Capturing precious moments through a photograph or a video is the main reason why cameras and video recorders were invented. Through the onset of the latest technologies, these two gadgets have been developing rapidly. One such development is the invention of the aerial photography drone.
A drone is a general term for an unmanned vehicle capable of flight and they were first used as military equipment for surveillance and reconnaissance. Today however, drones have been released for the public to use freely.
The drone, being able to go anywhere its owner wishes with just the use of a remote control, has become one of the most trusted companions of photographers in taking breathtaking pictures of scenarios, landscapes, and events.
Actually, that’s why they are called drones for aerial photography as they manage to provide a new type of perspective that traditional photography can’t have: the wide view from above. Thus, drones have been gaining their popularity as a gadget used for taking pictures and videos that are otherwise hard to capture using ordinary photography methods.
Due to the popularity of drones in the market, a number of companies have invested in producing and developing such gadgets for photography enthusiasts and beginners to enjoy using. If you are wondering what the best drone for aerial photography is, we list five of the most sought after drones available in the market to help you decide which one to buy.
Top 5 best drones for aerial photography
Ctronics® F2C Aviax
The F2C Aviax is an entry-level quadcopter that is easy to use and setup. It is one of the best choices for beginners who want to familiarize themselves in aerial photography and unmanned flight. The quad is equipped with a 2.0 MP camera which can be removed.
The camera has a 360 degree function which is good for taking pictures of the whole landscape without the need to move the drone extensively. It is also equipped with the latest technology that lets its user control it without much interference. In terms of the price, the F2C Aviax provides great value for money with quite an affordable price point of 200$.
The drone has positive reviews on Amazon, making it one of the most bought gadgets from the online store. Users who have tried the product were amazed on the ease of use that the drone offers due to its basic directional buttons. The quad is also relatively small in size, making it easier to control than bigger models.
Don’t let the size fool you though, because the drone can give up to 1500 high quality pictures in 1080p resolution thanks to its 4 GB memory card. It can last in the air for 10 minutes max and it usually takes only 60 minutes to charge the batteries to full capacity. With its functions and price, this drone is a great choice for you to start with your aerial photography passion or career.
If you interested in this product you can purchase it on Amazon.
Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon Quadcopter
The Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon is a quadcopter more suitable for experienced pilots. It provides a wide array of features that are perfect for photographers who want to take their aerial photography to the next level.
This product is relatively bigger and heavier than F2C Aviax. However, it has a better built-in 16 megapixel camera which is capable of taking high-quality pictures and high definition videos.
The Q500+ is also equipped with a 5.5’’ touchscreen included in the transmitter which enables the user to see what the drone sees in real time. This feature allows you to take breathtaking pictures regardless of your current position.
Perhaps what sets this drone to other brands is the built-in “Follow Me” feature which enables the drone to know the location of its transmitter as long as there is GPS connection. It gives the pilot the ability to walk freely while letting the drone fly by itself close to its user.
In terms of flight, the Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon is capable of staying up in the air for up to 25 minutes straight. It also comes with a set of spare batteries that you can use while charging the main one in order to get more air time.
Because of its features, the Q500+ is a little bit pricey. However, all of its features make it a viable choice for photographers who want to expand their aerial photography capabilities.
Like this great product? Then you can buy it from Amazon.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Aircraft
DJI Phantom 3 is one of the most bought drones on Amazon simply because of the features it has and the value for money it gives. This medium-sized drone is suitable for both beginner and professional photographers due to its intelligent flight system that lets the drone fly directly back to you with just a push of a button.
Another great feature is the ability to fly back automatically to its user when the signal between the two is lost.
DJI Phantom 3’s battery can last up to 25 minutes of continuous flight, allowing the user to take a lot of captivating photos and shoot high-definition videos. The drone also has a feature wherein it tells the user if the battery is running out.
The camera supports a 12 megapixel sensor with a 3-axis gimbal system to give a stable shot regardless of the flight conditions. You can even connect your mobile phone with the drone’s transmitter in order to see a live feed of what the drone is capturing.
It also has a built-in mobile application that you can link with your phone or tablet to give it the freedom to take pictures and record videos.
All of these features will empty your pockets of about $500-700. Because of its quality and its cost-efficiency, the DJI Phantom 3 has been the go to drone of professional photographers and beginner hobbyists for quite a while now.
If you interested in this product you can buy it on Amazon.
Coocheer Syma X8G
Coocheer Syma X8G is a large drone that is built for beginner photographers who are just getting the hang of maneuvering such a device. It is easy to build and has all the necessary parts and tools included in the package.
It also has a manual inside to guide the user on its assembly and operation. In terms of performance, the battery only lasts for up to 7 minutes of continuous flight, and takes 3 hours to charge with a normal charger. That’s why it is advisable to buy spare batteries and a fast charger. Other than that, this drone has no issues at all.
