Just a few years ago, we were writing about how drones were becoming the next big thing in photography.
Well, as 2020 approaches, I think we can all agree that drones are here - and here to stay.
As more and more photographers (and everyone else, for that matter...) take to the skies with a drone, safety becomes a bigger and bigger issue.
Not only do you have to fly your drone safely to avoid crashes, but you also have to be mindful of other people flying drones nearby who may or may not be as careful or as good a pilot as you are.
With this in mind, let's explore eight things you can do to avoid crashing your drone.
Editor's Note: Check out the first two articles in our drone series - Getting Started in Drone Photography and Selecting the Right Drone for Your Photo and Video Needs - to get even more insights about drones and drone photography.
DO Fly in Open Areas
A nice, open area to fly your drone is ideal.
Not only do you avoid obstacles, but you can also maintain line of sight with your drone as you fly.
Be sure that the open area you choose isn't restricted airspace, like near an airport, a military base or in a national park.
Needless to say, those areas are off-limits for a reason, and breaking the no-fly rule in those areas can have serious consequence.
DON'T Fly Over People or Homes
Avoid flying over people and buildings at all costs.
A drone falling from the sky, can cause serious injury and even death, whether it be from mechanical malfunction, weather-related issues or even sabotage (you've seen videos of people shooting down drones, right?). Drones can also cause major damage to buildings and vehicles; an experience that even seasoned pilots encounter.
Some drones, like the DJI Mavic 2 pro shown above, come with an obstacle-avoidance system that detects obstacles. You can fly forward and backward with less worry of crashing because the Mavic 2 Pro's APAS system will plan an appropriate flight to avoid any obstacles automatically. Though that's excellent peace of mind, it's still prudent to stay away from other people and their homes.
Unless you have express permission to fly over private property, avoid it altogether. If something goes wrong, it can go wrong quickly, and you could be responsible for damages. Ultimately it is best to be respectful of people's privacy - not everyone wants a drone flying over their home!
DO Defer to Other Aircraft
FAA regulations require that you keep your drone at an altitude of 400 feet or less when in uncontrolled Class G airspace.
If you go above that, you run the risk of encountering other air traffic.
When flying, maintain awareness of the airspace in your vicinity. If you see or hear other aircraft, defer to them and allow them to continue on their flight path. Unless you have permission to fly in controlled airspace (like near airports), don't even think about flying your drone!
Remember - you can much more easily see an airplane than the pilot of that aircraft can see your drone. It's your responsibility to make sure the airspace around you is safe.
DON'T Fly When the Battery is Low
Flying your drone when the battery is low is just asking for trouble.
Your drone needs battery power to stay aloft, and if you run out of juice, it could fall out of the sky, injure someone or cause property damage.
Fortunately, many drones - like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro - have intelligent batteries that trigger a "return to home" function.
This means that when the battery is at a point at which it might not have enough power to keep the drone flying much longer, it will automatically ascend to its return to home height and return if no action is taken.
If the battery is critically low, the drone will simply land itself - an action that cannot be canceled by the pilot.
Nevertheless, keep an eye out for your drone's low battery warning so you know when it's time to bring it home or to land immediately.
DO Avoid Poor Weather Conditions
Though some drones come with a self-heating system for flying in the cold, avoiding adverse weather conditions is a good rule of thumb. Inclement weather to avoid includes rain, snow, sleet, hail, lightning, and certainly strong winds.
Each of these weather events makes flying much more difficult, and negatively impacts the performance of the drone too.
Just like you have to take extra caution when driving your car in bad weather, the same caution should be exercised when deciding if it's okay to fly your drone.
DON'T Fly Under the Influence
Flying a drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a recipe for disaster. Under no circumstances should you attempt to fly when in an altered mental state.
Your ability to maintain line of sight with your drone - let alone pilot effectively - will be significantly reduced if you fly while impaired.
Be smart: only fly when you are physically and mentally capable of doing so in a safe manner.
DO Ensure the Compass is Calibrated and the GPS Signal is Strong
Before you take flight, make sure its compass is properly calibrated.
While in flight, avoid strong magnetic fields that emanate from certain structures, like steel-reinforced buildings.
Likewise, if you aren't picking up a strong GPS signal, don't take flight.
DJI recommends flying with a signal from at least 10 GPS satellites and at least four bars of GPS signal for optimum safety.
DON'T Answer Your Phone While Flying
Talking or texting on the phone are illegal driving a car, and for good reason.
These activities distract you from the task at hand and increase the likelihood of an accident.
For the same reasons, you should never answer your phone while flying a drone.
Remember, flying a drone isn't just a fun activity - it's a huge responsibility that requires you to be alert, attentive, and respectful of others around you.
Photo by Roman Koval from Pexels
I love digital photography and videography with a drone. Although I was already an advanced and experienced filmmaker and photographer, I had to go to my own personal drone flying school before I felt expert enough as a drone operator and pilot.
Thankfully, the learning curve is not steep, and anyone who is already used to learning new technology for digital photography can step up from beginner level with just a little instruction and practice.
So, if you upgraded from posting JPEGs to using Lightroom plugins, or upgraded from the built-in flash to an advanced speedlight, you can do this. Here are some useful drone flying tips to help you get past the beginner stages.
Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) learned how to fly accidentally. We, however, will need to make a conscious effort to become a good drone pilot. The newest drones, such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, make this step easier than earlier generations of drones.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro has an amazingly high quality Hasselblad camera and advanced flying controls. To get the most benefit from those features and high quality, taking some time to practice is as important as becoming familiar with your other high quality photographic gear.
Many drone makers have helpful drone flying tips on their own websites. I still haven’t finished all that DJI has on theirs.
Recommended Drone Photography Reading:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Storyboard Your Drone Videos
Storyboard template by Happy_vector
An essential advanced video tip doubles as one of our advanced drone tips. Storyboards are used by videographers to plan out shots for an efficient workflow and to tell a good story.
Here’s how it works. You come up with an outline of the video footage you want. It could be all drone footage or you could be using your drone to add B-Roll to another video. Using that outline, I like to actually draw out a series of shots.
This helps get your ideas from your mind to the screen. You can simply fly and film by the seat of your pants, but planning will result in less wasted footage during editing.
Take It Slow
By taking it slow, I’m not simply speaking metaphorically. I mean this literally. Though advanced drones such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro can fly at speeds approaching 50 MPH, there are very few times during filming that we will need to use that capability.
An advanced drone tip I learned is to quickly fly to where you will begin shooting, but then slow down for the taping itself. While the motion effect filming can be used judiciously, indiscriminate motion shots can detract from the video.
Unless you’re aiming for a specific, that is. It’s just like videography with your mirrorless or DSLR. If you zoom in and out quickly, or pan rapidly across the field of view, that looks jarring and is often uncomfortable to view.
Use Flight Modes
photo by urbazon via iStock
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and other DJI drones have a set of features labeled Intelligent Flight Modes. Similar functions are also found in the various drone brands in the field. Learning these flight modes will allow you to concentrate on the camera work, while letting the drone fly itself.
Once I figured out this advanced drone flying tip, it helped smooth my filming a great deal. Picture it as having an assistant as a dolly mover or a focus puller on a ground based cinemagraphic set.
Some of the flight modes will automatically do for you what you already put on your storyboard. DJI Mavic 2 Pro has some great modes that will enhance your videos.
photo by SimonSkafar via iStock
Dronie mode is a basic mode that slowly flies the drone upward and backing away from the subject. You can reverse it in flight or editing to also be an approach shot.
Circle and Helix modes circle or spiral around your subject, keeping the subject centered in the field of view. By the way, one of my own advanced drone tips is that you can be relatively close to ground level for these drone flying tips, it doesn't always have to be an obviously overhead view.
Boomerang mode is super useful. In this mode, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro flies around your subject in an oval pattern, slowly rising and backing away, then it smoothly reverses to descend and approach the subject. See Boomerang mode and other intelligent flight modes in action in the video below by Drone Supremacy:
Perhaps the Intelligent Mode I appreciate the most is the Dolly Zoom mode. In videography and cinematography, dolly zoom is used to change the apparent perspective while keeping the subject the same size in the field of view.
The dolly zoom effect changes the background appearance significantly, though the subject remains the same. You zoom in or out while changing camera position from closer to further away or vice versa.
A difficult trick when filming on the ground, I’m extremely grateful for having this intelligent mode available to me in the air. Again, don’t get stuck in the thought that all drone shots need to be from way overhead. Set this up near ground level for amazing footage to add to your video project.
Use That Gimbal
The 3-Axis gimbal is another extremely useful tool for drone videography. Practice ahead of time to move beyond the intelligent modes. Adjusting the camera position while flying adds interest to your shots while allowing you to increase your average shot time and scene time.
Using your storyboard as a guide, you will decide that some shots are going to look great from directly overhead. It’s a drone, it flies, might as well use that feature to good affect when it fits your creative vision.
Use Photographic and Cinematographic Techniques
photo by kurmyshov via iStock
In the beginning stages, we were thrilled to have our drone because it let us fly. That thrill never really goes away, but we do learn to view our drones as a real camera after a while. Drones are one of the most useful cameras for videography yet invented.
All of the advanced techniques and methods you learned for creating outstanding still images and video footage also apply to your drone use. Use your drone as a real camera, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish.
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels
The best results often come about due to good planning. Same is true in photography, videography, and drone photography. Strategy and planning are essential steps for how to plan a drone photo shoot.
For our examination of landscape photography with a drone, we’ll consider overall strategy and how to plan to reach the goal of your strategy.
Table of Contents
- Choose a Strategy First
- Planning Details - The Beginning Stage
- Plan Your Flight Around the Shots
- Storyboard Your Shots
- Check and Monitor Conditions
- Pre-Flight Check
- Fly Through / Shoot Though
- Shoot Extra and Edit
- Make It Fun
Choose Strategy First
Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels
Every stage of planning will depend on deciding on a basic strategy. Early on in our planning stage, we will choose if we are shooting video, still images, or a combination of both. If we are shooting video only, that will cause us to choose smoother flight modes. If we are shooting still images, we can fly quickly to get into position then stabilize for the shots.
We can also decide ahead of time if we are shooting A-Roll or B-Roll for video, or what type of landscape still image we are wishing to capture. Do we want a high level scenic view? A point of view closer to ground level and the subject? Or something in between?
Once the basic overall strategy is determined, then we can start working on how to plan a drone photo shoot. The planning is where the details are.
Planning Details - The Beginning Stage
A good place to start with drone photography planning tips is to remind yourself of the capabilities and limitations of your drone photography gear. Thankfully, the newest drones have a lot of capabilities that we can incorporate into our overall strategy.
As a good example of this, if we look at the DJI Mavic line of drones, it’s more a matter of certain models adding extra features and capabilities than anything else.
The DJI Mavic Miniis a modest budget option drone that is also below the weight limit for certain restrictions and regulations concerning drone photography and flying. Yet, within its extremely light weight, it boasts features and capabilities that can capture high resolution still images and high quality video.
It also has advanced flight modes for specialty images and video, plus a 30 minute battery range. Controlled from your own iPhone, this is a powerful choice either as your first drone or as a nice lower cost upgrade from an earlier generation drone.
Their mid-range option, the DJI Mavic Air 2, upgrades your capabilities with a larger sensor camera for even more resolution and higher quality video recording. It adds a faster top flight speed and slightly longer battery life, as well as even more sophisticated flight modes to give you more shooting or filming options.
For professionals or anyone else requiring the highest quality imaging and video, it’s hard to beat the DJI Mavic 2 Prowith the best in class 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera, improved flight performance, and live video remote feed from over 5 miles away. Just think of all you could do with that.
Plan Your Flight Around the Shots
Photo by Max Ravier from Pexels
When shooting landscape photography with a drone, the primary goal is to come back with great images or video footage.
Some variables will need to be factored in. You can take these advanced drone photography tips in any order you desire, find a method or routine that works for you.
Storyboard Your Shots
photo by Erdark via iStock
Whether still imaging or shooting video, an important step is the storyboard. You could label it as a flight plan or a mapping out of your drone photography trek. It’s very close to our standard photo and video methodology of visualizing the results ahead of time and then finding a way to get to that desired end.
In landscape photography with a drone, sometimes the mapping out is quite literal. You need to know where you’re going, what flight issues change and where that might happen, and what will show from your position at certain times of the day.
Check and Monitor Weather Conditions
photo by Ralph W. lambrecht via Pexels
Weather forecasts are a good resource. Another option is to monitor in real time with a smartphone app. If you’re going to rely on a phone app, you should check coverage in the shooting area.
Some beautiful areas for drone photography are out of range of some networks. Besides the drone flight conditions, this is also a safety tip, especially if inclement weather may be a possibility.
Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels
You should have all of your gear clean, charged up, with imaging cards ready before you get to the location for your landscape drone photography. Before powering up to start flying and shooting, check it all again.
Few things are more disappointing than coming back with bad images or nothing at all. A pre-flight check as part of your regular routine will help minimise the danger of that happening.
A pre-flight checklist is also part of the regulations for certain categories of drones, which you already know because of passing the certification for those drones.
Fly Through / Shoot Through
Photo by Nick Kwan from Pexels
Especially if your landscape drone photography includes video footage, you will benefit from this tip. Begin filming before your storyboard start point and keep filming after your scene. This gives you some extra video to work with in editing.
It can make the transitions go smoothly and you don’t accidentally miss anything you planned on capturing. “Lights, Camera, Action” is in that order for good reason. Set exposure and flight mode, start recording, and then fly your drone through the shoot.
Shoot Extra and Edit
photo byHuseyin Bostanci via iStock
Another of the advanced drone photography tips that doubles as a drone video tip is to shoot more and edit it down. This is not a Spray and Pray style of shooting, where you just keep filming and hope you get to capture something good.
Each of your drone photography shots or video scenes can have the potential of being the game winner. Giving ourselves more to work with allows for a possibly more discerning editing session.
Having good editing habits will increase our capabilities and consistency a lot more than most equipment upgrades will give us. We have a lot of options for tutorials and training, plus experience will teach us as well.
Make It Fun
photo by DisobeyArt via iStock
Even pro baseball players tell me they have fun doing their job. Drone photography is very enjoyable. Just look at all the articles we write about it.
Learn what you need, then get out and shoot. Develop a strategy, plan it out, and enjoy the ride.
- Advanced Drone Flying School
- Drone Safety - What You Need to Know
- Having the Right Filters for Drone Photography
Photo by Dose Media on Unsplash
You’ve unpacked your new drone and now you’re chomping at the bit to get it up in the air, to get your drone flying. Assemble the blades, charge the battery, install the app, you’re ready to go… But wait! There’s more!
For first-time users to learn how to fly a drone, attending a drone flying school may be a good idea. You can get the education you need either by video courses or by taking in as many drone photography tips from experienced users as you can find that are relevant to you and your drone.
First Step - RTM!
photo by knape via iStock
Things are different than when many of us first started in photography or videography. One of the biggest advances I’ve seen in recent times is the advent of flying drones used by everyday people for photography and videography.
If you want to use basic cameras in automatic modes, you may be able to simply turn it on and start taking pics. With a more complicated tool, or one with advanced features, it isn’t necessarily that simple.
RTM is a term used online to give a very good piece of advice to new drone users before you try to get that drone flying. It means Read The Manual. Even though we could simply turn it on and learn by trial and error, gathering basic knowledge ahead of your first use will result in immediate benefits.
Recommended Drone Photography Books:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Satisfy the Legal Requirements
photo by sefa ozel via iStock
It doesn’t matter if you are just practicing, there are laws and regulations controlling drone flying in the United States and in many countries worldwide. It’s easy to find the requirements and satisfy them, many things can be done online.
Do not neglect this step, it is for your protection as well as others. Drone flying is regulated differently depending on the drone’s weight and also according to their intended usage.
Check the learn more links below for more details about the legalities of flying a drone in the U.S.
Do a Dry Run
You may not even need to turn on the drone in order to get some practice flying and using your drone. Many drone manufacturers have smartphone and tablet apps that work like a flight simulator.
For instance, DJI drone operation can be learned by using their DJI GO app in flight simulator mode. This lets you get very familiar with the features and operations of your new drone.
Why is this an important step? It’s important because you really need to practice with the capabilities and features of your particular drone. This is true for your drone regardless of whether you’ve used another drone before because of the differences among drones and the drone flying characteristics.
As an example, if you were used to flying a small, relatively simple drone such as the DJI Mavic Mini (shown above), and have upgraded to a more capable imaging machine like the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (shown below), you have more features and different capabilities to learn.
For instance, the DJI Mavic Mini is an ultra light drone, under the 250 gram threshold. It has a top speed of about 30 mph and a very capable camera with a 12MP still camera and 2.7K video recording. So, it’s very full featured and capable of capturing fantastic stills and video.
If you are now stepping up to the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, you now have a larger format camera with a zoom lens, which is another control to take care of, by the way. The Mavic 2 Zoom is over 250 grams which requires different registration than the Mini for non-commercial use. It also has a top speed of 45 mph, quite a bit faster than the Mini’s 30 mph.
So, familiarity with the camera and flying controls is a vital early step in getting your new drone into the air.
Follow a Pre-Flight Drone Checklist
photo by golubovy via iStock
Okay, you’ve finished all your registration and you are familiar with the features and capabilities of your new drone, now let’s go outside and fly!
As a drone operator, you are more than merely a photographer, you are also a pilot. All pilots do a pre-flight check, and so should you. What is included in a drone flying pre-flight checklist?
Charge up your batteries. Flight times are advertised as being long, and compared to early drones they are long. Still, 30 minutes will go by before you know it when having fun while drone flying.
photo by martin-dm via iStock
Check the weather. Every place in the entire USA that I’ve ever been has a quaint ‘local’ saying: “If you don’t like the weather, with 15 minutes!” In other words, weather changs, sometimes rather quickly. Just because it is sunny and calm now, that’s no guarantee it that wind may pick up and thunderstorms form. I use a weather alert app on my smartphone. Each locality has TV stations with free alerts, national services exist, too.
Set your altitude and range limits, as well as your return to home settings. We sure don’t want to lose our drone on our first day of drone flying school.
Double check your propellers are mounted properly and make sure you have a strong GPS signal.
First Flight Safe Practices
Photo by YURI MANEI from Pexels
Now that you are ready to fly, let’s get the drone flying. As you lift up the drone above you, pause for a little while and hover. This lets you check the drone’s stability.
As you’re hovering, go through some camera and lens functions.
Snap a couple of pictures and shoot a few seconds of video. Make some adjustments to the drone’s orientation. Fly around a bit right around your home base, get used to how quickly the drone reacts to your flight controller.
Get a few tips on flight modes for DJI drones in the video above by Adorama.
Now It’s Time To Fly
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels
“I believe it’s time for me to fly!” from REO Speedwagon is the theme song for drone flying. Well, actually it isn’t, but it should be.
Taking a little time to familiarize yourself with your drone by reading the manual, playing with flight simulator, doing a pre-flight check, and hovering when first taking off will pay off in a safe, productive, and fun drone flying session.
- Selecting the Right Drone for Your Photo and Video Needs
- 8 Do’s and Don’ts When Flying a Drone
- Adorama Review
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
If you’re under stay-at-home orders then it could be the perfect time for you to learn how to offer your clients new services, and one of the hottest photography services on the market right now is aerial photography.
Using drones for photography is a relatively new endeavour, and as such there’s still plenty of time for you to learn the craft. I strictly believe in buying used drones for photography because you can save so much money without sacrificing any quality.
So, here are my favorite used drones for photography for everyone from a beginner to an expert.
Best Beginner Drone for Photography: DJI Mavic Mini
The best used drone for beginners is the DJI Mavic Mini. There is literally no contest.
The DJI Mavic Mini is essentially a smaller version of the rest of the DJI drone line. While it doesn’t feature 4K video, it does feature incredible still photography with a 12MP camera resolution and a 30-minute flight time on one battery so you have a little bit of time for some mistakes.
You also don’t need to register the DJI Mavic Mini because it weighs 249 grams, which is just under the 250 gram mark (aka the requirements for registration in the United States, Canada and China).
Finally, you can use the DJI Mavic Mini to shoot up to 2.5 miles away.
Best Intermediate Drone for Photography: DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo
If you’re looking for a step up and are looking for intermediate drones for photography, then look no further. The DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo includes the drone, extra batteries, 6 pairs of propellers, extra remote controls, and a carrying case and travel bag.
This drone also features a 12MP camera resolution, and it can shoot 4K video at 100Mbps. It features a much longer range than the Mavic Mini at over 6 miles and can avoid objects like trees and power lines on its own.
However, because of the technical capabilities of this drone, it only features a flight time of 21 minutes so it really works best for photographers who are accustomed to aerial photography.
Editor’s Note: MPB is currently running an #AskMPBAnything campaign. If you’ve got questions about photo and video kits, technical questions, or pretty much anything else photography related, give them a shout on social media. Make sure you watch their first #AskMPBAnything video now.
Recommended Drone Photography Reading:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Best Professional Drone for Photography: DJI Inspire 2
There’s no way for us to discuss drones for photography and not mention this feat: the DJI Inspire 2.
The DJI Inspire 2 features a 20.8MP camera resolution, 5.2K video, and live 1080p video.
It operates at up to 4 miles away and can shoot for around 25 minutes.
As you’d expect, the Inspire 2 is chock full of intelligent flight modes. You get a high-end obstacle avoidance system, smart return to home, and has a maximum speed of 58 MPH.
The Inspire 2 has a dual battery system, which gives it a flight time of 27 minutes. It can operate in all kinds of weather conditions, from temperatures as low as -4 Fahrenheit to 104 Fahrenheit.
In other words, this is a go-anywhere, do-anything drone for professionals!
I don't know about you, but I'm incredibly excited about the direction that photography is headed.
We're seeing more innovation than ever in cameras, lenses, and other photography gear, which gives us more power to create epic photos.
Post-processing programs are evolving into highly powerful editing suites that allow us to take our photography to the next level more quickly and efficiently.
We're even seeing changes in how we buy and sell photography equipment, share our photos, and market our businesses.
It's exciting times, for sure!
Here's some of the top businesses in the photography industry that are leading the charge in innovating the artform we love so much.
Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories
Sew Trendy started humbly in a basement just a few years ago.
Today, it's one of the premier wardrobe manufacturers for maternity photography, girls' photography, and newborn photography.
