According to statistics, 71% of home sellers in the US (88% of the owners of big mansions with a large territory) prefer an agent who uses drones for photography. The average drone real estate photography pricing is from $500-700 for a 2-minute video. If you want to get into the number of the photographers who provide such services, you should have the best drone for real estate photography – for interiors and exteriors. If you want to save your time in search and choose the best drone exactly for you, read this article about how to choose and effectively use drones for real estate shooting.
After the incident in 2015 in Kentucky, when the photographer’s drone was shot down by the gun, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put in place for flying drones in the US. Since real estate photography does commercial use of drones, you need to follow a number of drone rules for real estate in order to start providing your real estate drone business.
If you want to make money with your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), you should pass an FAA test and take Part 107 certification. The commission at the time of my registration was about $5 and the license was given for 3 years, but now it costs $20-25. In order for you not to forget to register your drone, the most famous company in producing drones - DJI introduced the requirement to register and activate the drone, using a control application, in order to unblock its work. However, other manufacturers have not yet decided to take such a step. After certification, you will be able to use your real estate oriented drone for photo and video shooting.
Very often, before signing a contract, my clients ask to show them my FAA certification and a liability insurance. Liability insurance is the document in case your drone fell on someone's property and damaged it during its work. Then, your insurance will cover all the costs associated with the incident.
While taking a bird view real estate photo, the area of the neighboring houses will hit the frame. In order to prevent unnecessary conflicts, ask the client to talk with his/her neighbors about the real estate photo session, and let them understand that you do not spy on them.
If you use your drones for real estate shooting in legal way, you have the FAA certification and someone intends to shoot down your drone by force - call the police.
NOTE! There are zones in which you are not officially allowed to use the drones, although you are unlikely to get into them while shooting real estate. Nevertheless, I recommend you to use AirMap app, the program that will always tell you where you can fly, and where not.
Shooting from a bird's eye view, demonstrating the environment and the territory of the house together with the drones usage, immediately won a huge demand in the real estate market. But is there a drone that has perfect characteristics for a quality outdoor real estate photos?
The DJI company is like Canon or Nikon among the drones, because their drones take the first place in all lists of real estate drone photography gear. DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the perfect choice for beginners and professionals, thanks to its simple and friendly interface. The drone itself, starting from the Pro version, acquired a 5-point obstacle detection system, and once the obstacle is detected, the drone stops, which allows you to worry less about crashes and concentrate more on taking stunning images. Talking about convenient functions DJI real estate drone services offer, I would like to mention the DJI GO 4 app, which sets the flight way for the drones, as well as the possibility of returning to the starting point. DJI Phantom 4 Pro is equipped with a 20 Megapixel CMOS camera, which allows you to record 4K at 60fps and raise your drone real estate photography pricing. It's hard to find something better for your drone. Also, the camera perfectly stabilizes with the help of 3 Axis Gimbal which is built into the drone. With the DJI GO 4 app on a smartphone, you can customize the ISO, Aperture control and a mechanical shutter of the camera. Taking into account all its advantages, it is the best drone for real estate outdoor shooting in 2017.
Six-blades drone from YUNEEC TYPHOON H is one of the main competitors of Phantom 4 Pro, on equal terms with DJI Mavic Pro. It has a large size, but thanks to the ability to fold its screws and chassis, it can be convenient to carry. The obstacle detection system is at the same level as the Phantom 4 Pro has, and six blades give the drone greater stability. A distinguishing feature is the camera, which shoots only 30 fps with 4K real estate drone video, but has a wider angle of 115 degrees, and the ability to rotate by 360 degrees. Also the Typhoon offers you the second controller so that the second operator can manage the camera while someone else flies the drone. Unfortunately, unlike other models, the working time of this drone is extremely small - 19 minutes, and recharging takes 3-4 hours which can be a big minus in your real estate drone business. The battery itself does not have an indicator, and to know the level of its charge, you need to connect the controller to the drone.
