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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> I'm thinking of getting a drone. Advice needed.
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08/13/2018 08:14:15 PM · #1
So, I've had my new camera about 6 months now. Enjoying it very much, but after seeing what people are doing with still drone photography I am amazed. I've never owned a drone and I'd like your input as to how to begin. Obviously, I'd shoot in raw. I was also thinking of getting a very inexpensive drone just to see if I'd enjoy it. The next step in would be choosing the right one. I guess in the $500 to $1000 range.

Thank and cheers,
Steve
08/13/2018 08:19:38 PM · #2
You're on target with the "get an inexpensive one first" line of thought. Go with something that is sophisticated enough to provide some of the automatic maneuvering and obstacle avoidance features, without breaking the bank. Get some practice in, and when you are confident in stepping up, do so.
that's the path I (eventually) intend to take. I too am very taken by the possibilities of drone photography, just a lot of other things taking up time right now...
08/13/2018 08:21:01 PM · #3
Originally posted by shoff:

I was also thinking of getting a very inexpensive drone just to see if I'd destroy it.

"Fixed" your "typo" ... ;-)

Seriously, I think buying an "inexpensive" one to practice with -- I have little doubt you'll "enjoy" it -- is an excellent idea. And remember that like other photography it's not the equipment but what you do with it which makes for good pictures.
08/13/2018 08:34:32 PM · #4
I love my Mavic Pro. Decent image quality, no fisheye lens like my previous drone and it was around $1000. And it's tiny. It fits in my camera bag where a 70-200 lens might fit.
The Mavic Pro 2 is coming out soon, expected to be $1300 or so, and it has a 1" CMOS sensor. If you don't want to spring for that much, I'd imagine the legacy Mavic Pro models to drop in price during that time. My only other advice with any drone is READ THE MANUAL, and take baby steps with it.
08/13/2018 08:51:13 PM · #5
As someone who never played video games (apparently that helps when using the joystick and commands), I can tell you that not seeing what you're shooting is problematic. Make sure that you get something that gives you first person view.
08/13/2018 09:03:06 PM · #6
Originally posted by shoff:

I was also thinking of getting a very inexpensive drone just to see if I'd enjoy it. The next step in would be choosing the right one. I guess in the $500 to $1000 range.
...
Steve


Cheap ones are far from a proper one is in terms of manoeuvring, photo etc.

Since DJI Mavic Pro 2 will come out soon you might want to wait and get an used DJI Mavic Pro or maybe a new one at a discounted price.

I have mine for more than 1 and half year and still enjoy it.
08/13/2018 10:51:04 PM · #7
As real estate photographers we occasionally get requests for drone photography. If you are planning to shoot commercially you need to get licensed. I would also recommend a DJI Mavic Air drone which is often used for real estate photography, both stills and video. Price range around $799.
08/13/2018 11:14:42 PM · #8
The DJI Mavic Pro also gets my vote. I got one last December, and will tell you that it is very easy to fly. This is from a person who tried to fly radio controlled airplanes for years. I got to be a very good model builder because my planes tended to last about ten minutes once in the air. The Mavic shoots in RAW (or jpg), and the videos are very good, too, with up to 4k quality. The one drawback to me was the poor quality of the instructions that came with the drone. I ended up spending time on YouTube to learn how to actually fly the thing. It is so forgiving! If you think you are getting into trouble, just let go of the joy sticks, and it will just hover in place. It has features for automatic take off, and landing. When you push the auto land button, it will return to where you took off from, and will land within a couple of feet of that spot.
08/14/2018 12:20:28 AM · #9
How do you see what you're shooting, for framing, for example?
08/14/2018 12:37:21 AM · #10
Originally posted by tanguera:

How do you see what you're shooting, for framing, for example?


Drone camera is on a wireless network that mobile phone (running app) is also connected to. Phone mounts to (hand-held) drone remote controller, watch video on phone screen, control shutter with drone controller.
08/14/2018 12:44:47 AM · #11
For the DJI drones the remote and the camera are in your hands and you have live stream at a res of 1080 on my Mavic Pro. You see right there what you shot, how to frame etc.

See here to get an idea.
08/14/2018 04:37:11 AM · #12
I have been thinking of getting a drone too but have a few concerns.

