Testing Dji Phantom – first flights

I managed to get version one phantom to test at weekend and big thanks from that goes to Markus


This is really impressive device and several other person noticed it also while I was flying with it.

I have aviation license also thus made me pretty easy to fly it, but I would say that it will be easy to learn anyway. Actually biggest problem that I had was that the controls was different than I used to fly when I was a kid and also the controlling is bit different than with the airplane. This actually made me making all the time corrections based on earlier experience. So if I would buy this, most likely would directly go to configuration software and hopefully be able to change it. In short when you tilt the plane, it also starts turning around, when you tilt Phantom, it just moves sideways. 🙂

So what did I try. First I went to our aviation hobby club airport that is pretty empty during winter times, and I would suggest you to go also some place where you have plenty of room to practice. This was Dji phantom version one so the flight time is officially 10-15 minutes, but I only got something like 10 minutes. Of course the winter time had something to do with it. So when you are practicing that it’s about one hour charging and 10 minutes flying. Dji phantom 2 specification says that flight time is 25 minutes so that makes big difference. So this would be my suggestion to go with version 2, only the flight time is reason enough.

Lumia 1020 with Phantom
Lumia 1020 with Phantom

First I wanted to test with my mobile phone that what happens and selected time lapse testing app to take pictures every second.

Dji Phantom with Lumia 1020
Dji Phantom with Lumia 1020

Most of the pictures were blurry and that is the only picture that is sharp at least somewhat. The reason is that those four motor was just shaking a lot the phone. Also the attachment was not that good. I did figure out a better way to attach it but it was still not enough as the camera grip screw position is to far from the lens. I have heard that there is nowdays something like Beast Grip, but I have not been able to test one.

How to attach 3/4 screw
How to attach 3/4 screw

So on went to Lumia and here comes to GoPro. The Phantom is clearly designed into GoPro as that works best. It still need the ZenMuse H3-2D stabilizer, as you can see from my video that it CLEARLY needs it.

Dji Phantom with GoPro
Dji Phantom with GoPro

I also managed to generate panorama from the timelapse pictures that I took. This is from the house I grew up.

Panorama from GoPro timelapse pics(3)
Panorama from GoPro timelapse pics(3)

For the video, I really tried to stabilize it in Premiere pro CS6 and After Effects CS6 but didn’t managed to fix it. This shows clearly to me that ZenMuse H3-2D is really a must for the Phantom even I haven’t have chance to test it. You can actually get pretty nice pictures with it still so if you are only into pictures, you might be good to go with only Phantom even I would still go with the version 2.

I tried to attach also my Olympus OM-D E-M1 and kit lens into Phantom but that was too heavy. Phantom only managed to lift of for about meter over the ground. Maybe with some lighter lens it would be still possible. I would still go with some sports camera or similar as you break the camera very easily. It only need one mistake.

Dji Phantom is amazing device, as a pilot and photographer, this is just what I need when not been able to fly. Only wind makes more difficult but you can still fly in pretty bad weather. I still would go to version 2 and Zen Muse combination, but you can have lot of fun with the version 1 too. Just be careful with the children. Everyone want one, at least from my experience 🙂

Here is the video, music is inspired from La Donna Del Lago – Opera by The Royal Opera, that I was watching today. Please do note also that this was done in pretty windy environment so camera shake is can’t be avoided.

My DJi Phantom first flying – test from Juhani Väihkönen on Vimeo.

Testing Ikelite’s underwater tray for GoPro cameras

Equipment test, I haven’t done those for a while.

2601.03 Steady Tray for GoPro
2531.3(left) and 9531.4(right) Release handles

Last weekend, I bought hand on the newest Ikelite tray from EW Dive and decided to test it with small video.

I decided to add these small Ultralight mounting balls to get some extra mounting points.


So here is the final rig configuration. Big thanks to Kuva Järvinen from getting me a old GoPro hero 3 housing fast to still attach LCD to GoPro hero 3+, as you can’t currently get the LCD into 3+ orginal housing.


I was anyway going to Turku to get one harddrive for study for repairing, so I decided to go scuba diving with scuba center called Fun Dive Oy that is located in Turku, Finland.

I had to add small things to the rig, like handles, ball joints arms and lights. I already had them so it was easy.
Only problem was that the handles that I had was the original Ikelite ones that did had different connection than
in Ikelite tray manual. Mine is with bolts and the tray needs ones that you use slotted screws. Otherwise it’s pretty same.

Here is the rig that I builded first.

That would have worked but I dedided to go bit smaller thus I changed arms bit shorter and here is the final test configuration.


