The best photo and video drones

In just a few years, drones have become familiar objects in the high-tech landscape. For a long time, good image quality was often synonymous with heavy and cumbersome cameras (and reserved for experts); but in recent years, “consumer” drones have seen the quality of their cameras steadily increase, and the latest models are increasingly verging on excellence.

Also, drones represent a paradigm shift: photographing the earth from the air has become simpler, more accessible… but also much cheaper. However, not all drones are equal in photography. For every price range, some drones are better than others.

This guide aims to help you determine your needs more precisely and find the ideal drone according to your budget. It will also be the occasion for us to give you some advice on piloting… and on the rules in force. Finally, you will find a (non-exhaustive) list of essential accessories to improve your practice of UAV photography.

DJI’s quasi-monopoly

Unlike the smartphone market, which is characterized by a very large number of players and fierce competition, the UAV sector is represented by a few brands… and one of them in a quasi-hegemonic position.

Totally unknown only 10 years ago, the Chinese brand DJI has become the world’s number one UAV brand, and today holds more than half of the sector’s market share.

Founded in 2006, it made a name for itself with the Phantom, the first “ready-to-fly” drone for the general public, and more recently with its Mavic range, whose arms can be folded up. Finally, let’s mention the Inspire range, more aimed at professionals.

However, DJI is not the only player to offer good quality consumer drones. Although GoPro has stopped producing its Karma drone, the French company Parrot continues to offer several devices, including the recent Anafi (whose camera can be turned upwards). We also note the presence of another Chinese brand, Yuneec, which is trying to compete with DJI with more affordable devices.

To make our selection, we looked for models that make the least possible concessions, both on the photo/video part and on the quality of the mobile application that controls the device. For each price range, we therefore selected a flagship model as well as one or two alternative models, whose features we found interesting.

We paid particular attention to the form factor of the different machines: some are particularly compact, while others are less easily transportable… Finally, we paid attention to the functionalities offered by the different models.

What are the different types of UAVs?

While most UAVs adopt the same form factor (a central part equipped with sensors and several arms each supporting an engine), there are several major families of UAVs.

First of all, there are the small, inexpensive drones, sold for less than a hundred euros. Most of them do not have a stabilisation mechanism, unlike the models in this buying guide: if you let go of the throttle, the aircraft falls back to the ground. While they may be interesting to learn the main controls, they can by no means be compared to the more complete models – and more expensive.

Let’s also mention the racer drones: small, extremely light and equipped with very powerful engines, they are above all designed to practice drone racing. Their performance is impressive, and they are often piloted via a first-person view, thanks to a virtual reality helmet. More and more known, this very specific practice gives rise to large-scale competitions.

Finally, let’s talk about drones for photographers/video makers, whose best models we will mention in this buying guide. In principle, all of them carry a pod equipped with a camera/video with performances at least comparable to those of a recent smartphone. The UAVs we have mentioned are all quadricopters: four engines support the aircraft and allow it to be steered. Finally, for a few years now, consumer UAVs have been equipped with automated shooting modes, aimed at making it easier to obtain spectacular aerial images. However, some aircraft are better than others, as we will see in this comparison.

But there are also other types of drones, such as the Parrot Disco: this is a flying wing that pilots can control using virtual reality helmets.

A stabilised drone or not?

All the drones in our selection are equipped with a mechanism for stabilising the aircraft (not to be confused with the stabilisation of the optical block). This is operated on 3 axes: yaw, roll and pitch. In concrete terms, stabilization allows you to completely let go of the controls without the device falling like a stone.

This allows you to concentrate on framing, composition, and shooting parameters. The UAV remains stable at the specified altitude, and is not supposed to drift (even in gusty winds). In practice, some UAVs are able to withstand gusts of up to 50 km/h (50 mph). However, if the wind is too strong and obstacles are nearby (trees, for example), we advise you to postpone your flight.

A drone with foldable arms or not?

