Should your next Camera be a Drone?

When traveling by motorbike you never know what you will see, or if you will ever be that way again; as such its best to record the memories while in the moment.  For years, I would take my Nikon SLR camera because a Nikon SLR camera is the pinnacle of photography, yet as the years passed my cell phone camera became good enough and exponentially more convenient. I attempted to do the whole “GoPro” thing but it never captures the video your actually want.  However its time to visit the “pack a camera” idea again because the last long distance trip the reoccurring feedback was “pan the camera around some more”.  While the cell phone can take good picture, the arm length selfie videos and attempts to pan around for iconic scenery leave a lot to be desired.

 All Done parts

A drone requires a lot more attention, equipment, learning, and possibly registration.  You have a drone, extra batteries, extra props, extra gimbal cover, remote control, usb cables, wall charger, multi battery charger and car charger.

 Just the stuff you need

After careful consideration of what I actually needed had me down to the drone, extra props two extra batteries the wall charger and one extra gimbal cover.  A special note is that the DJI Mavic Pro can be flown without the remote control, you can fly it over Wi-Fi from the drone and the smart phone.  The remote control is much better but for general video of a location the phone works very well and allows you to pack less.

 Drone folded up

If your thinking “that drone is still pretty big and if I put it in a panier those arms are going to snap off.  Well with most drones your would be right, however the DJI Mavic Pro has a trick up its sleeve and folds up like a piece of Origami.  You can decide for yourself if you need to pack the remote or just use the phone I included the table to help you with that decision:

Remote Control


WIFI (phone app only) Unobstructed, free of interference
Max Flight Distance 13 km 80m
Max Flight Altitude 5,000m 50m
Max Speed 40 mph 9 mph
Max Ascent Speed 5 m/s 2 m/s
Max Descent Speed 3 m/s 1 m/s

In short if you want to cover an area greater than a football field or fly fast then you will need the remote control. If your only using the phone I would remind you the drone has very limited range and you will want to turn on the “return to take off point when signal is lost” feature or you may never see your drone again.

 Drone and all kit packed

The entire kit fits inside a soft sided case that’s about the same size as a 4 pack of Monster Energy Drink. This keeps the camera, props and limbs all safely contained.

 Camera kit

The SLR camera packed up pretty small with the camera, wall charger, extra battery, lens pen, extra SD cards and a SD card to USB adapter.

 Camera kit packed

The Nikon SLR fits very well in a Pelican 1200 case with pick foam to get the best fit.  It keeps it safe from impacts and water. Even though I don’t carry this kit on the bike any longer I still use it for the camera if I need to go take high quality stills.

 Compared packed kits

Here is the side by side packed size of the drone and the camera you can see that the drone case is smaller but not as protective.

The drone takes very high quality video 4K – which is impressive and it can also take stills.  The Mavic Pro also has active track which allows the drone to follow you as you move or just hang out and spot light what you want to video.

The Drone is the clear winner because its more flexible and has one key advantage over any camera; the drone can be used to recon an area before you ride the bike through it.  For example, how long is the knee deep mud down that road or if we cross this river is there anything on the other side?

Ok its clear I have drone fever so lets talk about the specs on the Mavic drone.

Flying Weight 1.64 lbs (its over .55 pounds so you will need to register it with the FAA)

Max Flight Time – 27 minutes
Average Flight Time – 21 minutes

Primary Camera – 1/2.3” (CMOS), Effective pixels:12.35 M
Lens – FOV 78.8° 28 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.2
ISO Range – 100-3200 (video), 100-1600 (photo)
Shutter Speed – 8s -1/8000s
Image Max Size – 4000×3000
Formats – JPEG, DNG

Video Recording Modes – MP4, MOV

  • C4K: 4096×2160 24p
  • 4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
  • 2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30p
  • FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
  • HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p

I assure you the next trips I will be taking the DJI Mavic Pro with me.  You should expect video footage to be available soon and I would imagine I will blog about Video editing software soon.

By The MotoLizard By TheMotoLizard