Ready for Take Off: Setting your Drone Camera Before you Fly

Lucky photographers who find themselves the proud possessors of a drone-mounted camera will be excited about the prospect of getting outside and expanding their repertoire into the exciting world of aerial photography. But it pays to take note of some of the basics before you launch.

Stick to Auto?

Your camera will quite happily revert to auto settings for everything if you let it. This may not be a bad idea if you are new to flying a drone and need to concentrate on getting your equipment safely off the ground and back again. However, you will soon find that very few of your pictures are exactly as you want them, and you will need to start making some manual adjustments. Think about the settings you can control when you are comparing reviews of the top camera drones by


Aperture setting is most important when you are concerned about the depth of field—keeping a sharp focus for near and far, or having a focused foreground against a blurred background. With aerial photography, it is really not much of an issue, as the camera will be a long way from nearly everything that is in the shot. So concentrate on the speed and let the aperture look after itself.


As you don’t need to worry about the aperture, you can attend to the speed. For most daylight conditions, a speed setting of 1/1000 or faster will be ideal to capture a sharp image. If your camera can track a moving object, you might want to try a slower setting to enhance the movement against the background. In lower light conditions, a good drone on a still day should be able to hold the camera still enough for quite long exposures.


From the air, nearly everything is at or near infinity, so you can safely leave the autofocus to do its job.


If set to auto, your camera will always be in a hurry to increase the ISO setting. This will mean that as soon as the light begins to fade, you will start to get “noisy” images. Set the ISO to 100 for most conditions with good daylight, perhaps 200 for fading light.

Auto Bracket

From a drone, you will often have scenes with a high contrast between light and dark areas, and it can be hard to choose the right exposure. So set your camera to Automatic Exposure Bracketing and it will take three pictures in quick succession, one on each side of its auto exposure choice. You can choose later which works best. Set the metering to evaluative or matrix meter to get the best overall level across the screen.

Enjoy the View

Taking pictures from a drone will open up a whole new photographic experience for you. Although modern cameras are very clever, there are still some things that they struggle with. Putting yourself back in control will give you a better learning experience as you adjust to your new perspective.

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