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Camera ability during the night
5385 28 2016-2-27
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unit1stealth
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So I just purchased a Phantom 3 Standard from an online retailer and am very excited to receive it in the mail tomorrow.  I've been studying up on it a lot recently, but still have one question that I have not been able to find an answer to.

How well does the Phantom 3 Standard camera do during the night?  I've seen videos of people flying over neighborhoods and cities at night, and it seems to view the ground 'okay', but my question is how well does the camera view the night sky?  For example, if I were to go out to Big Bend in Texas, or another area of the U.S. that has very dark skies perfect for viewing the milky way or the open stars, how well would the camera on the Phantom 3 view the stars?

Any help or examples of night sky viewing through the Phantom 3 camera would be greatly appreciated it.


2016-2-27
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Michael M
First Officer
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Canada
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I have a p3a and it SUCKS at night
2016-2-27
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arock387
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same.  Cant get shit at night time.  Fun to make people think there is a UFO though
2016-2-27
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Juliano Cruz
Second Officer
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Brazil
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The secret, never use manual mode at night.
If you shot in manual mode you can really get some nice results. The first thing you need to do is decrease the ISO value to avoid noise. Depends on the situation you can use 100 or 400, I don't recommend you use more than 400 at night. After that, no matter is you are shooting video or still photos, I just need do decrease the shutter speed. Shooting video isn's good in speeds under 1/30, so you need to compensate increasing ISO. In still images you can do even long exposures photos with a very low shutter speed, but be sure the bird is completely stopped to avoid ghost effects.I have a P3S as well and I can get nice results at night with its camera.
2016-2-27
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terrylewis
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Since the gimbal profile only reaches 30° above the horizon with the field of view of 94° through a f2.8 lens, one could deduce that it's not too good at filming stars in the night sky(céu noturno). Sorry

2016-2-27
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tm0054
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Catching the milky way/stars with a high end DSLR requires opening the shutter for ~30 seconds on a tripod at 1600-3200 ISO so I can't imagine there are many video cameras anywhere that will be very capable of capturing stars very well.
2016-2-27
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tm0054
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Depending on how capable the Phantom is at staying completely still in mid air it may be decent with it's wide angle lens at capturing stills of the night sky if you shoot in manual mode.
2016-2-27
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unit1stealth
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Thanks all for replies.  I would mostly want to do still images in manual mode - looking down from a high elevation - this would allow more of the sky to appear in the available 30degree window.
2016-2-27
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tm0054
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For star photos, in manual mode you'd want the ISO at around 3200, aperture at the lowest number (2.8 on the phantom?) and the shutter would need to be open for 25-30 seconds. I'd be shocked in the phantom could stand completely still in the air for a full 25-30 seconds though. That's if you're hoping to see the milky way prominently in your photo. You need to be pretty far from light pollution too.
2016-2-27
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AG0N-Gary
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First, it won't be legal (night flying).  Second, as others have said, you don't have a view of much of the sky.  Third, even the moon is just a small spot in the low sky.  Think how small things are going to be with a wide angle lens.
2016-2-27
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Juliano Cruz
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unit1stealth Posted at 2016-2-28 01:15
Thanks all for replies.  I would mostly want to do still images in manual mode - looking down from a ...

A detail I forgot to mention you... the results will be better if you turn-off the front LEDs. There is an option to do that in DJI Go app.
2016-2-27
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tm0054
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Actually a wide angle lens is preferable for photographing stars because you can leave the shutter open longer before they start to create trails (def not great for photographing the moon though). Although I doubt high ISO performance on the Phantom is all that great. And, I doubt it'll remain perfectly steady long enough.
2016-2-27
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Geebax
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And just to cap it off, if you tilt up 30 degrees you will get the props in your shot.
2016-2-27
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mjlstudios
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Don't use auto. Keep your ISO low andadjust the shutter speed. The shot of my neighborhood I used a 8 sec. shutter speed.

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2016-2-27
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GTDrone
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the quad do it nice ,  this is a video  of my p3S  flying at night with some clouds jeje
2016-2-27
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Cetaman
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2016-2-27 07:21
First, it won't be legal (night flying).  Second, as others have said, you don't have a view of much ...

Aloha Gary,

     Eh! No rush!  It is still legal to fly at night in the US.  We are only in the comment period with the new FAA regulations.

Aloha and Drone On!
2016-2-28
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AG0N-Gary
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That's why I said "won't be".  Currently, they are only guidelines, but everything points to it being law soon (even in micro-drone rules).  I don't agree with it and would love to question the person(s) who thought it needed to be included.  With only the rear lights on, I can clearly see my quad everywhere I've ever flown it in the semi-dark.  Might they reduce the distance and allow night flights with lights?  Possibly, but if you maintain visual sight of your bird at night, it is easier to see it than during the day, at least in all of my flights.  I fly in (actual) sight at all times.  It would be a heck of a lot easier if it was at night with lights.
2016-2-28
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Cetaman
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2016-2-28 15:52
That's why I said "won't be".  Currently, they are only guidelines, but everything points to it bein ...

Aloha Gary,

     Yes, and I agree with you, especially, "Might they reduce the distance and allow night flights with lights?"  Well, lights with night flying is being considered seriously by the FAA.  The Forum is having input for a 3000-5000 lumens system (I think) that lights up the yard and neighborhood when used.  The FAA will definitely have to consider that!

