Best Drone Cameras 2018 – Complete Buyer’s Guide and Review

Drone tech keeps expanding, providing higher quality optics and even easy handling. As hundreds of civilians and military companies expand their product line we are slowly moving towards a modular system of drones where you can mix and match your parts. That isn’t happening yet so for now single system units are the best choice.

Why Listen to Me?

Contents

In May 2015 I started using my drone in the off season (main business involves outdoor movie systems) and started filming aerial photography for several real estate agents selling exclusive lakeside homes.  The videos helped potential buyers a feel for how the property was situated and also the actual size of the lot.

Fast forward 2 years later and we have a full-fledged business going now run by my eighteen year old son. Our business films promotional videos for a wide range of industries.We’ve gone through 16 drones at this point. Some just broke, others were to expensive to fix and one was even attacked by an Eagle (true story).

We always look for the highest quality optics systems to get the best footage for our clients. The range of cameras has really expanded and now for under $1000 you can get access to extremely high quality systems.

My goal is to explain to you the top drones out there and help you navigate the different options and get a badass camera that is both easy to use and won’t cost you a fortune. My suggest is to read our review and then click on the video to watch the drone’s camera ability.  ”

How to Use This Guide

At the top you’ll find my top two recommended options below that you’ll find 5-6 other choices that are all decent but aren’t the “best”. I’ll assign a score to each one and highlight what I like about them and what I don’t.

Let’s get into it. :):)

Install Your Own Camera or PreInstall? image of a drone camera that is attachable

I just want to give everyone a heads up if you’re looking for cameras to install into your drone this guide isn’t the one you want. Quadcopters or drones are either made with a camera built into the system or have a modular system where cameras can be installed onto the drone. Generally speaking the built in systems offer much higher quality video and are more stable. 

Systems that involve installed cameras are good but I’ve personally found that they don’t work as well as the complete systems. Also when you add the price together you will often find that they are the same.

1. DJI Mavic Pro – Best Portable Drone w/Camera (The Casey Neistat Special)

image of the front of the DJI Mavic

Recommended Use : Professional Level Photography

Easy of Use
95 %
Battery
95 %
Camera Quality
100 %

If you’re looking for military grade flying precision and an incredible camera made for high quality video photography you won’t beat the Mavic Pro.  While it’s a bit pricey compared to other drones its video quality can’t be compared to.

Originally a Chinese product developed by Da Jiang Innovations and Science Co the Mavic Pro become very popular after the Youtube Vlogger start Casey Neistat endorsed them in several of his Q/A Youtube videos for aspiring vloggers.

We have 2 Mavic Pros which we use for our higher end video photography. Casey Neistat is also a big fan of this drone and did a pretty awesome twelve minute review which shows you the unit in action. Take a look if you want a super detailed review. 

One of the things I love about this little guy is how compact it is. It’s extremely portable to pack and I’ll often put it right into my snowboarding backpack without any issues. It’s comes with a protective case and pouch. I’ve even dropped mine a few times without any issue.

Internal Specs

The MDJ Mavic has a great transmission system with a 24-set computing core and a 4.3 mile range. The camera is securely stabilized on a 3-axis mechanical gimbal which provides an ultra secure mount to avoid an excess movement.

Fly Further Than Any Other Drone

The Mavic is one of the only drones with highly advanced internal circuity that allows for more of a transmission range than other units. This allows for HD 1080 long range and Full HD 1080 short range.

Made to Last

As drone technology progresses so does their ability to withstand collisions or the accidental bump. After you get used to flying you’ll know that you’re not gonna get a soft landing every time. There are all sorts of factors that make it pretty hard to judge how fast your landing ; wind, velocity and the controller itself.  The Mavi utilizes a Flight Autonomy technology that allows the unit to automatically steer clear of obstacles and other potential dangers.

Objects will be sensed and the Mavic will either brake or hover above them avoiding any accidents.

Precision Hover

Some older drones have a really hard time hovering, they either drift off course or aren’t able to stabilize themselves. Mavic has powerful sensors that allow it to maintain its position with the use of multiple sensors that detect its location both vertically and in a forward position. The result is an extremely steady drone that can function regardless of GPS.