So of I started diving. The tray is pretty nice. It’s sturdy and you can extend it pretty much. Of course I went all the way and
added two Ikelite video lights, UK Aqualite and Light&Motion Sola™ Nightsea light. So basically all the video lights that I own 🙂

Here are some pictures from the dive.







So, what is the final verdict. I really like the tray. It’s small, cheap, and you can extend it a lot. I can see that if used with Light and motion sola lights or the new Ikelite’s Vega light it will be almost perfect. The battery that I added under the rig was working but the cables were bit too short. Yes you can use longer cables but as the batteries are coming to lithium time. Those lights that have the lithium battery embedded and still small. You really can’t compete with it. Only small problem that I see with the rig is that when used with video it’s pretty good, but when taking pictures at least my finger is not long enough to take pictures while still holding the handle. So maybe it’s not for that, of course you could take the second handle away and use it only with one light. Ikelite vega have 2000 lumen’s and you can do a lot with that, even take nice pictures.

So for the video it’s pretty nice, you need to add handles and some ball joints to get it working but for that price point it’s all good. For the pictures I would use some other rig. There is at least Ultralight that have direct connection to the gopro and ball joint from there.

Finally the video that I filmed and edited.

Ikelite GoPro rig test from Juhani Väihkönen on Vimeo.

Snake River Prototyping releasing underwater rig for GoPro Hero HD

This was interesting. Snake River Prototyping release rig to underwater filming. The tray is machined aluminum and it has several connection points.

There are in the market other also. Some of them have lights like Sartek, Noctural lights, Tecdiving

I made post from Snake River Prototyping flat lens fix, although there are now similar ones like Backscatter, the snake river is still the one of the most interesting ones. I currently own two snake river flat ports and have been very happy with them. Actually I participated to the Eilat Red Sea Underwater competition only using GoPro cameras. Well, I did not won anything, I was still very happy to the quality of the pictures that I got from there. In all those pictures I used Snake River Prototyping BlurFix flat port with attached SWCY or CY filters. The color filters makes big difference in underwater because otherwise the it will easily clip the red from the video material totally and no post prosessing will get that back.

What I find interesting in the the tray as the called is there are so many possibilities to attach the camera. The only worry I have is that as the camera is attached front of the handles is similar as you would hold the camera with stick, even with both hands. I hope that I will have a change to test it. I would like to make some comparison then between the rigs that I have and theirs. For travellers like me this will be at least very interesting because of the simple design and as it very light(1.7 lbs/0.8kg) and that is including the camera.

The introductory price is 129.99 $, and it seems that the final price will be 150$

Here is their example video using the tray and some color filters


Information from the tray

New GoPro Hero2 HD camera with 3D housing

I finally got two new GoPro Hero HD cameras. And tested them in 3D housing. So far it seems to be working somehow but at least not fully. Those new video modes are not working with 3D housing and there is some strange turn on problems like in one case the second camera didn’t turned on and in one case it didn’t started the second camera recording. You still can use them but I think it’s better to wait for firmware update.

As for the camera itself seems to be very nice and the new LCD display is much better. It basically shows all the same things than the back display if you have one. The menu structure is actually changed a bit, still haven’t decided is it better or worse. I haven’t tested so much the camera in low light situation but I need to do it. The modes have been improved a lot as there are more modes now that just video and time-lapse mode.

I will continue testing it.

New out of focus fix to GoPro Hero – Snake River Prototyping

I just wanted to inform interesting solution that Snake River Prototyping is offering. Their solution is small metal that will replace the original holder of the lens from GoPro housing. This solution makes possible to attach basically any 55mm filter in front of the lens. In most cases this is not so important but as underwater you easily lose your reds without external light. Some of these filters makes possible to boost up those reds and got nice video even without lights. Sadly this is only for single cameras, not for 3D housing. I have one that I need to test, but currently waiting for better waters…


New Hero GoPro 3D housing

I have had the new housing for just couple months and did small test in June.

I have had very busy with work so not much doing blog, let’s try do more of that.

Anyway I had change to make small 3D video during my workshop with Philip Bloom, Nino Leitner and
Sebastian Wiegärtner.

The camera still seems to be skipping some frames in timelapse mode so it means that it goes out of sync in longer timelapses.
I had to manually remove these extra frames to get them somehow sync. Still there remains a few frames that are not in sync between left and right.

The conversion to 3D footage is not easiest to use, and sometimes crashes, it still relative easy.

This film was edited using Adobe Premiere CS5 and I actually was using the Cineform plugin that comes with the Neo SW.

In the end, very nice housing, but lacking underwater possibility because of the out of focus problem that is actually now in the 3D housing as well.

