Pro Tips, Reviews

Which Drone Is Right for You? A Day With Brooklyn Drones NYC

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The drone market is growing increasingly saturated. There are quads, hexes, octos, fixed wings, Racers, Parrots, Autels, DJIs, Yuneecs — you name it, there’s a drone out there for every shape and size. Are you in it for cinematography? Surveillance? Racing? Reportage? Food delivery? All uses require a slightly different design and set of features. To further explore the options for videographers, we paid a visit to Brooklyn Drones NYC in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Drones

Brooklyn Drones opened up in March to become the solution to all of the aerial videography needs of modern New Yorkers. It’s based on a belief that people will want to test fly a drone before making a purchase, thereby allowing his store to compete with the likes of B&H or Amazon or other online retailers. Walk in and you can test out any of the drones in a small courtyard behind the store, and there’s even a flight simulator provided by Yuneec to get the hang of it first. It’s a photo-realistic experience that allows you to fly a drone without taking the risks of destroying thousands of dollars worth of gear.

Yuneec Drone Simulator

The Yuneec Drone Simulator

After playing around in the shop for a couple of hours, we went out to Calvert Vaux Park in South Brooklyn to fly a few drones. I have to admit, I hadn’t been around this many modern drones before, and it was impressive to see the technological advances of the last 5 years. I have a friend who spent about $13,000 on an octocopter that he had to build himself about six years ago, and I couldn’t even bear to see him after he crashed it. These drones are superior to that one and a fraction of the price. Watch the video below for a full overview of what we flew, and then read on for our thoughts on the various options.

 

The Yuneec Typhoon H

Roger Kapsalis, Owner and CEO of Brooklyn Drones, met us at the park and showed us the ropes. First, we flew the Yuneec Typhoon H, a hexacopter with an impressive console display unit and gimbal. Kapsalis calls it a beginner drone, but it’s got all the advanced bells and whistles you could ask for — including a gimbal-stabilized 4K camera with automatic return, orientation control, and obstacle avoidance. This was one sexy drone, and with six rotors, even a klutz like me could keep it airborne.

Yuneec Typhoon H

The Yuneec Typhoon H

The Yuneec Typhoon H flying high

The Yuneec Typhoon H flying high
 

The DJI Inspire Pro Black

Next up was the DJI Inspire Pro Black. Roger told me that the only difference between the Black and White editions is the paint job, but the black does look like a real enforcer. This was obviously Roger’s favorite of the three that we flew, and I have to admit, when the feet tuck up above the camera on this, it is clearly a feat of engineering. The camera itself, albeit a bit saturated natively for my color preferences, is also a true beauty. It’s pretty shocking that DJI has found a way to put such excellent sensors in these birds. Now when I think of action camera imaging quality, I don’t instantly think of GoPro ‚ just look at what DJI has done with the X5. UPDATE: The price tag of an Inspire Pro Black has fallen to $4199.

DJI Inspire Pro Black

The DJI Inspire Pro Black
Sending up the DJI Inspire Pro Black

Roger sending up the DJI Inspire Pro Black

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The DJI S 1000

Lastly, we flew the S 1000, DJI’s first heavy-lift drone. This octocopter is capable, if properly modified, of carrying a RED or ARRI camera, but outfitted as it was, carried a Panasonic GH4. It’s obviously a beast and a half, but you’re really flying with a lot on the line with this UAV in the air. The S 1000 is a bit of a classic in the drone world, having been recently replaced by the Matrice 600, upping the total carry weight from 24 to 33 lbs — at that capacity, you could put just about anything under the sun on this, camera-wise.

The DJI S 1000

The DJI S 1000

The DJI S 1000

Prepping the DJI S 1000 for takeoff
 
It was great to see these birds in action, but these were just the drones that fit in the back of Roger’s car. He also carries the Yuneec Breeze, the Parrot Disco, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro, the GoPro Karma, and the Freefly Alta series.

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If you’re looking for your first drone, I was really impressed with the Typhoon H. The handset and monitor were very impressive, and having those extra two rotors is very helpful for a beginner pilot, and the price ($1,199) won’t break the bank. If it’s only the camera you’re concerned with, and stability, price, and handset are not as much of a priority, consider the Inspire. As for the S 1000, as mentioned, it seems to be getting replaced by the Matrice 600, which Brooklyn Drones also carries. This one is definitely for an established pilot with some serious flight time under his or her belt. On top of the hefty price tag of around $5,000, these drones are made to carry cameras that can be valued at $10k-20k or more.
 
Interested in making a purchase from Brooklyn Drones? Roger would love to extend a 5% off offer exclusively to Pond5 blog readers. Just use the code “Pond5BK” to get your savings. And happy (con)trails!