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Best Drones for Architectural Photography

11 mins
Drone Blog
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If you’ve tried selling a building or house in the past, you understand how important the photography of that construction is.

The idea is to show every detail of the building and how it will look from the buyer’s point of view.

Drones can assist, but which are best for architectural photography?

The DJI Mavic 3, DJI Air 2S, Autel EVO Lite Plus, DJI Mini 3 Pro, and Autel EVO Nano+ are the top drones for architectural photography.

This guide will explore these drones and provide more information for selecting the best architectural drone for real estate.

1. DJI Mavic 3 – Our top choice for architectural photography #

Droneblog’s Choice

Dimensions: 13.70 x 11.14 x 4.24 inWeight: 895 gMax Range: 30,000 mMax Speed: 47 mphMax Wind Speed Resistance: 12.0 m/s (Level 6)Max Flying Time: 46 minCamera Sensor: 4/3’’ CMOSCamera Still Resolution: 20 MPPhoto Format: JPEG/DNG (RAW)Camera Shutter: ElectronicInternal Storage: 8 GBExternal Max Storage: U3 512GB microSD cardGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • It has an impressive 46-minute flight time with one battery
  • It comes with a Hasselblad camera
  • It takes the most accurate color photographs on the list
  • OcuSync 3 ensures higher transmission stability and less video lag
  • It has omnidirectional obstacle-sensing and avoidance

❌ Cons #

  • It’s the heaviest drone on the list

Search no further if you need the best camera drone for outstanding high-fidelity photos.

The DJI Mavic 3 is a sophisticated drone that’s perfect for the on-the-go photographer.

First, it fits any daypack, as it’s lightweight. You can carry it all day without too much effort.

This drone is also convenient to tote around, as you only need one battery to fly for up to 46 minutes.

That’s almost double the flight time of most drones on this list. This impressive flight time is helpful for a complete pre-shoot walkthrough.

This drone comes with a Hasselblad 20 MP camera with a 4/3-inch sensor to capture more light, naturally reproducing deeper contrasts.

The Mavic 3 camera incorporates Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution (HNCS), which guarantees natural and accurate color in your photos.

These two camera features translate into little to no time in post-editing.

The best part is that you can take your photos in DNG (RAW).

2. DJI Air 2S – Best drone for architectural photography for the price #

Dimensions: 7.20 x 9.96 x 3.03 inWeight: 595 gMax Range: 18,500 mMax Speed: 42.5 mphMax Flying Time: 31 minMax Wind Speed Resistance: 10.7 m/s (Level 5)Camera Sensor: 1’’ CMOSCamera Still Resolution: 20 MPPhoto Format: JPEG/DNG (RAW)Camera Shutter: ElectronicInternal Storage: 8 GBExternal Max Storage: U3 512GB microSD cardGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • It bypasses obstacles in four directions
  • It’s a small drone
  • It comes with internal storage and 512 GB of external capacity
  • It’s a light drone that fits any daypack
  • Even as a bundle, it’s a low-cost drone compared to the others on the list

❌ Cons #

  • It has a fixed f/2.8 aperture

The DJI Air 2S is your top bet if you want a more affordable drone without losing too much image fidelity.

DJI released this drone in 2021, but it’s still a number-one option for photographers. Its camera is very impressive for this drone’s size and weight.

It has a 1-inch camera sensor to take gorgeous shots of houses or buildings. Even when the sun directly hits these structures, it reproduces contrast with enough accuracy, so forget about image distortion.

You can store your photos with the maximum detail and color profiles. This drone can also take DN (RAW) pictures, so rest assured your photographs will be high quality.

The Air 2S is more compact and light than the Mavic 3 and Autel EVO Lite Plus, so you can travel with it without occupying too much space in your backpack.

This form factor also allows you to carry more batteries for an increased flight time. Even when carrying an extra battery, it’s lighter than the Mavic 3 and EVO Lite Plus.

The Air 2S incorporates ADS-B IN, which captures near-aircraft signals. This feature displays an audio and visual beacon to fly on a safe path.