Traveling in Athens, Greece

My Athens trip turned out very nicely, although I do feel bit sad of economic situation of Greece. So I do feel that There is something that I can do. For my it was no nice to see good people struggling on several jobs just to get so income. Special thanks goes to  Aqua Divers Club that picked me up from the center of Athens and took me to their dive center just to make two dive and I was the only customer diving. The dive center is located about 35km from center of Athens. We ended up misunderstanding of the second day scuba diving and I missed the underwater car cemetery, but then again that day was raining all day so somehow I don’t think missing so much. Also special thanks to Virve who lives currently there and showed me the city.

Scuba diving was actually very nice in the Greece. The equipment’s were very good shape and the water was clear. Although there are not so much live in the sea as like red sea has but at least comparing to Finland, well almost everything is better Smile There are parts of my video from it. They are filmed with GoPro HD heroes, I’m starting to love these small cameras.

In the city there are lot of cultural activities but somehow I didn’t end up watching those, because somehow I have learn that where ever I go. I’m more interested of the people and what they do. Athens is a big city, people are very busy. Day to day jumping from bus to metro is not for me in long term but for a while it’s ok.

Nowadays it seems that where ever I go, I end up shooting pictures and video. They are different way of expressing oneself and don’t exclude each other.

You can find my portfolio from Athens here.

And what comes to video, It’s filmed mostly with GoPro cameras, but there are used Canon 5Dmk2 with Canon 100/2.8L Is macro as well. You just can’t do all with GoPro cameras. Smile


Travelling in Sydney

I was traveling in Australia and New Zealand for a month, taking pictures and shooting 3D videos with my rig. This started my project to get one short film from every city I visited. This is the video I made in Sydney.

After the airplane, next scenes are filmed in Hyde Park and in there I met Michael from Germany. He is the bicyclist that told me that where ever he goes, bike comes with him. 🙂

After Hyde Park the next scene are from shopping mall and another park following scenes.

Just next to Sydney Opera house there was these music artist with didgeridoo. I really liked his music, bough one CD and filmed him a bit. I also got permission to use his music in my video.

After that scene there is the strange person that I don’t know what he was doing, but as far as I understand he tried to earn some money to start some kind of religion. He had lost his foots in somehow.

The beach is Bondi beach.

In the end Sydney was kind of nice place for as a metropolis.

GoPro Hero HD Out of Focus Problem

I did end up buying Eye-of mine GoPro housing with fixed focus, the housing was about 100 euros here in Finland.


You can also buy modified housing for Gopro with 100 dollars from Sartek Industries

GOPRO original vs. Sartek Housing from Dustin Mcintyre on Vimeo.

GoPro knows about this and in their support pages is said that they are currently developing a solution, when this comes is a mystery. In the mean time we just need to hope that it’s coming soon.

Making a 3D-Underwater camera from GoPro Hero HD camera.

I love 3d movies and as soon as I figured out that I could start shooting 3d video I started to study how to do it. As many know, I also shoot underwater stills and videos so my need was of course underwater possibility. So as I had already one GoPro HD Hero camera and I noticed that GoPro had announced a 3d-housing for their camera, it was time to buy a second camera.(Please check NAB 2010) After many failures with different types of rigs I soon figured out that the simplest solution is the best. Until I really have a 3d-housing I need to use something else, this is what I made. I just connected the two cameras with iron barn.


First I used Cineform NeoHD program with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to edit my 3d videos. I did get some nice videos with this solution but because of some odd software problem(NeoHD crashing), it was really difficult to get any good example file.

I had to gave up from Cineform because I got info from them that it’s known bug. Cineform was able to pinpoint my problem in their software and provided me an update where this problem was fixed. I need to test it separately.

I found easy way to watch my 3d movies. First I open them in QuickTime, edit the file so that it will start from my sync point and then I save as reference file. I can play them directly in Nvidia Vision 3D Player just by opening two videos, though FullHD was too much for my hard drive, now I need to update my computer 🙂

I will update the workflow of editing 3d footage into here

Anyway I found much more simpler solution. I edited the video directly in Premiere Pro CS5. I made an sequence that is double the wide of my footage and imported all video in there. Then I just offset right video to the left side and left to right side, YouTube wants it in this format. After this I edited it, added sound and exported it. Here is the final solution.


As you can see from the video GoPro Hero HD out of focus problem really becomes an issue in 3d so I need to find a solution for that.
I made blog post about this to Here
Here is my first actual edited 3D video, if you want to see the 3D menu, you need to click the video to go to youtube. There you can select the format where you want to see it. There are several other as well.