4 Main Types of Drones for Real Estate Photography and Videos

Discover the four types of drones plus their primary applications and uses as well as what is the best type of drone for real estate aerial photos.
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Drone flying over mountains taking photos

The very notion of flying has fascinated me since my early childhood.

When we think of all the complexities involved in flight and how we as humans overcame them all, it is, to say the least, mindboggling.

We went from the Wright Brothers first short flight to the ability to fly unmanned aircraft like drones within a very short period of time.

And, we continue to make further strides in flight as each year passes.

I first became interested in drones when I saw a military version of the Predator drone being used during the Afghanistan war in the early 2000s.

Yes, seeing an unmanned drone carrying and delivering a bomb with surgical precision is what did it for me.

I have been fascinated with drones ever since.

Drones were first created to perform tasks warranted too dangerous, dull, or dirty for manned aircraft.

Coming in sizes ranging from mini to the size of fighter jets, drones have, in one form or another, been in use since WWI.

Most people are now familiar with drones like the Predator and the smaller ones used by hobbyists, but did you know that there are actually four main types of drones that are used for a variety of applications?

In this post you will discover these drone types in addition to some interesting facts about each one.

What are the different types of drones?

The four drone types are “multi-rotor” followed by “fixed wing”, then “single rotor”, and finally “hybrid” drones, with multi-rotor drones being the most popular and widely recognized drone in use today.

Just listing the types of drones isn’t enough, so I will also explain each one in detail.

1. Multi-rotor drones

Multi-rotor drown above the city

A multi-rotor drone is powered by more than two rotors, usually four, hence the popular name “quadcopter”.

Multi-rotor drones are the preferred drone type for hobbyists and are ideal for businesses that require aerial videos and photos such as real estate agents, wedding photographers, and land surveyors.

Plus, they have other applications as well, such as military, law enforcement, agriculture, media, science, and biology.

Smaller versions of these types of drones are also used for competition in the Drone Racing League (DRL), which has grown by leaps and bounds since its initial season.

The popularity of multi-rotor drones comes as no surprise.

Since most single and double rotor drones use complex variable pitch controls for flight control and stability, a multi-rotor drone typically uses fixed blades whereby individual rotor speed is used for control.

The less complex approach of fixed blades makes multi-rotor drones easier to fly for novices and pros alike.

This, coupled with their affordability, are the main reasons why they are the go-to drones for so many in private and business sectors.

2. Fixed-wing drones

Fixed wing drone

A fixed-wing drone is one that uses a wing connected to an empennage to provide lift as opposed to rotor-driven blades that are connected to a motor.

Most use gas driven motors for power though some are battery driven, soon solar will become a more viable and prominent fuel source for drones.

Fixed-wing drones, like the USAF MQ-9 Reaper, resemble airplanes more than any other drone type. In fact, some are just unmanned airplanes.

They are used for a variety of applications such as military, civilian, and for hobbyists alike.

Military fixed-wing drones have been in use longer than any other type of drone. Modern day use of military drones includes: mapping, weather, radar, surveillance, and weapons delivery.

In addition to the military, fixed-wing drones are also used by Federal agencies plus state and local agencies such as law enforcement.

Civilian use is the same as the militaries, minus the weapons. They are primarily used by universities for aerial research, farmers, and surveyors.

Hobbyists enjoy flying fixed-wing drones simply for the thrill of flying something that resembles a real airplane, even if they are not in the cockpit.

The advantages of a fixed-wing drone over any other is length of flight, with the main disadvantage being the inability to hover in one spot.

Due to their size, their future may be limited in the civil and private sector as the need and demand for smaller, faster, more efficient drones increases.

3. Single rotor drones

single rotor drone aka remote control helicopter


Single rotor drones are just that: drones that use one rotor for lift and control as opposed to duel or multi-rotor drones.

Most have tail rotors that are used for control only; therefore, tail rotors are not considered when it comes to rotor count.

These types of drones look and fly like helicopters and preform many of the same functions, especially in the military sector.

A good example of a single rotor military drone is the USN/USMC Fire Scout developed by Northrop Grumman. This drone is truly a helicopter that is designed to operate from land and air-capable ships.

Its primary functions include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, target-acquisition, battle management, and tactical uses.

