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What Is the Purpose of Using the Camera on a Drone?

Drone technology is constantly evolving as innovations and increased investments are continually bringing more advanced drones into the market. Camera technology is also advancing faster than ever, and it only makes sense that the advances in cameras have found their way into the drone industry. 

The use of camera drones has become prevalent among photographers, videographers, and other professionals in various industries. By outfitting them with cameras, drones have taken a huge leap forward in terms of both commercial and personal use. With this in mind, it only makes sense to wonder what the actual purpose of using drone cameras is.

The purpose of a drone camera is to allow a vantage point that is impossible to see from the ground, and often in conditions that are inaccessible or dangerous to humans. It allows the user to get an aerial view of many surfaces, allowing the collection of data, images, and videos for various purposes.

What is the purpose of a drone camera?

The first case of unmanned aerial vehicles can be traced back to the Venice attack by Austria, where balloons were used to deploy explosives. In the 1860s, early cameras were used to take aerial photographs of the ground. The earliest mention of cameras being used on drones can be traced back to the Vietnam War, where they were used for aerial surveillance to identify and map out enemy territories with minimal risk.

It’s safe to say the use of cameras on drones has evolved quite a bit over the years. In most cases, they have been used for beneficial purposes, but people with malicious intent have also made use of them. For better or worse, cameras are now standard kit for most drones, so it’s worth asking why they’re there, and what they’re used for. 

The truth of the matter is that a drone camera allows the user to get a vantage point that is impossible to see from the ground. The same image could sometimes be captured by helicopter or airplane, but at much greater expense, and with much greater safety risks. And often the small size and maneuverability of a drone can get images that even other aircraft never could. 

In the past, the only way to maintain an aerial view was to charter a plane with an onboard camera crew. The data collected using this method was of very low quality due to vibrations and hand movements. But ever since drones began being fitted with high-quality precision cameras, stable shots have become the norm making data collection a breeze.

The unique perspective of drones means that they can be used for the collection of important data, images, and videos in a wide variety of applications. Many times they are used to access areas that would be dangerous for people to try to reach as well, such as in mines, on top of utility structures, or under bridges. Drones with high-quality video and photo cameras are revolutionizing countless industries.

What are the pros and cons of using drone cameras?

Drone cameras have revolutionized the way we do aerial photography and videography. They have also proven to be quite useful in various other industries where aerial photographs and videos play an important role in agriculture, real estate, surveillance, wildlife monitoring, disaster management, and much more. 

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But despite this usefulness, there are still some disadvantages of drones that are outfitted with cameras.

In this section, we will explore the pros and cons of using drones and the camera technology that they are equipped with.

Pros of using drone cameras

  • Quality aerial imaging – The biggest advantage of drones fitted with cameras is that they are excellent for taking high-quality aerial photos and videos, thus helping us collect a large amount of imaging data. These high-resolution images can then be used to create 3D maps and models that are useful; for example, 3D mapping of disaster-struck areas can help rescue teams prepare better for hazardous situations.
  • Useful for security and surveillance – With proper permission and licensing, operators of drones outfitted with cameras can use them to provide security and surveillance to private companies, sporting events, and other venues. Drone cameras have been used heavily by security agencies such as the police and military to help identify potential security threats and neutralize them.
  • Precision – Drones can be configured to fly accurately to precise locations. This is quite useful in certain scenarios; for example, in precision agriculture, drones that are outfitted with cameras can be used to monitor crop health, irrigation monitoring, field soil analysis, and much more.
  • In-depth and detailed data collection – Drones that are outfitted with cameras can capture high-resolution images or 4K videos that explicitly reveal certain phenomena such as cracks and damage in buildings that we couldn’t detect with the naked eye. This means drone cameras ensure detailed data is collected to aid in decision-making.
  • Reaching hazardous/hard-to-reach areas – Drones with cameras can be quite useful in obtaining data efficiently and safely from locations that are hard to reach for a normal human. Without the cameras found on drones, it would be impossible to reach and inspect such areas.

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Cons of using drone cameras

  • Privacy invasion – The biggest disadvantage of drones with cameras is that they can easily be misused. Drones can collect data and images while being more or less invisible, and this, if used inappropriately, infringes on people’s right to privacy.
  • Reduced battery life – Integrated cameras in drones usually feed off power from the main battery of the drone. This usually reduces flight times and ultimately compromises the drone’s battery life. If the drone flight itself is the goal, a camera can get in the way.
  • Safety concerns – Malicious entities can use drones outfitted with cameras to carry out surveillance of buildings and other areas. This information can be quite dangerous if it falls in the hands of dangerous individuals, e.g., terrorists, thieves, etc. Drones are also vulnerable to hackers who can use them for malicious intent.
  • Knowledge and skill gap – If it’s necessary to acquire accurate, high-quality images and videos, then it means the person operating the drone has to have the necessary skill set. For example, an average farmer would be at a loss of how to use a drone and its camera, or they’d have to hire a third-party drone service to capture, process, and analyze the data they collect.

Drone cameras are, for the most part, quite useful and have revolutionized a lot of fields. Despite their drawbacks, which are quite concerning to some, drone cameras still play an integral part in the lives of many professionals. 

More and more uses of drones with cameras are cropping up daily. This is only good news, provided the negative aspects of drones with cameras can be limited so that we use them for beneficial purposes only.

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