Looking to expand your drone arsenal or add drone videography as a new service? Whether you’re looking at your first kit or researching to shell out the big bucks for an aerial shoot requiring a full cinematic look, here’s a quick breakdown of professional drones at price points for both advanced and entry levels.
Before you gear up, expand on the research outlined below yourself and ask other drone owners their experiences to help you land on what works for you.
1. Freefly Alta
Although most drone operators won’t need something like this unless they need big picture or Hollywood level quality, some of the big advantages here include: 8K footage and a focus iris zoom. Watch this clip for some 8K action shot by Source Films.
Between the lens, controller, and all the other gear you’ll need to make the most of an Alta, this is a pretty hefty investment. Given its heavier weight, you’re looking at a 40+ pounds drone. The good news though is it can carry a RED and Monstro. But you’ll need more room to speed up and slow down when shooting.
Using Velocity clamps you can decide how fast a climb up over a building will be, how far to go up, and acceleration levels. Big thing here with the clamps also is you can more precisely repeat camera moves.
The Alta uses 350W batteries which you can’t travel on a plane.
TIP: Factor in having to potentially rent batteries for shoots the require air travel.
After setting up the DJI Inspire 2 for the first time and calibrating, simply hook up an iPad to control and get started. To catch high-speed footage, the Inspire can easily clock past 50 mph.
The drone includes more professional grade equipment like carbon fiber reinforced arms and legs with a metal body compared to the plastic of DJI lines like Mavic Pro. Shoot up to 6K footage raw and 5.2K in Apple ProRes. It includes interchangeable 16, 24, 35, and 50 mm lenses. For night-time, Inspire 2 can capture more brightness if you’re wanting cinematic shots overhead in the dark.
The M600 contains six rotors so in case you lose one during flight it can still operate. Likewise, it has six batteries in case a battery fails. It can support up to a 9 pound-camera with space for an extra battery to power your camera.
$800 - $1500 Drones
Unlike most drones of a smaller size, the camera is mounted on a gimbal and is still just as portable as smaller drone lines without sacrificing features. The Mavic Pro is also foldable, making it easier to travel unlike some larger drones. Compared to the Phantom line, Mavic Pro can go to speeds up to 40 mph and has a more narrow field of view. The battery can last roughly up to 25 minutes and 4-mile range.
With the Mavic Pro 2 you can shoot 4K footage at 24 and 30 fps. Tap to focus when operating on within 27 yards.
In tripod mode, speeds dub down to 2.2 miles per hour to help you capture dynamic shots and time lapses. You can even livestream straight onto YouTube using the Mavic Pro. The Fly More Kit includes a case, two extra batteries, and a second charger.
From its predecessor, the Phantom 3, DJI added updated object-avoidance technology. The battery runs for roughly 22 minutes and due to the heavier nature of this drone, it’s relatively stable in windier conditions. The blades can be easily twisted and pulled to take off so you can fit the Phantom 4 in a backpack.
Beyond extra batteries, consider also...
Most of these drone lines come with a single controller when you likely need a second one for the pilot while you shoot. Check the specific product specs for each line as some models like the Mavic Pro 2 do not support dual controllers currently.
Follow focus systems like DJI Focus give you the creative freedom to remotely control both depth of field and focus.
Set the shutter speed properly so you can get the right cinematic look with ND filters.
Consider carrying around extra propellers just as you would have a spare tire handy. Propeller guards can also help protect your drone and keep it running in the air.
Remote Controller Monitor Hood
When you’re out shooting and need to still see in the face of sunlight, you can still fly and have a clear view of your display by adding in a shade.
You can help protect your drone by setting up a helipad for take off and landing if you’re launching from high grass, sand, or any other non-ideal launching points.
Shopping around also for a new camera? Check out our post breaking down the best for every budget here.
What is Wipster? Wipster is a new way to review and collaborate on videos. After you shoot your aerial shot, try Wipster for free and use it to share your aerial footage with your team.