A more affordable choice is XPLORER. Moreover, in the ratio of price and quality it is the best drone for real estate photography. A distinctive feature of this drone is different control modes, from the smooth and slow mode for beginners to the professional mode, where you can get more sharp and fast movements of the drone. The Panasonic CMOS camera, which is mounted to the drone, provides a good picture quality - 1080p and is equipped with 3 Axis gimbal. This model has a lot of interchangeable parts that can be changed easily, if you need. This drone can be called the easiest to make real estate drone pictures, especially is you just start drone photography.
Inspire 2 can be easily called a flying movie camera. To understand why, you just need to look at examples of shooting by this drone. It provides Hollywood real estate drone services. The camera ZENMUSE X5S which is used in this drone allows you to replace lenses for different types of shooting and provides an amazing and stable image in a unique quality for drone photography market - 5.2K.
Two pilots can control this drone as the TYPHOON H model, but in the case of the Inspire 2 there is no distortion and interference in the management of the second pilot. Detection sensors are also installed on all sides, even from above, so you need to try very hard to break it during the flight. Drone DJI Inspire 2 is for those who needs a world class tool. Remember, that real estate photo editing and deployment will cost extra time and resources, but this drone records Hollywood quality footage.
If possible, for aerial photography real estate, you should have two kinds of drones - one with a built-in 4K camera to get high-quality images from the outside, and the second small and light drone with the ability to install the camera on it. The small size provides an easier control in the room where there can be a lot of things and windows that would not like to be damaged. Why cannot you use a camera with a stabilizer? You will never make these wonderful balcony views, flying out of the window or flying under the ceiling images with the camera, standing on your own feet. Only the best drone for real estate 2017-2018 will help you to do it.
Depending on the price, 3DR Solo can have a gimbal or don’t. This is a cheap and high-quality solution for the purchase of the drone for indoor real estate drone photography. 3DR Solo is one of the "smart drones" due to the Cablecam mode. Moving Solo tuning up and down allows you to easily pan and tilt your camera while the drone remains in a stable flight. Although the drone does not have a built-in camera, it provides full compatibility with GoPro cameras. That’s why it is usually bought for interior photoshoots.
UPAIR ONE design is very similar to the Phantom series from DJI, but has a more U-shaped design that allows you to make very stable drone pictures of houses. In this price category it is very difficult to find something better: the excellent quality of shooting 2.7K, the built-in camera that has the 3-axis gimbal on board, and a good controller with a 7-inch display. This model has returning home, flying on the planned direction and holding the position in the air modes.
DJI Mavic Pro can be called the best drone for real estate indoor videos. Powerful specs, useful features, transportability and a great camera make this drone almost ideal. Mavic is the second miracle from DJI which in this category will take the leading place. It would seem that a smaller size means fewer possibilities, but it has all the advantages of the Phantom 4 Pro in a smaller bundle. About the drone’s drawbacks, you can select a narrow angle, but most often this is not a problem for indoor photos.
When the drone is in the air, you may notice the shaking on the real estate drone video, since even the slightest breeze can cause unnecessary interference, which will significantly reduce the photo’s quality. Many drones for real estate photography have built-in gimbals, but there are models in which either they are not provided, or the installed gimbal does not meet your needs. Gimbal is a special mechanism that consists of different rings and a motor that will stabilize your camera and keep it perfectly straight in a horizontal position, even when the drone is moving at a high speed. Gimbals are divided into 2-axis and 3-axis ones. They both have their own set of pluses and minuses, the choice depends on the purpose of use.
This type of gimbals stabilizes the real estate drone video stream from the camera along two axes, the noise can be seen during fast horizontal movement. Nevertheless, it is light and does not change the weight of your device and uses not much energy.
