Best Drones for Photography – Top Camera Drones Money Can Buy

Drones have been around for quite some time. However, those drones aimed at the consumer market are fairly recent and improving each year. What started out as toys evolved into tools for aerial videographers and photographers, and now we’re seeing really sophisticated programmable drones.

With the markets flooded with a wide variety of models of drones for professional filming and photography, the latest drone photography trend is not a new concept anymore. Drone filming and photography is the next big thing for covering complete events, in the most unique and perfect way possible, and the professional photographers/videographers are making great use of the latest technology and opening up wide avenues in the field of photography and filming.

These drones are easy to control, GPS stabilized, and SO classy! However, with a rapid advancement in the field of aerial filming and so many options to choose from, you may find yourself being pulled in different directions. Each model has its own exclusive features. Some may be equipped with a longer lasting battery, and others may have a higher resolution camera. Some may be easier to fly, and others may have the top and latest features.

Hobbyists will have a remote drone that can film where they live, their parties, weddings, holidays, and anything else they can think of, while professionals photographers will get a valuable tool that will help them with work opportunities.

Here is a list of the most popular camera drones used for professional aerial photography. The list is in no particular order.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

DJI (http://www.dji.com/) is a drone manufacturing juggernaut, and their DJI Phantom 3 series (Standard, 4K, Advanced and Professional) arguably represents the best selling drone models of 2015 and 2016.

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional (https://www.amazon.com/DJI-Phantom-Professional-Quadcopter-Camera/dp/B00VSITBJO?tag=uavcoach-20) is the most sophisticated option in the series, and it is an easy to use, fully integrated camera drone package with an intelligent system that helps you fly smarter.

The Phantom 3 Professional offers 4K camera, a whopping 5km control distance, and 23 minutes of flight time.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Specs and Features

  • Flight Time: 23 minutes
  • Top Speed: 18m/s (36 mph)
  • Video Resolution: 4K at 30 FPS
  • Camera Resolution: 12MP
  • Vision Positioning for Indoor Flight
  • Powerful Mobile App w/ Auto Video Editor
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 1-year warranty

The Phantom 3 Professional also features five advanced flight modes (http://www.dji.com/product/intelligent-flight-modes):

  • Point of Interest
  • Home Lock
  • Waypoints
  • Course Lock
  • Follow Me

These advanced flight modes free you up to focus on camera control and getting the right shot, which makes this drone a smart choice for professional pilots.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Accessories

The Phantom 3 series offers some units that pack a lot of punch if you are on a budget and able to sacrifice some of the bells and whistles of the newer systems.

  • Hardshell Backpack
  • Remote Controller Strap
  • Camera Lens Protector + Cover
  • Extra Propellers
  • Propeller Guard
  • 64 GB MicroSD Memory Card
  • Extra Battery

 

Camera

The Phantom 3 Professional uses its own proprietary DJI camera, and the included 4K camera is excellent. The images are outstanding and color-balanced, and there is almost zero fisheye distortion present.

The Phantom 3 Professional includes new camera controls like burst mode and time-lapse. Also, manual exposure is set via the app.

DJI can extend functionality and control beyond what GoPro allows, and that is one of the benefits of controlling the camera. Close-ups are a bit fuzzy/soft, but nothing major and nothing to complain about.

 

DJI Video Editor

You can choose from several pre-defined templates and create professional-looking movies in minutes using the DJI Video Editor app on your tablet or Smartphone.

 

DJI Go App

The included DJI Go App allows you to see and control everything through one screen:

  • You can edit, publish and share video straight from your tablet or phone
  • You can check your flight log
  • You can check live flight telemetry including direction, speed, and altitude
  • You can control your flight settings
  • You can control the camera
  • live scrolling map provides real-time awareness of your surroundings and location

 

Flight Controller

Just connect your tablet or phone to the USB port on the all-new flight controller and you’re ready to film. The Phantom 3 streams video from a distance of up to 1.2 miles, direct to your device in 720p.

The new Phantom 3 Professional DJI Go flight control app is the same as in its more expensive sibling, the DJI Inspire 1.

The main screen in the DJI Pilot app has four main functions: store, director, camera, and user center. You access everything you need to fly the Phantom 3 Professional in the camera section.

Surrounding the live camera feed are a ton of dials and telemetry data, including live signal strength indicators for your comm channel and GPS satellites, map location, distance from ground station, and altitude.

The controller includes buttons for taking camera shots, as well as Return Home and Auto Takeoff flight modes.

 

Automatic Flight Assistant

This drone is equipped with advanced automatic flight assistance features, including:

  • The Phantom 3 Professional hovers in place upon takeoff, until you are ready to go
  • The aircraft hovers in place upon landing, until you are ready to receive it
  • Your drone will automatically return home if you lose contact or lose control of it
  • Built-in GPS records your drone’s take-off point and position at all times

 

Live Video Streaming To YouTube

The included video editing software lets you stream your live video directly to YouTube (720p). This is used for video surveillance or live event coverage.

The Phantom 3 is designed to basically fly itself. This allows you to focus on getting a stunning camera shot. Also, FPV (First Person View) works almost flawlessly and is a lot of fun.

Overall, the Phantom 3 Professional is a great camera drone that captures incredibly crisp and stable images while keeping things simple, and it is the perfect camera drone for most consumers and hobbyists.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Vision Sensor monitors ground position within 3 meters. This makes indoor operation a breeze
  • Return Home and Auto Take Off
  • On low-battery alert, Fail-Safe mode brings the aircraft home
  • 3-Axis gimbal
  • DJI Pilot App allows you operate the camera and view live streaming through your table or Smartphone
  • Built-in 4K camera
  • Perfect for travel due to its small size
  • Suitable for amateur and semi-professional film makers and photographers
  • The easiest-to-own and operate HD camera drone currently available

 

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DJI Phantom 4 PRO

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the drone of an aerial photographer’s dreams. It is the most sophisticated camera drone yet, and features a 20MP, 1″ CMOS camera with 24mm lens, 84° FOV, 6400 maximum ISO for video and recording bitrate of up to 100Mbps. These are all protected from damage by an advanced multi-directional obstacle avoidance system.

The DJI Phantom 4 PRO is the most intelligent, easy-to-operate flying camera drone available for less than $2,000, and it is designed for high-quality aerial photography and cinematography.

This drone comes complete with a 4K camera (1 inch CMOS), integrated software, controller, and gimbal, and it is designed for professional high-resolution aerial photography and film making.

It’s ready to capture, right out of the box, and it’s like an entry-level DSLR for the sky.

The drone is also equipped with dual-mode GPS+GLONASS receivers for autopilot redundancy. The new DJI Phantom 4 Pro also features DJI’s unique vision navigation system. This system makes navigating close to the ground and inside buildings a breeze – without the need for GPS.

 

DJI Phantom 4 PRO Specs and Features

  • Weight: 4672 grams (10.3 pounds)
  • Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Top Speed: 72 kph (45 mph)
  • Range: 7000 meters (22966 feet)
  • GPS-free Positioning for Indoor Flight
  • DJIGo Mobile App w/ Auto Video Editor
  • Live HD View
  • Intelligent Flight System
  • Integrated 3-Axis Stabilization Gimbal
  • Captures burst-mode stills at 14 fps
  • Records 4K Video at 60 fps
  • Photo Camera: 20 MP w/ 1-inch CMOS

The Phantom 4 PRO improved several features over the Phantom 3 Pro, including:

More Advanced Flight Modes

The most notable upgrades are new advanced camera and flight automation modes – TapFly, Draw, and ActiveTrack. They simplify the planning and execution of high-quality, interesting and dramatic shots and make professional-quality film making even easier.

All Inspire and Phantom models are now equipped with the advanced camera modes, thanks to the recent introduction of new DJI controller software, including:

  • Gesture Mode
  • Return to Home
  • Course Lock
  • GPS Waypoints
  • Point of Interest
  • Follow Me

However, professional film makers get three more advanced flight/camera modes with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro – TapFly, Draw, and ActiveTrack.

TapFly

Tap on any location in the Live View, and the Phantom 4 Pro will fly there, and if there’s an obstacle in the way, it will automatically fly around it.

Draw

If you want to fly a panoramic view of a majestic coastal estate, just draw your flight route on-screen, and the Phantom 4 PRO will fly along that line while keeping its altitude stable.

