Complete Guide to Real Estate Drone Photography for 3D Rendering
According to recent studies, homes listed with birds eye shots are more likely to sell than those without. With that in mind, it can be said that having drone aerial photography is crucial if you want to be a successful real estate agent and maximize your chances of selling a property.
Drones are a new innovative solution to getting previously unthinkable aerial shots that give a good understanding of how the whole property looks within the surrounding context. Moreover, they are much more flexible than the traditional way of hiring a helicopter, and you can get some fantastic photos with them that would otherwise be impossible to get.
What is Real Estate Drone Photography?
Real Estate Drone photography is a new way of taking aerial photos and fly-through videos of real estates. It is done with the help of a small unmanned aircraft, or drone, that is equipped with a camera. Drone photography can be used to take both still photos and video footage of real estate properties to be used in several steps of the marketing process.
Benefits of Using Drones for Real Estate Photography
With real estate drone photography still being a relatively new marketing tactic, it makes your property listings stand out much more, thus giving you a competitive edge, as many real estate agents aren’t using this technology yet. The use of drones has other benefits too that initially may go unnoticed.
1. Show The Whole Property
Rather than just being a planar ground photo, using a drone will show the whole property grounds. This option is beneficial if you’re selling a larger estate as it’ll give potential customers or tenants an idea of the surrounding area. From the overhead photos, you get a feel for the property’s outer perimeters and a look into the garden and backyard areas.
Also, drones can capture videos inside the properties as well as a moving tours which are becoming a new growing trend in the industry.
2. Show The Bigger Context
Yes, maps are better for many uses, but they are generic and only offer broad detail of the area. When using a drone to capture the context of the site, you’ll be able to see the detail of the interlinking roads and foliage that covers the area, thus helping the buyer understand the property within the context of the surrounding area and neighborhood.
3. Are More Affordable Than A Helicopter
If you’re looking to hire a helicopter and take birds-eye pictures this way, you can expect to pay $300-500 per hour plus a camera operator fee of around $ 300-600. Say that you’re photographing a few properties per week so this cost can stack up exceptionally quickly.
On the other hand, a decent drone will set you back an initial fee of $ 300-500 per property, or you can easily buy your own drone for $ 300-3,000 and start taking pictures by yourself (however, this requires a good amount of skills).
4. Are More Flexible Than A Helicopter
As you can imagine, a drone can get much closer to the house than a helicopter. This allows you the opportunity to capture close-up shots and more intimate photos that would be impossible while hanging out of a helicopter. Also, drones are able to fly-through interiors which is a growing trend in real estate marketing.
This gives you the ability to get shots from different angles and perspectives, something that can help a potential customer or tenant see a property from its best context.
Tips for Taking Real Estate Drone Photos
Pick A Nice Day
It may seem like a no-brainer to pick a nice day for your shoot, but you’d be surprised at how many people try to take real estate photos on cloudy days. Not only does this make the images look bad, but it makes it harder to get good shots. Check the forecast for the correct lighting and ensure it’s a sunny day. The most suitable light is either in the morning or in the afternoon, so try to avoid taking shots at midday.
Make the Property Presentable
This is another one that seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often people try to take real estate photos of a house that hasn’t had its lawn cut in weeks and has leaves scattered all over its ground. Plan ahead and spend some time setting the scene for the shoot. Make sure the grounds (including the roof) are clean and tidy.
However, if something still looks messy then a professional graphic designer should be able to fix it Photoshop, eventually a 3D studio could recreate this part of the property in 3D which can make the house look more presentable.
Photograph the Area
People want to see the surrounding areas as well as the house itself. Make sure to take snaps of the surrounding facilities like parks and cafes. Another great tip would be to highlight the surrounding neighborhood and proximity of places that add an extra value, for example if there’s a lake or a shopping center nearby then aerial shots should show it somehow.
When people move to a new area, location and neighborhood is the significant deciding factor, so showcase this to them.
Focus on Standout Features
While you should make sure to photograph the entire house, you should try to focus on any standout features that might attract buyers. These features could be anything from a large backyard to a Jacuzzi on the patio area.
Keep With the Basics
It’s all well and good to start snapping from a drone, but the basics are still something you need to keep in mind. Keeping with the basics means ensuring the photos are well-composed, focused, and properly exposed. Don’t let flying the drone distract you from taking your usual quality images.
