Q&A with Photographer Charlotte Cunningham

Time for a Q&A this one is with Scottish photographer Charlotte Cunningham, I have been following her on Instagram for a while. I suggest you do the same (link to insta below)

charlotte 2

Please tell me about how you got into the drone industry?

Up until about 4 years ago I really didn’t know drones were something the general public could buy. As soon as I saw you could buy one for photography I knew I had to have one.

What do you fly?

I’m currently flying a Mavic Pro. It’s so good for portability, I can take it away to work or into the hills with no problems for space in my bag. I would love a bit of a better camera for it but very happy with it for now.

What was your first drone?

My first drone was a Phantom 2. It was good but as I couldn’t see what the camera was doing or choose when to take photos I found it a bit limiting photography wise. It was great for learning how to fly though. Had a few crashes with it and learnt quickly.

What do you love about Drones and the drone industry?

I love all the technology that is coming through. It’s amazing to see how far things have advanced just in such a short space of time.

What do you dislike about the drone industry?

I feel a bit removed from the industry itself so I don’t really see any of the bad points.

Tell us about your current day job and how that relates to drones?

I work offshore as an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) pilot technician. It’s like an underwater drone. Its not just about the flying. It’s a very technical job and I love that part of it too. I suppose it goes hand in hand with flying drones.


Does your job give you time to go out with the drone alot?

Yes it does. I work a few weeks at a time then have a few weeks off. It gives me a lot of freedom to get out and about. I also get a chance to take my drone with me on the boats I work on and get some pictures of those.

On social media you are famed for photos of Scottish Castles by drone – what was your favorite to do?

I love this question. I have never been referred to as ‘famed’ before – not sure id put it like that but I’ll take it 😁. I never tire of seeing a castle from the air for the first time. They always look so cool and sometimes it’s unexpected to see the shape of it. They’ve all been great but I suppose my favourite might be one I did recently called Gylen Castle. It’s on a little island just off Oban. You have to get a ferry and then walk 2 miles to it. There are no cars on the island. I went over with my friends, it was a beautiful day and we were the only ones there. It was just spectacular. I feel like it is one of the those hidden gems that very few people go to.

Charlotte 1

Your favorite project so far? Or most satisfying shot?

This is a difficult one! I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve done so far. I love finding things on the map I think might be interesting. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get to them like a 2 hour bike ride or something like that – these are perhaps the most rewarding ones. Since starting to take my drone to work I’ve been able to get some quite interesting shots of the boats I work on. I think they’re my favourite at the moment.

charlotte 3

What new technology would you like drones to feature in the future..what is on your wish list if you like, your dream drone?

As, for me, it’s all about the photography I’d like to see something as small and powerful as the Mavic Pro with a much better camera.

Do you see yourself as a role model for women in the drone industry?

Not really at all. There are so many women out there doing cool things with drones. The U.K. drone collective and Amelia Dronehart Facebook groups are full of women doing great things.

If there was anywhere you could you could fly your drone with NO legal restrictions where would it be and why? Your fantasy flight if you like.

This is a great question and one I’ve put a lot of thought into and I’m pretty sure my answer has changed about 100 times since I first read it! It’s probably totally geeky but since most places on the planet have been photographed from the air and the fact it’s probably got the strictest regulations I would love to fly at a busy airport like perhaps Sydney. Sydney just so I can go to Australia but really it’s more any busy airport would be cool. Flying about amongst the planes would be fun. You could get some good photos and video.

Thank you Charlotte for taking the time to do the Q&A, today 23rd August 2018  we may all get our wish for a better camera on a DJI mavic. 

To catch follow Charlotte and keep up with her adventures please follow on instagram @charlie_pat77 or facebook 




Flying High


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMonday 23rd of July, I flew the drone on a Live OB  Outside broadcast for BBC Breakfast. It took nearly half a day’s planning mainly because all those that had done a live feed from a drone were not available so Ian (BBC Broadcast engineer) and myself had to chat to people who had done it before.