There are two Draw modes to choose from. In Manual mode, the operator controls the speed and the camera, while Standard mode moves at a constant speed, allowing the pilot to focus completely on the shot.

ActiveTrack

If you want your shot to follow a fast-moving object automatically, then you can just tap on any object in the camera’s Live View, and the camera will stay focused on it.

The vision system automatically detects multiple objects as it flies. This means that all you need to do is select one.

 

Collision Avoidance and Obstacle Detection

The other notable upgrade for the DJI Phantom 4 PRO is its inclusion of a new Optical Sensor unit and real-time 3D vision system. This feature makes the drone capable of automatically detecting and avoiding obstacles while in flight.

If the drone in its path detects an object, it will either automatically plot a course around the object, or perform full brake.

Collision avoidance and obstacle detection make planning and navigating a shot simpler and darn near foolproof, and also provide an entirely new level of safety and convenience for the pilot.

To do this, the DJI Phantom 4 PRO uses downward-looking, rear-looking, and forward-looking optical sensors to detect objects up to 30 feet beneath and 50 feet in front of the platform. The vision is stereoscopic. This means the Phantom 4 PRO sees in 3D.

The Phantom 4 leads all other RTF camera drones in this extremely important feature, which will hopefully result in fewer crashes.

Better Performance

Flight performance and dynamics have also been upgraded.

Compared with the Phantom 3 Pro, the Phantom 4 PRO is faster (45 mph!) and flies a few minutes longer (28 minutes vs. 23). It also weighs slightly more, so it’s a bit more stable underway.

The Phantom 4 PRO’s range is greatly extended. This drone can fly up to 6.9 kilometres (4.3 miles) away from the controller. This is more than twice the range of most other ready-to-fly camera drones.

The motors have also been upgraded, and they are more efficient and operate more smoothly.

Also, the props have a new quick-release feature. It simplifies packing and repairs.

The included intelligent batteries are now more powerful, smaller, and easier to swap out. The advanced battery system works in conjunction with the flight control system to automatically alert you to near-depleted battery status. When batteries run too low, it can even automatically return the Phantom 4 PRO home.

Flight Controller

DJI has swapped-out the Playback button on its already amazing flight controller, for a new Intelligent Flight Pause button.

The DJI Phantom 4 PRO flight controller comes with a new Sport mode button. This button adds a kick in speed by boosting power temporarily.

The Return Home function is also improved. This allows the Phantom 4 PRO to automatically navigate around obstacles on its way back to you.

You just connect your tablet or phone (Android or iOS) to the USB port on the flight controller and you’re ready to film.

The Phantom 4 PRO streams live video from a distance of up to 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles), directly to your device in 720p.

The Phantom 4 PRO+ adds a 5.5 inch dedicated 1080p display for an additional $300. This display is exceptionally bright and integrates the DJI Go app into it.

DJI Video Editor

You can create professional-looking movies in minutes using the DJI Video Editor app on your tablet or Smartphone.

DJI Go App

The DJI Go App runs on the Pro+ display or on your tablet or phone. It allows you to see and control everything through one screen. Here are some of the key features:

  • You can edit, publish and share video – straight from your tablet or phone
  • You can check your flight log
  • You can check live flight telemetry including direction, speed, and altitude
  • You can control your flight direction and settings
  • You can control the camera position
  • A live scrolling map provides real-time awareness of your surroundings and location

Overall, the Phantom 4 PRO is the most advanced ready-to-fly camera drone available, and it is the perfect camera drone for professional aerial photographers, film makers, real estate marketers and others who need super-crisp footage but don’t want to waste time planning – and missing – the shot.

Photography Features We Like

  • It can be operated indoors without GPS
  • On low-battery alert Fail-Safe modebrings the Phantom 4 PRO home
  • Tap-to-Follow and Tap-to-Fly camera modes
  • Built-in Collision Avoidance and Obstacle Detection 
  • DJI Pilot Appallows you to operate the camera, view live streaming, and tap to focus the shot
  • 3-Axis gimbal
  • It features built-in 4K camera with no Fish-eye effect
  • Drone’s small size makes it an easy traveler

 

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DJI Matrice 200

It’s scary in an exciting sort of way to see how ruthlessly DJI is outpacing its competitors, and other brands have been left struggling to catch up to the Chinese drone maker.

A perfect example of DJI expansion into new and diverse industries is the recently released Matrice 200. Many drone companies are focused on low-cost hobbyist drones. However, DJI has taken over the market with its premium and amazingly designed drones made for every kind of user.

Whether you are looking for a data acquisition UAV, a professional photography drone, or a consumer drone, DJI sells one that will definitely meet your needs. One of the big reasons they will likely remain at the top for the foreseeable future is their ability to rapidly create drones to fit different applications.

The DJI Matrice 200 is designed from the ground up as an enterprise photography drone, since it can carry two cameras, has three obstacle avoidance sensor systems,  it is magnetic and weather resistant, and it can carry an upward facing camera.

The DJI Matrice 200 is an outdoor all-weather workhorse and a well-built one at that, and it is designed mostly for enterprise clients as a one-in-all inspection tool. However, I would also recommend it for photography or filming tasks, which need the big payload.

This drone is not cheap and its price is expected to be double that of the $4,999 Matrice 600 Pro. However, it packs more payload, more features and more industrial and photography application capabilities than any other DJI drone.

 

DJI Matrice 200 Specs and Features

  • Weight: 3.80 kg (8.4 pounds)
  • Size: 716 x 220 x 236 mm (28.2 x 8.7 x 9.3 inches)
  • Professional-grade performance
  • It is powerful, all-in-one imaging and survey package
  • Flight Time: 38 minutes
  • Range: 7000 meters (22966 feet)
  • Maximum Payload: 2268 grams (5 pounds)
  • It features removable propellers for easier portability
  • Maximum ascent speed: 18 kph (11.2 mph)
  • Maximum descent speed: 10.8 kph (6.7 mph)

 

Intelligent Flight

The Matrice 200 has two intelligent flight modes: Point of Interest and ActiveTrack.

The first, Point of Interest puts the drone on a circular flying path around a specific subject, which allows the operator to capture a wide level detailing of the subject and perform a comprehensive analysis.

The second, ActiveTrack is designed to work with moving subjects, and it keeps them in the frame. This ensures that you can shoot accurate details and images.

 

High Endurance

Both inside and out, the DJI Matrice 200 comes with a rugged and highly functional design. This design allows the drone to adapt to different kinds of environments, and whichever location and whatever weather, the DJI Matrice 200 is engineered to perform. Here are the the most important design features:

  • Self-heating batteries allow for sustained functionality in sub-zero temperatures
  • Element protection
  • Extra-long 17-inch propellers allow for flight stability even in strong winds

 

Lightbridge Video Transmission

To provide a two-way communication system between the operator on the ground and the drone in the air, DJI uses their latest Lightbridge transmission technology.

With Lightbridge technology you can transmit the video feed to several other Smartphones or computers, which is perfect for a team operation.

The DJI Matrice 200 can also transmit a live video feed to you. This will give you an amazing FPV (first person view) experience. You can even transmit control instructions with minimal latency (delay). This feature ensures a smooth operation.

 

Obstacle Avoidance

The centimeter-level precision flying is one of the most notable features of the DJI Matrice 200. The drone can hover extremely close to the subject. This allows you to shoot highly accurate details.

The vision and infrared sensors enable this level of precision. These sensors are located at the bottom, upper, and front parts of the drone. The forward facing vision cameras are important for safe navigation.

Another important safety feature is DJI Airsense, which makes use of a built-in ADS-B receiver to keep track of any manned aircraft in the area. In case your drone strays too close to one, you will be automatically alerted.

 

Onboard and Mobile SDI

DJI has included both an onboard and mobile SDK (software development kit) for users who want to get customized functionality from the drone.

The mobile kit can be used to develop custom applications for imaging and analysis, while the onboard kit allows you to connect third party sensors.

