All posts by Sally French

DJI is hosting a summer sale: get DJI Spark deals and more!

Waiting for the perfect moment to buy a drone? Hoped to buy a drone for your last minute summer vacation? This should come as good news then. DJI drones are on summer sale!

Sale items include the DJI Spark, DJI Mavic Pro, Osmo Mobile and more.

Most of the sale consists of full price items plus free add-on items like batteries — which could prove to be a big money-saver since you’ll definitely want a spare battery anyway. Other items include freebies like t-shirts, “skins” for the Spark and more.

Here are some of the sale items:

DJI Spark: Purchase a Spark at full price, and receive 2 free Spark Skins and a t-shirt

Mavic Pro: Purchase a Mavic Pro at full price, and receive 2 free Mavic Pro skins and a landing pad

Osmo Mobile: Purchase Osmo Mobile at full price, and receive a free Osmo base and intelligent battery

OnePlus Backpack Combos: The sleek OnePlus backpacks are heavily discounted when purchased with a DJI drone

Check out the full sale here!

Drone Radio Show’s Randy Goers talks privacy and ethics with The Drone Girl

Are you confused over privacy expectations when flying a drone? Tune into the Drone Radio Show this week to listen to me discuss privacy and ethics with the show’s host, Randy Goers.

We discuss federal policy, whether there should be drone-specific privacy laws, and perhaps most importantly, ethics.  Just because drone operators can take images legally, it doesn’t mean that one can ethically use those images.

Check it out on SoundCloud:

on YouTube:

…or whatever podcasting app you love.

Want to talk more about privacy? Join me at Interdrone 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I’ll be speaking on Friday, Sept. 8 from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. alongside Diana Cooper, Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy at PrecisionHawk, and Lisa Malloy, Intel Corp.’s director of government relations, on privacy issues related to expanded UAS operations.

Listen to the Drone Radio Show here and don’t forget to register for Interdrone 2017 now!

4 new commercial drones (and drone products) debuting this fall

As drone conference season starts to pick up, it’s also time for a wave of new products to be announced.

While the drone industry can expect to get plenty of new commercial drones this year, many of this year’s announcements are not drones, as entrepreneurs and investors realize it’s difficult to compete with DJI, which has an estimated 70% market share.

But while the drone industry may be seeing fewer new drones being built, hardware is not dead. Instead, the hardware makers in the drone industry are turning their attention away from the drones instead and to different types of hardware. From different cameras to ways of improving GPS, commercial drone manufacturers are continuing to move away from building their own drones and instead looking for ways to improve DJI’s products.

Most of the drones mentioned below will make their public debut at Interdrone 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here are 4 new products you need to know about:FlightWave Edge UAS

1. FlightWave Edge

Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup FlightWave Aerospace Systems today launched its FlightWave Edge drone, a long-range drone targeted at mapping, remote patrol and surveillance, and ecosystem monitoring customers. The drone, which has an open source payload development kit, is standout for its ability to transform from tri-copter to forward flight — meaning it has vertical takeoff and landing but is a hybrid drone, able to fly like a fixed wing drone as well.

FlightWave has a whopping two hours of continuous flight time. While it’s an electric drone, it leverages solar power for increased range and endurance. The drone also has a swappable, twist-lock payload pay to accommodate a variety of payloads.

The airframe itself, including detachable wings, touch screen LCD controller, batteries, front and rear propellers, and weatherproof case retails for $10,000. The system is then customized with your payloads. Payloads range in price from $2000 for a color mapping camera, to $7000 for a thermal plus color mapping array, to $12,000 for a gimbal stabilized color and thermal camera.

Bonus points: the drone claims to be moisture resistant and has been fully tested flying in the rain. The company anticipates making a full waterproof drone, capable of submerging up to 1 meter deep, by the end of 2018. Continue reading 4 new commercial drones (and drone products) debuting this fall

XIRO Xplorer 4K is another DJI Phantom competitor – but the camera and gimbal need work

These days, I dream about a solid competitor to DJI’s lineup of drones. Yuneec was a solid contender, but hasn’t introduced new products of late to compete with DJI’s Mavic or Spark. GoPro had us hopeful — briefly — until recalls happened.

And lately, it seems my dreams of any drone company taking down DJI are about as realistic as Amazon drone delivery happening on any sort of wide scale by the end of the year. (Aka: highly unrealistic).

Enter the XIRO Xplorer 4K.

The $599 XIRO Xplorer 4K is a quadcopter drone with a 4K camera that enables live video stream through your smartphone or tablet. Continue reading XIRO Xplorer 4K is another DJI Phantom competitor – but the camera and gimbal need work

8 tips for starting your own aerial photography business — and making money while doing it

I have a recurring feature on my site called Ask Drone Girl. People have asked me about topics including FPV’s impact on eyesight, international travel with a drone, legal airspace, drone video music, LCD brightness and even a potential drone stalking situation.

But far and away the biggest question I get is centered around one topic: money.

What do I study in school to get a job in drones? What kind of revenue can I expect? Is there a set amount of hours you need to fly to become an expert?

But the most common scenario is people who have a drone and are looking to start an aerial photography business.

I figured the best way to give advice was to crowd-source from the pros. I reached out to some of the top aerial photographers in the business to get their advice:

  1. Use social media. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or a drone-photo sharing site, stay active posting on social media. “These days almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, and /or Instagram account,” said Stacy Garlington, founder of the DJI Aerial Photography Academy.

“By posting your best images this will get the word out that you are serious about pursuing aerial imaging.” Along those lines, join online communities. There are tons of drone Facebook groups, Slack channels and forums to share your work, as well as learn from others.

“There you can keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry and share images and experiences with like-minded folks,” Garlington said.

