The day to day UAV I use is the DJI Mavic Pro. This is incredibly capable, be it for traditional aerial surveying, filming or photography, that shoots 4K video at up to 30 frames per second (fps) and takes 12 megapixel (mp) still photographs.
If a resolution higher than 12mp would be beneficial, then the Phantom 4 Pro steps in. It can take 20mp stills, shoots 4K video up to 60fps, and has impressive autonomous flight performance capabilities.
For very special projects, DJI's Inspire 2 and Matrice 210 can be brought on-site. They provide aerial platforms capable of using a number of different cameras, including the Zenmuse thermal imaging camera, and the impressive 30x optical zoom capabilities of the Z30.
Finally, I used Adobe Premiere Pro to cut, assemble and colour correct recorded footage, and also have access to a number of online analytic packages to turn aerial survey data in to meaningful 3D models and client-friendly reports.
Click on an icon, or the menu on the left, for information on the equipment we use.
Don't let the relatively small size of the Mavic fool you - it's not a toy! It's an aerial platform that can stay aloft for almost 30 minutes per battery, shoot 4k video at up to 30 fps, and take 12mp pictures. Coming in under 1kg in weight as it does means it's an altogether serious professional package.
The Mavic has a number of flight modes that let it track a subject, orbit around a specific target, and fly pre-planned routes using Waypoints. The GPS lock on the Mavic means it can hover with incredible precision, and it also has object avoidance features built-in. If indoor flying is required (for reasonably large spaces), I can pop the propeller guards on, put the Mavic in to 'Tripod' mode, and viola - you've got an incredibly stable indoor shooting platform!
The full technical specification of the Mavic can be found by clicking here.
The next step up in 330airial's available drones is the Mavic Pro 2. Whilst it's arguable as to whether it's that much of a stepup in general flying terms from the Mavic, it has an onboard Hasselblad camera that can shoot 4k video at up to 60 fps, and still pictures at 20mp - as a result the quality of the footage from this drone is very impressive.
The Pro 2 takes the forward & downward obstacle avoidance technology that was on the Mavic, and extends it to also cover rearwards and sideways, meaning this drone is great to fly in relatively tight or awkward spaces.
With some upgraded flight autonomy software, the P2 knows where it is, where it's going, and how to get home if it needs to, without hitting any obstacles.
The full technical specification of the Mavic Pro 2 can be found by clicking here.
The Inspire 2 is a different beast altogether, being a member of the most popular range of SUAs used by professional film makers. The Inspire 1 was the ground breaker, being the first drone that incorporated a 4k camera, 360 degree filming capability, and an HD video transmission system.
The technology in the Inspire 2 represents another large leap forward for drones. It can accelerate from 0-50mph in 5 seconds, has a top speed of 58 mph, and has a new dual battery system. This doubling of the battery capacity means that the Inspire 2 can fly for almost 30 minutes, depending on camera payload. An upgraded dual video transmission system means that an onboard first person view (fpv) camera can be viewed by the pilot, whilst another person can take complete control of the main gimbal camera.
The full technical specifications of the Inspire 2 can be found by clicking here.
The Matrice 210 is as serious as it gets in SUA terms - for the moment - for me. It's at home in industrial applications, and indeed DJI have made a very successful entry in to this market with the Matrice range. It possesses incredibly stable flight characteristics when flying in strong winds, has a flight time of up to 38 minutes (depending on payload), and can operate in some very cold temperatures, thanks to a power system that automatically heats the batteries.
A serious drone for serious jobs, the Matrice is typically used for infrastructure inspection - surveying power lines and pylons, wind turbines, bridges, offshore rigs, and telecom towers to name its key targets. It's also used for firefighting, and search & rescue. This is indeed a serious drone for serious work.
The full technical specifications of the Matrice 200 range can be found by clicking here.
For serious drones there are serious camera payloads, and you don't get much more serious than the Zenmuse XT thermal imaging camera. This camera alone costs an eye watering £8,000, but then again, it is the cutting edge of accessible thermal imaging technology.
Developed by DJI in conjunction with thermal imaging specialists FLIR, the camera allows the SUA operator to visualise temperature differences from an aerial vantage point (an important function for the oil and gas industry and search & rescue in particular), and to easily capture detailed temperature data during aerial inspections.
The full technical specifications of the Zenmuse XT can be found by clicking here.
zenmuse z30 zoom
"The Zenmuse Z30 was the first integrated aerial camera with a 30x optical zoom, and a 6x digital zoom" - so says the DJI website. It's certainly an impressive camera, and the benefits to aerial inspection work are obvious.
It allows the drone operator to maintain a greater distance from his subject than other cameras permit, which can be handy in very windy conditions. The other benefit of the 30x zoom is the unparalleled close-ups it can provide. Inspecting wind turbine blades for cracks sounds like a tricky job at the best of times (and probably best done on a windless day!). To make this kind of task easier, the Z30 lets the operator really focus in on tiny details, and can operate in a temperature range from -10c to 45C.
The full technical specifications of the Zenmuse Z30 can be found by clicking here.
There are many video editing tools out there - some good, some not so good, some expensive, some free. I use Adobe Premiere Pro 2019 for editing footage shot by a drone. It provides a comprehensive range of editing tools:
allowing users to select specific sections of individual clips to combine in to a larger clip;
providing the functionality to add a backing track or voice over;
letting users colour correct footage, to get the best out of the material; and
facilitating the export of the finished clip in a variety of different formats
I've been using it for a while now, and have found it to be a very useful tool to add to my business.
The 'output' from drone work varies - sometimes it's a range of still pictures, sometimes it's a video or a short film. But sometimes the output requires some sophisticated software to deliver the end product.
There are a number of such software and analytic providers out there, who cater for one or several parts of the drone data analytic market. Here's three examples:
DroneDeploy - which "..capture images, create maps and 3D models, and analyzes data across industries: agriculture, construction, insurance and more";
PrecisionHawk - which "..provides drone and SUA remote sensing applications and data processing services in industries such as agriculture, construction, mining and energy"; and
Pix4d - which is "professional drone mapping and photogrammetry software".
I don't have a particular preference for software package at this time - although DroneDeploy seems to have the most stable interface when using its associated app in the field.