If you haven’t noticed, drone photography is here in a big way. In this two part guide to drone photography, I’ll clear up some misconceptions and offer my advice.
I’m going to lead with the best piece of advice I can give. Start small. Even if you just got a brand new Phantom, leave it in the box and pick up a small cheap drone to practice with.
You will crash your drone. That’s a given. Whether its user error (Probably) or an electronic issue with your drone, it’s coming down. That’s why it’s important for you to learn the basics of flying on a small, cheap drone before stepping up to a larger model. Learning to fly a drone with no GPS or gyro’s will make you a better pilot. You’ll also appreciate flying with those things when you have them.
When you’re finally ready to step up to a dedicated camera drone, there’s one brand to look at first, DJI. They make the fantastic Phantom line which ranges from the $400 Phantom 3 Standard to the $1,500 Phantom 4 Pro.
If you’re just starting out and looking to take some cool drone shots, then the Phantom 3 Standard is the way to go. If you’re upgrading or want to shoot in 4K right from the start, I’d recommend the the Phantom 4. It has an awesome obstacle avoidance system that will stop itself mid air if you’re going to hit something.
Here’s a link to the DJI Winter Sale (12/12 – 1/5)
Another option, if you have a GoPro, is the 3DR Solo ($400). It allows you to mount the GoPro on the drone and has the same features as the Phantom.
It’s almost impossible to give you a flight lessons using text, so here’s a video that covers the basics and I’ll jump into the finer points below.
Fly within your limits
It’s tempting on your first flight to take off and fly over downtown. You’ll be better off though, by going to a park or field and learning the limitations of your skill and the drone. The GPS stabilized drones like the Phantom are extremely easy to fly, but also easy to get over confident with. Don’t be this guy: Drinking Played Role in White House Drone Crash.
Respect The Rules
The FAA requires operators of unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff, and operating outdoors, be registered at www.faa.gov/uas/registration. If you are under age 13, you must have a parent or someone age 13 or older register for you.
Additional state or local requirements may apply. Check your local jurisdiction. The following websites may help you make informed decisions about how regulations impact you: www.knowbeforeyoufly.org and www.modelaircraft.org.
That’s it for part one. Next week I’ll cover everything you need to know about taking photos and videos with your new flying camera.