Access camera settings from within DD

I had terrible results using auto exposure and focus. Flying up to altitude with DJIGo4 to set exposure and focus manually works but it’s a pain to takeoff with Go4, set focus and exposure, land, close Go4, open and connect DD then start the mission. If I need a battery change would I have to go through all this again? Camera settings should be available in DD.

Also why do we need to land b4 starting another mission? Litchi doesn’t make us do that…

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Whereas I don’t have any experience of it, I’m led to believe that the ‘Manual’ function within the DD app does allow you to change the camera settings. I’ve yet to try it, and probably won’t as I’m happy with the way I manage my flights.

I don’t have any problems setting them with Go4 and switching to DD whilst still in the air. There is no need to land between fixing the camera settings in Go4 and starting a mission in DD.

Furthermore, the only setting I have found that needs resetting after each battery change is the focus. The exposure settings are maintained in Go4 after each change.

You don’t need to land between missions either. I’m still using the traditional method, which is to after a mission, switch the RC to S, halting the drone in the air, close the app down, switch the RC back to F, restart the DD app and select the new mission. If you need to set the camera up again, of course you will need to go back into Go4, but that can all still be done with the drone in flight.

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It doesn’t.

Nothing new here.

The only reason to land any longer is to swap batteries.

  1. Open DJI Go4 and set camera (I guess if you use a Mavic)
  2. Close DJI Go4
  3. Open DroneDeploy
  4. Select Manual Flight
  5. Go to first waypoint and altitude
  6. Select Add and build the flight list
  7. Fly

No need to fly manual. Just start the mission from where you are - having set your camera up.

Focus always needs to be set up for a Mavic. Rarely do I touch Exposure. Even with a completely blue sky, a whisper of cloud will blow in from somewhere and mess it up.

If “use GO…” is selected for exposure, you can have that set from a previous flight in GO and no need to open GO first to set that if your last settings are what you want. They persist through power cycles.

That leaves focus. I always pull focus manually using either DD or Map Pilot with a P4P or M2P. If DD would simply add “double tap to focus” ability on the camera screen in the app, then the user could pause over a well contrasting area and pull focus. That would then eliminate needing to open GO as part of the workflow for those that have had less than stellar results with auto settings.

Here in the pacific north west, sky cover condition can be all over the map in a 20+ min. flight. I have had the best results in these conditions using shutter priority, white balance on sunny unless totally overcast. Auto exposure invariably ends up with some images with unacceptably low shutter speeds for me.


Back when I used Pix4D it did a much better job a this in my opinion. As far as I could tell, while it let the camera autoadjust settings on the first image, it maintained those settings througout the entire flight, so you didn’t get stripes of different colors on the end result.

This is a needed feature in the DD app.


Fixing the camera settings will only be any good if the lighting levels and tones of the subject you’re shooting don’t change.

When leaving the app settings on Auto, the only time I get stripes etc in the finished ortho, is either when the amount of cloud in the sky changes dramatically, or more commonly, when just leaving or entering a tree’d area. The aperture opens right up over heavily tree’d spots but then doesn’t close quickly enough for lighter subjects like roads or grass etc. If I were to fix the exposure to lighten the trees, the remainder of the map would be burnt out.

Exactly! The majority of the drone flights I have experienced are over very contrasting subjects and/or under varying lighting conditions. The problem we have is that standard drone cameras don’t and/or can’t change settings fast enough to account for these broad changes while travelling at 15mph. Even this example shows that mapping subjects are a little different than taking standard standalone portraits. It was shot with a Phantom 4 Pro on auto-exposure on a mostly sunny day and this is after exposure correction in post-processing had already been applied. There’s basically 5 different conditions that the camera is having to compensate for on-the-fly. Moving onto a concrete slab from the trees or vice-versa can ruin a map if not prepared for. A static ISO in this case would have caused either black shadows or white highlights from which no data could be retrieved.

Notice the changes in the images (it starts with the last frame on the top row) with ACDSee batch filtering. Particularly those whites and blacks. Information is retrieved from both. It doesn’t seem like that big of a change at first glance until the GIF restarts. Image 222 is a great example of highly contrasting subjects in one shot and how digital post-processing brings back data.

I think this is time better spent than manipulating camera settings for each flight with trial and error and/or guesses especially in a corporate environment where many pilots are expected to perform the same task. Auto settings wherever possible has to be maintained. Smarter normalizing in DroneDeploy would be a better solution.

You are saying to use auto exposure and let everything gray out, then fix the images exposure before processing the ortho?
If the subject cant be captured with manual settings I’m OK with your workflow but I prefer to get it right in camera when possible.

Would you share your software and process for adjusting the images w/o messing up the gps metadata? I have a way but I doubt that it’s the best way so I’d love to learn how to do it better. Thanks!