Since a few years, more and more consumer drones are equipped with folding arms. The first model with this specificity is the DJI Mavic Pro. Much lighter than the Phantom range at DJI, this one marked a real turning point, as it can be very easily taken with you, without having to choose between your usual camera equipment and your drone.

Thanks to the progress of their on-board electronics, these drones are as stable as their counterparts with non-folding arms, despite their much lower weight.

Always more pixels?

Yes and no. We’ve been saying for a long time that the blind race for pixels brings nothing and the best devices are not necessarily those with the most pixels. However, some manufacturers have taken the gamble of integrating a sensor with a very high definition, but this must be accompanied by significant work on the software part to bring about a real increase in quality.

Drone 4K or not 4K?

The absence of a 4K video mode is not a real brake in our eyes, but it is a very practical evolution to obtain a perfectly stable 1080p film. The extra pixels are used to make the video smoother and to suppress all possible movements of the gondola.

What kind of stabilization of the cradle?

All the models in this selection (except one) are equipped with an external gondola supporting the optical block. This pod is therefore independent of the UAV body and, thanks to its stabilisation, remains horizontal even when the UAV is flying at an angle. The motors of this stabilization mechanism also allow the camera to be directed downwards (and upwards on certain models), which makes it possible to obtain a particularly interesting effect.

Which smartphone should I use to fly my UAV?

With the exception of one model in this buying guide, all drones are controlled by a remote control to which the pilot connects his smartphone. A recent model of smartphone is therefore necessary to run the application for piloting the device smoothly. On the iOS side, all models starting from iPhone 6S (as well as iPhone SE) are able to correctly control your drone.

On the Android side, absolutely avoid entry-level models and/or models that are a bit old, as the video return of the UAV could be quite hatchy. As an example, using a Nexus 5 (released at the end of 2013) is almost impossible, as the video return is so jerky. For more information, we also recommend reading our smartphone purchasing guide.

Before you discover the models presented in our guide, a note on the grey market as well. You’ll probably see very attractive prices on the Internet for some models, but we’ve decided to share only those shops that don’t use the grey market. To learn more about this commercial policy, we have published a complete dossier on the grey market.

Entry-level UAVs

DJI Spark: aerial photography accessible to all

DJI Spark
Launched in 2017, the DJI Spark is the smallest of DJI’s photo drones but is not the least powerful, far from it.

Adopting a particularly reduced form factor, this quadrirotor is very easily transportable and will easily complement the “usual” equipment of photographers. Measuring only 17 cm diagonal, the DJI Spark weighs only 300 grams on the scale, making it the smallest photographic drone on the market.

It is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 12 million pixels, 2-axis stabilized and surmounted by a 25 mm equivalent lens. The quality of the images generated is excellent (especially for a UAV of this size): the UAV automatically applies image processing to boost colour and sharpness.

The result is very clean, and the images can be shared immediately.

Also noteworthy are the numerous flight modes that highlight the remote pilot and his environment, as well as the possibility of controlling the UAV using gesture commands (GestureControl).

The most demanding users may regret the impossibility of shooting in RAW, the absence of 4K and the autonomy of “only” 15 minutes, but considering its size and price, the DJI Spark offers an almost unbeatable price/performance ratio. Starting at 499€, the package including the remote control of the device is much more interesting than the basic version, as the latter increases the maximum altitude from 50m to 150m. In the same way, the UAV’s range increases from 100 m to 500 m. A “Fly More” pack is also available, including several batteries and spare propellers.

DJI Ryse Tello: the inexpensive, high-performance drone… but with some limitations…

DJI Ryse Tello
DJI Ryse Tello
Resulting from a partnership between the Chinese startup Ryse, Intel and the manufacturer DJI, the small DJI Tello is an excellent way to start practicing drone without breaking the bank.

