Photographer Mounts an Instax Camera on His Drone Creating Vintage Aerial Images

Photographer Mounts an Instax Camera on His Drone Creating Vintage Aerial Images

Drones are common these days, anybody can purchase one and get in the air in five minutes. But a Los Angeles based photographer decided to take a step back and attach a Fujifilm Instax mini 9 camera on to his drone, here is the result.

Trent Siggard is a drone fanatic. “Over the last 5 years, drones have consumed every part of my life” he says. One day he got the idea to challenge himself to build a custom drone that can carry a Fujifilm instant camera to capture special images, something different. He explains:

“With the drones available today you can fly for up to 30 minutes and take as many photos as your memory card will hold. I wanted to shift the way I think about taking aerial photos and become more intentional in what I shoot. That’s why I’ve decided to combine the two and put an instant camera on a drone.”

As any technology enthusiast, Siggard has drawers and shelves full of unused parts collecting dust. He found and old 500mm frame (20 inches wide) in his reserve and started building his Instaxdrone. The main challenge was space. How do you fit the bulky camera in a relative small frame with the 11” propellors in the way? The smart drone maker managed to place the camera in the center of the frame with minimal propellors clearance. He notes that “I had about 2mm to spare in-between the camera and the propellors. This made mounting the camera very difficult as I had to remove the camera every 10 photos and put in a new instant film cartridge. I ended up using dual lock to mount the camera in a way where it was removable and used some rubber band reinforcement to hold the top of the camera back.”

Notice the physical actuator (servo) on the left of the camera to release the shutter. The FPV pilot camera is stuck on the right of the Instax.

Unlike modern drones, the entire video link is analog and the drone pilot attached a small FPV camera with double sided tape on the side of the Instax camera. It allowed to fly the drone and get “a rough idea of what the camera framing was like.”

Once in the air the shutter was released with the help of a mechanical actuator (servo) wirelessly linked to the remote controller. After the initial test flight, he realized that the flash created unwanted reflection on the propellors just in front of the lens. He describes “You can also see in the image that there is tape over the flash. On these Instax cameras the shutter speed is always 1/60th and the flash always fires. In early testing I noticed that the flash was illuminating the propellors in some photos. Once I covered the flash mixed with the slow 1/60th shutter speed was enough to ensure the propellors wouldn't show up in my images.”

Finally, Trent Siggard says “This project was a lot of fun for me. It shifted my process on taking aerial photos from one where I shot an access of content, to shooting one image at a time. It slowed me down, made me think, and execute on one image at a time. I created a video about the process, and have included it in this post below.”

If you are interested, take a look a his behind the scene video

You can visit Mr. Siggard work on Instagram and Facebook page. Image used with permission.

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11 Comments

Rob Davis's picture

Instax Mini film is a current film stock invented in 1998. If this is "vintage" then all film photography is vintage.

Oliver Kmia's picture

Thanks for the feedback. Actually many film enthusiasts are not very happy with Fuji's strategy. Looks like they may online have Instax in their film line in the future while Kodak/Alaris are bringing back the Ektachrome.
In any case, 98 was 20 years ago, I guess it's an eternity in terms of drone technology.

How did you miss asking the question of how the prints get back to land? Do they go fluttering out on the wind and somebody has to chase them down?

Oliver Kmia's picture

Nothing, they just came out and stayed on top. He did it one by one over short distance. You can see the video at 1:50
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0lukSKxe64&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1SYwrXdaKA8Yldg6Cp6VLF03spv0c7nYXXe-TT4xy2vhOYsLzEvk3P5C4

michael buehrle's picture

and for my next project i'm gonna mount a popcorn machine onto a drone and sprinkle some fun at the next baseball game.

Oliver Kmia's picture

Sounds good, let me know ;)

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Up next: Arial photos by a drone-carried 8x10. :-D

Casey Morton's picture

Forget the haters. This is awesome. Something nobody else is doing and the images look amazing

revo nevo's picture

Awesome images

Great idea Trent. I just imagine being in California and having dope aerial polaroids raining down on me everywhere i go.

Man, your authors need to do basic research. I have no idea how a camera from 2016 mounted on a drone is vintage? A 2 second google search shows that....Any who, the guy did a neat thing.