Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
primeshooter
primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Best Drone for Photography Mainly

I've been going round in circles for a while about this. Initially looked at coming in under the registration regs and getting a mavic mini, but being a D850/810 shooter I don't think I could contend with the JPG IQ and lack of manual camera controls. I've now went right up to checking out the mavic air, and mavic pro 2 vs the pro 2 zoom. I tend to like the pro a bit better as the camera seems to be better, and it shoots raw? Should I consider the zoom? What are the tradeoffs in your opinion, 20mp vs 12mp, and the slightly better DR of the pro 2, with no zoom function so fixed at 28mm equiv. Although this drone would be mainly for rural / wilderness area photography I would still like to do video. I have heard that the video 8bit mode is very oversaturated and contrasty. I know it has a 10bit log mode but I'm not sure I'm a video "tweaker" as much as I am with photography - in the sense I'd want to just share unedited clips etc on occasion. Thoughts on this specifically?

What are your recommendations? The max (absolute max is £1500). Priority is RAW capture stills at best quality possible, and a decentish flight time with good connection to the drone so it doesn't get lost or crashed. I'll be using 2-3 shots for exposure blending so need steady flight (again the mavic 2 fits that bill it would seem). I'm assuming that grad ND's aren't used for drones! (I understand for video that ND's can be used of course). Thanks in advance.

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly
5

primeshooter wrote:

I've been going round in circles for a while about this. Initially looked at coming in under the registration regs and getting a mavic mini, but being a D850/810 shooter I don't think I could contend with the JPG IQ and lack of manual camera controls. I've now went right up to checking out the mavic air, and mavic pro 2 vs the pro 2 zoom. I tend to like the pro a bit better as the camera seems to be better, and it shoots raw? Should I consider the zoom? What are the tradeoffs in your opinion, 20mp vs 12mp, and the slightly better DR of the pro 2, with no zoom function so fixed at 28mm equiv. Although this drone would be mainly for rural / wilderness area photography I would still like to do video. I have heard that the video 8bit mode is very oversaturated and contrasty. I know it has a 10bit log mode but I'm not sure I'm a video "tweaker" as much as I am with photography - in the sense I'd want to just share unedited clips etc on occasion. Thoughts on this specifically?

What are your recommendations? The max (absolute max is £1500). Priority is RAW capture stills at best quality possible, and a decentish flight time with good connection to the drone so it doesn't get lost or crashed. I'll be using 2-3 shots for exposure blending so need steady flight (again the mavic 2 fits that bill it would seem). I'm assuming that grad ND's aren't used for drones! (I understand for video that ND's can be used of course). Thanks in advance.

You pretty much summarised it nicely. There is apparently this new Autel Evo II which might be worth checking. Otjer than that the Mavic 2 Pro is hard to beat. The zoom version has much smaller sensor and if you are used to your Nikon IQ you will not be happy with the zoom version. So, there you have it. Your options in that price range are limited but I think you might be quite happy with Mavic 2 Pro. Shoot DNG and process to your liking, bracketing can extend the DR, the 28mm is nice and you can always stitch if you want to go wider.

Just my 2 c worth

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

mmarian wrote:

primeshooter wrote:

I've been going round in circles for a while about this. Initially looked at coming in under the registration regs and getting a mavic mini, but being a D850/810 shooter I don't think I could contend with the JPG IQ and lack of manual camera controls. I've now went right up to checking out the mavic air, and mavic pro 2 vs the pro 2 zoom. I tend to like the pro a bit better as the camera seems to be better, and it shoots raw? Should I consider the zoom? What are the tradeoffs in your opinion, 20mp vs 12mp, and the slightly better DR of the pro 2, with no zoom function so fixed at 28mm equiv. Although this drone would be mainly for rural / wilderness area photography I would still like to do video. I have heard that the video 8bit mode is very oversaturated and contrasty. I know it has a 10bit log mode but I'm not sure I'm a video "tweaker" as much as I am with photography - in the sense I'd want to just share unedited clips etc on occasion. Thoughts on this specifically?

What are your recommendations? The max (absolute max is £1500). Priority is RAW capture stills at best quality possible, and a decentish flight time with good connection to the drone so it doesn't get lost or crashed. I'll be using 2-3 shots for exposure blending so need steady flight (again the mavic 2 fits that bill it would seem). I'm assuming that grad ND's aren't used for drones! (I understand for video that ND's can be used of course). Thanks in advance.

You pretty much summarised it nicely. There is apparently this new Autel Evo II which might be worth checking. Otjer than that the Mavic 2 Pro is hard to beat. The zoom version has much smaller sensor and if you are used to your Nikon IQ you will not be happy with the zoom version. So, there you have it. Your options in that price range are limited but I think you might be quite happy with Mavic 2 Pro. Shoot DNG and process to your liking, bracketing can extend the DR, the 28mm is nice and you can always stitch if you want to go wider.

Just my 2 c worth

Thank you for your comments, yeah I think when quarantine is over I'm gonna pick one up. The zoom's sensor as you say is so small that someone used to the high end nikon (sony) sensors is probably going to go "whaaattt" when uploading them to their PC.

