Last Updated on January 5, 2021
Who needs to buy a high performance camera drone? You will find that both professionals and amateurs use high-performance drones for aerial photography and videography, here are some examples:
- Real Estate agents
- Landscape architects
- Construction Project Managers
- Insurance agency
- Property Assessors
- Law enforcement
- Agricultural Needs
- Professional and amateur photographers (to shoot back country scenes, weddings, sporting events, news reporting)
Whether you are a professional aerial photographer or a hobbyist who likes to shoot professional-grade aerial photographs, buying a high performance camera drone is a substantial investment. What kind of high-performance drone-rig features you need depends on your purpose and how you are planning to use it. Here we put together a checklist to help you select a professional-grade camera drone:
What type of photography shot do you need?
Why the types of shoots are important – because your drone will need to perform the types of shoots you need.
What drone features do you want in your rig?
Camera stabilization is one of the most important features of your drone. Gimbals help to stabilize your video and photographs during flight. For example, 3DR Solo’s 3-Axis Gimbal and DJI Phantom 4’s integrated professional 3-axis gimbal are both well designed stabilization systems.
Check the drone’s abilities to maneuver to match the type of photography shoots you want, for example: orbit, follow me, selfie (fly out), and, features such as obstacle avoidance and flight planning with way-points.
The Orbit feature allows you to fly the quadcopter in a perfect circle around a point. This means that your flight path will be nice and smooth. A flight plan with way points might not be quite as smooth a circle, but your choice of flight path will be much more flexible. If you think that you will be primarily or almost exclusively shooting videos of houses, the orbit feature would be very desirable. If you are going to be shooting videos of construction or landscaping projects, a more complex flight plan would be more desirable.
Not all modes are available in any given drone. You may save some money if you don’t buy drone features you don’t need.
Your maximum altitude will be 400 feet per FAA regulation. You simply can’t see enough detail on the ground at much higher altitude. (Exceptions are the “overview” and the “selfie” shot.) In addition if you get too high you risk “flyaway”. However, your projects may differ. If they do, take that into consideration.
Most professional drones that you will be considering are in the range of 15 – 30 minutes. With around 30 minutes of flight time, you can do a grid shot of about 200 acres. Most wedding shoots will likely need less time, but having a spare battery never hurts.
What camera features do you want in your rig?
If the default camera does not have exactly what you want, get a camera that does. Don’t skimp here.
Integrated flight planning and control software
How big are your projects?
Do you need to register your Drone?
Here are our top picks for professional-grade camera drones for aerial photography
DJI Phantom 4. This is the most popular drone on the market. Read our review. It is well suited to almost all amateur needs and most professional needs. This copter provides a most stable platform for videography. Its ability to enter a flight plan allows you to visually plan your flight path, overlay waypoints onto a visual map of your flight area.
- DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter with 4K Camera - Remote Controller - 4x 9450S Propellers -...
- Avoid obstacles automatically.
- Track moving subjects automatically using ActiveTrack.
- TapFly lets you fly with a tap of the finger.
Typhoon Q500 4K RTF Quadcopter.The Q500 4K RTF Quadcopter is one of our top picks for high-performance camera drone under $800. Read our review on Typhoon Q500 4K RTF Quadcopter. It is a professional grade quadcopter with an integrated 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3 gimbal. The Typhoon Q500 comes factory-assembled, already test-flown, it is ready to fly and shoot videography out of the box. The Q500 is a tech gift more than $500 but it is one of the most complete drone bundle you can get for the money. We also like the ST10+ personal ground station – a 10-channel 2.4GHz RC transmitter that supports a 5.8GHz video downlink delivering streaming video to the built-in screen. Another great feature of the Q500 is the modularity of the SteadyGrip handheld device – it extends the perspective from the sky to the ground with CGO3 mobile app. The Q500 comes packaged in its own rugged lightweight-aluminum transport case. This is one of the best buys to capture 4K from aerial and ground for your professional projects or personal vacation shoots.
- The Typhoon Q500 4K arrives factory-assembled, test-flown, ready to fly and film out...
- The 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3 gimbal camera and the optimized fixed focus lens...
- The ST10+ personal ground station is a 10-channel 2.4GHz RC transmitter that supports...
3DR Solo. If you already have your own GoPro or Hero 3, 3+ or 4, this copter may be just right for you. Read our review. This quadcopter has all of the features needed by almost all amateur needs and most professional photographers. This quadcopter has orbit and selfie modes and is slightly less expensive than similar quadcopters. This quadcopter is especially suited for people shooting events (such as weddings, family reunions and back yard games) and real estate agents shooting videos of properties.
- Solo’s video game-style controller will feel familiar the second you pick it up,...
- In case you missed it in the picture…that’s a high-quality HDMI port directly...
- Full-featured app for iOS and Android puts total craft control at your fingertips.
Check out our review series on camera drones.