Be Trigger Happy
Take photos lavishly. It’s better to take too many pictures and spend time finding the diamonds in the rough than to take only a handful of snaps and revisit the site for a second shoot.
Don’t Let Traffic Spoil the Shoot
This one is more for commercial real estate photography, but it’s still something to keep in mind. If you’re trying to get a photo of a building or office complex and there’s a lot of traffic, try to wait for a lull in the traffic before taking your shot. Check local rush hour times before the shoot and plan accordingly. Another option would be to take pictures at night or at dawn if the traffic at day is too heavy.
Pack the Right Kit
Make sure to pack everything you need for the shoot, including extra batteries, memory cards, and your drone.
Mix it Up
Try to get creative and don’t make every property an off-the-shelf photo shoot. Try experimenting with different settings on the drone. For example, you could use ‘follow me’ mode to get some video footage of you walking the grounds of the property.
Edit Post Shot
Editing photos post shot is the way to elevate your photos to the next level. It showcases your unique style and gives you more creative freedom. This part is where the magic happens and that’s worth the investment to study a bit of post-production software like Photoshop.
Benefits of Using Drones Footage With 3D Renderings For Future Developments
If you’re a real estate developer, you can also use drones to your advantage. When developing new projects, you might be using architectural visualization to show future development and these can be blended with drone photos for more accurate results.
This way of using drone footage is very useful for marketing as well as to present projects to investors or to obtain a planning permission from a city council. Having a high quality drone photo can play a key role in creating a 3d rendering with a real wow-factor and ability to win over any key stakeholders. Here’s an example below of image we created blended in with a drone photo.
Also, by using drones to take pictures or video footage of the development as it’s being built, you can give potential customers or tenants an accurate representation of the development process. It has the added benefit of being a great marketing tool that can be used on your company’s website and social media channels showing development progression and getting people excited about what to expect.
Options You Have When It Comes to Getting Real Estate Drone Photos
1. Get a License and Do It Yourself
Any type of work with a drone requires a license. Real estate drone photography is no different, and getting your drone license is not as complicated as you might think.
The first step would be to take and pass a written test administered by the FAA, also known as the Part 107 test. You can learn more about becoming a commercial drone pilot by clicking the link to find out more. You can also get help when it comes to studying for your license, as there are specific schools that can help you prepare for the Part 107 test. Here’s an example of a good school that can help you out with this.
2. Hire a Professional or Company
If you don’t have the desire or time to become proficient in drone photography, you can always hire a professional or company that is already licensed. This option is excellent if you need real estate photos in a pinch and don’t have the time to learn how to use a drone and need professional pictures quickly. There are a few things that you should know before hiring a drone/FPV pilot, and this article by Sky Tech One lays these out nicely.
As you can imagine, there also are many benefits to using a professional, which have been elaborated on below:
No Need to Study or Pay For Your License
As mentioned earlier, you must pass a written test to get your drone real estate photography license. This can be daunting for some people. If you hire a professional, they will already have their license, meaning that you won’t have to take the test.
Leave It With the Pros
You’re hiring someone experienced in real estate photography with a drone, which means they know all the best angles, settings, and tips to get those perfect shots that will help sell the property. Leaving it up to the pros will also save you lots of hours of practice to get good at it, not to mention the headache of learning a new skill.
Guaranteed High-Quality Photos
Following on from the previous point, because you’re hiring a professional, you can be assured that the quality of the real estate photos will be high. It is their job, and they have the experience to back it up. A good real estate photographer already has the right drone and knows how to use it.
Just be aware that quality between people will vary. Just because it’s their day job doesn’t necessarily mean they will produce better quality pictures than yourself. Make sure to do your due diligence on the person or company before you hire them. A personal recommendation
You Don’t Need to Invest In Equipment
It is a significant factor to consider buying a drone of your own. As you can see from above, drones can be expensive, especially if you want a top-of-the-range one. If you’re only going to use it a few times, spending thousands of dollars on one doesn’t make sense.
Another added benefit is that you won’t need to spend the time to find the right drone for what you require. When you hire someone, they already have the drone and all the necessary equipment to get the real estate photos you desire.
If we take this the other way around, and you plan to use the drone for house images often, then the investment is undoubtedly worth it. Think about your long-term plans and go from there.
