pre-assembled.  Same principle as mine, just his is adjustable without having to plug into a stand-alone computer to load the software into the Arduino via that white USB port in the end of it.

The black square thing inside is a couple of LiPo's in series tapped up so it runs on 7.4 volts.  Most all the hardware, boxes, batteries, switches, etc. I got out of "All Electronics" in Los Angeles.

Setup

Setup

Back

Back

Front

Front

Inside

Inside

Inside 2

Inside 2
2017-3-20 18:20:24
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fansa84fe8a4
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This is for Austin asking about an Osmo+ as I cannot figure out the "Reply" part of the PM thing here.  Better to post it here as I'm getting too many requests and I'm not wanting to get into making these things.

As to the Osmo+ I don't see why you couldn't do the same thing for your still car shots and your studio flash.  Just figure out a way to make a remote (hard-wired) shutter button on the Arduino Shield that triggers a relay for the Osmo+ shutter button in parallel, and then use that same trigger to feed that propagation delay (If the Osmo+ needs one since the drones do because of the RC transmission signal.) with the Osmo+ to a delay timer in the Arduino microprocessor to trigger the second relay for the flash units or the trigger device used for them.

That said, I don't use the Osmo setups so I have no knowledge of them nor how to get into them to parallel a remote switch to it.  Easiest way would be to find one of those Camera Axe devices already built where it has two triggers: One going to the Osmo+ shutter button where you'd have to wire into it in parallel, and the second delay out for the flash trigger.

Of course with either method, your shutter button is now at the microprocessor and not on the Osmo+.  You can still use the Osmo+ shutter button, but it will not trigger the flash that direction.  Has t be a button to the microprocessor board (i.e. Camera Axe, or the Arduino board and its Shield Relay setup.).

Why the drone makers or even the cell phone outfits don't or can't sync an external flash is maddening!  My cell phone flash is more of a "Turn the LED on full for a bit.  Then fire the shutter at some point.  And later turn off the LED." so it's not really a "flash" imho but just a bright flashlight.  LED's are just too weak, imho, and why electronic flash is still around and supported.

Added:
Just a thought.  If the Osmo+ does not need a delay as it isn't radio controlled (??), you might be able to get away with just a simple momentary contact push-button with dual contacts.  One set of contacts would be to the Osmo+ shutter button, and the second set to the flash trigger.  Don't know, just a thought though and might get away from the timing delay with the Arduino that's needed for the drones.

Good luck!

2017-4-23 08:14:32
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Update note for me or anyone building this thing:

One needs to assign the frequencies of the flash trigger different than that of the drone.  The frequency of the channels between the Paul Buff CyberCommander I use are different than the channel number frequencies as used by DJI.  I had the CyberCommander set to Channel 13, and the P4 set to Channel 19 which happen to be the exact same 2.451 GHz frequency so the flash refused to trigger as the RC was more powerful and on the same frequency.  The CyberCommander has a readout of the frequencies for each channel, and the DJI frequencies were posted here prior.  Here's the channel frequencies between the two:

Paul Buff CyberCommander channel, followed by Frequency (GHz):
1, 2.427
2, 2.429
3, 2.431
4, 2.433
5, 2.435
6, 2.437
7, 2.439
8, 2.441
9, 2.443
10, 2.445
11, 2.447
12, 2.449
13, 2.451
14, 2.453
15, 2.455
16, 2.457

DJI Phantom P4 channel, followed by Lower, Center, and Upper Frequency band (GHz):
13, 2.381, 2.391, 2.396
14, 2.391, 2.401, 2.406
15, 2.401, 2.411, 2.416
16, 2.411, 2.421, 2.426
17, 2.421, 2.431, 2.436
18, 2.431, 2.441, 2.446
19, 2.441, 2.451, 2.456
20, 2.451, 2.461, 2.466

I used two of their old Ultra 1800 heads and they gave me f/16 with ISO 100 and a ND-64 filter to get the shutter down to 1/10 second to sync with the slow rolling shutter of the P4 at 16 feet which is enough to provide a 1:2 fill.  I then tried a small white shoot-through umbrella with the pair and came up with f/16 at 13 feet.  I'm guessing using one of their newer 3200 heads may surpass the pair of Ultra 1800's I used.  Also, the long throw reflectors they sell may move the units back to maybe 25-30 feet for f/16.  The two flash heads are powered by the one Buff Vagabond-Mini power supply and trigger is Siamesed to both heads to fire in unison.

You can see the fill and the larger flash catch-light in the mannequin head's glasses.  I added the shoot-through umbrella to soften the light a bit and you can see that effect based on the brown hat's shadow on the gray card on the ground as it has less of a sharp edge than without the umbrella and direct light with just the reflector.

I included a shot of the dual flash heads in operation too.

Flash on.

Flash on.

Flash off.

Flash off.

Setup with flash on.

Setup with flash on.

Setup with flash off.

Setup with flash off.
2017-6-5 15:24:38
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fansa84fe8a4
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Acquired an Inspire 2 with a X4S and X5S camera to play with and figured out a way to keep from dismantling the RC to install a mini-jack by putting a solenoid in a cradle that presses on the shutter button instead.  An "Electronic finger" so to speak.

Delay is shortened a bit in milliseconds due to the 12 volt solenoid (I also used three 9 volt Lithiums in series as the power source.) and it works without cracking open the RC case.  The plug out of the Ardudino synchronizer box above triggers the solenoid instead.

I find it works best with the X5S and the P4 Phantom as they have a rolling shutter that does not also utilize the mechanical shutter as in the X4S (And maybe the same as used in the P4 Pro series?) which adds some timing variance issues, but it still has a high probablility of synching with a slow speed.  Still one needs to shoot at a slow speed of 1/12.5 second or lower for the rolling shutter for the flash synch to cover the frame.

Since only two of the four relays were in use in the Arduino box above, I timed the remaining two relays for the two Inspire 2 cameras.  You can see the millisecond delays (i.e. X5S=155ms, P4=173ms, and X4S=198ms.) below the cameras on the white label beneath the three-position slide switch.  Now I pick a camera and the flash units will sync as long as the shutter speed is slow enough via a ND filter or aperture.


Backof flash synchronizer.

Backof flash synchronizer.

Inspire 2 RC in solenoid base.

Inspire 2 RC in solenoid base.
2017-7-6 17:41:07
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