Resulting from a partnership between the Chinese startup Ryse, Intel and the manufacturer DJI, the small DJI Tello is an excellent way to start practicing drone without breaking the bank. Sold at an unbeatable price (barely 100€), the Tello weighs only 89 grams, is equipped with a 5 million pixel sensor and can climb to a maximum altitude of 30 meters. It can be controlled from a smartphone (iOS or Android), but the device is compatible with some Bluetooth controllers.

In flight, images are relatively stable thanks to digital stabilisation… but this tends to show its limits in case of too fast flight or too strong wind. Noteworthy point: the images generated by the UAV are not recorded on a micro-SD card, but are stored directly on the smartphone’s memory. In case of interference during retransmission, these will therefore also be included in the video file. The picture quality is correct, but will not be able to compete with that of more expensive UAVs. However, the Tello is primarily aimed at novice users who want a small, easy to fly UAV. And let’s not forget its price of 99€ which makes it almost irresistible to begin with.

But also: Yuneec Mantis Q

Yuneec Mantis Q
While DJI devices are particularly well established in the recreational UAV market, competing devices may also be of interest.

Thus, let’s mention the Yuneec Mantis Q, which weighs less than 500 grams, has folding arms (like the DJI Mavic Air or the Mavic Pro) and an autonomy of about 18 minutes. The Mantis Q is equipped with a small 1/3.06-inch sensor with 13 million pixels and is capable of filming in 4K.

Nevertheless, the digital stabilization of the sensor is only available in 1080p and 720p… One will also note the presence of a mode allowing to control the drone by voice, as well as the gesture control. Being able to fly up to 800 meters away, the aircraft is equipped with several automatic flight modes (Journey, Point of interest…), which make piloting easier.

Sold from 499€ (599€ in the X pack version, which includes two extra batteries and a carrying bag), the Yuneec Mantis Q is a rather interesting alternative to DJI drones, and will allow beginner users to capture their first aerial sequences.

Mid-range UAVs: image quality at a reduced price

DJI Mavic Air

DJI Mavic Air
DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air embodies the mid-range of the Chinese manufacturer. Located between the Mavic Pro and the Spark, it aims to offer the same qualities as its big brother (including folding arms and a very ergonomic remote control)… while displaying a softer price. In practice, the DJI Mavic Air is an excellent drone.

Its 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 12 million pixels, topped with a 24mm equivalent lens, allows it to generate very good quality shots, and is able to shoot in 4k UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 24, 25 and 30 fps. For smoother slow-motion shots, telepilots can rely on 60 fps capture at 2.7k (2720 x 1530 pixels) or even 120 fps at 1080p.

Also note the possibility of capturing images in RAW. The stability of the camera is remarkable, and the 3-axis stabilization is particularly effective. Equipped with 7 obstacle detectors, the Mavic Air is easy to control, and is equipped with a large number of so-called “intelligent” flight modes. A real success, especially since its very compact form factor allows it to be taken everywhere. Finally, the aircraft is compatible with DJI Goggles, which allows immersive piloting thanks to virtual reality.

As usual, DJI offers two packs of this small drone: a “standard” version, sold for €849 on the manufacturer’s website, and a “Fly More” pack, which includes a total of 3 batteries, propeller protections and a protective bag.

Parrot Anafi, the challenger

Parrot Anafi
If DJI’s drones are remarkable, the French manufacturer’s newest product offers serious arguments in its favour. Also equipped with folding arms, the Parrot Anafi is very easy to transport: barely 320 grams on the scale. Capable of flying within a range of 4 km, it can remain operational for up to 25 minutes.

Its 1/2.4-inch CMOS sensor has 21 million pixels, and is capable of filming in 4K Cinema (4096×2160) at 24 frames per second, in 4K UHD at up to 30 fps, and is capable of up to 60 fps in Full HD (1920×1080). It also features the ability to shoot in HDR (High Dynamic Range). In addition, the engine can capture images in JPEG or DNG RAW in 4:3 Wide format at 21 MP (5344×4016), as well as in a narrower format at 12 MP (4000×3000).