Is it worth getting the mavic controller with the huge screen? It looks pretty sweet rather than attaching a phone?

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

I have no experience with the Smart Controller but apparently the screen is very bright (1000 nit ?) and perfectly visible under sun. I have oly the standard Crystalsky 7.85" not the ultrabright and even the 1000 nit standard is a big step up from most mobilephones and tablets. The integration of the screen into the controller eliminates the frequent mobile handling. The downside is of course the price, especially if you already have a good recent model cell phone. If your budget allows I would definitelly consider it.

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

mmarian wrote:

I have no experience with the Smart Controller but apparently the screen is very bright (1000 nit ?) and perfectly visible under sun. I have oly the standard Crystalsky 7.85" not the ultrabright and even the 1000 nit standard is a big step up from most mobilephones and tablets. The integration of the screen into the controller eliminates the frequent mobile handling. The downside is of course the price, especially if you already have a good recent model cell phone. If your budget allows I would definitelly consider it.

Yeah I think I'll have a look at it, my phone is old and the screen not that great in bright sunlight!

Occams Razor Senior Member • Posts: 1,068
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly
1

While I agree the Mavic 2 Pro is the best choice, I still found that the IQ is a significant drop from any modern FF ILC so I wouldn't set my expectations too high.  In any case, I believe it's the right way to go for a sub-$2K drone.

Most users who own the Smart Controller rave about it but many also state it's over priced for what you get.  The main advantage is the quick start up and the super bright screen.  As an alternative, you should also consider an iPad Mini and the below mount.  The DJI Go 4 App works great with iOS devices and you will get a full functioning tablet for less money than the SC.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7RFDBA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Randy

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viteaux
viteaux New Member • Posts: 21
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly
1

I'm a D810/Z7 user and was in the market for a drone for Real Estate work. I really liked the Pro, but got an Air for $300 with 3 batteries, so it was kind of a no brainer. Photos and video are good enough for MLS work, but nothing to write home about. It does shoot raw, and manual just not the greatest quality. Easy to fly, I use an i-phone 11 and boost the brightness of the screen and don't have a problem composing shots in daylight. Attached is a shot of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis at sunset to get an idea of the quality. I will definitely be upgrading to the pro in the future.

 viteaux's gear list:viteaux's gear list
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primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

viteaux wrote:

I'm a D810/Z7 user and was in the market for a drone for Real Estate work. I really liked the Pro, but got an Air for $300 with 3 batteries, so it was kind of a no brainer. Photos and video are good enough for MLS work, but nothing to write home about. It does shoot raw, and manual just not the greatest quality. Easy to fly, I use an i-phone 11 and boost the brightness of the screen and don't have a problem composing shots in daylight. Attached is a shot of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis at sunset to get an idea of the quality. I will definitely be upgrading to the pro in the future.

Thanks, can you post the full quality as it's not much point seeing it at that resolution?

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Occams Razor wrote:

While I agree the Mavic 2 Pro is the best choice, I still found that the IQ is a significant drop from any modern FF ILC so I wouldn't set my expectations too high. In any case, I believe it's the right way to go for a sub-$2K drone.

Most users who own the Smart Controller rave about it but many also state it's over priced for what you get. The main advantage is the quick start up and the super bright screen. As an alternative, you should also consider an iPad Mini and the below mount. The DJI Go 4 App works great with iOS devices and you will get a full functioning tablet for less money than the SC.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7RFDBA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Hey there. Yeah I'm aware it's not going to be a flying D850 but I'm not wanting to spend more than this on it, it's a considerable sum of money after all.

Re the tablet idea good point, but I wouldn't be using apple products so would need to find an android product but I will look into it. Can you post some full size samples?

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

primeshooter wrote:

viteaux wrote:

I'm a D810/Z7 user and was in the market for a drone for Real Estate work. I really liked the Pro, but got an Air for $300 with 3 batteries, so it was kind of a no brainer. Photos and video are good enough for MLS work, but nothing to write home about. It does shoot raw, and manual just not the greatest quality. Easy to fly, I use an i-phone 11 and boost the brightness of the screen and don't have a problem composing shots in daylight. Attached is a shot of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis at sunset to get an idea of the quality. I will definitely be upgrading to the pro in the future.

Thanks, can you post the full quality as it's not much point seeing it at that resolution?

Just one point to remember. Under optimal conditions and when the exposure is spot on etc even smaller sensors can produce reasonable quality photos. But as soon as you start lifting shadows and pulling details from highlights and doing some other adjustments you would commonly do to most RAW files from your Nikon FF then you start appreciate the "robustness", for lack of a better word, of your RAW files. Some of these drones only shoot JPEG and JPEGs fall appart fairly quickly. DNG files on the other hand take more beating but as a general rule the bigger the sensor the more you can sqeeze out of the file and it will show on the final result. There is no such thing as a free lunch..

