Drone photography is growing to become an essential offering meant for real estate pictures , but between a complex regulatory environment, a whole new set of gear considerations for both photo and video, and the challenges associated with shooting from a new angle, it can be tricky to start. Thankfully, in this introductory guide to real-estate drone photography, I’ll be breaking down everything you need to know to get going, including why drone pictures is so necessary for your business and how to tick all the FAA containers.
Table of Contents
Why Use a Drone for Real Estate Picture taking?
Property photographers haven’t needed the drone in the past, but now it’s almost guaranteed to be requested for serious shoots, particularly in hot real estate markets. The drone offers a whole new viewpoint on the property, allows the particular agent or realtor to emphasize the beauty and surroundings of the lot, and just has that catchy and dynamic appearance that makes a listing jump off the page.
Aerial views are also essential for showing relative property sizes. You can shoot from above and from various angles to frame the property in context. I know this has been particularly useful to round out the listing pictures I produce for smaller sized homes in subdivisions high otherwise would be few outdoor photos.
Avoid editing the photo to add things like representations associated with lot lines or sizes, as these technical aspects are a huge legal issue to get property transactions, and you do not want to be caught in the middle of that.
As compact and cell phone cameras have gotten better, agents only need photographers who are able to offer something they can’t. An agent can easily grab an extensive angle iPhone shot from the living room and call it a day (even if, as professional photographers, we know the shot could look better). What they are less willing to compete with, and so more willing to pay for, would be the complex services. This means video, virtual staging, twilight sets, and drone photography may all help you win business more easily, and for a higher rate.
Additionally , drones are one of the only realistic ways to include large properties. Whether it is raw land or just a really large property, a jingle is really essential to show the entire scope of the offering. Umschlüsselung and other more complex services associated with large properties are also possible with drones if you want to offer even higher-end services.
Another interesting utilization of drones for real estate photography is in video. Unlike filming with your ground-based camera, drones don’t require any additional equipment to support video. This means you do not have for a gimbal, an external video recorder, or an alternate tripod setup. As a result, you can combine some motion and dynamic shots into an usually picture-based slideshow about the house, all at no additional cost in gear.
Finally, a good jingle for real estate photography does not have to be expensive. While drones have made a ton of advancements within features for automatic flight, flight times, ProRes movie recording, and more, none of these are really necessary for real estate treadmill photography. Instead, a good high quality image and even video could be captured from a range of drones, particularly in daylight and for online presentation.
Best Drones intended for Real Estate Photography
Shopping for a drone to get photography may be a little unusual if you’re used to shopping for digital cameras. For example , most drones have a fixed-focal length prime lens or at most a moderate zoom lens. Only the most expensive and complex photography drones will have the ability to switch lenses. These drones, such as the DJI Motivate line , offer a lot more features, but are overkill for all but the most sophisticated real estate shoots.
Instead, consider drones around the $1000-3000 1000 dollar mark, depending on your budget and desired features. Whilst these drones aren’t cheap, they’re capable tools and can deliver image quality not far behind a ground-based. camera. You could go because inexpensive as a small jingle like the Mavic Mini 2, but I just don’t believe the loss in image quality is worth the savings more than a slightly larger drone like the Mavic Air 2 . Intended for real estate photos, the size advantage of the Mini just does not matter.
The key features that I’d search for in any drone include the digital camera specs (focal length, raw file support, sensor size), flight time, and simplicity of flight. Remote ID support is an important concern for the future utilization of older drones – Remote control ID is an US federal government requirement set to come into impact on September 16th, 2023 that needs the drone to voice broadcasting the drone’s ID and position for safety. To get reference, DJI claims “many of our most commonly used drones to be able to [sic] comply through a simple and free of charge software update. ”
With that in mind, the following is a breakdown of some of the best drones for real estate photography. All the models listed will be through DJI. While there are a number of other companies competing in the room, none have the scale associated with DJI, and none provide photography-critical features that would allow it to be worth considering them over DJI. Photography Life has no partnership with DJI and these are merely my personal opinions from using these types of drones.
1 . Mavic Air two and Air 2S
The particular Mavic Air lineup is correct at that sweet place of price and functionality. The drone isn’t unreasonably large, and with the folding legs, can easily fit into your current camera bag. Within the frame is a battery pack large plenty of for any shoot and a completely capable camera.