Where most other UAVs are only capable of tilting their camera downwards, the Parrot model is capable of tilting its nacelle 90 degrees upwards. Ideal for filming sequences in low-level diving.

The Parrot Anafi also stands out thanks to its very competitive price: €699 for the “standard” version, and €899 for the “extended” version, which includes 3 batteries, a travel bag and a 2-month subscription to Creative Cloud for photography or Premiere Pro CC.

High-end UAVs: the uncompromising drones

With folding arms: Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro

Mavic 2 Zoom
Unveiled last fall, the Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro embody the high-end of DJI’s folding arm consumer drones. They succeed the excellent Mavic Pro which, despite its age, remains a very good deal (notably at 999€ in the Platinum version, much quieter than the “classic” version).

However, the Mavic 2 Pro differs from its predecessor by its optical module designed in partnership with Hasselblad (which DJI has bought). It has a large 1-inch CMOS sensor with 20 million pixels. The lens has a variable aperture between f/2.8 and f/11. The camera is capable of shooting at 4K (24, 25 or 30 fps), and can also capture 60 or 120 fps footage at 2.7K and 1080p. DJI also emphasizes compatibility with the HDR 10 standard. Its battery allows it to remain in flight for 31 minutes (in perfectly ideal conditions), and the machine is capable of reaching 72 km/h in Sport mode.

For its part, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom differs from its twin brother by the integration of a 24-48 mm (x2) optical zoom, a first in the UAV industry. Equipped with a more traditional 1/2.3-inch sensor, this optical zoom is complemented by a 2x digital zoom, allowing remote pilots to obtain a large zoom range. The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom also features Super Resolution, which is based on the capture of 9 shots with the 48mm telephoto lens.

The goal: to generate a 48 million pixel image, while maintaining a viewing amplitude similar to that produced by the 24mm lens.

Noteworthy point: unlike their predecessor, the Mavic Pro, the new Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom exceed the 800-gram mark (displaying 907 and 905 grams on the balance, respectively). In order to comply with French legislation, you will therefore need to register your machine and take the online training course attesting to your mastery of the regulations in force.

The Mavic 2 Pro is available from 1449€, while its twin brother the Mavic 2 Zoom can be purchased for 1249€. A Fly More pack is also sold for 300 to 400€ more, including two batteries, a charging station, two additional pairs of propellers, and a carrying case.

The Rolls-Royce of consumer drones: DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
Launched on the sly in May 2018, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the most advanced version of DJI’s consumer quadricopter family.

Compared to the first iteration of the machine, this V2.0 is above all quieter, with new engines and redesigned propellers. In terms of range, the machine boasts 30 minutes of flight time. Equipped with multiple sensors, the machine is able to avoid obstacles in (almost) all circumstances.

In terms of image quality, the Phantom 4 Pro (V1 or 2.0) is the drone offering the best image quality on a consumer drone (with the exception of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro). To achieve this, it is based on a large 1-inch sensor with 20 million pixels, surmounted by a 24 mm equivalent optic with an aperture of f/2.8. The unit is capable of filming at 4K at 60 fps, and has a recording rate of 100 Mb/s for greater fluidity of images. On the still image side, it is of course capable of capturing RAW images. In burst mode, its manufacturer advances a burst mode to 14 frames per second.

Naturally, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is much less portable than the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 with its folding arms. Measuring no less than 35 centimetres diagonally, the machine weighs a mere 1,375 grams, forcing you to register online and take the appropriate training.

However, the price may be a bit of a deterrent. The “standard” version (with no screen on the remote control) is priced at 1699€ on the DJI website, while the “Plus” version (with a remote control with an integrated screen) is priced at… 1999€. But at this price level, you have an extremely versatile solution that delivers exceptional quality shots.

Professional UAVs

Finally, let’s mention a “special” category: that of drones intended for image professionals. Mainly used during the shooting of video clips, commercials or even films, they rely above all on an exceptional image quality. With a very large carrying capacity (several kilos), they can be equipped with a small camera or a reflex camera. However, their dimensions are much larger than those of consumer models.

