Using drones for wildlife photography has been a bit of a sticking point in the drone industry. It can be an incredible way to document nature from a fresh angle. It can expose people to nature’s beauty — many of whom might never be exposed to it otherwise. And that exposure can lead to a greater enthusiasm for conservation.
But some nature experts have also suggested that drones can be problematic in wildlife photography. Their noise could disrupt the peace of the animals (in fact, that’s one of the reasons why drones are not allowed in U.S. National Parks), and there is some risk that the drone flight could go awry and crash in the animal’s habitat.
One big reason why the concerns around using drones for wildlife photography could go away: the improvements in the DJI Mavic 3 versus other drones. The DJI Mavic 3 is among DJI’s newest drones, and it has a number of specs that make it ideal for wildlife photography. For starters, perhaps the most standout feature is that the drone has a dual-camera system.
One of those is a 28x Hybrid Zoom Tele camera with a 162mm long-focus lens. That enables you and your drone to stay far away from the actual animals — much farther away in fact than really any ground photographer ould be able to get considering both you can stay away and fly the drone in, but the drone can also remain far from the animal itself. See just how incredible the zoom on the DJI Mavic 3 is here.
Given that nature photography does have a high emphasis on image quality, the Mavic 3’s other camera delivers. The second of the dual-camera system is a L2D-20c aerial camera designed and built specifically for the Mavic 3 by iconic Swedish brand Hasselblad. It entails a professional-grade 4/3 CMOS, with a f/2.8-f/11 adjustable aperture that has 12.8 stops of dynamic range, capable of taking 20 MP photos.
One of the most famous wildlife photographers out there to turn to the DJI Mavic 3 is Paul Nicklen, who is co-founder of conservation non-profit SeaLegacy and a National Geographic contributor. Nicklen has extensive experience in aerial photography, but prior to dronese had been executing it all via an airplane.
“More than any other tool in my craft, drones changed how I saw, how I planned and ultimately how I filmed and photographed overnight,” Paul Nicklen said in an interview posted to DJI’s photography blog. “They allowed cheap location scouting, hovered in place while shooting, and didn’t bother the animals as much.”
Here are some of Nicklen’s most intriguing aerial photos:
And Nicklen is far from the only wildlife photographer turning to drones. Here are five other wildlife photographers that use drones and are definitely worth following on Instagram:
Weber is a highly-accomplished polar guide at Weber Arctic. But beyond his extensive arctic expedition experience, he’s also a talented photographer and serves as the business’s lead photographer. His work as been featured in National Geographic, BBC and more.
Mark Carwardine is a zoologist, an environmental activist, an award-winning writer, a TV and radio presenter, a widely published wildlife photographer, a best-selling author, a wildlife tour operator and a magazine columnist.
Vijayan is an architect hailing from Kerala, India now living in Canada — and he pursues photography as a side passion. Since 2015, he has been a Nikon brand ambassador for Middle East & Africa.
Garlington got into drones as early as the time of the original DJI Phantom 1 (when you mounted GoPro cameras to your drones) during her personal quest to become a better photographer. She is well known for her whale photography and is the lead drone operator for NOAA-permitted humpback whale research team Keiki Kohola Project.
At one point, she worked for DJI. Now, she runs DJI Photo Academy.
Altuna does photography all over the world including Alaska, Canada, Antarctica, and Africa. He primarily shoots on Canon cameras, but also uses drones from DJI including the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic Air.
What other wildlife photographers who use drones do you recommend following? Share their names and accounts in the comments!