Their success in growing their business is attributable to many different factors, not the least of which that they constantly develop new designs for their line of maternity gowns, girls dresses, and newborn clothing, so photographers have fresh looks to offer their clients.
And in an age in which customer service is often lacking, Sew Trendy certainly bucks the trend. They're with you every step of the way, ready, willing, and able to help you with any questions or concerns you might have.
Valerie Best, the company's Founder and CEO has a lot to do with the success of her company as well.
She's committed to quality, and that shows in every handmade garment that leaves her company's warehouse.
Over the years, Sirui has built a reputation for manufacturing some of the best photography tripods on the market.
I can attest to the quality of their tripods, as I own one!
But Sirui is much more than a tripod company...
They supply photographers the world over with high-quality gear that ranges from monopods to tripod heads, camera bags to lens filters, and even photography accessories for your mobile phone.
As if that's not enough, Sirui also offers a complete line of humidity cabinets, broadcast tripods, and various quick release plates, too.
In other words, Sirui is a one-stop shop for just about all your photography needs, and is definitely a company to keep your eye on in 2018.
When talking about innovative photography companies that are sure to turn the photography world on its head in 2018, CaptureLife should immediately come to mind.
If you're not familiar with CaptureLife, check this out...
This app allows you to share photos with your clients right on their smartphone.
That means you can streamline how you get photos to clients as well as make it a more personalized process - the images are delivered via a branded text message that's personalized to the client.
On top of that, CaptureLife is a sales platform that allows your clients to order prints right from their phone. They can also share their photos with friends and family, which increases your sales footprint.
Mobile is the future, and if you're in the photography business, you need to capitalize on that by teaming up with CaptureLife!
One of the challenges of staying relevant in the photography industry is keeping your ear to the pulse of what photographers need.
Click Props does just that.
With a huge collection of gorgeous portrait backgrounds, Click Props gives photographers the ability to create more impactful portraits no matter who the subject might be.
Aside from their commitment to crafting the best backgrounds in the business, Click Props understands the practical needs of photographers as well.
They offer backgrounds in various sizes, each of which is easy to setup and takedown. They're even easy to clean and easy to store, too.
That means you spend less time messing around getting things setup and stored away, and more time actually taking photos.
What's not to like about that?
Another company that's sure to make waves in 2018 is Vanguard.
I've been a fan of Vanguard for years now, and I can tell you firsthand that in the last couple of years, they've really stepped up their game with their product line.
In particular, their tripods and camera bags are among the best in the business, not just because they have innovative features that make photography easier and more efficient, but because their products are budget-friendly as well.
That means that Vanguard has figured out a way to offer photographers the best of both worlds - high-value, well-made products that won't break the bank.
Vanguard is at the tip of the spear of innovation in photography. If you aren't excited to see what they come up with in 2018, you should be!
Photography isn't just about the gear you use, nor is it just about your skills in composition, framing, post-processing and the like.
Instead, the process of creating an image isn't truly complete until you have a gorgeous print. That's where Artbeat Studios comes in.
I came across Artbeat Studios last year, and after touring their facility, I was blown away by their process and the products they make.
Among their best sellers are their acrylic and metal HD prints, the latter of which you can see in the photo above.
To say that Artbeat's prints are gorgeous is an understatement. What they produce is truly fine art.
That's because they're committed to using archival materials, paying close attention to color fidelity, and providing custom services so you get the exact print you want.
If you're looking to revolutionize the way your photos look, give Artbeat Studios a try!
One of the best things about the photography industry is that there are so many companies doing so many awesome things for photographers.
In 2018, I strongly suggest that you change the way you market your photography business by partnering with Uniregistry.
These guys have two domains - .pics and .photo - that will help you get more eyes on your photos and more clients knocking on your door.
It's simple - Uniregistry's domains are photography specific, so you can promote your work on your website with a professional and credible domain name.
Not only do .pics and .photo domains tell the world exactly what you do right there in the URL, but they're fresh and new, so the chances of you getting the exact name you want are much greater.
It's just a better way to market yourself on today's crowded internet!
Let's face it...
Photography gear can be expensive, and all that expense is cost-prohibitive if you're on a budget.
But MPB has changed the way that photographers buy gear because they've created an extensive marketplace where you can find high-quality pre-owned gear for excellent prices.
Not only that, you can sell your old gear to MPB and either pocket the money or get a credit toward the purchase of something on their site.
That means you can refresh your kit from time to time by getting rid of what you no longer want or need and replace it with well-priced, pre-owned gear for less.
Stretch your budget. Get more gear for less. Get better gear for less, too. Not bad, right?
Not that long ago, there was a lack of photography gear specially designed for female photographers.
But in 2010, that all changed when SHUTTERbag was founded.
SHUTTERbag specializes in crafting leather camera bags for women that are beautiful and functional, too.
This commitment to quality is evident in every SHUTTERbag model.
For mom photographers on the go, SHUTTERbag offers the Girls Day Out bag (shown top left, above).
This ingenious camera bag has three separate compartments - one for your camera gear and two zippered compartments for things like a tablet for business tasks and books, toys, diapers and other items for your kids.
Like all SHUTTERbag models, the Girls Day Out is the height of form and function.
It’s an ideal size for daily use, and with its built-in organizational aids, you can keep your photography stuff separate from your personal items with ease.
That means you can grab your camera, your phone or a diaper at a moment’s notice.
Now that’s how you get more production out of your day!
SHUTTERbag’s Trailblazer bag (shown top right, above) is another example of commitment to innovation.
This bag has a unique style and flair that make a strong fashion statement, but don’t think that this bag is just about looking good…
Inside, you’ll find room for a camera body and up to four lenses. Alternatively, you can carry two camera bodies and three lenses. There’s even a spot for your tablet or laptop!
With padded dividers that are removable and adjustable, you can truly customize this bag to suit your specific needs.
For mid-range carrying capacity, SHUTTERbag designed the Heirloom 5-in-1 bag (shown bottom left, above).
Not only can this bag accommodate a camera, three lenses, and up to a 15-inch laptop, but it can also be carried in a variety of ways - as a tote bag, a messenger bag, a shoulder bag or even as a backpack.
Talk about innovation!
Their Journey bag (shown bottom right, above) is a tote bag that’s made of genuine leather and features a breathable cotton lining that provides a soft surface for your gear inside the bag.
The Journey has a detachable strap that has a slip-resistant shoulder pad that gives you confidence when carrying your bag either over the shoulder or across your body.
The bag can easily accommodate a camera with a 70-200mm lens attached, as well as a laptop, a tablet, camera accessories, and personal items like your checkbook and smartphone as well.
And as if their bags aren’t enough to impress, consider this - SHUTTERbag is a small business, so they treat their customers like family.
That means that you not only get to choose from a wide array of incredible camera bags, but you know that you’ll get the service you deserve before, during, and after the sale, too.
When you think of photo albums, you might think that they're all the same or that there's not much room for improvement.
But you'd be wrong.
nPhoto has proven that by becoming one of the top producers of photo albums and other products in the world.
Their handcrafted albums, triplexes, photo boxes, and other products are second-to-none in the industry.
nPhoto uses the best materials to construct their products, from fine textiles and leatherettes for their album covers to silk and metallic papers that give each page of their albums a hefty, crisp, and expensive feel.
What's more, nPhoto gives you plentiful options for customizing their albums, so you can get something that's truly your own or tailored to your clients' specific tastes.
Taking great photos is only half the battle - how you present them matters, too. If you work with nPhoto, you'll certainly have the presentation aspect of it down pat.
The MS20PRO 20”x20”x12” tabletop photo studio by MyStudio is an ideal accessory to help you take your product photography to the next level.
Unlike many other tabletop studios, this one offers a seamless cyclorama infinity background with 90-degree corners that gives you many more shooting angles to highlight the products that you’re photographing.
The studio comes with dual 5000k color-corrected daylight fluorescent lamps, which offer tons of light for your images while providing excellent color as well.
MyStudio also includes 9”x12” white and black bounce/fill cards with easel stands to create nice, even lighting, and a pair of 9.5”x11.5” white and black reflective acrylic panels to create beautiful reflections beneath the products you photograph.
The folks at MyStudio have even produced a series of instructional videos that are available on their YouTube page to get you going with your new photo studio!
I only became familiar with MrStarGuy in the latter half of last year, but they quickly became one of my favorite photography companies.
For starters, MrStarGuy is an authority on astrophotography gear - no matter what you need, whether it's a scope, a mount, a tripod, or something in between, MrStarGuy has what you need.
Secondly, these guys offer their high-quality products for prices that you can actually afford. You get tons of bang for your buck, which isn't always the case in photography.
But maybe most importantly, this family-owned business is committed to service before, during, and after the sale.
They're genuine folks that want their customers to feel like old friends.
If you're excited to expand your photography horizons this year and tackle some night sky photography, be sure to visit MrStarGuy to get all the gear you need.
When I think about where photography is headed in the future, I can't help but think of drone photography.
And when I think of drones, DJI comes to mind.
DJI has some of the very best drones in the business. That's true whether you're a beginner drone photographer or an experienced veteran.
What makes DJI's drones so great is that they're packed with features - like collision avoidance systems and gesture-based flight controls.
Additionally, there are a plethora of options, upgrades, and add-ons that you can use to customize your drone to get the ideal flying and photographic experience.
As drones become more and more popular for photography, you can bet that DJI will be leading the charge in innovating how drones are built and how they perform.
Macphun has been around awhile, and they've developed a reputation as one of the best in the software business.
As they rebrand and become Skylum, it's important to note that this small team of software experts continues to make waves in the photography industry.
In fact, they've won tons of awards over the years for their products, most recently for their impeccable Aurora HDR 2018, which was named by Apple as the app of the year for 2017.
Considering how many apps there are these days, that's quite the achievement!
Speaking of achievements, with Macphun's software, like the aforementioned Aurora HDR, as well as their Luminar 2018, you can achieve great things with your images.
Not only that, but you can create better-looking photos in less time and with less effort, all within platforms that are smartly designed and give you an effortless workflow.
My goal this year is to do a better job of processing my images, and with Macphun by my side, I have no doubt that I will achieve that goal.
Have you ever wanted a new lens but just couldn't bring yourself to shell out the kind of money needed to get truly high-quality glass?
Well, that worry is over now that Lensfinder is on the scene.
Lensfinder is a marketplace where - you guessed it - you can find lenses for great prices.
If you're looking for a rare or high-end lens (or everyday lenses, for that matter), you can use Lensfinder's easy search tools to locate what you need.
Then, you can communicate with the seller, ask questions, and even pay for your new-to-you lens via PayPal, right there within Lensfinder.
You can also sell the lenses you no longer want, too, so it's the best of both worlds.
Lensfinder has built-in fraud protections, seller feedback ratings, and other smart tools that help make your transaction as smooth as possible.
If you want to upgrade your kit this year, check out Lensfinder!
My biggest complaint about cameras is the terrible strap that comes with them at purchase.
The OEM straps are thin, uncomfortable, and just plain get in the way when you're trying to take photos.
That's why Spider Holster is such a game-changer, because they're responsible for getting your camera off your shoulders and onto your hips where you can carry your cameras with greater ease and security.
Just looking at the photo above, you can imagine how much more streamlined your workflow would be if you're using a Spider Holster.
You can carry one camera or two using the Spider Pro (for big DSLRs) or the SpiderLight (for compact, mirrorless, or small DSLR cameras).
They even make hand straps that put your camera right in your hand in the ideal shooting position, all without a long strap always getting in your way.
Spider Holster has revolutionized how to carry cameras. In 2018, I strongly recommend that you let Spider Holster revolutionize the way you work.
When many people hear the word "insurance," they cringe.
But who can blame them? Buying insurance has historically been a process that's time-consuming and frustrating.
Next Insurance has changed how photographers purchase insurance because they've cut out the middleman.
Instead of dealing with a broker, you can visit Next Insurance's website, get a free quote, and get the coverage you need faster and for less money.
By cutting costs, Next Insurance is able to pass those savings on to their customers, so you can get the best coverage without breaking the bank.
From equipment protection to liability for damages to advertising claims, Next Insurance has policies and coverages that will ensure your business will prosper for years to come.
Canvas is one of the oldest mediums that artists use for their work.
But, boy, is it still a gorgeous way to print your photos!
That's especially true if you order canvas prints from CanvasHQ.
Like many of the companies on this list, CanvasHQ demonstrates a commitment to crafting the highest-quality products using the finest materials.
And because of that, their canvases look like a million bucks. I should know - I have several in my house!
CanvasHQ gives you a mountain of options to customize your prints, and each print comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
These guys are a small family business, so when you order your canvas, you'll feel like a member of the family, not just another customer.
If that's not enough to convince you to buy from CanvasHQ, I don't know what will!
If filmmaking is your passion, then you need to see what Syrp has to offer in 2018.
As one of the most innovative companies in the photography industry, Syrp is always at the leading edge of what's new for filmmakers.
Their line of products helps videographers of all skill levels and experience to create breathtaking films.
Their Genie Mini motion control device (shown above) - which gives you control over your camera to create time-lapse videos using your cell phone - is just one of their incredible products.
They also have sliders, filters, ball heads, motion control bundles, and much more, so you can get outfitted for filmmaking quickly and without spending a ton of money, either.
Never before has making time-lapses and real-time videos been so easy!
I fully admit that I've been an Apple enthusiast for quite some time.
However, my love affair with Apple has waned in the last few years, and that's thanks to Microsoft.
Even though it's a household name and one of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft still approaches the process of creating products the same way - with the end-user in mind.
In particular, their Surface line of products is especially impressive for photographers because they have technologies that make the daily grind of business easier and make things like post-processing a more efficient process as well.
With touch-enabled screens, innovative tools like the Surface Pen and Surface Dial, and machines that are stocked with technology that makes them faster, more efficient, and with more battery life, there's a lot to love about what Microsoft is doing with the Surface product line.
If you want to maximize your workflow, consider seeing what Microsoft can do for you.
Sometimes, being innovative means helping bring the past into the present.
That’s precisely what Wolverine Data does.
Their new Wolverine 8mm & Super8 Reels to Digital MovieMaker is a fully automated gadget that digitizes all those old 3, 5, 7 and 9-inch film reels into high-quality movies at 1080p.
It’s a standalone machine that handles the frame-by-frame conversion without the need for software or drivers, or even a computer. The film scans directly to the machine where it’s saved to a SD/SDHC card (not included). The entire process requires just a few steps to complete.
The resulting movies are compatible with all Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, and you can playback the digitized movies directly to a TV with the included TV cable.
If you don’t have tons of old film reels collecting dust on a shelf in your house, I’m willing to bet you know someone that does...
Instead of letting those films degrade and take family memories along with them, this year, use Wolverine Data’s innovative new movie maker to convert your films to digital before those memories are lost forever!
This company is so impressive, I decided to put them on this list twice!
If you photograph products that are bigger than what the MyStudio MS20PRO can accommodate, the MyStudio US31 tabletop photo studio is the perfect choice.
Measuring 31”x19”x16”, it gives you plenty of room to maneuver your products, and true to form, MyStudio has ensured that from every angle, your images benefit from a gorgeous infinity background.
This tabletop studio features two color corrected, 5000K ultra bright LED lights that bathe the studio (and your products) in bright, clean, even light. These lamps are so bright, in fact, that you don’t need any additional lighting whatsoever. Just set up the studio, place your products inside, and you’re ready to go!
You can see just how clean and even the lighting is in the sample photo I took of my camera gear and bag.
I took that image when I was at Photo Plus 2017. I had the pleasure of seeing the folks from MyStudio while I was there, and managed to closely inspect the craftsmanship and materials used in their US31 studio.
They clearly took no shortcuts in the quality of materials used or in the build quality. The design allows for even distribution of light, and quick set up. In short, I was more than impressed with the US31 Studio!
One of the downers about taking photos is that eventually you run out of room to display them.
But the Joy Smart Photo Album takes care of that issue...
It's not your everyday digital photo album, either. Instead, Joy is a storytelling device that allows you to connect with your friends, family, and loved ones because it has voice notes that allow you to narrate each photo memory. You can even conduct voice calls between two Joy devices and share a screen so you can share memories together with loved ones that are far away.
The great thing about Joy is that it doesn't have to remain on the shelf or table - you can take it with you to the couch to enjoy up-close.
And when you aren't enjoying the photo album in your lap, it has a wireless charging stand that charges its batteries and displays your photos in slideshow mode.
Joy has a companion mobile and web app that allows you to load new albums and even invite friends and family to add their photos for display. You can easily pull photos from social media as well.
And with a 13.3-inch full HD display, your photos will look beautiful, too!
One of the hallmarks of a great photo is attention to detail - ensuring that each aspect of the image is perfect.
Well, that sentiment holds true for photography gear, and there's no one better at the details than Holdfast.
These guys make some of the most incredible camera bags I've ever seen. And that's saying a lot because I've owned plenty of great bags over the years.
But what sets Holdfast apart is that attention to detail I mentioned, as well as the amazing materials they use to craft their bags and other products.
We're talking about bridle leather, water buffalo leather, American bison leather, and even python skin.
On top of that, Holdfast's products are smartly designed so you can carry more gear, more efficiently, all while keeping each piece of kit safe and secure.
If you're looking to upgrade your camera bag in 2018, look no further than Holdfast.
When you talk about companies that have revolutionized how you take photos, Alpine Labs has to be in the conversation...
Their Pulse camera remote - and now their new Spark camera remote - have made taking great still photos, time lapse videos, long exposures, and real-time videos much easier and more accessible to even novice photographers.
These gadgets are packed full of powerful software and hardware that literally make it possible for you to create a time lapse video with just a few presses and swipes on your mobile phone.
Creating long exposures is equally as easy.
But don't think that because Alpine Labs has made things easy that their products are somehow cut-rate.
These are the best camera remotes on the market, and Alpine Labs is constantly making them better. That just makes me wonder what they have in store for us in 2018!
Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash
I worked in the real estate photography space for years before I got my first commercial real estate photography gig, and I was nervous.
I wrongly imagined that commercial real estate photography would be similar to other real estate photography, just with a bigger paycheck.
Unfortunately, I had to create a new contract, buy a new lens, and finally contact a lawyer friend to make sure I hadn’t messed anything up along the way.
Here’s everything I wish I knew when I started my commercial real estate photography career.
Table of Contents
- Types of Commercial Properties
- Commercial Real Estate Photography Paperwork
- How to Market a Commercial Real Estate Photography Business
- Commercial Real Estate Photography With a Drone
- Processing Real Estate Images
Types of Commercial Properties
Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash
First things first. You need to understand the different types of commercial real estate photography properties, like:
- Spas or salons
- Office spaces
- Shops or malls
- Public spaces
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash
While there are a lot of physical differences between these types of properties, there isn’t very much you need to change in your routine to shoot them, so long as you keep these two things in mind: showcase the amenities and the entrance.
Potential buyers want to know what this space offers them, and their clients, that other spaces don’t, hence the amenities. They also want to get a feel for the space as quickly as possible, which is where the entrance shot comes in.
Recommended Real Estate Photography Books:
- The Business of Real Estate Photography: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting your own Real Estate Photography Business
- Photographing Real Estate Interiors and Architecture: A Comprehensive Guide to Equipment, Technique and Workflow for Real Estate Photography
Commercial Real Estate Photography Paperwork
photo by Cytonn Photography via Pexels
This is the part of the process that nobody wants to talk about but is most important.
You are going to need a new contract, a commercial model release, a license for use, and a formal quote.
Let’s start with the formal quote, which will be the first document you use in the commercial real estate photography process.
You will have already negotiated your pricing before you get to the formal quote because the formal quote will be what your client will show to his or her boss when trying to decide if they want to go with your business. So, it needs to look professional and be worded professionally.
If you aren’t great with programs like Adobe InDesign, you may want to hire someone to create this contract template for you.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
You will also need a commercial model release form, which allows your client to share your images with different members of the press for public relations purposes and should be factored into your overall formal quote since your photos very well may end up being used in national publications.
Finally, you will need a license for use, which outlines the ways your client may use your photos, and a contract, which should include information about all of these documents combined in one easy to read document.
- What You Need to Do Before Taking a Single Real Estate Photo
- 3 Real Estate Photography Cameras to Consider for 2020
How to Market a Commercial Real Estate Photography Business
Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash
Just like with our real estate photography tips list we made, the number one best way to market yourself as a commercial real estate photographer is to make sure your portfolio is perfect.
However, creating the perfect portfolio should never be an endeavor you face alone because it’s important to get second and third opinions from friends and strangers alike.
Who is your target audience for your portfolio? Do you have enough photographs to break your portfolio down into a few separate portfolios, like a portfolio for hotels and a portfolio for office spaces?
Your portfolio should highlight the ways your photography is unique.
Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash
Additionally, if you’re serious about commercial real estate photography you will want to start investing your time online.
You will need a simple, intuitive website that showcases your portfolio and allows clients to contact you, hopefully from multiple pages on the website. You should also include a page where you explain your business and another page where you give some background about yourself.
Your blog should also be housed on your website so that you can draw more people to your website, but in order for this marketing tactic to work, you must be writing a new blog around three times every week to build a readership base.
Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash
Finally, you will want to start networking with professionals in your area, and if you don’t already happen to know anyone in the commercial real estate space then you can join one of the tens of thousands of real estate networking groups in the world.
Bonus tip: If you’re serious about learning how to market your commercial real estate photography business, you need to do more than read a few articles about it. Real Estate Photographer Pro is an online group of professional photographers who have already learned all of these tips before and can walk you through it.
There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and nobody understands that like Real Estate Photographer Pro. They have easy to understand videos on all types of marketing, videos on editing, and a Facebook group where you can ask any question you have!
You can also take part in weekly Q&A sessions and learn even more tips and tricks for honing your real estate photography skills. It’s simply a great way to connect, learn, and network !
Commercial Real Estate Photography With a Drone
Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash
If you’re just entering the commercial real estate photography industry, and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading a 100-level article about the industry, get yourself a drone and learn how to use it.
No other subsection of photography has embraced drone photography like commercial real estate photography has.
Let’s face it, most commercial buildings are just too small to capture from the ground.
Photo by Caleb Semeri on Unsplash
You’ll need to do a few things before you set out for your first drone shoot, though. First, you’ll need to ensure you can make it out to the property on a day and time where the weather will be clear because it would suck to get there and be unable to send up your drone.
