Drones are everywhere these days. People shoot landscape photos, weddings, product shots; basically, anything you name can be shot with a drone. A major application area for commercial drone photography is in shooting landscape videos. You can shoot hyper-lapses and stunning aerial footage of landscapes with a good quality drone. Here, we look at three of your best options to suit any budget.
The problem, however, is that drones are expensive. Plus, there are a lot of restrictions for flying drones, especially in densely populated areas, as well as over or near restricted buildings. Your option, take it with you on your next outing, trekking and outdoor adventures and capture beautiful sceneries and landscapes instead.
When we talk about drones for landscape videos, we’re essentially talking about decent quality enthusiast-level drones. These are affordable and come with a gimble-stabilized camera that can capture at least 4k resolution.
We studied several drones, and went extensively through their feature-list, and listed below the top 3 we feel are the best drones for shooting landscape videos:
- DJI Mavic Pro 2 – Best for professional quality footage
- DJI Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo – Best for stamina
- DJI Mini 2 – Best for beginners
1. DJI Mavic Pro 2
Several features make the DJI Mavic Pro 2 one of the best drones for shooting landscape videos. Let’s quickly go through the main features.
The sensor that powers the onboard Hasselblad L1D-20C gimbal camera is a 1-inch CMOS unit.
The aperture is flexible. You can choose between f/2.8 all the way to f/11 for that perfect depth of field.
The Hasselblad camera also comes with Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology. The colors recorded are natural, even in factory mode.
The camera can record 4K footage at 10-bit with Dlog-M color profile and HDR options. HDR stands for High-Dynamic Range and this is a must-have requirement for landscape videos. There is a built-in time-lapse feature on the camera too.
The gimbal on the drone offers it three-axis stability along with support for an array of movements. The gimbal can stabilize an array of movements including – forward or backward, side to side in a straight line, and hovering.
When it comes to shooting aerial landscape footage, flight time assumes critical importance. The reason is, longer the drone can stay in the air, the longer you will be able to record footage.
Sure, you can change batteries and fly the drone again, but you lose critical minutes. Plus, there is a loss of continuity too. Especially when shooting cinematic time-lapse sequences.
The DJI Mavic Pro 2 is fitted with a four-cell LiPO battery that gives it a total flight time of 31 minutes. If you use two sets of batteries, you can get enough usable footage for at least a 30-minute edited YouTube video.
Build quality and propellers
One of the things that you should pay attention to when buying a drone is the sound of the propellers. Sure, as a YouTuber, or someone doing landscape videos as a part of a stock footage project, you can always look at stock music clips to be used with your footage.
The DJI Mavic Pro 2’s propellers are not loud, to begin with. So, they are not a serious distraction when flying the drone.
As a drone flyer, you need two must-have features – a direction avoidance system and extended control range.
The built-in omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system on-board the DJI Mavic Pro 2 allows it to sense obstacles on all sides. This is extremely useful when flying low or skimming over vegetation.
Plus, the drone has a video transmission range of up to 5 miles. Thanks to the built-in OcuSync technology.
Who should buy it?
At the price point at which the DJI Mavic Pro 2 is available, it should be a good buy for someone looking for a mid-range drone. Something better than the entry-level nano drones (DJI Spark or the GoPro Karma). Slightly better built and heavier drones can withstand gusts of wind and they also have better gimbal quality. Both are prerequisites for shooting landscape videos.
2. DJI Mavic Air 2 Fly More combo
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a lightweight drone designed for enthusiasts looking for their first drone.
If you are planning on buying the DJI Mavic Air 2, go for the Fly More combo. The Fly More Combo pack comes with additional batteries (2 nos.) plus an additional number of propellers (3 nos.).
With a fully charged set of batteries, you can now shoot for an extended period. You also get a set of ND filters (3 nos) in a protective case. ND filters stop hard light from causing a jittery motion effect when filming in bright daylight.
These filters will also help you cut down on the glaring light, especially during sunrise and sunset when the drone might be flying straight towards the horizon and the sun is in the frame.
They come with different intensities of light stopping power. You get a set of ND16, an ND64, and an ND256 set of filters.
