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Los Angeles Commercial Photographer Stepping into Drone work

Sanpanza

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Hi Folks, I am a commercial still photographer in Los Angeles (www.carreonphotography.com) and shoot for a lot of industrial clients who are asking me, more and more, if I can shoot drone footage along with my still photography work. So, before I make the leap, I am hoping to find the right drone forums to start educating myself and meet drone operators that could provide me with useful information about the best path forward.

I have some specific usages in mind initially and am wondering about other areas of the business as well. Could anyone tell me if this would be a good place to start?

I am thinking about buying a Skydio 2 because it can fly indoors and has clearance to fly in certain industries where DJI is prohibited.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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GFields

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Greetings from Birmingham Alabama USA, welcome to the forum!

Although the Skydio 2 is a great drone, you may want to consider a drone with a larger sensor for better images. I would recommend the Mavic 3 Classic, Air 2s, or the Phantom 4 Pro v2
 
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Sanpanza

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Greetings from Birmingham Alabama USA, welcome to the forum!

Although the Skydio 2 is a great drone, you may want to consider a drone with a larger sensor for better images. I would recommend the Mavic 3 Classic, Air 2s, or the Phantom 4 Pro v2
Hi Gfields, thank you for your response. I am hearing most drone operators operate more than one kind of drone. I am interested in shooting in factories and warehouses where the Skydio 2's keyframe feature would allow me to do a walk-through with the drone in order to choreograph the flight path and then let it run autonomously after I have done a couple of run-throughs.

Any thoughts? I know I know NOTHING right now and would have a steep learning curve ahead of me before I could do something like that.

Another pilot is recommending the Avata for this same usage. Thoughts?

Additionally, it may not make sense for me to learn on a Skydio 2. Not sure yet. Just gathering intelligent perspectives from people like yourself.

I hire drone operators for my projects but they make less money than I do, so my thought is to include drone work as an added value to my projects without changing my rate structure.
 

GFields

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Hi Gfields, thank you for your response. I am hearing most drone operators operate more than one kind of drone. I am interested in shooting in factories and warehouses where the Skydio 2's keyframe feature would allow me to do a walk-through with the drone in order to choreograph the flight path and then let it run autonomously after I have done a couple of run-throughs.

Any thoughts? I know I know NOTHING right now and would have a steep learning curve ahead of me before I could do something like that.

Another pilot is recommending the Avata for this same usage. Thoughts?

Additionally, it may not make sense for me to learn on a Skydio 2. Not sure yet. Just gathering intelligent perspectives from people like yourself.

I hire drone operators for my projects but they make less money than I do, so my thought is to include drone work as an added value to my projects without changing my rate structure.
The Skydio 2 would be a good choice for inside flying. It is one of the leading drones when it comes to obstacle avoidance. If you can handle wearing goggles (I cannot) the Avata might work well. In either case, flying inside will most likely mean that you will not have GPS and will have to rely on ATTI mode.
 
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GFields

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Hi Gfields, thank you for your response. I am hearing most drone operators operate more than one kind of drone. I am interested in shooting in factories and warehouses where the Skydio 2's keyframe feature would allow me to do a walk-through with the drone in order to choreograph the flight path and then let it run autonomously after I have done a couple of run-throughs.

Any thoughts? I know I know NOTHING right now and would have a steep learning curve ahead of me before I could do something like that.

Another pilot is recommending the Avata for this same usage. Thoughts?

Additionally, it may not make sense for me to learn on a Skydio 2. Not sure yet. Just gathering intelligent perspectives from people like yourself.

I hire drone operators for my projects but they make less money than I do, so my thought is to include drone work as an added value to my projects without changing my rate structure.
I add extra for drone work. I have it as an "ad on"
 
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Sanpanza

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The Skydio 2 would be a good choice for inside flying. It is one of the leading drones when it comes to obstacle avoidance. If you can handle wearing goggles (I cannot) the Avata might work well. In either case, flying inside will most likely mean that you will not have GPS and will have to rely on ATTI mode.
Does the Avata have better optics than the Skydio 2 ?
 

GFields

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Does the Avata have better optics than the Skydio 2 ?