Less Chance of Making Mistakes
As with anything new, there is always a learning curve, which means that when you first start with drone real estate photography, you’re more likely to make mistakes. These mistakes could be costly, too, such as crashing the drone or, even worse, injuring yourself or someone else.If that happened, you might have to re-do the whole shoot or buy a new drone. Both of which are going to cost you time and money.
They Are Insured
If they do end up having that dreaded crash or something goes wrong, then it’s likely that the person or company you hire will be insured. This means you won’t have to pay for any damages out of pocket. On the other hand, if you drive it yourself, you might have to fork out for insurance or run the risk of having an uninsured accident.
They Can Help You Sharpen Your Toolbox
Even if you plan to do real estate drone photography yourself in the future, there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to help you out at first. They can show you the ropes and help you get a feel for what it’s like. After that, you can purchase a drone and start doing it yourself. Just be sure that you hire someone willing to take the time to show you what they’re doing. Not everyone will want to do this, so make sure you ask before hiring them.
3. Recommended Companies by City
If after reading this you think that working with a company could be a smart route today, we would recommend one of these companies if you’re based in any of the following cities:
Vancouver – Fyfe Photography – This aerial photographer based in Vancouver, BC is our personal recommendation for those of you requiring drone aerial photos for projects in the Greater Vancouver area. As well as creating images of the highest standard, their ability to make the process smooth and easy to understand makes for a top quality & enjoyable experience.
What Is The Best Drone For Real Estate Photography? Factors to Consider
If you decide to take drone pictures of your own, now that we’ve looked at some of the benefits of using drones for real estate photography, let’s take a look at what you need to consider when choosing a drone. Before diving into picking the best drone, the below things need some serious consideration, depending on your needs and photography requirements.
The next thing you need to consider is the camera quality. The quality is hugely significant as photography is all about getting high-quality shots that don’t diminish the property’s elegance.
You need to consider a few things regarding the camera, such as image sensor size, image resolution, lens quality, and video capabilities. It’s worth researching each of these things to get an idea of what to look for when choosing a drone.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a drone with at least a 12-megapixel camera. This minimum will ensure you get high-quality shots that can be blown up to large sizes without losing any detail.
It’s also worth considering the video capabilities of the drone. Real estate videos are becoming increasingly popular, so choosing a drone that can shoot in at least 4K is worth picking. Some of the more expensive models can even shoot up to 60 frames per second which is great for slow-motion shots.
It’s no secret that drones are battery drainers. As you can imagine, the power usage of these things is high, and although battery life is getting better, it still has a long way to go.
Residential photography shoots, on average, take up to a couple of hours, so you need to ensure that the drone you’re using has enough battery juice to last for the duration of the shoot. If you’re shooting commercially, the time of the shoot can be considerably longer.
Don’t worry, though. You can get hold of a few extra batteries to be safe, and with most drones, they can be interchanged in just a few seconds.
Most drones will come with a few different flight modes you can use. Other brands call them different things, but they all essentially do the same thing.
The most common flight modes that you’ll find are things like “Follow Me,” “Point of Interest,” and “Waypoints”. These can be useful for real estate photography as they allow you to set up shots in advance and, in some cases, automatically film the drone.
In this case, you can start to get creative with your shoots. For example, if you used the “Follow Me” flight mode, you could set the drone to follow you while you walk the grounds of the property, giving potential buyers a real-life overhead walk-through.
Another great use of flight modes for real estate drone photography would be using “Tripod” mode. This makes the drone significantly reduce in speed, giving you a much more steady flight and making image quality unequivocally superior to other modes.
As experience increases, you may want to start attaching different cameras to your drone. This gradual increase gives you many more creative options for your shots and the ability to change things up while on the shoot .
However, not all drones come with payload options. So if this is something that interests you make sure to do your research before settling on a drone. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a drone that doesn’t allow you to attach your favorite camera.
The range of a drone is the furthest distance it can fly from you while still maintaining a stable connection. This is important for real estate photography as you’ll often be shooting pretty large properties and, therefore, require a drone with a decent range.
Most drones on the market will have a range of around 500m which should be plenty for real estate photography. However, if you’re planning on doing aerial shots of a ranch, you may want to consider a drone with an extended range.