 

Flexible Payload

The DJI Matrice 200 has about 2300 grams (5 pounds) maximum payload capacity, which is great for users that need to lift multiple sensor setups or heavy inspection sensors. It is important to note that the payload installation options are almost unlimited:

  • The cameras can be replaced with third party sensors such as an accelerometer, a LiDAR sensor, a temperature sensor, or an airspeed sensor.
  • An upward gimbal can be mounted, which provides a better vantage point for certain imaging situations.
  • Two downward gimbals for more comprehensive imaging can also be mounted, which comes in handy if you need to use two imaging equipment such as an IR camera and a normal camera.
  • The traditional single downward gimbal can be mounted.

 

Photography Features we like

  • A lot of safety features
  • Live HD video streaming
  • Versatility in applications and payload
  • Amazing flight time (38 minutes)
  • High payload capacity

 

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Yuneec H520

Yuneec unveiled a new drone in this year’s CES in Las Vegas, designed specifically for commercial and professionals operators. 

The Yuneec H520 is bigger than their previous releases, and has a thicker body. It also features longer rotor blades, three camera options, increased flying time, and a higher load capacity, and all these features are aimed at attracting buyers from a variety of industries including filming, photography, survey, inspections, and mapping.

The H520 is not cheap although based on commercial drone standards (https://www.iso.org/news/2015/03/Ref1946.html). A basic configuration for the this drone is expected to go for about $2,500, and depending on the features you choose, the price can get as high as $4,500.

 

Yuneec H520 Specs and Features

  • Brightly colored drone
  • Tough body design
  • Flight Time: 31 minutes
  • Payload Capacity: 500 grams (1.1 pounds)
  • 3 camera options
  • ST16 Ground Station running on Android
  • Powerful motor

 

Three Camera Options

Most drone applications require a camera, and the type of camera varies with the application. The H520 provides drone operators with three camera options:

  • CGO-ET dual thermal RGB camera – This type of camera is perfect for fire inspections, industrial maintenance, and search and rescue operations. The Yuneec H520 can be paired with the CGO-ET camera, and the setup includes a low-light (residual light) lens that is 20 times more sensitive than the human eye, a thermal imaging lens with an adjustable temperature range, and a 3-axis gimbal for smooth shots.
  • CGO-CIseven-element inspection-ready camera – The camera features traditional 4K video quality but with a tighter field of view, and it is designed for cinema and vertical inspection applications. The ability to capture details much further away with the same clarity as it would nearby object is the camera’s biggest strength. The all-glass lens distortion-free lens produces high-contrast imaging. This feature makes the camera especially perfect for filmmakers.
  • CGO-3+ – This is the same camera found on the Yuneec Typhon H, and it can rotate 360 degrees. This makes it ideal for panoramic pictures and comprehensive survey projects. The 3-axis gimbalallows for smooth 4K shots even in rough weather, and the wide-angle glass lens captures plenty of details in 4K clarity. Finally, you can stream images and video live up to a range of 400m (1312 feet) thanks to the 5GHz Wi-Fi transmission

The CGO-3+ is perfect camera for those who are looking to do some photography. You should try the CGO-ET camera if you are a commercial drone operator looking to serve your clients using the best tools in the market. And the CGO-CI camera is perfect for those who want high-quality cinematic videos for commercials or films.

Your preferred configuration will determine how much you pay for the Yuneec H520. I have a feeling the CGO-CI and CGI-ET cameras are not going to be cheap. However, if you care for nothing but the highest quality imagery, then they are worth the price tag.

 

Higher Payload Capacity

The Yuneec H520 is engineered as a workhorse. It is able to lift heavy cameras and equipment. The drone can maintain stability and control, even with a heavy payload on it.

 

Rugged Design

To give the drone more speed and better performance in windy situations, the manufacturer added more powerful motors. Also, the propellers produce more lift. This feature allows the drone to launch effortlessly and easily make turns as needed, which makes the Yuneec H520 ideal for a wide variety of commercial applications from photography to solar panels inspections.

It is also important to note that the drone carry a hefty payload while maintaining perfect stability.

The bright orange design is another design feature I love, because it is easy to keep track of the drone when flying outside, even in bad weather.

 

Waypoint Technology

Waypoint technology works with Intel RealSense to provide truly hands-free flying, and allows the H520 to automatically fly to a fixed set of coordinates without requiring constant directional control. You can set the drone to fly to a certain point, at a specific height, and in a specific direction, using the remote controller.

Waypoint technology allows photographers and filmmakers to capture smoother and more focused shots because they can focus more on the camera and less about navigating the drone.

The RealSense technology ensures the drone does not run into any obstacles along the path, and it can avoid obstacles as small as tree branches and as big as houses.

 

Intel RealSense Technology

Today most professional drones feature some obstacle avoidance technology. Some rely on GPS and ultrasound, while others use a combination of cameras and sensors to maintain a safe flight path.

The Yuneec H520 features Intel RealSense Technology, and this technology is akin to giving a drone eyes. It can create a virtual 3D model of the environment around it. This allows the drone to recognize potential obstacles and draw the most efficient flight path.

Commercial drone operators will most likely be flying in areas with plenty of obstacles, so RealSense technology is a big deal for them. You’d find yourself focusing more on the flying than the imagery you are supposed to be taking without any sort of obstacle detection system.

The best part about RealSense is that it learns from ‘experience,’ which means the more you fly the drone, the better it gets at obstacle avoidance. It continually enhances its flight path and maneuvers, and it cannot run into the same obstacle twice.

 

Emergency Response

Problems can still occur and the drone could run into a tree or hit an object, even with all the sensors and safety features. Fortunately, the H520 is designed to withstand emergency situations without crumbling.

The ability to keep flying even if one of the rotors stops working is one of the drone’s most important features. This means that the drone will still be able to land safely even if one of the propellers hits an object.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Waypoint technology
  • Obstacle avoidance technology
  • Three Camera Options
  • Great flight time (31 minutes)

 

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3DR Solo Quadcopter 2.0

The 3D Robotics Solo 2.0 is an advanced and feature-packed RTF autopilot camera drone. This drone is termed as the World’s First Smart Drone, and it is suitable for most amateur and professional camera jobs that involve one operator.

This drone features software-upgradability. This means you won’t have to swap-out your hardware every time the next model comes out, like you do with other manufacturers.

The Solo uses an advanced set of open-source programming services (APIs and SDKs). These services make it easy and affordable for hobbyist or commercial operators to tweak the drone for almost any light commercial duty.

The 3DR Solo is designed for use with a GoPro camera (sold separately), and includes an HDMI port to connect the controller directly to any screen and view the footage as it takes place.

The 3DR Solo is an open and flexible flying camera platform with separate accessory and gimbal bays, open source controller software, and swappable motor pods.

The drone also has the best automated camera shots in the industry (Smart Shots), which enables even amateurs to fly it with ease and shoot awesome photos and footage.

The 3DR Solo is the perfect choice for aerial photographers and filmmakers who are unhappy with the built-in cameras and limited camera control that today’s camera drones typically offer, as well as for a commercial drone operator who needs to customize his/her rig, and doesn’t need a super-long-distance range.

The 3DR Solo is a solid drone for tinkerers and hobbyists who want to extend the drone by building custom applications on 3DR’s open source platform (http://3drobotics.com/software/).

 

3DR Solo Quadcopter 2.0 Specs and Features

  • Weight: 1800 grams (3.97 pounds) (with GoPro and Solo Gimbal)
  • Flight Battery: Li-Po 5200 mAh 14.8 Vdc
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Charging Time: 90 minutes
  • Wi-Fi Range: 805 meters (0.5 miles)
  • Max Payload: 420 grams (0.93 pounds)
  • Top Speed: 89 km/h (55 mph)
  • Streaming Video Quality: 720p
  • Cameras: Compatible with GoPro® HERO3, 3+ and 4
  • Wireless video streaming
  • 3DR Solo gimbal (sold separately)
  • Smart Shots
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • 1 year warranty

 

Real Time Flight Zone Safety Information

3DR worked with AirMap.io to deliver real-time flight zone safety information directly in the 3DR Solo App, and this new feature helps you stay clear of FAA-restricted airspace.

 

Flight Controller

The 3DR Solo and mobile app and flight controller are particularly well integrated.

The flight controller offers buttons for two unique camera angles and camera tricks.

The Solo app displays telemetry data, wireless HD video streaming, and real-time location tracking on an overhead satellite shot on the tablet or phone of your choice. The 3DR Solo is the only all-in-one drone that offers live video streaming in HD direct to your Smartphone or tablet at ranges up to 800 meters.

