Desirable Camera Features

These are a mix of specs and behavior - the most highly specified camera in the world may still be a pig to use if it has some really awkward behavioral issue. You need:

A good lens - without this all else is pointless.

Fast shutter speeds to limits the effects of camera shake and motion-blur. A shutter priority mode is handy, though I have always left my cameras in program mode.

The ability to disable power saving shutdown so the camera does not switch off if no shots are taken for a while. Remember, you are not there so won't know if this has occurred. Failing this, this ability to wake up from sleep mode when a shutter command is received rather than the need for operating the power switch.

A fast, accurate autofocus and/or manual focus at infinity so there is minimal shutter-lag.

Good exposure control - a lens hood helps reduce flare, if there is room for one.
Basics - the Essentials in a Nutshell


Good compression algorithms so the camera does not mangle your photos when it saves them. The image quality is usually adjustable as there is a trade-off between quality and  image size.

Reasonable resolution - 5Mp is adequate while keeping file sizes reasonable - I use 2Mp!

Small and light - all current point-and-shoot types meet this requirement.

Add a card sufficient to hold 100s of shots and you are there.

Note that the much hyped multi-megapixel parameter beloved of cameral sales people is the least important aspect. I am using 2Mp cameras and although I will admit 2Mp is not quite enough, 5Mp is totally adequate. You do not need 10 or 12Mp, especially if it comes at the expense of other more desirable qualities. If you can tell the difference at first glance between a 5 and a 12Mp photo you have taken remotely from a model aircraft, you should be writing this, not me. A 2Mp shot from a good camera is way better than a 10Mp shot from an indifferent one.
Dave Blandford
The Bare Necessities

The essential requirements for successful aerial photography are a suitable model and camera, with the one mounted securely in the other in such a way as to minimize any vibration from the engine(s) and slipstream. Add a simple, reliable method of setting up the camera, aiming it, firing the shutter and collecting the shots and that's about it.

In reality, although nothing is particularly difficult, there can be a few challenges to overcome before the results are good enough to satisfy the discerning seeker of new horizons.

Probably the most notorious problem is less-than-sharp results due to a mix of camera shake and motion-blurring.


General frustration with the shutter-release mechanism and the system set-up comes a close second. If not thought through properly the whole business of operating the camera blind in a sealed box can seem insurmountable. The thing is found to have a mind of its own, shutting down if not spoken to regularly, waking up in the wrong mode and having a ravenous appetite for batteries that you don't have enough of... Any of this sound familiar?

The good news is that there are ways of preventing much of this and circumventing much of the rest. Unfortunately, for some cameras you just have to live with the hassle. It therefore pays to choose wisely.
Desirable Model Features

Assuming that a standard point-and-shoot camera is going to be fitted internally there has to be enough room inside, obviously. Couple this with the fact that bigger models are less bounced about, easier to see when high up and far away (rest assured, it will be both) and generally smoother flying, I would recommend 5 - 6 ft span.

Rudder or aileron are equally suitable. High wings make for stability and more importantly keep the wing out of the way if you use the sideways mount as described in this article.


If you want a forward-looking view then a standard model with a motor at the front is bad news. Either go for a pusher or a twin. Electric is preferable in my opinion and virtually essential for multi-engined models. It is quieter, lighter and can be shut down and restarted mid-flight to allow for vibration-free pictures.

Also the absence of greasy exhaust keeps the camera clean and dry, and allows for firm launches if there is no undercarriage.
Dave B's Aerial Photography Site
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