As with many things in life there are major differences in the quality of what you get from the DIY, to the professional, the same is true in photography and even more so in the aerial photography industry.
For instance, if you are wanting to have your wedding day photographed, many people would not opt to have their special day photographed for posterity by their relative with an instamatic. Most people would be looking for a professional photographer and in the process of choosing such a professional would probably look at their website to see what sort of photography they too can expect for their money. You see the professional photographer will have spent many years building up his profession, learning the tools of his or her trade, spent many hours learning all about the equipment that they use. The same runs true with lots of professions, the professionals are professionals because they have taken the time to learn their craft, and often at great expense, (definition of Professional is: someone engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur). Professionals tend to get their work through their hard work, through expensive advertising and through word of mouth which has been built up over a long period of time. By contrast the amateur gets his work through, being in the right place at the right time.
The UAV industry is the same, it is full of professionals and hobbyist/amateurs. Being a professional in this industry is very expensive, once you have passed the initial training, you then spend hours upon hours of your time writing your operations manual to submit to the CAA. Public Liability Insurance, of course the professional must have insurance, which these days is not cheap. Then there is the equipment itself, starting at around the £2k mark for a basic setup. As you can see it all takes time and money to be a professional. Compare this with the hobbyist, his training takes, the length of time amazon takes to deliver the parcel, and bingo, he’s in the game and that’s it. No training, no messing around for months with the CAA, no writing an operations manual to be submitted to the CAA, no insurance, and more importantly no time wasted getting industry experience. In my experience these are the people who are posting the poor, and mostly illegal videos on the internet. It’s not all their fault, I am firmly in the “education and not regulation” camp on this. The fault lies at the heart of the industry that we are now in. It’s grown so fast that the regulations have little or no meaning to most people on the street, they see the Drone in the shop window, take it out of the box, and go fly it, anywhere they want. Just recently I posted a blog saying that drone manufactures and the press have a responsibility to educate the public about the rules around Drones and UAV operations. And one of the biggest manufactures of Drones in the world is DJI and in my opinion they do very little to educate the customer. The opposite is true as they advertise the Mavic drone to have a transmission range of 4.3 miles, some uneducated will see this as a challenge.
In contrast to this the Yuneec website make a point of saying that their drones come with geo-fencing turned on and limited to 400ft attitude, and if you want this to be removed you must contact them, you don’t see this on the DJI website. Whilst Yuneec have not gone the whole mile and stopped their drones from breaking the law they have put a little speedbump in the way of the gung-ho newbies. It’s a start and all manufactures should be doing this.
When hiring a Professional Aerial Photographer as opposed to an amateur, the amateur may or may not know the rules, and may or may not abide by them. The professional will definitely know the rules and, if they value their business will abide by them. In turn the customer will be rewarded with a product that is the result of a great deal of training, top quality equipment and a great deal of knowledge and understanding of their craft. You will get crystal clear images of the highest quality and ones that you will be proud of, your video won’t be shaky, colourless, uninteresting and not fit for purpose. In this world, in this industry you get what you pay for.