In the most recent year, drones (otherwise called “multirotor” art or ‘quadcopters’) have made the jump from specialty contraption tech for the radio control fan to a bit of genuine imaging unit that each photographer needs to get their hands on. The most recent era of drones is simpler to fly, highlight better cameras and have auto flight features that now empower anybody to catch proficient quality film with constrained flying knowledge.
Becoming acquainted with your drones
What type of drone you should be looking at? First, be aware that not all camera-equipped drones are suitable for photographers. For instance, in the UK without a special license (Airworthiness Approval) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the drone you fly must be under 20kg in weight fully equipped (each territory has its own restrictions and it’s worth checking them out).
Make sure you stay legal
Where can you fly your drone? Ultimately, common sense is the key to flying drones but there are some very clear guidelines. These vary slightly depending on your country of residence, but for safe flying always ensure you do the following:
- Unless you have a license don’t fly a drone over 20kg, if you are flying a drone of any weight commercially then ensure you get ‘Operating Permission’ from the CAA or equivalent.
- When flying, make sure you can always see the drone, don’t just rely on the live feed
- Keep the drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
- Don’t fly within 50m of people, structures or buildings and never over roads or large gatherings of people such as at sports events and festivals.
- It’s also a good idea to get public liability insurance if you’re flying in parks.
Capturing aerial shots
The technology contained within these small craft is extremely advanced, so along with the powerful motors that enable the craft to become airborne, the batteries also must power the GPS, camera, live view and other sensors.
On average, the batteries for most current drones will allow around 20 minutes of flight before a cell change is needed. As with any other vehicle, the harder you fly the less flight time you’ll get. So, extra batteries must be carried along in the traveling drone backpack, while traveling away to capture vivid aerial shots.
Composition from a distance
The secret behind the ease of flight for the latest generation of drones is GPS. These crafts have smart flight controllers which use global positioning data to enable stable and automated flight features such as auto return to home.
You’ll need to see what you’re filming, so wireless live view communication between the craft and a handset or mobile device is essential – and thankfully a standard feature on the latest batch of drones. Communication comes in two forms, either through a Wi-Fi or 2.4/4.8GHz connection.
Drones are unmanned craft and increasingly this means that they are packed with smart flight features. A year ago, this meant that some had auto take off, landing and braking, but now these essential controls have been joined by autonomous flight modes such as follow me, Selfie and 360 views.
Make the most of your footage
Drones enable you to capture footage and stills that would be otherwise impossible, but once captured that video footage (or still image) still needs editing and uploading to its destination.