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In a recent post on our blog, we discussed how to get into real estate drone photography as a side gig or even a full-time career. Before you can pursue that avenue, you need the right drone for the job. Which UAVs on the market are best for real estate?
We recommend the following drones for real estate photography and videography:
• DJI Mavic Air 2
• Autel EVO Pro II 6K
• DJI Phantom 4 Pro
• DJI Inspire 2
• Parrot Anafi
Ahead, we’ll go over each of these five UAV models, reviewing them and covering their pros and cons. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel comfortable choosing a drone that’s ideal for your new gig in real estate.
What Makes a Drone Well-Suited for Real Estate?
Not every drone is necessarily appropriate for professional-level real estate work. Here’s what you need out of a UAV if you hope to use it to make money.
Great Photo and Video Quality
If your drone’s camera shoots in anything less than 4K, then forget it, you can’t rely on it for photography or videography. The footage will turn out too fuzzy to be usable in any home listings. You’ll also hurt your reputation by working with such a poor quality camera.
DJI is at the top of the heap when it comes to drone cameras with excellent photo and video quality. Autel and Parrot also offer powerful cameras in their respective UAVs that are good for your job.
Long Flight Times
The job of a real estate drone photographer is to capture overhead footage of a property for sale. You need a drone that can spend some serious time in the air; otherwise, you’ll have to take too many breaks. This will again hinder your job performance and hurt your chances of staying in real estate. Drones that can fly for upwards of 30 minutes or longer are crucial in this application. Anything longer than that is nice, but not necessary.
As your UAV ascends around a property, be that a home or a commercial business, there will surely be obstacles nearby. These obstacles are most often trees, but not exclusively. Chimneys, antennas, weathervanes, and even adjacent buildings must all be navigable by your drone.
It’s not enough for you to be an expert at operating your drone via remote. Since you can’t always see what’s going on dozens of feet in the air, the drone needs built-in obstacle avoidance. Without this feature, there’s no guarantee your drone won’t hit something close and fall to the ground, where it will be severely damaged or even broken.
Electronic image stabilization or EIS is a feature that’s becoming more common in drones, especially inexpensive models. EIS uses electronic features to “smooth” your footage, which sure sounds useful, right? What tends to result with most drones that feature EIS is a cropped, low-res photo or video.
Rather than add stabilization features after the fact, buy a drone that has a gimbal to keep the UAV secure in the sky. One with a three-axis gimbal especially will prevent your photos and videos from coming out shaky and blurry.
Besides the height at which your drone can fly, you also need a UAV with a good signal range. If your drone has a range of four miles, you’re more than covered. Since legally, you need to be able to see your UAV the whole time it’s in operation, you’ll never go all four miles. Even still, the option is there.
These Are the 5 Best Drones for Real Estate
Now that you know which features to prioritize, here are our picks for the best real estate drones available.
DJI Mavic Air 2
Unsurprisingly, most of the drones on this list will be from DJI. If you’re still a bit new to the world of UAVs, DJI is considered the crème de la crème. The price of their drones reflects that premium quality, so make sure you have a sizable budget.
The Mavic Air 2 is the follow-up to the original Mavic Air, which was a beloved DJI drone. The new and improved model features a camera with a CMOS sensor that shoots photos at 48 MP and video in 4K Ultra HD. You also get 8 gigabytes of internal storage.
You can select from photo modes such as sphere, 180-degree panorama, wide, vertical, SmartPhoto, timed, automatic exposure bracketing, burst, and single shots. Supported photo formats include DNG or RAW files as well as JPG. With the HEVC video codec, you can retain the detail and dynamic range of your videos without hogging up too much storage space.
The three-axis gimbal can pan, roll, and tilt between 45 and 100 degrees depending on the gimbal settings. A lithium-ion polymer battery powers the Mavic Air 2, which has a max hover time of 33 minutes and a max flight time of 34 minutes on non-windy days.
The Advanced Pilot Assistance System 3.0 or APAS is for obstacle avoidance, which the Mavic Air 2 can do in three different directions. With its included auxiliary light, the drone has more visibility even in darker conditions.
One of the best features of the Mavic Air 2 is QuickShots, which lets you set an aerial route for real estate videography or photography. You can even create a Story template with filters, effects, and music for that extra bit of pizzazz to your footage.
Other features of the Mavic Air 2 include dual-frequency communication for less interference, livestreaming with OcuSync 2.0, 8K Hyperlapse shots, and tracking with FocusTrack. The Mavic Air 2 costs $799.
Autel EVO II Pro 6K
The next real estate drone to have on your radar is the Autel EVO II Pro 6K. Autel is a drone manufacturer known for its EVO series of UAVs. Since the original EVO, these drones have gotten better and better.