Advanced camera modes can be selected and the GoPro’s settings can be controled in the 3DR Solo app, too.

Also, to immerse yourself in the shot, you can connect a pair of FPV glasses to the included HDMI port.

 

Smart Shots: Advanced Camera Automation

The 3DR Solo comes with 3DR’s advanced camera control software, Smart Shots (http://3drobotics.com/solo-drone/). This feature provides advanced automated cinematography options. With this feature, you just set up the exact shot you want in real time and then tap “play” on the app. After that, this drone from 3DR will execute it with a level of precision.

In 3DR Solo, all Smart Shots now support Free Look. While the Solo follows your subject automatically, along a designated flight path, this feature gives you full control of camera pan and tilt. Free Look gives you Hollywood-level control of your shots. And the best thing is that it doesn’t require 2 people to make it happen.

The Smart Shots come in various types, so you can always take the perfect shot for a certain situation, and here are some of the Smart Shots that come with the Solo:

  • Follow – allows you to fly completely hands-free as the drone follows you from a set distance.
  • Selfie – allows you to put yourself at the center of a scenic aerial pull-out.
  • Orbit – allows you to circle an object for a wrap-around shot
  • Rewind – allows you to backup 60 feet and re-shoot.
  • Pano – allows you to design and shoot an aerial panorama by automatically panning and snapping photographs to make a panorama while in flight.
  • Cable Cam – allows you to run your Solo down a virtual wireline cable, to shoot the perfect flyby shot.

 

Custom Geofencing

This is a new feature for 2016. With this feature, the drone allows you trace geographic boundaries in the flight planning application. In this ways, you can keep your drone flying within the safe zone.

 

Solo Gimbal

The 3-Axis Solo Gimbal is sold separately for $399. It provides extensive control over your GoPro camera settings while in-flight including the ability to capture photographs and adjust the camera’s FPS, FOV and exposure using 3DR’s new GoPro Control.

 

Photography Features We Like Best

  • Pixhawk autopilot system
  • Flight controller includes HDMI connector for FPV glasses
  • Wireless software updates
  • Flight simulator included
  • Adjust GoPro settings while in-flight with the 3DR Solo Gimbal
  • Amazing automated camera shots
  • Smart Shots
  • Great flight time
  • Pause, Return Home, Land, Takeoff buttons on flight controller

 

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DJI Matrice 600 (M600)

The DJI Matrice 600 (M600) is an exceptionally flexible RTF commercial flying platform,  designed to meet the demanding needs of almost any aerial imaging & data collection job, including:

  • professional film making
  • thermal imaging and inspection
  • live HD video
  • LIDAR applications
  • multi-sensor imaging, and more

With centimeter-precise navigation, 6 kg payload capacity, and a 36-minute flight time, this drone is suitable for almost any professional application, except heavy payload transport.

The DJI Matrice 600 stands apart from other “prosumer” drones by its far greater payload, more stable and redundant 6-rotor configuration, broadcast-quality live video streaming, and a 5 000 meters range.

The M600 is priced at $4599 (without camera or gimbal). This means that this drone is less expensive and offers a far more refined flight and camera control system than almost any comparable multi-rotor currently available on the market.

 

DJI Matrice 600 (M600) Specs and Features

  • Dry Weight: 9600 grams (21.2 pounds)
  • Flight Time: 36 minute
  • Payload Capacity: 6000 grams (13.2 pounds)
  • Centimeter-precise navigation (with upgrades)
  • Top Speed: 18 m/s or 20 m/s (depending on navigation, ATTI or GPS)
  • Range: 5000 meters (16404 feet)
  • Camera: recommend Zenmuse X3, X5, XT, Z5 series
  • New DJI 6010 motors

 

Perfect for Professional Film Makers and Aerial Photography

The M600 is ideal drone for serious professional aerial photography and film making.

The M600 can handle most camera setup up to 6000 grams. This means it can easily carry any of DJI’s Zenmuse cameras, DJI’s Ronin MX gimbal – or even a RED Epic.

The Matrice 600 exploits DJIs new A3 Flight controller, which works synchronously with Lightbridge 2 advanced video transmission. This feature allows it to produce HD live streaming from as far as 5000 meters away.

 

RTF (Ready-to-Fly)

Dialing-in the flight and imaging controls and the hardware to work seamlessly, reliably, and without fail is definitely one of the most time-consuming parts of setting up a new commercial flying platform.

However, this isn’t a problem with the Matrice 600. Everything related to camera and flight control on the DJI Matrice 600 has been rigorously tested and tweaked.

That’s because, the DJI M600 is not an untested kit.

This is an honest-to-goodness RTF commercial flying platform. It comes complete with rechargeable batteries, a great mobile app, a dedicated remote controller, an onboard redundant-GPS autopilot, flexible cargo bays, propulsion system, video transmission system and a flight controller.

It’s even got internet connectivity, which means that the video can be streamed straight from the camera to YouTube!

 

Fully Programmable with Two New Software Development Kits (SDKs)

DJI offers robust SDKs for developers to customize the M600 for commercial use. There are two SDKs currently available: one for interacting with the Onboard API, and another for building mobile apps.

  1. Onboard API SDK

By interacting with the onboard system’s API, the M600 can be monitored and controled from any system that is wired directly to the DJI flight controller.

You can customize your M600 using the API SDK, to support any specific application or industry. You can create:

  • Informatics and Avionics applications: collect information from the whole system in real time.
  • Autopilot applications: tell the drone where and how to fly using either visual sensors or onboard GPS to navigate
  • Custom flight commands: that work with a single keypress – camera positioning; aerobatic maneuvers; return home flight paths (or hover in place); and more
  1. Mobile App SDK

DJI’s Mobile App SDK makes it simple for developers to build niche-specific mobile apps for a wide range of applications, and three examples of custom mobile apps developed for the DJI Matrice series so far include:

  • DroneDeploy
  • Pix4D
  • Autopilot Phantom

 

Intelligent Battery System

The DJI Matrice 600 features up to 36 minutes of flight and is equipped with 6 small intelligent batteries.  DJI’s Intelligent Battery system automatically shifts power to where it’s needed most, which means that if one battery fails, the other 5 will keep the drone flying.

 

Universal Power and Com Ports

The DJI Matrice 600 has dual parallel CAN ports for connecting other DJI devices – including DJI Guidance.

 

Customizable Ports

To optimize functionality and weight balancing goals, place your components exactly where you want them.

 

Expansion Bays

The DJI Matrice 600 is an extremely flexible platform. It features several expansion bays provided to hold imaging devices, components, sensors, and payloads. It also features dual parallel CAN and API ports. This means that you can support complex payload configurations without touching the hardware.

 

Flight Controller

The DJI Matrice 600 comes with a customizable long-range controller that uses a rechargeable battery and has an operating range of up to 5 km (3 miles).

The controller comes with adjustable/assignable controls and video outputs. There is also a holder to connect your mobile device.

 

Enhanced GPS

The M600 comes with an enhanced GPS position system that supports GPS waypoint flight planning, offers more accurate position hold and faster satellite acquisition.

You’ll need the D-RTK GNSS upgrade for centimeter-level precision.

 

Mobile Apps

The Matrice 600 is compatible with DJI Pilot and DJI Go apps. These features offer market-leading video streaming, informatics, and navigation features out of the box.

DJI Go also lets the pilot control the remote focus, camera shutter speed, aperture and video and photo capture.

Using the DJI Go app, pilots also get important information during the flight, including redundancy status, live video feed, flight status, transmission strength, key stats, battery status, and more.

 

Integrated Lightbridge 2 Video Streaming

You can keep your M600 under control and responsive to you commands on every flight thanks to the DJI’s new N1 flight controller.

When using gimbals and Zenmuse Cameras, adding the A3 PRO upgrade to the included DJI Lightbridge technology increases your HD video streaming range to 5000 meters.