The X8G has a headless mode to make it easier to fly – the headless mode is where the drone knows what the front in your perspective is even if it turns.
For example, if you turned the drone by 90 degrees to your left in headless mode, if you press the forward button, the drone will still move forward in your perspective. In non-headless mode however, if you press the forward button, the drone will move to the left.
The device has an operating distance of up to 100 meters and a built-in 8 megapixel camera that lets the user capture high quality pictures and videos. It has a stable flight system that allows the user to take captivating pictures even if there is wind. These features come with a relatively cheap price of just 150-220$ that is really a bargain considering the drone’s capabilities.
Like this great product? Then you can buy it here.
UDI U818A WiFi FPV Drone
The U818A is the latest drone developed by UDI and it features a headless mode which his good for beginner photographers. This new model is now on first person view which you can pair directly with an Android or Apple device. FPV mode allows you to see what the drone is seeing in real-time.
It also has a return home function to avoid lost aircrafts. It is stable in flight, and has impact resistance parts that prevent the drone from breaking easily. These parts can also be replaced readily if ever damaged. The drone has a safety feature that prevent its propellers from being damaged, which is good for beginner pilots who don’t have a full grasp on the drone’s flying operations.
UDI U818A is equipped with a 2 megapixel camera which is capable of taking 1080P videos at 30 FPS, as well as high definition photos. Its remote control also has a capture picture button and a take video one, along with a 360 degree flip button to give it more versatility. It is also equipped with LED lights that can be turned on during night time to give it a real feel of being and aircraft.
The drone can be up in the air for about 9 minutes, and it has a spare battery included to increase flight time. These features come in a low price of just 140$, making the UDI U818A a great choice for beginners who don’t want to spend a fortune in learning how to operate drones.
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it here.
Things to consider before buying a drone
Before you get to choose the drone that will take you to new heights and clearer perspectives, you should first check some important details about the prospective drone that you are about to buy.
These details will help you in choosing the best drone to use for your hobby or profession. While these details provide useful information, they are not the only things that you need to check. However, these details will give you a rough estimate of the drone’s capabilities, and will greatly help you in deciding.
Also, do note that there are no perfect drones, and every product available in the market has its pros and cons. It is a matter of weighing these pros and cons and arriving to the best possible combination that will help you decide which drone to buy. Don’t be frustrated if a drone is lacking on a particular function, because all the necessary features in a single drone will probably cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Thus, it is more pragmatic to look for the right combination of benefits and drawbacks that will give you the most suitable drone for your needs. We hope that these details may help you in deciding what type of drone you want to buy to help with your aerial photography.
Ease of flight
One of the most important aspects in choosing a drone is its ease of flight. Remember that not all drones are easy to fly and require advanced knowledge before being used. With this in mind, check for drones that contain basic buttons if you are just starting to learn how to fly these aircrafts.
Also keep in mind the drone’s stability while in air, as having an easy-to-fly drone that begins to wobble while midair will prove to be hard to manage too.
Typically, heavier drones provide more stability while in air, at the cost of a more difficult control while flying. Easy-to-fly drones are also relatively cheaper than more complex ones, but provide limited mobility as a drawback.
Still, it is a great starting point especially if you are just learning how to operate a drone. As you learn how to control a drone more properly, you can upgrade into a more complex one which also gives a lot of added features.
The drone’s functions is an important thing to consider when buying one that you can use. This is especially true for amateur pilots who are just learning how to fly unmanned aircrafts. It will be a huge inconvenience when you buy a really expensive drone, only to crash it on its first flight.
Thus, it is important to note if the drone has the functions that you need in order to fly it properly. One function that you might want to consider is if the drone has an auto-pilot mode. This function will let the drone fly automatically back to you whenever you lose control. This will prevent unwanted crashes that might cost you a lot of money. This feature will also prevent your drone from being lost.
As a photographer, you would want to get the camera which will give you the highest quality of detail as possible for the images you capture. Keep in mind that drones can either have a built-in camera or not.
If what you want to buy is one with a built-in camera, check if the camera’s quality is up to your standards. Normally, drones with a better camera quality come with a higher price range. If the camera you are looking for is not up to your standards, you can opt for a drone with an attachable camera instead. If you want a drone where you can manually attach the camera check the kind of cameras that can be attached. Also check if your camera is compatible with the drone.
Another important thing to note in the camera of the drone is if it has a gimbal system attached to it. A gimbal system is sort of a series of weights that adjusts their positions depending on the movement of the camera and the drone itself. Through these gimbal systems, it is possible to capture photos without much blur caused by the drone’s flight or the wind’s speed.
If you are looking for a drone that provides a stable camera that you can use to take clear pictures, you should keep in mind to check the gimbal system attached to it.