You’ll also want to plan the exact shots you want, since camera drones have very limited flight times.
If you’re looking for a recommendation of a great drone that will last you the course of your career, DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro Drone is perfect for you.
This drone features a 20MP Hasselblad camera that shoots 4K video, can handle low light shooting, and can be up in the air for up to 31 minutes at a time, which will give you plenty of time to capture all the footage your clients need.
It’s an investment at $1,729, but what would you expect of a camera drone that can transmit full HD video at distances of up to 5 miles? It’s an impressive price for an impressive camera that is sure to impress your clients.
- Selecting the Right Drone for Your Photo and Video Needs
- Drone Photography Tip: Understanding FAA Rules and Regulations
Processing Real Estate Images
Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash
Whether you take photos of commercial properties from the ground or the air, you’ll need to process those images for maximum impact.
One of my favorite real estate-specific processing programs is Photomatix.
It works as a standalone program or as a plugin for Lightroom (or Capture One, if that’s your program of choice).
It comes with 6 HDR styles, over 70 HDR settings, and 40 HDR presets, all of which enable you to create beautifully exposed images of commercial properties inside and out.
There’s even a batch processing feature to speed up the process and a variety of tools - like advanced ghost removal - that help you clean up your images and put the best foot forward for each commercial property you photograph.
Processing your images is not an option here - it’s a must if you want to impress potential buyers!
Image Credit: Kanzhaji
Well, truth be told, you missed nothing with today's announcement from DJI regarding their rumored Mavic 2 drone.
That's because DJI postponed their big July 18, 2018 "Bigger Picture" event indefinitely, so there was no big announcement today.
We're getting tons of questions about what's going on, so here's the scoop thus far...
First of all, today's event was postponed back on July 5th when DJI made the following announcement to people that had RSVP'd to their event (via DroneDJ):
Thank you for RSVP’ing for the ‘See the Bigger Picture’ event on July 18th. Today we are making the difficult decision to push back the event. DJI is committed to introducing the most high-quality, cutting-edge technology in the market. We will postpone ‘See the Bigger Picture’ so we can deliver according to our standard of innovation. User experience is our top priority, and we wanted to ensure we can exceed our customers’ expectations for our technology by the time of the event. Please stay tuned for more information. Thank you for your continued interest and support.
So, according to DJI, the reason for the postponement was a desire to "deliver according to our standard of innovation."
But not everyone is buying it...
Over at WeTalkUAV, the theory is that DJI postponed the event on purpose in order to drum up tons of press coverage and increase anticipation. They discuss this angle in the video above.
While I'm no conspiracy theorist, the WeTalkUAV folks make a solid point - it's not like DJI waits until the final minute to test everything in their products:
"DJI has always tested their products months before officially making an announcement," Thomas Luna of WeTalkUAV notes. "The delayed event was done intentionally to generate more hype."
After floating the possibility on Twitter that DJI postponed the event due to a massive failure of the Mavic 2's gimbal, Twitter user OsitaLV posted this message, apparently straight from DJI HQ:
Sorry for the changing info, but I got a phone call from DJI HQ just now, they confirmed that the postponement was made on account of production capacity shortage, they don’t wanna see shipment issues on new product. (of course we know what product is) https://t.co/o2sRQ8HKSa— OsitaLV (@OsitaLV) July 18, 2018
It is definitely hard to believe that DJI discovered an issue in the waning weeks before their big announcement, but things do happen and the delay could be totally nefarious as DJI says.
Image Credit: Kanzhaji
Oddly, just one day after DJI delayed their presser, a photo of what many believed to be the subject of the event - the DJI Mavic 2 - was leaked online.
In the image above, you can see the familiar DJI-looking drone with "Mavic 2" emblazoned on the side.
This image, posted online by Kanzhaji.com, shows, among other things, a "dual-size sensor PTZ camera...larger wheelbase, four-way obstacle avoidance equipment," and more new goodies that DJI fans can't wait to see for themselves.
Unfortunately, we'll all have to wait an undetermined amount of time to see the Mavic 2 (assuming it is, in fact, what DJI's original announcement was supposed to be about). DJI has given no indication how long the delay will be.
Stay tuned for more details!
- These Drone Fails Teach Us All How NOT to Fly
- These Breathtaking Drone Photos Turn Landscapes Into Abstract Masterpieces
I've been a DJI enthusiast for years. There's a lot of reasons for that, but one of the biggest is because DJI is constantly working to improve their products - and I get to reap the benefits of that as an hobbyist drone pilot.
One of my complaints about the original DJI Mavic Air was its terrible battery life - about 20 minutes is all I could get out of it.
But with the DJI Mavic Air 2 - which is available for pre-order right now - the flight time has improved significantly to 34 minutes.
And that's just the start of the upgrades...
The newest member of the DJI family has a half-inch 48-megapixel Quad Bayer sensor that can take 12-megapixel images. You also have the option of taking photos using the sensor's full resolution.
The camera has an f/2.8 lens with an equivalent focal length of 28mm. On the video front, the Mavic Air 2 is capable of 4K video at up to 60fps. You also get the option of HDR video at up to 4K/30 (the HDR functionality is available for panoramic photos too) as well as exporting 8K time-lapse videos.
Though not all the video modes will support 8K when the Mavic Air 2 ships, that functionality will be added later this summer.
For still photos, you can take advantage of DJI's new scene detection modes that will read the landscape for features like grass and trees, sunrises and sunsets, blue sky, and snow. You can enjoy upgraded autonomous flight modes as well.
There are tons of safety features on this drone, too.
It's the first DJI drone to come with AirSense, a safety program that warns you when other aircraft are nearby. It also has obstacle sensors on the front and back to help prevent collisions and a sensor on the bottom to assist in landing.
Speaking of the bottom, there are auxiliary lights that aid with landing in low-light situations.
On the design front, the Mavic Air 2 is a little bigger and heavier than its predecessor, but it's still a small and lightweight rig, for sure.
The biggest redesign was with the controller - there are no visible antennas, and instead there are spring-loaded mounts for a phone.
An initial look at the specs of the DJI Mavic Air 2 shows a drone that appears to be well designed, chock full of new features and updates, and continues the tradition of DJI design excellence.
I'll have updates and a review of the Mavic Air 2 coming in the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled here and on our YouTube channel for more Mavic Air 2 content.
UPDATE: You Can Also Get Filters for the Mavic Air 2
The Mavic Air 2 is a fully-featured drone, but having accessories to extend its functionality certainly won't hurt.
I've got my hands on Haida's NanoPro ND-Polarizer Filter Kit for the Mavic Air 2, and I'm loving the results I get with these filters.
These ND-Polarizer hybrid filters make it easy to take advantage of the benefits of polarizers and ND filters. I can control glare, minimize haze, and extend the shutter speed to my heart's content, all with a single filter!
This particular kit comes with 3-stop, 4-stop, and 5-stop filters to give me the flexibility I need to get the photos and videos I want.
Perhaps the best part, though, is the price - at less than $50, this Haida filter kit is a steal!
Originally reported by The Verge
Image Credit: stevanovicigor via iStock
When I think of drone photography, my mind immediately gravitates to the beautiful aerial photos and videos of landscapes that I see all over the internet.
And while starting a drone-based landscape photography business would be my first choice, it certainly isn't the only thing you can do with a drone to make money as a photographer.
In fact, there is a surprising array of very different photographic pursuits that you can undertake with a drone.
In addition, there's also plenty of non-photography related drone photography business ideas out there as well.
If you're itching to start a new business with your drone, you might consider one of the following three ideas.
Drone Photography Business Ideas: Real Estate Photography
Image Credit: djedzura via iStock
The manner in which people look for homes has totally changed over the last couple of decades.
Where in the 1990s people were most likely to go into a realtor's office and make an appointment to see homes, today, people hop on their phones and look at online listings.
That being the case, realtors have put a lot of time and money into perfecting their photography and videography skills to put the best foot forward in online listings.
But realtors are as busy as they come, and with those hectic schedules, they often need to hire photographers to handle the photo-taking and videography aspect of listing a property for sale.
That's where you and your drone come in...
By contracting with realtors in your area, you can build a solid drone photography business by simply providing photography and videography services.
Image Credit: wsfurlan via iStock
A related real estate drone business to consider is offering home inspections.
The inspection process looks at every aspect of the home from the foundation up to the chimney.
Granted, some items that need to be inspected are easier to access than others, which is why having a drone can be so helpful.
Using a drone like the DJI Inspire 2 Eagle Edition, you can quickly, easily, and safely inspect the roof, windows, chimneys, and other features that are high off the ground.
Even better, with a drone you can offer inspection services for multi-story homes, apartment buildings, condos, and the like, too.
Commercial & Industrial Inspections
Image Credit: pixone via iStock
Single-family and multi-family homes aren't the only structures that need to be inspected.
There are plenty of opportunities in the commercial and industrial realms to start a successful drone photography business.
For example, you could offer inspection services for commercial properties like high-rise buildings or warehouses.
As another example, you could focus on providing inspection services for things like bridges, wind turbines, and mobile phone towers.
Each of these types of properties need to be inspected on a regular basis, but due to their height and size, it's difficult (and dangerous) for people to do so directly.
Again, armed with the right kind of drone, you can offer detailed inspection services at a price that will save your clients money and keep everyone out of harm's way at the same time.
Speaking of the right drone, if you ask me, the ideal rig for a commercial drone business is the DJI Inspire 2 Eagle Edition by Drone World.
This custom-designed kit has everything you need to start a drone photography business, from the Inspire 2 drone to an enhanced helical antenna with extended reception, a Zenmuse X4S 360-degree 4K gimbal camera, propellers, and camera filters.
What's more, this kit also includes four TB50 intelligent flight batteries, a four-battery charging hub, a 64GB memory card and reader, a 10,400mah portable battery bank, a controller sunshade for unobstructed views as you fly, and an awesome hard case to carry it all in.
If this all sounds impressive, it is...
The folks at Drone World spent months designing this kit for the ultimate in flight experiences.
This is no weekender drone to enjoy at the park once a month - instead, this is a professional drone that's specifically designed for pilots that need the ultimate in performance.
With multiple tracking modes that allow the drone to follow a particular subject, a tap-to-fly feature for quick liftoffs, a return-to-home feature that ensures the drone gets back to you safely, and other high-tech gadgetry, I can think of no better drone to rely on when starting a drone photography business!
See the Inspire 2 Eagle Edition in action in the video above, or visit Drone World to learn more.
How to Start a Drone Photography Business
Image Credit: agnormark via iStock
I recently wrote an article about how to start a drone photography business, and in it, I outlined some of the critical factors you need to consider when doing so. They include:
- Getting certified as a drone pilot
- Learning about regulations governing drone flights
- Determining the structure of your business
- Getting the proper gear
Checking off each item on that short list will help you get your business going in the right direction and help you flourish as a drone photographer.
But don't forget that there is increasing competition amongst drone photography businesses because drones are becoming more and more affordable.
That means that you are sure to face more and more competition as the years go by.
Image Credit: KSwinicki via iStock
To ensure you continue to get clients, you need to focus on your branding and marketing strategy such that your unique selling proposition is front and center with the buying public.
On the one hand, this means having a consistent message about who you are, what you do, and what your company is all about.
On the other hand, this also means setting yourself apart from the crowd in some way.
To do so, focus on your unique talents, skills, or training, explain to customers why the drones you use are better than all the rest, find a niche - like real estate photography or mapping and surveying - and become the top provider of that service in your area.
The point is that you can't expect clients to come flocking your way simply because you've started a business and have an awesome drone.
Instead, continually work to get better, fine-tune your marketing, and make a concerted effort to create a brand with which customers can identify and trust.
Drone photography is an absolutely exhilarating experience. Drones allow for truly stellar shots, providing you with the opportunity to shoot angles and perspectives previously only accomplished with helicopters.
From a composition standpoint, the process of capturing stunning visuals with a drone is more complex. Due to the nature of a drone, there are a multitude of ways to shoot a particular subject. Approaching from above, sweeping left to right, coming up from below -- all of these result in a different final image.
However, there are some basic composition tips that will help you create great drone photos.
Editor's Tip: Want to get equipped for drone photography? Our friends at Adorama have a complete line of drones to fit just about every budget. We highlight DJI drones in this article, but to explore other drones in more detail, visit Adorama. Also be sure to check the learn more links in this article for more details on improving your drone photography.
Add People to the Shot
Our eyes are trained to see images of other people. That's true even if they are quite small in the frame. By adding people to your drone photos, you give viewers something with which to immediately connect. Including people also helps the viewer understand the scale of the shot.
In looking at the image above, you get a sense of just how high up the drone is based on how small everyone is in the frame.
This photo also illustrates the value of repetition - the pattern of the umbrellas makes this shot much more visually appealing.
Bonus Tip: Take multiple photos of the same subject from different points of view. Doing so is made easy by utilizing shooting modes, like Dronie, Circle, Helix and Rocket modes that are available on the DJI Mavic Mini.
Look for Color
Color adds drama and dimension to every picture, especially those shot with a drone.
With such a wide view of the landscape below, drone photography is rife with opportunities to show off vibrant colors and gorgeous contrast to delight the eye.
The photo above of the fall colors is a prime example of this. The red, orange, and yellow tones of the foliage give the landscape life and vitality that make this an eye-catching shot.
Sometimes a captivating shot engages the viewer with only a few colors.
In this image, the dark green water and the black sand give this shot some dark moodiness while the bright white of the waves draws you in.
In this case, although only three colors are captured, the resulting image is completely engrossing.
Leading Lines Give the Shot Structure
Using leading lines in landscape photography is a tried-and-true method for giving your images more dimension.
The same goes for drone-based photography...
Pus, leading lines help the viewer's eye move through the shot in a more purposeful manner.
The road in the shot above is an ideal example of this: it brings your eye from the foreground, to the midground, and finally to the background.
Even the long shadows cast by the features of the landscape help move your eye from the front to the back of the shot.
Bonus Tip: Some drones, like the Mavic 2 Zoom, enable you to get much closer to interesting details in the landscape below. It is equipped with a 4x lossless zoom to capture beautiful detail from longer distances without sacrificing image quality. Features like this can be wildly helpful as you seek to compose more interesting photos (and videos too!).
Textures Help Create a Three-Dimensional Look
Part of the struggle with any type of photography is trying to capture the depth and dimension of three-dimensional subjects in a two-dimensional medium.
To avoid flat-looking drone photos, look for opportunities to incorporate texture into the shot.In the image above, the chunky, rectangular blocks on either side of the road create a texture that's both interesting to look at and provides much-needed depth to the shot.
That depth is created in part by the angular lines of each block and by the contrast between the pale color of the blocks and the shadows.
Note how this image combines the two tips outlined above - leading lines and color.
Try these drone photography composition tips by themselves or all together and see how they can improve the quality of your images.
Drones are amazing photographic tools capable of creating outstanding images and videos.
At the heart of a drone is a camera, so users will want to think about what are the proper camera settings for drone photography to get the most pleasing shots.
Let’s have a look at some essential settings with which you need to be familiar.
Table of Contents
- Two Types of Drone Uses
- Drone Photography Settings - Pro
- Drone Photography Settings - Fun
- Videography Settings - Pro and Fun
- Most Valuable Drone Accessory - ND Filters
- Pro or Fun, It’s All Fun!
Two Types of Drone Uses
photo byOnfokus via iStock
There are two types of people who are using drones. One is an advanced photographer or videographer using the drone for all sorts of photos and videos including paid gigs. Another is any level of photographer who wants to use the drone for fun and is looking for drone photography tips.
Either of these two types of drone photographers can be further categorized into those primarily desiring still images and others more into video than still pics.
Obviously, there will likely be a lot of overlap among these types. An advanced still photographer can just be playing around with drone video or an amatuer videographer can use their drone for paid still photography jobs. And any mix in between. Drone photography settings will change depending on which type of drone you are on any given day.
Recommended Photography Books
- National Geographic Photo Basics: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Great Photography
- Photography: The Definitive Visual History
- Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs
Drone Photography Settings - Pro
Photo by Tyler Casey on Unsplash
First up, we’ll examine some pro level still photography drone camera settings. For the purposes of these drone photography tips, we’ll standardize on one current and very popular drone, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. We got ours from Adorama, so we’re sure it’s got a legit USA warranty and all the items that are supposed to come in the box.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is one of the better drones on the market that still is pretty friendly for most serious photography budgets. It has a 20MP 1” type sensor Hasselblad camera with a moderately wide angle lens. Video capability is 4K 10-bit HDR plus some lower resolutions. Maximum flying speed is about 45 MPH and battery life is up to 31 minutes.
You could allow the camera to set everything automatically. Many pro level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have full auto modes that are capable of figuring nearly exposures, but the realities of drone photography pretty much require exposing manually.
A good place to start is with the image file setting. For pro or advanced levels, record in the RAW/DNG file mode. As with all our other cameras, the amount of exposure information in a RAW file far surpasses other file types found in most cameras. This gives you a whole lot of leeway to enhance in post processing. Get more details about camera settings on the Mavic Pro 2 in the video above by Tom’s Tech Time.
Keep the white balance in auto. Since you’re shooting RAW, your imaging program will let you set the proper color profile for the scene.
Shutter speed, lens aperture, and ISO, the exposure triangle, are pretty easy to figure out for most daylight conditions. A good place to start is ISO 100, shutter speed of 1/60th, and an f-stop of f/4.0. Even with the most stable of drones, you will want to keep your shutter speed fairly high.
Photo by Juan N. Gomez from Pexels
Then, review your photos. Some regular photography tutorials will preach against “chimping” or viewing the exposed image on camera (or live monitor), but it is a valid method to use in certain situations. This is definitely one of those situations.
If the exposure is too light or dark, adjust the exposure appropriately. Start with adjusting the lens aperture, then ISO if the exposure is still out of range, lastly adjust the shutter speed. If the image is still too dark, it may not be a good day for drone imagery. Or really make use of the RAW data to pull out shadow detail. If the image stays too bright, add on an neutral density (ND) filter to compensate.
Since this is a flying machine, one of your camera settings for drone photography will be flight mode. You want the most stability possible out of any drone. On the Mavic 2 Pro, that mode is labeled “T” for tripod. One of the best drone photography tips you can learn is to use the “S” or sports mode to fly into position, but always switch to a stability mode like “T” when actually taking pictures or shooting video.
Drone Photography Settings - Fun
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels
Almost everything listed above still works, simply adjust a couple of key settings. Set your image file recording to JPG (Jpeg). A JPG file is a compressed file, processed by the camera, that can be used straight out of the camera if desired. So, that eases up any work to be done for casual or fun style imaging.
The other setting to change is white balance. Since you’re shooting in JPEG, you should assign one. Leaving it on auto could give you settings all over the map for a lot of drone uses. Daylight or cloudy are two common options if auto isn’t giving good results.
Keep using the manual exposure triangle settings and ND filters as listed above. It’s easy enough to do since you are reviewing your shots to check exposure.
Videography Settings - Pro and Fun
Photo by Rayyu Maldives photographer on Unsplash
When shooting video, start out staying with the same exposure triangle settings as with still imaging. Adjust up or down as needed, first with f-stop, then with ISO.
For video recording mode, use the highest quality available for your particular camera. On the Mavic 2 Pro, that’s 4K HQ. No need to go lower for extended recording times since the drone flight time is limited. Use 30 FPS instead of 24 FPS to help smooth out flying irregularities.
Pro users may want to synch FPS if using drone footage for B-roll, but 30 FPS will edit in smoothly for most applications. Get more pointers on camera settings for video in the video below by Drone Film Guide.
White balance should be set to something besides auto. Auto white balance and extended video footage will give you annoying and unexpected shifts in colors. Custom is a good option for pro users. Fun users can choose daylight or cloudy.
The color profile setting works best as either Normal or DLog-M. DLog-M lets you adjust color profile in editing, so that would be the setting most common for pro uses, but there’s nothing wrong with the normal setting.
Video encoding should be the newest available, style setting can be adjusted as you see fit. The one style setting I foresee most drone users changing would be contrast. Adjust incrementally until it suits your own personal style or brand.
Most Valuable Drone Accessory - ND Filters
Since the exposure triangle options are a little bit limited for drone photography and videography, having a good set of high quality ND filters will let you shoot or film in a wide variety of brightness situations.
The Polar Pro Mavic 2 Cinema Series from Adorama for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro cameras is an outstandingly good choice for drone ND filters.
Obviously, the ND filters will bring down levels that are too bright. If the levels are still too dark after making all the adjustments you could, maybe it’s time to invent a usable LED light for drones. Any inventors and investors out there?
Pro or Fun, It’s All Fun!
Now that you have some experience flying, know the do’s and don’ts of drone flying, are properly registered, and have a good idea of what settings to use, you are all set to capture high quality images and video footage.
Remember, even pros can have fun when using a great drone for photography. Likewise, even amatuer photgraphers can capture professional level results from the fantastic drones available now.
Photo by Marin Tulard on Unsplash
How are you liking your new drone? Or perhaps you’re considering either upgrading your current drone or getting into drones as a beginner. Whichever describes your situation, you will need to know the FAA rules for drones as well as how to fly a drone safely.
We have some drone photography tips explaining some of what you need to know to stay within regulations and restrictions concerning FAA rules for drones.
What Is Required?
Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash
The FAA requires that drones should be registered and also that they are operated within certain restrictions and guidelines. This is true regardless of whether you will be using your drone for profit or not.
Recreational fliers are registered under the guidelines covered by what was formerly called Section 336 and is for fliers now labeled Recreational Flyers and Modeler Community-Based Organizations.
A separate registration is called Part 107 and is required for anyone making money off of their drone use. These users are labeled Certified Remote Pilots, including Commercial Operators. There are some very important distinctions between these two types of users. To make sure you operating legally, be sure to know what type of registration applies to your drone flying.
How To Register Drones
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
hear two questions come up most frequently about the FAA and drones. One is “do I have to register my drone?” The answer for that query is yes. You can cause yourself all sorts of problems if you decide to skip this step.
The next question is about how to register my drone with the FAA. There are two ways to register. You may submit a paper application or you can choose to register online. If you are filing under Part 107, you will also have to pass a test administered by the FAA. There will soon be basic testing for recreational users as well according to the FAA website about drones.
Besides the initial testing and registration, there will be periodic renewing of certificates and perhaps more training and testing required. Flying a drone has all these guidelines and requirements because of the hazards involved and because of the potential for abuse.