Great for Travel

The size of the Mavic Pro make it a great choice for travel photography or anyone looking to shoot a location out of town. It’s easy to pack into your luggage and carry around. Travel blogger wannabes this is the one for you. 😉

OcuSync Transmission System – Making Flying Easy image of the controls for the DJI Mavic

With a range of 4.3 km (7km) this system has a really simple operating system that you can master in a few days (picture below). With a speed of 40 mph (64km/hour) it’s pretty damn fast. 

The system also features the patented AtiveTrack and TapFly system which follows you along and films you using extremely high quality 4k video.

The drone’s internal navigating system make avoiding trees and other large objects easy. It will automatically avoid objects in its flight path and redirect itself back on course.

PROS:

  • Super Compact
  • 4k Video
  • Easy to Use/Learn
  • Professional Video Quality

CONS:

  • 4k Video File Sizes are Quite Large

2. GoPro Karma – Best 2nd Pick Overall

image of the goPro Karma

Recommended Use : Sports Recording/Nature Videos (Professional Quality)

Easy of Use
90 %
Battery
95 %
Camera Quality
95 %

The GoPro Karma is the drone camera responsible for the majority of high end nature photography as well as lots of extreme sports videos. The only reason it’s not my top pick is the lack of “follow mode” which is a feature I find a lot of people want. Other than that it’s a great choice.

GoPro has a long history of making exceptional cameras for outdoor use. The Karma is no exception to the rule. Badass 4k video and an easy to use system have made the Karma the top choice for people looking to film their own high quality drone videos.

GoPro made a badass promo video with the Karma. While some of these scenes might seem insanely hard to film you would be surprised what kind of footage you can get with a camera like this.  Add some music on the top and you have yourself a music video!

Going on a trip? No problem. Fits right inside your bag. image of the goPro Karma case

The Karma supports a lot of different cameras including the Hero 4, Hero 5 Black as well as any of the basic Hero Models. The attachment is pretty easy to use and has some great quality video.  There is a built in stabilizer to stop that bumpy recording that sometimes happens with other units. It keeps it stable and avoids a lot of extra editing work cutting out those unstable bits of recording.

Easy to Use Interface

It’s incredibly easy to use with very intuitive controls and a pretty simple UX. The app Passenger is acts as the main interface for the camera. Anyone who knows how to use a regular GoPro will find it’s a very similar system.

PROS:

  • Built in Display
  • Super Compact
  • Easy to Use Interface
  • Great Price

CONS:

  • No Follow Me Mode

3. DJI Inspire – Best Beginner Drone With Camera

flying the DJI Inspire flying

Recommended Use : Sports Recording/Nature Videos (Professional Quality)

Easy of Use
90 %
Battery
95 %
Camera Quality
90 %

Another DJI product that brings some serious camera firepower to the game. Not much to bad to say about the DJI. Great quality drone that comes 4k ready with a built-in stabilizer.  Not sure about what makes the DJI so good at recording colors but I find that anything I record with this just “pops” really well.

If you take some time to edit the colors on your recording you can create some seriously kickass effects. This is a music video remix we helped make all of the camera work was done with the DJI. We filmed this over a few and the video quality remained the same despite the alternating sun/wind/cloud conditions.

Yup, the DJI is pricey but check out our video we submitted to Epic Drone Videos . Boom!

I personally find this a bit better than the Phantom 4 which has stolen a huge market share of the drone market thanks to their aggressive sponsorship and advertising. The DJI also comes with two controllers which is helpful if you’re worried about the signal cutting out on longer range shots.

Navigation and Flying System image of the DJI Inspire

Below is a quick picture of the navigation system. I won’t lie it will take a little bit of time to get used to the DJI just like it would to get used to using high end DSLR. With more functionality comes more power. 🙂

That being said, it’s not overly complicated. Give yourself two weeks of test flying and you’ll be used to it pretty quickly.  The DJI hooks right up to your iPhone or Android device and you can get a live feed of whatever it is your filming. It streams pretty fast without any noticeable lag.