Remember that the further away the drone is from you, the harder it will be to maintain a stable connection. Get a longer-range drone if large properties, commercial buildings, or farms are your specialization. A standard drone will generally do the job if you usually shoot middle-of-the-range residential homes.
The price is, of course, one of the first things you’ll need to consider. Real estate photography drones can range in price from a few hundred dollars to even several thousand. You must think about how much you’re willing to spend as this will help narrow down the options available to you.
If you’re just starting, it might be worth opting for a cheaper model to get an idea of how you like using a drone for photography and find out whether you need something more expensive and advanced. Once you’ve got a feel for it, you can upgrade to a model that’ll offer better features and image quality.
However, if you’re looking to get serious about drone photography straight away or you already have experience, it’s worth investing in a high-quality model right from the start. However, be careful with this approach as these things require a notable amount of practice to get used to flying and not to crash (an extra insurance is always a good idea in case this happens).
Best Drone for Real Estate Photography in 2022
Now that we’ve gone over some of the things you need to consider when choosing a real estate drone, let’s look at some of the best drones on the market in 2022.
Best Budget Drones
If you’re just getting started in real estate drone photography or on a tight budget, these are the drones for you.
The DJI Mini SE is one of the newest drones on the market from industry-leading drone manufacturer DJI. It’s a great little drone perfect for beginner real estate photography. It has a 12MP camera and can shoot in photo and video modes.
- Low cost
- HD 2.7k Camera
- Shoots Images & Video
- Camera lower quality than other drones
- You can’t fly in high winds
The DJI Mini 2 is the next step up from DJI’s Mini SE drone and is a great option with some additional features. It’s still one of the lower models, though, so it’s excellent for beginners.
- Low cost
- 4K / 30fps Video
- 4 x digital zoom
- Wind resistance
- The low range for 4K video transmission
This is the most expensive of DJI’s Mini drones, but it’s got all the features a beginner would ever need.
- 4K / 60fps Video
- 34-minute flight time
- Obstacle sensing
- Additional features include – ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest
- Pricey for beginners
- No obstacle detection from above
Best Mid-Range Drones
If you have a bit more money to spend or are looking for a drone with a few more widgets, check out these drones.
This is where the price starts to increase, but this drone packs a punch. The first drone on our list is not from the drone giants DJI.
- 6K Video
- 30+ minutes of flight time
- Automated flight paths
This drone packs a punch and is reasonably priced to get into the higher models for DJI.
- 5.4K Video
- 1-inch sensor
- Automated camera shots
- Only 8GB of internal storage
The Phantom series from DJI are some of the most popular drones on the market, and for a good reason. The Phantom is a top pick for professional drone photographers.
- Reasonably priced for what you get
- Excellent obstacle sensors
- 7km range
- Big and bulky
Best Professional Drones
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-range drone with all the bells and whistles, these are the best drones on the market for professional photographers.
The DJI Mavric Air 2 is one of DJI’s newest drones, and it’s a great mid-range option. It has a 48MP camera that can shoot in photo and video modes.
- 48MP camera
- Low cost for the features
- 10km video transmission
- Full perimeter obstacle Avoidance
- App editing only allows 1080p output
This is where the pros start to be separated from the pack. Packed with almost every feature you could imagine on a drone, the DJI Inspire does not disappoint.
- Capable of flying 94km/h
- Sensory range of 30 meters
- 6K video capabilities
Capable of a 360-degree shooting angle, this drone is a top pick for professionals and only the second drone to make it out of our list that isn’t from DJI.
- Shoots in both RAW and JPEG
- 6 rotor design
- 360-degree camera
- Flight time limited to 19 minutes
- Large and bulky controller
Conclusion – Do I Need Drone Real Estate Photography?
The answer to the question depends on how successful you want to be as a real estate agent or developer. Keep in mind, properties are much more likely to sell with real estate drone photography as a marketing tool.
NoTriangle Studio is a leading studio specializing in working with drone photography as a way to provide clients with cutting-edge architectural visualization. Contact us today if you want to start your real estate project!
Author – Eddie, an experienced Sales & Marketing professional, joined NoTriangle in 2018 and has been an invaluable asset to the company’s growth. With his expertise in real estate marketing and as a communication specialist in the 3D Industry, Eddie has a keen interest in sharing his knowledge through writing, offering valuable insights and practical advice to readers.