Avata​

Camera​

  • Sensor​

  • 1/1.7-inch CMOS
    Effective Pixels: 48 MP
  • Lens​

  • FOV: 155°
    Equivalent Focal Length: 12.7 mm
    Focal Length: 2.34 mm
    Aperture: f/2.8
    Focus Mode: FF
    Focus Range: 0.6 m to ∞
  • ISO Range​

  • 100-6400 (Auto)
    100-25600 (Manual)
  • Shutter Speed​

  • Video: 1/8000-1/50 s
    Photo: 1/8000-1/50 s
  • Still Photography Mode​

  • Single Shot
  • Max Image Size​

  • 4000×3000
  • Photo Format​

  • JPEG
  • Video Resolution​

  • With DJI Goggles 2:
    [email protected]/60fps
    [email protected]/60/100fps
    [email protected]/60/100fps

    With DJI FPV Goggles V2:
    [email protected]/60fps
    [email protected]/60/100/120fps
    [email protected]/60/100/120fps
  • Video Format​

  • MP4
  • Max Video Bitrate​

  • 150 Mbps
  • Color Mode​

  • Standard
    D-Cinelike
  • EIS​

  • Supports RockSteady and HorizonSteady
    Can be disabled
  • Distortion Correction​

  • Supports Normal Mode, Wide Mode, and Ultra Wide Mode
  • Supported File System​

  • exFAT (recommended)
    FAT32

Skydio 2+​


Sensor Type
Sony IMX577 1/2.3” 12.3MP CMOS
Sensor Active Pixels
4056 (H) x 3040 (V)
Lens Aperture
f/2.8
Lens Focal Length
20mm (35mm format equivalent)
Lens Depth Of Field
1m - ∞
Shutter Speed
electronic shutter 1 to 1/1920s
Iso Range
video 100-3200 photo 100-3200
Exposure Control
-2.0, -1.5, -1.0, -0.5, 0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0
Image Signal Processor
Qualcomm QCS605
GPU
Adreno™ 615
CPU
64-bit octa-core Kryo™ 300
DSP
Hexagon™ 685, 2x HVX
Resolution And Modes
3840x2160 30 fps 3840x2160 60 fps 3840x2160 48 fps 3840x2160 24 fps 1920x1080 120 fps 1920x1080 60 fps 1920x1080 30 fps
Bitrate
100 Mbps
Video Format
MPEG-4 (AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)
Still Resolution
4056x3040 (12 MP)
Still Formats
JPEG, DNG (RAW)
Still Modes
Single, Interval
Dynamic Range
13 stops
Storage
Removable Micro SD Card UHS Speed Class 3 / V30
Stabilization Mechanical Range
pitch ±124°, roll ±120°, yaw ±12.5°
Pitch Controllable Range
-90° to 45°
 

dronecyclops

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Hi Folks, I am a commercial still photographer in Los Angeles (www.carreonphotograpy.com) and shoot for a lot of industrial clients who are asking me, more and more, if I can shoot drone footage along with my still photography work. So, before I make the leap, I am hoping to find the right drone forums to start educating myself and meet drone operators that could provide me with useful information about the best path forward.

I have some specific usages in mind initially and am wondering about other areas of the business as well. Could anyone tell me if this would be a good place to start?

I am thinking about buying a Skydio 2 because it can fly indoors and has clearance to fly in certain industries where DJI is prohibited.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Welcome to the forum from Indiana not sure if you are a Part 107 pilot but you need to be to charge for drone services along with getting a drone
 

AMann

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Welcome to the forum! I also have the issue of needing a moderate costing Blue UAS certified (DOD and DOI approved) drone that can take good stills and also do mapping. All DJI products are banned on Department of Defense areas, which is also a concern for me too as some of the projects I was asked to work on this spring are on DOD lands. In the US, we will also have to have RID (Remote ID) on our drones later in 2023, so keep that in mind also. That can be built in through firmware updates on some later drone models, or done with strap-on stand alone boxes that are not really being sold yet (save for one currently available model selling for $300).

You may also want a drone with autonomous waypoints (DroneDeploy or Litchi) capabilities also. These can do automated dolly shots for movies and photo points for long term projects.
 
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Sanpanza

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Hi Amman,

I could never get the sales team at Skydio to even call me back so I bought a DJI Mini 3 Pro (M3P) for the mean time. It is not the best solution but given that I only just flew the drone for the first time today, I have a long way to go before I can fly indoors much less get paid for it.

