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!
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!
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.
Photo by Pekic via iStock
There's no mistaking that drones have become one of the hottest ways to take photos.
The opportunities that drones give you to take unique photos from interesting perspectives are undeniable.
But getting started with drone photography can be a little intimidating.
That's due in part to the complexities of actually flying a drone. Drones can also be quite spendy, too.
But with these drone photography tips, you can overcome your fears and trepidations about drone photography and learn how to take your photos to new heights - literally!
Get started by checking out my video on this topic, and then get step-by-step tips in the article that follows.
Editor's Note: This article is the first in an upcoming series on drone photography. Below, I've outlined some basic pointers for getting started. Each of these topics will be discussed in more depth in coming articles and YouTube videos, so stay tuned!
Table of Contents
- Rent Before You Buy
- Develop a Pre-Flight Checklist
- Identify the Most Important Features in a Drone For Your Purposes
- Don't Forget Essential Photography Rules
- Final Thoughts - Getting Started in Drone Photography
Rent Before You Buy
Photo by golubovy via iStock
Investing in a drone is a serious undertaking, and one that should not be done lightly.
The best drones aren't exactly cheap when you buy new.
That's why I'm an advocate of renting several drones before you buy.
The advantage of renting is that you can get a feel for how each drone performs.
Not all drones are alike, and each has its own "personality," if you will, that makes it a unique flying and photographing experience.
Besides, what I think is the best drone might not work at all for your specific workflow, so getting some experience with several drones allows you to determine which one best fits your needs.
Quick Tip: Practice flying the rented drone in an open area far away from potential obstacles. An open field works best. Avoid populated areas and flying over roads, homes, and so forth. Practice the essentials first - like taking off and landing - and then practice lateral movements, moving in an arc or circle, and flying the drone when it is facing toward you (which reverses the controls).
Develop a Pre-Flight Checklist
Photo by sv3207 via iStock
In the excitement of having a drone in your hands, it's hard to resist heading outside and immediately trying to fly it.
However, it's prudent to develop a pre-flight checklist, that way you're sure you're flying safely to protect people, property, your drone, and yourself.
Common tasks on drone pre-flight checklists include:
- Checking the weather forecast, including the predicted wind speed
- Inspecting the drone for any damage or faults (i.e., damaged rotors) that might impact its ability to fly
- Ensuring the drone's batteries are fully charged
- Ensuring drones are legal in the location you wish to fly
- Having the proper registration with the FAA
- Checking for potential obstacles
- Hovering the drone for a few seconds before flight to ensure proper drone behavior
This is just a basic pre-flight checklist, but you get the point - before you fly, there are plenty of tasks to complete to ensure the safest flight.
Identify the Most Important Features in a Drone for Your Purposes
Photo by Onfokus via iStock
I live in Southern California, so the wind here can be a real issue. As a result, I invested in a drone that can handle high winds.
But for your purposes, the most important factor might be something else - weatherproofing, for example.
Depending on where you live or where you intend to fly your drone, the "secondary" features the drone has might be different from the next guy.
The primary features, though, are going to be similar regardless of who you are or what you need to do with the drone.
For example, you want to examine the size of the sensor in the drone's camera. The larger the sensor, the more detailed and resolute images you will get. Larger sensors also provide you with better low-light performance.
More often than not, a one-inch sensor is going to be the biggest you can find in a drone. This size of sensor can help you capture improved images and videos because of its ability to capture more light.
Photo by ViktorCap via iStock
Another feature to consider is the video quality the drone is capable of capturing.
Most modern drones have 4K video, which is exactly what you want. But, some less expensive drones still max out at 1080p, so just be sure you investigate the video capabilities of drones before you commit to buy.
While 1080p is fine for sharing videos on social media, if your aim is to create cinematic videos, you'll want 4K and a variety of frame rates to choose from.
Traditional video footage is shot at anywhere from 24fps to 30fps, but if you want slow-motion options, you'll want a drone that can handle 60fps or higher.
Aside from the camera hardware, also examine a drone's flying abilities.
For example, can it hover without moving? Some drones do this to perfection, which enables you to capture super-smooth video and beautifully sharp still photos.