The standard Air 2 is a fine performer for daylight shoots. However , the Air 2S has a larger sensor plus various other conveniences over the Air 2 (like a longer tranny range). It comes down to your budget and shooting requirements, but in general, you should walk away along with similar photos from either.
Overall, the environment 2 line is an actually capable yet affordable way to get started with drone photography. Because both the Air 2 and 2S are available new on the market, consider cross-shopping them. You may be able to snag a good deal at the older Air 2, or perhaps you may find that the 2S is worth the small premium.
2 . Mavic two Pro
While the Mavic 2 Pro player has been discontinued, finding an used model may be a great strategy to shooting on a budget. In terms of functions, it compares quite carefully to the Air 2S. Each feature a 20-megapixel, 1-inch kind sensor and offer similar image quality. The Mavic 2 Pro is a bigger drone, but it’s still quite compact and portable. When you can find a bargain (AKA some thing meaningfully cheaper than the Surroundings 2S) and are comfortable purchasing used, the Mavic 2 Pro may be a better value.
The particular Mavic 3 or more represents the realistic pinnacle for drone photography, before stepping up in order to large, production-grade rigs. It manages to fit a Mini Four Thirds sensor into a body that can fit in a sling bag, all and will be offering outrageously long flight occasions and high-quality images. I’ve loved flying my Mavic 3 since I first started using it, even if a number of the features, like the secondary telephoto camera, are unnecessary for real estate photography.
What’s amazed me most is the capacity of the camera to produce flexible raw files. Past drones that I’ve flown have the ability to had “brittle” files that require to be shot and post-processed with care, to avoid things like blown out highlights (since at best they had a 1-inch kind sensor). With the Mavic three or more, I’ve been able to extend the shooting conditions into lower light and stronger breeze without issue. On the basis of picture quality, I’d recommend the particular Mavic 3 if your budget can support it, although it is overkill for real estate photographers who are just starting out.
Of note, the Mavic 3 also has a more expensive Cine model with a built-in SSD and support for ProRes, but these features and the significant bump in price are unnecessary for most real estate rhyme photography.
How to Get FAA Licensed meant for Real Estate Drone Photography
In this segment, I’ll be speaking about the experience with earning a rhyme license under Part 107 (the rules covering industrial drone flights with write under 55 pounds within the US). While the process isn’t complex, and the FAA has made a good effort to make it pretty user-friendly, my experience is not legal advice, and you should always make sure you are following all the rules, regulations, and laws around jingle flight. Furthermore, different nations will have different rules. I’ve not flown commercially outside of the US, and I can’t speak to the regulatory environment in other countries.
The first major thing to understand is the difference among flying under recreational guidelines and Part 107 (commercial) rules. You can operate the drone as a recreational flyer under the “Exception for Limited Operation of Unmanned Airplane, ” which regulates things such as flight height, airspace, registration and more. For more info on the recreational flyer rules, the FAA has an in-depth article here .
Put simply, a flight for any purpose other than “purely for fun or personal enjoyment” falls under the Part 107 rules, and therefore requires a permit. This means that photographers who create any money off their rhyme photography – or make use of their drone for any non-recreational purpose at all – have to comply with all the elements of the particular Part 107 rules. These full guidelines can be read here .
Most notably, before you can fly, you need to have a commercial drone license and pass the FAA’s Part 107 test.
1 . Studying for the Test
Thankfully, the process of acquiring an industrial drone license is relatively straightforward, although it does take some time. Taking test also isn’t free, but it should pay for alone quickly if you have a real property photography business.
The FAA requires which you sit for an Aeronautical Information Test at an approved testing center – my nearby airfield offered the test, for instance. The test covers FAA Rhyme Laws, reading Sectional Charts, the National Airspace system, reading aeronautical weather predicting, and more.
Learning for the test can take a few days, depending on how comfortable you are with the content and test taking in general, as well as your degree of exposure to particular aeronautical principles like sectional charts. The general estimate is that it will take regarding 15-20 hours of study time over 2 to 3 several weeks, which is generally much easier if you study through an established test prep company, but can also be done through independent research.
