Michael Freeman’s ‘Get The Photos Others Can’t,’ is a book that highlights the importance of access for photographers. Permission to access cool places leads to photographs that stand out from the everyday vernacular. Drones open the skies for photographers, providing a birds-eye view of the world below. Spoiler: The DJI Mini3 Pro does this exceptionally well. This is my review – in the loosest sense of the word!
The above photo is of a large wetland area at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. It would have been challenging to get to a position by foot to have captured this image, so the drone made life much easier. Flying the drone around the swampland was assisted by anti-collision sensors. This location was near an airport, so before launching, I had to gain permission to fly, which is reasonably straightforward if you have internet access (often hot-linking via a phone).
I purchased the version with a screen built into the remote, leaving my phone free for whatever.
The camera has a wide-angle, fixed-aperture lens that, when not in use, gets tucked away with a fiddly bit of foam and a plastic clip. The aperture is fixed at 1.7, which sounds a lot more limiting than it actually is. Everything stays in focus as the sensor is small. The camera shoots in RAW and JPEG at either 12m or 48m pixels. It can bracket photos of 12 million pixels but not those shot at 48. I hope this is fixed in a firmware update! The video quality is meant to be good, but I am more interested in the photography side, and the images look sweet to me.
The drone is small and weighs under 250grams. This means it does not need to be registered. Secondly, because it is small and quiet you are less likely to get caught using it in areas you should not. Obviously I would never do that. I purchased the ‘fly more pack’, and now I can head off with a drone, the remote, and three batteries all tucked into my standard camera bag. The drone itself is no larger than a medium-sized lens. Three batteries provide roughly 1.5 hours of flying time, which is good. Larger batteries are available, but bring the drone to over 250grams, which complicates the legal side of things, though really who checks?
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is really fun to use, and the image quality is good enough more most tasks. If I need to sell a print, of enter an image into a competition then I can always work some magic in post production. Because the drone is small, it comes with me more often. And do I get the photos others can’t? Probably not, but i’ll have fun trying.
Lastly, hot news on the horizon. There will not be many more posts coming from New Zealand. Travel photography is back on the map and should be moving back to China later this year.