20 February 2021

1. Introduction To Drone Photography

Development of photographs dating back to the 19th century, and the development is accelerating rapidly. Compact cameras, cell phones and DSLR’s are one of many examples of how to achieve great photos. However, in recent times, technology has allowed the way of shooting photos to be moved up to the air. We can do this with a drone – an aircraft that is controlled via remote control. In the beginning they were used for military purposes but over time have become more compact and they fit into a new and modern way of photographing. Most of drones have a camera so what you see is transferred to the screen controls to allow the photographer to record a video or photograph the desired object. Depending on the manufacturer, remote controler can be a special part of the hardware or you can connect drone to a smartphone or tablet.

2. Drones In General

The drones are unmanned aerial vehicle, based on the autonomous system of aviation and aircraft without a human pilot on the flight. Flying with a drone can be done with varying degrees of independence. It can be done under remote controlled by a human operator or completely or occasionally alone with a preprogrammed computer flight.



Compared with manned aircraft, a drone is often desirable for missions too dangerous for people, mainly military mission even though they started used for commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural and other purposes. They are also used for police surveillance with aerial recording. Civilian drones are now much more numbered in relation to military drones, with an estimate of more than one million units sold in 2015. Innovation of drones have started in the early 1900s and originally aimed at providing practice for training military personnel. In 1849 Austria has sent unmanned bombs filled balloons to attack Venice. The development of drones continued during the First World War when the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company invented pilotless aerial torpedo to explode at a set time. Both manned and unmanned types of aircraft are usually recognizable with a quite similar physical components. The main exceptions are the cockpit and control system and the system environmental protection. Some drones carry a weight (such as cameras) that considerably less weight  of the adult human and may therefore be considerably smaller. Small civilian drones have no life support system, therefore, can be made from lighter or less of stronger materials and shapes and can use less-tested electronic control systems. For small drones quadcopter design has become very popular. Control systems for drones are often different than those managed by the crew. In remote human control link and video cameras almost always replacing cockpit windows. Some drones have the option of automatic control and autopilot.

The Main drone parts are:

1. The Body
2. Power and Platform
3. Sensors
4. Motor
5. Software
6. Flight Control
7. Communication

3. Types of Drones

The drones are divided in several ways, such as the type of use, size and range.

Drones by Use:

  1. War Drones – used by the military, these drones are used for wartime use and explore dangerous territory
  2. Courier Drones – used for delivering things in difficult to reach places and for faster orientation in large warehouses and simpler delivery
  3. Photographic Drones – used for photography towns, events, landscapes etc – Popular camera drones like the DJI Phantom 3, which won 1st place in our best drones under $500 review, fall into this category.
  4. Rescue Drone – drones for rescue from drowning with built lifeguard vest or electrical supply for revival
  5. Acrobatic Drones – serve as an attraction because they have a good acrobatic skills

Drones by Size:

  1. Very small drones the size of insects and are mainly used for biological warfare. Maximum size of 50 cm.
  2. Mini drones are sized from 50cm up to 2 meters
  3. Medium-sized drones are relatively large size but much lighter than aircraft, which wing span can be between 5 and 10 meters and can carry up to 200kg.
  4. Great drones are regular sized aircraft, but without a pilot. Such drones are purely military use for actions harmful to humans. Such drones are classified according to their range and ability to fly.

Drones by Range of Flight:

  1. Very Short Range Drones- These drones are mainly used as toys and for simple actions. They have a range of up to an average of 5 km and a time flight between 20 and 45 minutes.
  2. Short Range Drones – are much stronger than drones very short range, and have a range of 50 km and have a strong battery that lasts from 1 up to 6 hours flight. Mainly used for military surveillance.
  3. Small Range Drones – have the same purpose as well as short-range drones just as they have much greater range of 150 km and the flight time between 8-12 hours.
  4. Medium Range Drones – these drones are much more advanced than before mentioned drones, and their range reaches 650 km. These drones are most are used to collect meteorological information and measurement
  5. Endurance Drones – the best kind of drones, can stay in up to 36 hours and reach heights up to 30,000 feet

Drones by Characteristics:

  1. Drones with 3 propeller
  2. Drones with 4 propellers
  3. Drones with 5 or more propellers
  4. With camera
  5. With the stabilizers
  6. With the built-in GPS


You can read more about drone types here.

4. Drone Application in Photography

The drones can come with built-in camera or not. Some models of DJI drones company contain embedded camera system, and the quality of the system depends on price range models, while some models do not have built-in camera, but the buyer leave room for the purchase of alternative models of cameras such as GoPro HERO.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone contains 12 megapixel camera, shutter speed between 1/8000 second and 8 seconds, and the lens has a fixed aperture in the amount of f 2.2. The field of vision is 78.8 degrees wide which ensures large photos. Supported by several different shooting modes such as single shot, burst shot, auto exposure bracketing and interval. ISO range of between 100 and 1600th. 

DJI Mavic Air Drone is a middle price range drone and very similar to it is a GoPro Karma Drone – GoPro brand drone which has built-in camera but supports 3 different models of GoPro camera, HERO5, HERO5 Session and Hero4. HERO5 and Hero4 cameras allows taking pictures at 12 megapixels, while Session allows to 10 megapixels. HERO5 has the greatest opportunities setting exposure and ISO settings which makes it the best camera drone of the above three models to record in less light environments. We reviewed both DJI Mavic Drones in our best drones under 1000 dollar review.


DJ Mavic camera and GoPro HERO5 models support photo in JPEG and RAW format and recording 4K video, but one of the very important factors in picture quality is stabilization of the camera. When shooting while flying drone it is necessary to provide less vibration because they can completely destroy recording quality. Vibration can occur from a drone itself, its engine, air turbulence and wind. Smaller drones have more powerful vibrations than the larger so it is necessary to use gimbal system which allows rotation of the object about an axis and thereby stabilize the image regardless the vibration and movement of the drone. Fast objectives which are are sharp on the large aperture will give the best results in photography during vibration. Also try to use a short objective to better stabilize the camera because the wind has less impact on the the very rotation and therefore we need to work less with a correction motors.


Also, camera drones can be used as an addition in photography. They often come with LED lights which sheds light on a picture motive but can also be a source of motifs in various shooting modes.

Although we focus on the DJI Mavic series in this guide, you do not necessarily have to spend a $1000 or more on photography drone, you can read about more affordable drones in the following posts:

Top 10 Best Drones Under $100: Budget Drones for Beginners

The Best Drones Under $200: Our Top Camera Drones for the Money

The 10 Best Camera Drones Under $300: Including Beginner FPV Drones

5. Conclusion

Choosing the drone is a hard job to a photographer. Besides being necessary to know camera settings it is necessary to know the drone as a whole. From expensive which can fly long and have a perfect picture to the more affordable that decision depends about a better control of the drone and a better camera. Each drone is different from the way of the movement, options, their properties, and finally the camera; therefore, same as in choosing the camera we need to know what we want to photograph and thus bring a unique decision.

About the Author: Ruan Nelio

When I'm not geeking out over the newest drones, I'm busy flying my DJI Mavic 2 Pro all over Oslo. The coolest part about this job is I get to keep some of the drones I review, which happens to be how I got my Mavic 2!

Author Avatar
About the Author
 Ruan Nelio

When I'm not geeking out over the newest drones, I'm busy flying my DJI Mavic 2 Pro all over Oslo. The coolest part about this job is I get to keep some of the drones I review, which happens to be how I got my Mavic 2!

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