But if the drone can't hover, it will rise and fall in altitude which will impact the quality of the photos and videos you take.
Quick Tip: Invest in a drone that has a gimbal, like the DJI Mavic Mini shown above. A gimbal will help stabilize the camera so you can get smooth video and sharp photos. In the case of the Mavic Mini, it has a motorized three-axis gimbal that will help you get higher-quality images and videos.
Photo by SimonSkafar via iStock
Likewise, does the drone have an obstacle avoidance system?
These systems use sensors on the front, back, sides, and bottom of drones to help you avoid colliding with objects as you fly.
For example, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro's avoidance system enables it to recognize obstacles and plan a flight around those obstacles automatically.
Needless to say, these systems are invaluable for new drone pilots as they help reduce the chance of crashes, but they are also a huge asset to experienced drone pilots that perform intricate flight patterns near potential hazards.
See the Mavic 2 Pro's obstacle avoidance system be put to the test in the video below by The Everyday Dad:
Lastly, when choosing a drone, be sure you familiarize yourself with its intelligent features.
While some drones offer just a smattering of tracking or video modes, others are packed full of features like automatic subject tracking, the ability to take selfies by moving your hand, flying along waypoints you determine ahead of time, and so forth.
Granted, the more features a drone has, the more expensive it will be. But these features can definitely be worth the price tag when you see the beautiful results you can get.
Don't Forget Essential Photography Rules
Photo by Kirk Wester via iStock
As you're flying your drone around in search of the perfect shot, remember the essential photography rules you'd use to get the best shots if you were using a traditional camera:
- The rule of thirds will help you create a balanced shot.
- Leading lines help draw people into the shot and connect the foreground to the background.
- Varying the perspective from which you shoot allows you to highlight different aspects of the landscape below the drone.
- Shoot during golden hour to capitalize on the soft, warm light of sunrise or sunset.
- Have a strong subject that captures the viewer's attention.
Adhering to these tried-and-true techniques will help you take photos that have lots of impact.
Quick Tip: Look for patterns, textures, and shapes in the landscape to highlight in your photos. Our eyes are naturally drawn to these types of features, and making them a prominent aspect of your drone photos will make your shots much more compelling.
Final Thoughts - Getting Started in Drone Photography
Photo by Onfokus via iStock
As I mentioned in the introduction, this is just a quick overview of some of the topics that are important for getting started in drone photography.
Like any other type of photography, it will require a good deal of time, patience, and practice to become a master drone photographer.
It is my hope that the forthcoming articles and videos in this series will help you understand the ins and outs of being a drone pilot so you can capture the highest quality photos and videos - and do so safely.
I look forward to helping you along in your pursuit of gorgeous aerial photos and videos!
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.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
If you are interested in drone photography, you are not alone. It is one of the hottest things to do right now in all of digital photography.
Questions naturally come up. What do I need to know about drone photography? Is it safe to fly a drone for photography? What can help me get the best out of drone photography?
In this introduction to drone photography, we will answer these questions and give you some drone photography tips.
Getting Started: Pick a Drone
photo byzsv3207 via iStock
You’ve done your research, you know what you want to do with drone photography gear. Now you choose your drone based on how its features and capabilities match up with those needs and wants. You also have decided how much to spend, so let’s assume you already have your new drone.
Perhaps you now have a drone capable of professional quality photography and videography like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. This drone has forgiving flight characteristics with several shooting modes, great battery life of over 30 minutes, and excellent image and video quality.
It is equipped with a Hasselblad camera and lens incorporating a 1-inch type sensor of 20MP. The lens is equivalent to 28mm in full frame format, focuses as close as 1 meter, and has an aperture range from f/2.9 to f/11.0.
With a drone like this, you can create beautiful examples of photography and video. Its top speed is almost 50mph and you can control it from almost 5 miles away as well
Recommended Drone Photoghraphy Books:
- Drone Photography Basics: Your Guide to the Camera in the Sky
- Drone Photography Explored: Beautiful Drone Photography
Protect Your Drone
Your drone photography gear requires protection, and one of the better things you can get to achieve this end is a drone photography bag. I can’t tell you how many times I see an eager new drone photographer bring their drone to locations in the box it came in.
