Sunday, September 13, 2009

SMK Batu Muda

Different types of Aerial Photography (AP) platforms popularly being used by enthusiasts and hobbyists.

Radio Controlled Helicopters & other Rotary Wing Aircraft


  •  Easily deployed in confined areas due to its maneuverability.
  •  Can carry fairly heavy payloads.


  •  Limited in altitude and distance due to size and viewability.
  •  More complicated, costly to operate and maintain.
  •  Higher risks to operate in public places especially near bystanders.
  •  Requires a much greater skill to operate than any other method.
  •  Pilot proficiency must be much better, and use of an assistant to operate the camera equipment is highly desirable in many instances to allow pilot to concentrate on flying.

Radio Controlled Fixed Wing Aircraft


  •  Very good for those areas that allow space for launching and recovery.
  •  Best for rooftop and high altitudes AP, including those requiring a wide view of the terrain and buildings.
  •  Less costly to operate and maintain.
  •  Easier to fly.

Kites (KAP)


  •  Very good for moderate altitude assignment. The right kite can carry a fair payload, including pan & tilt and direct vision systems.
  •  A good lower altitude solution for many applications.


  •  Does need wind to fly, and can be vulnerable to turbulence at lower altitudes depending on surroundings (buildings, trees etc).
  •  Good, suitable kites are not cheap, nor are pan & tilt mounts.
  •  Terrain features can limit altitude and visibility.

Balloon/Blimp (Tethered and Radio Controlled)

  • Very good, and stable platform for low and medium altitude.
  •  Payloads can be moderate in size depending on envelope size and lift capabilities.
  •  Safe to use.
  •  Envelope can be costly, and camera mounts would be similar to those used in kites.
  •  Helium can be a costly factor. It is typical of these platforms that the envelope must be deflated for    transport unless a dedicated trailer of appropriate size is used. Helium loss is typically 3% per day, so provision must be provided for topping off of inflation as needed.
  •  Positioning must of course be preplanned to insure optimal viewing angles by camera.
  •  On tethered platforms there is also the danger of a breakaway, even with modern high tech lines. Provision for automatic deflation is required in most cases by regulations.

Mast/Tower/Lift (Ground based)

  •  Mast/Tower can be very effective for low level video and still photography.
  •  These methods can also lift the heaviest weights too, even ranging upwards of 100 lbs. or more. 
  •  Can be a good alternative if low level photos, special angles or views, or other requirements dictate the   need and expense associated with them
  •  Limited by law to less than 100 feet (in most places). The use of Lifts can fill many needs for assignment that might require photos or video from low to medium heights. Lifts are available (and these would include Cranes with man baskets) that can attain altitude of over 100' or more.
  •  Equipment can range from inexpensive to very expensive depending on final setup. Even to the point of using a purpose built custom vehicle to support the mast and equipment. These would be prohibitive to purchase as even small lifts can cost many thousands of dollars.
  •  Renting a Lift or Crane can also be costly, and may even require a dedicated operator that would add to cost per assignment too.