1. Will I use it much? I have read a few comments from people on DPC implying they don't use their drone much
2. Is it safe to use in areas with people below?

I know that to use it commercially in the UK you need to do a course to get a "pilots license" which then restricts you using it.

I would be using mine for personal use so I would not be getting a licence but I still would like to ensure I use it safely.
08/14/2018 05:36:11 AM · #13
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

I have been thinking of getting a drone too but have a few concerns.

1. Will I use it much? I have read a few comments from people on DPC implying they don't use their drone much


I do use it now and then but every time is a joy. Even my wife who is not so keen on gadgets when she got her hands on it would not let it go. See below:

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Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

2. Is it safe to use in areas with people below?

I know that to use it commercially in the UK you need to do a course to get a "pilots license" which then restricts you using it.

I would be using mine for personal use so I would not be getting a licence but I still would like to ensure I use it safely.


Yes is safe once you master it. I usually fly it in the hills and on the sea haha and stay away form people. Its annoying as well two have it hovering above your head.

It's good fun!
08/14/2018 06:03:59 AM · #14
Thanks Tiberius - that is very helpful
08/14/2018 09:51:45 AM · #15
I have a Mavic Air, my first drone, but I've flown RC gliders so a gps drone is a piece of cake in comparison. But like all aircraft, it's getting them up and down safely that is the trick.

It's a highly technical bit of kit with lots to learn but great fun. For your first flights give yourself plenty of space and do not fly in adverse conditions, fly in beginner mode and learn to control the aircraft manually and not to rely too much on the automatic functions just yet. Get the NATS app so you can see where you can and cannot fly. DJI drones have this map built in to them. There is a code about flying over built-up areas, buildings and people that will be brought into UK law by the end of next year, and the EU is also looking at legislation for commercial and leisure drones, nothing too drastic from what I've seen and encouraging for us photographers. Currently the only criminal law in the UK is that you must not fly at over 400 feet or within 1 kilometre of an airfield boundary.

I would also recommend using a larger screen than an iPhone, especially for stills photography where composing a shot is important, the small screen is a pain sometimes. I use a cellular iPad Mini 4 and sun shield. I want to upgrade to a better camera and longer flying time so I'm waiting to see the spec of the Mavic Pro 2 and to compare it with the Phantom 4.

It's the future.
08/14/2018 01:26:48 PM · #16
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

I have been thinking of getting a drone too but have a few concerns.

1. Will I use it much? I have read a few comments from people on DPC implying they don't use their drone much
2. Is it safe to use in areas with people below?

I know that to use it commercially in the UK you need to do a course to get a "pilots license" which then restricts you using it.

I would be using mine for personal use so I would not be getting a licence but I still would like to ensure I use it safely.


Although the images made by drones are really beautiful, a downside of the use of the drone is the very disturbing noise they make. When I go to the beautiful spots on Skye to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature I more and more get irritated by people using their drones. Also the dogs are really getting nervous from the high-pitch noise and I also heard farmers are complaining it affects the sheep as well. Personally I hope they will prohibit the use of drones in these touristic areas
08/14/2018 02:12:54 PM · #17
Originally posted by Kroburg:

Although the images made by drones are really beautiful, a downside of the use of the drone is the very disturbing noise they make.

Kite Aerial Photography is one way around this (cheaper and safer than hang-gliding with a GoPro!) ...

Here is a somewhat more up-to-date DIY instructions, and a search should yield many links to kit-sellers.
08/14/2018 02:40:48 PM · #18
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by shoff:

I was also thinking of getting a very inexpensive drone just to see if I'd destroy it.

"Fixed" your "typo" ... ;-)

Seriously, I think buying an "inexpensive" one to practice with -- I have little doubt you'll "enjoy" it -- is an excellent idea. And remember that like other photography it's not the equipment but what you do with it which makes for good pictures.


Any suggestions on an inexpensive model?
08/14/2018 02:51:59 PM · #19
Sorry, no suggestions from me -- I have no experience with using these and have not really read up on them either ... I'd trust the others who've posted here.

As with many items, it's possible that a "more expensive" one will prove enough easier to control and less likely to crash, and so less expensive in the long run in both money and frustration, that it will be worth the up-front cost.
08/14/2018 03:40:45 PM · #20
Originally posted by Kroburg:

Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

I have been thinking of getting a drone too but have a few concerns.

