5 Best Drones for Real Estate Photography

Choosing the best drone to use for real estate photography can be a daunting task. There are so many drones in the market and understanding which one is perfect for this task can be time-consuming and unnerving. There are certain things you should look for before purchasing.

Hello folks! My name is Lavelle and I am a licensed drone pilot and a long-time drone enthusiast. I have been using my drones for real estate photography for the past 10 years and I’ve gained a lot of experience in this field. 

In this article, I will go over some of the things you should consider when choosing a drone for your real estate photography interests. Additionally, I will show you my list of the best drones for real estate photography.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many camera drones in the market. Look for a drone that matches your user level and your budget.
  • Choose a camera drone with a good sensor as sensor size is important to capturing sharp and clear images.
  • Pick a camera drone that produces RAW images. RAW image files are larger files that are used in the post-production editing process.
  • When using your drone to take real estate photos, ensure that your images are clear and taken from a flattering angle.
  • Try to use the photo burst option if available so you have more image options to choose from.
Is real estate drone photography worth it?

Yes, real estate drone photography is absolutely worth pursuing. I have been involved with real estate photography for nearly 10 years and find it to be rewarding and exciting.

The cost of a camera drone varies from as little as $250 to as much as $2500 depending on your skill level and budget. You can always start out on the lower end and move up as your budget allows.

Yes, I have met and talked with many real estate agents who use drones. Some of them use the drones themselves and some of them look for drone pilots to conduct work for them.

Yes, you can take pictures of people’s homes with a drone. You do want to be mindful of privacy considerations and communicate with homeowners to convey your intentions.

What Makes The Best Drone for Real Estate Photography

Here are a few important factors to consider when shopping for a drone for real estate photography.

Sensor Size

You want to choose a camera drone that has a good sensor size on it. The sensor should be large enough to let adequate light in so that your images will be sharp and clear. Additionally, look for a camera with high megapixels. This will allow your images to have more details and they will be easier to edit in post-production.

RAW Images

Another vital aspect of real estate photography is having a camera on your drone that can produce RAW images. The RAW feature (an uncompressed digital file) allows the camera to produce an unedited, uncompressed image file. These files are typically larger, however, the large file gives you the ability to edit easily.

Other Considerations

These include things or features like:

  • The “Return to Home” feature allows the drone to return to its launch location in the event that you lose your connection to the drone. 
  • The “Cinematic Mode” feature can be very useful as it allows you to conduct a slow pan into a fast-moving shot.
  • The “Tripod Mode” feature allows you to take smooth, cinematic shots. Regardless of how fast the drone is flying, you can still get a smooth photo. It is particularly useful when shooting landscape photos. 

Top 5 Drones for Real Estate Photography

Here is my list of the top five drones to use for real estate photography. I’ve ranked these based on inherent features, ease of use, and photo quality.

1. DJI Mavic 3 (Best Overall)

  • Resolution:  20MP
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: Return to Home
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal

I’ve chosen the DJI Mavic 3 as my #1 pick for several reasons. If you just look at something like the megapixel number (20), you might think that this is not a wise choice for #1. However, let me explain a few other things to you. 

The Hasselblad camera on this drone is a cutting-edge technology that allows the camera to capture what the human eye would actually see close up. In other words, the RAW image that is captured is filled with exceptional detail. 

This camera has a Natural Color Solution that produces high-quality images even in low light conditions. It also produces 12-bit RAW images which have remarkable detail quality.

Additionally, the exceptional video quality produces phenomenal videos at 60 frames per second and has a H.264 encoder which can be used in feature film production. 

The only improvements I can see for the Mavic 3 is to add the Panorama Mode and Master Shot Mode that was promised by DJI before its release. DJI reports that these features will be added in the upcoming updates.

My Verdict: Overall, this drone offers the most comprehensive aerial photography and videography package. The extended 46-minute flight time is an added value that is important for real estate photographers. For the dollar value, it’s the best on the market in my opinion.

2. DJI Phantom IV Pro 2.0 (Best Gimbal Stabilization)

  • Resolution: 20MP
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: TapFly, ActiveTrack, Draw mode, Gesture mode
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal

The Phantom IV Pro 2.0 has one of the best stabilization setups of all the DJI drones. The 3-axis motorized gimbal and the mechanical shutter on the camera, eliminate rolling shutter distortion and create a near-perfect shot every time.

This drone also comes with a 5.5 inch 1080p LCD screen on the remote controller and allows you to see your shots clearly, even in direct sunlight conditions.