DJI Inspire 2

One example is the DJI Inspire 2, one of the most powerful cameras currently in the Chinese manufacturer’s catalogue. Capable of filming in 5.2K in CinemaDNG RAW, it has a range of 27 minutes and can fly at a maximum speed of 94 km/h.

However, this performance is particularly expensive: the “standard” version, equipped with the Zenmuse X4S camera, costs €3399. For the “pro” version, equipped with a Zenmuse X5S camera, the bill reaches new heights, and can go up to €14,250 for the most complete package.

The essential “drone” accessories

While machines are becoming more powerful and incorporate more and more shooting modes, some accessories are real musts.

A base to launch/land the UAV on “complicated” terrain (grass, pebbles, etc.)

Even before your UAV takes off, it is important to have a sufficiently flat and stable surface so as not to risk damaging your craft or its propellers. Also, it is possible to acquire a polyester take-off/landing base (generally circular). Once placed on the ground, it allows to “erase” the possible roughness of the ground to allow a safe manoeuvre for you and your UAV. In addition, it allows you to locate your departure/arrival point more easily from the screen of your smartphone.

One or more additional batteries

Although the autonomy of drones is increasing, one or more additional batteries will be essential to extend the duration of your flight sessions… especially if you want to fly your aircraft at low temperatures (especially in the mountains, where the cold reduces battery autonomy by about 15 to 20%).

In this respect, the packs of some manufacturers are appreciable, because they integrate one or two extra batteries right away. Finally, let’s note a small peculiarity of some drone batteries (those of the Mavic Pro in particular): thanks to a small adapter, you can use it as an external battery and connect your smartphone to it to recharge it.

A support to fly your drone with a tablet

is sometimes more comfortable to use a small tablet (such as the iPad Mini) to benefit from an even larger video return display surface. Available from 30€, this small accessory allows you to hold your slate on the DJI remote control of your drone, allowing you to use it with the application provided by the manufacturer.

A carrying bag

Knowing how to fly your drone is good; protecting it is even better! To this end, a transport bag will quickly prove indispensable. Here again, it is often supplied in certain packs that also include one or more additional batteries.

Two types of protection are generally offered for the most popular models. For example, for the DJI Mavic 2, there are flexible covers, which allow the drone, its remote control and an additional battery to be stored, and rigid cases, which allow more equipment to be transported and offer increased protection in the event of a shock.

Landing gear for your UAV

If the terrain on which you want to land your UAV is particularly uneven, you can mount a device to accentuate the height of the feet of the aircraft. Offered at around thirty euros, they allow to increase the relative distance between the ground and the UAV’s camera, and thus limit any risk of collision between the gondola and the ground on which you land your flying camera.

A protection for the propellers of your aircraft

Always within the radius of the devices designed to protect your UAV, the propeller protectors help to limit the damage caused by an impact with an obstacle (a wall, for example). Available at around 20€, they are particularly useful for beginners.

UV/ND/polarizer filters to be installed in front of the camera lens.

Like those that can be added in front of your photo lenses, these filters aim to increase the image quality of your UAV and/or allow a lower shutter speed in video (1/50 or 1/60s), so that you can get a cinematographic rendering – even when capturing at 24 or 30 fps. Also, they’ll help you avoid overexposing your images in very bright conditions, and enhance contrast and saturation.

Very easy to insert and remove, they are very interesting to increase the photo and video possibilities offered by your UAV. Also, let’s mention the filters designed by the Polar Pro brand: you can buy them individually or in packs containing several different filters.

Quality USB cables (to avoid connection problems)

This may seem obvious to you, but having quality USB cables will be essential for a good communication between your smartphone and the UAV remote control. Also, make sure to use the ones provided by your phone manufacturer. Otherwise, you can invest in more durable braided cables, such as those offered by Anker (available for iPhones and Android smartphones with a USB-C port).