BBC Broadcast Engineer Ian, checking everything working

I will be writing a blog post on how it was done as several of you have asked me and contacted me by social media or by email, so I promise I will do that.

I have never flown Live on air before and that needed planning and also the segment was so that you could see the the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue drone up in the air at their HQ, another first. Normally it is just me flying with an assistant!

So lots of discussion about air space separation and how it would be co-ordinated as a live segment.  BBC Breakfast was looking at 6 months after the NESTA Flying High challenge was launched.

Flying High is a project where for six of so months, five cities have been running projects to look at the uses of drones in our cities.  West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue had been using the drone for a few months before the project started and has proved invaluable in June and July with the wildfires, They are now expanding their operations with greater technical capacity and more Drone teams

It was great experience meeting everyone.

Now to this Monday’s adventure

Have a great week

The Drone Lass x




DJI Mavic Air Review – Janine Kilroe


red air

As you know I regularly welcome guest bloggers and writers to write reviews of new pieces of kit. This has taken a bit longer than I planned to post.  This post is written by Janine Kilroe she has created images for the last 30 years, initially as an Editorial Advertising Photographer commissioned by many international blue chip companies and for the past 9 years she has focused on creating a truly unique one off style of hand painted fine art photography. Her work is available in galleries throughout the UK. We are honoured to have her write her thoughts for the blog as she has also exhibited her work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and The Saatchi Gallery, London.

Over to Janine, for her first impressions of the DJI Mavic Air.

Why does a professional PFCO photographer videographer buy a Mavic Air?

I do a far bit of travelling abroad (images shot with the Mavic Air in Southern Spain) and taking my Phantom 4 Pro isn’t easy, its bulky and also heavy with the 5 batteries. I have not had any problems flying with it as carry on but each time I have been through security on the return leg home I have either been asked questions and had bag swabbed on one occasion. I have been waiting for a drone that was small enough but had a decent quality to its images and video. Hence my Mavic Air Combo purchase.




It’s so compact and light.  The ease and speed of setting up to getting in the air. The ability to take other equipment as it takes up nowhere near as much space as the P4Pro carry on bag. Good quality 4 K images and video perfect for Vloging, Blogs and commercial jobs where the image does not have to be massively enlarged. Video Storage Bitrate 100mbps. The 3-axis gimbal is better protected tucked within its body rather than the Mavic Pro. I know I will be much more likely to take and use my Mavic Air with me tucked into a small rucksack for travel and those difficult to get to locations that needs a long walk in rather than the P4Pro.



Noisier than I expected but I’m sure DJI are on the case re quieter props.

No side sensors that nearly got me into trouble only because I’m used to having them on the P4Pro and had momentarily forgotten the Mavic Air doesn’t!

Having flown in cold weather 0 c with a wind of 15 mph I discovered flying into the wind the battery was short of power. When temperature rose the battery had plenty of power to fight the wind so be warned if trying to fly into the wind in cold temps. To be fair DJI do warn you about this but I was surprised at the actual effect it gave.

Regarding the shaking people were reporting at take off in cold conditions I personally didn’t experience this. It seems that DJI took this customer feedback on board and to my knowledge have sorted it out with the last Firmware update. So no longer a negative.

Shorter Battery life 20 mins not a deal breaker just makes you even more aware of planning your shot before take off to max the time available. I changed my default low battery warning from 20% to 30% (giving me 15 mins flight time) as the default at 20% just left 3 mins to return which in my book is simply not enough safety margin to allow for the unexpected etc.


Who is it for?

Anyone who wants a well made small light compact drone that produces a good quality image and video. Like anything the more experience you have with correct camera, video settings plus post processing the better your final images and video will be. This comes with practice and then more practice…….

My personal conclusions

As in life we cannot have everything and no the Mavic Air is not of course as good as my P4Pro I never expected it to be. The Mavic Pro has a bigger sensor but has the exposed gimbal and doesn’t have a Video Storage Bitrate of 100mbps. Plus is bigger. What I would like to see is a side-by-side comparison of the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air RAW images. Maybe a project for me to do?

So I’m I happy with the Mavic Air?

