Photography Tips » 5 Tips to Get Better Footage With Your Drone

5 Tips to Get Better Footage With Your Drone

You may have gotten your first drone to take those bomb photos that will get tons of shares online. Now you may want to expand and try and see how to capture video with that expensive Mavic.

By default, the more expensive drones usually the better the output quality of both photos and video are. However, there are certain tips that will make your drone video and photo capturing experience much better.

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Here are my top 5:

Use ND Filters for Your Drone

I ignored this myself for quite a while. I mean how important can it be to decrease the amount of light the camera is getting? The more the better, right?


You’ll find yourself shooting videos during strong daylight most of the time, even in the golden hour during sunset.

Usually, when shooting with a drone you will want to have fluid shots with a lot of movement, and here’s where the problem is.

The golden rule of cinematography says that you should keep your shutter speed at 1/2 x FPS. Using this rule makes the footage smoother when turning the camera/drone and it won’t have those jagged movements, but a smooth motion blurr that won’t make your head feel dizzy.

In the video above you can see why it’s so important to have the shutter speed at twice the framerate. So if you’re shooting with your drone in 30 fps, then go for a shutter speed of 1/60, if you want your footage to have that cinematic effect with moving subjects and the drone movements themselves.

Shoot as Much Footage as Possible!

You may have to work with more data at the end of the day, but if you’re serious about it, you should know there are certain ways to maximize your shooting time.

One of them is to make sure you have a drone with automatic return to home so that you get some panning shots on the way back home. I also like to take some footage of when the drone is landing with the camera facing down, in case I need the footage to end a certain video.

Another tip would be to make sure you always have spare batteries, especially if you plan to sell your services as a professional. I ended up many times doing a shoot and then on my way back home to encounter this beautiful sunset and couldn’t do anything about it as my drone was simply dead, with no other charged batteries.

Have a Few Standard Shots You Always Take

There is power in habit, so why complicate your life when you can make sure you always take the shots that matter first by default, and then focus on other new creative aspects?

  • The facing down zoom out – Face the drone camera perpendicular to the ground and then raise it straight up to reveal the area around the subject (can couple this with slow spinning)
  • Backward flight panning – Simply fly backward with your drone (carefully) with the camera facing ground, while raising it to uncover a beautiful scenery in front.
  • Rotation Reveal – Go smoothly around something that’s hiding your main subject (like going around a cliff edge to reveal a lake). This can be done in a simple circular fashion, or by coupling vertical motion to get a helix effect.

Photo by Stephan Müller from Pexels

Don’t Crank Up The ISO too High

Even though newer drones like the Mavic 2 Pro come with insanely huge sensors and pretty good low light capability (compared to what was previously possible), they’re still very limited. In lower light situations it’s always better to go manual and check your iso to not go over 3200, preferably even lower.

You may not see the grainy effect while watching on the small screen at first and you might actually be very proud of the result, but when you get home and put it on the big screen, things might actually be quite unusable.

A night image taken with the Mavic 2 Pro drone

Always Put Your Video Settings on Manual

I might say this, but I don’t always respect this rule myself.

Sometimes I’m simply lazy and don’t plan to use the footage for anything in particular, just to post on facebook or to show my friends, so I let the drone do the automatic exposure. But, as mentioned in the first point, when it comes to video, it’s really important to capture buttery smooth footage if you don’t want to give your audience the brain hurtz.

There are also instances where you’ll change from a more lighted to a darker part in the same scene, and you might not want that “auto adjustment” effect when changing between them, but keep the same settings during the entire movement, which is my prefered choice most of the time.

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