My new Sony NEX-5 fledges


I have been flying a Canon Rebel dSLR as my principal (and darn near exclusive) kite aerial photography (KAP) rig since July 2007. I really like working with the smaller Canon dSLR cameras. They are tough. The larger APS-C sensor is relatively smooth and higher ISO images look much better. On the other hand, my dSLR KAP rig is relatively heavy at 3 lb. 8-1/2 oz. (1.6 Kg) and it is a fairly expensive setup for my frequent work over water (salt ponds and wetlands) should replacement become necessary (sound of me knocking on wood). Thus, I was delighted to receive a diminutive Sony NEX-5 as a holiday gift from my ever-supportive spouse.

KAP Rig No. 11 - Sony NEX-5

The Sony NEX-X somehow places a large APS-C sensor in its small body and, in my case, came packaged with a removable 16-mm (24-mm equivalent) prime lens. Over the last few days I set about adapting a HoVer KAP cradle I built earlier for the Canon Elph series to carry the NEX-5. The conversion is finished and I recently completed the first flight.

Here are a few notes on the process of adapting my old Canon SD800is KAP Rig for the NEX-5. The older rig was my main cradle from 2005 to 2007 and saw considerable use.

Front view Canon SD700 rig

When I received the Sony NEX-5 I held it against the now disused Canon SD800is rig and was fairly amazed to see that the new camera would fit with only minor modifications. There ensued a brief period of measurement and sketching.

KAP Rig No. 11 - Sony NEX-5

And then it was off to the shop to mill a few new components. In the end I had to make a mounting plate to mate with the bottom of the NEX-5, which does not have a simple flat bottom. I made an aluminum bracket to connect the camera mounting plate to the HoVer rotation axis. Finally, the NEX-5 is heavier than the Canon SD-800is so I needed to make a slightly different set of arms to balance the tilt bracket. The one purchased product (and happily so) was a GentLED Shutter to fire the Sony NEX-5 using its IR remote.

KAP Rig No. 11 - Sony NEX-5

These components came together nicely with the modified cradle feeling strong and balanced. As one check for weight distribution I was able to balance the camera and its HoVer bracket on the machine screw which is the axis of rotation.

KAP Rig No. 11 - Sony NEX-5

And here is the HoVer bracket mounted to the tilt bracket.

KAP Rig No. 11 - Sony NEX-5

I just put my gear on a scale:

Cradle empty ………………………………….…. 12-1/2 oz. (345 g)
Picavet and kite line attachments…………….… 3-1/2 oz. (99 g)
Camera body with 16-mm lens……………….. 12-1/2 oz. (345 g)

So, my all up weight with 16-mm lens is 1 lb. 12-1/2 oz. (0.87 Kg). This is half of the weight (and expense) of my current Canon dSLR rig.

More views of the rig are available in this set:


This rig uses a radio transmitter to rotate and tilt the camera. The radio can also switch the camera between portrait and landscape format (HoVer) as well as fire the shutter. For a description of the transmitter see:


For the inaugural flight I followed tradition by heading down to the Berkeley waterfront. The skies were hazy and there was a fitfull offshore breeze that ranged from 2 pmp to 15 mph or so. I finally got a six-foot Rokkaku dialed into the wind and took a few aerials as the sun set. Both camera and rig seem to have worked well.

Harbor entrance, Berkeley Marina

Harbor entrance, Berkeley Marina

One sweep of landscape format images (taken individually, not with the Sony Sweep Panorama feature) produced a panorama covering the entire waterfront peninsula – auspicious for a first outing.

Berkeley Waterfront

The Berkeley Waterfront

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