Yes very happy actually it literally “fits” the bill. Its small compact and fits into any bag. Interestingly when going through security at the airports as hand luggage no one was interested. It does the job with providing you don’t want to be producing massive images and you know what you are doing re camera video settings and how to get the best out of your images in Post Processing stage. It’s very quick and easy to assemble and get up in the air. I have used it with my iPhone which is fine but my tip would be to always turn your phone onto Airplane mode to stop distracting phone calls, notices etc. I however want to see as much as I can so have bought a mini iPad adapter holder to use. Yes it makes it a bit heavier but the good thing is there is flexibility to which viewing method you want to use. The other Tip is get yourself a decent set of Neutral Density filters they are essential I have Polar Pro ND filters for all my drones and Osmo Pro etc. You must be able to control your shutter speed and with the fixed aperture it’s even more essential.






For: Workshops, commissions or general enquires




Hello readers, it’s been a crazy busy couple of months whilst I work on various projects some filming and some editing and also a bit of house sorting!  So this is a quick blog post about an opportunity that may interest you.  I don’t know much more than what is in the attached photo.  Please email Love productions directly . Note this is not a crewing opportunity it is contributors they are looking for.  So therefore unpaid.  I think you need to be UK based to take part

We Need Drone Pilots

Have a great Thursday


The Drone Lass



Filmconvert – finalists and winner!


I was honoured to be asked to judge the non- narrative film category for this years along some esteemed judges in autumn 2017! I know it has taken a while to post.

All the films it goes without saying but I will probably repeat all very beautiful and of a very, very high standard.

It is very daunting to be asked to judge a film competition when your work has taken you to what can be limited creatively, a lot of  the TV I am shooting is not very creative as there is a narrative and often you are shooting for the edit.   To cover cuts that will be necessary. Sport is all about the action and observational documentary shooting on a run and gun basis. I am very critical of my own work but harder, much harder when it is someone else’s creative endeavour.

On one of my best roles to date, for BBC Body Positive where I was allowed to be really creative and got nominated for lots of awards, one I won and a few I didn’t.  If you get short listed it is something to go on your CV.

I have linked the shortlisted films below and also the feedback I gave them.


  1. AUSTRALIA | Wonderland -An outback Journey 

A wonderful use of colour and a good use of music to drive the film forwards. Starting with a helicopter ride and shots to start.   I love Sydney and have been to other parts of Australia and makes me want to revisit. I felt the film had a good journey where perhaps some of the other shortlisted films didn’t have that, being non- narrative they didn’t need that but this one did have a feel of a narrative starting but then just to add to that some shots of the journey to the outback, perhaps someone not knowing Australia may have thought that the outback is very close to the city. The duration long enough but not too long. Loved the wildlife shots.  What was missing as a bit of criticism was a bit of foley or actual atmos sounds – the birds making sounds – won’t detract from a track if sound mixed don’t be afraid to experiment.   A brilliant shortlisted film from an amazing location.

2. Beyond Imagination

This was a really really surprising entry and what I mean by that is that the editing techniques the shots and the way it was brought together was mind blowing.  Again the use of the colour was very very well executed. This one has sound effects. I am normally not a fan of quirky editing techniques but this really works, really is beyond imagination.  The films main aim is for a tourist board film to entice people to visit.  I am not sure it does that but then again it says in your mind and has an epic quality to it.  I was left wondering if I would see some of these places in my life time. Great use of lots of filming techniques.

3. Erindi Private Game Reserve

THIS FILM IS NO LONGER ON YOUTUBE – may be search youtube the film I found was not the one I judged. 

If there were ever drone goals, this has it for me. All that wildlife in Africa a place I may never visit.  I thought very clever not to make the film just about the stunning landscape, wildlife and drone shots but about the local people and for me that makes this charming as it is beautiful.  I thought it was great as well that the film maker didn’t shy away from seeing the animals feeding on prey. I would have liked to hear some voices and some of the wildlife sounds to give it another dimension.  Felt very wildlife documentary in it’s approach. Epic skies and seeing all that makes us realise how small we are in the world.  How much we need to conserve around us.