The the DJI is pretty light and its arms/wings (whatever you want to call them) are made of a lightweight alloy that is also extremely strong. Although some people occasionally worry that the arms will intrude in the video – they definitely won’t.

The only issue with the DJI is the battery. You’re looking at just under 20 minutes of constant flying around back and forth. That’s a little bit lower than some of the other models we covered. You might be thinking that 20 minutes isn’t much but when you’re practicing you’ll definitely be putting in a hell of a lot more time than that. I’m sure DJI is going to come up with an upgraded battery in the future but for now that’s how it is.

PROS:

  • Compact
  • Well Built
  • High Quality Video With Very Vibrant Colors
  • Can Take the Camera Out
  • Follow Me
  • Avoids Objects

CONS:

  • Pricey
  • Battery Life Is Short

The Other Guys – Additional Drone Camera Reviews


The below models are all products I’ve used before and while they are definitely pretty good they aren’t the best. If you’re reading this page it’s probably because you searched for the “best drone cameras” well… the below models definitely aren’t the best but they still work well.

4. Yuneec Q500 4K – Great Navigation But Way Too Big

image of the Yuneec flying around

Recommended Use : Good All Around Drone Camera/ Not Portable

Easy of Use
80 %
Battery
85 %
Camera Quality
95 %

This is a good mid range drone despite the fact that it’s often advertised as a high end drone. I would tend to somewhat disagree for a few reasons. Let me explain them below…

  1. Color Quality – I’ve filmed on the Yuneec in sun, cloudy conditions and regular daylight conditions and I find the color quality slightly lacking.
  2. Not Portable – The Yuneec isn’t portable and the case is just way too big. We’re talking about twice the size that it needs to be.

The Yuneec comes with a 12 megapixel camera that can record in 4k and produces some really sharp beautiful colors. The controller not the Yuneec has a pretty interesting design that utilizing a first person view when flying. You can control the entire unit right from the visual display when flying like a video game. Yuneec case and controller

The battery life is about average giving you roughly 19 mins of flying time however the basic package also comes with 2 extra batteries to ensure you have a few backups. Like I mentioned the case that comes with the unit is a little too big. This makes it less than idea for anyone that is looking for a high end drone for traveling.

One of the coolest things about the Yuneec is it’s nav system. It comes with a system called the “waypoint navigation” system that utilizes GPS and a built in tracker in the remote to know exactly where you are. Other units have this but the Yuneec is supposedly better than anything else on the market. I haven’t actually tested the ability of different navigation systems that rigorously so I’m not in a position to say which drone has the best system.

Here’s a video of the Yuneec is action. Pretty damn nice. 

PROS:

  • Good Quality 4k Video
  • Great Navigational System
  • First Person Nav View
  • Easy to Use UX and Flight Controls
  • Comes With Extra Batteries

CONS:

  • Video Colors Aren’t Super Sharp
  • Larger Than Other Units

4. 3D Robotics Solo – The Best Drone Camera for the Money

image of 3d Robotics

Recommended Use : Good All Around Drone Camera/ Not Portable

Easy of Use
80 %
Battery
80 %

The 3D Robotics is a newer brand that wants to fill the discount yet high quality drone category. There is nothing bad to say about the 3D Robotics Solo and also nothing exceptionally wonderful to say either. 🙂

It’s a great value drone that can definitely hold its own when compared to other units. Quick heads up forCamera attachment for the camerapeople looking to get a drone with an integrated camera system, the 3D Robotics Solo requires a camera to be installed. You’ll need to buy the camera separate for this one, any Hero version of the goPro will work well.

I just wanted to list this one as the drone itself is actually a great choice and works very well. It’s easy to use, flies well and has a great navigation system. Getting the 3D Robotics Solo and attaching a goPro onto it will save you considerable money.

So if you want to save money get this unit and just add a camera on it.  You can upgrade and get the “Gimbal Bundle”, it comes with all the tools you’ll need need and also a case as well.

3D Robotics Navigation System

The navigation system is really easy to use and has a great follow me function which will allow you film yourself while walking around. The UX is really easy to use comes a mobile app and a host of other cool features to get you going. 

