Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about what type of drone to purchase for home inspections (the main requirement is a zoomed lens…no wide aerial video necessary). If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
I’m starting a home inspection business. I need to be able to take close/detailed pictures of different parts of a house roof, such as the chimney, pipes coming out of the roof, top ridge of the roof. What’s your opinion for a camera to provide detailed close-up pictures and a stable, slow drone?
Looking for a drone to use for home inspections?
If you have the budget, DJI’s Zenmuse Z30 is arguably the most powerful zoom camera designed specifically for drones on the market. It has a 30x optical and 6x digital zoom, giving it a total magnification of up to 180x. The camera is being used for inspections of all sorts — cell towers, wind turbines and more. The Zenmuse Z30 is designed for DJI’s Matrice drones. But at just under $9,000 (plus you’ll have to buy the Matrice), it’s not cheap.
- Check price for DJI Matrice 100 on B&H Photo
- Check price for DJI Matrice 600 Pro on Amazon
- Check price for DJI Matrice 600 on DJI’s store
The camera is ready to go out of the box, and yes — the Matrice is an incredibly stable drone.
Related read: Need a zoom lens for your drone? This may be it
DJI also has a stellar lineup of lower cost zoom lenses for its drones.
My first pick on the more affordable side of things for a commercial-quality, zoom lens, would be the DJI Zenmuse X5S. Its focal length ranges from 9mm to 45 mm (equivalent to 18 mm-90 mm on a 35mm camera). The camera is compatible with the DJI Inspire 2 (sold separately), which is an incredible drone to fly. It’s stable, and can fly at a variety of speeds — including the slow and controlled speed you are looking for.
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse X5S on DJI’s store
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse X5S on B&H Photo
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse X5S on Amazon
At a slightly lower cost, the Zenmuse Z3 gimbal and camera features an optical zoom with 3.5 optical zoom and 2x digital zoom. It can be mounted on the Inspire 1, the Matrice 100 or the Matrice 600. The nice thing about the Zenmuse Z3 is that it is compatiable with the lower cost Inspire 1, vs. the Inspire 2.
Related read: DJI now offers a zoom camera with Zenmuse Z3
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse Z3 on DJI’s store
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse Z3 on B&H Photo
- Check price for DJI Zenmuse Z3 on Amazon
However, DJI is not your only option. The Walkera Voyager 4 is also an incredible choice. It has a zoom lens that offers 16x magnification. In fact, it’s zoom is even more than the DJI Zenmuse Z3 camera system. The camera on the Zenmuse Z3 has a zoom range of 22 to 77 mm, while the Voyager 4 has a range of a whopping 10 to 1500mm.
It’s also going to be high quality video, offering a gimbal-stailized, 360-camera, which could be important for the inspections you need to do (it means you can turn the camera around to shoot behind you without needing to turn the drone!).
The market for inspections is growing. Goldman Sachs predicts an $100 billion market opportunity for drones between now and 2020, with the utilities sector generating a total addressable market of $93 million.
Keep in mind that in order to fly a drone commercially, you need to obtain a Part 107 license. Here’s an awesome study guide, here are some frequently asked questions, and here’s my video review of exactly what taking the test is like. I highly recommend studying with Drone Pilot Ground School. Use this link to get $50 off!