The camera on the DJI Mavic Air 2 is powered by a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor that can shoot stunning video footage with a 48MP sensor. The list of features built-in to the drone makes it ideally suitable for shooting landscape videos.
The 1/2-inch sensor inside the camera is capable of capturing stunning 4K videos at 60 fps. You can also drop this down to 2.7K resolution Alternatively, you can also shoot 8K footages in hyper-lapse mode. In full-HD mode, the camera can shoot at 240fps.
There is a built-in internal memory plus the option to plug in an external SD card to extend the overall recording time frame.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 comes with a 3-axis gimbal for maximum stability.
The batteries provided with the package have a 3500 mAh capacity. A fully charged battery pack will keep the DJI Mavic Air 2 in the air for about 34 minutes. If you buy the Fly More combo pack you get additional batteries with the drone.
Build quality and propellers
The weight of the DJI Mavic Air 2 is just 570 grams. At the best, the drone is best suited for an enthusiast flyer. In sports mode, the unit can achieve a maximum speed of 42.5 mph not far off from the 44mph on the Mavic 2 Pro.
The quality of the propellers is at the best okay. They are essentially made out of plastics, so they won’t be able to last a major crash.
The internal memory of the camera is 8GB. You can plug in an external memory card up to a maximum of 256GB.
If you are flying a drone shooting landscape videos it is pertinent that the system must have some sort of obstacle avoidance system.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 comes with what the company states Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems 3.0 (APAS). This system constantly monitors the drone’s vicinity for the presence of any obstacles.
Additionally, the Return to Home (RTM) feature ensures that the drone can come back to the take-off before it runs of juice. This is another must-have feature if you are looking for a drone to shoot landscapes.
Who should buy it?
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is an inexpensive option for someone looking to buy their first drone for a landscape video shoot. Although, you must understand that at a price tag of nearly a thousand dollars, the DJI Mavic Air 2 isn’t exactly cheap. But when you compared to the price of the DJI Mavic Pro 2 above, it is quite a lot cheaper.
3. DJI Mini 2 – Best for beginners
DJI Mini 2 is a small drone designed for first-time drone buyers. Weighing at around 249 grams at takeoff, it is one of the lightest drones on the market.
One of the considerations for a landscape photography drone is that it is stable in the air, even in slightly windy situations. The DJI Mavic Mini 2 has a flight ceiling of 4000 meters.
The technical specifications state that the drone can withstand winds of up to 39km/h. For a small drone, this is very good.
The built-in camera has an image sensor of 1/2.3-inch. The CMOS sensor inside the camera has an effective resolution of 12MP. The focal length of the lens is 24mm in 35mm equivalence.
The camera onboard the drone can capture up to 4K resolution footages at a maximum of 30p.
The gimbal on the DJI Mini 2 supports 3-axis stability for the built-in camera.
The battery pack provided with the drone has a capacity of 2250mAh. It gives a total flight time of 31 minutes.
Build quality and propellers
The DJI Mini 2 is almost a nano drone that means it does not come with the best of build quality. The body is essentially made from plastic, and so are the tiny propellers. We recommend that you fly the drone in areas that are clear of obstacles. Certainly, when flying outdoors, stay clear of vegetation. It will not survive a major crash.
One of the coolest features of the DJI Mini 2 is auto-sync. As soon as the drone is close to your smartphone (considering that you already have the DJI Fly app installed) it will connect, and you can now sync your photos and videos.
You can also do quick edits like trimming clips, adding video templates, and download a ready-to-share video using the smartphone app.
Who should buy it?
The DJI Mini 2 is designed for beginner drone flyers. It has several features that are tailor-made for beginners, with little experience flying a drone. The maximum flying range is 6.2 miles while still being able to transmit the videos back to your phone. The 3-axis gimble stabilizes the built-in camera and provides smooth video footage. The fact that it is light and is priced very aggressively, means that almost anyone can afford it and take it with them to shoot drone footage.
Admittedly, all three drones are from DJI, the leading tech company for consumer and professional drones serving the personal, commercial, enterprise and agriculture sectors. The company continues to innovate with their latest series, the DJI FPV Drone with first-person view flying using the DJI FPV Goggles V2, the first of its kind. The future of drone and landscape filming have just taken a huge leap forward.