Bottom line, if you’re looking to save money and have a good camera drone this is your best bet.

PROS:

  • Gimbal Support
  • Top Drone Recommendation for the Money
  • Easy to Learn on

CONS:

  • Doesn’t Have a Camera

5.  Parrot AR Drone 2.0 – Best Middle of the Line Drone with Camera

image of the Parrot AR

I wanted to add one last model in here that is both economical and also not so insanely expensive. The clear winner in that category is the Parrot AR Drone. This unit offers a good starting point for any beginner who wants start filming with a drone but doesn’t want to go out and spend $1500 doing so.

First off the Parrot is a pretty popular item and I believe is one of the more commonly bought drones. It’s a tiny little guy being one of the smallest drones out on the market. Despite it’s relatively small size it’s actually pretty powerful.

Wi-Fi Powered Quadricopter  

The Parrot is easy to control using either your tablet or smartphone. The UX is pretty learn and I’m confident that anyone new to drones will be able to fly it within a few days.

The unit can function in a few different modes including Freeflight and also Director Mode. With Freelight your using the primary android app to fly the drone, just like a video game.

Director’s Mode allows you to program some automatic movements into your flight path. This one is a big difficult to explain, it’s best to see it in action.

Surprisingly High End Camera for the Price

The Parrot 2.0 has a high def camera mounted on the front that will allow you to see exactly what the drone is viewing. This of it like a first person shooter game but with a drone. The Parrot has its down wifi network that allows you to stream any video feeds seamlessly.  There is also a built in automatic stabilization system that allows avoids having the video become choppy or otherwise unusable. This same system also auto adjusts any video making sure that regardless of whether you filmed it inside or outside the video image is clear and sharp.

Couple Things I Like About This System:

  1. You can record right to your device
  2. Much easier to share
  3. Flip option – press a button and the drone flips!

The only major drawback to this unit is battery is weak. We’re talking max 12-13 minutes of flying time before it’s totally drained. So if battery is something that you look for I might avoid this unit altogether. Other than that it’s a super cheap option that would work for a lot of people.


Know Your Drones – Laws and Operating Tips

diagram of the types of drone available to buy

First of, not all drones are designed to hold camera modules. Just because a drone can fly it does not mean that it is automatically powerful enough to carry additional weight. Do not be surprised if your new drone will fail to take flight because you have not followed the aforementioned rule.

Even then, drones that are designed to carry cameras must still be analyzed. In some countries, drone requirements are imposed in order to operate said devices. In the United Kingdom, drones that weigh 20 kilograms and up (payload included) must have special license. If you do not have said license, you must choose a drone that weighs less than 20 kilograms with the camera module onboard.

Of course, the drone and the camera are not your only problems when choosing. You must also take into account of the additional instruments that could be essential depending on your situation. Gimbals, GPS, live feeds and the smart flight controls are additional modules or features that you may or may not need. The auto return home is also one of the best add-ons that you may need especially when the drones are far away.

Legalities

As mentioned in the prior subheading, laws pertaining to the usage of drones (with cameras or none) have been passed by a number of countries. It is imperative that you must know the laws, rules and regulations about drones that are imposed in your area. Countries may have different ways on how to regulate drone usage. Even the local government in your area might have a different rule in place (or modifications). You do not want your drone to be embargoed just because you were not attentive to the rules.

Although laws may vary from place to place, there will always be some common ground in the implementation of said rules. For example, most countries would prohibit the flying of drones within the vicinity of airports. This was done in order to avoid aircraft accidents. Also refrain from using drones in crowded areas. Accidents will likely occur if there are too many variables in the element and having too many moving objects (i.e. humans)  will raise the possibility of accidents.  

The most important rule that you must follow is to register your drone with the proper authorities. Most countries with drone laws will ask the owners of said devices to register. Do not fail to heed this rule as failure to do so may lead to the forfeiture of your drone.

Batteries Included drone weight vs battery size

Drones just do not fly on their own. You should have a power source in order to keep your drones afloat. The only power source for most commercial drones in the market is the battery. As such, your drone must have capable batteries on board in order to use said device in the first place.