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

mmarian wrote:

primeshooter wrote:

viteaux wrote:

I'm a D810/Z7 user and was in the market for a drone for Real Estate work. I really liked the Pro, but got an Air for $300 with 3 batteries, so it was kind of a no brainer. Photos and video are good enough for MLS work, but nothing to write home about. It does shoot raw, and manual just not the greatest quality. Easy to fly, I use an i-phone 11 and boost the brightness of the screen and don't have a problem composing shots in daylight. Attached is a shot of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis at sunset to get an idea of the quality. I will definitely be upgrading to the pro in the future.

Thanks, can you post the full quality as it's not much point seeing it at that resolution?

Just one point to remember. Under optimal conditions and when the exposure is spot on etc even smaller sensors can produce reasonable quality photos. But as soon as you start lifting shadows and pulling details from highlights and doing some other adjustments you would commonly do to most RAW files from your Nikon FF then you start appreciate the "robustness", for lack of a better word, of your RAW files. Some of these drones only shoot JPEG and JPEGs fall appart fairly quickly. DNG files on the other hand take more beating but as a general rule the bigger the sensor the more you can sqeeze out of the file and it will show on the final result. There is no such thing as a free lunch..

Hi there yeah I am aware of this, which is why I am looking at the much larger sensor in the pro 2. But I'd still like to see your full res shots, can you post some?

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

My comments were meant as a general advice. I do not have any of the mentioned drones. I shoot with Inspire2 and either x4s or x5s cameras. The first one has 1" sensor, same size as Mavic2Pro but 24mm lens instead of 28mm and produces simillar IQ. The second one has M43 sensor. I can tell you that even though the sensor size difference is not as significant as between 1 2/3" and FF, the M43 is capable of producing much ritcher and less noisy photos. It also allows for more agressive adjustments. So if it was me I'd be choosing the drone with the biggest sensor camera I can afford.

vyoufinder
vyoufinder Senior Member • Posts: 1,775
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Look at Inspire 1 Pro with x5 camera. The example someone posted here, although a great shot, the quality just doesn't compare.  Plus, you can change lenses.

When I see images from small sensor drones like P4 Pro, etc., they always look flat and dull compared to what I am accustomed to with the x5 camera.

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junk1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,751
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Inspire 1 pro can be found cheap used or refurbished from dji’s website.

too big and loud for me...I wish a phantom sized drone had a m43 camera (even if it was a fixed lens to save weight).

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

It might happen one day...But at this point in time we can only dream about that. And since we are allowed to, I wished Mavic had a FF sensor camera🙂

vyoufinder
vyoufinder Senior Member • Posts: 1,775
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Ya, I also wish the Phantoms could take a MFT camera, and I am convinced that they could easily haul the weight too. Is the Inspire that much noisier though? I barely noticed a difference myself.  It definitely handles wind better, and feels like a sports car to a compact car though.

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junk1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,751
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

I think phantom can too...I’ve seen videos in which they lifted a few pounds versus a m43 camera and lens is under 10oz..subtract the battery, display, buttons; etc and it would weigh maybe half as much....and the phantom pro”s camera (that would be replaced) weighs 2-3 ounces? Need a more powerful heavier gimbal though of course.

A few ounces added to a 30(?) ounce drone....

Occams Razor Senior Member • Posts: 1,068
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

I believe there are some compatibility issues between Android based devices and the DJI GO 4 app so you should do some research if you go with an Android device.

Here are some full sized JPEGs. These are SOOC with no post.

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Randy

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primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 5,986
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly

Occams Razor wrote:

I believe there are some compatibility issues between Android based devices and the DJI GO 4 app so you should do some research if you go with an Android device.

Here are some full sized JPEGs. These are SOOC with no post.

Randy cheers for the heads' up I will check that. (leaning towards just getting that smart controller as the battery and screen look pretty sweet). These samples are great btw thank you very valuable to see for me. Clearly it's not a flying D850, however the lens looks pretty sharp in the midframe and sides, the far corners and edges suffer a little but not too bad. I see noticeable colour noise in the skies even at ISO 100 as I read. Aside from this it all looks useable. I think pushing the files will mean multiple exposures to increase data, from what I've heard this is possible so all good.

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,000
Re: Best Drone for Photography Mainly
1

primeshooter wrote:

Occams Razor wrote:

I believe there are some compatibility issues between Android based devices and the DJI GO 4 app so you should do some research if you go with an Android device.

Here are some full sized JPEGs. These are SOOC with no post.

Randy cheers for the heads' up I will check that. (leaning towards just getting that smart controller as the battery and screen look pretty sweet). These samples are great btw thank you very valuable to see for me. Clearly it's not a flying D850, however the lens looks pretty sharp in the midframe and sides, the far corners and edges suffer a little but not too bad. I see noticeable colour noise in the skies even at ISO 100 as I read. Aside from this it all looks useable. I think pushing the files will mean multiple exposures to increase data, from what I've heard this is possible so all good.

If you are faced with a challenging light doing AEB of 3 or 5 shots can be set instead of single shot. They are taken automatically in quick succession and then easy to blend in LR. It would allow for extra flexibility in post and result in pictures with lower noise and greater DR.

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