Future Tech

Latest Drone Photography You Have To See To Believe

Rob Nightingale 29-01-2015

We’ve written previously about how drones will impact future wars Drone Wars: How UAV Tech Is Transforming the Future of War A revolution is taking place right now on the battlefields of the world: wars are fought increasingly by drones. Read More , and various other industries 7 Industries Drones Are Set to Revolutionize Seven industries that are ready and braced to be (mostly positively) impacted – if not revolutionized – by drones. Read More , but drones have lighter uses as well, Today, we’re going to take a look at some recent, amazing videos that’ve been recorded using some of the latest UAV tech that’s out there.


It was back in the mid 1800’s when un-manned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and aerial photography first made their (individual) debuts. When the Austrians were reportedly attacking Venice with unmanned balloons laden with explosives (1849), French photographer Gaspard-Félix Tournachon was floating over Paris, in his balloon, with his trusty camera (1858). Since then, their history and progress have been tightly intertwined.

At the time, this technology was a military matter (or, later, a tool for Hollywood and the ultra-rich).  It’s only very recently that these two industries have opened up to the public, with a whole host of relatively affordable, quality tech being made available at a fraction of its previous cost.  Now, even budget video and photography setups are a million miles away from aerial photography of the early days.

Even if they’re piloted by amateurs, however, the results can be anything but. The combination of UAVs and lightweight HD cameras can be spectacular in the hands of the right operator.

Take a look at the examples below, to see some recent examples of what these machines are capable of.

Illegal Recordings of Beijing

Trey Ratcliff illegally recorded this dazzling video of Beijing’s many sides with the DJI Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3d 3-axis Gimbal (to keep the footage steady) and Gopro Hero 3+ Black Edition. Some of those sides meant flying over the Forbidden City and getting too cozy with government buildings, resulting in Trey being detained by police for questioning. It makes for a good story, sure. But it makes for an even better video.


Burning Man 2014

This incredible footage of Burning Man 2014 shows the true potential of this technology. Despite Burning Man’s tight restrictions on drone usage during the festival, Eric Cheng still managed to capture the events with a DJI Phantom 2 w/Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal and a GoPro HERO 3+ Black, along with a whole host of other gear, which you can read about on Eric’s blog post. Much of the footage recorded was also streamed to those who couldn’t make the event, using a “GoPro with HDMI out and Lightbridge”.

Apple 2 Campus Construction

This video (again, using a GoPro) of Apple’s new ‘Campus’ was released back in August 2014, and has since received over 4 million views. It’s not so much the beauty of the video that makes this so impressive. It’s the sheer scale of Apple’s new Campus. Some are touting this as being the place where many of the century’s most important inventions and advancements may be made. In other words, this really does need to be ‘seen to be believed’.  To see what this gargantuan Campus will be like upon completion, watch Steve Jobs talk about it here.

The Notorious “Pipeline” Surf Spot

Eric Sterman attached his attached a GoPro camera to a DJI quadcopter (there seems to be a theme here Extreme Sports Revealed With Amazing GoPro Videos GoPro cameras are designed to be worn or held while doing adventurous activities. They're tough and waterproof, meaning they can survive along with you (hopefully) whether you're jumping out of a plane, diving in the... Read More ) to shoot perhaps the most impressive drone video I’ve ever seen. The location is North Shore of Oahu, Pipeline on Hawaii’s North Shore, of which TheNextWeb said:

The result is a truly breathtaking video from a perspective which used to be impossible for filmmakers to achieve without hiring a helicopter. I’ve watched a few surfing films before (Billabong Odyssey and The Endless Summer are my personal favorites) but this is by far the best footage I’ve ever seen from Pipeline.

Into a Live Volcano

Sending a DJI Phantom into the depths of a live volcano in the South Pacific may sound a little on the insane side, but it doesn’t half make for a terrifying, awe-inspiring and dazzling watch. God knows how, but somehow the drone survived in tact. According to the Dronestagr.am blog:


The pilot managed to keep the camera just outside of the “instant incineration zone” long enough to capture this amazing footage! A volcano eruption is not something you can easily see except in science fiction movies. Fortunately DJI Phantom is brave enough to let us appreciate the beauty of this amazing natural spectacle.

A Drunken Crash

A DJI Phantom maybe able to survive a live volcano, but these guys thought they’ve give the UAV a tougher challenge. A reckless, drunken spin off the back of a yacht and some jet-ski spray. Not particularly impressive videography (and some overlaid music would have been nice), but the fact the drone survives, and continues streaming video despite sinking to the bottom of a lake is pretty remarkable.

A Radioactive Town

Using a Phantom 2, a GoPro 3+, a Canon 7d and a radiation dosimeter, Danny Cooke created this 3 minute video (from footage shot for a CBS Documentary) of a town called Pripyat which was abandoned in the wake the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

There’s a grim serenity about the place that comes into focus from a drone’s-eye view.  The video is haunting, making the viewer feel the gravity of what happened there.

Season’s End in Denmark

Over a few days, Mark Qvist used a DJI Phantom (with carbon fibre blades), DJI Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal, and a GoPro HERO 3 to capture the beauty of the end of Summer in the mid-zealand region in Denmark. He awoke before sunrise to capture the best of the morning light. He said on BHPhotoVideo:


To be able to get many consecutive shots, I would drive around with a 12 volt car battery hooked up to an inverter, and a couple of LiPo battery chargers, so that I could charge the Phantom batteries while driving from one spot to the next.

The video (filmed in 2.7k, rather than 1080px) was shot in ProTune edited in Final Cut Pro X, with the colouring of the footage being made more consistent using Magic Bullet Looks.

Recording Your Own Videos

Despite trying to find more range in video setups, the majority of impressively captured videos I could find seemed to be recorded using a GoPro and DJI Phantom along with a stable Gimble and a decent FPV (First Person View) setup. The video below shows how easy it can be to set this up for yourself without having to hack the drone too much (or even at all), unless you want to.

If you’re interested in recording high quality videos yourself (and editing them like a pro How to Edit Videos Like a Pro: 8 Tips You Need to Master If you're just getting into the editing game, you may be confused as to what to do with the many millions of clips you have... well, we're here to help. Read More ), you’ll see the importance of isolation mounts, FPV transmitters etc.  ReadyMadeRC is a good one-stop shop for equipment, and will help give you a basic grasp of how to get started.



Seen another great drone video recently?  Capture a few yourself?  Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image Credit: Drone and Moon by Don McCullough on Flickr

Related topics: Drone Technology, Online Video.

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  1. Rob
    March 3, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Thanks for the link, Gjergji!

  2. Gjergji Kokushta
    January 31, 2015 at 7:43 pm