What Drones Need Registration?
Any drone that is over 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds and are flown recreationally or for certain commercial activities must be registered. It’s a good idea to keep up to date with government rules, nationally and locally, so you are within the bounds of what is acceptable.
As a drone photography tip, let’s look at two different drones you may have in mind and see which registration, if any, applies to them.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone (shown above) is a full featured but relatively lightweight drone with a zoom lens and video recording built in. It weighs in at just a few grams under 2 pounds. That makes it over 0.55 pounds but nowhere near 55 pounds. Does it need to be registered? Absolutely yes.
Another DJI drone, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro (shown above), is marketed towards advanced users and professional photographers and videographers. It has a Hasselblad camera and lens for ultra high resolution imaging and video. It weighs about 2 pounds too, so it definitely needs to be registered.
So, which registration applies? Does the DJI Mavic 2 Pro have to be filed under Part 107 since it’s considered a pro camera drone? Should my new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom be listed under former Section 336 since it’s not labeled a pro tool?
Well, both of those questions are actually misleading. It isn’t the drone that determines what type of registration it’s the intended use of the drone. If you are using your Mavic 2 Pro merely for your own personal enjoyment, it would be a recreational license. If you use your Mavic 2 Zoom to create B-roll video for a project that makes you money, it’s a commercial license.
If you get confused over the distinctions, check the FAA drone website. Basic rule of thumb is if it makes you money or you intend for it make you money, file as a commercial operator.
How To Fly a Drone Safely
Photo by Kaleb Kendall on Unsplash
There are a lot of do’s and don’ts concerning safety and privacy with drone operation. Check our other drone articles listed under the Learn More heading for some specifics.
The main thing is, operate your drone safely and within the law. If you do that, you have a greater chance of having a pleasant outing and getting nice photos and videos!
These days, it seems like if you aren't using drones for photography that you're a bit behind the times.
I've got a DJI Mavic Pro that I fly and I absolutely love it. They say that taking photos from different perspectives is a great way to improve your photos, and getting up above it all with a drone is certainly a way to do that!
But taking photos with a drone can be a little intimidating, even if you're an experienced photographer.
That being the case, here's a few drone photography tips to help you get started.
Drone Photography Tips: Plan It Out and Get the Timing Right
Just like with any other kind of photography, it behooves you to plan out your photo shoots when you use a drone.
Google Earth is a prime tool for doing this because you can get a top-down satellite view as well as a 3D view of the terrain.
Just look for interesting landforms, buildings, webs of roadways, and so forth, and you'll be much better prepared to get your drone in the right place for the best-quality images.
Another planning tip you can't overlook is your timing.
Again, just like when you're taking photos on the ground, golden hour affords you the best light of the day to get high-quality shots.
But because you're above it all, not only do you get to capture the beautiful colors of the sunrise or sunset, but you can also provide a view of how that gorgeous light interacts with the landscape below.
- Reviewed: DJI Mavic Air is Easy to Fly and Packed With Features
- Take Control of Your iPhone Camera With These Mobile Photography Tricks
Adjust the Camera Settings for the Best Drone Photography
Far and away, you'll get the best photos if you shoot in manual mode.
With complete control over the exposure settings, you can avoid blown out highlights or detail-free shadows and instead get a well-exposed image no matter the subject.
On a DJI drone like the Mavic Pro, set the ISO to 100 to minimize the camera's sensitivity to light and minimize digital noise as well.
Leave the white balance setting on auto, and be sure that you're shooting in RAW so you have as much data for post-processing as possible.
Lastly, set the image size to 4:3. This will give your images more resolution than if you shoot in 16:9 format.
Outfit Your Drone With Filters
Just like a typical DSLR can take improved photographs when you use lens filters, you can get much-improved photos from your drone if you equip its lens with the right filters as well.
When it comes to must-have filters, a circular polarizer and a few neutral density filters should be at the top of your list.
Included in the kit is a circular polarizing filter that helps minimize glare, increase contrast, and reduce atmospheric haze so you can capture the beauty of the landscape below in full detail.
In addition, the kit has five neutral density filters from 2-stop to 6-stop.
Neutral density filters allow you to slow down the shutter to capture beautiful motion effects, like blurry clouds and water that create dreamy elements in your photos.
SANDMARC's DJI neutral density filters are also polarized, so you get the advantages of a polarizer and a neutral density filter in one.
These filters are made of industrial grade, multi-coated glass and weigh less than 1 gram each. That means you get a high-quality filter that won't weigh down your drone and reduce performance.
If videography is your thing, these filters will only help you create dynamic and beautiful footage.
You'll get smoother, better-exposed aerial shots, motion blur for a natural look in your videos, and improved dynamic range for contrasty images and videos that leap off the screen.
If you want to maximize your ability to get top-notch drone photos, these filters are a must!
Don't take my word for it though - see SANDMARC's filters in action in the video above.
Vary the Camera Angle
Though shooting out across a landscape can provide you with gorgeous vistas to photograph, don't discount a true bird's eye view as being a compelling angle from which to shoot.
By looking directly down on the landscape, you can highlight colors, shapes, patterns, and textures more easily.
That's because looking straight down affords the drone a perfect view of the symmetry and design of landscapes and cityscapes, and it's a view we don't often get to see.
That makes these kinds of images unique and eye-catching, and viewers are encouraged to keep on looking and inspecting the shot for much longer than they might otherwise be.
In the end, there are plenty of similarities between taking a photo with your normal camera and taking a photo with a drone.
You still need to plan your photo shoot, adjust the camera settings, and consider the perspective from which you shoot in order to get the best shots.
You also need to outfit your drone with high-quality filters that enhance the images you take and improve the quality of your photos.
These are simple tricks to be sure, but man, they can have a huge impact!
Using a drone for photography or videography is a little bit more involved than using a plain old DSLR.
With a vehicle flying above you, it’s important to take safety precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of your drone. Additionally, you need to ensure the general public, other aircraft (both manned and unmanned), and property are safe too.
So, before you take to the skies with your new drone, consider these drone safety tips.
Editor’s Note: In addition to the safety tips outlined below, we suggest flying DJI drones. DJI drones are equipped with tons of features that help you fly safer. Some of these features are illustrated later in this article. For more details about DJI drones and their safety features, visit Drone World.
Check regulations for governing drone flights. They include:
You must fly at or below 400 feet.
You must be aware of airspace requirements and restrictions. For example, drones cannot be flown within 5 miles of an airport.
Never fly near other aircraft or over groups of people.
Drones cannot fly over stadiums, sporting events, or emergency response efforts.
Drones cannot be flown in National Parks.
Your safety and the safety of others depends on your knowledge of what you can and cannot do with your drone. Compliance with FAA regulations will help keep you and others safe.
Watch Out For Obstacles
If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen your fair share of YouTube videos of drones smashing trees or buildings. So, it goes without saying that watching out for obstacles is paramount when flying your drone.
But the great thing about some drones - like those from DJI - is that they can actually help you avoid obstacles.
Take, for instance, DJI’s FlightAutonomy technology. It allows drones (like the Mavic Pro shown above) to detect obstacles as far as 49 feet away. That means that you can fly up to 22 mph knowing your drone will automatically see and avoid things in the flight path.
FlightAutonomy technology also helps drones such as the Mavic Pro to hover more precisely, a feature that is quite handy when flying indoors and out! You can also land the drone almost exactly where it took off.
With such intelligent technology you can fly safer, which protects yourself and others, prevents damage to property, and safeguards your drone from any bumps and bruises.
Sometimes, attempting a tracking shot of a subject, it can be hard to keep the drone on a straight flight path at a consistent altitude.
Again, this can cause problems for pilots who might accidentally fly their drone into something.
But with DJI drones, ActiveTrack allows you to tell the drone who or what to track, and it handles the rest.
That means you can follow your subject from the front or behind, circle the subject as they move, fly alongside the subject, and even keep the drone’s camera trained on the subject as it flies just about anywhere. It can even maintain a constant altitude for you. Note the image above, with the drone following the subject while accounting for varied terrain.
In other words, with these types of technologies, drone flight has never been so safe!
Get Some Practice
In the same way that it takes time to figure out the ins and outs of a traditional camera, it takes time to become adept at flying a drone.
A good way to learn is to practice flying in an open area that affords you a wide view of the flight path. Stay away from buildings, trees, power lines, and other obstacles (even if you have a DJI drone that can detect and avoid such things!).
Ideally a wide open, flat area away from populated areas is perfect for getting your bearings as a drone pilot. That allows for flying practice, hovering, tracking, and more, to familiarize yourself with the controls in a low-pressure situation.
It’s also prudent to get in the habit of checking the weather before every flight. Strong winds, for example, will drain the drone’s battery faster than normal.
Rain, snow, and other elements can obviously have negative impacts on the drone’s performance. However, some drones, like the DJI Inspire 2 shown above, are equipped with a self-heating system to counteract the effects of cold weather.
Ultimately, being safe with a drone comes down to planning, preparation, and using common sense.
When you get your drone, spend time learning its systems by reading the owner’s manual. Find time to practice operating and flying the drone, and prepare by reading any regulations for flying drones in your area (this includes the FAA regulations outlined earlier, as well as checking for any state or local regulations that are in place).
The more familiar you are with your new drone and the more time you spend preparing to become a drone pilot, the safer you’ll be. And soon, you could be as adept at flying your drone as the guys in the video above!
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels
Drones are one of the best new things to come to amatuer and pro photography in recent years. If you have been enjoying drone photography for a while or have just started to use your new drone, some drone safety tips may be helpful for you.
Before You Start
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom has a 12MP camera for video or still imaging with a 4X optical zoom lens, a top speed of over 45mph, a range of transmission and control from 5 miles away, and can fly for over 30 minutes on one charge.
If you picked up the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro, you will enjoy one of the best cameras on any drone, the 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera, with a 1-inch CMOS sensor, Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution technology, an aperture range of f/2.9 to f/11, and an ISO from 3200 to 12,800. The Mavic 2 Pro boasts similar range, speed, and flight times as the Mavic 2 Zoom.
With those features and capabilities, you want to be able to safely operate your new drone for a long time. First steps include proper training, licensing, and registration. After those basics are taken care of, the next step is to learn how to fly a drone safely.
Recommended Drone Photography Reading:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Learn to Operate Your New Drone
photo by Onfokus via iStock
DJI has an excellent page of video tutorials and guides. In addition to the video guides, DJI has a forum for questions and feedback. Many of the better drone makers have similar support.
We also have a number of tutorials for beginner drone pilots. See the Learn More links below for some introductory tips for flying your drone safely.
Check the Battery
photo by Scharfsinn86 via iStock
Now you’re ready for your first actual flight. Proper drone safety includes all the preflight prep. You want to ensure the battery is fully charged. You will be testing out your new drone for a while, so having a full charge is important to get used to the drone.
Though 30 minutes is a great flight time for a drone. That ½ hour will fly by very quickly as you examine all the controls and functions.
Of course, when actually flying for a project, you also want a full battery charge to maximize how much video or how many images you can gather. You’ll also want to have a spare battery or two on hand that are fully charged, that way you can extend the time you can actually have the drone in the air.
Check all the Pieces
Drone safety can be thought of in two ways. Protecting yourself and others from harm and protecting your drone. Protecting yourself from harm mostly involves not letting the swiftly moving propellers impact you. They really do spin quite fast.
Most drones have removable propellers. They are removed either for storage or for replacement. Drone safety suggests you should double check that the propellers are properly attached. Besides injury to you, if the propellers come off in flight, you could lose or break your drone.
Set the Return Home Feature
Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels
At the start of each drone flying session, check that the return home function is properly set and that the built-in compass and GPS are calibrated.
Then give it a flick of the switch or toggle the button, and see if it does what the tutorial says it should. If not, you’ll need to consult the owner’s manual for your specific drone.
Practice in an Open Area
Photo by Stephan Müller from Pexels
For your first outdoor test flight, or for testing out new techniques or features any time thereafter, it’s good practice to choose an open area without obstructions that could get in the way. An open field is preferable to an apartment courtyard, for example.
The more obstructions there are, the more likely you could fly your new drone into them as you test out its features and your skills. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to observe exactly how you’re affecting the drone with the controller.
Post Flight Drone Safety Tips
photo by golubovy via iStock
Drone safety doesn’t end when the flight ends. Some things need to be taken care of properly afterwards, too.
It may sound too obvious to be a real drone safety tip, but you want to definitely turn off your drone after flying. In fact, best drone safety practice is to turn it off before you shut off the remote controller. If you turn off the remote before switching off the drone, there is a chance of accidental uncontrolled flight.
Right after the flight, the rechargeable battery is going to be very hot. Instead of charging the battery after flight, you might want to develop the habit of waiting for recharging until you need to use the drone again. If nothing else, allow sufficient time for the batteries to cool before charging.
Store Your Drone Properly
photo by gorodenkoff via iStock
Our final drone safety tip concerns storage. Some people keep the box it came in for as long as it lasts, using it for storage and transport. A better solution is a dedicated bag or case optimized for carrying a drone. I like to keep mine in a protective bag designed for photographic equipment.
By observing these drone safety tips, you help ensure that your new drone will perform optimally each time you take it out for flight and imaging.
With these two new models, DJI has effectively given its most popular drone double-duty, with the Mavic 2 being the more direct successor to the Mavic Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom being a special bonus for pilots and photographers that need a drone-based camera with more reach.
Here's the scoop on both drones.
DJI Mavic 2 vs DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Perhaps the most exciting feature on the Mavic 2 is its onboard Hasselblad camera.
The camera has a one-inch 20MP CMOS sensor, which is the exact same one found in the Phantom 4 Pro.
The camera's lens has an aperture range of f/2.8-f/11, which offers excellent variability for taking photos in low-light situations.
The camera even has professional color profiles for video which will make it easier for videographers to adjust their footage as they see fit in post-processing.
Meanwhile, the Mavic 2 Zoom is geared more towards pilots that seek more versatility with the lens's zoom capabilities.
The Mavic 2 Zoom does that with a lens that shoots from 24mm to 48mm in 12MP photos.
Though the images have less resolution than those with the 20MP camera on the Mavic 2, DJI claims that its super resolution mode on the Mavic 2 Zoom allows you to overcome that in some regards by taking nine photos and creating one 48MP image with them.
The Zoom has a smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor as well.
See the Mavic 2 Zoom in action in the video above by COOPH.
Shared Features of the Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Zoom
Both of these rigs have a top speed of 44 miles per hour with a flight time of up to 31 minutes.
Each drone has 10 obstacle-avoiding sensors, too, which will likely come in handy when flying at that 44 mph top speed.
To aid in better flying, DJI has upgraded its excellent image transmission system to OcuSync 2.0, which gives you a live 1080p feed via your phone to the remote from up to nearly five miles away.
On top of that, both the Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Zoom shoot 4K video at up to 100MB per second. There's 8GB of onboard storage which is expandable by adding a microSD card to the fold.
Each one has new shooting modes, too, which allow you to shoot hyperlapse videos in-camera. Add to that improved subject tracking software as well.
Happily, both drones still fold up neat and tidy like the original Mavic Pro.
For more details on both the Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Zoom, check out the video above by DJI.
- 8 Do's and Don'ts When Flying a Drone
- These Breathtaking Drone Photos Turn Landscapes Into Abstract Masterpieces
DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Zoom Pricing and Availability
Clearly, DJI has positioned the new iterations of the Mavic to be a mid-range option in their lineup.
The DJI Spark is a fine entry-level option while the Mavic Air is solidly in the mid-range area. That means that these new Mavic 2 drones now occupy the space between the Mavic Air and the Phantom.
In fact, the Mavic 2 drones probably resemble the Phantom more than any other DJI drone, at least in terms of their features and capabilities.
Of course, all that prosumer-level tech is crammed into a tiny form factor that makes it as portable as its predecessor.
photo byVladK213 via iStock
Drones for photography are cameras. As with all of our other cameras, there are good reasons to use filters for drone photography.
What are you using as drone photography gear? The number of choices for drone filters are going up, both from the drone manufacturers and from third party filter makers like PolarPro Filters and Tiffen Filters.
Filters for Drone Photography
Photo by Lukas Rodriguez from Pexels
Does one need drone filters? What filters should you have in your drone photography gear? What other drone photography tips are beneficial?
Just as with regular photography, two of the most useful filters for drone photography are circular polarizer (C-POL) filters and neutral density (ND) filters. The very popular graduated neutral density (GND) filters aren’t that practical for drone photography, primarily due to needing exact positioning placement for best effect.
Recommended Drone Photography Reading:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Photo by Tobias Bjørkli from Pexels
The circular polarizer filter is a must have filter for serious photographers. It can be used in many situations for a variety of purposes. A polarizer removes or reduces glare and reflections and also helps capture full color depth due to reducing glare.
For drone photography, polarizer filters will improve the end result of still images and video footage. Much of the subject matter a lot of drone photographers use their drone cameras for tend to include large areas of surfaces that can be reflective. Photo elements such as wet lawns, pools, lakes, and city streets and parks can be imaged better with a polarizer filter.
Neutral density are vital filters for drone photography and videography because of the limited range of exposure options in many high end photographic drones.
For instance, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro has one of the best cameras available in a reasonably priced drone, the 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera with a rather large-for-a-drone 1-inch type sensor and 4K 10-bit HDR video capture capability.
The maximum aperture of the 28mm full frame equivalent lens is f/2.8, but it only stops down to f/11.0. Combined with an ISO range of 100-6400 and shutter speeds up to 1/8000 second, this combination is well-suited to many exposure situations, but it could sometimes use a little help in bright daylight lighting.
A neutral density filter will allow you to get back into moderate shutter speeds and apertures to take advantage of the sweet spot of the lens and for a more natural appearing video feed with a slower shutter.
PolarPro Filter Kits
Sticking with our example drone, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, you can find a great set of filters for a very reasonable price, the PolarPro filters.
What I like about this kit is the multiple filters in very usable strengths. There are 3 separate ND strengths and 3 hybrid combination filters with polarizer and neutral density together. The ND filters provide for reducing the shutter speed or adjusting lens aperture without changing color profile.
With the ND filters you can reduce the video recording shutter speed to cinematic levels for a more natural appearance when played back.
Using the hybrid ND/POL drone filters, you also gain the benefit of reducing glare and reflections while improving color rendition.
Get a detailed review of these filters in the video above by 51 Drones.
Other Drone Photography Tips
Photo by Adil from Pexels
Besides those two basic and very important uses, your drone photography and videography can make use of slower shutter speeds and wider apertures for other techniques.
By opening up the aperture, you can limit focus to show what you want to emphasize. Since it’s all part of the Exposure Triangle, changing aperture also lets you adjust the shutter speed for your specific imaging needs.
When recording video footage, whether A-Roll or B-Roll, being able to slow down the shutter speed helps eliminate that choppy, hard feel that fast shutters in video tend to produce. Also, if you’re using the dorne for B-Roll, it lets you match what you shot for A-Roll, so the editing blends in better.
The PolarPro filters made for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro are perfectly balanced for use on the gimbal mounted camera. They do not affect any camera movement and all of the drone flight modes are workable with the filters mounted.
How To Adjust a Polarizer On a Drone
Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels
One of the questions going through your mind is how to adjust the polarizer from the ground when your drone is in the air. Well, you have to adjust ahead of time. The instructions with the filters show you the best method and it works pretty well.
It’s a “best guess” scenario, but you can get it close to optimal and it will still be far superior to not using a polarizer at all. Before any paid gigs, be sure to practice!
Using filters for drone photography is a good idea. The cameras have advanced so much in a very short time. And they are generally very affordable now as well. Try out your favorite filters on your own drone and see the difference they make.
Image Credit: Alla Simacheva via iStock
If you haven't joined the drone photography revolution, you're behind the times, my friend!
Drones aren't just a gimmick or a toy - they are legitimate photography workhorses that allow you to create photos from a completely different perspective.
That makes them a valuable tool for any photographer...
If you're ready to take the leap and start using a drone, consider this introduction to drone photography an ideal place to start!
Editor's Tip: I use the DJI MAVIC AIRas an example drone in this article because it's an ideal combination of portability, size, features, and price for beginner drone photographers.
Introduction to Drone Photography: The RAW Rule Still Applies
Image Credit: Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock
Ask any photographer what the best image format is, and they'll tell you RAW.
Sure, JPG files take up way less room on a memory card, but that's because JPGs are compressed, which means they lose some of the data collected by the camera's sensor.
When it comes time to process your drone photos, you want all the data possible to make processing easier. That's precisely what RAW does.
What's more, since drones have lower-resolution cameras (i.e., the DJI Mavic Air has a 12-megapixel camera), you need to preserve as much of the detail it captures as possible.
So, when you unpack your drone and start setting it up, one of the first things you should do is set it up to shoot in RAW format.
Drone Photography Tip: Use the HDR Feature
Image Credit: MarioGuti via iStock
The chances are good that when you're flying your drone, you'll encounter challenging lighting conditions at some point.
Primarily, scenes with a lot of dynamic range (the range of values from bright to dark) are difficult for any camera to overcome.
That's where HDR comes in.
HDR photos are actually composites of several different photos, each one taken in rapid-fire fashion using different exposure settings.
So, your drone will take a photo that's exposed for the highlights, another that's exposed for the midtones, and another that's exposed for the shadows.
Then, all those images are combined into one shot that's well-exposed throughout the range of light values.
Better still, drones like the DJI Mavic Air have highly advanced HDR algorithms that help you get the perfect exposure settings according to the available lighting.
That is, you don't have to make a ton of adjustments to get a well-exposed image - the drone does it intelligently!
Make the Most of the Drone's Lens
Typically, drones have wide-angle lenses, which makes them perfect for landscape photography from the sky.
For example, the DJI Mavic Air has a 24mm f/2.8 lens that's ideal for capturing sweeping views of the landscape below.
Since wide-angle lenses have a wider field of view, that means that you can capture more of the scene in one shot than you can with a standard or telephoto lens.
When creating wide-angle shots like these, it's important to have a strong subject that draws the attention of viewers - otherwise the photo might look a little empty or viewers might be confused as to where they're supposed to look.
Image Credit: Orbon Alija via iStock
Additionally, play with the perspective from which you take drone photos.
That is, not everything has to be taken from 50 feet in the sky...