You won’t have to worry about interfering with commercial flights when flying your drone, as it always advises you of any possible danger.

3. Autel EVO Lite Plus – Best drone for low-light and foggy architectural photography #

Dimensions: 17.04 ****x 20.32 x 3.74 inWeight: 835 gMax Range: 24,000 mMax Speed: 40.3 mphMax Flying Time: 40 minMax Wind Speed Resistance: 12.0 m/s (Level 6)Camera Sensor: 1” CMOSCamera Still Resolution: 20 MPCamera Shutter: ElectronicInternal Storage: 6GBExternal Max Storage: U3 256GB microSD cardGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • It takes detailed images at night
  • It automatically balances over and underexposure for clearer images
  • You can take crisp footage even in foggy conditions
  • It has an incredible flight time of 40 minutes with one battery
  • Its camera has an adjustable aperture of f/2.8 to f/11

❌ Cons #

  • Autel customer service outside of the US isn’t the best

Go for the Autel EVO Lite Plus when photographing architectural buildings in low light and foggy conditions.

Autel designed this drone camera to focus on these harsh conditions while still maintaining a crisp image.

If you need to photograph at dawn when it’s foggy, this drone’s camera captures low-noise photographs. This incredible feature works thanks to its automatic capabilities that correct the exposure.

You’ll always get clear images with true colors.

Another impressive feature of this drone’s camera is the adjustable aperture. Alongside the pro camera mode, you can change its parameters to fit the photograph you want to reproduce.

This drone also comes with obstacle sensing and avoidance.

The EVO Lite Plus stops once it finds an obstacle, a nice feature when doing a pre-shoot walkthrough of a structure you want to photograph.

However, it doesn’t bypass obstacles like the Mavic 3 or Air 2S.

4. DJI Mini 3 Pro – Best mini drone for architectural photography #

Dimensions: 9.88 x 14.25 x 2.83 inWeight: 249 g and 290 gMax Range: 18,000 m and 25,000 mMax Speed: 36 mphMax Flying Time: 38 min and 51 minMax Wind Speed Resistance: 10.7 m/s (Level 5)Camera Sensor: 1/1.3’’ CMOSCamera Still Resolution: 50 MPCamera Shutter: ElectronicInternal Storage: NoExternal Max Storage: U3 512GB microSD cardGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • It can fly for up to 51 minutes with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus
  • It bypasses obstacles in three directions
  • You can fit it in any daypack or 10 Lt bag
  • Its camera can rotate to take vertical shots
  • It shoots in 50 MP with little to no noise

❌ Cons #

  • It lacks a 1-inch camera sensor

The DJI Mini 3 Pro is a top option for those who want a potent camera drone that weighs the same as a smartphone.

This drone fits any bag or even your pockets! And thanks to its lightweight profile, your back won’t suffer even if you carry the drone all day long.

The Mini 3 Pro can take photos with precision and detail thanks to its 50 MP still resolution. Photograph buildings without losing quality, even when the sun hits the camera.

The ISO dual native automatically sets the best camera parameters for the picture to be a masterpiece.

If you’re constantly on the move and need to upload pictures to social media without too much editing, the three-axis gimbal can rotate 90 degrees for true vertical shooting.

You now can take pictures of buildings in portrait mode and post them immediately on Instagram.

The Mini 3 Pro has 34 minutes of flight time, more than enough for a regular architectural photography session.

If you still need more time, use its Intelligent Flight Battery Plus. This enhanced battery allows your Mini 3 Pro up to 47 minutes of flight time.

That’s impressive for a tiny drone like this, even beating the Mavic 3. Be aware that this battery increases this drone’s weight by almost double.