Mavic? No. P4P :slight_smile:
I havent had luck getting the app to connect to the drone unless I restart the radio so your workflow wouldnt work for me unless I figure out the connection issue. Maybe it’s an Android thing? Are you using an Ipad?

I’ve never experimented with manual flight in Dronedeploy. Maybe that’s where I’ve been missing the boat so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

I’ve never used manual flight mode in Dronedeploy. After reading some other comments I’m wondering if we can get focus in manual flight mode and then switch to autonomous flight mode. Have you tried this? Thanks!

I haven’t had good luck getting the app to connect to the drone unless I restart the radio and I wouldn’t want to do that while airborne…
Maybe it’s a limitation with the Dronedeploy Android app?

Sometimes I fly late in the day. When the sun is very low the lighting gets flat, like overcast. The problem is that it gets dark fast so If I fly a second mission I often need to change the exposure.


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Hi Bob,

I have not used DD’s manual flight mode. If you can tap-focus in that mode then that should work well. It also means that with a few more lines of code, tap-focus should be able to be executed anytime during flight, including autonomous.

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Thanks Dave, I’ve been trying to use manual flight mode recently but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to exist in the Android app. I guess I’m going to have to go with drone Harmony or drone link…


Hey James,
I recently purchased a new ipad pro and tried it with DD yesterday. I had the selection for Manual exposure in Go4 but unfortunately DD gave auto exposure. The shutter was too slow and the photos were not sharp.

Is this a known issue with DD? Is there a reason the DD app wouldn’t use manual exposure in Go4 when that is selected?
After flying the mission twice with the ipad I switched back to my android and it worked properly.

Thanks, Bob


Hi Bob.

In order to utilise the the manual settings in Go4, both Focus and Exposure, you need to toggle the switches under Advanced Settings in the mission.

If you have toggled these switches already, which I don’t think you have, the only thing I can think of is that the drone is flying too fast for the shutter speed you’ve selected. Of course, the drone keeps moving and doesn’t stop to take the picture. I generally stick with 5m/s, but then I’m flying an original Mavic Pro, with a sensor I can’t expect too much from.

I’ve given up setting up the exposure manually however, as you only need one cloud to cover the sun momentarily, and the pictures are buggered. Without exception, every time I fly with a blue sky, thinking I’m safe to set up manually, a rogue cloud appears from nowhere to mess things up for me. Letting DD take care of the exposure is your best bet, but slow the drone down on the darker days. Sometimes the pictures are burnt out whilst others are too dark, but overall DD does a good job. I only set up the focus manually in Go4 since DD can’t take pictures in focus automatically on an MP1.

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James, you really need to get a drone with an adjustable aperture. In my region, like yours, the sky is almost always dynamic. Shutter priority mode is the saving grace.

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Thanks James,
I did have those two settings toggled on. I doubted myself at first but without changing anything in the plan it worked properly when I switched back to the android. I had the speed set to 7 mph which would have been fine for 1/250 second at 200 ft. Unfortunately when DD used auto exposure it gave me between 1/125 and 1/80 which made the photos a little blurry.

I understand what you are saying about using auto exposure on a clear or partly cloudy day. There always seems to be a cloud just waiting to ruin your mission…
However whenever possible I fly on overcast days or in the last 45 min before sunset. When I use auto exposure the dark foliage is over exposed and light areas such as sand are underexposed so whenever possible I prefer manual exp. M also avoids the issue of slow shutter speeds.

I feel your pain with the small sensor. I’m flying a P4P and I hate the camera. I understand that it has good features for mapping however it has limited dynamic range and poor low light quality. I wish I could afford to fly a dslr or something similar on a mapping aircraft :slight_smile:

Thanks again!


Don’t forget the low light conditions switch in advanced settings. You can use this more often than you think which just keeps the shutter at a higher speed.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Stop worrying about exposure and uneven images. Just plan your best and fix it later.

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Hi Guys,
I know this topic is a little old but I’ve been doing a lot of topo / ortho mapping this year and much prefer DD as my goto software - the planning portal being an important part of that.

However, as a long standing aerial DoP, I find the camera management side of things deeply lacking.
I used to use manual exposure but always use shutter priority auto these days as it’s too easy to get caught out. Manual white balance and manual focus.
As you all know in the current versions you have to switch app which is clunky and potentially risky if airborne. Also the settings don’t always hold even when the boxes are ticked for the GoApp to manage camera settings.

Why can’t we have a proper camera page as per the GoApp within DD?
If GSPro can do it, I’m sure DD can as it’s all the same sdk.

I hate to say this but GSPro was a joy to use recently as I could monitor the camera settings and change them mid mission if the light got too low.
It was the clients choice of app as they’d done the flight planning.
If it had an online planning portal, I think DD would be in dire straights with many people.

So come on DD - let’s see you step up to the plate with this one :wink: