Experiments with a new camera mount system for aircraft

One of the best things that I saw at Oshkosh was Flight Flix, a vibration-isolation system for mounting an action camera on an airplane or helicopter. I purchased mounts for the Cirrus SR20’s tie-down ring and the tow ball underneath the R44 and have begun testing these with the Drift action camera that the company favors due to its long battery life and easily rotated lens for proper “horizon up” orientation. I’m wondering if readers can help with critiques on a couple of tests from the SR20 under-wing mount:

Which one seems better? (“better” = “more stable”) Thanks in advance!

(It was a slightly challenging day for a “stable video” test, with winds gusting up to 18 knots and bumpy air through about 3,000′.)

Dream #1 is to get footage from a $199/hour airplane that looks as good as footage from a $199 drone. Dream #2 will be to get footage from a $369/hour helicopter that looks as good as footage from a $369 drone!

[So far I am not loving the Drift camera. The connection between the camera and the Drift app on an iPhone X is tenuous and I have found it tough to make the settings stick or even start and stop the camera reliably. By contrast, the integration between a phone and the DJI Osmo camera is so tight that feels like using a regular camera’s electronic viewfinder. Support from Flight Flix has been excellent, on the other hand, and they seem to have thought of almost everything. Flight Flix has produced some inspiring sample videos with the Drift, so I know that it can be done even if not by me! And the four-hour battery life (Wi-Fi off; bigger battery option) seems realistic.]

One thing that strikes me as odd is that airframe manufacturers haven’t added mounts for action cameras, both inside and outside, on their latest versions. Wouldn’t most people who spend $800,000+ on a new Cirrus want the option of making a recording without hanging something off a tie-down ring?

10 thoughts on “Experiments with a new camera mount system for aircraft

  1. They both look pretty good. I think you may have your links backward, however.

    The stabilized version shows some of the in-camera stabilization weirdness where the engine nacelle appears to be moving around relative to the camera, and the landing sequence feels like it’s trying too hard, like a robot was panning the camera.

    The non-stabilized clip looks great at cruise altitude. You see more in the frame (more of the airplane). The airplane motion/maneuvering near the ground is more obvious, but I think it looks more natural.

    I couldn’t really tell a difference between the 60 fps and 120 fps, other than the prop disc looking more filled in at 120.

    I’d probably use the non-stabilized version and if I really needed to settle a clip down I’d use post-processing in Adobe Premiere or similar.

  2. They both are very good. After looking at these multiple times, the stabilized might be marginally better especially for the horizontal stability where jitter into and out of the edge of the frame is more noticeable, but I can’t tell if it’s the flying/flight conditions or the camera mode that makes a difference.

  3. Corrected the links (as some folks above noted, the file names didn’t match the anchor text; the file names were/are correct). This is embarrassing!

  4. If there are tie downs on each wing, I wonder how hard it would be to sync them up for stereo (3d) footage. “My nose is a cirrus!”

  5. Am I the only one that totally hates how props look when recorded by these little video cameras? (This is actually better than some)

  6. At $200 for the mount, the aircaraft maker cannot compete by price. A built-in peripheral system is harder to service and upgrade.

    The DIFFERENCE in camera shudder between altitudes was MORE noticeable WITH stabilization. The unstabilized video was still plenty smooth, but you felt more like you were actually in the airplane for the duration.

  7. Regarding the prop… the Flight Flix folks graciously included an ND filter that is supposed to result in slow enough shutter speeds to smooth out the prop. I didn’t have it installed for this test.

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