Aerial Photography

Drones for Aerial Photography

Aerial photography has been growing in popularity for the past couple of years.  The trend of aerial photography is being spearheaded by hobbyists but now some commercial applications have also started opening up, which means a huge growth in this field in the coming years.

Drones for Aerial Photography

Before drones or quadcopters were available, people have been making use of kites to take aerial photographs. Large sized kites can support sophisticated photographic equipment and even though they do not provide a lot of control, they had been the choice of many hobbyists interested in aerial photography. Also, people had been using RC planes to satisfy their urge but the results were abysmal at best as a RC plane can not hover at a place.

This has changed with the arrival of commercially available drones. Drones or quadcopters are now easily available to everybody at affordable prices. A lot of new designs have come into the market and a lot of projects for quadcopters have been successfully funded on sites such as kickstarter. Quadcopters in all sizes are available nowadays. Some of the quadcopters are so small that they can easily fit in with in one’s palm.

Quadcopter Aerial Photography

Phantom 2 CameraQuadcopters have become increasly popular as they can easily reach a high altitude and provide a birds eye view of the landscape beneath while holding a stable position in the air. Quadcopters come loaded with a device called a gyroscope which helps keep the camera stable so you can get  a very nice looking aerial view. They have excellent controls and most of the quadcopters also come loaded with GPS.

Even the inexpensive quadcopters these days have ability to carry a camera which provides excellent shots over the larger area. These drones are very popular with film makers as they can now take shots from high up in the air without risking any crew on the dangerous cranes.

There are two main type of quadcopters available today for aerial photography. One type of quadcopter has inbuilt cameras which can be used just like the camera in a smart phone. These cameras are compact in size and do not weigh much. The problem with these cameras is that the images or videos provided by them are of a lower quality. Most of the quadcopters with inbuilt cameras are able to provide photographs at a resolution of 640 x 480. This resolution is good but there are options which can provide photographs at a much higher resolution.

These drones have the capability to stream the live video to the controller. The controller has an inbuilt LCD screen which displays the media as seen by the quadcopters. This makes it very easy for a person to take photographs of the desired area. This also saves the time spent in checking the blind footage taken. These days, there are many accessories available which take this live streaming concept a bit further.

There are Goggles available which stream the footage taken by the camera on board the quadcopter directly into the eyes of the person controlling the drone.  This is commonly called First Person View or FPV.   FPV allows  one to easily photography the desired landscape.

The other type of quadcopters are those which have a camera housing allowing various cameras to be mounted.  The advantage of these type of quadcopters is that one can choose a higher quality camera for taking photographs and shooting video. Many people use go pro cameras with these quadcopters to include excellent quality videos.

Another advantage of these type of quadcopters is that one can change the lenses for wide-angle shooting or focused shooting.

Many of the hobbyists who love aerial photography use mid-size quadcopters. However, high quality quadcopters which have longer battery life and have the capability to carry higher weighing cameras are also available.

The only problem with these quadcopters is their seemingly low battery life. Most of the quadcopters can fly for 10 to 15 minutes on a single charge of the battery. However, with the improvement in battery technology, we will likely see quadcopters with the ability to hover for a much longer period.

>> Check out our article on the best quadcopters to help find one to fit your needs <<

Aerial Photography now an option for everyone

Personal drones equipped with high definition cameras, are already changing the playing field for standard photography.   Drones allow you to take photos that you just simply couldn’t take before.  The best part? They’re affordable, costing about the same price as high end DSLRs. Here are a few examples:

  • Have new boat, and want to get a picture of you and your family in it?  No problem, send the drone out.  Just don’t crash it in the water!
  • How about mountain climbing with a friend?  You can now get that killer air shot of you on the mountain.
  • View obstruction is now no longer a problem.  To take that photo, you just fly your drone up and above the obstacle.
  • How about an aerial selfie (called a dronie)?  No problem.

Check out this great video that shows you some examples from the WSJ.

Commercial Use of Drones for Aerial Photography

One of the biggest uses of drones for aerial photography is being made by the real estate industry. Realtors love to have an aerial view of the property they are trying to sell. Even though the margins are not there yet for making it commercially viable for people but with regulations expected to be drawn up in the coming years, this field is waiting to explode.

Here are just a few of the more common uses of drones for aerial photography:

  • Security
  • Surveillance
  • Cinematography or Movies and Films
  • Search and Rescue
  • Product Delivery – although the FAA has cracked down hard on this recently.
  • Military use

Drones open up new horizons in aerial photography, and new uses are being seen almost on a daily basis.  Just a quick search of YouTube confirms this.  As drones continue to grow and gain in popularity, the uses will just continue to expand and new horizons in photography and aerial photography and video will emerge.  Exciting times!

Photo credit: Pierre Lesage

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