2. Find a niche. Don’t just photograph everything and spread yourself thin.  Figure out one or two niches. Whether it’s real estate, weddings, or something else completely, become a pro in that field. “Rather than have a huge list of services and a crazy demo reel, show you’re an expert in one specific field,” said Drone Depot distributor Alex Wright in a past Drone Girl article. “I came into a market that was quite saturated already as a pilot, so I focused on boating. I made boats my niche. I’m the boat guy! And that worked so well for me.”

3. Post your work. If your client allows you to, share your work online so potential customers know you’re business is growing. At the very least, include testimonies from past clients so potential new ones have a reference point.

From the ground, it typically takes an hour-and-a-half to get to the center of this lavender maze.

A post shared by Kara Murphy (@karaemurphy) on

4. Don’t neglect sales! Even if you see yourself as a photographer, ultimately you are a salesperson. “Sales are the lifeblood of any business,” said SkyNinja founder Taylor Mitcham. “Without sales, all you have is an expensive hobby.”

5. Network. You never know when that one email you almost deleted ultimately turns into your biggest gig.  And don’t forget to follow up on all leads.

“Even if it’s 3×5 cards in a box, the business won’t come to you,” said Skyshot founder Casey Saumure. “You have to go get it.”

6. Decide when you can work for free, and when you need to get paid. Ultimately it’s a business and you deserve to be paid for your work. But that pro bono project could lead to something bigger and better.

And decide when you are willing to let magazines publish your work for free.

“Don’t be surprised if magazines, newspapers, and other publishing agencies want to print your images for free,” Garlington said. “In general, they no longer need to pay for images since the internet is saturated with talent. Allow them to use your images and add the publication to your resume.”

But don’t forget to get paid too! Garlington suggests that stock agencies such as Adobe Stock, Getty or Shutterstock are outlets to get residual income.

7. Build a professional website. 

“An established online presence — website and/or social media — is a must! One that tells a little bit about you/your company, but more importantly includes a photo portfolio of your work,” said Kim Wheeler, one half of the 2Drone Gals team.

 Come up with a memorable URL (can you avoid the cliches like ‘Sky’, ‘Aerial’ or ‘Air’ in your business name? Design a great logo that stands out. And even if you don’t have coding chops, build a great website. Drone photographer Kara Murphy built hers on Squarespace for less than $200.

“Set up analytics so you know what’s driving your traffic,” Murphy said.

8. Perfect your demo reel.  Carys Keiser, who does work primarily for British broadcast TV and other European production companies and also edits the BBC’s showreels speaks from experience.

Keep the demo reel short and sweet, between 1 to 2 minutes. Remove any illegal drone footage, copyrighted music, and cut out distractions like graphics or weird editing techniques.

“What they want to see is ungraded footage from the drone,” Kaiser said, advising that photographers remove color grading or post=-processed stabilization. Put variety in your reel, whether it’s landscapes, locations, time of day and even time of year.

“Try not to show everything in sunlight,” Kaiser said. “Shoot dark skies and winter weather, and include people if you can.”

Do you have your own aerial photography business tips? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

I am considering “the drone life” and am interested in pursuing it as a career in some fashion. I see many companies hiring but one of the requirements say “500 hours of verifiable PIC time”.

Do you know what is considered “verifiable”? Is my chicken scratch that is written in a log book considered “verifiable” when there is no one with me to officially sign off my flights, as they do in private pilot courses of manned aircraft? The word “verifiable” gives me some concern. 

Welcome to the drone world! The drone industry is an exciting one, as there are jobs for people in all sorts of backgrounds, and not just flying drones. The drone industry needs engineers, storytellers, policy makers, lawyers, businesspeople and more. But it sounds like you want to actually fly for a living, so we’ll talk about that! Continue reading Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

Yuneec steps up warranty program with unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.

Yuneec may not be the largest drone manufacturer in the world, but the maker of the Typhoon drone has long been known as the winning drone company when it comes to customer service.

And now, it’s raising the stakes with a new customer service program.

Yuneec this week announced its Yuneec Extended Service (and yes, the company is referring to it with the acronym “YES!”) plan.

The plan will cover unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.  The key there is “manufacturer defect” which means if you fly your drone into the lake, you’re probably not covered.

But, the warranty will cover other manufacturer defects, such as electronics problems or software issues, such as a flyaway.

All Yuneec customers get a standard one-year warranty, but the YES! extended warranty plan extends that out an additional year. Continue reading Yuneec steps up warranty program with unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.

DJI announces new leadership, appointing Roger Luo as president

DJI is changing up its leadership chain.

The world’s largest drone maker, DJI, this week announced that Roger Luo has been named president of DJI. Luo has been with the company since 2015, having previously served as the Vice President of Operations where he oversaw procurement, production and logistics.

Luo has previously worked at Apple, Foxconn and Siemens, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from National Taiwan University and a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University, California.

Luo’s role “will focus on developing DJI’s business internationally,” according to a news release from DJI.

“The move will also enable us to gain a deeper understanding of our growing customer base and build stronger relationships with our dealers and partners,” said DJI founder and CEO Frank Wang in a prepared statement.

Wang will continue as CEO, where he will oversee DJI’s product development, according to the news release.

Wang has historically been more hands-on in developing DJI’s products, while steering clear of the more public-facing, business-focused roles that some CEOs take on. In the past, Wang has declined interviews with journalists, citing a preference for spending time working on products. It’s likely that the move will allow Wang to continue to focus more on engineering while allowing someone else to take more of a front-facing role in the company.

DJI now has more than 11,000 staff members and offices in 17 cities. The company has a predicted 70% market share.

The company rose to popularity with its iconic Phantom drone. In 2016, the company found a hit with its more portable Mavic drone, and this year the company launched a new, smaller and lower cost drone, the Spark.