Myself and many drone fliers got into the hobby because of interest in sky high video and photography. This is the practice of taking photographs or capturing video from an advanced airborne quad-copter or drone.
Quadcopters or some call it drone have become a great resource for this kind of image recording since they are able to climb to high altitude to provide a birds eye view of a surrounding landscape and also can hold a stable position at one point in the air, which RC airplanes can't do.
To become a master sky high aerial videography and photography, one does not hire a real helicopter anymore, Remote controlled drone prices have dropped to around 100 euro. Most enthusiasts wanting to document more of the world from above ground, have begun by experimenting with their flying abilities with small toy copters in their own living room.
One of my unmanned vehicles of choice is the DJI Phantom, I own the original Phantom 1 and now thinking of upgrading to the latest Phantom 2 plus. My decision is based on size, portability and reliability. With the help of my expert photographer and professional commercial video maker Paul Venning I have learned a lot.
Quadcopters nowadays, even inexpensive ones, are able to carry on board cameras that can provide great shots of a large areas. This is great for videographers, who can used this as a tool to capture establishing shots or tracking shots.
There are two main type of cameras that a drone can be equipped with. First there are some drones that have built in cameras. These operate much like the mini cameras that are in smart phones.
They are small and compact, light enough to be carried by even the smallest quad. However, these cameras are typically not the highest quality. Mid-range drones have about a 640 by 480 pixel resolution, which is good for fun, but certainly not good enough for professional quality video or photos.
Mid-range on board cameras can have up to 1080p resolution, which is very high quality. These cameras typically record footage out to an SD card which can be pulled off the drone after landing.
The main benefit of on board cameras is the ability to live stream video footage to the flier. Many drones are equipped with this feature that allows what they are seeing to be shown on an LCD equipped controller. This works great to make sure the camera is pointing where you want it to and allows for corrections in position to get the perfect shot. However, it is rather difficult to find that the shot that didn't turn out right only after landing the drone and downloading the footage off the SD card.
The high end work requires the new 4K production or at least high quality HD footage and one needs full frame SLR like the Sony 7AS and because of the weight, a much bigger 8 motor/propeller copters.
The other method is an outboard camera, which is one that is not built into the drone itself, but is rather carried by the drone, usually underneath the central housing.
The benefit of having an outboard camera is that you can use a high quality, professional grade camera, that is interchangeable and upgradeable. A great choice for this style is the DJI phantom which we rate as one of the best quad-copters available.
Many mid-sized drones are able to carry a GoPro or the new Sony Action camera, which provides great quality video and in the case of Sony a great shake resistance built into the camera. High end drones can carry movie quality cameras but then one needs expensive 3 axis gimbal , which is reserved only for larger quads or 8 propeller crafts that which can carry the larger weight of the camera and the gimbal.
Please also have a look at the article by Guardian Newspaper with their amazing arial shots by quadcopter drones here.
Also, these amazing aerial views from drone photo contest won National Geographic prizes. The 2014 Dronestagram Photo Contest received entries from all over the world, though only the winners took home prizes for having fully exploited the potential of drone photography through their submissions. The photos not only included wide-sweeping aerial views but also a range of subjects including an eagle soaring over Bali, Filipinos playing in a park on a Sunday morning, and one of the biggest waterfalls in Mexico.
The arrival of cheap drone technology - and small, light high-quality cameras - has given rise to a new genre of beautiful aerial photography and film-making. However, any time aerial photography is being attempted it is critical that you make sure that you're flying in an area that is safe to operate.
The winner of the competition was a stunning view of an eagle soaring high above a national park in Indonesia. More photographs can be seen on Dronestagram, a site dedicated to the images taken in mid-air.
The site's founder Eric Dupin told the BBC drone photography quite literally offers a whole new perspective.
There is nothing that can help one more in aerial videography than having a good background in remote control airplanes and helicopters. If you are new to RC vehicles and have developed an interest in aerial photography, you are advised to fist take the controls on a low cost quad-copter and once mastered then to move to more advanced copters. You are well advised to run before they walk and they immediately start flying their expensive Phantom or other advanced copter before they have developed enough RC flight skills. Do not be fooled by the amazing GPS stability these offer you, you still need to be a good piloting skills and ability to control the craft in the case of danger!
I was in India flying over a lake when a big falcon wanted to attack the Phantom thinking that it is a prey. Without endangering the Falcon, I had to rely on a 30 mile per hour capability of the DJI Phantom and some dog fighting skills to get both Phantom and the Falcon out of harms reach.
This works great to make sure the camera is pointing where you want it to and allows for corrections in position to get the perfect shot.
Its always a pain finding out that the shot didn't turn out right only after landing the drone and downloading the footage off the SD card. The other method is an outboard camera, which is one that is not built into the drone itself, but is rather carried by the drone, usually underneath the central housing. The benefit of having an outboard camera is that you can use a high quality, professional grade camera, that is interchangeable and upgradeable. A great choice for this style is the DJI phantom which we rate as one of the best low cost quadcopters available.
Many mid-sized drones are able to carry a GoPro or Sony Action camera, which provides great quality video. High end drones can carry movie quality cameras, but this is reserved only for larger quads which can carry the larger weight of the camera.
Again experience and a few crashes has told me that any time aerial photography is being attempted it is critical that you make sure that you're flying in an area that is safe to operate. That means being aware of any potential objects the drone may run into, or any things or people on the ground that may be in harms way in the event of a crash. You also wan to be safe to protect any camera equipment that is costly to replace.