If you choose to pay for an official test prep organization, the one we’re affiliated with and recommend is called Pilot Institute . Their particular service is $249, or $149 through Photography Life’s discount ( found out here ). They will aren’t the only test preparation company out there, but the combination of their well-respected course and the deal they gave the readers makes them the program I’d choose for studying for the Part 107.
2 . Taking the Test
The exam itself is a 2-hour, 60 multiple choice issue test. As a strictly proctored test, it’s an interesting experience. You’re provided with some chart books, and are allowed to provide basic calculators without programmable memory. You’re prohibited through bringing writing implements, luggage, written notes, electronics, smartwatches, and a whole list of additional items – your tests info will go into all this, but still, it’s helpful to know what resources you’ll have to inform your study process.
To prepare for this bare-bones testing experience, I’d suggest studying with just the FAA-provided chart handout and a pencil. The math never required a calculator, in my experience, and holding distractions to a minimum will make it easier to focus.
The test itself carries a $175 fee, and you will want to make sure you’re prepared to pass the test, as a screwing up score requires that you sit down for the test again.
After passing your test, you need to complete some paperwork to really apply for the certificate, then the FAA will issue your own certificate after some confirmation (think weeks, not days). This is something that your test prep company will discuss, and the application information is rather easy to find online. After acceptance, you’ll receive a drivers-license design card, reflecting your certified status.
Should you be already a licensed manned airplane pilot, you can instead total an online course and apply for the certificate directly. The FAA has more information on that process for existing Part 61 owners here .
After you’ve received your own license, you’re ready to fly on an airline! Having a current 107 permit opens up a whole new world like a drone pilot. Between being able to fly commercially and in a wider range of conditions, I’ve gotten much more use out of my drone now that I am certified.
How to Capture Good Real Estate Photos from the Air
Fortunately, all of the tenets of good “regular” pictures still apply to drone digital photography. Composition, exposure, and precise, pleasing colors are all still desirable. The only difference would be that the techniques needed to nail these concepts are slightly various.
For drones, good composition may be more of a challenge. You need to understand how to place the drone across the By, Y, and Z axis, all with more flexibility than a traditional camera. Compositionally, you can shoot anywhere from ground level to 400 feet or higher (assuming you are in the proper airspace and have appropriate weather).
This opens up a much wider range of compositions, but all the same elements still utilize. You still need to think about balance , positive/negative space , and holding the horizon level . At the end of the day, it’s all about showing off the property, so figure out which angles emphasize the best highlights of the subject you’re capturing.
Exposure, as I alluded to in the treadmill equipment section, can be a better challenge compared to other contemporary cameras. Drones generally do not have the same degree of highlight or even shadow recovery, even when you take raw, due to their smaller detectors.
This helps make nailing exposure more important, particularly as a shot of a not getting sun building entrance and brilliant sky can lead to a wide powerful range situation. Further further complicating things, your phone’s screen isn’t a perfect tool in order to gauge exposure from.
As a result, I’d recommend always checking the exposure via the histogram, and making generous use of the auto exposure bracketing (or 5-image burst) function. I bracket almost all of the drone photos, as the additional dynamic range and margin of safety in the exposure has come in handy numerous times. 5-image bursts are built into most DJI drones and can allow you to improve your dynamic range via image averaging .
I actually find that processing is easier about real estate photos compared to creative photos, since not as several edits usually need to be made. For many shots, I’ll blend to HDR within Lightroom, in order to improve the file’s active range. Then, it’s just a matter of cropping in order to refine composition, as well as tweaking contrast and HSL.
Real estate jingle photography can be a great way in order to expand your business. Personally, I’ve grown to love shooting via a drone for all my photographic pursuits, not just real estate. Kit has gotten better, all of the while becoming more affordable, along with bigger sensor sizes, more time battery, and better moveability with each new design. Meanwhile, the further improvement of licensing and rules makes it easy to fly with regard to interesting opportunities, all whilst remaining safe and lawful. If you’re looking to get into real-estate drone photography, there’s no better time.
If you have any questions, tell me in the comments. I’m also curious to hear from individuals outside the US – what is the regulatory situation look like for you?