The 5 Best Multispectral Cameras For Drones
Multispectral cameras and drones are rapidly transforming the agricultural industry.
The innovative combination allows farmers to streamline their workflow.
More efficient monitoring of crops leads to a reduction in water wastage and minimises spray/fertiliser use.
The ultimate result? Greater yields, reduced costs and more time saved.
To remain competitive, the modern farmer must harness this revolutionary tech. But with all the potential options out there, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for you.
That’s why we’ve taken a comprehensive look at the best multispectral cameras for drones on the market.
Our top pick is the popular DJI P4 Multispectral.
It’s the first drone with a multispectral camera integrated into its build. That’s in contrast to the traditional payload style camera attachment. The main benefit of this? It’s ready to fly straight out of the box. It also means there are no headaches about UAV compatibility or any additional set-up steps.
The P4 was created to consolidate the data extraction process and gain insights into crop health/vegetation management. How it does this is clear when you take a look at some of its powerful features:
- Imagery – there are six individual lenses. 1 RGB camera and a multispectral camera array with 5 cameras covering Blue, Green, Red, Red Edge, and Near Infrared bands. The five band multispectral camera can be used to assess NDVI, NDRE, MSAVI and many other formulas for vegetation analysis. All at 2 MP with global shutter, on a 3-axis stabilised gimbal.
- Sunlight sensor – an integrated spectral sunlight sensor sits on top of the drone to capture solar irradiance. This increases data collection consistency throughout the day & helps obtain the most accurate NDVI results.
- RGB & NDVI – you can easily switch between a preliminary NDVI analysis and the live RGB feed to instantly see where attention is needed so that you can make targeted treatment decisions efficiently.
- Centimetre precision – DJI’s TimeSync system means you get real-time, accurate positioning data on images captured by all six cameras, providing centimetre-level accurate measurements. The TimeSync system continually aligns the flight controller, RGB and NB cameras, and RTK module, fixing the positioning data to the centre of the CMOS and ensuring each photo uses the most accurate metadata.
- IOS App – one of the standout features is the p4’s ability to plan intelligent agriculture missions. Plan flights, execute automated missions and manage flight data using GS PRO – DJI’s leading flight planning iOS app. The app has an intuitive, easy to use interface. With the data collected and analysed, it’s easy to take action.
The DJI P4 Multispectral drone is a complete solution for agricultural applications and environmental monitoring. What’s more, it’s competitively priced and affordable. Combine this with its easy to use nature and powerful features; there’s no surprise why it’s a popular pick.
MS Sensor – 5X 1/2.9″ CMOS – 1600×1300 (2.08 MP )
RGB Sensor – 1X 1/2.9″ CMOS RGB – 1600 x 1300 (2.12MP)
Data Storage – 128GB SD
Blue – 450nm x 16nm
Green – 560nm x 16nm
Red – 650nm x 16nm
Red Edge – 730nm x 16nm
NIR – 840nm x 26nm
2. Parrot Sequoia
The Parrot Sequoia is one of the most accessible multispectral cameras on the market, thanks to its affordable pricing.
It’s a traditional multispectral camera that mounts onto UAVs. What’s untraditional, however, is the fact it can integrate with any drone.
Whether it’s a fixed-wing or multi-rotor drone, this camera can be attached to it (with a corresponding mounting kit).
Beyond its broad compatibility, the Parrot Sequoia also stands out due to how compact it is. Its small build weighs just 72g (2.5 oz).
But don’t let its size fool you, as this tiny camera packs a technological punch. It features an integrated sunlight sensor that captures lighting conditions, calibrating outputs of the camera, ensuring measurements are absolute.
It has four bands to capture visible/invisible light – red, green, red edge & near-infrared. Additionally, it has a 16mpx RGB camera and internal memory of 64GB (with an SD slot if you need more capacity).