Hover your drone 10 feet up, 20 feet up, 30 feet up, and so forth, taking sample images as you go. Then compare the results to see which altitude and point of view best helps you to capture the subject.
Editor's Tip: Drones can be heavily modified to make them even better tools for photography. SEE HOW YOU CAN TURN THE DJI MAVIC AIR INTO YOUR ULTIMATE PHOTOGRAPHY MACHINE.
Watch Those Camera Settings
Image Credit: den-belitsky via iStock
Drone cameras allow you to manipulate all kinds of camera settings when you shoot in manual mode (which you should definitely do).
To improve the quality of your images, try to shoot at the lowest ISO possible whenever possible.
Since higher ISO values are associated with increased digital noise in photos, keeping the ISO low (i.e., 100 or 200) will help you get cleaner-looking shots.
Something else to consider is the shutter speed that you use.
Many drones have a wide range of shutter speeds (i.e., 8 seconds to 1/8000 seconds on the DJI Mavic Air) that allow you to completely change how your photos look.
Naturally, the longer the shutter speed, the more motion blur that will appear, which is great for creating dreamy landscapes with beautifully blurred clouds or water.
On the other hand, to freeze motion (and to minimize camera shake), choosing a faster shutter speed is advisable.
You Don't Need a Top-of-the-Line Drone
Just like some photographers do when they shop for a traditional camera, they think that buying the biggest, most expensive drone is the key to mastering drone photography. That's just not the case!
While it would be awesome to have a DJI Inspire 2, not all of us can afford one.
That's why the DJI Mavic Pro is such a great option for beginner drone photographers.
Not only does the Mavic Pro have all the features you need to take better photos - a great sensor, a capable lens, manual camera controls, and so forth - but it's also got a price that many people can afford.
For less than $800, you can get the Mavic Air, a foldable remote, a battery, battery charger, power cables, 8 propellers, propeller guards, a carrying case, and more. That's not a bad deal at all!
But don't think that because this is one of DJI's more affordable drones that you don't get tons of awesome features...
Instead, the DJI Mavic Air specs are quite impressive. There's 8GB on onboard storage for all the photos you take, and the drone's camera is capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps to go along with all the still images you take.
In fact, the Mavic Air's camera records at 100MBPS, which is a higher bitrate than the more expensive Mavic Pro!
The three-axis gimbal is a fantastic feature, too, as it helps stabilize the camera for cleaner, crisper, and sharper photos and videos.
The Mavic Air can speed through the skies at 42.5 MPH, has a one-touch return to home feature, and sports a 21-minute flight time.
It's also easy to maneuver and control because DJI has packed this thing with tons of futuristic features like hand gesture controls for taking off and taking photos.
In fact, the Mavic Air sports something called ActiveTrack, which can sense up to 16 selectable subjects at the same time so you can choose the subject you want to track on the fly.
You can see these and other amazing features of this drone in the video above by Drone World.
In other words, getting started in drone photography doesn't have to be difficult or complicated.
If you adhere to the basic rules of photography, get a drone that makes learning how to fly a simpler and easier process, and practice your craft often, I think you'll find that drone photography might come pretty naturally to you!
All you can do is try it out, right?
photo by zsv3207 via iStock
Last week we published an article on getting started in drone photography. That article covered some of the basics of becoming a drone photographer. This second article in the series focuses more specifically on the drone itself, and what features you should look for.
There are all kinds of drones at all sorts of price points. And while price is certainly the chief factor for most buyers, there are other things you need to consider when selecting a drone for photography and videography purposes.
photo by golubovy via iStock
As I mentioned, the price of drones is likely going to be your primary factor in deciding which drone you purchase. After all, if your budget is $500, you won't be getting a top-of-the-line professional drone.
But even if you're on a budget, there are some great options out there that provide highly capable service for photography and videography.
The DJI Mavic Mini comes immediately to mind as a great budget option at $399.
This drone has a 12-megapixel 1/2.3" CMOS sensor, a 24mm equivalent f/2.8 lens, and an ISO range of 100-3200 in manual shooting mode.
It can shoot photos in 4:3 or 16:9 format, has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, and offers single-shot or interval shooting for still photos.
Though it doesn't have 4K video, its 2.7K video is still nicely detailed and can be shot in either 25p or 30p.
Now, those specs aren't bad at all, especially for a $400 drone. But they don't come close to what some of the larger and more expensive drones have in terms of camera specs.
Speaking of camera specs...
The Larger the Sensor, the Better the Image Quality
As noted above the DJI Mavic Mini has a 1/2.3" sensor.
In comparison, the top-of-the-line DJI Inspire 2 with the Zenmuse X5 camera has a 4/3" sensor. So what's the difference?
Obviously, the Inspire 2's sensor is physically larger, but why is that a big deal?
photo by borchee via iStock
The larger the sensor, the greater its ability to include more pixels. More pixels means the sensor can collect more light, which is handy for low-light shooting, but it also means that larger sensors can capture more resolute images.
The more resolute an image is, the more details it will record. Likewise, the larger the prints you can make from the image file.
There are other benefits, too - better dynamic range, less digital noise at higher ISOs, and a smaller crop factor.
The moral of the story is that if you're buying a drone specifically for photography and videography purposes, opt for a drone that has the largest sensor you can afford. There are too many benefits to not make the size of the camera sensor a top priority.
How is the Drone's Hovering Capability?
photo by Bestgreenscreen via iStock
One of the lesser-known features you need to consider is the drone's ability to hover in place.
Its hovering ability will have a direct impact on the quality of the videos you take - if the drone is moving up and down, your video will do the same, which is hugely distracting.
At the same time, a drone that can't hover precisely will negatively impact your still images. If the camera is moving around, you might find that your still photos aren't as sharp as they could be.
With that said, look for a drone that has good hovering abilities and one that has minimal vibration, as vibrations can also diminish the photo and video quality as well.
Avoid Off-Brand Drones
photo by marrio31 via iStock
Don't get me wrong, there are tons of great drones out there that aren't named DJI or Parrot.
However, buying an off-brand drone (or worse, a no-name drone) can open up a can of worms.
Specifically, if something breaks on the drone, having an off-brand model might make it more difficult to get the drone fixed or to find replacement parts.
This isn't a guarantee, but in my experience, most of the off-brand, cheap gear I've bought over the years comes with a complicated process to get things fixed.
You might find different, and if so, that's awesome. But for my money, I'm sticking with brands that I know and recognize.
Which Drone is Right for You?
photo by Rowan Jordan via iStock
There is no single drone that's perfect for every person.
But if you consider the factors I discuss above, you'll be in a position to make an informed decision about which drone fits your needs the best.
One thing I will say is that if you simply cannot decide which drone to buy, you might think about renting a few to test them out. Doing so allows you to get a feel for their camera systems as well as how they fly - and nothing beats that kind of first-hand experience when making a purchasing decision that could reach into the thousands of dollars!
I'd also recommend talking to the experts about drones, at stores like Adorama (if you're in New York City) or consult with them online.
There's nothing wrong with asking help in making a decision, and their expertise will help point you in the right direction.
photodima_sidelnikov by via iStock
Shooting B-Roll video is a technique that will set your videos apart from the run-of-the-mill videos that are online everywhere from blogs to YouTube.
What is B-Roll footage? How will it help my video productions? Can I shoot B-Roll with a drone?
I answer these questions and more below!
What Is B-Roll?
Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels
Cinematographers and editors separate footage into two general categories. A-Roll and B-Roll. Both categories require excellent technique, but there are specific jobs for the two rolls to accomplish.
A-Roll video is footage that can tell a story all by itself. Shooting B-Roll video gives you extra material that would not be able to fully tell a story on its own, but it can add depth and detail to the story told in the A-Roll.
As an example of the difference, let’s think about a movie most of us have seen over and over again, The Wizard of Oz. The scene is the initial confrontation with Glenda the Good, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy all talking about the ruby slippers. That’s A-Roll. The B-Roll is the jump cut to a close-up of Dorothy’s feet wearing the shoes:
Without the close up, the scene still works, with it, it works better. A close up shot of the ruby slippers alone doesn’t tell a story. In fact, that entire 2 ½ minute scene is a great learning tool showing proper editing technique.
That’s just one example. Any TV news magazine interview also is full of the reporter and cameraman shooting B-Roll such as reaction shots.
Recommended Videography Reading:
- How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro
- The DSLR Filmmaker's Handbook: Real-World Production Techniques
Drones Are Perfect For B-Roll
photo by nautiluz56 via iStock
Shooting B-Roll with a drone is a fantastic method for gathering that extra footage. Many times, filmmakers will schedule B-Roll shots with their main camera on their storyboard after the main footage is shot. But there are other methods that can be used.
One way is shooting B-Roll at the same time with a GoPro type of camera. A second method is shooting B-Roll with a drone, either before or after the A-Roll. Drone video tips can be put to use with a variety of drones, but the high-quality models made by DJI are among the better options for shooting B-Roll with a drone.
The budget friendly DJI Mavic Mini and the slightly more robust DJI Mavic Air are two excellent choices for videographers. DJI Mavic drones are good for shooting B-Roll because they have high-megapixel cameras, stabilized flying modes, and relatively long flight times.
Use Intelligent Flight Modes for Shooting B-Roll
Photo by edwin josé vega ramos from Pexels
These two DJI drones are also useful for shooting B-Roll because of the flying modes these models have. These modes allow for easily capturing certain types of B-Roll footage. Some of the flight and shoot modes may even be better for your B-Roll than using your primary camera.
Cinematographers and videographers have developed and evolved various methods and techniques in order to gain quality B-Roll video footage.
Some basic B-Roll footage and drone video tips are to use your drone for the wide establishing shot and the approach footage. The flight modes of the DJI Mavic drones make that a simple task. It’s actually easier than using your primary camera, as Jeven Dovey explains in the video below:
The intelligent flight modes can smoothly transition from the static view of the wide shot into the approach footage. Imagine your drone with its video capability is like having a 100 foot long dolly to move the camera closer.
One of the mistakes that some beginner drone videographers make is forgetting that your drone can fly at many different heights above ground, including eye level and below eye level. The DJI Mavic drones are super stable platforms for shooting video, which is a major reason why they make such good cameras for shooting B-Roll.
Special Drone Capabilities
photo by miodrag ignjatovic via iStock
Not to say that you shouldn’t use the unique overhead perspective that drones are capable of, though. Shooting B-Roll from overhead can lend an air of drama and grandeur to your edited video productions. Overuse, however, can become cliche quickly, so some caution is in order.
Other basic B-Roll with a drone can include the over the shoulder shot, close ups of action, close up of subjects and faces, and fly by shots. A neat effect that you can do with a drone that is actually difficult otherwise is fly by changing from fast to slow or vice versa. Using your drone for shooting B-Roll also allows for a much longer sweep that we may have been able to capture otherwise.
Major Motion Picture Techniques For Our Videos
The Wizard of Oz was one of the most expensive films to create up to that time. Many major motion picture studios from the past up to now have spent more money on a day of filming than our entire salary.
Many of the advanced techniques pioneered by the movie productions are available to us as modern videographers. Using a drone for shooting B-Roll video opens up the methods and techniques that can make our video productions as watchable and enjoyable for certain audiences as big budget productions.
Making good use of high-quality equipment, advanced cinematography methods and techniques, and your own creativity while shooting B-Roll with a drone will ramp up your videos.
Photo by Josh Spires - dronenr on Unsplash
Learning to shoot landscapes with a drone definitely comes with a steep learning curve. It’s incredibly difficult at first, but it slowly becomes easier and easier once you get the hang of it - just like everything else in photography!
When you’re shooting landscapes with a drone, the landscapes completely transform into something otherworldly. Where other photographers can take beautiful landscape photographs, you can take magnificent ones.
What Shooting Landscapes with a Drone Looks Like
Brendan van Son also owns a DJI Mavic 2 Pro and shows you exactly what shooting landscapes with a drone looks like in the video above.
Shooting landscapes with a drone allows you to take mesmerizing video footage of scenery, but it also allows you to take beautiful panoramas.
photo by olaser via iStock
And isn’t drone photography all about a different kind of perspective?
Getting above it all and having the capability of capturing images of the landscape from a completely different point of view is invigorating and it can stoke your creativity.
Besides, it’s a fun challenge! It’s hard enough to take great shots with a camera you’re holding in your hands while you stand on the ground. Taking great photos while the camera is flying around overhead will put your photography skills (and piloting skills) to the test.
Recommended Drone Photography Reading:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
What Drone Settings Should I Use?
photo by PhonlamaiPhoto via iStock
So, you’ve purchased your drone, watched as many tutorials as possible and have your first shoot location scouted. What settings should you use?
DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro drone features a Hasselblad camera with a 1-inch sensor that can take 20MP photos. If you are purchasing a drone specifically for landscape photography, make sure you buy one with a sensor of at least 1-inch, that way you maximize resolution without having to buy a drone that’s overly large.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro also comes with a wide-angle 28mm lens, which allows me to shoot landscape shots that don’t look bug-eyed while also allowing me to capture a wide view of the landscape below.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Most drones will allow you to get a smartphone app that syncs to your drone and keeps everything very familiar for you, meaning you can choose your shooting modes from full auto to completely manual.
But, there are some new methods you should be aware of when it comes to shooting landscapes with a drone.
For instance, “windowing” is when your drone will crop a section of your total photo resolution for you, while “subsampling” is when your drone resamples the image signal which results in less bright colors.
In the video above by Tom’s Tech Time, you can get a thorough overview of the best camera settings for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
Benefits of Shooting Landscapes with a Drone
Photo by USGS on Unsplash
One of my favorite benefits of shooting landscapes with a drone is that you can create abstract photographs of the landscape. For instance, the photo above is of highly eroded plateaus rise from the desert floor in Egypt.
Photo by USGS on Unsplash
Or, the above shot, which is of fluorescent plankton in the dark waters of the Baltic Sea.
But, abstract landscapes are not the only benefit of shooting landscapes with a drone.
You can also create new composition in old areas (textures sometimes don’t present themselves from eye level), reach hard-to-photograph places, and capture scenes over water.
Just be sure you understand local drone regulations before you fly. If you’re not sure if it’s legal to fly a drone, don’t launch! Many people have gotten into serious trouble for flying drones where they shouldn’t.
photo byborchee via iStock
Using filters for drone photography isn’t all that different from using filters for more traditional photography here on the ground. And because of that, the benefits of filters for drone photography are quite similar.
But, for the sake of being thorough, let’s review how filters can help you improve the results you get when taking photos with your drone.
Polarizing Filters for Drones
photo byStefan Tomic via iStock
A polarizing filter offers a ton of benefits for your photography, starting with its ability to minimize reflections.
If you’re shooting a landscape and water is involved, the glare of the sun off the surface of the water can be extremely distracting. But with a polarizing filter, that glare is minimized so the viewer gets a better look at the beauty captured in the shot.
photo byMariusz Switulski via iStock
Likewise, polarizers help increase the contrast in the sky, making the atmosphere a deeper blue and clouds brighter white. It can add a nice degree of pop to a landscape photo.
On top of that, polarizers reduce atmospheric haze. This is important for drone photography because sometimes distant elements in the landscape can look a little hazy. But with a polarizer on your drone’s lens, that haze is all but eliminated, resulting in a cleaner, crisper shot.
The primary difference between a polarizer for a drone and a polarizer for your normal camera is that when you’re using a normal camera, you can easily adjust the polarizer’s strengths. This is obviously not possible when the polarizer is flying around attached to your drone.
Instead, you have to preset the polarizer before you launch the drone and hope that whatever setting you chose on the polarizer works for the shots you want.
- DJI Releases Mavic Air 2 With Upgrades to Sensor, Video, Battery, and More
- The Best Drone Under $1,000: The DJI Mavic Air 2
Neutral Density Filters for Drones
photo byzsv3207 via iStock
Along with polarizers, neutral density filters are the most commonly used filters for drone photography.
An ND filter’s task is to block light. The amount of light it blocks depends on its strength. For example, an ND4 filter reduces the amount of light entering the lens by two stops. However, an ND16 filter reduces the amount of light by four stops. This means that with an ND4 you can slow the shutter speed from 1/100 seconds to 1/25 seconds, and with an ND16 you can slow the shutter from 1/400 seconds to 1/25 seconds.
But why would you want to do this?
photo byMongkolChuewong via iStock
Extending the shutter speed allows you to create long exposure images in which the movement of things like clouds, water, and cars is blurred. Today’s drones have incredibly sophisticated stabilization systems that make taking long exposures possible.
Likewise, having the ability to extend the shutter speed can help you shoot better video.
Let’s say you’re out filming on a sunny afternoon. If you relied simply on the camera settings, you’d have to use a very fast shutter speed to prevent the video from being overexposed. The problem is that a fast shutter speed gives video a very choppy look. This is where an ND filter comes in.
By blocking some of that sunshine, you can extend the shutter speed and create a video that has smooth action and a much more cinematic look.
ND-Polarizer Filters for Drones
Some companies, like Haida, have developed ND-polarizer hybrids (shown above) that give you the best of both worlds in a single filter.
There are many advantages of using this type of filter, not the least of which is that you don’t have to swap one filter out for another. Instead, you can leave the same filter on the drone’s lens whether you need to extend the shutter speed or you want to minimize glare.
Another benefit is that you don’t have to stack filters.
Rather than overloading the drone’s gimbal with the extra weight of a second filter, these ND-polarizer combo filters enable you to get the effects you need without compromising the performance of the drone’s camera system.
I have this 3-pack ND-polarizer filter kit from Haida for the DJI Mavic Air 2.
These filters have impressed me with the high-grade build quality that includes K9 optic glass for the ultimate in sharpness.
And since the frames of the filters are made with aerospace aluminum, they’re both strong and super lightweight. They’re also waterproof and have 10 layers of coatings to protect against scratches, water and oil, and reflections.
The kit includes a 3-stop, a 4-stop, and a 5-stop ND-polarizer so I have wide latitude for creating the specific looks in my photos and videos that I’m after.
Getting top-quality images and videos with your drone requires a lot more than having filters on the camera’s lens. But as we’ve discussed here, there are plenty of benefits of investing in a good set of drone filters. So far, I’m really impressed with this Haida filter pack - give it a shot and see for yourself!
You might have noticed that I've been doing a lot of articles and videos lately about drones. A big reason for that is having the opportunity to test the DJI Mavic Air 2...
While I've tested tons of drones over the years, my favorite is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. For my needs, it has the best blend of photography and videography capabilities of any drone in the DJI lineup.
I have to say that I have been absolutely blown away by the capabilities of the Mavic Air 2, particularly when it comes to still photography. But the most surprising part is this - I owned the original Mavic Air, and it sucked! I hated it so much that I sent it back within a couple of weeks. That should indicate to you how much time and effort that DJI put into improving the Mavic Air 2.
In fact, in the time I've had the Mavic Air 2 in my hot little hands, I've come to the conclusion that it is the best drone you can buy for less than $1,000. In many regards, this drone hits way above its weight class. And, honestly, with the exception of a couple of things, it goes toe to toe with the Mavic 2 Pro very well.
So, what specifically makes the Mavic Air 2 such a great drone? Let's take a look at some of its best features.
For more information or to buy a DJI Mavic Air 2, click here.
The 48-Megapixel Sensor
As I discuss in the video above, the Mavic Air 2 still only has a 1/2-inch sensor, but it's a 48-megapixel Quad Bayer sensor that gives the drone far better photo capabilities. In fact, if I had to choose between the Mavic Air 2 and the Mavic 2 Pro strictly for photography purposes, I'd choose the Mavic Air 2.
You can zoom in for a tighter shot without worrying about a ton of noise. Likewise, when you're processing the images, you can really appreciate the incredible detail, clarity, and colors in the photos.
It also helps that you can take 12-megapixel images or opt for using the full resolution of the camera to take 48-megapixel images when necessary!
The Battery Life
One of the absolute worst features about the original Mavic Air was its flight time. I could scarcely keep it in the air for 20 minutes...
But the mad scientists at DJI figured out how to wrestle more time out of the battery - a lot more time, in fact.
The Mavic Air 2 is rated for a flight time of 34 minutes (under ideal conditions, of course). I've been able to meet that mark on the few occasions lately when the wind wasn't ripping around.
Even with the vast improvement in battery life, I would still invest in a second (or third) battery. But the fact that the Mavic Air 2 improved so much in this department and can now stay in flight longer than the Mavic 2 Pro says a lot about how good this drone is.
Editor's Tip: Ready to upgrade to the Mavic Air 2 but don't have enough cash? Sell your old drone and use the proceeds to help finance the Mavic Air 2! By selling your old drone and other photography gear on Gear Focus, you can clean out your collection of gear while making money to buy new. Selling on Gear Focus couldn't be easier, either. Just sign up for a free account, create a free listing, and when your item sells, you pay the lowest seller fees out there - just 3.5%! Get started selling your old gear today.
As I explain in the video above, the Mavic Air 2 has four - yes FOUR! - hyperlapse intelligent flight modes: Free, Circle, Course Lock, and Waypoint.
Though they aren't all at the same level in terms of ease of use or intuitiveness (I'm looking at you, Waypoint...) they all provide you the opportunity to create some truly compelling footage.
On top of that, the Mavic Air 2 allows you to shoot in 8K when you're in hyperlapse mode. The detail you can get in 8K is really awesome.
I'll admit that it's weird there's no 4K hyperlapse option - just 8K and 1080p. But I'd rather have 8K than 4K!
I fully admit that if I had to choose between the Mavic Air 2 remote and the Mavic 2 Pro remote, I'd choose the latter.
That doesn't mean that the Mavic Air 2's redesigned remote isn't completely badass.
I love that DJI concealed the antennas to help give this big remote a smaller form factor. I also like that the joysticks are removable and that you can stow them away in the bottom of the remote. It makes storing the remote and removing it from my bag much easier.
I also really like the way the phone seats on top of the remote. On the original Mavic Air, I felt like I had to fight the controller to get the phone to seat properly. That's certainly not the case now.
This remote will charge your phone, and if I'm honest, I like how it looks as well.
For more information or to buy a DJI Mavic Air 2, click here.
There's Awesome Accessories
Even though the Mavic Air 2 is brand-new, there are already a host of awesome accessories you can buy to boost its functionality.
For instance, Haida makes ND/polarizer filters for the Mavic Air 2 that allow you to take long exposures and control the shutter speed as you film videos.
