Drones allow everyone to take such pictures, for which until recently it was necessary to lift an airplane or helicopter into the air. More and more photographers are embracing new technologies and adding aerial photography to their portfolio.
Experienced in both filming and piloting drones, DJI provides 8 recommendations to consider before buying a quadcopter.
1. Image quality comes first
If you are good at shooting, then you probably know that the quality of the frame directly depends on the camera matrix. This rule applies to drone cameras as well. The 1-inch sensor is the new “gold standard” used on both advanced consumer drones like the Mavic 2 Pro and professional photographer quadcopters like the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. The most serious gimbal cameras, such as the Zenmuce X5 for Inspire 2, have a 4/3-inch CMOS sensor.
Large CMOS sensors allow you to take better pictures in low light conditions. When it comes to shooting in daylight, the Mavic 2 Pro and Phantom show no less impressive results than the devices in the upper price range according to the results of the tests.
2. Do you need 4K video?
The maximum video resolution of today’s flight-ready drones can range from HD to 4K depending on the model. If you’re shooting a video for Facebook or Instagram, and the processing is simple editing and applying filters, then 1080p quality will be more than enough. However, if you’re a vlogger or want to get a cinematic-quality picture, you should seriously consider 4K. When cropping, rotating, cropping and scaling the finished material, the video resolution will inevitably decrease, and if the source is 1080p quality, the final result may not meet high expectations and modern standards. 4K video gives you a lot of precious extra pixels, which means more freedom to work and be creative.
Also in the characteristics of the drone’s camera, you will find such an important parameter as the frame rate (fps). If it is in the range of 24-30 frames per second, the video will be smooth enough for the human eye, however, to apply special effects such as slow motion, a frame rate of at least 60 frames per second is required.
3. Is it necessary to support RAW/DNG formats?
If you do not plan to process photos in Phoposhop or Lightroom, then you can ignore this item, but almost every modern photographer has such a need. If your photography drone supports RAW/DNG formats, you get more options in post-processing. The peculiarity of these formats is that the image contains all the information received from the camera matrix. This is especially helpful when shooting at night.
On the left is the original Raw photo taken with the Phantom 4 Pro drone, on the right is the result of its processing.
4. How stable is the drone in the air?
Stable hovering is another important factor affecting image quality. Any unauthorized displacement of the drone leads to the fact that the frame is blurred, there is no need to talk about sharpness and clarity. To ensure stable hovering under any conditions, it is necessary to have an advanced control system and on-board sensors. Many users will agree with the statement that DJI is seriously ahead of all competitors in this aspect. If you don’t believe me, just check out some of the DJI drone footage on YouTube, many of these videos are taken by regular customers. The hover function works well on all models, from the youngest – DJI Spark
5. Buy a drone with a gyro-stabilized gimbal installed
A good gimbal is critical to stable video. For many cheap drones, gimbal is just an option. You buy such a quadcopter and you are guaranteed to get constant video shaking. Always keep this in mind so that you know what you can not save on. The DJI Phantom series was the first in the consumer segment to receive a three-axis gimbal. A device similar in design, but smaller, was received by the new Mavic 2.
6. Don’t worry about flight time
It is absolutely true that most modern aerial photography drones do not fly for more than half an hour, and the technologies available today do not allow to fundamentally increase this value. The flight time of about 20 minutes is an excellent result for the best devices on the market. If this parameter is decisive for you, we recommend that you pay attention to the Mavic 2, which can stay in the air for up to 31 minutes. However, in order to make the most of every second, it is much more useful to buy at least two spare batteries and not wait for the battery to charge.
7. Intelligent functions
A good drone for aerial photography will be expensive. This is due not only to the use of a good camera and control system, but also to the presence of a large number of intelligent functions that greatly simplify the shooting process. Drones can automatically follow the subject, take selfies and automatically fly along preprogrammed routes. Each quadcopter is a set of unique solutions and features. For example, the Mavic 2 Zoom has a 2x optical zoom camera that allows you to get a closer look at your subject without flying too close to it. The Phantom 4 Pro V 2.0 has a mechanical shutter that allows you to capture fast-moving objects without distortion, while the professional Inspire 2 is controlled by two operators in charge of the drone itself and its camera.
