- James Clarke
Our Top Drone Accessories for New Flyers in 2021
So you've got your first drone, great! You're getting out flying but there's a few things standing in your way to give you the best experience possible for your new aircraft.
In this weeks blog, we'll be chatting about a few of our favourite accessories when it comes to flying to our drones. These help us to either make the most of our equipment or make flying drones that much easier.
We won't be talking about the absolute necessities to get you flying, like memory cards, but we will show you the absolute must have things that you may not have thought of yet.
Shall we crack on?
Lets start with the fun one, filters.
These are mission critical pieces of equipment that will allow you to truly unlock the video potential of your drone.
As you generally have to stick with a fixed shutter speed for video, and a large amount of drones have a fixed aperture, you're pretty stuck for exposure control when you're up in the air.
That coupled with the often bright sunlight that comes with good flying conditions, you really need a way to bring down the camera settings from over exposing the image.
This is where ND filters come in. Think of them as if they are sunglasses for your drone and they allow you to see very bright environments much better.
By using one you will stop or minimise over exposure in your image, preserving the highlights and bright areas, making it easier to colour grade and gives a much more pleasing image to the eye.
You can also look to use polarizing filters which can improve the richness in the colours of your video and cut down reflections in windows and water.
We tend to use a mix on ND and PL filters on our DJI Mini 2 and a ND/PL 16 filter from Polar Pro on our Mavic 2 Pro. (FYI, the latter is a fantastic piece of kit that we use on every shoot.)
Landing pads are a great addition to your kit bag for a couple of reasons. The first being that it allows for a safe, flat space for your drone to take off and land without issues.
It also lets people who may be near by know that your are taking off or have taken off as it is a large, bright object on the ground that is pretty hard to miss.
An absolutely critical bit of kit when working near people.
I feel like this is an absolute no brainer, but it is something that is so critical to you being able to fly safely and with confidence.
Having plenty of batteries to let you carry out your flight plan and gather all of the images or videos you need is so important.
You never want to be in a situation where you're flying way too close to an empty battery, and having spares let's you fly for longer and much more safely.
Flying a drone can often (almost always) mean you're standing in the outdoors and out in the open to fly.
And when you're outdoors, the sun occasionally will show itself which can cause a couple of issues when piloting your drone.
One of these can be that it will block your ability to see the screen on your remote and therefore removing your ability to view your image or check the status of your drone through the in app feedback.
Having a sun guard will allow you to control your drone confidently in any weather condition and therefore improve your ability to fly safely and frame your shots better!
These may seem trivial, but they are so vital to protecting one of the most important parts of your drone - the propellers.
The straps basically keep all of your propellers folded up together nicely which means it can slip into your case easily without snagging on any of the fabric or other bits of kit.
That means minimal damage and wear to the propellers to keep you flying safe and consistently! Some drones come with them in the box, like the Mavic Mini 2, but some don't so it's worth picking them up with your new drone.
Probably the least exciting accessory on the list, but the most important form a safety stand point. Having the correct digital guidance can be imperative to having a safe flight.
There are a number of apps that can help you when it comes to; weather monitoring, airspace restrictions and other important data sets that you really should have on your phone at all times.
Below I've used the example of UAV Forecast which gives you real time feedback on your location and tells you whether you are safe to fly... as it goes we're not good to fly today.
You should also look at the NATS app for planning your flights as this allows you to see restricted airspaces and other pilots registered flight paths along with a number of other things.
We also use Drone Assist and Drone Deploy to help us fly safely.
All of the apps we have listed are free, so there's no excuse not to have them!
Okay, this isn't an accessory... BUT we have some very good sentiment with this point.
You may be asking "James, I've just dropped £1,300 on my awesome new Mavic 2 pro, why should I get ANOTHER drone?"
Well there are a few good reasons to do so.
Firstly, we need to talk about restrictions. The new laws regarding drones and where they can fly have restricted some to distances that make it impossible to fly near people and some locations of interest. And with good reason.
This is the case of 'right tool for the right job'. Having a small drone to accompany your larger drone can allow you to bypass many restrictions of flying near to people and allow you to get the shots you desire.
In our case, we recently added a DJI Mini 2 to our kit bag as it weighs under 250g and therefore can be flown much closer to people than our Mavic 2 Pro which is restricted to 50m horizontally from people.
Secondly, you always have to think about redundancies. When you're planning your flights (or any film shoot in general), it is absolutely critical to think about plan A, B, C... and so on. So when flying your drone you need to be prepared for technical failure. If you're out on a shoot and your primary drones has a hiccup, you need to be able to have another method of gathering that footage, otherwise all of those risk assessments and flight applications were for nothing.
What do you think? Have you got a drone accessory that you can't fly without? Or do you use the same ones as us? Let us know! It would be great to hear what everyone else uses.