 

Upgrades

The DJI M600 is compatible with a wide range of DJI accessories including:

  • Camera and Gimbal Options – Use DJI’s integrated cameras and 3-axis gimbal systems including the Ronin MX, Z15, X5 and XT to shoot ultra-high-HD images and capture stabilized 4K & Micro Four-Third video from the sky.
  • D-RTK GNSS – The A3 GNSS system can be upgraded with DJI’s D-RTK GNSS for centimeter-level accuracy.
  • A3 PRO Flight Controller – With diagnostic algorithms that compare sensor data from the three sets of units in real-time and triple modular redundancy, the A3 Pro ensures that the DJI Matrice 600 flies entirely as expected. This redundant system is perfect for photography and filmmaking and it ensures professional reliability.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Great flight time
  • Amazing range
  • Super-flexible design
  • RTF drone
  • Broadcast-quality Live HD Video Streaming

 

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Yuneec Typhoon H

You’re missing out on some high-quality aerial camera platforms if you haven’t heard of Yuneec (http://yuneec.com/).

The Yuneec Typhoon H is a sophisticated flying camera that has several unique advantages over competing quadcopters. The Typhoon H (https://www.amazon.com/Yuneec-Videography-Hexacopter-Surveillance-YUNTYHBUS/dp/B01AT4BKFU?tag=uavcoach-20) is equipped with six rotors, retractable landing gear and a 360-degree gimbal camera. It is easy and safe to fly, and can capture stunning Ultra HD 4K video and stills.

 

Yuneec Typhoon H Specs and Features

  • Weight: 1850 grams (4.1 pounds)
  • Size: 538 x 432 x 318 mm (21.2 x 17 x 12.5 inches)
  • Wingspan: 410 mm (16.1 inches)
  • Flight Battery: 5400mAh
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Charging Time: 120 minutes
  • Video: 4K at 30 FPS
  • Camera: 12.4MP
  • Top Speed: 70 km/h (43.5 mph)
  • Operating Range: 1000 meters (3281 feet)
  • Live View: 720p at 30 FPS
  • Carbon fiber construction

 

Yuneec Typhoon H Accessories

  • Hard Shell Backpack
  • Extra Battery

 

ST-16 Controller

The Typhoon H is controlled with the Android-based ST16 controller, which is an improvement over the one shipped w/ older Typhoons.

The controller has a large 7-inch integrated display and HD 720p FPV downlink for stunning real-time video reception. The display brighter and works in direct sunlight.

The ST-16 comes with a sun shade to fix the glare problem of earlier models. I have to say that it works pretty well.

The ST-16’s user interface is excellent, very responsive and intuitive. Using the touch screen, all flight parameters and camera/video settings can be easily controled.

Also, the flight control settings can be tweaked easily, and you can save multiple profiles for a single aircraft.

 

Improved Safety and Redundancy

The Typhoon H’s 6-rotor design means that the drone can lose one prop or one motor and still make it back home, which means you stand a better chance of not crashing and losing your investment. Thanks to this feature, you may also avoid crashing into a crowd.

 

Real-Time Object Detection and Collision Avoidance

The Typhoon H comes with built-in front-facing sonar to assist with close-range object detection, and the platform can also be upgraded with Intel Sense Technology 3D to take advantage of visual collision avoidance.

 

CGO3+ 4K Camera Gimbal

The Typhoon H comes equipped with an upgraded version of the CG03 integrated camera-gimbal, which captures amazing 12 MP still images and high-quality, stable, 4K video. The camera can be rotated through an unlimited, 360° range of motion.

The CGO3+ gimbal camera includes a wide-angle lens, has a 98° field of view, and offers a ton of camera settings that you can adjust via controller, while in flight.

 

360° Unobstructed Camera View

The Typhon H comes with landing gear that retracts for the purpose of taking 360° filming and photography. This means the Typhoon H doesn’t have to be maneuvered to get the gear out of the shot.

This feature may not seem that important for users used to flying and shooting, but a 360° camera makes cable-cam and waypoint-driven shoots a lot easier to plan and execute.

 

Automated Flight Modes

To take the hassle out of getting your flying camera into position for amazing shots, the Yuneec Typhoon H comes with automated flight modes, including:

  • Return To Home – The drone will return and land within 8 meters (26 feet) of you by switching to Home Mode.
  • Watch Me – This mode tells the drone to follow you while always pointing the camera at you.
  • Follow Me – This mode ensures the drone moves along with you.
  • Curve Cable Cam (CCC) – This is probably the Typhoon H’s best feature, because using CCC mode, you can fly an imaginary cable linemade of preset GPS coordinates and altitudes. There’s also a Reverse mode. It lets you immediately turn around and run the same course, in reverse. Flying the line couldn’t be easier, and the shots are really smooth.
  • Point of Interest – With this mode, you select a subject and the drone will orbit that subject autonomously.
  • Orbit Me – Using Orbit me, the drone flies a circular path around you, keeping the camera trained on you the whole time, even if you’re moving.
  • Journey – This mode is a simple automatic take off + selfie shot, and the drone will go up and out, as far as 45 meters (150 feet), and take the perfect aerial selfie.
  • Team (2-Operator) Mode – This mode requires the Wizard. It is a second, smaller, special-purpose controller. The main controller is used to operate the camera, while the holder of the Wizard flies the drone.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Amazing 4K video camera
  • Awesome ergonomic transmitter
  • Hexacopter design for better redundancy and safety
  • Dual-operator option
  • Obstacle avoidance system

 

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Phantom 3 Standard

The Phantom 3 Standard is an affordable, fully integrated camera drone that is ready to fly and capture ultra-high quality video within minutes after you unbox it.

The drone also includes an intelligent system that makes it easy to fly and film up to 1000 meters away using built-in Lightbridge technology.

The Phantom 3 Standard is the best-value HD camera drone on the market today, and it is an excellent choice for your first camera drone. If you find Phantom 3 Standard to be too expensive – you can always look up its alternatives. Or, if you want an upgrade – feel free to compare Standard to Phantom 3 Pro.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Specs and Fatures

  • Video: 2.7K Ultra HD video (30fps)
  • Camera: 12MP
  • Integrated camera and gimbal
  • Live Video Feed (720p HD)
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Intelligent Battery
  • Range: 1000 meters (3281 feet)
  • Intelligent flight system
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 1 year warranty

 

RC Receiver

The included RC receiver holds any tablet or Smartphone, and the receiver and your device communicate via Wi-Fi. It is used to display the DJI’s superb Pilot App and live 720p HD video feed from the drone’s onboard camera.

You operate the Phantom 3 Standard using the controller. It allows you to enjoy immersive, live HD view of everything below on your tablet or Smartphone – up to 800 meters (1/2 mile) away.

 

DJI Go App

The included DJI Go App runs on your tablet or phone. It allows you to see and control everything through one screen:

  • You can edit, publish and share video straight from your tablet or phone
  • You can check your flight log
  • You can check live flight telemetry including direction, speed, and altitude
  • You can control your flight settings
  • You can control the camera
  • Live scrolling map provides real-time awareness of your surroundings and location

 

Automatic Flight Assistant

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard comes with advanced automatic flight assistance features including:

  • The drone hovers in place upon landing, until you are ready to receive it
  • The Phantom 3 Standard hovers in place upon takeoff, until you are ready to go
  • Built-in GPS records your drone’s take-off point and position at all times
  • If you lose control or lose contact of the Phantom 3 Standard, it will automatically return home

 

DJI Video Editor

You can create professional-looking movies in minutes, and choose from several pre-defined templates using the DJI Video Editor app on your tablet or Smartphone.

 

Advanced Flight Modes

Advanced flight modes and waypoint-directed GPS autopilot are NOW AVAILABLE for their Phantom 3 lineup, and a simple software upgrade provides the following new features:

  • Follow Me – This flight mode allows you to program the aircraft to automatically follow you and act as your own personal film crew.
  • Point Of Interest – This flight mode allows you to select an object or location to focus on, and the drone will continuously face it as you fly, or circle around it automatically.
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) – This flight mode helps you customize how you control your Phantom 3 Standard by allowing you to choose the most intuitive and easiest mode for you.
  • Waypoints – This flight mode allows you to plan flight paths and the drone will fly autonomously on your pre-set route. This will allow you to focus on the camera.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Advanced flight modes and onboard GPS
  • Auto Return Home and Auto Take Off
  • 3-Axis Gimbal
  • DJI Go App
  • Built-in 2.7k camera with no fish-eye effect
  • Great Flight Time
  • Its small size makes it simple to transport

 

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DJI Inspire 1 v2.0

The DJI Inspire 1 (https://www.dji.com/product/inspire-1) V2.0 is a revolutionary HD camera drone that offers full 360° camera rotation, giving you an unrestricted view of the world below. This amazing camera drone makes it easy for 1- or 2-person teams to capture extremely high quality 4K HD and Micro Four-Thirds video from up to 2000 meters away.