What's so great about these combination filters is that you don't have to mess around with multiple filters - you get the best of both worlds in one filter.
That means you can control glare with the polarizer while extending the shutter speed with the ND at the same time.
This kit comes with 3-stop, 4-stop, and 5-stop options so you have much-improved flexibility in how you use your drone for photo and video purpose.
They're inexpensive too! At less than $50, these filters are a steal for your Mavic Air 2.
Mavic Air 2 Price
All of the features I list above make the Mavic Air 2 well worth the price of admission. But when you add what I consider to be a bargain-basement price to the list, this drone becomes an even better buy.
At $799, it's half the price of a Mavic 2 Pro at the moment. But you don't get half the drone for that price. As I noted earlier, the Mavic Air 2 goes toe to toe with the Mavic 2 Pro in virtually every category.
In fact, as I see it, the only categories in which the Mavic 2 Pro beats the Mavic Air 2 is in video quality, the controller experience, stability in flight, and speed.
I'm not trying to bash the Mavic 2 Pro here. After all, it is my favorite drone of all time. But I'm trying to give context to just how good the Mavic Air 2 is. If it can play with the big boys this well at this price point, it's hard to argue against the notion that it's the best drone for under $1,000!
I think we can all agree that DJI is the king of drones.
After all, they control about 70 percent of the consumer drone market.
But now that they've unleashed their newest drone, the DJI Mavic Air, I wouldn't be surprised if their share of the consumer drone market went higher.
That's because the Mavic Air is full of innovative features, is about the size of a smartphone when its folded down, and it's priced between their existing Spark and Mavic Pro drones, starting at $799.
In other words, this thing might just be a game-changer. Here's why...
For starters, the Mavic Air is a tiny thing, weighing less than one pound, and measures 168x83x49 millimeters.
That makes the Mavic Air slightly larger than the Spark and significantly smaller than the Mavic Pro.
But like its big brother the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air has foldable arms that give it a small form factor for easy transport - something that other drones cannot claim.
And because it's so small and lightweight, DJI says the Mavic Air can reach speeds of more than 42mph when in sport mode.
That's significantly faster than the Spark (30mph) and even faster than the Mavic Pro (40mph), making this not only an easily transportable drone but a lighting-fast one as well.
Add to that a 2.5-mile flight range (when using the included controller) and flight capabilities in winds of up to 22mph, and you have the makings of one heck of a capable drone.
Onboard is a 12-megapixel camera that sports a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that's paired with a 24mm f/2.8 lens.
The drone has 8GB of built-in storage and includes a USB-C port for easy transfer of photo and video files.
Speaking of video, the Mavic Air can shoot in 4K up to 30fps and slow-motion 1080p video up to 120fps, and those videos will be ultra-smooth thanks to the built-in three-axis gimbal.
This bad boy can also shoot HDR, and with a 32-megapixel panoramic mode, you can take breathtakingly wide and detailed shots of the landscape as you fly.
The Mavic Air is loaded with features to help you fly safer, too.
DJI's already excellent obstacle-avoidance system has been upgraded with seven cameras as well as infrared sensors that help pilots avoid other drones as well as obstacles like trees, buildings, and the like.
The Air incorporates the Spark's ingenious gesture controls as well, so you can launch the drone and take pictures with specific hand movements.
It also incorporates intelligent flight modes that allow you to take specific types of sweeping shots, like a boomerang mode that whizzes around the pilot in a circular motion and ActiveTrack mode, which allows you to track up to 16 different subjects at the same time, even if they're moving.
With a flight time of 21 minutes, an included remote control (that's foldable!), and a companion app that allows you to immediately share your photos and videos on social media, this drone has all the makings of a game-changer. Get more details about the Mavic Air in the video above by The Verge.
Not only do you get new gadgetry with unparalleled performance, but you also get some of the best features of the Mavic Pro in a smaller, less expensive drone.
What's not to like about that?
At the core of every great photographer is the uncanny ability to capture a subject from a unique perspective. Finding the best angle for a particular photo is the most important part of great photo composition.
Drones allow photographers to capture dramatic landscape imagery from unique bird’s eye view perspectives that were previously a significant challenge.
Equipped with a drone, you can create some truly stunning pieces of art. After all, the varied landscapes we have at our disposal offer tons of textures, colors, patterns, and other features to give drone photos an otherworldly look.
Here's a small collection of photos to help inspire your drone-based landscape photography.
There are two things that jump out at me about this photo.
First is the road, which winds its way through the forest like a ribbon.
Not only does that leading line help move our eyes from one side of the photo to the other, but it also helps break up the texture created by the trees.
Speaking of which, that texture is the other feature that really sets this picture apart.
The top-down view of the trees highlights the texture, creating an image with great depth. That's important because sometimes images taken at an extreme downward angle can feel flat.
When you tackle landscapes with your drone, look for ways to add texture to enhance the depth of the shot.
Editor's Tip: For the ultimate experience in drone photography, we suggest getting outfitted with the DJI Inspire 2 X7 Premium Pack. This kit has everything you need to photograph gorgeous landscapes, including the Zenmuse X7 gimbal camera, intelligent flight batteries with a portable power pack, a remote, a premium lens filter pack, and so much more. It's a complete drone system with all the accessories you need. Learn more about this phenomenal aircraft at Drone World.
This photo shows how repeating lines help give structure to the shot.
Rather than lead our eyes across the image like the previous example, these lines break up the sea of green of the field.
The resulting image has visual tension from left to right that makes for a much more interesting viewing experience. That visual tension is enhanced with the placement of the tractor in the middle of the frame.
Though placing the subject in the middle of the image is usually problematic, in this case it works beautifully.
Adding people to your drone photos is another way to create an interesting dynamic.
In this case, without the two people in the shot, it would be difficult to determine how large the landscape features are.
However, their inclusion in this photo makes it easier to understand the size and scale of the rock. Essentially, they serve as a reference point and provide visual clues to help us grasp the scope of the rock formation and the world that surrounds them.
Additionally, this landscape is relatively devoid of color. Though there are beautiful textures happening, it begged for something else to grab our attention. The inclusion of the people helps do just that.
When taking a landscape photo from ground level, one of the most important rules in the book is maintaining straight horizons.
However, when using a drone to photograph a landscape from above, you can throw that rule out the window.
In this example, you can see how framing the shot on a slightly diagonal plane creates a photo with much more visual interest.
In other words, the manner in which all the lines in the photo lead from upper-left to lower-right help turn this beach scene into something more abstract and whimsical.
Speaking of abstract, if you want to create a landscape photo with an impressionist vibe, try framing a close-up shot.
The example above demonstrates the value of hovering at a lower altitude to achieve a tighter frame on the landscape.
In this case, by framing out the larger landscape, the photographer highlighted the pattern created by the rice fields.
Notice also how the photographer focused on analogous colors. The various shades of green give the shot beautiful continuity and provide an abstract tone.
Editor's Tip: Fly and hover longer with the DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo. This kit comes with three batteries, a charging hub, and a car charger to keep your batteries ready for action. The Mavic Pro is equipped with an OccuSync transmission system that provides up to 4.3 miles of range and an obstacle avoidance system to ensure safe flying.
Another method of creating a satisfying viewing experience is the minimal approach.
In the photo above, the simplicity of the shot is what makes it so breathtakingly beautiful.
As you can see, many of the attributes of the previous photos are present in this shot - the diagonal lines, the presence of different textures, and the use of muted colors. Plus, isolating the bright red umbrella in space enhances the feeling of minimalism.
In other words, when taking photos with your drone, don't feel that you have to include as much as possible into the scene. Instead, utilize the techniques outlined here to create stunning visuals and capture your subject matter in dramatic and unique ways.
Finally, as these photos demonstrate, you don't have to aim your camera out toward the horizon. Instead, look down, look around, and discover the abundance of abstract beauty that surrounds you.
I remember when I started out in photography thinking how hard it was.
I had to keep all the buttons and dials straight, think about the different exposure settings, and bear in mind all the compositional tricks I'd read about.
Given how hard it can be to master photography with a normal camera as you're standing on the ground, it makes sense that becoming a master drone photographer is much, much harder.
The fails in the video below by FailArmy certainly prove that...
Apart from being both hilarious and cringeworthy, these fails remind us how not to fly our drones.
That got me thinking about a few drone safety tips that will keep your drone in the air and everything below it safe and sound.
Editor's Tip: Get the ultimate in safe flying by investing in a top-quality drone from DJI, like the Inspire 2 shown above. DJI drones offer tons of safety features including obstacle avoidance systems, redundant sensor systems, improved transmission technology for longer-distance flying, and so much more. Learn more about DJI drones by visiting Drone World.
Read the Owner's Manual
I hate reading owner's manuals. Then again, who doesn't?
But just because reading the owner's manual isn't all that exciting doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it.
After all, how can you possibly fly safely when you don't have any idea how to operate it?
That's true on a couple of different levels...
First, without reading the owner's manual, you aren't fully aware of how all the controls work.
Second, the owner's manual will give you a rundown of all the drone's systems and features, including all the safety features you can utilize to fly safely.
As someone that has been known to skip reading owner's manuals in the past, trust me when I say that it is well worth the time to get familiar with your drone before ever taking your first flight.
Check Your Airspace
There's been a lot of discussion about where you can't fly drones, which might make it seem like there's just not that many drone-friendly places left anymore.
However, that's just not true.
In fact, there are tons of areas where you can fly your drone and do so safely. All you need is the U.S. Air Space Map.
You can check flight restrictions in your area, such as for airports or national parks, see the airspace rules for your geographic location, and view public flight information in the area.
There's various maps you can consult to map out your flight plan, a pre-flight checklist to ensure your drone is ready for flight, and you can even request airspace authorization in some U.S.-controlled airspace, too.
In other words, it's the ideal companion for any drone pilot to ensure that each and every flight will be safe before the drone even lifts into the air.
Editor's Tip: Taking off and landing a drone is one of the highest-pressure situations for a pilot. But you can ease that stress by investing in a drone that has automatic takeoff and landing capabilities, like the DJI Spark shown above. With FaceAware technology, Spark can lift off from your hand, simply by recognizing your face. Once in the air, Spark can be controlled with simple hand gestures, making flying it much easier and safer. To learn more about Spark's safety features, click here.
Pay Attention While Flying
It seems so simple, yet if the video at the beginning of this article is any proof, if you don't pay attention to what you're doing while you're piloting a drone, disaster can strike.
In fact, one of the most common causes of drone crashes is pilot inattention and flying too fast, too low or too close to objects.
That means avoid talking to people as you're piloting your drone, don't answer your phone while you're piloting your drone, and definitely don't consume alcohol while piloting your drone, either.
Part of paying attention while flying is also being smart with what you ask your drone to do.
Doing tricks, flying backwards, and buzzing people and objects might sound like fun, but the likely outcome of doing so it damage to your drone, to someone's property or causing injury to a person.
When it comes down to it, flying safe means being prepared, practicing, and committing yourself to being a good pilot.
After all, that's what you expect of other pilots, so the same should be expected of you too!
Image Credit: Creative-Family via iStock
Starting a photography business is a difficult task, but in today's world in which we have vast arrays of applications of photography (and technologies to do it with), there's more opportunities than ever to put your photography skills to use in a business setting.
One aspect of photography that's really taken off - pardon the pun - is drone photography.
Drones are no longer prohibitively expensive, so even beginners can buy a drone with a highly capable camera and put it to use.
And of the best applications for drone photography in the business realm is real estate.
That being the case, here's a few crucial tips to keep in mind when starting a real estate photography business.
Plan and Prepare
Image Credit: TLFurrer via iStock
Like anything, developing a solid real estate photography business requires that you spend a great deal of time planning and preparing. That means tackling things like:
- Developing a business plan that outlines your startup costs, your target market, the type of business you wish to form, your business name, and so forth.
- Establishing a legal business to protect your personal assets should you be sued or the business goes under.
- Registering for taxes and opening a business bank account that's separate from your personal bank account.
- Developing your business brand and devising a marketing strategy, including advertising, creating social media accounts, and having a website.
Of course, starting a new business requires much, much more than the short bulleted list above, but these represent some crucial first steps to take if you want to build something successful.
Get Some Practice
Image Credit: @jansmartino via iStock
Naturally, you also want to prepare yourself to be a high-quality drone photographer and pilot, and that means practicing, and practicing a lot.
Though the idea is obviously the same, drone photography requires many more hard skills to master than simply picking up a DSLR and taking photos from your eye level.
Even if you've got some experience in using drones for photography, it's still important to:
- Practice flying in an open area - like a field - away from people, homes, and other potential hazards.
- Defer to other aircraft when flying, and obey all FAA regulations regarding drone flights. Also be sure to register your drone with the FAA.
- Avoid flying in bad weather to protect your drone and minimize the possibility of wind, rain, and other elements causing a crash.
- Practice both still photography and videography, as both will come in handy for marketing yourself as a real estate photographer. That includes learning the best angles and flight paths as well as learning the best camera settings to get the best shots.
Again, there's a lot more to becoming a master drone pilot and drone photographer, but knocking each of the above items off your to-do list will certainly help!
Get a Drone That's Up to the Task
Before you can practice your craft as a real estate drone photographer, you need to equip yourself with a drone that's up to the daily task of real estate photography.
I think I have just the drone for that...
The DJI Inspire 2 Eagle Edition by Drone World is as impressive a drone as I've seen, and with its robust set of features and add-ons, it's one of the best drones for commercial use on the market today.
That's because Drone World designed this kit with prosumers and commercial drone photography in mind. That means it has the ultimate in performance and features that a commercial drone pilot could want.
For starters, this rig has a new HD Helical Antenna that offers four-times better performance.
That means you can fly the drone farther and with greater confidence because of a stronger signal.
That also means that you get to enjoy 720p resolution with minimal latency as well as improved control over the drone for increased safety.
What client wouldn't want a pilot that has better control and can fly safer when the drone is hovering over their home?!
The Inspire 2 Eagle Edition has all the bells and whistles that will help you take the most impactful real estate photos and videos, too.
That includes a filter kit with a polarizing filter that helps minimize glare and boost contrast in the sky. Also included is a variable neutral density filter that gives you the ability to slow the shutter for gorgeously smooth cinematic videos.
As if that's not enough, Drone World has even thrown in a dual-stacked neutral density/polarizing filter combination so you get the best of a polarizer and neutral density filter in one.
Add in a 240GB CINESSD card, a 64GB memory card, two batteries for extended flying time, a battery hub and charger, a controller sunshade, and more, and you have the makings of one heck of a commercial drone bundle!
That's not to mention that this kit even comes with the awesome hard-sided case shown above that gives you a way to easily and safely transport your gear from one appointment to the next!
That means that Drone World really has thought of everything to help you get your drone photography business off the ground.
You get a fantastic, highly-capable drone, all the accessories you need to create high-quality photos and videos, and loads of features that make creating photos and videos an easier process.
What's not to like about that?!
Image Credit: Mark Brooks via iStock
Planning, preparation, practice, and getting the right gear are just a few of the steps you'll need to take when developing a drone photography business.
But like anything else, your success will depend not just on your skill and talents as a photographer, but on your ability to market yourself, meet deadlines, have positive interactions with clients, and so forth.
Drones offer real estate photographers all sorts of benefits, from being able to show the entire property in one frame to being able to inspect the quality of the roof to providing a unique and eye-catching way to document a property.
That being the case, it only makes sense to consider drone photography for real estate as a top choice for a drone photography business.
Image Credit: evgenyatamanenko via iStock
With a budget of $5,000, you can go hog wild on photography gear for the photographer on your list.
Whether they want a camera or a photography trip, a new drone or a new computer, there are tons of options to consider.
Honestly, the hardest part of having a $5,000 budget is simply deciding how you're going to spend it!
Here's our list of the best gifts for photographers under $5,000.
Let’s face it - photography gear can be expensive. Really expensive.
That’s a problem year-round, but when you’re holiday shopping and have tons of gifts to buy, it’s even more difficult to justify getting your loved one the $1,000 lens that they really want.
Fortunately, Lensfinder can help in more ways than one.
On the one hand, you can find great deals on pre-owned camera lenses at Lensfinder.
That means that you can get a truly top-notch lens for the photographer in your life but do so without busting your budget. It’s a win-win!
On the other hand, if you have some old lenses that you don’t use anymore, you can list them for sale on Lensfinder. When the lens sells, you can use it for holiday spending money for the photographer in your life.
Image Credit: xxmmxx via iStock
The best part? You can list your lenses for sale for free.
There’s only a transaction fee (just 3.99%) when the lens sells (with a maximum fee of $500). If your lens doesn’t sell, there’s no charge at all!
And for peace of mind, the Lensfinder platform has advanced fraud filtering for both buyers and sellers as well as mediation services in the event that there’s a problem.
Payments are made and received via PayPal, so you can rest easy knowing that the transaction is safe and secure.
In other words, Lensfinder is the ideal solution for your holiday shopping needs. Either use it to find a loved one a killer lens or use it to sell old gear to pad your pockets for holiday spending!
DJI Inspire 2 Eagle Edition Kit
Designed especially for prosumers, commercial applications, and business applications, the DJI Inspire 2 Eagle Edition Kit by Drone World represents one of the top drone kits that’s currently available.
The DJI Inspire 2 was already a great drone, but after Drone World’s engineers worked their magic, you truly have a beast of a machine. The new HD Helical Antenna offers four-times better performance, including 720p resolution with minimal latency. That means you get more consistent and reliable video feed performance from the drone. You can see this drone kit in action in the video below:
This kit also comes packed with lens filters that allow you to enhance the images you take with the drone. That includes two dual-stacked neutral density/polarizer filters, a polarizer, and a variable neutral density filter that ranges from ND 2 to ND 64.
And to minimize the time you’re charging your Inspire 2’s batteries, this kit includes a battery hub and charger that charges two items simultaneously. Even better, you can plug four devices into the hub and it will automatically charge the two that have the highest battery percentage so you can get back to flying sooner rather than later.
Other accessories in the Inspire 2 Eagle Edition Kit include a power bank portable battery charger, a 64GB memory card, a controller sunshade for easier video viewing in bright conditions, and an FPV mini drone, among many other items. That’s not to mention that a hard-sided rolling case is also included with room for the drone, up to 16 batteries, a remote, monitors, lenses, and all the other gear you need to tackle professional drone work.
This drone kit takes what was already a fantastic drone and makes it even better. Between the expertly designed and crafted accessories outlined above and the Inspire 2’s inherent capabilities - up to 5.2K recording, a top speed of 67 mph, a dual-battery system with 27-minute flight time, intelligent flight modes, obstacle avoidance, and other technologically-advanced features - you have the makings of a professional filmmaking drone like no other. See these and other features in the video above.
National Photographic Adventures
National Photographic Adventures is one of the premier photography tour companies in the world.
Spearheaded by master photographer Kevin Vandivier, a 40-year veteran of photography, National Photographic Adventures will put the photographer on your holiday list in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, providing opportunities to learn and grow as a photographer along the way.
With Kevin's expertise - he's won multiple awards, been published in Life Magazine, National Geographic, and Texas Monthly, and shown his work all over the world - photographers of all skill levels will find a wealth of opportunities to learn from Kevin's experiences.
Speaking of experiences, National Photographic Adventures specializes in taking participants to unforgettable places.
From Texas Hill Country to Iceland, Monument Valley to Teton National Park, there's no shortage of places for your favorite photographer to experience the beauty of the world with their camera.
Better still, each adventure is limited to just seven people, so each attendee can benefit from one-on-one learning time with Kevin.
From composition to lighting to processing images, photographers on these adventures will learn essential techniques for improving their images.
Each participant's work will also be published in National Photographic Magazine, with several copies given to each attendee for sharing with friends and family.
Taken together, all these benefits make a trip with National Photographic Adventures the ultimate photography gift for 2018!
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
If the photographer on your shopping list is a Canon fan, why not upgrade their camera experience with a top-of-the-line Canon EOS 5D Mark IV?
The 5D Mark IV is a workhorse of a camera that offers tons of features for photographers that want to step up their game.
The 30.4-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor captures clean, bright images, and the camera's DIGIC 6+ image processor makes the camera a powerful addition to any photographer's kit that's looking for images that have fine detail and high resolution.
The 5D Mark IV offers excellent low-light shooting capability with a native ISO range of 100-32000.
For occasions when the ISO really needs to be pushed, the camera is capable of shooting at up to ISO 102400.
Even at higher ISOs, the 5D Mark IV offers low-noise images with excellent sharpness in a variety of shooting conditions.
Of course, the camera is packed with modern features that any photographer will appreciate.
That includes GPS, Wi-Fi, and NFC, an enhanced autofocus system, a weather-sealed body, and a 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD monitor, among many other amenities.
Any Canon shooter would love to have this camera, and with pre-owned models going for around $2,500, you can make that dream come true for your favorite photographer while saving half of your budget!
I shoot with a Nikon D850, and I can personally attest that this is one of the best cameras on the market today. I can say that because I’ve tested and owned cameras from Sony, Nikon, Pentax, FujiFilm, and other manufacturers over the years. In a word, this camera is incredible, and any professional photographer would love to get this for the holidays this year!
Perhaps that most impressive feature of the D850 is its sensor, a 45.7-megapixel back-illuminated behemoth that produces jaw-droppingly detailed images.
In fact, no other camera has beaten the Nikon D850 when it comes to image quality testing from DxOMark. The D850’s sensor was the first to achieve a perfect 100/100 score, and only the Sony A7R III has ever matched that mark.
Not only does the sensor produce gorgeously detailed images, but it also offers excellent dynamic range so you get beautiful highlights and shadows without losing detail, even when the lighting conditions would challenge other cameras. The sensor also performs beautifully in low-light situations, offering an unmatched level of noise control, even when pushing the ISO to the limits.
The D850 also has a fantastic 153-point autofocus system with 99 cross-type points that gives you the ability to set and maintain focus on a variety of subjects, even those that move quickly, like wildlife. The 7fps burst shooting speed is an excellent feature for capturing action as well, and with an optional battery grip, the burst shooting speed can reach 9fps.
The massive buffer - it can handle 170 12-bit RAW files - is a much-appreciated feature for photographers that need to shoot a lot of photos in rapid fashion as well.
As if all that isn’t enough, the D850 has cutting-edge features that truly make it a one-of-a-kind camera.