DJI Goggles (to control the device in first person view)

The DJI Goggles, which look like a “classic” virtual reality headset, are designed for remote pilots who want to fly their craft in first person, seeing directly what the drone sees through its onboard camera.

The headphones are based on Ocusync technology, developed by DJI to connect a drone (Mavic Pro and its successors, Phantom 4) to several remote controls or several pairs of immersive goggles. One of the most impressive features is undoubtedly the ability to control the pod and the orientation of the drone by moving its head.

One word, however, about French legislation: this requires remote pilots to keep their UAV within sight. Concretely, it is therefore not allowed to fly underwater with DJI Googles. In order to comply with the law, you will have to entrust the virtual reality headset to a third person, or ask him/her to play the role of observer (to monitor the drone’s evolution).

DJI Googles are available from 399€.

DJI Smart Controller with integrated screen

Unveiled in January 2019, the DJI Smart Controller is a remote control designed to accompany the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.

It features a large 5.5-inch Full HD screen, allowing you to control the drone without having to use your smartphone. In concrete terms, the screen of this remote control stands out by its incomparable brightness, even compared to the best smartphones on the market.

Indeed, the Smart Controller’s screen offers a brightness level of 1,000 cd/m2, while, for example, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s screen is “only” 629 cd/m2 and the iPhone Xs Max’s is 655 cd/m2. (As a reminder, the light intensity perceived by the human eye of an object is expressed in candela per square metre, noted cd/m2).

This remote control also aims to offer greater comfort of use. On the technical side, it is based on a modified version of Android, and can be used to install the DJI GO 4 and DJI Pilot applications.

Its manufacturer also highlights the possibility of broadcasting live images recorded by the drone on social networks. Note that the remote control has a microphone and a built-in speaker, allowing videographers to comment on their videos during a live performance on Facebook or Instagram.

Finally, the Smart Controller uses OcuSync technology in version 2.0, which allows it (in theory) to pilot a UAV up to 8 km away. Its price remains particularly high: it is available for the modest sum of 699€ from major retailers.

Lighting kits

Lume Cube Lighting kit

Lume Cube Lighting kit

To enrich and diversify your UAV practice, we also recommend the UAV lighting kits developed by Lume Cube. Easy to fix underneath the aircraft, they allow you to light the subject photographed from above, giving a totally new aspect.

Coupled to a camera set to long exposure, you can even use your drone to produce an impressive light painting effect. Finally, these light kits will allow your drone to remain perfectly visible, even when light is scarce.

Essential iOS and Android applications to pilot your UAV and use its images

To control your craft, update it, calibrate the compass… and access the images you have captured, the application of your UAV manufacturer is essential.

DJI GO 4

At DJI, this is called DJI GO 4. Compatible with iOS and Android, it is very intuitive and helps beginners get to grips with the drone quickly.

FreeFlight 6

At its French competitor Parrot, the FreeFlight 6 application is used to control the brand’s latest model, the Parrot Anafi. Its ergonomics are relatively similar to those of the DJI Go 4, and are both practical and intuitive. It is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Yuneec Pilot app

Finally, the manufacturer Yuneec offers a specific application for each model. Thus, the Yuneec Pilot app will allow you to control the Mantis Q. Also available for iOS and Android, its interface is very close to that of the applications offered by DJI.

Pix4Dcapture

Let’s also mention Pix4Dcapture, a 3D modeling application. Compatible with many UAV models, it allows to create 3D models of buildings, construction sites… and will be particularly useful in very specific cases. It is also downloadable on the App Store and on Google Play.

To prepare your flight

As we said in the introduction, good preparation for your flight is essential. To do so, referring to the specific maps provided by Geoportail is the starting point for any UAV flight. When travelling, make sure you are familiar with the current legislation.

To locate the best places to capture aerial images (in compliance with the rules in force, of course), we also recommend the DroneSpot and Drone-Spot sites and their respective mobile applications (see captures below).