1. Will I use it much? I have read a few comments from people on DPC implying they don't use their drone much
2. Is it safe to use in areas with people below?

I know that to use it commercially in the UK you need to do a course to get a "pilots license" which then restricts you using it.

I would be using mine for personal use so I would not be getting a licence but I still would like to ensure I use it safely.


Although the images made by drones are really beautiful, a downside of the use of the drone is the very disturbing noise they make. When I go to the beautiful spots on Skye to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature I more and more get irritated by people using their drones. Also the dogs are really getting nervous from the high-pitch noise and I also heard farmers are complaining it affects the sheep as well. Personally I hope they will prohibit the use of drones in these touristic areas


I live on a farm with various livestock and there is no indication that mechanical noise adversely disturbs the animals. Indeed, every day there are tractors and heavy machinery working, mowers, strimmers, hedging, chainsaws, are often around, none of which appears to affect them. Above 50 feet a drone can barely be heard so I’m not sure where this information you have is coming from.
08/15/2018 03:16:53 PM · #21
A little added info about where I live.

I'm currently living in northern New Jersey.

Not sure how many interesting opportunities there would be for good drone photography.

I'm playing devil's advocate to myself.

Any suggestions for an inexpensive "practice" drone?
08/15/2018 04:09:21 PM · #22
Originally posted by shoff:

A little added info about where I live.

I'm currently living in northern New Jersey.

Not sure how many interesting opportunities there would be for good drone photography.

I'm playing devil's advocate to myself.

Any suggestions for an inexpensive "practice" drone?


Anything off the inexpensive shelf is likely not to give you any confidence at all, only grief, they are a world away from the real thing. You could take a chance with EBay and look for a good second-hand DJS Spark or Parrot Beebop. They won’t be hugely inexpensive but they would give you the experience you would need to make up your mind, and if you don’t crash it you can always sell it on again.
08/15/2018 04:31:52 PM · #23
Autel EVO. Period. Why?

1. Camera is killer and outperforms anything DJI has at this point, and isn't that why you want it?
2. None of the DJI nonsense of bricking the bird when they push a firmware update between the night before when you did the last one and the next morning when you're out somewhere and need to shoot. In other words, you CANNOT fly if they have an update they want applied.
3. None of the DJI nonsense with forced no fly zone and height restrictions. Download the UAV app and look at a map for your area. DJI no fly zones are shown if they exist, and if you're there the bird will not fly.
4. You do not need an app to fly it. Need to get up quick? There's a 720p screen in the EVO controller that allows you to fly even when your phone is dead or otherwise unavailable.
5. US Customer support. I've only needed it a couple times with regard to battery issues with my Autel X-Star Premium, but when you go to their site you can get someone on chat almost immediately, and they are super responsive to issues.

If you're willing to spring about $1200-1400 with extra batteries then you will not be disappointed. I loved the camera in my X-Star but I don't even fly it any more by comparison. Feel free to PM me if you want more details.
08/15/2018 06:03:32 PM · #24
Looking at Autel now. Is Dng raw?

Also, i can't seem to find the range of the drone.

Quick question. Why don't I see Autel on any of the top rated drone lists? All I mostly see DJI.

Message edited by author 2018-08-15 18:57:31.
08/16/2018 03:39:48 AM · #25
Originally posted by shoff:

Looking at Autel now. Is Dng raw?

Also, i can't seem to find the range of the drone.

Quick question. Why don't I see Autel on any of the top rated drone lists? All I mostly see DJI.


Autel Evo is pretty new, going head to head with the more established Mavic Pro which is due to be replaced at the end of the month. Autel have been accused of ‘copying’ DJI technology and lacks pedigree. The camera on the Evo is an ultra wide which won’t siut everyone but makes some images appear to be superior when in fact it has exactly the same spec as the current Mavic Pro. The new Pro will have a vastly improved camera. The Evo is around the same price as the Mavic. If you want to stay within the law, don’t worry too much about maximum range, the law states that without the proper authorisation you must kepp unmanned aircraft within line of sight and no higher than 400 feet. DNG is a standard raw format, PS handles it without complaint..
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