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Up in the Air

Spotlight on Drones and Aerial Photography

A New Toy

We're flying a new drone these days, the DJI Mavic Pro. This sleek little monster takes to the air with a vengeance. It's got all the bells and whistles a drone pilot dreams of, yet it folds up neatly and can be carried in a standard briefcase. Of all of its wonderful new features, what we like about it is that it is a whole lot easier to fly and a lot more reliable.

The First Drone

When Spot On Images started offering drone photography, the DJI Phantom was the king of the air, so that's what we got. During our research we discovered there were several out-of -the box issues with it, but compared to the rest of the products available, there really was no competition. If you were going to use a drone for the real estate photography business, you needed a Phantom.

The Phantom was a money maker for us. We were able to shoot still and video images with it for our customers. However, there were other times it just wouldn't work. We discovered the king of the air was temperamental.

Drones are designed to utilize a personal device in their controller for flying - a smartphone or a tablet. We had a tablet specifically designated for the drone and it would usually work, but you couldn't depend on it. So when we loaded up for a drone shoot, we'd take the tablet and a smartphone - just in case.

Setting up and calibrating the drone in the field takes some time, but if you do it for the tablet and then turn around and have to do it for the smartphone, well, then it can get pretty frustrating. And talk about frustrating. Imagine going through two different set up processes and only then discovering that you wouldn't be able to fly at all because of electronic interference. This was something that happened all too often with the Phantom.

Less is More

If you were to put the two drones side by side, the first thing you would notice was how much more compact the Mavic is compared to the Phantom. What's more, the arms holding the Mavic's propellers fold neatly into the body of the drone. The less is more theme continues with the controller and batteries. That's why Bill was able to pull a standard briefcase out of the attic, cut some foam to fit the equipment and have a great carrying case.

The Phantom was much larger and nothing folded into anything. Unwilling to fork out a small fortune for a specialized case, Bill transported the drone in a cardboard produce box altered to cradle the components of the drone. The Phantom's controller was so large and so heavy that you needed to wear a harness to fly it effectively. Not exactly an up-to-date fashion accessory.

The way the Phantom controller was designed, the personal device was installed into an altar-like appendage on the body of the controller. From that precarious perch the personal device was always very hard to see. Many times Bill resorted to covering his head with a towel in order to see what he was shooting. Talk about ruining your ensemble.

The Mavic's interface with the personal device is better integrated into the drone, it works much better and like the propellers on the drone, when it's time to pack up, the device holder folds into the body of the controller.

The Greatest Benefit

The ergonomic features of the Mavic's design make it a much easier-to-use tool, but the improvements continue. The communication between the controller and the aircraft are also much better. Far too often it would have been true to say we flew the Phantom with a wing and a prayer. For no apparent reason, the communication between the drone and the controller would just disappear. The drone would be up there somewhere flying around, but we couldn't see what the camera saw and we couldn't tell exactly where the drone actually was, unless Jane was acting as Visual Observer to keep an eye on the physical drone in the air. Thankfully the "home" button worked well and when it was pushed, the drone would soon appear overhead, but all that coming home business took up entirely too much time.

Take Us for a Test Drive

We love our new toy and you will love the resulting images. We like it so much, we're making this offer to new clients. If you call or text 214-499-6519 in the month of November to book your first real estate photography appointment, we'll throw in a drone shot for free. That's a $50 value! So, don't hesitate to book your appointment now! When you contact us, just tell us you want the "Blog Special" to get you free drone shot.

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