I believe the M3P has the option of Pro version controller that can use third party software like Litchi, but for a steep price of $1,200. Then there is the cost of Litchi or DroneDeploy. So that is where I am at.

I suspect this is going to be a hard learning curve but I just cannot tolerate being told by the the drone operators I hire that drones cannot be deployed indoors when I see footage of drones flying in malls and houses.

This is a good thing for me because I will be ahead of the curve if I can learn to do it using waypoint software. I suspect I will end up owning more than one drone in the future but for now I will have to settle for taking baby steps with my M3P and buying up to something that is Blue UAS certified once I become proficient.
 

AMann

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Hi Amman,

I could never get the sales team at Skydio to even call me back so I bought a DJI Mini 3 Pro (M3P) for the mean time. It is not the best solution but given that I only just flew the drone for the first time today, I have a long way to go before I can fly indoors much less get paid for it.

I believe the M3P has the option of Pro version controller that can use third party software like Litchi, but for a steep price of $1,200. Then there is the cost of Litchi or DroneDeploy. So that is where I am at.

I suspect this is going to be a hard learning curve but I just cannot tolerate being told by the the drone operators I hire that drones cannot be deployed indoors when I see footage of drones flying in malls and houses.

This is a good thing for me because I will be ahead of the curve if I can learn to do it using waypoint software. I suspect I will end up owning more than one drone in the future but for now I will have to settle for taking baby steps with my M3P and buying up to something that is Blue UAS certified once I become proficient.
DJI changed their policiy about releasing the SDK files needed for Litchi, dronedeploy and another autonomous flying programs to work with their newest drones. Only the Mavic 3 Enterprise will have that capability along with their other high-end enterprise models. Sadly, the M3P and Mini won’t either. Lots of anger over this one! Person I decided just to work with my M2P as it can work with Litchi and I need that for budget mapping, photos and non-commercial movies.
 
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Vic Moss

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Welcome to the forum Ed. I'm a commercial shooter (since 1988) that added drones to my toolbox in 2014. It's going to open up a new world for you.

First, you're missing an "h" in your website link. 😉

As a professional photographer, you'll be disappointed if you go with the Skydio. While their AO is second to none, their camera sensors are 2-3 generations behind both DJI and Autel.

I was required to use an Skydio X2 when by the Department of Interior when I worked on the new film for Mesa Verde National Park. Skydio was gracious enough to send me one to use, but I couldn't get the imagery quality I really wanted. It worked, and DOI was happy, but I'm not a fan of compromise.

If DJI is the specific issue, look at Autel. If you can use DJI, or have the means to get two systems, get the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. Or Cine if you need ProRes. And the Avata is a great little drone for fly throughs.

One more note about Skydio. Skydio Keyframing is cool, and works well, but with a little practice, you could fly better yourself.

Last comment. You haven't mentioned getting your 107. I'm assuming so since you're researching things. If not, look at Pilot Institute: Drone and Airplane Pilot Courses - Aviation Made Easy. They are the best. And one of the great things about them is their Facebook Page. Students get access to that, and it's a great learning tool. PI also has a bunch of free courses on their site as well. Greg and crew do an awesome job.
 
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skiptv

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You’re a professional, so before you buy a drone. Before you consider flying indoors or flying FPV, I’d take a professional class. LA city college and LATTC have an extensive professional drone course that targets photographers and film makers.
 

Sanpanza

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Hi Vic, thank you for your valuable input. I am pretty sure now that I will be working with two drones eventually. My rationale for Skydio was to be able to fly in warehouses and factories using their Keyframe Software. They mainly need interior stuff to show capabilities and capacity so the audience would be limited.

I still need to learn to fly drones so I think it will probably take me a few months of non-commercial flying before I even think about flying indoors. I have the clients, they will take my calls and not many people are flying indoors in niche, so it is a natural way to go.

Do you think that DJI would work as well indoors as Skydio? My thought was to choreograph the route using waypoints or keyframes then run the drone on auto pilot in cine mode. Any thoughts would be appreciated and I fully plan on getting my 107. I have no interest in taking risks with my clients.
 

Sanpanza

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You’re a professional, so before you buy a drone. Before you consider flying indoors or flying FPV, I’d take a professional class. LA city college and LATTC have an extensive professional drone course that targets photographers and film makers.
Ha!!!!!! That is great information and advice. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!
 

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