5. Autel EVO Nano Plus – Best mini drone bundle for architectural photography #

Dimensions: 4.30 x 9.10 x 5.10 inWeight: 249 gMax Range: 10,000 mMax Speed: 34 mphMax Flying Time: 28 minMax Wind Speed Resistance: 10 m/s (Level 5)Camera Sensor: 1/1.28″ CMOSCamera Shutter: ElectronicCamera Still Resolution: 50 MPLive View Quality: Up to 2.7K@30FPSVideo Resolution: 4K30FPSVideo bitrate: 100MbpsInternal Storage: NoExternal Max Storage: U3 256GB microSD cardGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Even as a bundle, it’s cheaper than the DJI Mini 3 Pro
  • It bypasses obstacles in three directions
  • It shoots well in low-light environments

❌ Cons #

  • It doesn’t have a 1-inch camera sensor

The Autel EVO Nano Plus is like the DJI Mini 3 Pro but cheaper.

This drone is very lightweight too, so it’s easy to carry.

It differs from the Mini 3 Pro in its intended use, as Autel designed this drone to take pictures in low-light conditions.

This drone camera sensor reduces unnecessary noise, achieving adequate contrast and accurate color reproduction.

With HDR on, it takes several photos at different exposures. This feature automatically stitches them to reproduce an image with perfect contrast and dynamic range.

Another excellent feature of this drone is that you can choose from four colors, any one of which makes this drone very visible at night or in low-light conditions.

And as a bundle, this drone comes with more useful tools than the Mini 3 Pro. You get a microSD card, two extra batteries, and a charger for the three batteries for a lower price.

If you prefer to shoot architectonic structures at sunrise or dawn at the best price possible, this drone will become your perfect shooting partner.

Best Drones for architectural photography – Minimum requirements #

Now that you’ve read my recommendations for architectural photography drones, it’s time to choose one. Here are the factors that make a drone suitable for real estate purposes.

Top-notch camera #

Taking a captivating image is critical in architectural photography. Those shots are only possible with a camera that can achieve perfect contrast and color accuracy.

We advise you to purchase a camera with hardware like a large camera sensor.

However, a 1-inch camera sensor with poor pixel count will take images with lots of noise. Thus, the still resolution is critical and shouldn’t be less than 20 MP.

The DJI Air 2S, for example, has a 1-inch 20 MP camera sensor that provides crisp imagery even at night.

On the other hand, the DJI Mini 3 Pro only has a 1/1.3-inch camera sensor, but with 48 MP image quality that compensates for the sensor size.

Another critical factor is the stabilization method used to eliminate unnecessary blur.

When the drone is in the air, wind makes it move. That vibration translates to the photos, making them unintentionally blurry.

All these drones have a three-axis gimbal that provides stable photography, eliminating the undesired blur. Plus, some drones have EIS for improved stability.

Flight range #

You surely will need to go far away from the structure to take a good shot.

Generating a live feed without glitches at long distances or going through obstacles is a must. That way, you can find the best angles and heights for the desired shot.

Waypoint flight #

A waypoint mission will help you plan an effective pre-shoot walkthrough that guarantees perfect images. All the drones on our list have this feature built-in.

Flight time #

Aim for a drone with no less than 25 minutes of flight time with one battery, as these drones can fly for up to 30 to 50 minutes.

Size #

Architectural photographers travel light. Buy a drone that fits your daypack and is easy to carry on the go.

The most advanced drones on this list are lightweight and fit any 20 Lt backpack. The Mini 3 Pro or Autel Nano+ are the smallest and most portable.

What is the most important factor in architectural photography? #

The correct lighting is critical for all details to look natural with the proper contrast and mood, so a large camera sensor is a must.

The larger the sensor, the more detailed and crisp the photo looks as it absorbs more ambient or artificial light. A large camera sensor allows your drone to recreate the exact conditions in the pictures.

What should I consider before taking architectural photos? #

Although you can take the shots just after your client contacts you, we don’t advise you to do it.

What if there’s maintenance going on in the building? It will look unprofessional and unappealing to buyers’ eyes.

A pre-shoot walkthrough is your best ally here. A waypoint mission will go through specific geographical points. That way, you can spot areas that need improvement.

Do I have to register my drone for architectural photography? #

Architectural photography is a business where you provide a service, so you must register your drone before taking any shots.


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