John Toth Photography | To Drone or not to Drone?

To Drone or not to Drone?

October 26, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Bang for the buck the DJI Phantom 3 Pro is the best drone for Real Estate Photography

There are many factors to consider when getting into the Aerial Photography field, mainly, which drone should you use? Here I talk about ease of use, customer support, initial cost, and quality of final images and video.  

Ease of use for the Phantom? It's about as easy as a drone is going to be to fly. Look for a drone that has the ability to not only connect to GPS but has either collision avoidance or downward facing sensors. With GPS the drone will hold its place in the sky while you fiddle with the camera controls to frame the perfect shot! I opted for the Phantom 3 Pro.  It does not have the collision avoidance that the Phantom 4 has but it was also almost half the price. The Phantom 3 Pro holds its position very well even when filming in very windy situations near the ocean. Your phone or tablet is used with the DJI GO app to see what the camera sees and it also shows the location of the drone on a map. Advanced settings can be found on the phone display as well. I practiced with a Blade Nano QX hobby drone before flying a large drone and the small one was more difficult to fly. Do read the manual cover to cover! There are a lot of nuances that you can learn about your drone that will set you apart from the rest of the crowd.

DJI Go App screenshot from

Customer support stories for DJI are less than stellar. I tried to price match Amazon's price to the local Best Buy in order to purchase their 2 year electronic device warranty so I could take it back to Best Buy, but they would not honor the Amazon price. So far all of the questions I've had regarding the drone and its usage have been answered by other DJI users in the forums. Since the Phantom line has been out for a few years there is a good knowledge base out there for first time fliers. I have had two oopsie moments where I crashed the drone and luckily the only damage was to my ego and a couple of propellers.

Your initial cost will vary but at the time I purchased mine (April 2016) on Amazon it was about $820 for the basic kit. It came with the quadcopter, a set of propellers, an intelligent battery, the remote, a 32 gig memory card, a plastic gimbal lock, and the charging cable. The Phantom 4 had just come out for $1,500 and the next in line, the Inspire 1, was over $2,500.  I used a run of the mill backpack I got with a Dell computer to carry it around in. After practicing with the drone for a bit, I realized I NEEDED another battery ($125), more props ($18), and some prop guards. So initially, just under a grand to get started. But, really you need a few extras to use your drone in the field.

There are a couple of things about the camera I liked over competition that had same or similar specs. The DJI gimbals are second to none. The lens is not a fisheye and there is a lens profile in both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The lens profile works very well to compensate for what little lens distortion there is. When color graded correctly the video is amazing, I just wish the still photos were a bit sharper and less contrasty.  

So there you have it in a nutshell. I haven't found any glaring issues and I've filmed/photographed a ton of properties so far. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at and "like" me on Facebook!





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