I am curious if this consumer UAV can be used to capture imagery for further processing to stitch seamless imagery and to use as input into stereo/photogrametry software to create reasonably accurate 3D point clouds in order to create surface models.

I have no experience with flying these crafts but am interested in obtaining one to add some extra perspective to my hobby photography. At the same time I would like to be able to try capturing aerial imagery and extrapolating DEM for small 3D models and site plans if possible.

Can anyone share their experiences with this or the previous models using the default camera?

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    It's not the UAV it's the equipment you attach to it. You need to get some sort of inertial device with your camera (pitch, roll, heading) and differential GPS to get the kind of accuracy required... even the distance from the GPS unit to the sensor of the camera needs to be accounted for when orthorectifying. If your UAV can carry that weight comfortably then yes, go right ahead. Just be sure that it is comfortably bearing the weight or you will find yourself in the position of destroying very expensive (and sensitive) when it crashes. Check your local laws too, there may be restrictions. Jun 1, 2015 at 1:02
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    Thanks. I am looking to use the hardware "as is" for this purpose using the built-in gps and camera. Accuracy is not paramount. Is it possible? Jun 2, 2015 at 12:42
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    I'd like to say 'yes' but can't confidently do that.. the inertial navigation data is paramount to producing Orthorectified images but if you want to manually warp the images yourself it might just work. Try going to a bridge and taking photos with a GPS enabled camera every few metres off the sides and stitch them together to see what I mean - if that meets your requirements then go nuts. In Australia there are laws about using UAVs (not within 50m of a road, not more than 300ft, not where people are etc..) your country may have similar laws so be careful before you commit to it. Jun 2, 2015 at 21:29
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    Hi Jakub, I just had a meeting with Hexagon Spatial and they claim that from just photos (no inertial navigation) with a Leica camera that they can get point clouds and ortho mosaic - see blog.hexagongeospatial.com/uav-mapping-solution-in-asia I cannot 'hand on heart' confirm this but I thought I would pass on the info; perhaps you could get a trial version and experiment for yourself... blog.hexagongeospatial.com/uav-mapping-solution-in-asia Note: Hexagon owns Leica Geosystems so I don't know if it's a plug for their own product or really necessary. Jun 16, 2015 at 5:08
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    We are currently playing around with drones at the moment and we can produce 3D point clouds and mosaicked imagery using a standard Cannon SLR camera. The software we are using is Pix4D which handles all the magic in creating the 3D point clouds and mosaicked imagery. Pix4D also have some good videos about photogrammetry. I think you will be limited by the weight of the camera, but what you are asking is do able. However there is a lot of post-processing and flight planning involved to achieve a useable point cloud.
    – TsvGis
    Jul 13, 2015 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


I can confidently say yes. Add in some surveyed ground control points and you can easily get 10 cm positional accuracy.

So far there are two big players that I have been using pix4d is by far the best but it is the most expensive it is really good for editing mosaics. Actually pix4d now has apps to directly work with your phantom and even has a free discovery version with limited export capabilities.

Agisoft is more affordable but it lacks in the orthophoto quality area, they are still good but you can't fine tune them like in pix4d.

And opendronemap is a new player that is totally open source. I have not tried it yet but it looks slick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2qp3o8caPs




But pretty much you can get point clouds and orthomosaics from all three that are of pretty good quality and they aren't that hard to use.


Yes you can. I been flying a Phantom 2 for the last year. The phantom 2 does not have the camera like the new Phantom 3 does so I been using the H4-3D gimbal with a Go pro Hero 3.Unfortunately Go pro cameras do not have the capability to attach coordinates to images so I use control points to georefence the models. I process the data with Agisoft photoscan and I do get excellent results. I understand the new phantom 3 camera has the capability of attaching GPS coordinates to your images. If you combined that with control points you will get more accurate results for your DEMs.

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