With 360 video, a new dimension has taken the photography world by storm, and video has never been the same since. 360 drone cameras, which are able to shoot footage from amazing angles and heights and under extreme conditions, have further revolutionized the field. Their disruptive factor is that they provide a totally new perspective on the world.
Drone 360 cameras serve many different audiences. For professional photographers, camera drones even bring in opportunities for greater income, such as photographing special events and ceremonies, real estate properties and more. Instead of the standard family photos of people standing in a row, dancing or sitting at the table, the drone camera can provide exciting unforgettable photography of an event – and who doesn’t want their event to be memorable? Photography of real estate can also be compelling in 3D, giving people the sense that they have really been on the premises, and providing birds’ eye view on the house and neighborhood.
For amateurs, drone 360 video cameras can be a great source of fun for individuals and families, in their spare time or on a vacation. With a drone camera, kids can view the world in a new way and parents can create a new kind of family memorabilia. They can create awesome content by filming cityscapes, family photos, aerial photos of their home, neighborhood, landscapes, mountains, lakes, ocean views and mass events.
For social media enthusiasts, a 360-drone camera definitely gives an edge over the competition, with smooth, focused clear photos and footage. 360 drone cameras give users the opportunity to experience the places that appear in the footage firsthand.
Unfortunately, the current market isn’t exactly flooded with drones with integrated 360 cameras. Great promises like the highly anticipated crowd-funded EXO360 apparently never reached production and no news about it has surfaced for over a year. Aerial Pro 360’s website is no longer online, and their social media presence froze around the same time as EXO’s. Most other built-in camera drones only shoot regular photos (usually up to 108 degrees). There are some drones with built-in rigs for several standard cameras that create a spherical image in stitching, but even these are far and in-between. Drone Volt’s Janus 360 doesn’t seem to be in production anymore (though you can still get one through Adorama), Varavon’s VR Gimbal Drone never showed up on their site after their 2016 announcement (but it might be possible to get it through direct contact with the company), and Kodak’s dual camera base mount for their SP360 4K VR camera is no longer available for purchase. At the moment, it seems like the vast majority of professional photographers have either built their own special rigs to mount regular or 360 cameras on drones or had some custom-made for them by companies such as DJI. In this article we’ll look at some of the drones with integral rigs on the market.
If you prefer your own set of specifications, you can buy a regular drone and add your own cameras or special rig (there are plenty of 3D printing instructions for rigs just like that available online). Just pay attention to the specific weight limits and remember – you’ll need to either edit the drone out of the frame in post or use at least two cameras (one on top of the drone and one at the bottom) to get a full 360 view, both horizontally and vertically. And don’t forget the importance of a stabilizer! When working with several cameras on a flying machine, they tend to vibrate differently, making stitching a pain. Stabilizers are your friends.
Here are a few interesting drones to check out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to update this short list in the future:
This flying monster is a professional powerhouse that proclaims to be the “world’s first broadcast quality, live streaming VR drone”. It offers up to 6K live and non-live VR resolution with the company’s own Mini EYE 3, a 3 VR camera rig genlocked to frame synchronization up to 60fps and built-in live stitching. You can broadcast in high resolution 360 video from the sky to multiple social networks or custom apps and more. It has a max wireless video range of 3 – 6 miles and can fly about 10 – 12 minutes on a single charge. Considering its extremely high price it might be good to know that they offer full personal customization and it is available not only for purchase but also for rental.
- Live Stitcher Capability (30fps): Can stitch 3 x 4K inputs, to 4K or 6K stitched output.
- Live Stitcher Capability (60fps): Can stitch 3 x HD inputs, to 3K output at 60fps.
- Audio Channels: 6 Audio channels
- Microphones: Can use built-in on-camera (Blackmagic) microphones (6 total) or up to 6 external microphones
Price – $75,000 (this package includes the DJI Matrice 600 Pro drone, the Mini EYE 3 camera package, a Camera stabilization system, and more)
The Janus 360 is an extremely strong drone with an integral rig that can hold up to 10 GoPro cameras, 5 above the frames and 5 below them, capturing 150GB of amazing 360 video and still images for 15 consecutive minutes in each flight. It can take 360 photos in a way that the propellers and gear don’t appear in the images. The GoPro cameras record 4K images at 30fps.
Price – $20,000 (package includes Janus 260 drone and 10 4K GoPro cameras).