Guest post: Aerial drone photography – when your camera flies without you



Today’s guest post on taking photographs with an aerial drone is by Frédéric Moix (website | gallery).

2011 and 2012 saw big improvements in the RC field, new technologies, new batteries, making the ability to lift a heavier DSLR camera more accessible. The interest is obvious: aerial photography is closer to buildings, objects, rock formations, etc. With this “close aerial photography” or “low altitude aerial photography” you can discover new angles of view for a fraction of the cost of the classical aerial photography performed by planes and helicopters.

It’s going to be interesting to see the abilities of the new WT-5 wireless transmitter for remote images transmission from an aerial drone.


The flying system can be basically divided in three parts:

  1. The flying RC drone itself. Different models are available on the market, Mikrokopter seems to be one of the leaders in the field selling different multi rotors engines. I’m mostly working with an hexacopter (6 helix) and an oktocopter (8 helix).
  2. The DSLR camera body (mainly a DX body like the Nikon D7000 for its low weight, the D700 is also “liftable” and maybe very soon the D800 which is lighter than the D700) and a wide angle lens.
  3. The camera mount attaching the camera to the drone and enabling camera movements in different directions: the “nick”, “roll” and “yaw” movement which can also be performed by the drone itself.

The ground system is composed of:

  1. The drone pilot and a RC transmitter
  2. The photographer with another transmitter enabling to aim at the subject with actions on the camera mount (as cited above) and even on a part of the movements of the drone itself. The transmitter is also allowing triggering, preferably through the drone in order to avoid the use of classical remote triggers who can interfere with the RC transmission and also in order to have everything on the same command (purely ergonomical).
  3. A screen transmitting what’s happening in the air (what the DSLR is aiming at) – live view feeding for example, enabling proper framing as if you were “on board”.
  4. A solid dose of experience and confidence (pilot and material)
The links (piloting commands, triggering and VDO feed) between the flying system and the ground system are basically a classical RC transmission system with a VDO sender and receiver.

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