If you are in the market for a multispectral camera that can revolutionise your drone use, two models you might well have come across are the Micasense RedEdge and the Parrot Sequoia. While a large factor in your final decision might come down to the budget you have at your disposal, here we run through the main features of each, so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.
What’s under the bonnet?
The RedEdge, as you might expect from being in the higher price bracket, is the more powerful camera, capturing five discrete spectral bands at the same time. This allows customised applications to use the tailored indices created. The Sequoia relies on four narrowband filters which are optimised for analysing crop health, as well as a 16 MP RGB imager for simple digital scouting.
Is size everything?
In terms of size and weight, the Sequoia is certainly lighter on its feet, tipping the scales at 107g and being roughly half the size of the RedEdge, but its rival packs a massive punch, so for those who value functionality and capabilities over appearance, wait until you hear what the RedEdge can offer.
What gives the RedEdge, the edge?
Easily mounted on to drones, the RedEdge provides you with scientific grade imagery and you will be able to fly at fast speeds, as well as at low attitudes, safe in the knowledge that performance is not significantly affected. Distortion is also not a worry, as a global shutter design means images are captured adeptly, and you can make use of standard features such as geo tagging and time stamping, as well as a more advanced self-triggering function and external GPS connections. This makes your collection of geo-tagged data smooth, without needing to connect to the host vehicle.
Flexibility is another key point to consider, and RedEdge’s compatibility with a number of UAV platforms means serial, ethernet and PWM/GPIO trigger are all possibilities.
Multispectral camera of the future?
MicaSense, the producer of RedEdge, is in talks with many drone manufacturers, so expect the technology to develop at a rapid rate over the coming years.
See for yourself
If you want to see impressive sample images produced by RedEdge through your own eyes, demonstrating the processed orthomosaics, we recommend you head on over to Micasense’s website, where you can view some examples. You can look at the multi-coloured, rendered images which display different vegetation indices and various images that have been generated from reflectance calibrated GeoTIFF files.
The value of the Sequoia
In reply, the Sequoia offers so much for its size and price, that even having read the features above, you might be tempted to side with it. Its sunshine sensor, GPS and SD card slot mean it could be a favourite for farmers who wish to predict crop yields and hone in on areas that need pesticide or water. This is done by identification of wavelengths varying from green to infrared, differentiating healthy plants from those that are not nourished. The ability to add precision to agricultural practices with this calibrated tool, coupled with its low price point compared to the RedEdge and others on the market, make it a great all-rounder for a very reasonable cost.
For smaller drones
If you are operating a drone in the lower size bracket, with a small fixed wing platform, then the compact nature of the Sequoia might make perfect sense. Suitable platforms for running the Sequoia include the DJI Phantom 4 and 3DR Solo.
What do they have in common?
Aside from their primary use, both products are suited to use with data analytics and processing platforms, meaning you will have tools at your disposal to dissect the data after operation.
The question of whether you plump for a RedEdge or a Sequoia is likely to come down to the nature of your drone use, as well as the price bracket you have in mind for the investment. Serious users keen to have a multispectral camera which appears to be more ‘future-proofed’ than alternatives and can provide a great degree of flexibility, might be best off with the RedEdge, while customers going for affordability and a device that can meet their basic agricultural analysis needs can purchase the Sequoia and get started straight away. In one way, the choice is instructive – many of those who own smaller drones could be the type of users for whom the Sequoia is adequate for the price they are looking to pay.