The drone must have a relatively powerful battery on board in order to power the device and the other modules in said drones. The camera module, GPS and other devices on board will also demand power.

A faulty or poor battery might bring untoward consequences like the drone falling out of the sky because the batteries inside were not powerful enough to run the whole thing.

Seeing from a Distance

Operating a drone entails that you will control the drone at a distance. As such, it is imperative to know the limits of the area that can be covered by your drone. You do not want to operate a drone without reading the manual and be subsequently surprised that you have lost contact with said device.

Take note of the signal capability of your drone. Know the limits of said signal viability. Also, invest in a good GPS module so that you will always know where your drone is. You will also need a live feed from the drone so that you will know what your drone is seeing.

It would be better to upgrade the infrastructure for the signal if the strength of the signal between the drone and you is suspect to breakage. 2.4/4.8 GHZ connections are strong enough in most accounts.

Other Essentials

As stated, drone photography is not about drones and cameras only. There are lots of stuffs that one can add on the mix in order to garner the best experience and results in drone photography. This is even made more evident because of the technology that is available today. The drones used in the prior years might be considered as obsolete, or at least barebones in its design, when compared to the drones of today.

Add-ons that can be availed by drone users are the following:

  • Auto-take off (landing and braking)
  • Autonomous Flight Modes
  • Selfie Modes
  • 360 View
  • A-to-B Point Setting
  • Home Mode

Making the Most of it

Getting the drone in place is just one step in the arduous process of developing a picture. You must also consider the camera and the software that fits your needs. Most cameras available for rone placement follow the mold of the GoPro line. As such, expect the camera that you will be choosing to look like a GoPro.

You must also choose the correct software of which to process your images. Taking the picture is one thing, but enhancing it to get the desired effect is another. Take note of the image formats so that your images will not be incompatible with image processing software.


Understanding Your Legal Boundaries

understanding the laws of flying a drone

As aforementioned above, the countries of the world has created laws in order to regulate the usage of drones. If you are in the United States, it would be prudent to read the rules promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration pertaining to the usage of drones. The Federal Aviation Administration ,or FAA for short, has announced in 2015 that all Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones must be registered if it weighs between 0.55 to 55 pounds.

Registration has become the common rule in almost all countries. The common rules regarding the regulation of drones have already been mentioned above (i.e steer clear of airports).

Legal Rules and Laws for Flying Drones- Federal Aviation Administration Rules on Drone Usage

image showing California drone laws

As stated above, Americans who would want to own and operate drones must comply with the rules that have been laid down by the FAA. Said rules may be considered as one of the biggest restrictions and hurdles in drone usage all over the country. The following are the biggest restrictions that were laid out by the FAA:

  1. Line of Sight Rule
  2. Drone Pilot License
  3. Drone Registration

Line of Sight Rule– One of the largest restrictions that have been caused by the FAA is the line of sight rule. This rule stipulates that owners must always see their drones via eyesight during the usage of said device.

This effectively curtails the distance of which any drone can take. That the owner must always see his or her drone means that the device cannot go far.

Although this may not be a problem for drone photography, this rule may curtail other budding usage. For example, drones can be used for delivering stuff around, The drones of today are more than capable of handling small parcels of stuff. With the onset of the FAA rules, this possibility is heavily curtailed and may not even be lucrative.

Drone Pilot License– FAA has mandated the necessity of licenses for drone pilots a.k.a you. However, this requirement is not imposed on all drone operators. Only operators who use their drone for commercial purposes needs the Remote Pilot Airmen License. Photographers who utilize drones are part of this category although the FAA has stated that Commercial Drone Photographers are exempt from this rule. Recreational users will not need any license but will need to pass a test. There are many testing sites along the country and it will only cost 150 dollars for the aforementioned test.

Drone Registration – as mentioned, registration is one of the most common laws that are being enacted by countries all over the world.  The United States of America is among these countries. The registration process is divided into the following categories:

Hobbyist (Recreational) Non-Hobbyist (Commercial)

The regulation process is more lenient for drone user that are classified as hobbyist than those classified as non-hobbyist. For example, hobbyists are not required to have a license in order to operate drones. In the opposite, non-hobbyists are required to have a license in order to use drones.

