Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - Flinders Ranges, South Australia by drone

We recently took a family trip to the Flinders Ranges in outback South Australia.  We stayed at the Arkaroola Wilderness Lodge and we amazed with the diversity of things to see and do and certainly didn't allow ourselves enough time to absorb it all in.

From challenging 4 wheel driving through to planet and stargazing in one of the two observatories we had a great time.

Here is some video footage we shot while we were there.

How good is the SLR Magic 8mm f/4 Micro 4/3 lens?

As a very experienced drone operator I know the sort of shots our clients expect.  The DJI Inspire series with the X5 and X5R cameras and the ability to interchange lenses gives a highly professional look to our work.

A lot of the time we are simply after wide angle shots of parcels of land etc.  We do a lot of landscapes shots of property which means getting lots into frame.  The standard 15mm lens that comes with these cameras is a great lens with the Olympus 12mm being an expensive alternate lens to give a wider angle.  Being a Micro four thirds system, these lenses have a crop factor of x2 when compared to a full frame camera such as a Canon 5D but they are incredibly light weight which makes them ideal for drone operations.

SLR Magic's new 8mm lens

SLR Magic have produced an 8mm (16mm equiv.) lens with a reasonably fast f/4 aperture.  It is a fully manual lens meaning you need to set the focal distance and aperture by hand which is especially important when using on a drone as it's impossible to do while flying of course.  In practice this is quite simple as it's pretty much a matter of setting infinite focus and locking gently with the lock pin and setting the aperture to taste.  In these examples f/5.6

SLR Magic 8mm f/4.0 Prime Lens for Micro 4/3 systems

SLR Magic 8mm f/4.0 Prime Lens for Micro 4/3 systems

Flying on the Inspire 1 

As there are no electronics in this lens the camera tells the software that the lens can't be detected (of course).  This comes up as a warning message in the DJI Go app but is easily ignored.  The balance is slightly rearward even when using the SLR Magic Image Enhancer Filter but the Inspire has no difficulty with balancing and controlling the camera in all phases of flight.

SLR Magic Image Enhancer

The Image enhancer Pro filter is not a UV filter.  When used alone, it offers IR control on the image - UV filters only manage UV wave length that is below 380-400nm.  The Image Enhancer Pro filters manage a much wider range of wave length spectrum, from UV to IR from 200nm and 1200nm.  UVIR cut filters control from 380nm to 680nm.  

When used with the ND filters, the enhancement is more obvious as many ND filters have IR leak issue.  I haven't used the ND Filter on the lens yet but will very shortly and report on the results.

SLR Magic 8mm Lens attached to the DJI X5 Camera with the 52mm Image Enhancer Filter

SLR Magic 8mm Lens attached to the DJI X5 Camera with the 52mm Image Enhancer Filter

The numbers

A fair comparison is to the DJI 15mm or Olympus 12mm as mentioned earlier.  In looking to add a wider angle shot the field of view is the important factor.

SLR Magic 8mm - FOV Horizontally 103.9 degrees, Vertically 73.5 degrees

Olympus 12mm - FOV Horizontally 71.6 degrees, Vertically 56.8 degrees

DJI 15mm – FOV Horizontally 60.0 degrees, Vertically 46.8 degrees

The SLR Magic 8mm has more than 30 degree more field of view when compared to the DJI 15mm.  This is a whopping difference and a big plus for the lens.  Of course with more in the view, if you were to compare the same object (say a house) in shots form the same position the wider shot would contain less pixels of the house because it has to fit more on the sensor. This isn't an issue because you wouldn't be using this lens and wanting to crop in on objects. Another thing to watch is when shooting video and moving forward quickly, the props from the drone can now get in shot (similar to how it does in a DJI Phantom).  The remedy is simple and it's just a matter of making sure you raise the landing gear.

All in all, I'm happy with this lens and it will be used pretty much on a daily basis in combination with other lenses for an all round package.  Great work SLR Magic.

 

SLR Magic 8mm from 350 Feet altitude - nice and wide with only slight distortion (simple fix in post)

SLR Magic 8mm from 350 Feet altitude - nice and wide with only slight distortion (simple fix in post)

Same position, from 350 Altitude, but with the DJI 15mm lens

Same position, from 350 Altitude, but with the DJI 15mm lens

For anyone interested, these images were shot a Smoky Bay in South Australia

Adelaide Drone Services - Information Video Series now online

Hard at work using green screen keying to add in our studio background.

Hard at work using green screen keying to add in our studio background.

We've been busily putting together a video series to explain a lot of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) that we receive regarding drones.  Please go ahead and  and let us know what you think in the comments.  Even better, please subscribe to our YouTube channel as this really helps us get the word out there.