The Great Debate: "FPV" Drones vs "Regular" Drones for Filmmaking
Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for filmmakers and photographers in recent years, offering a unique perspective and the ability to capture stunning aerial shots. However, not all drones are created equal and there are different types that are built for different purposes. In this blog post, we're going to take a closer look at first person view (FPV) drones, exploring their differences from regular drones and whether they're any good for filmmaking.
First, let's define what we mean by "regular", "classic" or "normal" drones. These are typically the kind you might see more often, such as DJI drones, which are widely available and relatively easy to use. They come ready to fly straight out of the box, with built-in cameras, gimbals, sensors, and software. This makes them a popular choice for a wider customer base, as they have a faster learning curve and are simpler to pilot. Safety features such as sensors to prevent crashing into objects and a "return to home" function also make regular drones a safer option, especially for those who are new to flying drones.
One of the main drawbacks of regular drones is that they tend to be slower, with top speeds of around 50km/h due to the extra weight from the camera and gimbal. They also require larger on-board batteries, which can last up to 50 minutes depending on how you're flying and filming. However, this also means that if you do experience a collision and cause significant damage, you'll have to send the entire drone away for repair, which can take several weeks.
On the other hand, FPV drones offer a different flying experience. The name "first person view" refers to the perspective with which you fly the drone, as the pilot wears goggles that allow them to see what the drone camera is seeing in real-time. These drones require assembly and modification, giving you the option for customisation and the ability to change out the camera. This also means that they have a steeper learning curve, as they don't come with as many built-in features and guidance.
Despite the challenges of learning to fly an FPV drone, they offer more freedom and the potential for unique shots. Without the safety sensors found on regular drones, you have more potential for crashes, but you also have the ability to get much closer to objects and capture dynamic shots by flying in between trees or through small windows. FPV drones also have more movement options, allowing for tilts and flips that can result in some amazing footage.
In terms of speed, FPV drones are designed for racing and are considerably lighter, resulting in top speeds that can reach over 100km/h. They also have shorter battery life, with some lasting as little as 10-15 minutes. However, they are also much easier to repair, as you can simply replace damaged parts rather than sending the entire drone away.
So, are FPV drones any good for filmmaking? It really depends on what you're looking to achieve. If you want a drone that is easier to use and offers a safer flying experience, a regular drone might be the better choice. However, if you're willing to put in the extra time and effort to learn how to fly an FPV drone and you want the ability to capture unique shots with more movement options, then they can be an excellent choice for your film projects. Ultimately, the decision will come down to your personal preferences and what you're hoping to achieve with your drone footage.
It is also important to keep in mind that the legislation in Europe request to fly with "VLOS" (Visual Line of Sight), meaning that you should see the drone at any time. However, with the FPV drone, you can't see your drone externally as you wear a goggles. So you would need an observer with you, watching your drone, to inform you at any time of potential issues. The line is not really clear up to now but the different legislations authorities are working hard to share a more convenient universal legal framework.
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