Drones for Adventures
GoPro cameras revolutionized our active lifestyles by letting us record every minute of the action from a first-person perspective. Drones take that action into the third dimension and show the perspective from the air. Whether you’re taking still photos of gorgeous mountain scenery or following a high-speed vehicle adventure with 4K video, portable models such as the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum let you take the drone adventure with you wherever you go.
Hiking & Backpacking
Climb and scramble wherever you wish without the burden of a heavy drone, thanks to the next generation of compact, rugged camera drones. Previously, you’d need a dedicated backpack for the large drone and its controller, but never drones are foldable and designed to fit in the space you’d normally reserve for a small water bottle. Models like the DJI Mavic Air fold up to the siza of a large sunglasses case, so you’ll have plenty of room left over for normal hiking and backpacking equipment like tents, sleep bags, and food.
KNOW THE RULES
With the high-quality cameras on modern adventure drones, you’ll be able to capture both still photos and videos from a brand new viewpoint. You’ll enjoy revisiting all your favorite spots and get the drone’s view of that fabulous canyon or epic waterfall. The ability to put yourself in the photo and really show off the landscape is a game-changer for group adventure photography.
However, many of the most beautiful parks in the US have tough restrictions on drone use, so check up on the rules before you fly. The National Parks, for example, have banned drones in almost all circumstances, so you’ll want to find a state or local park that has more lenient rules or that provides designated areas to fly in. The U.S. Forest Service, which is separate from the National Park Service, does allow drone flights in National Forests, with a reasonable list of exceptions such as “don’t disturb wildlife.”
One great way to not disturb wildlife or people is to grab a new class of drones specifically designed to project a lower noise signature. This magic is made possible by tuning the motors and propellers to lower the sound power generated in the frequencies most audible to humans, as the chart below shows.
Lower perceived noise is one of the biggest advantages of the Mavic Pro Platinum over the Mavic Pro, and DJI followed the same game plan to improve the sound level by 4 dB on the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 (which is not quite as small as the Mavic series, but uses a 1” sensor for better low-light videos and photos). The Autel Robotics EVO is another new drone that’s significantly quieter than most other drones and comes with live video built-in to the controller so that you can leave your phone at home.
Boating and Sailing with a Drone
Nothing can capture the glories of your boating adventure like a bird’s-eye view. A drone can be used to capture shots of all your water fun: sailing, canoeing, water skiing, fishing, paddle boarding, even parasailing. The wide open area of the water makes flying the drone easier since there are fewer obstacles than a typical urban (buildings) or rural (trees) environment.
New drone pilots using their aircraft on the water need to take one specific precaution: updating the “dynamic home point” as often as the boat moves. If you launch a drone from a specific ground location, the drone records those GPS coordinate and can automatically fly home in case the drone loses contact with the base station transmitter. However, when you launch your drone from a boat, there’s a good likelihood that the reason you wanted to use the drone was to capture footage of your boat in motion. But in doing so, your home point just moved. The solution is to use a newer feature on most drones that allows you to follow the GPS unit in your phone or controller and dynamically update that home location as your boat (which is the only landing pad) moves.
To truly capture all your adventures with a drone, you’d ideally have a second person that can operate the controls and direct a professional-quality cinema production that features you as the star. Don’t have Michael Bay as your personal camera operator? The cool thing is that you don’t need to. Modern drones have a feature called “follow-me” mode that has evolved into several variants, the main two utilizing the radio signal from the controller and the camera’s AI computer vision chip to lock on to a visual target. This YouTube video shows the impressive results from the Mavic Pro almost two years ago, so updated models such as the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro Platinum can do even better now:
Drones can capture adventures on the ground or in the water, but part of the adventure is just flying the drone itself. This excitement is best experienced by using goggles with LCD screens specially designed for flying, like the DJI Goggles that work with the Mavic or Phantom 4 Pro series of drones.
“FPV” means “first-person view” and the goggles allow you to see the drone’s camera as if you were actually experiencing it first-hand. The high resolution screen completely surrounds your head and blocks out daylight, so you’ll be able to see the true colors and details that your drone is seeing as the action unfolds. You’ll want a second person to help you watch the drone and make sure that nothing will collide with it, but there’s no better way to experience the glory of flight than with a screen that’s custom-made for drone flying.