Things to Consider Before Buying a Camera for Your Drone

By Mark LaFay

Cameras for your drone that have many features and capabilities can cost more, even much more, than their simpler counterparts. While money may not be an initial driver in your decision-making process, you will find that cost can, and will, spiral out of control very quickly. Your best bet is to identify a camera that neither exceeds nor falls short of your needs. To find an ideal match, you must assess how you will use the camera with your drone.

To help determine how you intend to use your camera, consider the following:

  • Determine whether you will be using your aerial photo/video rig primarily for hobby, or if you will be using it professionally.

    Hobby uses and professional uses can look identical depending on how seriously you take your hobbies. A personal assessment of need versus want combined with disposable income will help you make a decision on the level of features and investment you should make in your camera gear.

    Determining this balance is difficult for hobbyists because the decision is far more emotional than it is mathematical. Selecting gear for a professional application is a little easier because you can strip away the emotion to make a decision that is driven by dollars and sense.

  • Determine whether your core use is for photography or video.

    Most digital cameras that are designed for photography can capture video, and many of the digital video cameras have the option to capture stills. That said, if you want to take spectacular photos, you need to focus on cameras that can capture great photos.

    If you have some video needs, then a camera with video capabilities as a secondary feature may suffice. The same goes for video. If your primary use will be to capture video footage, focus on a camera designed for video. Pulling still photos from video footage isn’t ideal because it is tedious, but it is possible. Some video devices may also have photo capabilities as well.

  • Consider where your video or photography will be used.

    How will your finished work be used? Will you be printing photos in publications or to be framed and hung on the wall at home? Are you making videos to play on your smartphone or will it be for your ultra-high-definition television at home?

  • Where and when will you capture the majority of the footage?

    If you plan to capture videos and photos outside, then you need to decide whether or not you will be working in the elements. Will you have to work in the rain or snow, extreme temperatures, sandy or dusty air? If so, you will need to look for a camera that has options for handling these environments. If you plan to work with low-light much, you will want to ensure that the camera you choose works well in low light.