Both based on an interactive map, they indicate in the form of a pin the location of the places where you can fly your UAV. By clicking on it, you will be able to access different information (ease of access, interest, possible difficulties during the flight) and examples of images taken at this location. The collaborative aspect is also a must: you can suggest new spots to be added to the map, which will then be reviewed by the platform administrators.

Sun Surveyor

Once you’ve located the location of your flight, you can use an application such as Sun Surveyor, which we’ve already listed in our smartphone buying guide. Available for iOS and Android, it allows you to determine the course of the sun based on your location. It will also be very useful to know the sunrise and sunset times. A free version is available, but we advise you to opt for the paid version. Indeed, it allows you to determine the position of the sun in relation to your environment (in augmented reality). Ideal for choosing the best moment and the best angle to immortalize a landscape, for example.

To use the images captured by your drone

To retouch the photographs taken with your UAV, there is no need to use a computer. As the images are directly transmitted to your smartphone, you can use it to directly retouch your photos and share them on social networks.

To do this, we particularly recommend applications such as Snapseed or Lightroom CC.

While both of these applications are available on iOS and Android, their approach is quite different. Snapseed is all about simplicity, and allows you to apply presets to quickly enhance your photos. However, more advanced editing tools are available, allowing you to make deep corrections to your images. For example, there’s a brush tool, which works similarly to Photoshop. The application is capable of processing RAW files, which is very appreciable.

Lightroom CC

Lightroom CC, on the other hand, is deeply integrated into the Adobe ecosystem, and notably allows you to benefit from the synchronization functionalities linked to the Creative Cloud (to benefit from them, a subscription available from 143.14€ per year is required). You can start editing your photos on your computer and then continue editing on your smartphone. Conversely, you can take a photo with your drone, quickly retouch it on your smartphone and continue on your computer if necessary.

On the video side, let’s also mention an extremely comprehensive application called Luma Fusion, one of the most complete multi-track video editing applications available on the App Store. It provides an editing table and extremely powerful video tools (adding transitions between shots, managing sound tracks, subtitles…). Note, however, that its interface is much more comfortable to use on iPad than on iPhone and that no Android version exists for the moment.

And on PC and Mac?

Once back home, you’ll be able to copy the files produced by your drone from its SD card, and enjoy your photos and videos in their original resolution. Also, you will be able to retouch them and create video montages with your usual photo and video post-processing software.

Thanks to the advances in artificial intelligence, retouching photos taken with your UAV becomes even easier. In this respect, let’s mention a small software called AirMagic, developed by Skylum for Mac and PC. It allows you to automatically enhance your photos taken with a UAV and is particularly easy to use. Available for 39€ per license, the software can also be used as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop, allowing you to speed up your workflow.

Conclusion

Because of the creative possibilities that they make available to the greatest number of people, drones have truly turned the contemporary photographic landscape upside down. Easy to handle, increasingly light and particularly versatile, UAVs are becoming a useful companion to many photographers’ equipment.

A number of UAVs today are capable of taking quality photos and videos. However, the quality of their design, the fidelity of their color and contrast rendition, as well as the design of the application that controls them, still tend to make the difference between the best UAVs… and the others.

In recent years, we have also seen the multiplication of automated shooting modes, which facilitate the capture of sequences that best enhance the subject being photographed. Similarly, some manufacturers are trying to transform the way we control our drones, by implementing voice or hand gestures control systems. The aim: to make aerial photography even easier and more accessible.

However, we cannot overemphasise the need to comply with the instructions and regulations in force. Incidents regularly hit the headlines and tarnish the image of UAVs in the eyes of the general public. The latest example is the overflight over Gatwick airport in England.

That said, UAVs are a fantastic creative tool, allowing for totally new photographs: until a few years ago, aerial filming required the rental of a plane or helicopter and its pilot, as well as a specialised photographer/video artist. UAVs thus offer us the possibility to approach the world around us in a different way, and to become aware of its beauty… and its fragility.

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