This is Part 2 of Drone Photography 101
My advice is to always shoot with the lowest possible ISO. The Image sensors on most drones are on the small side and the image gets very grainy at higher ISOs.
RAW Is Key
The cameras on the Phantom is very good, but it has it’s limitations. Shooting in RAW, if your drone allows, will give you the flexibility to adjust exposure and color. If you shoot in JPEG the images are mostly finalized.
When shooting video, it’s important to set your white balance before you start rolling. If you leave it on auto you’ll notice color shifts as you fly. You don’t have to worry about this when shooting stills since you’re only taking a single image.
I use neutral density (ND) filters when shooting video. Most drones have a fixed aperture, so you’re only controlling the exposure with ISO and shutter speed. In order to get a cinematic look for your shots you should double the frames-per-second (fps) that you are shooting with.
So, if you are shooting video at 24fps that means that you should try to shoot at 1/50 second shutter speed (There isn’t a 1/48th option). To achieve a slow shutter speed on a bright day you’ll need to use an neutral density filter to reduce the light coming into the camera.
Plan Your Shot Before Launching
Even the best drones will only do 15-25 minutes of flight time. It’s important to mentally walk through your shots before you take off. Know your starting and ending point, how you want to frame your subject and mentally run through the stick controls. You don’t want to put the drone in the air and then figure out what you want to shoot. You’ll never get a shot off.
Watch and Learn
One of the best ways to learn new shots or techniques is to watch someone do it. There are a lot of great YouTube videos that are sure to give you some inspiration. Here a a few of my favorites:
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice makes perfect. Every time I fly I learn something new. I had my first crash landing last week when the battery malfunctioned. Luckily, I had flown enough to know not to freak out and to look for an emergency landing area when I was flying out. If it was my first flight I would have lost the drone into the ocean, but I took my time to get comfortable with it.
Things to look out for.
Battery levels - Most drones will auto-land at 10% regardless of where it is. Make sure you don’t empty your battery.
Format your card - You don’t want to line up a shot only to have you SD card full. Format before you take off.
Check the props - Make sure they are on tight.
Compass - Calibrate the compass at every new location. It will keep the drone from flying off course.
Look for obstacles - Keep an eye out for power lines, tree branches or anything else you could hit while flying around.
Law/Rules - Be sure and follow the local regulations. www.knowbeforeyoufly.org
An emergency landing spot - Always keep an eye out for a spot to set the drone down if something goes wrong.
And that’s it! You should be ready to fly and grab some great shots. If you do, be sure to tag me so I can check them out. @garrettdangergraham