Aloha and Drone On!
2016-2-29
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AG0N-Gary
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Cetaman Posted at 2016-2-29 03:43
Aloha Gary,

     Yes, and I agree with you, especially, "Might they reduce the distance and allow ...

Ouch!  I don't want to provide a target or announce my presence.  I just want to be able to see where I am in the sky, as required by the FAA.  I can currently do that.  In fact, at the fringe of being able to see it, I can see it better than during the day.
2016-3-1
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Cetaman
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2016-3-1 13:21
Ouch!  I don't want to provide a target or announce my presence.  I just want to be able to see wh ...

Aloha Gary,

     Good point.  You should write your comments for the FAA.  It is the comment period.  BTW, do you have color issues?  Your statement could indicate cone issues with your eyes.  Rods are light sensitive and cones are color sensitive.  At night, if you want to see something, look to the side of it so the image falls on the rods next to the cones (in the center of your retina).  Things brighten up then.

     Personally, I think their sun-up - sun-down regulation is unfair to micro drone operators.  They want the other pilot to see the drone, so there has to be more light.  That is why they are considering bright lights on micro drones.  But the regulations are written to require that the micro drone operator see the other pilot and avoid them.  The other pilot does not have to see the micro drone - it is the micro drone operator's responsibility to avoid them.  And we are not even getting into the flight lights of the P3.  At dusk and night you can see the P3's direction way better than in daytime!

Aloha and Drone On!
2016-3-2
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AG0N-Gary
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Cetaman Posted at 2016-3-2 04:04
Aloha Gary,

     Good point.  You should write your comments for the FAA.  It is the comment peri ...

For years, I've had to look to the side of a very weak star to see it.  There's a slight dead spot in the center below a certain level.  Thought that was normal with everyone.  It is what it is.

As for the lights, the lights we have on our drones aren't even visible to the aviation industry.  They point DOWN!  As far as that goes, I like it that way, but could certainly make use of additional lights that shine out from the side for more distant viewing.  I'd rather see bright strobes (very low duty cycle) of higher powered LEDs to keep battery drain lower than a light that stays on all the time.  I never run my front lights, just to keep a minimum battery drain.  Yes - I know it is a very small difference when compared to  the motor and processor drain, but every little bit helps.

This gives me an idea.  My P3 is no virgin at this point.  When I'm bored, I may go in and disconnect the front lights but leave them in place.  I'd mount a single high lumen LED with a short duty cycle flasher.  It will be triggered by the line that would normally go to the front arm LEDs and actually serve a purpose.  It will be easier to find when you are looking for it in the sky.  I never fly out of sight, but do find it hard to see at any distance.
2016-3-2
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Cetaman
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2016-3-2 12:53
For years, I've had to look to the side of a very weak star to see it.  There's a slight dead spot ...

Aloha Gary,

     That dead spot is called the optic disc where the optic nerve meets the eye.  Yes it is normal.  Next to it is the fovea which is where light can penetrate directly to the cones which allow the clearest vision.  But as noted in the earlier post, the rods are the most light sensitive and looking off center allows you to see the dimmer objects in the sky and at night that door stop you do not want to stub your toe on.  Since every eye can be slightly different, only you and maybe your ophthalmologist can figure it out.

     Well, I know your P3 is not post menopausal because our P3s went to school together but that sounds like an interesting experiment.  You should also be able to turn the new lights on and off the same way you can turn off the original lights in the front in the DJI Go app.  Let me know how it goes.

Aloha and Drone On!
2016-3-2
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Dr. Acula
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On a P3A in a rural area in the pitch dark looking at a small town a couple miles away I had good luck with manual mode, ISO 800, 6-second exposure.  


2016-3-2
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Riley-NZL
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It can be done, but it's not great.

Your going to be limited be three things:

- The Drones ability to stay still during long exposures, which is pretty good on a still day
- Maximum 8 second shutter, on my DSLR, I'm typically shooting in the 15-30 second range for night shots.
- ISO,  first it maxes out at 1600, and second it looks pretty bad at 1600. Ideally in good lighting you want to stick to 100-400 ISO, and if the lighting is bad, even ISO400 can be too noisy.

To get an idea of this might look like, grab an DSLR with a 20mm f2.8 lens, and shoot at  ISO1600 8 Second exposure, this is the brightest you will get out of the phantom, although it will have a tonne more noise then your DSLR will.

Example of 8 sec shutter speed at night, ISO was 200:

2016-3-2
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Sebb
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RiIley
there no chance you gonna get a sharp photo from a flying drone with exposure >1s. not sure if P3 has such camera controls and it can be tested(?), but no drone stays that still. Try hand holding, and you wont get it done. and no, the gimbal wont help. Photographers know they have to turn off stabilization when using long exposure. Gimbals are much less accurate on small movements.
Also, long exposure on small sensors results in terrible noise quickly. So long exposure with Phantoms... nope sorry.

as for video, i guess best chance is manual ISO 800ish, manual shutter 1/24 to match your video, flat profile, expose for the shadows. then see what you can salvage in post with levels and noise reduction.
but its not gonna be great.

2016-3-4
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Fly By Night
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2017-7-18
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400 iso 1second  shutter
2017-7-18
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lvl.1
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400 iso 0.8 of a sec shutter

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2017-7-18
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QuadKid
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Wish it could do this
Shot with Nikon B700 Hand Held 60X Zoom 4K, this site very restrictive as to size image you can upload, the 4K is awesome.
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2017-7-18
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