You have a bag for your DSLR or mirrorless camera and lenses. So, why keep your drone in a box that will wear out and is inconvenient to use?
One of the best bags I’ve found for drone photography is the Freelance™ Drone Edition tactical sling-pack from Hazard 4®.
Hazard 4® bags are designed for extreme use while offering excellent protection. Their bags and accessories are perfect for outdoor photographers and videographers. Being outdoors in nature or in urban settings exposes your valuable camera gear to hazards, so you want a protective bag that is also convenient to use.
The Freelance™ Drone Edition tactical sling-pack is specifically designed internally for drone use. The dividers are custom sized and it has multiple features to make life easier for active drone photographers.
This particular bag is designed to hold the DJI Mavic pro and other similar-sized folding drones.
When you get out into the field, the bag easily rotates from your back to your chest so you can quickly access your drone and other gear without taking the bag off.
The dividers inside the bag are movable so you can customize the carrying experience depending on the needs for each specific outing. There are three large pockets, one of which has an admin area, and another with a protective shell for items like batteries.
The strap has a molle covering with a locking buckle for security while the thermoformed back panels gives you comfort and dryness all day long.
In other words, this pack is purpose-built for long, rugged days outside with your drone!
Of course, sometimes you need a larger bag to accommodate more gear, and for that, I personally use the Hazard 4® PillboxTM.
As you can see in the photos above and below, this bag can accommodate a ton of gear - I have two drones, my camera with a lens attached, multiple batteries, and a drone remote with plenty of space to spare.
The large clamshell opening is just the start of the thoughtful design of this bag.
The ergonomics are superb and offer you a supremely comfortable carrying experience, even when the bag is loaded for bear, as mine was.
The 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zippers, and patented hardware give this bag all the durability you need with a futuristic design that looks incredible.
The versatility of this bag is off the charts as well.
In addition to all the gear I had in the bag for my day trip out with my drones, I could have also brought along a laptop, a tablet, clothes, a first aid kid, food, water, and more!
The interior space is well organized to keep all that gear neat and tidy while the admin organizer keeps SD cards, pens, tools, and other small items organized.
I live in Southern California, so there can be some extremely hot days. This bag is ideal for hot weather drone photography because it has a molded back-pad and removable belt that are aerated to ventilate sweat.
What’s more, they’re both abrasion-resistant and the back-pad conforms to your spine so you can be out and about with your gear in complete comfort.
This bag is simply well thought out, beautifully designed, rugged as a tank, and is functional as the day is long.
If you’re serious about drone photography, investing in a camera bag like the Hazard 4® PillboxTM is a no-brainer!
Drone Photography is Photography First
Photo by Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash
A drone with a camera for still images or videos is an amazing tool and can be quite fun to use. Once you get past the inevitable initial thrill of flying over everything in sight, you settle down to making good pictures and videos with your drone
The same rules (guidelines, actually) of composition, exposure, and other techniques of excellent photography and videography also apply to images and video captured with a drone.
Use the rule of thirds to compose balanced shots. Shoot at golden hour to take advantage of the soft, warm light, as shown above. You know the drill!
If an image wouldn’t fly (excuse the pun...) when you tried taking it with your regular camera at ground level, taking it with a drone won’t magically fix whatever the issue was. Simply taking the shot or footage from an overhead perspective usually isn’t enough.
Photo by Dennis Ottink on Unsplash
Some of the best drone imagery and footage I’ve seen from drone masters isn’t obviously done with a drone. It’s because the photographer took the effort to make a pleasingly-composed, well-exposed, high-quality image.
The same applies with video.
Amazing primary or B-roll footage can be captured with a drone. Don’t limit yourself to only overhead views from your new drone. Drone footage captured at eye level or lower can be absolutely amazing. The drone allows you complete freedom of movement while filming to give your final product a polished look.
Stay Safe and Legal
Photo by Brennan Martinez on Unsplash
Drones have been in the news recently due to some operator’s poor choices. There are regulations involved for drone use and there are safety protocols as well. Drones like the DJI Mavic series can fly fast, high, and a long distance. Therefore, a responsible drone photographer will learn safety protocols and follow the law.