8. Buy a popular drone
Buying a popular drone, you get a lot of advantages, both obvious and invisible at first glance. For example, if you are a beginner operator, then it will be easier for you to find an experienced mentor and get useful advice. In case of any difficulties, only with a popular drone you will find fast and qualified help. In addition, there are thousands of training videos and articles on social media and YouTube created by real experts to help you improve your pilot and operator skills. Also, do not forget about a large number of accessories – both original and manufactured by third-party manufacturers.
The best drones for shooting today:
The new flagship of DJI in the consumer drone segment, a good choice for both the professional and the amateur. The buyer can choose one of two versions: Pro or Zoom. The Pro version is equipped with a Hasselblad camera with a 1-inch CMOS sensor, while the Zoom, in turn, is equipped with a 12 MP camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor and a 2x optical zoom. Regardless of the option, the flight time reaches 31 minutes, and the maximum distance from the operator is eight kilometers. For greater safety, the drone is equipped with all-round sensors that detect all obstacles.
- • Two complete sets: Pro and Zoom with different cameras;
- • Flight time – up to 31 minutes;
- • Maximum speed — 72 km/h;
- • Signal transmission range — up to 8 km;
- • All-aspect sensors for detection of obstacles;
- • Creative shooting modes such as Dolly Zoom and Hyperlapse.
Mavic Air is the epitome of an ambitious idea to pack a piece of professional equipment into a small, compact package. An ideal choice for hobbyists and those who care about the size of the drone as much as the quality of the photo. The camera has the ability to shoot 12 MP photos and 4K video at 30 frames per second. At a lower price compared to other models, Mavic Air has very decent performance.
- • Weight — 430 g;
- • Flight time – up to 21 minutes;
- • Maximum speed — 68 km/h;
- • Equipped with Advanced Pilot Assistance System.
The DJI Mavic Pro has been dubbed the “Swiss Army Knife of drones” and it’s hard to disagree. It’s really versatile. The quadcopter is equipped with a 12-megapixel camera with the ability to shoot photos in DNG format and 4K video at 30 frames per second. The quadcopter is able to stay in the air for up to 27 minutes at a distance of up to 7 km from the operator. Complements the picture of a three-axis gimbal, many intelligent modes for flight and shooting, as well as an advanced security system.
- • Flight time – up to 27 minutes;
- • Flight speed — up to 65 km/h;
- • Intelligent system FlightAutonomy, which recognizes obstacles and prevents collisions;
- • Intelligent flight modes (ActiveTrack, TapFly, gesture control).
Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
Designed specifically for professional photographers, the Phantom 4 Pro V 2.0 retains all the features and benefits of the original Phantom 4 Pro with a number of significant upgrades. One of the most interesting innovations is the OcuSync video transmission system, which switches between the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands to ensure reliable broadcasting at a distance of up to 7 km, regardless of the presence of interference. The 1-inch camera captures 12MP photos and 4K video at 60 frames per second, while the mechanical shutter offers unique advantages when capturing fast-moving subjects. This model combines everything that buyers love the Phantom series for.
- • Flight time – up to 30 minutes;
- • Maximum speed — 72 km/h;
- • Radio control equipment OcuSync with a maximum range of 7 km;
- • Intelligent flight modes (ActiveTrack, TapFly, Draw).
The DJI Inspire 2 is the favorite drone of professional photographers and cinematographers. It is capable of capturing videos in incredible 6K resolution and supports CinenaDNG RAW format. The quadcopter is controlled by two operators, accelerates to 85 km / h in five seconds and develops a maximum speed of 94 km / h, the gimbal with the camera is capable of rotating 360 °. The Inspire 2 is ideal for those who want to make money shooting and create Hollywood-quality content.
- • Flight time – up to 27 minutes;
- • Maximum speed — 94 km/h;
- • Interchangeable cameras (Zenmuse X4S, X5S and X7);
- • Two accumulators;
- • Function of self-heating of accumulators.
When deciding which drone to choose for shooting, remember that you first need to understand your own desires and needs. For example, a novice operator who buys the first drone for the first time is unlikely to shoot cinematic quality material, but greater automation of the process and ease of operation will be very useful, as well as budget savings. Whatever your level of desire and requirement, DJI has a drone for everyone, from the simple and affordable Mavic Air to the professional Inspire 2!
You might be interested:
Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 Unboxing and Review
DJI Mavic 2: Most Asked Questions
8 reasons to buy a drone