It’s got built-in focus stacking that allows you to combine up to 300 images, a silent shutter mode that’s perfect for things like wedding photography, wireless control via Nikon’s SnapBridge, a tilting touchscreen LCD, a weather-sealed body...the list goes on and on.
Aside from the incredible list of specifications this camera has, it’s just a great camera to use.
The beefy grip feels good in your hands, and the layout of the buttons and knobs on the camera has that familiar Nikon feel. That makes it easy to learn where everything is so you can make on-the-fly adjustments without even taking the camera away from your eye.
And for a big, professional camera, it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying around a giant rig. I wouldn’t say that the D850 is lightweight, but it at least feels like it’s a svelte camera, even after carrying it around for a few hours.
So, the moral of the story here is that if you’ve got a budget of $5,000, the Nikon D850 should get strong consideration as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.
Best of all, with incredible pricing at Paul’s Photo, you can pick up the D850 for your favorite photographer without even coming close to the $5,000 mark!
Microsoft Surface Studio
If you really want to impress the photographer on your holiday shopping list, it's hard to go wrong with the Microsoft Surface Studio.
With a gorgeous 28-inch PixelSense display to delight their eyes, the Surface Studio is a fantastic computer for editing photos.
And since the screen is both tilting and touch-enabled, it's also highly functional for editing photos and other daily tasks of being a photographer.
Throw in the Surface Pen and Surface dial, and you have the ultimate computing package for photographers.
Plus, since the Surface Studio's giant screen has a Zero Gravity Hinge, it's super simple to adjust - very light pressure on the screen will move it backward or forward as needed.
This particular model has an Intel Core i7 processor for fast computing, 32GB of RAM, and 2TB of disk space, so it'll be a fast companion with tons of storage for your favorite photographer for years to come!
Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Full Frame Camera and 24-70mm f/4 S Lens
Nikon just released the Z7 full frame mirrorless camera to much fanfare, and any professional photographer that you're shopping for this holiday season would no doubt love to have one of these in their camera bag.
For starters, the Z7 has a top-of-the-line 45.7-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor that captures beautifully detailed shots.
Paired with an EXPEED 6 Image Processing Engine, this camera makes quick work of taking photos, even in sub-optimal conditions.
The 493-point phase-detect autofocus system helps ensure photographers get their subjects in sharp focus, and the built-in 5-axis vibration reduction comes in handy for handheld shooting without worrying as much about camera shake.
Like any modern camera should have, the Z7 also sports ultra high definition 4K video capabilities at 30p.
Whether shooting photos or video, photographers will appreciate the large 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen LCD as well.
The Nikon Z7 features a 3.6m-dot electronic viewfinder, 9 fps continuous shooting, and a native ISO range of 64-25600.
There's a top panel dot-matrix OLED screen, an XQD card slot, and the Z7 is compatible with current FX lenses (with an adaptor).
In other words, this little full frame mirrorless camera packs a solid punch, and at just under $4,000 from National Camera Exchange, you can give this camera and a new NIKKOR 24-70mm f/4 S lens this year without even coming close to your $5,000 budget!
eMotimo spectrum ST4 Run & Gun Bundle
For the photographer on your list that's itching to add videography to their repertoire, the eMotimo spectrum ST4 Run & Gun Bundlespectrum ST4 Run & Gun Bundle is a perfect gift with a $5,000 budget.
Included in this bundle are a spectrum ST4 4-axis motion control unit, a eMotimo heavy duty L-bracket for mounting a camera, an eMotimo Fz focus motor, and iFootage Shark Slider with both two-foot and four-foot lengths.
Also included is an iFootage integration kit with the motor of your choice, a uSD card with instructions, an Arca compatible quick release clamp for tilt, and an Arca compatible plate for pan axis.
In other words, this bundle is loaded for bear with all the fixings a photographer needs to create breathtaking cinematic films and time-lapse videos!
Arca-Swiss F-Classic 4x5 View Camera
For discerning photographers that enjoy working in medium format, it’s tough to beat the Arca-Swiss 4x5.
This is a professional-grade tool that is both easily transported and produces high-quality images.
It’s made specifically for 4x5 medium format film and digital backs made to fit medium format digital camera systems.
It’s a fully modular system, too, with a wide array of accessories for everything from viewing to conversion.
Whether it’s used for film or digital prints, this camera will bring a smile to any photographer’s face!
Best of all, it's well below the $5,000 budget mark, so you can give an awesome gift and save a ton of money, too!
Amazon Gift Card
Totally stumped regarding gift ideas for photographers on your list?
Why not go the easy route and get them an Amazon gift card?
Though a gift card isn't exactly the sexiest gift, when the photographer in your family sees that you dropped $5,000 into a few gift cards (there's a $2,000 limit per card), they'll love it just the same.
With an Amazon gift card, they can buy whatever they want - a new lens, a second camera body, lighting gear, a laptop - you name it!
As far as flexibility goes, there's nothing better to give a photographer than a gift card with some serious money loaded onto it!
I know we've still got over a month until Christmas, but the clock is ticking to get awesome gifts for the photographers on your holiday shopping list.
The question is, what can you get them that will have that wow factor and totally knock their socks off?
Well, I've got quite a list for you...
And this isn't just some random collection of photography gifts, either. I have personal experience with every single item listed below.
Take it from me, if you need to shop for a photographer, there's something on this list that they will fall in love with!
DJI Mavic Pro
If you’re pressed for time and trying to find ultimate gift for the photographer in your life, consider buying something truly impressive that will take their photography to new heights...literally!
The DJI Mavic Pro is a small but powerful personal drone that offers incredible portability and ease of use while giving you the ability to capture amazing photos at the same time.
Get a load of some of these features…
The Mavic Pro has 24 high-performance computing cores and an all-new OccuSync transmission system that gives it top-notch performance for greater distances. What I found most impressive about this feature is that you can enjoy full HD video streaming from up to 4.3 miles away!
And you don’t have to worry about flying into things, either, because the Mavic Pro has a FlightAutonomy system that detects obstacles up to 49 feet away. Fly with confidence up to 40 mph knowing the Mavic Pro will avoid anything in its path. That feature has saved me a few times!
FlightAutonomy isn’t just for obstacle avoidance, though. It also gives you the ability to land the drone in the exact spot from which it took off. The system also enables the drone to hover more precisely in varied environments, and keep the drone the same elevation above the ground, no matter the terrain.
Additionally, the Mavic Pro has a 4K camera that’s stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal, offering gorgeous, high-resolution photos and smooth-as-silk 4K video at 30fps.
The Mavic Pro has an improved battery life, too. Why fly for just 10 or 12 minutes when you can fly for 27?!
Another feature that I really appreciate is ActiveTrack. Using ActiveTrack, the Mavic Pro can follow the subject from a front or rear position (or circling them), fly alongside the subject as it moves, and even maintain its focus on the subject as it flies in for close-ups and out for wide shots.
Perhaps most impressive, though, is Tripod Mode.
Sometimes, you need to fly your drone in tight quarters, such as indoors. In that case, flight movements need to be slow and precise. That’s where Tripod Mode comes in: it gives you pinpoint control so the drone can be moved with precision to ensure safe passage.
Clearly, the Mavic Pro is the perfect gift for photographers and videographers because it is loaded with incredible features that make taking photos and videos a breeze.
As a sidenote, DJI just released the Mavic Pro Platinum (shown above) that is 60% quieter and features a longer flight time of 30 minutes. If the photographer on your list wants something that extends their photographic capabilities even further, you might consider it!
Let’s face it, there are a ton of places where you can pick up one of these. With that in mind, I am a bit picky, and recommend “Drone World” for whatever your drone needs are. That's mainly because these guys have insane customer service, and are the largest DJI authorized dealer with something like 5 years of drone experience and I want to say upwards of 10 years of web sales/service.
Coming from the high-powered automotive industry, I love modifications. So when I found out these guys modify drones that got me excited. And when I say modify, they supercharge these things! HA! Now you're talking my language and scored some extra points! Speaking of which, if you are like me, you should check out this beast: DJI Mavic Pro MaXX Mod Kit.
BumbleJax Acrylic Photo Block
I think one of the most pleasant surprises I've gotten this year is when I ordered a print of my son, and opted to get it as an acrylic photo block.
Now, I say that I was surprised because in the past, I ordered some not-so-great acrylic blocks that just looked like some mass-produced trinket.
I was determined not to make that same mistake again...
So, I hopped online and found BumbleJax, a Seattle-based company that creates acrylic blocks.
But they don't just make acrylic blocks - they handcraft them.
After reading a few hundred reviews saying how awesome these acrylic blocks were, I pulled the trigger and got the 8x6, one-inch-thick block shown above.
To say that I was blown away when this thing arrived at my house is a complete understatement.
Right out of the box, I could tell that this was not like the previous acrylic blocks I'd ordered from other places.
The diamond-polished acrylic looks like a million bucks. The depth it gives the photo is amazing!
The acrylic also enhances the colors and the contrast of the photo. That's due in part to the metallic photo paper BumbleJax used for the print, as well.
The other factor that makes these things look so fantastic is that BumbleJax face mounts the image onto the acrylic. That way the vibrancy of the colors can really shine through.
It looks so good, in fact, that my wife decided that she wanted the photo block for her desk at work! I wouldn't let her steal it, so she's getting one of her own for Christmas.
Heck, I even ordered a second photo block from BumbleJax, this time a larger 15x10 version of one of my landscape photos.
Again, the quality certainly did not disappoint. The photo block really has a huge impact on my foyer.
One other thing I like about these photo blocks is that they can stand on their own on a table or desk or you can mount them on the wall.
In other words, this is the perfect gift idea for a photographer or a loved one that just wants an awesome photo to display in their home or office.
I suggest you visit BumbleJax to see all the different sizes and options they offer. You won't be disappointed!
Holdfast Sightseer Backpack
Photo by Brandon Burk
Every year, I head up to New York City for the Photo Plus Expo.
And every year, I make it a point to visit the Holdfast booth because they make some of the best camera bags I've ever had the pleasure of using.
To say that Holdfast's craftsmanship is second-to-none is really the understatement of the century.
I mean, their products show how dedicated they are not just to aesthetics but to functionality as well.
Photo by Brandon Burk
Their new Sightseer Backpack certainly fits the bill for an awesome gift for the photographer on your holiday list.
This thing will carry all the gear you could possibly need while still giving you easy access to your camera when quick shots are needed.
That's because it's the only backpack on earth that has an integrated slider for your camera. That means you can safely and securely carry your camera on the outside of the bag where you can grab it and shoot at a moment's notice.
Something else that blew me away about this bag is that it's completely expandable.
There's tons of pouches you can add to the outside of the bag for carrying anything from your mobile phone to extra lenses.
Photo by Brandon Burk
So this bag impresses with its sheer capability to carry tons of stuff and for its ease of use.
But the combination of waxed canvas and leather on the exterior and Aztec flannel fleece on the interior just looks incredible.
The canvas and leather are waterproof, too, so it's not like they don't have a function in addition to their beautiful form. There's even waterproof zippers for those occasions when you're shooting in some really rough weather.
And since I enjoy landscape photography, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that this is a backpack. It sits well on your shoulders, stays put, and is comfortable to carry.
What's not to like about that?
When you're thinking about a last-minute gift for a photographer, trust me, they will LOVE a Holdfast Sightseer Backpack.
Holdfast Roamographer Bag
Another one of my absolute favorite photography accessories is the Holdfast Roamographer bag.
Like the Sightseer Backpack, the Roamographer is gorgeously crafted and truly looks like a piece of art. When you hold it and touch it, you can sense the hard work that went into designing the bag and building it to be something that lasts forever.
I can be hard on camera bags, that's for sure. But no matter what paces I put the Roamographer through, it's certainly up to the task.
There's actually two Roamographers - a large version for DSLR shooters and a small version for mirrorless shooters.
Either way, what you get is a bag that's purpose-built to help you get your gear from point A to point B safely and securely.
That starts with the removable camera inserts that hug your gear and keep it from clanking around inside the bag.
The key word here is "removable"...
That means that when I need the bag for a weekend trip that doesn't involve photography, I can just slide the insert out and I've got an awesome weekend bag that fits all the essentials for a couple of days away from the grind.
But when I do need to carry my gear, this thing more than gets it done.
I love the fact that there's carrier straps on the exterior of the bag so I can easily carry my tripod.
The other thing I really appreciate about the Roamographer is the shoulder strap.
If you've ever carried a heavy bag with a flimsy strap, you know how uncomfortable that can be.
But with the Roamographer, my shoulders rejoice under the shearling-lined padding that make it a breeze to carry.
And like the Sightseer Backpack, the Roamographer allows you to secure a small camera to the shoulder strap, that way you can fire off some quick shots without having to set your bag down to unpack your camera.
If it sounds like Holdfast thought of everything with this bag, they did...
Even the fussiest of photographers on your shopping list won't have a negative thing to say about this bag. If you need something that is sure to impress, give the gift of a Holdfast Roamographer bag this year.
Looking for the perfect gift for photographers and videographers on your list? Look no further than the DJI Spark.
This mini drone is ideal for a loved one who loves to fly but wants to avoid carrying a large aircraft everywhere they go. As someone that loves photography and trained as a commercial airline pilot, I can tell you that this is a fantastic gift for the photographer on your list!
Though the Spark is small, that doesn’t mean this mini drone is light on features…
In fact, Spark has all of DJI’s signature technologies, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.
That includes a 12-megapixel camera, a mechanical 2-axis gimbal for clear, sharp images and smooth video, and UltraSmooth technology that reduces camera shake and rolling shutter effects. The f/2.6 25mm lens means you can get wide-angle shots, even if the lighting conditions are less than ideal.
Something that I find to be incredibly helpful is the fact that getting the drone airborne is easy too - Spark has FaceAware technology that allows it to take off from your hand by recognizing your face. Crazy, right?! And after takeoff, it hovers automatically, all within just a few seconds of being turned on.
But if you ask me, the best feature of the Spark are the intelligent flight modes:
- QuickShot allows you to select from four cinematic shots (rocket, dronie, circle, and helix) to capture professional-looking video.
- TapFly enables precision flying with just a tap on your phone screen. Simply indicate where you want the drone to fly by tapping your screen, and Spark will fly there while avoiding obstacles and maintaining a constant altitude. I cannot tell you how cool of a feature this is!
- ActiveTrack recognizes objects and track them from the front, the back or the side.
- PalmControl means pilots can maneuver Spark without a controller. Just make specific movements with your hand, and Spark will move accordingly.
As if that’s not impressive enough, consider this…
Spark can fly over 31 mph and has a maximum flight time of 16 minutes. Additionally, you can see full HD video from the drone from up to 1.2 miles away, and with DJI’s FlightAutonomy system, pilots can fly knowing the drone will avoid obstacles on its own.
At $499, the DJI Spark is one heck of a buy this holiday season. If the photographer in your life wants to expand his or her creativity, there’s no better way to do so than with a drone!
As I mentioned earlier, if you're in the market for a DJI drone, follow my lead and head over to Drone World to find what you need. They've got upgraded kits available, and tons of other great accessories, too. Check out the DJI Spark and see what I mean when I say it's the ultimate gift for photographers!
Sometimes, the best gift for a photographer isn't the flashiest, but instead something that they will use each and every day to improve their ability to get the shots they want.
That's the category into which band.it falls...
This is a new company to me. I first encountered them at Photo Plus, and I was so impressed that I had to order the product right then and there.
I know when I'm in the zone and taking photo after photo, sometimes I struggle to find my zoom ring and focus ring as quickly as I'd like.
Well, band.it solves that problem.
The soft, elastomer band fits any lens, giving you a tactile clue as to where your focus ring or zoom ring is. That means no more fumbling around looking like an idiot like I used to do on occasion before putting this bad boy on my lens!
But band.it isn't just for helping you find the rings on the lens...
Instead, it helps you improve your grip on the lens. And that improved grip means you get sharper photos.
These little guys also help protect the delicate zoom and focus rings from damage.
It's about $200 to repair a lens ring (don't ask me how I know that...), but for just $25, you can protect the lens ring with a band.it.
And as if that's not enough to like, consider this - band.it also prevents lens creep. That means that if you're always on the hunt for a unique angle and you're shooting at a steep incline or decline, band.it will help keep your lens rings right where you want them, not where gravity wants to take them!
This is a fantastic stocking-stuffer idea for photographers. If I didn't already buy a band.it for myself, you can believe they'd be on my Christmas list this year!
I'm not a for-hire photographer, but being that I'm a new dad, I love to take photos of my son, who's two-and-a-half.
We take selfies with each other every single day, and that collection of images is one of the most cherished things I have in this world.
But sometimes, I like to take more formal photos of my little guy, and that requires a little more effort than turning on the front-facing camera on my cell phone...
That's where Click Props has saved my bacon.
These guys put out incredible backdrops for portraits that give you the ability to take professional-looking images that look like they came straight out of a portrait studio.
That's because they craft their backdrops using 550gsm vinyl. That means you get a high-quality, durable backdrop that will stand the test of time and look great for years to come.
And if the photographer on your holiday list is like me and has a little kid to photograph, they'll appreciate the fact that these backdrops are super easy to clean!
You can hang their backdrops easily and with confidence as well. There's heavy-duty grommets every 12-inches, so you don't have to worry about rips or sagging.
There's a variety of sizes too, which any professional will appreciate, and more than 200 designs to fit your favorite photographer's style and aesthetic.
One more thing...
As a businessman, there's something else that I really like about Click Props...
In this industry, you get to know other companies pretty well, and let's just say that some of them focus on profits and not on actually helping their customers.
Click Props is certainly one of the good guys because they are with you at your side before, during, and after the sale.
Whenever I've had questions, they've had answers. And it's not the short "you're annoying me" sort of answers, either. They're genuine folks that truly want to help you take the best possible photos.
I can't even imagine how handy these backdrops would be for a professional portrait photographer. This holiday season, maybe you can help the photographer on your list find out by gifting them a Click Props backdrop!
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100
When it comes to photography gear, I think the most underappreciated part of a photographer's kit is a tripod.
Just like camera lenses aren't made alike, neither are tripods. By that, I mean that if you opt for something from the bargain basement, well, you're going to live to regret it.
That doesn't mean that you need to spend $500 on a tripod for the photographer on your holiday list, either.
I have a couple of Vanguard tripods, and I have to tell you - they're a perfect balance between top-quality construction, tons of features, and a great price.
Take the Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 as an ideal example...
You can set this thing up in just a few seconds, which is ideal for situations in which you need to get the shot sooner rather than later.
The quick setup is aided by easy-locking legs, each of which has an independent leg angle. In other words, it can be set up with one leg at 20-degrees, another at 40-degrees, and another at 60-degrees, if so needed. They can even open up to 80-degrees. That means there's no terrain too uneven for this tripod to handle.
Another feature that makes this such a great tripod is the Multi-Angle Center Column. As the name suggests, it can be positioned in a variety of angles on both the positive and negative spectrum. That means that you can get awesome low-angle shots for a more unique view of the subject.
This bad boy also has a quick release so you can quickly grab your camera, and with the included ball head and bubble levels, you're sure to frame up top-notch photos.
The Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 has another trick up its sleeve that I really like...
It's super lightweight, thanks to its aluminum alloy and magnesium construction, but it's also super strong.
It's rated to hold up to 15.5 pounds of gear, so when I'm out playing with my Nikon D850 and a big lens, I don't have to worry if the tripod has enough wherewithal to provide my gear with the stable base it needs.
And if your loved one wants awesome features like a canopy suspension loop for adding weight, all-weather grips, angled rubber feet, and more, well, this is the tripod they'll want! See for yourself why the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100guard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 is such a top-notch tripod.
MrStarGuy Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount
A few years ago, I decided to get into astrophotography, so I bought a star tracking device to help me get better shots of the night sky.
Now, I live in the Los Angeles area, so it's not like I can setup my gear in my backyard. Instead, I have to hoof it to the sticks to find a dark sky, so it's a huge investment of time.
The problem I ran into is that the star tracking devices I used in the past were just unbelievably complicated to use.
Not only did I feel like a moron for not being able to figure out how to use them, but I also never got the types of photos I imagined being able to get.
Fortunately, I found my saving grace - the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount from MrStarGuy.
I met the folks at MrStarGuy, and I have to say that I was beyond impressed.
Visiting their shop, you get the feeling of how dedicated the husband and wife team are to their craft. They seek to make sure that every customer feels like a friend and that they get what they need. I can attest to that fact!
It doesn't hurt that MrStarGuy has top-notch astrophotography gear, either.
Their Vixen Polarie is hands-down the best I've ever used.
I just attach it to my tripod, use the included compass to orient it to the north, and once I have it all set, it will track the motion of the stars for me. That means I can get clear, sharp photos of the night sky without any star trailing.
If your favorite photographer is looking for a tool that will make his or her astrophotography life a lot easier and more productive, there's no better gift than the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount. See what I mean by visiting MrStarGuy!
I've always been a still photographer, but once 4K video became a thing on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, I started to dabble in videography.
The problem I encountered was this - the video quality was amazing, but the sound wasn't.
In fact, the sound was pretty terrible on my first videos on its own, but when you pair poor sound quality with amazing 4K video, the sound seems even worse!
I wanted an external microphone that would yield the kind of sound that a 4K video deserved, but I didn't want some huge apparatus, either.
I found exactly what I needed in Sound Shark by Klover Products.
The great thing about Sound Shark is its small form factor. As you can see, it just mounts to the hot-shoe of the camera, and you're good to go.
This thing puts all other microphones I've tried to shame. In fact, it will pick up voices in crystal clear quality from a good distance away. People in my videos sound like they're wearing a lapel mic, even if I'm five or six feet away.
Not only that, but Sound Shark helps eliminate unwanted background noise, so if there's action to the sides or behind your subject, you don't have to worry about it overwhelming the audio you actually want to record.
Sound Shark has been one of my favorite toys for grabbing videos of my wife and son. But if my endorsement isn't enough, think about this - Sound Shark is used to get audio of things like the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA playoffs.
If it's good enough to get the audio of a LeBron slam dunk, it's definitely good enough for my home videos!
Have a look at Sound Shark and see what all it has to offer the photographer on your list.
For my money, the most unique, eye-catching gift you can give a photographer this Christmas is the Meural Canvas.
What’s the Meural Canvas, you ask?
Well, in short, it’s a way to bring art to life.
