Photography has undergone a renaissance in recent years with rise of camera phones and high-resolution mobile imaging. And now, legions of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots are taking to the skies for fun and profit, ushering in a new era of drone photography for hobbyists.
The ability to take amazing aerial photographs is now accessible to anyone with the right gear— that said, selecting the right rig from the expansive array of options currently available can be a challenge. The following are 13 popular drones for capturing the perfect aerial landscape shot.
Designed for professional drone pilots, the Phantom III Professional is the flagship model of leading worldwide drone manufacturer DJI. The Phantom III features 4K video, GPS positioning, and a 3-axis gimbal. Other notable features include first person view (FPV) monitoring and a charging time of a little over an hour.
The 3D Robotics IRIS+ can either be controlled manually using the controller or via a mobile device or PC. The drone weighs 2.82 pounds, has a fight time 22 minutes and a control distance of 999m, and can be synced with an app called Droid Planner 2 for planning and scheduling flights.
The Typhoon possesses similar features and capabilities as the DJI Phantom III; in addition to its 3-axis gimbal camera and 4K video, the 3.7 pound drone ships with a “No Fly Zone” feature for staying within FAA guidelines. The Typhoon has a 25 minute flying time and includes several autonomous flight modes.
The Parrot AR is capable of shooting 720p HD videos that can be streamed directly to a mobile device. The 4 pound drone features an app called AR.Freeflight that allows pilots to assume full flight control. Additionally, the drone’s cameras can be switched on-the-fly for shooting at distinct angles. It has a flight time of 15 minutes and a control distance of 50m.
DJI’s Inspire 1 Pro features dual-operator control capabilities that allow it to be controlled by two transmitters—ideal for settings in which one pilot handles flight control while the other handles the camera. It has a flight time of 25 minutes and a gimbal that rotates 360 degrees.
The 916g Syma X5C-1 has a 2MP camera with propeller guards and can be flipped 360 degrees in either direction. Despite its limited flight time, the drone is a good choice if you’re bent on taking a few shots. It includes LED lights for easy tracking at night and a 50m control distance.
Dubbed the world’s first smart drone, the 3D Robotics Solo doesn’t require advance flying skills to take great footage due to its smart shot technology. It’s capable of streaming wireless HD video from and attached GoPro camera to your mobile device. Weighing 11.7 pounds, the 3D Robotics Solo also includes autonomous flight modes for easy flying
This 2.8 pound mini-drone has an built-in camera capable of shooting 4K video at 1080p and a touchscreen controller. It’s capable of 30 minutes of flight time, a control distance of 600m, and autonomous tracking modes.
The 1600g Syma X8G sports an 8 megapixel camera capable of both 720p and 1080p HD video that can be easily swapped out for any GoPro model. The drone also features an Intelligent Orientation Control system(IOC), has a flight time of 10-12 minutes, and a control distance of 100m.
The Cheerson Hobby quadcopter is equipped with a vision positioning system and auto-path finder for easy control and manoeuvrability. It has a charge time of 2 hours, a flight time of nearly 20 minutes, and a control distance of 500m.
This micro-sized quadcopter features a high capacity LiPO battery, 4 channel 2.4 GHz controller, precision 6-axis gyro, and a durable one-piece main frame. The light and easy-to-handle Hubspan X4 is ideal for those wishing to safely sharpen their low-level flying skills.
Weighing 1.3 pounds and equipped with a 6-axis gyro, The Holy Stone quadcopter takes up to 100 minutes to charge for its standard outdoor flying time of 12 minutes. The drone is known for its stability and manoeuvrability and features prominent lighting for night flights.
Despite being on the pricier end, the DJI Phantom 4 is a solid investment given its wide array of features. The drone comes with a 14MP camera with a 1080 HD video recording and features onboard First Person View (FPV) via smartphone tethering. Other notable features include an easy-to-replace battery and autonomous flying and Intelligent Orientation Control systems.
In short, these drones and others are redefining the art of photography by allowing photographers to take amazing aerial shots that were once unimaginable. Aerial photography is now less cumbersome, inexpensive, and more fun—with a bit of patience and practice, anyone can capture the perfect shot from above.