To improve video quality, reliability, and safety, DJI has packed a ton of new technology into the Inspire 1. If you’re looking for a RTF camera drone for professional-quality film making and photography, the Inspire 1 is tough to beat at this price. This drone can also be used for event coverage, law enforcement, inspection, and surveillance.

Using Advanced Flight Modes, GPS Autopilot, and DJI’s new PC Ground Station, capturing stunning commercial shots now just requires a bit of planning and one skilled operator on the camera.

The DJI Inspire 1 is flexible and the kind of drone you can grow with over time because DJI offers different camera systems (like the Zenmuse X3, Zenmuse X5, Zenmuse X5R, Zenmuse XT, etc.)

The included XC F350 camera is mounted onto DJI’s proprietary Zenmuse X3 gimbal (http://www.videomaker.com/videonews/2015/01/dji-does-inspire-1-at-ces-2015), and films at 24-30 fps at full 4K resolution, or 60 fps at 1080p. The camera is controlled using a brand-new inertial measurement unit (IMU).

DJI also offers the Inspire 1 Pro for those who are looking for a professional-grade Micro Four Thirds system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Four_Thirds_system). This drone comes with a choice of the Zenmuse X5R ($7,999) or Zenmuse X5, ($4,499). Both cameras offer exceptionally wide angle views and a full 13 stops of dynamic range.

For Inspire 1 v2.0, DJI added upgraded motors and new quick-release propellers. Thanks to this features, maintenance and operations are even easier.

The included DJI Flight Control System is exceptionally simple to use and feature-rich. Thanks to GPS navigation, satellite acquisition, and dual GNSS chips (GPS and GLONASS), the Inspire 1 is more reliable than other purpose-built camera drones.

The DJI Inspire 1’s RC controller accepts any tablet or mobile phone for touchscreen and display control. There are buttons for Return Home, photo and video capture on the controller itself. There are also dials for gimbal tilt and camera positioning. Also, you can buy an optional HDMI controller/monitor if you’d like to add a second operator.

The most striking feature of the DJI Inspire 1 is its 4 moveable carbon fiber lift arms. They are designed to move the propellers out of the camera’s view during filming, and they retract automatically after takeoff. The arms return to their original position just prior to landing.

DJI’s Lightbridge video transmission technology makes it possible to view full HD video on your mobile device up to 2000 meters away. This is something that no other RTF camera drone can do.

Using ground-facing sonar and a dedicated camera to monitor the ground’s position with extreme precision, the Inspire 1 can navigate without GPS in spaces where satellite signals cannot reach, such as indoors.

The Inspire 1 also comes with a nicely made transport case. This case can hold four battery packs and two controllers.

 

DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 Specs and Features

  • Weight: 2812 grams (6.2 pounds)
  • Size: 437 x 445 x 300 mm (17.2 x 17.5 x 11.8 inches)
  • Flight Battery: 4500mAh
  • Flight Time: 18-20 minutes
  • Charging Time: 100 minutes
  • Top Speed: 80 km/h (50 mph)
  • Range: 2000 meters (6562 feet)
  • GPS-free indoor stabilization
  • Detachable DJI 9-Lens 4K Camera
  • Zenmuse X3 3-axis gimbal
  • Full camera control with manual setting adjustments

 

DJI Video Editor

You can create professional-looking movies in minutes, and choose from several pre-defined templates using the DJI Video Editor app on your tablet or Smartphone.

 

DJI Go App

The included DJI Go App runs on your tablet or phone. It allows you to see and control everything through one screen:

  • You can edit, publish and share video straight from your tablet or phone
  • You can check your flight log
  • You can check live flight telemetry including direction, speed, and altitude
  • You can control your flight settings
  • You can control the camera
  • Live scrolling map provides real-time awareness of your surroundings and location

 

Photography Features We Like

  • 360° unobstructed camera view
  • Live FPV HD video streaming from up to 2000 meters away
  • Dual GLONASS + GPS system
  • 2-Sensor Vision Positioning System (VPS) allows hovering in place without GPS. This is great for urban or indoor shoots.
  • Carbon fiber arms maneuver propellers out of the camera’s view
  • HDMI Monitor available for second camera operator
  • High-quality carrying case included
  • RC Controller displays camera, flight path, and telemetry all in one screen

 

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DJI Phantom 3 Advanced

The Phantom 3 Advanced is an extremely popular fully integrated camera drone. It features an intelligent system that makes it easy to fly and film up to 2000 meters (1.2 miles) away, using built-in Lightbridge technology.

The dedicated RC controller and DJI Go App give you complete control over your DJI Phantom 3 Advanced and an immersive, live HD view of everything below, using your tablet or Smartphone as a display.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Specs and Features

  • 12 MP camera / 1080p
  • Live HD view
  • Intelligent Flight System
  • Integrated 3-Axis Stabilization Gimbal
  • Flight Time: 18-20 minutes
  • Range: 2000 meters (6562 feet)
  • Vision Positioning for Indoor Flight
  • Powerful Mobile App
  • Dedicated Remote Controller
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 1 year warranty

 

DJI Video Editor

You can create professional-looking movies in minutes, and choose from several pre-defined templates using the DJI Video Editor app on your tablet or Smartphone.

 

DJI Go App

The included DJI Go App runs on your tablet or phone. It allows you to see and control everything through one screen:

  • You can edit, publish and share video straight from your tablet or phone
  • You can check your flight log
  • You can check live flight telemetry including direction, speed, and altitude
  • You can control your flight settings
  • You can control the camera
  • Live scrolling map provides real-time awareness of your surroundings and location

 

Automatic Flight Assistant

The DJI Phantom 3 Advanced comes with advanced automatic flight assistance features including:

  • The drone hovers in place upon landing, until you are ready to receive it
  • The Phantom 3 Advanced hovers in place upon takeoff, until you are ready to go
  • Built-in GPS records your drone’s take-off point and position at all times
  • If you lose control or lose contact of the Phantom 3 Advanced, it will automatically return home

 

Advanced Flight Modes

Advanced flight modes and waypoint-directed GPS autopilot are NOW AVAILABLE for their Phantom 3 lineup, and a simple software upgrade provides the following new features:

  • Follow Me – This flight mode allows you to program the aircraft to automatically follow you and act as your own personal film crew.
  • Point Of Interest – This flight mode allows you to select an object or location to focus on, and the drone will continuously face it as you fly, or circle around it automatically.
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) – This flight mode helps you customize how you control your Phantom 3 Advanced by allowing you to choose the most intuitive and easiest mode for you.
  • Waypoints – This flight mode allows you to plan flight paths and the drone will fly autonomously on your pre-set route. This will allow you to focus on the camera.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • 1080p built-in camera with no fish-eye effect
  • On low-battery alert, Fail-Safe modebrings the drone home
  • 3-Axis gimbal
  • DJI Pilot App allows you to operate the camera and view live streaming through your tablet or Smartphone
  • Auto Take Off and Auto Return Home
  • Vision Sensor monitors ground position within 3 meters. This makes indoor operation a breeze.
  • Onboard GPS
  • Its small size makes it simple to transport

 

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DJI Matrice 100 (M100)

The Matrice 100 is DJI’s first fully-integrated UAV platform designed for light duty commercial applications.

The DJI Matrice 100 was purpose-built to be modified by developers for specific uses. Using its hardware expansion bays, the M100 can be configured to carry any set of sensors or devices (up to 1 kg), which makes it suitable for light-duty UHD imaging, payload and sensor-based applications.

DJI’s new SDKs allow developers to build custom mobile applications and advanced flight controls for any requirement, and also the M100’s combination of programmability and flexibility opens new doors to develop reliable and affordable UAV solutions for many vertical applications.

The DJI Matrice 100 is priced at $3299 (without camera or gimbal), and offers compelling value for the light duty commercial UAV operators.

