A CALIBRATION WORKFLOW FOR “PROSUMER” UAV CAMERAS
High-end consumer quadcopter UAVs or so-called “prosumer devices”, have made inroads into the mapping industry over the past few years, arguably displacing more expensive purpose-built systems. In particular, the DJI Phantom series quadcopters, marketed primarily for videography, have shown considerable promise due to their relatively high-quality cameras. Camera pre-calibration has long been a part of the aerial photogrammetric workflow with calibration certificates being provided by operators for every project flown. Most UAV data, however, is processed today in Structure-from-Motion software where the calibration is generated “on-the-fly” from the same image-set being used for mapping. Often the scenes being mapped and their flight-plans are inappropriate for calibration as they do not have enough variation in altitude to produce a good focal-length solution, and do not have cross-strips to improve the estimation of the principal point. What we propose is a new type of flight-plan that can be run on highly textured scenes of varying height prior to mapping missions that will significantly improve the estimation of the interior orientation parameters and, as a consequence, improve the overall accuracy of projects undertaken with these sorts of UAV systems. We also note that embedded manufacturer camera profiles, which correct for distortion automatically, should be removed prior to all photogrammetric processing, something that is often overlooked as these profiles are not made visible to the end user in most image conversion software, particularly Adobe’s CameraRAW.