Here are the list of requirements and rules to follow that Recreational and Commercial Users must undertake in order to operate drones.

  • Recreational Usage
  • No pilot requirements needed

The Special Model Rule of Aircraft mandates that drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds must be registered

No drones will be operated five miles from the airports and air traffic control towers Drones must always yield the right of way to aircraft (manned) Drones must not leave the line of sight of the owners while in use Drones  must be under 55 pounds in order to be allowed

If in case a drone must fly inside the 5 mile limit within airports and air traffic control towers, the owner must notify said airports and control towers.

Here are some of the guidelines for recreational drone users. Check it out:

image showing recreational drone laws in the US

Commercial Usage

Here are a couple of the considerations you need to keep in mind for commercial use.

  • The owner of the drone must have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate
  • The drone operator must be at least 16 years old
  • The drone operator must pass the TSA vetting process
  • The drone in question must weigh less than 55 pounds
  • Said drone must be registered if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds
  • Operators must operate in Class G Airspace. The drones must operate near the ground relative to other aircrafts.
  • Operators must see their drones at anytime of the operation
  • The drones must operate below 400 feet and must not breach the 1000 kilometers per hour barrier
  • Drones must always yield the right of way to other manned aircraft
  • Drones must never fly above humans
  • Drones must never fly from a moving vehicle

In addition to the rules promulgated by the FAA, local states in the United States has also created laws pertaining to the operation of drones. It would be prudent that drone operators should also take note of said rules because some states have placed additional requirements, on top of the added rules, that may be unique in said states.For example, Oregon forbids the usage of drones to hunt fish and other animals. Although the aforementioned rule would not be a concern for photographers, said rule exhibits the variance of laws pertaining to drones that may be enforced in any given area.


Drone/Aerial Photography Laws Explained

As stated above, the new rules and regulations pertaining to the usage of drones have restricted and may even dampen the sales and usage of said devices. It has also affected the field of aerial photography. Listed below are just few of the effects that the new laws have on Drone Photography.

Drones that are used commercially are no longer allowed to fly over persons

  • You heard that right photographers. Drones are no longer allowed to fly over persons. This means that selfies or wedding pictures whilst using drones are no longer permissible under the new law. Event photos while using drones are no longer allowed if said drone is above the crowd. This new law should adversely curtail the usage of drones in photography.
  • This restriction might have the biggest impact on the photographers.
  • There is one loophole to this rule. Drones are allowed to fly over its operating crew.

Night time flights are not allowed

  • Photographer who might be hoping to take a picture using drones during the night are out of luck. The FAA has just banned night time flights of the drones in question. Although this affects a relatively small percentage of the drone photographers, this measure will altogether stop new ideas in implementing drone usage while at night.

Commercial Drones must never leave the eyesight of the operator

  • The heading speaks for itself. The drone must be seen by the operator at all times during the flight of the former. This means that the operating distance of the drone is heavily curtailed by this law. Drones cannot take in a large amount of the landscape because it cannot go far.
  • This rule might be related to the prohibition of night time flights. In most instances, operators will have close to zero visibility on their “birds” while night ensues.

Where You Can’t Fly

Drones cannot fly everywhere.

The structure of the drones does not allow for a limitless scope. Drones are too small to pack enough battery or fuel to fly faraway from the pilot. There must be delicate balance that must be struck between ideal range and the weight of the drone.  

A heavy drone may not be able to fly at all making its fuel tanks or batteries useless even if the said tanks and batteries are designed to last for a sufficient time.

Likewise, an ultralight drone may easily take flight but an inadequate battery or fuel tank will ensure that said drone will return to the Earth.

Another reason that will restrict the range of drone operations are the legal regulations that has been imposed by the different countries. Lawmakers saw fit to restrict the usage of drones to certain parameters so that the drones will not disrupt everyday life.

Lack of regulation may cause accidents. Imagine if your way to your work everyday consist of avoiding a number of drones that are flying haphazardly across the street. Lawmakers want to avoid the aforementioned scenario, hence the regulations in place.

