Do you want a drone that can take incredible aerial photography? Here’s how to select the best drone for photography based on it’s included features. Drones aren’t just for film crews and kids. They can be an excellent weapon in the photographer’s arsenal, granting images you wouldn’t otherwise get.
Drones are growing in popularity; in 2016, people registered over 670,000 drones with the federal government. But how do you know what’s the best drone for aerial photography?
If you’ve never flown a drone before, consider the best drones for beginners first before you jump into drone photography. Specialized drones that excel at aerial or real estate photography are generally speaking, much more expensive that other kinds of drones.
Let’s take a look at the features you’ll need to consider when you’re looking at the best drones for aerial photography.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Photography Drone
Here’s a few specs to keep an eye on before dropping that dough.
Just like regular SLRs, the sensor in a drone affects the image quality. An iPhone 7 has a 1/3 inch sensor. By contrast, the Phantom 4 Pro (an amazing aerial photography drone reviewed below) has a 1-inch sensor. The larger sensor lets you shoot better quality footage even in low light.
Unless you’re willing to pay for an industry-level drone, don’t expect flight times above 20 minutes. A longer flight time gives you more time to take photos. But you’re better off learning to maximize your flight time. Plot your route before you take off. And remember to pack extra batteries. Or take a USB battery charger with you. Obviously this is less of an issue if you want an indoor drone for interior photography.
Support for RAW Format
Many photographers use Photoshop or Lightroom for their post-production work. So the best drone for photography needs support for RAW or DGN formats. The sensor stores more image data, giving you more editing options when you’re back at your computer. That’s really useful if you shoot at night.
Bear in mind RAW files are huge compared to compressed file formats like JPEG or PNG. So you’ll need a good storage capacity to hold all of those files.
If you want precise, crisp images, then you need a drone that can hover in a stable way. Drones that don’t hover give blurry pictures as they drift or rise. You’ll need a flight control system to achieve a stable hover. Choosing a drone with a controllable gimbal like a GoPro could be a good option. Investigate intelligent functions too. Look out for drones that can track you, respond to gestures, shoot vertically, or minimize distortion.
The Contenders for the Best Drone for Photography of 2018
Any of the above features are pretty much a ‘must’ when you’re considering drones. Now we’ve considered the features to look for, try out these drones for size.
We’ve tried to include a range of price points to reflect different budgets.
As we mentioned earlier, the Phantom 4 PRO comes with a 1-inch 20MP sensor. Enjoy better image quality with this professional level drone. It senses obstacles in five directions to help you avoid collisions. Enjoy 30 minutes of flight time, with a control range of 7 km.
Its titanium alloy and magnesium alloy frame is both lightweight and rugged. That helps to maximize flight time but it also makes it more portable. This is perhaps the best drone for aerial photography because it also shoots video. Capture 4K footage at either 60fps or 30fps.
If you were wondering what is the best drone for real estate photography then this might be it. Shoot promo footage and high-quality images for websites with the same drone.
This model boasts a 21-minute flight time. While it can be used by professionals, it’s also good for hobbyists who want to step up to the next level. Its tracking precision makes it great for following targets so it’s ideal for sports photographers. Keep up with runners and cyclists with ease.
You can use its SmartCapture function to control it using hand gestures. That’s handy if you want to take the perfect selfie. The Mavic Air is easy to fly but don’t worry you’ll be skimping on quality. It still captures high quality footage and images. With 8 GB of internal storage, you’ll also have space for your shooting needs.
The U45 Raven drone sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum. The camera offers 720p HD quality, and 2MP video. It’s not as high spec as the Phantom 4 PRO but it’s a good choice for beginners. It’s lightweight but its durable construction protects the drone in the event of a crash.
With one touch controls for take off and landing, you can enjoy using the Raven right out of the box. There’s no lengthy ‘set up’ process to sit through. It only has a flight time of 7-9 minutes. You’ll need to plan your shoots before you take off. But as compensation, its altitude hold function means you can enjoy stable aerial photography.
The UDI U818A is the best drone for photography if you’re looking to log training hours first. Consider this the ‘learning’ drone for photographers wanting to switch to aerial photography. That’s not to say you can’t take amazing aerial images with it. Like the Raven, it features altitude-hold to help stabilize the drone for clearer pictures. And it’s easy to fly, making it a good choice for novices.
Its first-person-view screen lets you see exactly what the 720p HD camera is about to capture. That helps you to hone your eye for aerial photography. Using the UDI U818A is a great way to experiment with different techniques. You can even set up a flight path on the companion app and the drone will follow it unassisted.
The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro uses intelligence obstacle avoidance to minimize collisions. With a retractable landing gear and a gimbal-mounted 4K camera, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a much higher spec drone than the previous two choices. If you’re a professional, this is a contender for the best drone for photography. It boasts a maximum of 25 minutes flight time.
Choose from eight flight modes to shoot high-resolution footage or capture stills with the 12MP camera. Its controller also includes a 7-inch screen so you can see footage in real-time. You can also program flights using coordinates that you choose, letting you control the camera while it flies.