 

DJI Matrice 100 Specs and Features

  • Camera: recommend Zenmuse X3 Camera + Gimbal
  • Video Transmission: 2.4GHz Lightbridge
  • Powerful new DJI 3510 motors
  • Flight Time: approximately 40 minutes
  • Range: 2000 meters (6562 feet)
  • Payload Capacity: 1000 grams (2.2 pounds)
  • Top Speed: 60km/h / 72km/h (37mph / 44.7mph)

 

Ready-To-Fly (RTF)

The DJI M100 is not a kit, but it’s an honest-to-goodness RTF fully integrated flying platform, complete with a flight controller, a rechargeable battery, an amazing mobile app, dedicated remote controller, GPS, flexible cargo bays, and propulsion system.

 

Fully Programmable with Two New Software Development Kits (SDKs)

DJI offers robust SDKs for developers to customize the M600 for commercial use. There are two SDKs currently available: one for interacting with the Onboard API, and another for building mobile apps.

  1. Onboard API SDK

By interacting with the onboard system’s API, the M100 can be monitored and controled from any system that is wired directly to the DJI flight controller.

You can customize your M100 using the API SDK, to support any specific application or industry. You can create:

  • Informatics and Avionics applications: collect information from the whole system in real time.
  • Autopilot applications: tell the drone where and how to fly using either visual sensors or onboard GPS to navigate
  • Custom flight commands: that work with a single keypress – camera positioning; aerobatic maneuvers; return home flight paths (or hover in place); and more
  1. Mobile App SDK

DJI’s Mobile App SDK makes it simple for developers to build niche-specific mobile apps for a wide range of applications, and three examples of custom mobile apps developed for the DJI Matrice series so far include:

  • DroneDeploy
  • Pix4D
  • Autopilot Phantom

 

Dual Battery Capability

The M100’s lightweight design allows approximately 40 minutes of flight time (no payload).

An optional second battery can be mounted into a dedicated power slot for greater flexibility when adding additional payload.

 

Visual Guidance System (Upgrade)

DJI Guidance is a visual sensing system that keeps the M100 out of harm’s way, and is effective at altitudes of up to 20 meters (65 feet). The new vision positioning system offers a secondary means of navigation and situational awareness that most other commercial drones do not offer.

DJI Guidance combines advanced computer vision algorithms, ultrasonic sensors, integrated visual cameras, and a core processor into a single, integrate subsystem.

You can use DJI Guidance for:

  • 360° Obstacle Detection – DJI Guidance scans the surrounding environment and detects all obstacles, and when used with a DJI flight controller, it can be used to automatically avoid collisions and perform emergency maneuvers.
  • High-Precision Navigation – The M100 can maintain an indoor hover to within centimeters using the vision and ultrasonic sensors. Also, stereo algorithms provide super-high precision positioning information over any terrain.
  • Compatible with DJI SDKs – DJI Guidance works with DJI’s Onboard API SDKs and Mobile App, which means that developers can build custom apps for many industries that take advantage of Guidance’s visual and ultrasonic sensors.

 

Expansion Bays

The DJI Matrice 100 is an extremely flexible platform. It features several expansion bays provided to hold imaging devices, sensors, components, and payloads.

 

Customizable Mounts

To optimize functionality and weight balancing goals, place your components exactly where you want them.

 

Remote Controller

The DJI Matrice 100 comes with a customizable long-range remote controller that uses a rechargeable battery and comes with adjustable/assignable controls and video outputs. The controller has an operating range of up to 2000 meters (1.2 miles). There is also a holder to connect your mobile device.

 

Flight Controller with Integrated Lightbridge

DJI’s new N1 flight controller keeps the DJI M100 under control and responsive to you commands.

When using Zenmuse X3 Camera and gimbal, the included DJI Lightbridge technology increases your HD video streaming range and flight range to 2000 meter.

 

Enhanced GPS

The DJI M100 comes with an enhanced GPS position system that supports GPS waypoint flight planning, offers more accurate position hold and faster satellite acquisition.

 

Mobile App

The Matrice 100 comes with DJI’s Pilot app that runs on your choice of Smartphone or tablet device. The app provides market-leading video streaming, informatics and navigation features out of the box.

However, many Matrice 100 owners will probably develop their own app using the DJI SDK.

 

Upgrades

The DJI M100 is compatible with a wide range of DJI accessories including:

N1 Video Encoder – Integrated AV and HDMI video input interfaces support a third-party camera. The images from this camera can be transferred via the video downlink, bringing a live HD view.

Extra Batteries – Use additional DJI Intelligent Flight Battery to extend your flight time.

Zenmuse X3 Camera and Gimbal – You can take 12 MP images and capture stabilized 4K video from the sky with DJI’s integrated camera and 3-axis gimbal system.

Guidance Sensor Kit – It helps your M100 see its environment and recognize when obstacles are nearby.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Amazing Flight Time
  • Great Range
  • N1Video Encoder
  • Super-flexible design
  • RTF platform
  • Visual Guidance System
  • Fully Programmable with Two SDKs

 

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Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon

Yuneec has been around since 1999 and it is a pioneer in electric aviation. They hold hundreds of patents, and today, they’re manufacturing more than one million units per year.

Their Typhoon Q500 4K model is one of the latest, and most updated drone in the filming industry. It features the 3-axial camera that allows you to shoot 4K videos and 12MP photos. The Q500 is designed for high-quality aerial photography and film making, and it’s perfect for amateur film makers and for professionals who are happy with the included software and camera.

The drone can stay up in the air for 25 minutes, giving you a detailed long distance view of the area. The silent flying of this large sized drone enables you to shoot very clear and sharp images.

 

Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Specs and Features

  • Video: 1080p at 120fps / 4K at 30fps
  • Camera: 12MP
  • Integrated 3-axis precision gimbal
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Top Speed: 30km/h (18 mph)
  • Range: 1000-2000 meters (3280-6560 feet)
  • 8 GHz video streaming
  • 4 GHz flight control
  • ST10 Personal Ground Station
  • Return Home and Auto-Return Home
  • Safe Mode

 

The Q500 is equipped with a 4K/1080p camera, a 3-axis gimbal. It also features a 2.4 GHz transmitter with separate 5.8 GHz live video streaming channel.

The Typhoon is shipped with the ST10 Personal Ground Station. This RC controller combines traditional joystick controls with a built-in Android 4.5″ touchscreen that provides live telemetry data and live FPV video streaming from the camera.

The always-home arrow is another useful feature. This is a directional marker that remains superimposed on the screen that points in the direction you need to fly in order to fly your drone back home.

Video and stills are captured in HD on the included 64 GB microSD card. On the other hand, lower-quality video is streamed to the Ground Station.

Optionally, using the free CGO2 app available on Google Play and iTunes, you can control the Q500 and view the camera image on your personal mobile device.

Using three distinct operating modes, the Q500 4K Typhoon makes it simple to safely graduate from beginner to advanced pilot:

  • Home Mode – The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon will return and land within 10 feet of its original take off location by flicking a switch on the controller. If the transmitter signal is lost, Home Mode will automatically return the drone to its launch position until signal is restored or the drone lands.
  • Angle Mode – This mode is optimized for experienced pilots using the Q500 4K Typhoon for aerial photography, and in this mode, the drone will hold position and altitude if you don’t touch the sticks. Angle Mode provides more control and steeper bank and pitch angles. This helps open your work up to a greater variety of possible shots.
  • Smart Mode – This mode is perfect for beginners and training. Flight controls are simplified so the Q500 will always move in the direction the stick is pressed. Smart mode sets a GPS-defined 8 meters (26 feet) safe circle around the operator where the Typhoon cannot fly, and the drone also cannot fly outside of a radius of 91 meters (300 feet). This prevents fly-aways and damage while you’re learning.

It is important to note that the Q500 4K Typhoon also provides a GPS-guided Follow Me camera mode.

Finally, Yuneec offers Typhoon Wizard ($200). This is a simplified flight controller that enables pilots a really cool and unique way to control your drone mid-flight. To pilot Yuneec Typhoon drone, use simple “point-to-fly” commands executed with one hand. This means that you just point the Wizard stick in the direction you’d like the drone to fly.