Typical use cases for this multispectral camera include:
- Identifying problem areas in a field
- Refining fertilisation – by detecting nutrient deficiency symptoms
- Optimising pesticide input – through early detection of biotic stress
- Controlling crop irrigation – by identifying areas of water stress
- Estimating crop yield – by processing & exploiting ergonomic indices
The Parrot Sequoia is excellent value for money, acting as a great-entry level multispectral camera.
MS Sensor – 4x 1280 x 960 (1.2MP)
RGB Sensor – 1x 16MP 4608 x 3456
Data Storage – 64GB SD
Green – 550nm x 40nm
Red – 660nm x 40nm
Red Edge – 735nm x 10nm
NIR – 790nm x 40nm
It’s a 6-channel multispectral camera produced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences team. In terms of drone integration, it’s deeply compatible with the DJI M200 series and M300 RTK drone flight platforms.
A few other standout features of note include:
Smart dimming – the dynamic range sensor provides real-time dimming of multi-objective global optimisation, increasing original image information.
Accurate data acquisition – high-precision radiation calibration with real-time correction of ambient light radiation, more accurate spectral data.
Strong environmental adaptability – its metal shell and sapphire windows can take on the harsh field environment, making it rugged enough to withstand industrial applications.
For its technological capability, the MS600 Pro is reasonably priced and affordable. This is an option well worth considering.
MS Sensor – 5x CMOS, 1/3″ (1.2MP)
RGB Sensor – 1x CMOS, 1/3″ (1.2MP)
Data Storage – 128GB SD
Blue – 450nm x 30nm
Green – 555nm x 25nm
Red – 660nm x 20nm
Red Edge – 720nm x 25nm
NIR – 840nm x 35nm
4. Micasense RedEdge MX
The MicaSense RedEdge-MX is an advanced multispectral camera specially designed for UAVs. It’s not universally compatible with all drones but does work with a wide range of popular models.
The RedEdge-MX has five bands—blue, green, red, red edge, and near-infrared, providing the operator with exceptional levels of data from which to analyse crops and make informed harvesting decisions.
These lenses (and all the tech) are encased in a rugged aluminium case. MicaSense specifically chose this material to increase its durability and performance in high temperatures.
The main drawback with this option is its price, which is on the expensive side. Nevertheless, this is a very reliable multispectral camera with a full suite of agricultural uses.
Blue – 475 nm
Green – 560 nm
Red – 668 nm
Red Edge – 717 nm
NIR – 842 nm
5. Sentera 6X Multispectral Sensor
Last on our list of the best multispectral cameras for drones is the powerful Sentera 6x Multispectral Sensor.
Designed to meet the most demanding research and data science requirements, the 6X features 5 simultaneously triggered, precision-filtered 3.2MP global-shutter imagers and one 20.1MP RGB imager – each with a dedicated, high-quality optical path.
Altogether, the sensor produces eight channels of image data, with fast frame rate performance and high radiometric accuracy.
As a result, it has a wide range of capabilities, including:
- Stress identification & quantification
- Plant classification & weed identification
- High-throughput phenotyping
- Nutrient analysis
- Biomass monitoring
- Population counts
- Input management
- Elevation mapping
- Crop health mapping
When combined with Sentera’s ‘Field Agent’ software. you get a solution which takes you from data collection to data analysis in a single system.
The Sentera 6X is a very strong all rounder which can be used for a wide variety of agricultural needs. Its utility, however, is reflected by its higher price point. For those after precise and actionable data, this is a great investment.
MS Sensor – 5X 3.2MP Monochrome
RGB Sensor – 1X 20MP RGB Sony IMX147
Data Storage – 512GB
Blue – 475nm x 30nm
Green – 550nm x 20nm
Red – 670nm x 30nm
Red Edge – 715nm x 10nm
NIR – 840nm x 20nm
Each of the multispectral cameras on this list has their own unique quirks and benefits. Which one is best for you will depend on your needs, circumstances and budget.
What they do have in common is their ability to enhance and optimise your agricultural business.
If you’d like to find out more and how to purchase some of these models, please get in contact with us at +44 (0) 1243 882510