If you’re in the United States, take a look at FAA regulations regarding drone registration and flights before you launch your drone for the first time.
Enjoy Your New Drone
Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash
Drones are awesome photo tools. And when it comes down to it, drone photography can open up your creativity and may even provide you with some extra income.
The keys to drone photography success are to keep all those photography rules in mind regarding composition, exposure, and so forth. Fly responsibly and safely. Carry your drone and other gear in a bag that actually protects it, too.
Do these things, and you’ll be able to have fun and shoot beautiful pictures and videos!
photo by S_Bachstroem via iStock
I consider myself an explorer, and I think most photographers also do.
So, when I hear about a place I shouldn’t or can’t go, it always piques my interest. Which is why I sought out my scuba diving license a few months ago.
It’s estimated that up to 95% of the world’s oceans and 99% of the world’s ocean floors are unexplored.
If that number bothers you like it does me, then you need to invest in an underwater drone for drone photography.
In comparison to this time last year, underwater drone technology is mind-altering. An underwater camera drone in 2019 can have image stabilization, 4K resolution and can dive deeper than I ever can without decades of training, so the quality of drone photography has really improved as of late.
To help you out in your search for your exploration needs, I’ve compiled a list of eight of this year’s best underwater drones for photographers (ranging from the least to most expensive).
Table of Contents
- Robosea BIKI Drone
- Power Vision PowerDolphin Wizard Drone
- Fathom One Drone
- Power Vision PowerRay Wizard Drone
- Trident Underwater Drone
- Fifish V6 Drone
- Navatics Mito Drone
- 150 Meter Tether Titan Underwater Drone
Robosea BIKI Drone
Back in 2017, when the Robosea BIKI was first trying to launch on Kickstarter, it was the world’s first bionic robot fish.
It quickly raised almost a quarter of a million dollars, and still makes my list of the best underwater drones in 2019 because it’s the most efficient underwater drone for the price.
It supports a 4K camera, comes with obstacle avoidance and can return to base when called. Those are features you definitely want when you’re pursuing beautiful underwater drone photography.
Robosea BIKI Specs:
- Can dive up to 196 feet
- Filming time of 90-120 minutes on one charge
- 4K video capabilities
- 150-degree wide-angle lens
- 32GB internal memory
- Ultra-silent (55dB)
The Robosea BIKI is available on Amazon for $769.
PowerVision PowerDolphin Wizard Drone
Power Vision’s PowerDolphin Wizard Drone was honored with a CES innovation award in 2018 and won the gold medal at the Edison Awards in 2019.
Plus, it’s not the only submersible drone by Power Vision on my list (more on that later).
The PowerDolphin is one of the fastest drones on our list, which can cruise between 4 and 5 meters per second.
This speed does come at a price, though, because the PowerDolphin can only last between a half hour and 2 hours on each charge, depending upon its speed.
Power Vision PowerDolphin Wizard Drone specs:
- 4K photography and video with 220-degree dual-joint rotation
- Remote controlled up to 1000 meters for long-distance underwater drone photography
- Ultra-long-range wireless transmission of 1080P images
- Above water speed of 4.5 meters per second
- Also acts as a fishing aid by finding fish, dragging bait and bringing the fish to you
- Can generate underwater topographic maps
The PowerVision PowerDolphin Wizard Drone is available on Amazon for $999.
Fathom One Drone
The most exciting part about this submarine drone is the fact that you can remove and replace its thrusters. It comes prepackaged with 3 that you can customize, or you can build thrusters yourself.
It’s also the only drone on our list that comes with easy storage-it has a rail system where you can put additional cameras (like a GoPro), lighting or sensors.
The cheapest package comes with a 100-foot line that tethers it to a floating buoy (a floating buoy that creates its own WiFi, which is equally cool).
Fathom One specs:
- HD 1080P camera
- High intensity lights for nighttime shooting
- Runs for an hour each charge
- Works up to 150 feet
- Less than 5 pounds
The Fathom One is available on Amazon for $999.
Power Vision PowerRay Wizard Drone
Hey, look. Here’s the other Power Vision underwater drone I promised!
