Aerial photography and FPV flying are getting really popular these years among hobbyists. Multicopter is a great platform for these purposes even if you have little or no flying experience. There are some of my personal opinions I follow to fly these vehicles which I will discuss in this article.
If you’re interested in flying for entertainment, or you’re using a multicopter for photography, you’re going to have some very specific needs.
As far as multicopter configurations are concerned right now, Quadcopter and Hexacopter are the two most popular platform for Aerial Photography. Y6 is also getting popular due to reliability but the coaxial motor arrangement causes more vibrations. Octacopter is the most stable but has a higher chance of failure as there are more components involved. But there are more to consider.
Multicopter Stability and Lifting Capability
Stability is an important factor for clear video images. If your multicopter is shaking, you’re photos will generally turn out bad. If you’re using a heavier camera for good quality photos, you’ll need to choose a multicopter that can carry the additional weight. Some hobbyists use smaller cameras like the gopro, which are lighter and easier to be stabilized, not to mention you can save money on a cheaper multicopters.
Choosing a good camera mount (or even camera gimbals) would also greatly improve your video quality as well regardless which multicopter configuration you plan to use. When I was building my tricopter, I made a vibration dampening camera mount using piano wire, which improved the video quality.
If you want to do aerial cinematography, you might need a multicopter that is capable of carrying a heavier load assuming the camera would be a professional and heavy one. Cinematography is much more technical and difficult than photography. Your shots have to be smooth and your multicopter has to fly perfectly to achieve decent results. Normally you will definitely need a camera gimbal for stabilization.
Range, Fight Time
The place and landscape you are planning to shoot would decide on the required range, flight time and speed of your multicopter. If you’re shooting photos that require you to fly over a larger area, range and flight time will most definitely be the most important factors. No matter what type of multicopter you’re using, battery life is everything.
Range is decided on the radio and video transmitter/receiver you are going to use, and frequency of the signal plays a big part in it.
Flight time can be maximized by carefully choosing the right battery for your multicopter. Here I shared a method on how I choose the suitable battery.
Safety and Training
Just like driving, you need to know the vehicle well enough to drive it on the road. Same applies to multicopter, if you’re inexperienced, you may want to practice on a less expensive model before moving onto models with more extensive features. Avoid areas with power lines, properties, people and obstacles, and make sure your camera is secured to the aircraft. Having a camera suddenly become unfastened and fall is a huge safety issue and liability.
Fly safely, and responsibly. Good luck. :)