Sony Launches New Ultra-Lightweight Camera for Industrial Drone Applications

The 61 megapixel full-frame camera features interchangeable lenses and is compatible with Sony's Camera Remote SDK By Mike Ball / 11 Sep 2023
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Sony Electronics has launched the ILX-LR1, an interchangeable lens camera with approximately 61 megapixels and based around a 35 mm full-frame image sensor. With high resolution and a lightweight and compact form factor, it is ideal for industrial drone applications such as inspection, surveying, and mapping.

The ILX-LR1 captures high-resolution, low-noise, and wide dynamic range images that reveal fine details like small scratches and cracks during inspection and investigation. It also features a continuous shooting capability with selectable speeds such as 3 frames per second, allowing for the rapid completion of high-altitude shots in a short period of time. The highly versatile ILX-LR1 is compatible with a wide range of E-mount lenses that allow for the selection of the most appropriate lens based on the project, so that a single picture taken from high altitude can replace several pictures from a lower-resolution camera.

Thanks to the ILX-LR1’s size and functionality, it can be used for a variety of job sites and use cases such as utilities, green energy, telecommunications, transportation, construction, and land management projects. The compact, box-shaped camera has M3 screw holes for secure mounting on any of its six sides, as well as a 1/4-20 UNC mounting screw hole on the bottom surface. The USB Type-C and HDMI Micro (Type D) ports are together on the rear of the camera for easy installation.

The Sony Camera Remote SDK gives remote users access and control to the camera’s menus and other functions from their own software applications. By integrating an API into the system, it becomes possible to remotely control the camera from the user’s system, allowing for camera settings changes, shutter release, live-view monitoring, and more. Customer applications can also link unique image IDs with drone position data in post-processing, and images can be taken with a trigger signal to minimize latency. With the new Version 1.11, when utilizing manual focus, it is possible to retrieve the current focus position and perform focus adjustments to desired position, enabling highly reproducible and stable shooting. A lock switch prevents unintended operation errors caused by the buttons on the rear side.

The ILX-LR1 Power & Control Terminal allows for low-latency data communication for remote applications that require an instant response, such as capturing an image at a particular moment. The ILX-LR1 supports DC 10-18V power connection and can be powered from the drone’s battery for extended operation time without having to change batteries.

Yang Cheng, Vice President of Imaging Solutions at Sony Electronics, commented: “As the industrial market for drones expands, we recognized the need for a compact, lightweight, and full-frame option that prioritizes image quality and offers remote capabilities. This is a gamechanger for many in the industry. With the launch of the ILX-LR1, we’ve taken Sony’s trusted legacy and expertise in imaging and paired it with the benefits of our E-mount interchangeable lens system and Camera Remote SDK to create a versatile new ecosystem optimized for photography, which supports a diverse range of industrial applications.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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