Public Lab Wiki documentation


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Camera Selection



What kind of camera works best for balloon/kite mapping?

Technically, any camera will work for balloon and kite mapping, but compact cameras in the "point-and-shoot" class are the right size & weight for balloons and kites, and are cheap. You can check if your camera is listed (or add it) in our camera review. Phones with good cameras can also work, although in turbulent conditions there may be some motion blur problems.
It is also recommended to use a camera that can use rechargeable AA batteries and not the Lithium one, because you want to be able to change batteries when its runs out of power.

Most cheap consumer cameras have good enough resolution, though >2 megapixels, and closer to 8-12 is best. It's best to choose a lighter camera (< 1/4 pound or 150 grams). An older, used camera is a good option, as it is possible to lose or damage cameras if something goes wrong.

Quick answer: many PLOTS mappers have been using the Canon A495, which has the following properties:

  • can be bought for < $60 new
  • uses AA batteries
  • 10 megapixels
  • can be used with continuous mode (see below) or CHDK
  • durable and reasonably light (~250g)

Continuous Mode

You will need a camera that can do continuous shooting (or "continuous drive"), or you will have to add an external shutter trigger (see the camera trigger page).

Continuous Shooting Consumer Cameras

See if your camera is on this list of continuous drive cameras at Digital Photography Review.

For timelapse apps on smartphones, see Timelapse Apps.

PLOTS Map Tools


balloon-mapping near-infrared-camera kite-mapping

parent:balloon-mapping