Shooting Aerial Photography from Drones vs Aircraft

Drone are a great way to do an aerial inspection of power line’s,  tall antennas, and towers, and aerial surveys of water treatment sites or any construction related project with very clear, detailed videos and still images which can be captured on an SD card or in real time.  It is possible to see with great detail such things as progress, defects, aging condition, or bird and insect presence or any other inspection to the structure. Although  drone photography for inspections and surveys are more time consuming than would be from and aircraft or helicopter,  the image quality of the videos and pictures more than compensates for the additional time to do the actual work.  However there is disadvantage to using drones.  They are extremely slow, and limited to flying no higher than 400 feet above the ground.  This limitation is very restrictive if you need to cover a large area from much higher up. It takes a lot longer to do a vertical aerial photograph inspection from the ground with a drone than it would from a aircraft.  With an aircraft it is possible to shoot 4-6 individual property sites in the same time it would take to shoot just one site with a drone because with a drone one physically has to drive out to each location, then if it is rural, one has to get off the road, many times venturing onto dirt roads and  risky water logged areas possibly damaging your vehicle or risking getting stuck in loose uneven or muddy ground with a car or truck.  Then there is the time in setting up the drone and equipment, and finally flying the drone mission is additional time.  And then hoping the wind conditions don’t change unexpectedly, or worse, have and eagle attack and fly away with your expensive little drone!    If the area is very large, many times it is necessary to return the drone to home base for several battery changes.  All this can take up a lot of time.  “I recently did just such an assignment for a municipal utility company  consisting of 6 large  sites each about half a mile to a mile long by half a mile and the entire job took up to almost 7 hours, whereas with an aircraft the job would have been easily done in one and a half hours”  says Steve with Astro Aerial Photography  an Orlando  Aerial Photography Company that services the entire state of Florida.  The cost of doing such a job in  aircraft was almost the same as drone photography,  but with a drone the time was much longer.   But the benefit of using the drone is perhaps getting lower and closer and capturing better details in the images since the drone could fly much lower altitudes than an aircraft, and the closer you are to the subject the better the resolution and details.  The size of the site to be shot is important.  Drones are best for shooting small projects and close together.  It can get very time consuming and expensive for labor costs if the distance between jobs is far, whereas with an aircraft, traveling great distances is fast and efficient.  When doing aerial photography one prefers to fly aircraft as the first  choice for cost and time savings.