How to Take Great Drone Photos: A Brief Tutorial

Everyone wants to be able to take incredible looking aerial drone photos, right? Well snapping the best looking pictures from the sky requires more than simply just owning a drone. You’ve got to consider 3 main settings and understand how to use them together to capture the perfect shot. Watch the video tutorial below learn what these 3 settings are, and how to configure them for taking great looking drone photos.

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The 3 Settings

To take great drone photos, you have to consider the following three settings and use them together in order to capture great looking photos.

1. Image Format

When it comes to image format, some formats look better than others, while other formats may not look as great but are actually higher quality. We suggest shooting in the JPG+RAW setting on your DJI drone. Why? Basically, the JPG image format produces images that have low file sizes and look great. These are perfect for sharing on social media, posting on websites, and even delivering to clients. However, JPG image files are not for all clients. Because JPG images are heavily compressed, they cannot be heavily edited or manipulated. This is why you want to shoot in the RAW file format as well; RAW image files contain all of the uncompressed data from the camera sensor, making them perfect for photo editing and enhancing without loss in quality. RAW files are often much larger than JPG image files too, JPG images are typically under 5MB while RAW image files are usually over 20MB. Taking drone photos in both formats means you get the best of both worlds. You get the great looking, smaller JPG files, and the higher quality, larger RAW files. We have a guide walking you through how to take both JPG+RAW photos on all DJI drones if you are unsure where to find the setting.

2. Camera Settings

After you’ve made sure you’re taking both JPG and RAW photos, the next things to consider are two specific camera settings: color and exposure. You can find these settings in the DJI Go application. In the camera settings screen, the color settings can be found under the camera icon, while the exposure settings can be found under the aperture icon. Adjusting the color settings is important for making the JPG images look great. The different color profiles and styles add saturation and contrast to the JPG images, making them more visually appealing. The RAW photos will remain unaffected by these color settings as the enhancements added after the image is taken; they aren’t captured directly by the camera sensor.

These are the color settings you want:

  • White Balance: Aut0
  • Style: Standard
  • Color: Normal/None or TrueColor

Quickly walking through these: White balance adjusts the color temperature of the image. You want the white balance set on auto because the camera does a great job, and it’s one less thing for you to think about. The style setting can add or remove sharpness, contrast, and saturation to your images. We suggest leaving this on Standard (+0, +0, +0) because honestly the images don’t need any more sharpness, contrast, or saturation. It’s also easy to enhance your images after they are taken with free photo editing software. The color is the color profile you shoot with. We recommend using the Normal (also called None on Android) or the TrueColor profiles. With high contrast and a wonderful amount of saturation, the Normal color profile looks beautiful. It produces images that are vibrant, eye-catching, and sharp. However, the level of saturation may be too much for some, and switching to the TrueColor profile can yield more true-to-life color reproduction. TrueColor can also bring out more detail in high contrast scenes. Keep in mind you will also have the RAW image to work with if you dislike the color of the JPG image.

For exposure, we recommend leaving this setting on automatic. Like with white balance, the camera does an excellent job properly exposing the images, and it’s one less thing for you to think about. You can also use the “tap exposure” feature in the DJI Go app, where you tap on your subject to have the camera automatically adjust the exposure for that subject. Using additional settings like zebra stripes (called the over exposure warning in the DJI Go settings) and the histogram can also help you ensure your image is properly exposed.

3. Framing

Framing is the last main element to consider. While the framing of shots is mostly creative and based on personal preferences, there are some tools you can enable to help you compose your images. We recommend enabling the grid lines and the center point. These guides will help you align your subject either perfectly in the center of the frame, or along one of the grid lines for following the rule of thirds. Again, when it comes to framing and composition a lot of it is personal preference, so feel free to explore with various compositions to learn which you prefer!

Recap

Taking great drone photos is easy. Just remember to focus on the 3 main settings: file format, camera settings, and framing.

  • File Format
    • JPG+RAW
  • Camera Settings
    • Color
    • Exposure
  • Framing
    • Center Point
    • Rule of Thirds Gridlines

Hopefully this guide helps you improve your aerial drone photos. Feel free to share it if you found it helpful, and let us know which settings you’re using to take your photos!

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