The purpose of getting a drone is to give you a better look of the place in a higher perspective. Thus, a long battery life is a must. However, not all drones are built to last long during flight.
Typically, a drone’s flight lasts to an average of 10 minutes, with some advanced ones having the capability to fly for 25 minutes straight. It is important to check for the drone’s maximum flight time in order for you to gauge the activities you are going to do while operating the drone.
Also if possible, look for drones with a spare battery so that you can double up your flight time without having the need to charge your battery at once.
Value for money
Due to a lot of drones available in the market, it is hard to grasp if what you are eyeing on buying is the right choice. Different drones provide different features that you might need. However, they also incorporate some drawbacks that will have you thinking twice before buying them.
One of the most important questions that you need to ask yourself before buying the drone is, “Is it worth it?”
Look at the drone’s features, and if possible request for a test flight. Also check if the features and functions of the drone are reasonable for its price tag. Remember that you will have to spend more than the original price.
You need to take into account its maintenance, its power usage, and if it can be replaced in the event of a part malfunction. Taking these into account, you will have a slight estimate of the real amount of money that you have to spend in buying that particular drone. If you are happy with the amount, then by all means buy that drone and start looking at the world in a different view!
Things to know before operating the drone
Now that you have decided which drone will be your companion to give you the most refreshing view of your area, it is time to have a basic guideline of drone operation.
First up, you should know that a drone is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and due to its nature, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has required drone owners to register first before being allowed to fly one. The registration however is only for those who plan on using the drone for reasons other than it being a hobby or recreation.
Since you are a photographer by hobby, you are not required to register your drone and you can freely operate it without much hassle. However, you must abide by these rules in order to continue using your drone at peace:
- Your drone should fly below 400 feet and it should be operated on places with obstacles.
- You should keep your drone within your sight at all times.
- You should not interfere with other unmanned aircraft operations.
- You should not fly within five miles near an airport unless you get permission from the airport management and control tower.
- You should not operate your drone near people or inside stadiums.
- Your drone should weigh less than 55 pounds.
- You should be mindful of your operation and should do it with utmost care in order not to endanger other people or property.
Here is a helpful video that you can watch in order to know the safety guidelines set by the FAA and AMA before you start operating your drone. Keep these guidelines in mind in order for you to avoid unwanted accidents, and costly federal charges.
Another thing to note, is that you need a commercial permit from the FAA if you are planning on using your drone to make money. You as a photographer will surely take awesome pictures of people and places using your drone. If you are keeping these pictures to yourself, then you don’t need to register. However, if you are thinking of using these picture to earn some money, then you have to register your drone.
The requirements for registering a drone are simple:
- You should be 13 years or older;
- You should be a resident of the United States.
Other requirements include a working email address, a credit or debit card, and a physical and mailing address (if both are different). Registration is done online on the FAA site and it is really easy to do, with just a form to be filled up.
Once you’re done, you will obtain a registration number that you can use for your unmanned aircraft operation. Keep in mind that the registration is only valid for three years, and you have to renew it after it expires should you wish to still operate a drone by then.
Now that we’ve cleared that, it’s time to operate your drone!
Not sure what model to buy?
Buying a drone is really a hard choice since you will be using it for a long period of time. Your drone will be your companion in giving you breathtaking photos and videos of the surrounding areas, and thus it is important to pick the right candidate for this job.
After all, you are going to spend a lot in buying, operating, and maintaining this drone. We have listed some benefits and drawbacks in owning and operating a drone for aerial photography. With this, we hope you can see if owning such a device will add to your passion for photography and will help you develop it.
- Drones provide a wider view of the area.
- Drones can be used to take photos and videos using a different perspective.
- Drones have a lot of functions that you can use to your advantage.
- Drones are a more fun and exciting alternative than the traditional helicopter remote controlled vehicle for recreation.
- Once you get used to operating it, drones prove to be useful for a number of uses such as area surveillance, aerial photography and videography, and simply giving a taste of what it looks up in the sky.
- Operating a drone is somewhat synonymous to operating a real helicopter, without the need to ride one.
- You cannot be a proficient pilot in one night; it takes time to perfect the operations of the drone.
- Drones require a lot of money for its operation and maintenance.
- Your drones have a limited flight time, which can be offset by buying spare batteries.
- You need to fly within the bound set by the Federal Aviation Authority.
These are some of the benefits and drawbacks that a drone can give you. The list is not complete, and must only be used for reference. Still, we hope that you are able to gauge on what type of drone to buy, what product is the most suitable for your needs, and what needs to be done before choosing and operating one.
Having a drone will give you unlimited possibilities in taking your photography to the next level. Just imagine the number of landscapes you can see and take pictures of when you have a drone up in the air. Drones truly gave photography an expanded perspective that were once available to movie producers only. Through the use of drones, you capture the world at full view, and be mesmerized by its wonder.