Aerial photography is a fast-emerging hobby. Nowadays, mounting an actual aircraft isn’t all that necessary to get your eye on the sky. There are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or popularly known as “drones”) and other means such as telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles that help you capture the most stunning shots.
Drone Aerial Photography Tools: Drones, Cameras, and Gimbals
Among all the devices where you can mount your camera on, drones are no doubt the most popular and for a number of valid reasons too.These clever devices are capable of recording high-quality images and video clips and come at a reasonable price.
That said, if you want to start honing your aerial photography skills, then you’ll need a UAV that has a wide range of capabilities such as camera control, stability, and high image quality. There are many great choices out there to choose from, and here are some of the best ones:
- DJI Inspire 4K. The Inspire from DJI has been used by professionals for filming TV and film productions. In terms of camera quality alone, this drone just delivers everything you need.
- DJI 4K Phantom Vision 4. Riding on the success of the Phantom Vision 2 and 3 is the Phantom Vision 4. It is relatively new in the market, so you can expect the price tag to be a little high. The Phantom Vision 4 is perfect for beginners and professionals who are looking for an easy-to-use drone that delivers great results.
- 3DR SOLO Quadcopter. The 3DR Solo does not come with its own action camera, so you’re going to have to mount your own. Its strength lies with its quality and stable performance while in the air.
- DJI Phantom FC40. For those drone hunting on a budget, the Phantom FC40 is a nifty model for you. It comes with a camera that can film at 720p 30FPS with great image quality. And another thing, it is sold at a price that will not break the bank.
Other drones to include on your shortlist are the Hubsan X4, micro quadcopter, and the Parrot AR Drone 2.0. Keep in mind that not all these drone models come with built-in cameras, so you’re likely going to have to provide one yourself.
The most popular action camera to date is the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition. It has become a universal standard in aerial videography and it is easy to see why. Aside from weighing a convenient 73 grams, it effectively captures 2,704 × 1,524 pixels at 45Mbps video. It also features built-in Wi-Fi to allow you to download footage on third-party equipment.
However, it is important to know those fancy cameras aren’t all that necessary for aerial photography. After all, a high-end camera is completely useless when your drone vibrates a lot. Vibration can be caused by a slew of factors including the drone’s engine, size, and air turbulence. To reduce this, you’ll need vibration isolators and gimbals, the latter being more common in most drones nowadays.
A gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object around its own axis. Gimbals work best when paired with a brushless motor. Some popular examples includes the Zenmuse gimbal, 3DR Solo Gimbal, and the Walkera G-2D 2 Axis drone gimbal.
Drone aerial photography can be tricky, so a couple of extra tools and equipment will help you get a hang of it. For instance, you might want to see the direction you’re flying while you steer your drone from the ground. To be able to do this, you’ll need a video transmitter. The Immersion RC 5.8ghz 600mw is a popular video transmitter that works best with the Uno5800 for noise-free video recording.
While the Immersion RC can be used to start a live feed from the camera, you can also use receivers like the Duo5800 to view the footage from your own monitor, smartphone, or FPV goggles. Beginner-level FPV systems, like the Ready Made RC 5.8GHz, retail for around $250.
Additionally, you might want to look into other helpful equipment for aerial photography, such as the specialized RC remote and anti-gravity motors. GPS devices may come in handy too, especially in the event that a dreaded flyaway situation happens. GPS trackers such as Trackimo are a big help when you want to keep an eye on your drone at all times. Perhaps its most attractive feature is its geofencing ability. Should your drone fly away from your pre-set perimeter, the app automatically sends out smart alerts to its users.
Pilot-less aircraft has certainly shaped the world of aerial photography. With the best tools and equipment, you can capture what a human camera operator would have to risk their life for. To put it simply, drone has taken people to places that everyone thought we could never go to.
Watch the video below