Whether you’re a veteran quadcopter hobbyist eager to add aerial photography to your skill set or you’re a beginner at either drone flight or aerial photography there’s no arguing the fact that you need to choose the right quadcopter first. Assuming that you’ve already selected a GoPro Camera (why else would you be on this page?) and your existing drone isn’t up to the job, we recommend taking a look at the DJI Phantom 2 with the Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal ($899 on Amazon). While this contemporary quadcopter isn’t cheap, it’s ready-to-fly (RTF), easy to use, and doesn’t have any major construction worries. As long as you’ve a healthy budget, you’ll get everything you hoped for in an aerial photography experience when pairing a GoPro camera with this sleek, state-of-the art quad.
Watch out for the Jello!
Despite the Phantom’s impressive resume for flying, your videos aren’t guaranteed to be praise-worthy (yet). Due to what hobbyists call the “jello-cam” effect, vibrations from the propellers have been known to distort footage causing wobbles in the video. There’s a fix, of course, but it will cost a few bucks: upgraded carbon fiber propellers engineered to stabilize the flight and minimize jiggle and super-soft Soborthane dampeners (a viscoelastic urethane polymer that was invented by a Brit, Dr. Maurice Hiles) between the gimbal’s mounting bracket and the hull to even further minimize vibrations. Is the Phantom still worth the investment despite these minor negatives? You bet. No other hobby quadcopter beats the usability of the DJI Phantom 2.
First up, what do you know about balancing propellers? If the answer is “nada,” get thee into cyberspace and watch a bunch of YouTube videos to see how the experts do it. Invest in a prop balancer like a Du-Bro 499 Tru-Spin once you’ve got the visual hang of it (forget traditional prop balancers since the rod isn’t engineered to fit all the way through the Phantom prop) and you can cut down that jello effect. There are others that would recommend another brushless gimbal like the Tarot T-2D, but call me a purist, I like going with the manufacturer’s gimbal vs. a third party’s.
Experienced quadcopter operators advise experimenting with all three vibration-isolating damper balls packed with the bundled quadcopter kit — particularly the gray, vibration-fighting damper balls because they are of medium hardness, offering a nice balance of give and brace. If you’re still bothered by a slight vibration in flight, make sure to add that Sorbothane we talked about before.