The best drone I ever had

This should really have been titled the best drone I never had… About a month back I finally gave in to my impulse to buy a drone for stock photography and videos. I did a lot of research, and my key requirements were obviously a good camera for stills and video but also something that I could travel with on my jaunts around the world. I’m going on a cruise later in the year and thought lovingly of a great shot of the cruise boat sailing from port with my drone up in the air above the stern! To get there, it had to fit in my luggage in some way on air flights. The answer for me turned out to be the DJI Mavic Pro which I bought from Amazon:

For just less than $1000, you expect something good, and this surpassed my expectations. It was solidly built but not too heavy at just over 2 pounds, and folded down into a small space of perhaps a large bottle of water. The controller uses a smartphone as the controller/viewer which saves weight on travel as well. I practiced around my home and found it really stable in the air, easy to fly and the early video output was very good. I flew it above my house to see why the gutters were leaking and saw some debris in there – great first success! But what happened? To be honest, I couldn’t think of any videos to take of places where I was allowed to fly it! I was going to Washington DC with my camera club but obviously a drone is not welcome there. National parks in the US – off the list. I went to England in late July – no flying on National Trust land (which is most of the coast around Devon where we were taking a vacation. London – no chance. So all the popular travel locations were being knocked off my list pretty quickly. How about a shot above my grand-daughter in a swing – too risky. Following the dog at ground level – perhaps, but boring! So I packed it all back in the box and returned it to Amazon. Yes, I had to pay postage, but they are great at taking stuff back!

I did make a purchase though which is getting some use – the Karma grip for my GoPro:

I did take this to England and made some interesting (and very stable) video shots with me holding the camera outside a land rover as we drove along a bumpy beach in North Wales. You can see the hood (bonnet) going up and down with each bump but the video is very stable. I shot in 2.7K so I could crop in a bit and downsize to 1920×1080 and the resultant footage is awaiting upload. I also followed some sheep in a meadow at a low angle to pretend to be a wolf that worked nicely as well. So my new video toy is actually getting some usage and perhaps will earn its keep one day.

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2 Responses

  1. Nick Fox says:

    I have recently purchased a mavic too and it is a wonderful toy to play. However, even on places where you are allowed to fly for fun, you still can not use the shots commercially . That is really a shame. Less and less freedom every day for photographers / videographers.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Nick
    Yes, I forgot that! I was going to take the certification in the USA, for $150 or so, but that introduces new rules like not being able to fly in any controlled airspace around small airports (4 miles) without a waiver. Non commercial drone operators only need either advise the local tower although that is not altogether clear.

I'm always interested in what you think - please let me know!