by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2017
For professional photographers there are a number of additional hoops to jump through, mainly around the obtaining of the essential 'Permission for Aerial Work' certificate which requires lots of form filling and a dayschool attendance (for starters!).
If we make a starting assumption that 4k video and a photo-quality stills output are pre-requisites, then a Zenmuse camera or a compact system camera is the starting point at the present time. The four-rotor Phantom 4 Pro starts at around £1,700, the Inspire 2 with an X5S camera costs £6,300. The Matrice 600 drone alone costs about £4,000 but with a Hasselblad A5D this jumps to around £20,000. The Red Epic camera alone costs £32,000 with a DJI Gimbal and stabiliser. You can see, therefore, that your price point can be greatly variable depending upon budget and requirements. You could go down market with an inexpensive drone and a GoPro but you are firmly back into enthusiast/schools territory, not professional image making.
The performance parameters required of a drone depend greatly upon the application. For racing, speeds of close to 60mph are usual whereas the top limit for the heavy-lifting Matrice is 40mph. Such matters might become important if, for example, you wish to film a car chase sequence. Flight time is one of the crucial and limiting parameters for all drones.
Presently 20 minutes is about the loaded limit – larger drones tend to carry higher payloads and thus bring back the duration to this 20-minute mark, the same as the smaller drones. Some of the previous limits due to impaired low-temperature performance are being addressed with selfheated batteries.
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