Civilian use includes surveillance, mapping, radar, research, and agriculture.

Hobbyists fly single-rotor drones due to their ability to perform maneuvers that multi-rotor drones cannot; however, they are more expensive plus harder to control and fly than multi-rotor drones.

While both types of drones use rotors for lift, they do have major differences when it comes to their capabilities.

Single rotor drones are able to lift heavier payloads and fly farther (in a linear line) but multi-rotor drones offer a smoother flight that is preferred by professionals such as cinematographers.

The future of these drone types is wide-open. As technology advances, and the militaries dependence on unmanned aircraft grows, so should the use of single-rotor drones.

4. Hybrid drones

hybrid fixed wing rotor drone

Finally, we have my favorite drone type: fixed-wing hybrid drones that are capable of vertical take-off and landing or VTOL.

These types of drones are by far the most underdeveloped and underutilized out of all drone types.

The VTOL concept of flight has been around for decades. From the 1940’s to the 1950’s, manned hybrid drones were built, tested, and developed without much fanfare or success.

It was not until the 1960’s that British manufacturer Hawker Siddeley conceived and built a working VTOL aircraft that eventually developed into the Harrier Jump Jet.

Fast forward to the present to find there are many variations of hybrid drones under development in both government and civilian sectors.

In fact, Harris Aerial President Ben Harris states, “Hybrid drones are the future of this technology.”

Mr. Harris went on to say that the company’s new gas and electric hybrid cargo drone, the Carrier H4 Hybrid, is “capable of performing significantly better than any other drone on the market today.”

He can say this because the Carrier H4 Hybrid drone has the largest payload capacity, and can fly longer and farther than any other drone in its class.

Hybrid drones like this are designed to take off and land either on a runway or vertically which gives them the advantage of being able to use short runways or fields.

Coupled with their lower cost of operation, we may see more and more hybrid drones being used in the near future, especially in the business sector for tasks like delivery services.

Best Drones for Real Estate Photography

Real estate drone photography has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, and it’s no wonder why.

Drones are able to capture images of properties that a regular camera just doesn’t have the capability to do, like aerial shots and videos that have become so vital when it comes to selling property.

In the past, expensive helicopters had to be used in order to showcase a property from the air.

Fast forward to today and many real estate agents own and operate their own real estate drones, which of course saves them time and most important – money.

If you are a real estate agent in need of a new real estate drone, know that you have many choices in a variety of price ranges, which some may find a bit confusing.

In order to help cut through all the clutter I have put together this list.

After researching and reviewing the best drones for real estate photography available on Amazon, it was easy to narrow down my choices for the best three based off my criteria that includes:

  • A minimum 4-star rating
  • A minimum of 10 reviews from verified purchasers
  • A minimum of 10 answered questions
  • A minimum 20-minute flight time (total, all batteries included being used)

With that being said, here are my choices for the best 3 real estate drones for 2019.

1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter with Hasselblad Camera HDR Video UAV Adjustable Aperture 20MP 1" CMOS Sensor

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This drone is Amazons choice for best drone for real estate aerial photography and is my choice too.

There is an old saying: “You get what you pay for” and this drone is no exception. The Mavic DJI Drone may be one of the higher-priced real estate drones on the market but it is hands down the best.

Features include;

  • “Hyperlapse” technology (Enhances shooting effects)
  • A Hasselblad L1D-20c camera that includes a 20MP 1” CMOS Sensor
  • Up to 31 minutes flight time
  • 44 mph max speed
  • Gross 907g takeoff weight
  • A 3-axis gimbal for steadier shots
  • 8GB of internal storage
  • An SD card that supports up to 128 GB
  • Low noise
  • Adjustable aperture
  • HDR photos

What’s Included: 1 Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 Gimbal Protector, 1 Remote Controller, 3x Propellers (Pair), 1 Battery Charger, 1 Power Cable, 1 Communication Cable (USB3.0 Type-C Cable), 1 USB Adapter, 1 Spare Control Sticks (Pair), 1 RC Cable (Lightning), 1 RC Cable (Micro USB connector), 1 RC Cable (USB Type-C connector)

Positives

  • Long flight times
  • Fast flights
  • Works as stated
  • Easy to control
  • Long life (when cared for properly)
  • Durable
  • Dependable
  • Adjustable aperture
  • Excellent value

Negatives

  • Not recommended for beginners
  • One verified purchaser stated his drone came with a defective gyro though he is the only one.

