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SALT LAKE CITY — The Federal Aviation Administration projects that drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, will become a $90 billion industry within the next decade.
This may not come as a surprise since UAVs are increasingly popular in military activities, but this growth also includes a variety of emerging uses for drones. We have certainly come a long way since the days of aerial photography pigeons. UAVs can be used for everything from disaster aid, wildlife protection, storm tracking, and surveying to aerial video and photography.
If you’re interested in aerial photography, you can purchase a drone for anywhere from $50 to $5,000. The less expensive drones are generally recommended for personal entertainment, while the expensive drones are more often for professional use. If you’re looking for a drone to help you launch or expand your professional photography career, these higher-priced drones have many additional capabilities and can help you gain returns on your investment.
Of course, not all commercial drones are created equal. Considering differences in price, weight, battery life, flight length, speed, radio range, and camera resolution, the following list highlights five of the best drones for aerial photography.
Yuneec Typhoon Q500+
The Typhoon Q500+ allows you to follow along on its flight with your smartphone. The camera offers full HD video, audio recording, a three-axis gimbal stabilizer, and high-quality photos at 16 megapixels. The Typhoon flies in three different modes — smart, angle, and home — and weighs just 2.5 pounds. Priced at $600, the Typhoon Q500+ is a great option for a photography drone.
YKS XIRO Xplorer
The XIRO Xplorer boasts flight times of up to 25 minutes and an operating range of 500 meters. Using an app, you can watch live flight video and check the flight status. This drone also uses a three-axis gimbal for camera stabilization and has a 1080p camera, takes photos of up to 14 megapixels, and has an option for slow motion recording. The Xplorer also allows you to define a specific route for your drone to travel on and will lock onto an object of your choice for a 360-degree view. At just over $600, this drone a great value.
The Solo is considered one of the best drones for professional use. While it doesn’t come with a camera, it is optimized to use your GoPro in flight. The included HDMI cable allows you to watch live video on any screen and maximum flight time is about 20 minutes. The Solo, which is priced at about $700, also features optional smartphone control. The Solo Gimbal is sold separately but it offers in-flight camera control, including the ability to start and stop recording and adjust camera settings from the ground. The Solo also offers free software and feature updates so it can adapt to technology advancements.
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
DJI is one of the most well-known drone manufacturers. Geared toward aerial photographers, the Phantom 3 Advanced features a 1080p video and still photo camera with three-axis stabilization, as well as live 720p HD streaming view. This drone also has a transmission distance of up to 5 km and a 23-minute battery life. You can control this drone on your smartphone with their app, DJI GO. At just above $700 — and weighing less than 3 pounds — this model is a favorite among aerial photographers.
DJI Inspire 1
The Inspire is for serious aerial photographers. With two controllers — one to pilot the drone and one to move the camera — two people can work together. The camera features 4K video, 12 megapixel photos, speeds of 22 m/s, and weighs around 6.5 pounds. This UAV can fly for around 18 minutes, and kits range from $2,900–$6,000.
The future of drones — for both work and play — is full of potential. Choose the best UAV for you and be sure to impress your friends and family with amazing aerial photographs.
*Sarah Brown is a business student with a love of outdoor adventures. Contact her at (mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org.