The Wizard controller enables a few hands-free flight modes if you don’t have a single hand to use:

  • Return To Home
  • Follow Me – for chase scenes, the drone follows you on the move
  • Watch Me – the Typhoon remains still and pivots the camera to follow you

The Typhoon Q500 4K camera drone comes packaged in its own rugged transport case. The case is made of strong and lightweight aluminium, with a high density foam core for travel.

The Q500 4K Typhoon is perfect for first-time film makers who want to dive right into filming 4K/1080p video. This drone is a great value, and it ships with a lot of spares, too.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Great Flight Time
  • Return Home and Auto Return Home
  • Works with any Apple or Android device
  • Hard case for transport
  • User controlled video resolution, light exposure and white balance
  • Handheld SteadyGrip for shooting video footage
  • Built-In FPV Screen

 

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3DR Iris+ Quadcopter for GoPro

The 3DR Iris+ is a proven RTF HD camera drone that is perfect for film makers who need to use their own camera. The drone is packed with advanced GPS autopilot and camera modes that only 3DR offers, and it is designed to carry the GoPro camera of your choice.

The 3DR IRIS+ contains everything you need to fly and capture awesome shots, so just attach the props, charge the battery and start flying.

 

3DR Iris+ Specs and Features

  • Weight: 1282 grams (2.8 pounds)
  • Battery: 3-cell 11.1 V 3.5 Ah Li-Po
  • Flight Time: 16 minutes
  • Payload Capacity: 400 grams (0.9 pounds)
  • Advanced Pixhawk autopilot system
  • Integrated LEDs
  • Emergency Landing
  • Return Home
  • Ground station radio

3DR is known for their advanced flight controls and world class autopilot software. The Iris+ is features advanced camera positioning options including Follow-Me, and 3DR’s advanced Pixhawk autopilot system.

The Iris+ delivers a rock-solid image with the optional GoPro Gimbal attached. You also get an unmatched degree of control over your GoPro’s settings including exposure, focal point and others.

GPS-based flight planning and operation is as simple as drawing a flight path on top of a satellite map thanks to the 3DR’s Android-based Tower (DroidPlanner3) Mission Planning app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.droidplanner.android). Then, to execute your plan, use Pixhawk.

It is important to note that your flight plan can be interrupted or modified while in-flight.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • Region of Interest (ROI) camera modekeeps your GoPro focused on the action. This guarantees amazing shots with a minimum of effort.
  • Follow-Me / 3PV camera mode
  • Optional GoPro gimbalprovides a superb degree of control over your GoPro camera
  • Telemetry data streams live to controller. This is extremely useful in diagnosing problems when your drone is out-of-sight.
  • Automatic Mission Planning
  • Pixhawk autopilot system

 

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3DR X8+ Multicopter

The 3DR X8+ Multicopter is a proven and exceptionally stable flying platform Suitable for many professional applications. This aircraft is designed for capturing high-quality video, data acquisition,   surveying crops, or any professional application that demands a reliable, wind-resistant drone capable of executing flight plans using GPS autopilot.

The X8+ uses the reliable and stable 8-prop lift system, and it is also great for transporting payloads up to 800 grams (1.7 lbs). The X8 excels at aerial photography, low-speed, and high precision mapping. 

 

3DR X8+ Specs and Features

  • Flight Time: 15 minutes
  • Payload Capacity: 800 g (1.7 lbs)
  • Controller: FlySky FS-TH9X
  • Ground Station Radio: 3DR Radio v2
  • GPS: 3DR u-blox GPS with Compass
  • Autopilot firmware: ArduCopter 3.2
  • Autopilot hardware: Pixhawk v2.4.5
  • Use the 2-axis Tarot Brushless Gimbal (sold separately) for GoPro
  • 90-day warranty

 

3DR recommends using the Tarot Brushless 2-axis gimbal for GoPro (http://bestdroneforthejob.com/goto/3DRTarot2DGimbal) (camera and gimbal are sold separately) for aerial photography and film making.

Hobbyists and niche drone specialists love the 3DR X8+ platform because it is 100% open source. This feature makes it easy to tweak for unique applications.

 

Photography Features We Like

  • There are many camera and gimbal choices
  • Ground station radio is switchable between 433 MHz and 915 MHz
  • 3DR Pixhawk GPS autopilot system
  • Reliable, redundant, powerful and stable 2×4 rotor configuration

 

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Buyers Guide for Best Drones for Professional Photography and Video

These drones started out as a fun past-time for students. However, they later opened up new and improved concepts in the field of photography. The drones have greatly improved in terms of flight modes, speed, and safety, just over a short tenure of the last five years.

Now, with cameras mounted on top, these drones are proving their worth and showing the world everything from a pilots eye view.

With the drone technology being used in multiple fields, the industry is bound to grow in the coming years. The employment of drones for filming is not a new concept anymore. These small, compact aircrafts allow you to see and explore newer avenues, and places no human could ever set foot on.

If you have a hobby or interest towards this new gizmo, or you are a videographer / photographer looking for adding a new perspective to your videos and images, you should get a move on right away!

It may feel a bit intimidating at first. However, once you get started, there is no turning back.

When buying your very own, first drone, here are the main attributes you should look for:

Decide on a Drone

Today, drones are equipped with six and even eight rotor blades, but the most commonly available drone is the quadcopter.

It is important to note that you do not own the airspace; you are actually sharing it with everyone, even the commercial aircraft.

Before taking off in the air, you need to learn the basic airspace regulations of the FAA of your country to ensure a safe flight for yourself as well as for others.

Decide Your Budget

These drones take up a significant portion of your savings. That’s why you need to do a thorough research before purchasing one, and the following points will help you make the most out of your investment:

  • Buy a Good Quality Controller – One good controller is a great add-on to your drone experience and it can last you over 10 years! The controller can even be upgraded the latest features and technology through its removable transmitter.
  • Buy a Battery Charger – A good battery charger is always safer and more reliable for your battery, and it also lasts longer.
  • Get to Know Other Drone Photographers in Your Area – There are different forums and online communities for people who share similar interests on drone photography, and being part of such communities and forums helps you gain insights about the latest industry trends. You can learn new techniques and guidance against any problems you may be encountering.
  • Get Market Knowledge – You shouldn’t rush into purchasing a technical device such as photography drone. It is recommended to do a thorough analysis of the market and avoid making any wrong decision, or else, you may get stuck with a poor, expensive, useless aircraft.

 

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Basic Guidelines Before Buying and Taking Off

These are simple, small-sized drones. However, for a safe and enjoyable experience, you need to keep certain essential points in view:

  • Spare Parts – These drones are actually very fragile in nature, and if you are a beginner, chances are you may break a few spindles, propellers, and other parts, as you make your course. So, you should invest in a good product, which has a ready supply of repair or replacement parts in the market.
  • Controller – A good controller for you should be the one that is highly responsive to your instructions and easy to use.
  • Regulations – In order to avoid any serious complications from occurring you have to follow certain rules and guidelines. For example, you shouldn’t fly near or above crowds, and you should always keep your drone in clear sight and at a maximum elevation of 400 meters (1312 feet). The FAA has clear instructions regarding these drones for safety. Before starting on with your photography drone you should go through them here (http://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_fun/).
  • Areas for flying – A drone may be designed for safe indoors flying. However, you will probably want to fly it outdoors, giving it the ultimate liberty and avoiding the chances of any collisions.
  • Time to charge the battery and fly – The time taken for a battery to completely charge may be around 60 minutes or more. Most of these photography drones fly for only around 10-20 minutes.
  • Price – You need to keep an open outlook towards the price because these drones come equipped with a camera, or you may be required to purchase a separate camera for professional video/photography.
  • Camera – A good camera yields high-quality videos and the clearest and sharpest images, and even better models let you shoot HD footage and live feeds. Lower priced drones have lower resolution cameras, which may be good for beginners. However, they are not that apt for professional use.
  • Flight Battery – Good quality drones come with a greater battery life. They let you shoot a solid footage over a longer span of time. A typical battery does not offer more than 10-20 minutes of flying, but you can always enhance the battery life by replacing the battery with the better ones.

 

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Conclusion

There are literally hundreds of camera drones out there currently on the market. However, we’ve managed to track down the top 14 photography drones that offer the most to photographers and cinematographers. Hopefully, you have found the drone that fits your goals, budget, and skill set after reading this article.

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