Increasingly the line between the two is blurring, with prosumer and sub-$4,000 drones delivering commercial-level quality and advanced flying features that just a few years ago were exclusive to the highest-end equipment. The best aerial hardware and technology stacks for keeping an eye on operations, individuals, and valued assets from above. It can be daunting wading into the deep roster of drones designed for enterprise photography and video. Sure, DJI, long the market leader, makes some truly fantastic devices, but before you go out to buy the first Mavic you come across for your business photography needs, take a moment to appreciate the nuanced diversity of UAV hardware out there and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current offerings across a variety of applications and budgets. To help, we reached out to video and photography professionals to hear what they had to say.
During its keynote at CES 2021, Sony gave us a glimpse at its very first drone: Airpeak. And, since Sony is essentially synonymous with sharp and cinematic image quality, it makes sense that Airpeak will first cater to professional photographers and videographers when it launches this Spring. The drone project was initially announced back in November via press release, but Sony clearly wanted to wait for a special occasion like CES to debut it in all its glory. Details are still scarce, but Sony did reveal that the Airpeak is the smallest drone yet for mounting and flying a DSLR or mirrorless camera (specifically its own lineup of Alpha mirrorless cameras). With Sony's drone, content creators can use more heavy-duty cameras to capture aerial footage rather than having to rely on built-in cameras that come equipped with most drones.
An increasing variety of technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and high-quality 4K video cameras is being introduced in the field of security amid a serious shortage of personnel in the field. A virtual "AI guard" developed by major Japanese security firm Secom Co. was tested at Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo in late October. An animated character displayed on an electric panel at the hospital entrance takes visitors' temperatures and then welcomes those without fevers into the facility. The character has been programmed to respond verbally to basic inquiries and can tell visitors where the bathrooms are located and what time their buses will arrive. It is also able to make eye contact with visitors and lean down when approached by children or people in wheelchairs.
To snap the photo of your dreams, you might have to get creative. You know, like climbing to the roof, flying over a cityscape, or scaling buildings. Here are 12 drones on sale as of Oct. 31, including drones designed specifically for photography, micro drones, and drones suitable for beginners. The E88 Four-Axis High-Definition Aerial Photography Drone is both lightweight and durable. This drone is on sale for 21% off for a limited time, making it just $59.95.
SAVE $100: The DJI Mavic Mini Combo FlyCam Quadcopter Drone is on sale for $399 in this Prime Day deal. If you've been getting into vlogging lately or if you just want to boost your photography skills (literally), a camera drone will give you all the sweeping landscape footage and aerial views your heart desires. Camera drones nowadays range from glorified selfie machines to expensive professional photography equipment, but if you're a hobbyist or are just looking to make some sweet side photo and video projects, you're probably looking for something in between. This DJI Mini Combo FlyCam Quadcopter gives you a lot of features in a tiny, lightweight package, and is $100 off in an exclusive Amazon Prime Day deal. At about half a pound, the DJI Mini Combo Drone weighs about as much as your smartphone.
At the end of September, amidst its usual flurry of fall hardware announcements, Amazon debuted two especially futuristic products within five days of each other. The first is a small autonomous surveillance drone, Ring Always Home Cam, that waits patiently inside a charging dock to eventually rise up and fly around your house, checking whether you left the stove on or investigating potential burglaries. The second is a palm recognition scanner, Amazon One, that the company is piloting at two of its grocery stores in Seattle as a mechanism for faster entry and checkout. Both products aim to make security and authentication more convenient--but for privacy-conscious consumers, they also raise red flags. Amazon's latest data-hungry innovations are not launching in a vacuum.
DJI's new Mavic Air 2 folding-style drone is a huge improvement over the previous model--so much so that for most people, this is the perfect drone. The Mavic Air 2 is the middle child in DJI's consumer drone lineup, sitting between the smaller, lighter, but less capable Mavic Mini, and the more powerful, more capable, but also more expensive, Mavic 2. If you're just getting started with drones, the less expensive Mavic Mini (8/10 WIRED Recommends)--my previous top pick for most people--might be a better buy. That said, the Air 2 offers better collision avoidance systems, higher quality photos and video, and a wide assortment of automated flight features that newcomers and seasoned vets alike can appreciate. The Mavic Air 2 is slightly bigger than its predecessor, at least on paper. The folding design remains compact, and at 1.3 pounds, the drone is plenty portable.
Logged forests cover four million square kilometres of the tropics and restoring these forests is essential if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, yet monitoring recovery is challenging. Tracking the abundance of visually identifiable, early-successional species enables successional status and thereby restoration progress to be evaluated. Here we present a new pipeline, SLIC-UAV, for processing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery to map early-successional species in tropical forests. The pipeline is novel because it comprises: (a) a time-efficient approach for labelling crowns from UAV imagery; (b) machine learning of species based on spectral and textural features within individual tree crowns, and (c) automatic segmentation of orthomosaiced UAV imagery into 'superpixels', using Simple Linear Iterative Clustering (SLIC). Creating superpixels reduces the dataset's dimensionality and focuses prediction onto clusters of pixels, greatly improving accuracy. To demonstrate SLIC-UAV, support vector machines and random forests were used to predict the species of hand-labelled crowns in a restoration concession in Indonesia. Random forests were most accurate at discriminating species for whole crowns, with accuracy ranging from 79.3% when mapping five common species, to 90.5% when mapping the three most visually-distinctive species. In contrast, support vector machines proved better for labelling automatically segmented superpixels, with accuracy ranging from 74.3% to 91.7% for the same species. Models were extended to map species across 100 hectares of forest. The study demonstrates the power of SLIC-UAV for mapping characteristic early-successional tree species as an indicator of successional stage within tropical forest restoration areas. Continued effort is needed to develop easy-to-implement and low-cost technology to improve the affordability of project management.
Up Your Game: The Mavic Air 2 camera drone takes power and portability to the next level. It combines a powerful camera with intelligent shooting modes for stunning results. Push your imagination to its limits because aerial photography has never been this easy. Next-Level Content: Capture impressive 48MP photos with a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor while the 3-axis gimbal provides 4K/60fps video. The secret to incredible HDR video is a high-performance Quad Bayer image sensor.
Increasingly the line between the two is blurring, with prosumer and sub-$4,000 drones delivering commercial-level quality and advanced flying features that just a few years ago were exclusive to the highest-end equipment. It can be daunting wading into the deep roster of drones designed for enterprise photography and video. Sure, DJI, long the market leader, makes some truly fantastic devices, but before you go out to buy the first Mavic you come across for your business photography needs, take a moment to appreciate the nuanced diversity of UAV hardware out there and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current offerings across a variety of applications and budgets. To help, here are our top picks for enterprise photography and cinema drones, along with some advice on deciding which photography drone is right for businesses of all sizes. Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page.