2. DJI Mavic Pro 4K Quadcopter

DJI Mavic Pro 4K Quadcopter with Remote Controller, 2 Batteries, with 1-Year Warranty - Gray

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A great real estate drone that provides a ton of value for its price and is perfect for novices and professionals alike.

Features include;

  • 2 batteries (1 extra)
  • 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Up to 4.3 miles (7km) of transmission range –
  • Fly up to 40mph
  • Up to 27-minutes of flight time
  • Fully stabilized for smoother flights
  • Fly by Phone over Wi-Fi capable
  • Gimbal 12MP / 4K Camera
  • OcuSync Transmission Technology

What’s included: 1 x Drone, 1 Remote Controller, 2 DJI Intelligent Flight Batteries, 1 16 GB SD Card, 3 x Folding Propellers, 1 Gimbal Clamp, 1 Charger, 1 AC Power Cable for the Charger, 1 Micro-USB Cable, 1 RC Cable (Lightning) , 1 RC Cable for Mavic Controller , 2 x RC Cable Sliders

Positives

  • Works as stated
  • Long life (when cared for properly)
  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • Longer range
  • Fly by phone capable
  • 4k camera
  • Great value

Negatives

  • No return policy as stated by two verified purchasers

3. Potensic Drone with 720P HD Camera Quadcopter

Potensic Drone with Camera, FPV RC Quadcopter 720P HD Live Vide with 5 Inch Screen Monitor, Headless Mode & Altitude Hold Function -VR Goggles Equipped (Gray)


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An entry level real estate drone that is perfect for those agents who are just getting their feet wet using aerial drone photography for their listings.

Features include;

  • Stream 720P HD live video
  • A 5” monitor screen
  • Headless mode function
  • Altitude hold Function
  • Pair of VR goggles
  • First person viewing capable
  • HD Camera: Built-in 5.8Ghz 720P camera
  • Altitude hold
  • 2 extra batteries
  • Up to 25mins total flight time.
  • Speed Adjustment (low, medium, and high-speed modes)

What’s included: 1 drone, 1 case, 1 remote control with viewing monitor, 1 pair of VR goggles, 2 extra batteries (for triple flight time), 2 USB cables, 1 power cord for chargers

Positives

  • 720 HD video
  • Live stream capable
  • Speed adjustment
  • Headless mode
  • Altitude hold
  • Great value
  • Ideal for beginners

Negatives

  • One verified purchaser stated the drone “flew away” on its own
  • Less durable than the others on this list

Well, there you have it, my choices for the best real estate drones for 2019.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these drones, they all are great for shooting aerial real estate photos and videos, but which drone you choose should be inline with your ability to fly one.

If you are a beginner there is no sense in buying my choice for the best real estate drone because you will have a hard time learning to fly it, and in the end, you will probably be dissatisfied with your purchase.

Also, be sure to do take a closer look at each one of these drones for yourself. Read the reviews – the positives and the negatives – and decide for yourself which will best suit your need.

I wish you the much success with your new real estate drone!

Conclusion

Some of the first drones, like the Fairchild BQ-3, were modified airplanes. Today we have drones that are flown by apps on cellphones.

There are even DIY drone kits that allow someone to “buy, build and fly” their very own drone.

I wonder if the drones’ forefathers ever envisioned today’s modern drone types when they were designing, building, and testing the drones of yesteryear.

I’m sure they would be pleasantly surprised with the rapid growth and different uses drones now offered as opposed to the limitations of the drones they built.

The rapid advancement in drone types means federal, state, and local laws have yet been able to adapt and change accordingly in order to facilitate the use of drones in our everyday lives.

When it comes to types of drones, their applications and uses, we have indeed come a long way and will continue to push their limits and boundaries for years to come.

And I for one look forward to it.

Additional Resources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multirotor
  2. https://interestingengineering.com/a-brief-history-of-drones-the-remote-controlled-unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uavs
  3. https://globaluavtech.com/news-media/blog/single-rotor-or-multi-rotor-uavs-your-choice/

 









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