Drones continue to capture the imagination and create discussion on topics from safety to privacy. But, used sensibly a drone with a camera can provide spectacular photos and footage that would otherwise be near impossible to achieve for the average person. From amazing aerial shots your local area to close ups of specific features, a drone offers the keen photographer new and unique opportunities. However, this is only if you choose the right type of drone, which has a high quality camera on board and has a high degree of stability in the air. If you are looking to buy a drone specifically for photograph, then follow this buyers guide and review of some of the best drones available.
Firstly, Define Your Budget?
Drones with cameras start at as little as around $35, however at the top end of the range you can pay in excess of $1000. Before you even start looking at drones you need to ask yourself how much you want to spend, both now and in the long run. You have the initial cost of the drone, the cost of the power needed to charge it or the batteries needed to keep it going, and of course spare parts and repairs. Cheaper options may sound best in terms of initial outlay, but will they give the quality you need? Similarly, do the more expensive models provide the quality you expect for the money, and the time in the air that you need?
Camera quality: What to Look For
If you are already a keen photographer, then you will know that the quality of the camera is important to the outcome of the photos. You will also know the importance of holding the camera still, and the very blurry consequences of not doing so. Well it is no different when considering the camera aspect of a drone
Stability is usually provided through the addition of a gimbal, otherwise known as a gyro-stabilized mount. The camera sits on the mount and it adjusts for the banking and tilting of the drone. The result is clearer photos, without compromising on flying angles and movability.
When it comes to the quality of your images, then it is no different to what you would look for in a more standard camera form. These include the optical quality of the lens, and the camera resolution. Elements such as color management also come into play with higher end cameras.
Thinking About Flight Time
To get the perfect picture while you are in the air you need time, and that can be tricky with drones. Flight time ranges from around 5 minutes onwards. Longer flight times tend to come with the higher end of the range drones. Charging time for drones is typically around an hour. Don’t forget that you will also need batteries for your control unit. If it has a live video screen, typically found in drones with longer ranges so they can be flown out of the line of sight, they will require more battery changes than those without such screen.
Consider Your Flying Range
How far you want to be able to fly is just as important as how long you want to be able to keep the drone in the air. Typical ranges are between 50m and 100m. However, wind and weather conditions as well as other obstacles will affect your range. It is worth remembering that the higher up you fly your drone the winder conditions will be, even if there is no wind at ground level.
Easy of Spares and Repairs
Drones and the cameras that they carry are notoriously fragile. The slightest wind can knock some models off course and straight into a tree. This means that you need access to spare parts, particularly propellers. Motors may also need maintenance and repair, however, those with brushless motors tend to last longer and are at less risk of burn-out.
The Best Drones for Spectacular Photographs
Bearing all of this in mind, here are two of the best drones you should consider for taking quality photographs.
UpAir One Long Range FPV Drone
This drone will give you long range, good flying time and a great camera. In addition, it also has an on-board GPS system. This means that it is able to return to within 10 feet of its original take off point. Combined with a dual compass system that doesn’t need to be calibrated prior to being flown and altitude hold it always seems to know where it is and be able to hoover still enough for perfect pictures.
In short you get:
- Achievable 1000-meter flying distances
- Video transmitted easily up to 500 meters
- Choice of either a 2K or 4K camera with gyro stabilization
- Wi-Fi Enabled camera
- Camera has varied fields of view to enhance picture effect and quality
- Flight time of up to 15 minutes with camera installed (25 minutes without the extra camera weight)
- Price ranging from $220 with the 4K camera costing an average of $40 more
This is a much cheaper drone that is ideal for beginners. While the camera is primarily for video, you could easily capture stills from the footage once it is downloaded. The reason for this is because it comes with a 6 Axis Gyro; this is rare in any drone, let alone one at this end of the market. Where you need to compromise is on distance and flying time. However, because of the size and stability of the drone you have the additional benefit of being able to fly in smaller spaces and much winder conditions than other drones can handle.
So you also get:
- FPV video camera
- 4 GHz frequency
- Modular design
- 500mAh battery
- 2-hour charge time
- All of this starting from around $70
If you are new to flying drones, don’t forget to check out rules and regulations regarding their use and privacy laws. Also, consider starting small, it is better to focus on improving your technique first and then work on getting the dramatic photographs. That way you are much less likely to crash and burn.