Ever seen one of those sci-fi flicks where drones are whizzing around capturing images left, right and center? Have you wondered what it might feel like operating one of them? Well, if you have, you’re in luck. This age of science has brought us many gifts, and one of those is that capturing images by drones no longer has to be a figment of your imagination, but a genuine, accessible, possibility.
The drone manufacturing business for the past few years has been booming, so much so that DJI, a photographic drone maker based in China, reports that sales have grown 5 times year on year since 2009. Unsurprising, when you consider the wide market to which it appeals. These drones, dubbed ‘flying cameras’, are useful for the average person looking for a hobby, or even large institutions like the BBC and Google.
Particularly, they are extremely handy if you want to make a wedding video, as they shoot from angles that are virtually inaccessible for a man with a video camera in his hand. Michael Perry, a spokesman from DJI, describes this as ‘a really novel way to get a shot of the entire wedding ceremony’. Other users include farmers, firefighters and just normal people that want to be able to make some really cool videos wherever they go. Developers are working to simplify the use of these devices so that more focus can be put toward the quality of photography than navigation.
However, drones are classified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as ‘unmanned aircraft’, so there are certain rules that apply for those of you interested in this. Permission is required from the CAA for the operation of these drones, unless you use them a certain distance away from other people or structures ‘not under the pilot’s control’. Flight is restricted to 400 feet above surface level in normal circumstances.
If you are planning to use them publicly, CAA tests have to be passed and registration fees have to be paid before clearance can be granted. Admittedly, the dos and don’ts of this matter have proved to be troublesome, the CAA having said that it is ‘down to people’s common sense’. Another nagging issue with drone usage is privacy. As it is often difficult to determine if the content of drone photography can be classified as journalism or art, whether or not it can be exempted from the Data Protection Act is unclear.
One thing although, is definitely certain. Photographic drones are certainly one of the most exciting prospects in the technological future.