Let's talk photography drones

I’ve been looking at intoxicating videos on YouTube shot using various unmanned aerial vehicles – the kind that shoot pictures, not terrorists. The best footage has seem to come from DJI’s Phantom series.


For US$1,000 you can have your own drone with a Gopro Hero 3+ and stabilizer. You can be your own NSA!

Their top speed? 54 kmph. The battery lasts 25 minutes and it’s supposed to be able to go up to 1km before losing contact. If that does happen, it will automatically fly back from where it came!

What do you guys think? Do people have a reasonable right to privacy that is invaded by constant eyes-in-the-sky? What would you do with one if you had it?

To answer the second question: If I had a Phantom 2, I would have a friend drive down a highway at less than 50 kmph while following us. Awesome footage. I would also make the coolest vacation videos by filming not just what I can see, but the area as a whole.

That’s pretty cool! If I had one I would take it on coastal paths where I used to live in the UK, so I could see over cliff edges and other inaccessible places. I’d worry that it might bother some of the local wildlife, and that the local wildlife (mainly coastal birds) would probably dive bomb it. It would be cool flying one of these things over a night market, going from one end to the other. Perhaps Tong Hua Night market, because it’s just a straight line. It might be interesting to do this at a lantern festival, but it’s an expensive piece of equipment, so there’s the chance that it might get tangled up with all the sky lanterns.

The main problem with these is they could easily be misused by stalkers or pervs etc. as you’ve got a camera that can almost anywhere outdoors.

What I love about this is:

A) How awesome the footage is

B) How cheap it really is to get. $500USD I’ve read.

C) :thumbsup: Taiwan. This shit is already illegal in NYCNYC Drone Crash

D) :thumbsdown: Taiwan. If one of those things hits my fucking head :no-no:


I have a DJI Phantom and also a hexacopter. The Phantom does take some excellent footage and pictures. The range is stated at 300 meters, however, I have had my Phantom go with live video feed for over a kilometer. The Phantom also has a built-in return to home function, where if you go out of range or if for some reason signal is lost, then it will come back and land at it’s take off position all by itself.

The machines are usually flown in GPS mode, which means they will hold position when you come off the sticks. Return to home will happen in any mode except manual once signal is lost.
I got my Phantom for under 20,000NT. The GoPro I already had was 15,000 or something like that. A stablization gimbal will set you back 4,500 or up to 20,000NT, depending on the quality.
Build quality for the Phantom is very good - I chuck it in the back of the car and it does get knocked around occasionally. Flies like a dream.

I have been flying for a long time - well before any of this modern stuff came out, on helicopters. It is legal in Taiwan, but responsibility for safety falls on the owner. I expect as these things become more common, licencing will be required. I know the States puts a blanket ban on flying above 400ft. In Europe there are not so many restrictions except for in places like Central London where a permit is required.

It would be difficult to perv with one of those these as, although they are not noisy, they are still noticeable. As soon as you fly, people start coming over to talk about what you are doing. Best thing is flying them in the countryside at night - these things go high - I mean really high and look weird if you don’t know what they are. On a pitch dark night I’ve had people stop walking and gaze up in almost total panic!

As far as privacy is concerned - hey, they are used in a public place. High rise buildings have plenty of eyes in the sky!

Just read an article about criminals buying these camera drones and fitting them with infra red. They use them to find cannabis farms, apparently all the hydroponics give off loads of heat. They then proceed to raid or extort the cannabis farmers, who, according to the criminals using the drones, are more like enterprising hippies than gangsters, or something like that.

See, there are all sorts of concerns over these things.

But they are still awesome. I don’t know where I’ll be a few years down the line, but whenever I have a definite direction in life you can bet I’m going to be buying one of these!

So, how much improvised explosives can these things carry? And can they hover alongside a highrise apartment building and spy through the bedroom windows?

Depending on which drone you buy, anything from 100g to 5 or 6 kg. You can spy through people’s windows if you like, and even fly into people’s houses. I take off in my living room and fly straight out into the sky. With FPV and a very good camera, you can see anything.
These things have been around for years though, it’s just that they are becoming more advanced and more commercially available.

These things are going to get smaller,
and smaller,

and smaller,
until you won’t know whether you’re being filmed or not. Mosquito sized.

This is the future, right here.

They had drones at this year’s Dong Hua marathon, I’ll try and find the footage.

the footage is great. i think its cool for the use of it. but it just makes me want a jet pac so i can go exploring and appreciate the views for myself.

hokwongwei, so did you get one of these? I’ve been thinking of buying this particular model for aerial surveying. It ain’t cheap, but it sounds like a very good way to get the job done, and the made-in-China equivalents seem … well, shit.

Clarence: do they come with a proper controller, or do you have to use some sort of stupid touchpad interface on a mobile device?

DJI actually is a Chinese company, soo…

Anyway, I can’t afford one at this juncture. When I have an exra US$1,000 lying around (ha!) I’ll reconsider. It would make the best vacation videos ever (but that’s contingent upon me ever having vacation time).

I also want one but that won’t happen anytime soon. Right now I just want to be able to pay for rent and groceries every month and there are several toys on the list before a GoPro/drone to buy.

Team Black Sheep put out some good vids and products too.



Flight over Taipei City.
He used a Cinestar 8 with 2 axis gimbal. A Sony CX720V was used at 1080 60P and Panasonic LUMIX GH2.

Nice vid, the 101 fly-over is good. How high can these toys go?
Some of those shots look almost CGI, is there any post-production image manipulation going on?

For anyone after a local stockist of them.

kphoto.com.tw/front/bin/ptde … Category=0

kphoto.com.tw/front/bin/ptde … Category=0

Proper drones come with a controller. In actual fact, most drones are built to customer specification and that includes the choice of controller. The DJI Phantom comes with it’s own controller. However, some less professional drones are controlled by mobile devices, but their ranges are very limited. For example, I can fly laterally over 1.5km on the stock controller line of sight on the popular DJI Phantom, and on my more expensive rig, almost 3, although I have adapted the transmitter.
These drones can also go very high.

Team Blacksheep use some DJI frames and electronics for integration into their products - they just expand on existing frames. Although a Chinese based company, DJI are actually pretty good.

A set up like the one the guy above uses - Aircam Taiwan, will set you back about 170,00NT

The best guy to see in my opinion, is available at the number below. He specializes in both the sale and maintenance of mostly DJI helicopters and equipment, and is also a professional user of photography drones, and his after sales service is impeccable. He will take the time to go through things with you and he is always able to get parts, which you will eventually need. His English is also very good:

AZONE: Tel: 0922077951,

Here’s some of the Donghua Uni marathon footage. The crowd lapped it up, and the organisers were confident enough in the drone’s handler to let him fly it low over the runners.

Anyone know if there are local laws covering photo drones and what they are? I’d still really like to get one, but I don’t want to spend all that money only to discover I can’t fly it in the city.