Walkera G-2D 2 Axis Brushless Gimbal (About $99,95)
A very simple gimbal to use from Walkera, created specifically for GoPro 3 and GoPro 4 cameras, there is also a version for Sony cameras. It supports setting the starting angle of the camera and will keep it until the next change. When flying, there are some disturbances, especially on sharp turns, but for its price this is a good gimbal.
Feiyu Tech FY-WG-MINI 2 Axis Wearable (About $159)
A very qualitative model of 2-axis gimbal. As well as the Walkera model supports only GoPro cameras. Feiyu Tech does not have versions for other cameras. In my opinion, this is one of the best 2-axis gimbal, which you can find on the real estate drone photography market, as it supports two stabilization modes: the first - the camera remains stationary and stabilizes in one position, the second - the camera slowly follows each turn of the drone, not allowing you to create sharp movements on the video.
This gimbal is heavier than the 2-axis version and more expensive, but there is one important advantage here. Three-axis version provides stabilization along three axes and has an additional motor that absorbs all kinds of unwanted movements. That’s why any horizontal vibration is fully excluded from the video. Thanks to it, you are getting more stable and clear videos, despite the short drone's flight time. Extra batteries are necessary if you are using the 3-axis gimbal drones for real estate pictures.
Zenmuse for DJI Phantom (About $200)
Gimbal is made specifically for Phantom cameras but has the ability to install GoPro. It also has excellent stabilization mode making minimal adjustments during the camera movement. One of the interesting features of this gimbal is to manage it using the controller, you just press the button and it lowers the camera with the lens down for top shooting.
3DR Solo Gimbal
Gimbal is designed specifically for the 3DR Solo drone and has smart features that distinguish it from the rest. It has the Follow mode and will smoothly guide the camera following your movements, as well as the gimbal can even memorize shots and fly by itself from one frame to another. This is one of the few gimbals that can be controlled in the air changing the angle to 1 degree.
Golden time. The most favorable time for shooting real estate with a drone is an hour after sunrise, when the natural light together with your creativity make the most
Drone moves. Forward reveal - start shooting a few hundred meters to the object to show where your property is located and the path to the building.
Panorama - fly over the whole territory from the left to the right under a small degree, you get the impression of a three-dimensional image.
Movement - if there is a garage near the house, try to shoot the car's arrival in it, or if there is a fountain then show it on the video.
Besides the benefits of drones in real estate outdoor shooting, with the first advent of drones in the photography industry, owners of large mansions wanted to have not only outdoor videos, but also so-called 3D tours around the house, where the drone demonstrates the path to each room and its location in the house. It is important to understand that in such a survey there are several nuances that must be considered.
Room size. For a room of 50 sq m, this type of shooting is not suitable. Even if the building you are about to shoot has 500-1000 sq m, you should carefully study the path of the drone flight, estimate its sizes, the sizes of the doorways and windows to which the drone must fly in. Pay attention to the furniture, paintings and other interior items into which it can crash or blow off. The last drones for real estate pictures have special avoidance sensors that calibrate altitude and distance, and stops the drone if it so close to the objects. It’s stupid to turn it on while shooting interiors.
Lighting. Large houses often have excellent interior lighting and a large number of windows. The cameras that are installed to the drones for real estate photography perfectly show themselves in the outdoor photography with natural light, but at the same time in rooms with dim light noise and interference may appear. In such cases the best choice is to use a DSLR camera with a stabilizer.
Remove unnecessary things. Superfluous things such as plates in the sink or family photos in frames can make unnecessary impression of the shooting. Don’t forget about the pets, let them be out for their safety, and for the safety of your drones.
DJI company is the dominant representative in the real estate drone business. If you need something more extensive than real estate, pay attention to their Inspire platform. But if you are engaged only in real estate photographing, then you don't need Inspire. I advise you to start with the most simple devices, and then move on to more expensive models. Also, the presence of more than one drone will only benefit you. In this moment, my choice fell on Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro. The Mavic is the ideal drone for indoor shooting due to its compact size. The Phantom is more professional for outdoor photography.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.