Cameras in drones: rapid progress for $1 billion plus non-military market


Most drones are and will remain electric as detailed in the new IDTechEx report, Electric Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025. Cameras of an increasing variety of types will be in more and more drones and they will become more versatile, lighter weight, more robust and lower cost as they are used for many purposes beyond navigation and surveillance.


In February 2015, Chinese drone-maker DJI joined an interchangeable lens alliance, promising aerial photography enthusiasts greater flexibility when shooting from the sky. Pledging its support for the Micro Four Thirds System standard will see new DJI drones come equipped with a greater range of cameras and lens types, while allowing pilots to add on their own, reports Olympus of Japan.

Customers of DJI are well aware of the company's history of breaking new ground in drone photography. In a short space of time, its line of consumer-oriented Phantom quadcopters, from the GoPro-toting original to the HD camera-housing Phantom 2 Vision+, has changed what is possible for budding photographers without big investment.

DJI is now looking for opportunities to innovate further. Announcing support for the Micro Four Thirds standard carries some interesting possibilities for its future products. Established by Panasonic and Olympus in 2008, the Micro Four Thirds standard accommodates many lens types including single focal length, wide angle and telephoto varieties. In future, DJI drones may well come with the opportunity to attach lightweight, quality lenses of your own to capture aerial footage in exciting new ways.

"With the addition of exciting new products from these companies, the Micro Four Thirds line up will become much more diverse, further increasing the potential of this advanced digital imaging system," Olympus said.

Lens maker Tamron of Japan is making some impressive announcements including the ongoing development of the LWIR 3X zoom lens for VGA (17 micron pixel pitch) detectors which are the world's lightest in their class and its world first of a far infrared zoom lens system suitable for drones.

The IDTechEx report forecasts camera use in "Electric Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025"  Beyond military applications, this is an emerging $ multibillion market.



Teresa Henry
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