When it comes to flight performance, the Phantom V Pro 2.0 is an absolute king! With a maximum flight speed of 72 KPH and an 8K transmission range, it is the leader of the pack. 

The 1080p livestream and OcuSync 2.0 features also give it the bells and whistles to compete with any camera drone on the market.

If you are looking for a lightweight drone, then this one is not for you. It’s a heavier drone and is not made for beginners. Operators should be experienced to maximize the features of this aircraft.

My verdict: With its super sturdy construction made up of titanium alloy and magnesium alloy, the airframe is light enough to move easily but rigid enough to maintain exceptional stability. The Flight Autonomy systems and advanced obstacle sensing features make this drone an easy #2 on my list.

3. DJI Mavic Air 2 (Best Resolution)

  • Resolution: 48MP
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: ActiveTrack 3.0
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal

For super clear images, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is at the top of the list. With a whopping 48-megapixel resolution, it is head and shoulders above the rest of the field in this category. This drone also offers incredible HDR video performance.

Another impressive feature of this drone is the 34-minute flight time. Real estate photographers love this feature because it keeps you in the air longer than some of the other drones. The 3-directional obstacle sensing feature is an added bonus and helps novice pilots stay safe in the air.

An impressive flight time of up to 34 minutes allows you to pull off epic, fast-paced shots. Obstacle sensing in three directions makes it extra convenient for beginners and improves safety for your Mavic Air 2.

The only areas of concern that I see for this drone is the slightly heavier weight than its predecessor and the limited 8k video production. It does not allow all videos to be produced at the 8k resolution.

My verdict: With the most powerful camera resolution in the DJI family, this drone is a great choice for beginner to intermediate real estate photographers who want to minimize post-production editing. The 1-inch CMOS sensor, autonomous functions, and high-resolution camera, make this the best choice for image quality.

4. Autel Evo Nano (Best Mini Drone)

  • Resolution: 50MP
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: Obstacle avoidance and Fly Safe
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal

The 50MP camera on this drone is comparable to the DJI Mavic Air 2, however, the Autel Evo Nano is a smaller, mini drone that produces some excellent quality photos. Being the size of a cellular phone when folded, this drone is easy to unpack and get up in the air quickly. 

It is great for low light or night shooting due to its extraordinary light sensitivity. It has a smaller CMOS sensor (0.8 inches instead of the 1-inch sensor) but is still capable of producing clear images. It is remarkably stable for a mini drone and can handle windy conditions very well.

The autofocus system is notable and the HDR mode for video transmission is quite impressive. Users can create professional-quality shots using the automatic shooting modes. 

The one area of concern with this drone is that using the RAW feature is somewhat difficult. A novice user may find it challenging to get to the RAW feature and even more difficult to select the right settings for it.

My verdict: This ultra-light mini drone is the best choice for real estate photographers who want a compact, easy-to-use, quality drone. An added benefit is that at 249 grams it does not have to be registered with the FAA. It is best used for quick real estate photos and its only drawback is the somewhat low flight time.

5. Holy Stone HS720E (Best Budget)

  • Resolution: 4k
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: Return to Home and Follow Me
  • Sensor: Sony Image Sensor
  • Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal

The Holy Stone HS720E is the best budget drone for real estate photography. It houses a respectable 4K resolution camera and uses the Sony Image Sensor. The full high-definition camera includes a shock absorption feature and keeps the drone stable.

The GPS intelligent flight mode is a nice touch on this mid-sized drone. The return-to-home feature is useful, especially given the relatively low 23-minute flight time. The Follow Me feature is also a nice addition.

The biggest concern here is that at 460 grams it does have to be registered with the FAA. Also, the limited photography features such as White Balance and 60 frames per second video transmission create low-quality videos. I am also concerned with the slow flying speed and reports of needing to re-calibrate it often.

My verdict: This beginner-level drone is a great budget choice to start out with in the real estate photography field, as it is relatively easy to use. But before you make a purchase decision, make sure to be aware of the cons as I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Real estate photography is a great field to get into. Choosing the right camera drone is an important step in meeting your photography goals. The best camera drone is a subjective choice, however, in my experience, the DJI Mavic 3 offers the best overall value.

Now that I’ve given you my choices for the top camera drones for real estate photography, hope you find this review useful. If you still are uncertain about which way to go, you might consider renting a drone once or twice to check out the drone’s camera for yourself before purchasing one. 

I’d love to get some feedback from you. Are you currently involved in real estate photography? Which drone model do you use? Which drone from today’s list would you pick? Leave your comments below. Thanks and happy flying!

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