The 6 Most Important Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Drone For Photography
Drones allow you to take photos that previously could only be taken from helicopters or airplanes. There are now more photographers who are buying drones and using them for work.
If you are new to both drones and photography, start by reading this article. It covers all the key elements to consider when selecting a drone for photography, including flight safety, imaging system, smart features, portability and service.
So, here are the important things you should consider before buying a drone for photography
1. Image quality is paramount.
If you have any knowledge on cameras, you will know that sensors have a direct impact on image quality. This also applies to drones. In the market, the 1-inch sensor is emerging as the new standard used by consumer drones such as the Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. The most powerful professional drone for photography is the Inspire 2 (with Zenmuse X5 camera), it has a 4/3-inch CMOS sensor.
The larger CMOS makes it easier to take high-quality photos in low light, but unless you're mostly taking photos at night, don't worry that much. According to our tests, the Mavic Pro and Phantom ensure high quality photos during the day.
2. Do you need 4K video?
The video resolution of drones can range from inferior HD to 4K. If video editing requires adding a filter and uploading to Facebook or Instagram, 1080p recording is enough. But if you are a vlogger or you want to record a movie in better quality, work in 4K resolution. Video editing reduces the resolution of your footage by scaling, rotating and cropping. If you start with 1080p source material, the resulting video material may be much less sharp. 4K video gives you tons of extra pixels to play back.
You can also see the frames per second (fps) listed in the drone's specs. Fps dictates how many unique consecutive shots the camera can handle each second. From 24 frames per second to 30 frames per second, it records smooth footage. However, for special effects like slow motion, you may need 60fps.
3. Is the drone stable?
Stable position (called hovering) of the drone in the air is extremely important for image quality. If the drone catches gusts of wind and its position becomes unstable, it will blur the image. Stable hovering in the air requires an advanced control system (controller / transmitter) and on-board sensors. Therefore, many pilots agree that DJI drones are ahead of other brands on the market in this respect.
4. Is Raw / DNG support necessary?
If you are not post-production in Lightroom or Photoshop, ignore this section. But almost every photographer edits their photos this way. If the drone can take RAW / DNG photos, this allows for multiple editing options in post-production. In RAW / DNG format, the photo saves all the data received by the camera sensor. This is especially helpful for night photo shoots. RAW / DNG formats offer more options for drone photographers.
5. Purchase of a photo drone with a gimbal.
The gimbal is a key piece of equipment for a drone to achieve stable video. Some cheaper drones only offer gimbals as accessories or not at all. Always remember to choose a drone with a gimbal mounted to avoid unstable operation. As far as I know, the DJI Phantom series was the first consumer drone series to feature a 3-axis gimbal. The new Mavic 2 also uses a tiny 3-axis gimbal designed for smaller drones that is proving to be an evolutionary benchmark in stabilization technology.
6. Don't worry about flight time.
Here's the truth: most drones can't fly for more than 30 minutes (unless we're talking about the Matrice). The drone industry does not yet have a solution to this problem. Drones with a flight time of more than 20 minutes are considered the highest level in the industry. It is definitely better to choose a drone with a longer flight time, such as the Mavic 2, which has a maximum flight time of 31 minutes. However, it's more important to learn how to get the most out of every second and buy at least two extra batteries.