The PowerRay, a sister submarine drone to the PowerDolphin, is unique because it includes a ZEISS VR ONE Plus Goggles so you can enjoy all of your real-time footage in virtual reality.
If that alone didn’t sell you, maybe this will: All of that footage is also in 4K and up to 64GB of it can be stored on the underwater drone.
Plus, the PowerRay is able to dive for an incredible 4 hours on one charge.
Power Vision PowerRay Wizard Drone specs:
- 4K, 3D video
- Built-in video stabilization
- Burst mode photo capabilities at 5fps in 12 megapixels
- 64GB memory card
- 1080P real-time streaming
- Speeds of up to 2.06 meters per second
- Up to 4 hours of diving on a single charge
- Can dive up to 98 feet
The Power Vision PowerRay Wizard Drone is available on Amazon for $999.
Trident Underwater Drone
With a dive time of three hours and a maximum depth of 100 meters, there’s a lot of underwater drone photography you can tackle with the Trident Underwater Drone.
It can be controlled with an Android smartphone or tablet using the OpenROV App. Likewise, there is a dedicated controller that can be used with the submersible.
If you don’t have Wi-Fi, no worries! The Trident Topside creates a Wi-Fi network of its own that enables it to send control signals and live video to your phone or tablet.
Trident underwater drone specs:
- 1080P at 30fps or 720p at 30fps with live-streaming
- 6 forward facing LEDs with 360 lumens
- 100 meter diving capabilities
- 3-4 hour dive time
- Travels at up to 2 meters per second
- Weighs 7.5 pounds
The Trident underwater drone is available on Amazon for $1,695.
Fifish V6 Drone
The Fifish V6 drone is the world’s first 4K omni-directional underwater drone.
It has 6 built-in thrusters, so it can move in multiple directions to chase the best shot. It also comes with a motion stabilization system and 4000-lumen integrated LED headlights.
The 166 degree wide-angle camera is impressive, and HDMI live streaming is never a bad thing!
Fifish V6 drone specs:
- 166 degree ultra-wide angle camera
- 4K UHD in 30fps
- 8x slow motion
- Image stabilization
- 4000-lumen LED headlights
- Full motion stabilization
- 6 built-in thrusters for 6 degrees of freedom
- Can dive for up to 4 hours - that’s a lot of drone photography!
- Can dive up to 328 feet
The Fifish V6 Drone is available on Amazon for $1,799.
Navatics Mito Drone
The Navatics Mito underwater camera drone is expensive and worth every penny.
This submersible drone has an incredibly impressive remote control system, so much so that you may never even need to get on a boat at all. If you suffer from seasickness, or a fear of the open water, this is the underwater drone for you.
You can control this drone at up to 1,640 feet away-that’s a third of a mile!
It can record in 4K and stream at 1080p. It also comes with 2 1,000 lumen LED headlights.
But, my favorite capability of this submarine drone is that it comes with a swappable battery. So, if the already impressive 4 hours of dive time isn’t enough for you, bring an extra battery and make a full day out of your shoot.
Navatics Mito drone specs:
- 4K recording/1080p streaming
- Active stabilization system
- 4 hours of dive time
- Can dive up to 131 feet
- Can control up to 500 meters away
- Swappable battery for longer dive time
- Automatic color corrector
- Livestreaming at up to 500 meters away
- 6.6 pounds
The Navatics Mito Drone is available on the Navatics website for $1,999.
150 Meter Tether Titan Underwater Drone
The 150 Meter Tether Titan Underwater Drone can dive deeper than any other submersible drone on our list at 492 feet. It shoots 4K video at 30fps and works with a smartphone app that is the most user-friendly of any on our list.
If you want to be the envy of all of your photographer friends, make sure you pick up this submarine drone so you can catch photos your friends with other underwater drones can’t.
150 Meter Tether Titan Underwater Drone specs:
- 4K UHD camera/1080p livestreaming
- 160-degree wide-angle camera
- Can travel at up to 2 meters per second
- Can dive up to 492 feet
- 32GB of storage
- Can dive for up to 4 hours
- Compatible with underwater microphones
That’s all for our list, guys! Let us know if you’ve picked up anyone of these underwater drones for sale, and if you snagged a better price somewhere else.
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 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!
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.
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!