The EVO II Pro has a max flight time of 40 minutes, which is even more than the DJI Mavic Air 2. Its ISO range for photos is 100 to 12,800 and its video ISO range is 100 to 6,400 as a default. The default video resolution is 5472×3076. This lets you take footage in 6K Ultra HD quality and 10-bit HDR.
The obstacle avoidance goes even further, extending all 360 degrees so it’s like the EVO II has eyes in the back, front, sides, and underneath. Dynamic Track 2.0 lets you set the track path of this drone while the hyper-light feature makes visibility a breeze when conditions grow dim.
Included in the box is everything you need to get started with the Autel EVO II Pro 6K, including a micro-SD card holder, cables (type-C and micro USB), an RC charging cable, a power cable, battery charger, propellers, a carrying case, and a spare battery. This drone starts at $1,795.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
The Phantom 4 Pro by DJI is another beloved UAV from this brand. The V2.0 model has a new transmission system and is supposed to run more quietly. Admittedly, the noisiness of your drone doesn’t really affect your job in real estate as much as it would something like news drone photography or videography, but a quiet experience is still important.
Equipped with a LiPo 4S battery, the Phantom 4 Pro has wind resistance of 10 miles per second and a max flight time of 30 minutes. That’s not super-duper remarkable compared to some of the other drones we’ve looked at, but it’s more than adequate for your job’s duties.
The camera includes a CMOS sensor and records in a multitude of video modes. These modes are HD, FHD, 2.7K, 4K, and C4K. You can also take photos in three aspect ratios, 3:2, 4:3, or 16:9. For still photography, select from modes such as interval, auto exposure bracketing, burst shooting, or single shots. The supported file formats for video are HEVC/H.265, AVC/H.264, and MPV/MOV. For photos, you can shoot in DNG, JPG, or RAW.
The Phantom 4 Pro’s three-axis gimbal will yaw, roll, and pitch between 30 and 90 degrees. Its built-in vision system includes downward, backward, and forward vision with obstacle sensing up to 30 meters in front of the drone.
This UAV also has an intelligent flight battery that indicates how much more juice you have out of the drone before it needs a recharge. The touchscreen remote with a 5.5-inch screen makes controlling your Phantom 4 Pro easy. If you’d prefer to livestream, you can do so in up to 1080p quality thanks to OcuSync 2.0.
FlightAutonomy, which uses 3D mapping, keeps your drone on its path. So too do the intelligent flight modes included with the Phantom 4 Pro. This DJI drone costs $1,519.
DJI Inspire 2
We also recommend the DJI Inspire 2. Following up on all that was good about the original Inspire 1, the Inspire 2 packs in even more features for budding real estate drone photographers.
For instance, the Inspire 2 has a 4K Zenmuse X7 camera for HD photos and videos. If you shoot in Apple ProRes, you get 5.2K quality for your footage. For Cinema DNG/RAW, video quality increases to 6K. CineCore 2.0, which was already a beloved feature in some DJI drones, has been replaced with the upgraded CineCore 2.1, the Inspire 2’s image processing system.
Capable of achieving dizzying speeds of 50 miles per hour in a matter of seconds and boasting a top speed of 58 MPH, the Inspire 2 is one zippy drone. It can stay in the air for 27 minutes, which is the lowest flight time thus far but still good enough for real estate work.
If it’s a cold day but you have to take photos or videos, the Inspire 2 features technology that warms the drone up internally so it won’t freeze when you need it most. FlightAutonomy is back with this DJI model, adding two obstacle avoidance directions. You also get further intelligence features such as Spotlight Pro.
The three-axis gimbal included with this drone has panning, rolling, and pitching features up to 320 degrees for panning. The DJI Inspire 2 costs $3,299, making it the most expensive on this list!
Although not all Parrot drones are ideal for real estate, the Anafi certainly is. After all, as Parrot says, this UAV was “designed for the U.S Army.” It should be more than sufficient for your uses.
The camera module has five axes in all, three electronic ones and two mechanical ones. That keeps the camera ultra-stable as you shoot in 4K HDR. Optical sensors by Sony also lend the Anafi’s camera further stability. Tilt that camera up to 180 degrees and zoom in 3x to capture the detail of every home you sell.
The Anafi’s takeoff time is 28 seconds, and it can fly for 26 minutes at a clip, which is only one minute less than the DJI Inspire 2. The battery lasts for 25 minutes on average and takes an hour and a half to fully charge.
Oh, and the Anafi folds for compact travel, which is always convenient. The drone costs $700.
To succeed with your new job in real estate drone photography and videography, you need a quality drone. When I bought my DJI Mavic I also purchased a drone tracker. Whether you buy from DJI, Autel, or even Parrot, any of the drones we suggested in this post will make your real estate shots even better! These drones are so powerful that we suggest some of these drones are good options for roof inspections.