The imposition of rules pertaining to the usage of drones is due to good intentions. However, this does not mean that the result of said rules are all of positive quality. The restrictions caused by said rules have adversely affected the freedom of drone users. Anyone who is interested in playing with drones will have to ensure that their operation of such devices will not contravene the rules laid out by the authorities. This will undoubtedly cause the majority of drone users to second guess their actions in every step of the way.

As stated above, drone photographers are sufficiently affected by the laws that have been imposed on drone usage. One of the main restrictions imposed are the rules pertaining to the places that are designated as no-fly zones. The following are the no-fly zones that no drone user must forget.

1. Airports

The rule barring the flight of drones near or above airports have been discussed in a great length in this article. The reason is very simple for this aforestated rule, drones may interfere with manned-aircraft operations. You do not want to cause an accident involving airplanes as fatalities may ensue. 

The FAA of U.S. prohibits the flight of drones within 5 miles of an airport.

The rules may be different in your area but some kind of restriction pertaining to the barring of drone usage near airports will most probably be imposed in your area too. Besides, the absence of such rule in your area is of no moment if you do not want to cause accidents in the first place.

2. Flight Above 400 feet

The rules may not be the same in your area but the FAA has mandated that no drone must breach above 400 feet. This is due to the Class G designation of the device in question. This rule effectively curtails the operating space of the drones although most users would not breach the prescribed ceiling anyway.

3. Eyesight Rule

As aforementioned, drones cannot fly beyond the eyesight of their owners. This is one of the most restricting rules imposed by FAA. This rule effectively curtails the range of your drone. This also means that your drone can only operate in your effective vicinity and not more than that.

4. Avoid People?

Arguably one of the most debilitating rules that FAA has promulgated is the restriction against flying over persons. As stated above, this rule will mostly affect the aerial photographers. Taking pictures is mostly done with persons as the subject of the frame. This restriction would bar photographers from taking pictures of person/s using their drones.

Protip: Never fly your drone during adverse conditions. Adverse conditions consists of poor weather or windy days, whichever is applicable. The urge to fly a new drone might be strong but you should never fly your drone in adverse weather conditions. You might break your drone through crashing and you may even hit properties or persons if it does.


Basic Guide to Drone Camera Setting – 10 Tips

drone settings explained

As stated above, taking the picture is just one step in the whole process. Non-photographers may think that taking the picture is almost the totality of photography. Veteran photographers would tell you that that is not the case at all.

Post-production is as important as the shooting itself. Nevertheless, each step of the way is full of devices and options that can help you take the best aerial photoshoot. This is where settings come into play. Settings can be found in pre shoots, the actual shooting and in post-production stages of photography.

Importance of Post-production

Post-production is arguably the most overused portion of photography nowadays. Novice photographers tend to compensate their poor photography skills by editing so much. Their final product will tend to appear unrealistic. Most veteran photographers scoff at the overusage of post-production.

However, post-production is a very important part of the photography process. Post-production allows the photographers to mitigate the mistakes or undesirable parts of their photos. Note the word mitigate, as over usage of post-production wizardry will have negative results. The ever-useful adage of less is more is applicable in this juncture.

Editing pictures and videos is not easy. There are too many settings that are available for one to peruse and apply to their photos. Of course, the programs used by photographers in post-production is highly demanded by the market. Some programs cater to novices with easy to identify and use settings. Even more programs cater to heavy users. These programs are full of settings that may confuse novices.

Drone Selection

The term “settings” in the world of photography largely connotes to camera settings. However, drone photography adds another layer of “settings” because of the added complexities that it brings. The steps to be taken in choosing your drone have already been taken up at the start of this article. However, reiteration of said steps is important as your drone will affect the performance of your aerial photoshoots.

Of particular note is the proliferation of “Smart” drones. Much like the explosion of ‘smartphones”, drones with smart modes are also changing the market of drones. Drones of this category have features that were previously absent on drones. For example, some drones are fully autonomous. You can just leave them in the air and they will do just fine. Some drones can autonomously bring themselves back to you by just toggling their homing mode.