Rather than viewing the same piece of art or photograph, Meural allows you to upload your own photos, create playlists, and sent art to your canvas instantly.
With TrueArt technology, the images are rendered in a way that makes them ultra-lifelike - when I first saw Meural in person, I felt like I could reach out and feel the texture of the brush strokes on the painting I was viewing. It’s that real!
And that’s just the start…
Meural gives you three different frame options (Leonora Black and Wwhite, as well as Winslow in walnut) to customize the look of the canvas. The canvas has a light sensor to adjust to the lighting of your room, and you can hang it horizontally or vertically, only show images in the appropriate orientation.
It’s easy to control, too. You can change images via the Meural website, the Meural mobile app, and even with hand gestures.
The upgraded iOS app allows you to upload, crop, and add filters to images, and then immediately send to the canvas. You can even schedule your canvas to come on when you wake, turn off when you sleep, and to randomize artwork or schedule playlists for certain times of the day.
In a word, Meural is amazing. Talk about an awesome last-minute gift!
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Photo by Jacob Buchhave on Unsplash
Two of the best drones for photography and videography are the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. The best accessories for the DJI Mavic Pro 2 and the best accessories for the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom will expand their capabilities, make them more versatile, and ease your workflow.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Photo by Tommy van Kessel 🤙 on Unsplash
Sometimes the least thought of accessory will become the one item you now realize you can’t live without. For the DJI drones, the items listed below have been chosen as the most likely to become that item for you.
Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling Pack
Among the best bags for active photographers is the Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling Pack. The sling pack design combines the comfort of a backpack for hauling heavier gear with the ease of access of a belt pack or regular camera bag.
The Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling Pack also offers a secure way to access your gear while in the field. Some other features that make it a great bag choice over all are the thermoformed panels for protection and comfort, the adjustable internal dividers, and HardPoint™ external accessory mounting points.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro accessories fit perfectly in this bag along with the drone and even a tablet. Your drone deserves protection and you need to have everything readily available while you’re in the field. And it looks good, too.
DJI Smart Controller
Instead of using your smartphone, this controller is the best way to fly and film with your DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom. The DJI Smart Controller has a 5.5 inch touch screen, two joysticks, and dedicated buttons to make controlling all the advanced features of the drones easy to access.
Automatically switching frequencies allow for an extended range between drone and controller. The SkyTalk feature lets you live stream video feed to various online platforms while you’re flying.
The screen is incredibly bright, letting you clearly see things in the harshest sunlight, making this one of the best Mavic 2 Pro accessories for users filming under various weather conditions.
The DJI Smart Controller will synch to the drone from the moment you power up the drone. It’s customizable via DJI and third party apps so you can design features and capabilities based on how you will use the drone. It operates under extreme weather conditions from -20 C to 40 C, letting you fly and film virtually anywhere.
ND Filters for Mavic 2 Pro
Mavic 2 Pro accessories for controlling exposure options include ND Filters for Mavic 2 Pro. The Haida NanoPro ND Filter Kit includes neutral density filters of ND0.9 (8x), ND1.2 (16x), and ND1.8 (64x).
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro has one of the top cameras of any drone in its class, the 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera with its large 1-inch CMOS sensor and f/2.8 lens that stops down to f/11.0.
On very bright days, ND filters are an exposure taming option that lets you shoot at reasonable shutter speeds and a natural appearing frame rate for video which makes them some of the best accessories for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
These are very high quality filters, so you won’t be losing anything by using them on the amazing camera in this drone. Optical grade glass, multi coated on both sides, and mounted in aircraft grade aluminum, these ND filters for Mavic 2 Pro match up fine.
ND & Polarizers for Mavic 2 Zoom
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom accessories also include a fine set of filters. The ND & Polarizers for Mavic 2 Zoom by Tiffen is a set of 6 filters to optimize your use of the zoom lens and high end camera in this drone. In addition to neutral density, you also get the option to add polarization to the neutral density.
The 6 filters in the kit are ND4, ND4PL, ND8, ND8PL, ND16 and ND16PL filters. This set gives wide ranging exposure options as well as offering control over glare and reflections. They also improve contrast and color saturation when that is a priority.
Made of high quality optical glass, these Tiffen filters feature anti glare coating and hydrophobic coating which makes the surface waterproof and also has scratch prevention technology. So these filters are tough as well as superb optically.
PGYTECH Propeller Guard for DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom are essential accessories for two reasons. They protect the propellers and they protect what the propellers might come into contact with.
The propellers on drones spin at extremely high RPM rates. Even when piloting very carefully, you could accidentally impact something which could either be damaged itself or cause damage to your drone’s propeller blades. If the blades are damaged, that’s the end of that flying session.
Things that could engage the propellers are twigs, leaves, and lines outside, or furniture and cords insides. Let’s not forget fingers, hair, clothing, and curious pets either. These prevent injury and damage under regular and difficult flying conditions.
They don’t add much weight, nor do they impede any airflow characteristics, so using them all the time is a viable option.
Intelligent Flight Battery
What makes a battery intelligent? When used with the DJI GO app, the DJI Intelligent Flight Battery lets you monitor overall battery status, real-time battery cell status, circle number, temperature, and other vital information.
Other things that make the Intelligent Flight Battery smart is overcharge protection, eliminating rapid discharge in flight, and cold weather fatigue protection. Additionally, when the battery senses that it has been in storage for a while, it automatically discharges down to 50% charge to prevent damage and to optimize the overall life of the battery.
Since drone batteries have to power a lot of stuff, having an extra battery or two for your drone is the simplest way to ensure you don’t run out of juice while flying and recording.
Another way to ensure you don’t run short of power is use a car charger to power up the batteries for your drone. The Mavic 2 Car Charger can charge up batteries while you’re driving and it won’t overcharge the batteries either due to its advanced circuitry.
It’s safe, reliable, and it does the job, keeping your batteries charged and ready to use for extended flying and filming sessions.
To Sum Up
Some of the most useful and beneficial accessories for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are ND and polarizer filters for controlling exposure, contrast, and reflections, propeller guards to prevent damage to the blades or to other things that get in their way, and extra batteries plus a way to charge them in the field.
Upgrade to the Smart Controller for advanced piloting and filming, and then pack it all into the Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling Pack for the ultimate in protection and easy access. Added to the superior capabilities of these two drones, you will be ready for making great video and capturing superb images.
With Black Friday shopping just a couple of days away, I thought a list of awesome Black Friday photography deals was in order.
Whether you're looking for gifts for a photographer on your list or you just want some cool gear for yourself, the deals I've found below are sure to tantalize!
Have a quick look and see what fun gear you can pick up while saving some money, too.
Syrp Genie Mini
When it comes to creating time-lapse videos, there isn't a better motion control device than the Syrp Genie Mini.
This rig is compact, portable, and easy to use, so even if you or your loved one isn't an expert videographer, you can still create professional-looking smooth panning time-lapses (and real-time video, too!).
It's designed to mount to a tripod and then your camera mounts to the Genie.
With its internal motor, Genie can rotate 360-degrees with cameras that weigh up to 8.8 pounds.
You can wirelessly connect to the Genie Mini using the Syrp Genie App for a quick and easy set up of smooth panning or tilting time-lapse and video.
Treat yourself to a pocket-sized motion controller this year with the Genie Mini! Get 10% off this Black Friday!
Get some beautiful maternity photography accessories on Black Friday at huge discounts from Sew Trendy.
In fact, it's not just their maternity wear and accessories that are on sale. You can enjoy 30-40% off girls dresses, floral crowns, newborn props, and more all weekend long!
Not only that, but Sew Trendy is also offering a huge giveaway for Black Friday.
Each day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, one lucky customer will get their order FREE.
Add to that Doorbuster sales running all weekend and exclusive deals on made-to-order maternity gowns like the Jessica Gown, and you have a recipe for big savings!
Holdfast makes all sorts of awesome photography gear, from top-of-the-line camera straps to gorgeous and functional camera bags.
Made right here in the USA to the highest of quality, Holdfast products are among the best you can buy on the market today.
And to celebrate Black Friday, Holdfast is offering 10% off everything on their site from November 24-27, 2017.
That means you can snag a MoneyMaker dual camera strap, a Roamographer camera bag, a Sightseer Backpack, or other goodies and save some money at the same time.
How about a drone for Christmas?
The DJI Spark is a palm-sized mini drone that has a 12-megapixel camera and 2-axis gimbal for taking awesome aerial photos and videos.
Not only that, this little guy is packed with awesome technology that makes takeoff and landing a breeze. It has intelligent flight modes, too, including TapFly, which lets you tap anywhere on your phone to fly the Spark.
It even tracks moving subjects from the front, back, or side for awesome cinematic videography.
Best of all, the DJI Spark is $100 off from Thanksgiving day until the end of Cyber Monday, and then again from December 10th until the end of the year.
You can also get a $1 freebie bag and 25% off Drone World brand accessories, too!
Sew Trendy has so many deals this weekend that we had to separate them into two different slots on our list!
Black Friday through Cyber Monday, customers will enjoy 20% off their orders with the order code BFCM1720.
And if you're a photographer, you get an even sweeter deal - 30% off your orders with the code BFCM17PH (terms apply).
Additionally, all ready-to-ship women's gowns will be marked down 10% and you can enjoy 10% off on certain products, like the floral print collection and the winter gown collection.
Check out all the deals at Sew Trendy this weekend and get outfitted for maternity photography, mommy and me shoots, newborn photography, and more!
DJI Mavic Pro
If you're looking for a larger drone than the DJI Spark, perhaps the DJI Mavic Pro is up your alley.
The Mavic Pro comes packed with features that ever drone lover will appreciate, including the ability to transmit full HD video up to 4.3 miles away and a top speed of 40 mph!
Its FlightAutonomy system can detect obstacles up to 49 feet away, giving you peace of mind while flying.
The 4K camera with 3-axis mechanical gimbal isn't bad either, snapping gorgeously sharp photos and smooth 4K video up to 30fps.
The Mavic Pro boasts phenomenal endurance too, allowing you to fly up to 27 minutes at a time.
It's on sale, too! Save $100 on the Mavic ProThanksgiving Day until the end of Cyber Monday, and then again from December 10th until the end of the year.
You can also get a $1 freebie bag, $150 off Fly More and Higher End Kits, and a free mini drone with a drone kit order.
On top of all that, Drone World is offering 25% off Drone World brand accessories, too!
MrStarGuy has some great deals going on for telescopes binoculars, mounts, and jewelry - something for everyone on your list!
That includes $100 off the Vixen R130Sf and Porta II Mount shown above.
The Vixen Nature Eye Telescope is on sale for $19.95 (a savings of $20) and the Space Eye 70 Complete Telescope is $70 off!
For an even bigger deal, you can save $600 on the Vixen R200SS Reflector Telescope or save $700 on the Vixen NA14OSS Telescope. You can save $700 on the Vixen Sphinx SX2 mount as well.
That's not to mention great deals on binoculars (up to $149 off!) and even deals on jewelry that features constellations, stars, and images of the universe.
These awesome deals at MrStarGuy start on Thanksgiving day and run through November 30th.
Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash
The top cameras for video look very different depending on what you’re trying to shoot.
If you’re trying to shoot action footage you’re going to need a very different camera than if you’re trying to shoot a vlog.
As such, this article is broken down into the most popular videography categories, so you can easily see the top cameras for video for you.
Top Cameras for Video: Action Cams
The best action cam for video is typically the GoPro because it’s cheap, effective and versatile. I bought my first GoPro around 5 years ago and never looked back.
The best thing about videos for action is that they’re simple. Typically the top cameras for video are chock full of different features; this is not so for the best action cam for video. It needs to be ready to go at the touch of a button.
But, I truly think the most important feature of a camera meant for action is that it’s durable. There’s no point in buying a camera for action if it isn’t going to be able to take in all of that action, so it should be waterproof, drop-resistant and have a good battery life.
As HowToUsePOVcameras explains in the video above, the GoPro HERO8 Black has all of these features and more. It can last between 1 and 3 hours on a single charge, it shoots 4K video, it’s waterproof up to 30 feet and I’ve accidentally thrown my fair share of GoPros down mountains.
Top Cameras for Video: Drones
Drones are another category in the “top cameras for video” debate where I see a lot of people buying a lot of equipment they don’t need. Drones are expensive enough as is, there’s no need to purchase the most expensive one you can find because oftentimes the best drones for videos for most people are the mid-level ones.
In a way, the best drones for videos are basically only a step up from an action camera.
One of the best drones for videos on the market right now is the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is on the more expensive side, but this is a drone you can grow into. It shoots incredible 4K video, weighs just 2 lbs and has a whopping 5-mile range. I think the 5-mile range alone puts the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom in the running to be one of the best drones for videos.
But, as I said it is expensive at around $1,300 new, so you’ll definitely want to check MPB to see if you can’t snag a used one to save some cash.
Get a complete introduction to the Mavic 2 Zoom in the video above by Evan Thomas.
Top Cameras for Video: Vlogging
Whether you’re looking for the best video camera for YouTube or you simply want to start making videos to put on your social media sites, there’s one place to start and that’s with the Canon PowerShot G7 X III.
This camera features 4K video without any crop, a selfie-screen so you know you’re always
getting the best shot, and a microphone input so you can livestream straight online.
Canon doesn’t have all of the top cameras for video, though, so you can also look to the Sony Alpha A6400 for all of your vlogging needs.
This camera als features 4K video and a selfie screen, but my favorite quality about the Sony Alpha A6400, the quality that I think makes it the best mirrorless camera for video, is the fact that it features Sony's incredible AF system. You can use the Eye-AF mode to ensure your video is well focused.
Top Cameras for Video: Filmmaking
If you’ve been in the videography world for a while, or if you have clients that expect the absolute best of the best, then you may need one of the top cameras for video professionals.
One of the best cameras for video professionals on the market today is the Fujifilm X-T3.
It features 4K video at 60, 50, 30, 25, and 24p (it can also capture Cinema 4K footage at the same speeds). It can capture 10-bit video internally as well. Get more specs on this camera in the video below by Max Yuryev.
The only thing that this camera doesn’t feature is in-body image stabilization, which is going to be coming out with the Fujifilm X-T4. But, if you’re like us then you can view this as a positive too. As soon as the Fujifilm X-T4 drops, the price on the X-T3 is going to plummet.
You can pick up a Fujifilm X-T3 on MPB for as low as $925 right now, which at just $100 more than the Sony Alpha A6400 is an absolute steal.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
The difference between A-roll and B-roll is a fundamental aspect of video and film editing. Since very few of us are shooting movies on film, we’ll look at videography tips concerning B-roll.
What is A-roll, what is B-roll? In basic terms, A-roll is the primary footage which tells the story of your video. A video can be seen and understood with A-roll only. In fact, most of us probably started out only shooting and editing A-roll footage without even knowing it was A-roll, it was simply what we shot to have other people view. A-roll was our film.
Table of Contents
- What is B-Roll?
- The Importance of Scene Length and Shot Length
- Using a Drone for B-Roll
- DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
- DJI Mavic Air
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- More Videography Tips
What Is B-roll?
Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash
B-roll adds to our story to make it flow better. As an example, have you ever watched a TV interview? The camera is pointed at the subject, the interviewer asks the subject questions, and we see the subject answer. Pretty straightforward so far.
On these well-produced TV shows, you also see footage of the reporter nodding at the answers. You may also see the reporter asking the questions, even though you don’t see any camera near the subject, pointing back. That’s B-roll. Many more possibilities exist for B-roll editing.
Here is a short tutorial on editing and tips for shooting B-roll from filmmakers Becki and Chris.
The B-roll footage is often filmed after shooting the main footage. It’s sole purpose is to add to the story already being told. B-roll by itself isn’t capable of fully telling the story. But adding it to A-roll, the story is fleshed out, enhanced, and made more clear. Plus it keeps scene length down.
The Importance of Scene Length and Shot Length
Photo by Toby Osborn on Unsplash
Here’s another visualization exercise for you: Watch a favorite show or movie of yours. Time how long a scene is. Now, also take notice of how long any one part of a scene is actually on screen. That smaller time interval is shot length. Some of the things any videographer should learn are tips for shooting B-roll and using it when editing.
The typical scene we view is anywhere from about 2 ½ to just under 4 minutes. Average shot length (ASL) in modern TV and cinematography is 5.4 seconds. In other words, in 5 ½ seconds the framed footage of the subject’s face will cut to some other view.
This happens over and over in a scene. Other tricks used by TV and Film makers are adding in dollying, panning, or zooming motion in some of the cuts. Major films were shot with a minimum of a 30:1 footage ratio. That would be 30 feet of film shot for every 1 foot of film shown. So, that’s a whole lot of editing. B-roll was added for much of this footage.
photo by Tero Vesalainen via iStock
No one is expecting a YouTube video or a vlogger channel to be edited to that extent. The reason I bring it up at all is because that scene length and ASL is what almost everyone viewing our video has been used to experiencing in their commercial entertainment viewing.
Therefore, learning how to shoot and edit in B-roll footage is a vital part of our viewer’s enjoyment, leading to our viewer staying involved in our video. This often results in loyal viewers, referrals, more subscriptions, and the like.
Using a Drone for B-roll
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Some of the best tools for digital photography and videography are drones. Have you gotten one yet? They are excellent for capturing that extra footage that makes up the B-roll.
When considering how to use a drone for B-roll, try to get out of the mindset of overhead shots. While those overhead shots can add interest, there is so much more you can do with a drone. Those dolly shots mentioned earlier, a drone opens up a lot of possibilities for that type of footage.
Slowly moving closer or further away, varying the speed of movement within the shot. A flyby style shot, fast or slow. Envision a shot that starts at eye level and raises to far overhead, or the reverse of that. Everything you’ve tried with your drone already, could be useful B-roll material.
Above is a YouTube video from UAVisuals with tips for using a drone for B-roll or any other footage.
If you haven’t yet invested in a video drone, here are three good choices at various price points:
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Many videographers will find that a middle priced drone such as the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom will satisfy their needs for using a drone for B-roll, as well as being able to produce all sorts of usable footage for a range of uses.
The camera portion of this drone has a 12MP 1/2.3 inch sensor, a 4X zoom lens, and several advanced modes for shooting FuLL HD video. It has autofocus and comes with its own remote unit.
Before using any drone, be sure you are properly authorized to fly one in your area.
DJI Mavic Air
For the beginner videographer or anyone with a slightly lower budget, the DJI Mavic Air is an excellent option. Using the same sensor as the Mavic 2 Zoom, it has a fixed focal length lens. It adds useful features like panoramic capture and slow motion video.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Professionals and any videographer desiring ultra high quality will enjoy the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It has a Hasselblad camera and lens with a 20MP 1 Inch sensor.
In addition to the increased resolution and superb lens, the Mavic 2 Pro also boasts 4K 10 bit HDR for the ultimate in video drone resolution as well as 10 bit color for increased videography versatility.
More Videography Tips
Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash
In addition to using a drone for B-roll footage, you can use a drone for A-roll. You can also take unique perspective stills and videos. Really, the sky is the limit. Properly registered and within local regulations of course.
Once you start using your drone for adding B-roll footage, you will find that other creative possibilities will come to mind, increasing the enjoyment to the viewers of your video creations.
If you've been following our recent articles here on PhotographyTalk and our videos over on YouTube, then you know that I've been putting the DJI Mavic Air 2 through its paces.
I've found the Mavic Air 2 to be a total joy to fly, and its photo and video capabilities are certainly an added bonus.
I still prefer my Mavic 2 Pro.
For my money, the Mavic 2 Pro offers far better video performance. Since I primarily use my drones for video production, that's a hugely important feature.
But, like every drone, the Mavic 2 Pro benefits from having the right accessories that make it easier to fly, take photos, and create videos.
Below, I've listed some of my favorite DJI Mavic 2 Pro accessories.
Haida NanoPro ND Filter Kit
This is a fantastic little kit that gives you three ND filters for shooting long exposures and controlling shutter speed when shooting video.
The kit includes an ND 0.9, ND 1.2, ND 1.5, and ND 1.8 filter, each of which is built with an aviation-grade aluminum frame.
The frames are lightweight, yet durable and resist corrosion. Likewise, each filter features high-quality K9 optical class for the utmost clarity.
Haida has incorporated nanocoatings on both sides of each filter, too. This includes coatings that make the filters waterproof, scratch-resistant, and anti-reflective.
And with true neutral results, you don't have to worry about these filters causing color casts in your photos or videos. Add in the fact that they're less than $80, and you have the makings of the perfect DJI Mavic 2 pro accessory!
AxPower Low-Noise Quick-Release Propellers
By and large, the first accessory you'll need to replace on your Mavic 2 Pro (or any drone for that matter) will be the propellers.
Besides, having a spare set of propellers is always a good idea, just in case one gets damaged.
I prefer low-noise propellers because I'm often flying in urban areas and I want to minimize the disruption to my neighbors or other folks that are out and about.
These particular propellers are also quick-release and folding, so you can easily remove and store them.
DJI Smart Controller
For my money, the DJI Smart Controller is the best way to fly the Mavic 2 Pro.
The gigantic 5.5-inch touchscreen is beautiful and bright, so you can clearly see it even in the brightest sunlight. The joysticks are nicely sized and responsive as well. I also like that there are dedicated buttons to make controlling the drone's many different features an easier task.
It syncs to the drone the instant you power it up, and it automatically switches frequencies so you get better range. It even has a SkyTalk feature so you can livestream video as you fly.
Pick yours up for $749 at Adorama.
Go Professional Case
It's not like the Mavic 2 Pro is a cheap investment, so a must-have accessory is definitely a hard case to protect the drone.
This case is as tough as they come. It's waterproof and dustproof, and has padlock holes so you can lock the case.
Inside is a closed cell foam insert with a spot for your drone and several accessories to stay snug and tight as you go from one location to the next.
And since this case is impact resistant, you get peace of mind that if it does hit the ground, your drone and accessories will be just fine.
DJI Intelligent Flight Battery
While the DJI Intelligent Flight Battery is more expensive, it's worth it.
The fact that you can pair it with the DJI GO app and monitor the battery status, the circle number, temperature, and other important information makes it well worth the additional cost.
It also features overcharge protection, cold weather fatigue protection, and it eliminates rapid discharge in flight.
On top of all that, when the battery senses it's been stored for a while, it automatically discharges down to 50 percent to avoid damage and optimize the life of the battery.
If that's not intelligent, I don't know what is!