Photography drones

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Best Photography Drone

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A lot of people want to buy a drone because of the creative freedom of areal photography. Whether you are a vlogger, a hobby photographer, or someone who wants to capture the world like never before  – drone photography is an awesome addition to your gear.

Here are a few things that I think you should consider when choosing the best drone for photography purposes.

 

The top three photography drones

  • The newestDJI Mavic 2 Pro (click to check the current price on Amazon) – this is the best camera drone if your budget knows no limits and you want the best drone currently available. This probably isn’t the best if you are starting out – go with an older model or something like the Mavic Air.
  • The old model – DJI Mavic Pro (Click to check the current price on Amazon) – this is about half the price of the newest model but can still do nearly everything you’d want from a drone and camera. This is best for people looking to get a longer flight time and a better camera without breaking the bank!
  • The economic optionDJI Mavic Air (Click to check the current price on Amazon) – this was my first ever drone! It was the first level up from the “toy” drones but powerful enough to take with me on some serious photography missions. This is perfect for people who want more than a toy and are first dipping a toe into drone photography. I didn’t regret my first drone purchase at all!

 

DJI drones – the leader in drone photography

There’s very little doubt in my mind that DJI is the leader of the pack when it comes to drones fitted with cameras. They continue to beat the competition when it comes to:

  • Flight time
  • Camera quality
  • Features
  • Portability
  • Ease of flying (GPS, collision sensors)

They have come a very long way in the past three years and continue to impress the drone community. They seem to be listening to their users and giving them exactly what they want!

At the moment you can spend A LOT of money on the top of the range drones – but to be honest they don’t always deliver a step-change in performance or features.

If you are starting out in the drone world – you almost certainly do not need the latest model – unless there’s some very specific reasons for your purchase.

My recommendations are to start with the first “serious drone” in the DJI series. By that, I mean not a toy drone for selfies or flying indoors. The DJI Mavic Air is still one of the best places to start!

Why I started with the DJI Mavic Air

Mavic Air

When I first started to look for a drone – I was really tempted to get the Mavic Pro. But I’m pleased I did not! I was using my drone to capture B-roll footage for my daily LinkedIn vlog. So It needed to fit in my bag and not be too heavy. That’s exactly what I got and MORE!

The person I bought it off said I may not need another drone – and he is absolutely right…here’s why:

  • It is small enough to carry EVERYWHERE with me – capturing b-roll footage is the best addition to a blog. This drone folded down to a tiny and lightweight package. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any more space on my bag for its function.
  • It is inexpensive – I just couldn’t justify spending a heap of money on the best drone. This was the least expensive non-toy drone around!
  • Batteries are easy to come by – extra flight time was important to me. I was tempted to get the “fly more” package but on reflection, I only wanted the extra battery for extra flight time – so I just bought that.
  • Good flight time – This drone has a good but not great flight time. At first, I was always a little annoyed that I had to return to home after about 16 minutes. However, after the excitement wore off I found I was always landing with plenty of battery to spare!
  • NOT a toy product – the mini or spark were toys that DJI has produced for fun and easy photography. Tha Air is the first with the advanced features like those seen in the higher end drones like the Pro and Zoom.

I really haven’t regretted my decision in the slightest. But like most things, there’s a time and place to upgrade and this is why I would…

Why I would upgrade to the DJI Mavic Pro

I’ve considered upgrading my DJI Mavic Air drone a couple of times – mainly for reasons that didn’t even matter:

  • Extra flight time – Sometimes I would like a little more flight time. But I rarely use the two batteries I got for the Mavic Air.
  • Stability in strong winds – the Mavic Air has some very very slight issues in stronger winds. But the portability factors make this pay off fine.
  • To get (slightly) better photos – the camera on the higher-end drones is better but for my purposes, I’ve never had a problem with the quality that my Mavic Air gives me!
  • Noise of blades – the Mavic Air makes a very high pitch when compared to the Pro. It can be a little annoying and attract Bees more often. It’s a little annoying but all drones make noise!

But most of the time these issues re not a problem and not a deal-breaker for most uses of a camera drone.

Features to look for in a drone for photography

If you are first getting into drone photography here are the features you should pay close attention to. Trust me when I say expensive isn’t always better…

Price

Photography is an expensive habit – and drone work can blow out that cost. Your drone choice must be the right balance between what you’d be willing to spend on your hobby and the number of times that you will use your drone.

Drone photography is only worth as much as you are willing to get out and fly it! Otherwise, you could have a very expensive camera sitting in a drawer!

Portability

I love the fact that I can take my drone anywhere and not notice it in my backpack…really!

With more flight time and features comes a bigger and heavier drone. I know that I need very little excuse to not do something – and I’d hate “it being heavy” to stop me from taking a drone on walks in my backpack.

Make sure that the drone you buy matches HOW you want to use it and make sure you can get it to the take off spot!

Camera features

Camera drones are becoming more and more complex with added features.

Do you want to zoom, 4K built-in autofocus and exposure? All of these answers will ultimately determine what drone you will buy.

The propellers and rotors take the camera up in the air but it is the camera that will be the most valuable part of the drone.

Take the time to pick a CAMERA that has the right balance of features for the photos and videos your want to capture!

 

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The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!