Whatever drone you choose, it pays to know its qualities, strengths and weaknesses. Remember, shooting cameras with drones will entail multitasking. Choosing drones with “smart features” will lessen your load.

Camera Settings

As stated in the preceding section, settings in the realm of photo is usually understood as camera settings. The fact the photography is mostly associated with camera cements the often used assumption. Camera is the most important device that a photographer must have. It is the device that is used to capture the pictures that we have admired since the inception of cameras.

With that out of the way, cameras come in all sizes. The cameras themselves are full of settings that one may tinker in order to get the best results. Mastering the settings is as difficult as mastering photography itself. You will spend days on an end to know and understand the multitude of settings that are layered one on top of the other. Mastering the camera settings will guarantee good results.


Best Setting for Drone Cameras – DON’T SKIP THIS!

image of a drone flying over an area

The following are tips to ensure that your settings are on the right track.

1. Picture Profile

Picture Profileis definitely one of the most important settings that you will encounter in your camera. Preferably, a flat picture profile will give you good results. A flat picture profile will allow you camera to get the darkest, as well as the brightest part of the image.This means that your image will be dynamic as far as colors are concerned. A log picture profile will also result in the same result.

2.  White Balance

adjusting white balance on camera

White Balance is the process of removing unrealistic color cast in the pictures. The best WB setting are the Sunny or Cloudy settings. Choosing either of the aforementioned settings will ensure that the image in question will have the right implementation of White Balance. Avoid using the Auto White Balance setting as this could cause problems during post-production.

3. ISO

adjusting ICO filters on camera

ISO is often used when taking pictures in dimly lit settings because ISO will “lighten” up the image. However, the usage of ISO will cause noise in the picture. The best setting for ISO is using it to a bre minimum.

4. Shutter Speed

The term is used to denote the speed of which an image is taken. While a faster shutter speed means better sharpness with regards to images, too much may cause strobing. Drone cameras will benefit if the shutter speed setting is between 500th to 1000th of a second.

5. Video Resolution

Pictures come in all resolutions. The best advice pertaining to resolutions is, get the highest possible resolution that you can available in your device. If you can get to 4k resolution then the better.

6. Save your Pictures in RAW format

raw vs JPG

Drone pictures are usually limited down to 12 mb. That’s quite small in file sizes. That means that the contents inside might not be that detailed. Using the RAW format will enable you to make the best out of the measly 12 mb. The RAW format allows you to edit much of the photo in post-production.

7. Bracketing is KEY

Bracketing is defined as taking 2 or more pictures of the same subject but each take has a different camera setting. This enables the photographer to select the best photo with the best settings and results.

8. Choose Manual Mode

As stated above, ISO and Shutter Speed must be set in the lowest possible way to get the best results. Choosing the manual mode allows you to set the aforementioned settings at your own leisure.

9. Shooting at Night

image of a drone filming at night

Again, shutter speed is best when it is at the lowest possible amount. This is more true during nighttime where you’re accuracy to gauge the wind conditions may be hampered because of the lack of visual cues. A windy night might affect the shot. Therefore a quick shutter speed, say, less than 3 seconds is imperative.

10. Usage of Neutral Density and Polarizing Filters

Too much light entering the camera raises the shutter speed of the same. Neutral Density and Polarizing Filters are extremely useful at this juncture as they lessen the light. It goes without saying that these filters must not be used in low-light settings.

11. Post Processing

As mentioned above, post-processing is one of the most important parts of photography. Arguably, the best post-processing programs that you can use are the Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.

12. Calibrate your Compass

Drone operation entails that you should know where your drone is every time. This means that one must use the services of GPS at this juncture. In this regard, you must never forget to calibrate your compass to avoid GPS confusion.

13. Hover First

how to maintain your drone hover

The urge to fly your drones to your heart’s content is a powerful urge that you must quash down if you want your drone to survive the rigors of flight. It would be better to hover your drone for 15 seconds after flight. This would enable you to quickly land said drone if you observe any malfunctions.

14. Watch the Skies

In most instances, your drone would not be the only flying thing in the vicinity. Look out for birds or other drones that are flying nearby. You do not want your drone to collide with said objects.

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