4.  Vitamin Sea


Now this is a more simplistic film but no less epic in it’s impact.  For me I wanted to know more about the photographer that’s in a couple of the shots.  Again it’s non-narrative so can be said to be irrelevant.  This film particularly interested me as I have a GH5 and love the stunning results you can get out of the camera as film maker, this is someone getting the best out of this camera.  The shots were amazing, when I first starting working in TV a director said to me give the audience shots that they can’t get from either being there or viewing from the sofa. So this film has all of that and more.  As someone who doesn’t swim in the sea I found it enlightening to see how the surf is bringing up the sand as the waves crash in.    The music track was great however again as before with some of the other films adding foley and the sound actual waves crashing for me would have given it a another layer.  Don’t be afraid to mix a music track with sounds, the sounds of the people playing in the surf, the bubbles in the water etc. I also love to see drone shots where the gimbal is down and we get a vertical view of the surf coming in, that would have provided contrast with the other surf shots. Brilliant colours in this film, well graded.


5. PIUPAU “Half Full” Snowboard Movie

There is no doubt that this is an exciting film, but it could have been more exciting by showing a close ups of faces, hands, snow boots and equipment.  The film was similar all the way through needed more variety of shots.  Great drone shots but again very similar.  If all shots are similar it makes things feel less exciting, then the film seems long.  Don’t be afraid to cut more and tighten.  I wanted to feel the thrill more of this sport. Perhaps with some mounted action camera, in some surprising places. I would have seen what it is like to take part in this sport.  I know this is something as a viewer I will never do.  Put the audience on the edge of the seat.  Let them feel the danger and adrenalin by showing it.  If you don’t have a mounted camera or sports camera, get some close ups that are surprising in their nature.  The snowboarders are very cool and very talented.  Loved the use of slow motion and editing techniques to speed up the snowboarders and slow down again.  great shots of them moving through the screen and this is tricky to do because having the confidence to hold the shot when there is a lot of action going on is hard.   I liked the other editing techniques as the audience were introduced to each snowboarder, good use of childhood photos and old footage with a nice creative treatment. Really nice use of the sound of the boards landing on snow,  on metal.  The end shot had more of the edge of my seat feeling  that I was looking for from action films but again with the above could have really pushed the viewer.



This film is everything a travel / non narrative film should be, excellent use of visuals to tell the story. An opener sequence of the train and the music mixed with real sound recordings and really liked the journey announcements will remember that one when I next do a travel film.  Simple things like this draw the audience in.  Felt like I was walking around the cities.  One change that might have improved it was to have known which city I was in, are all the shots mixed up? Then I think is that relevant does it matter? Does the audience need to know, but then from some of the shots its really obvious where the film is located/  Loved the used of slow motion shots of people and thought it great to see a relevant quote being held up by a man in the film too.  Nice that the film shows different modes of transport as the film maker journeys around Europe, driving the film forward if you pardon the pun!

7. Rise


This is a calming, beautiful film, simple and so effective in it’s simplicity. The colour in the grading works so well with the images, the music. Giving it a dreamy quality.  Just as I thought, I knew where the film is heading, the change of music the film maker used the sounds of the action and shots changed to be in sync of the music giving me the viewer a sense of the difficulty in raising the ballon to the air and what effort that takes. The drone shots are epic, beautiful and cut together with the the other shots from a different  seamlessly tide together due to the colour grading and I normally prefer more natural use of colour but just loved the way it has been graded.


8. RYU – #BeautifulTough

This has everything a sports trail should have lots of variety of shots, lots of action, cut to a great tempo. I wanted to see more which is always a good sign of a film.  Leave them wanting more.  Great colour grading.

9. Scotland – Lochs, Mountains & Light

An accomplished film with excellent use of all manner of film making techniques.  It’s got it all time lapse, drone shots, close ups, and atmos sounds.  The colours enhanced by the colour grading Showing Scotland in all it’s glory, bringing back many childhood road trip memories.  Reminded me how epic Scotland is. Beautifully done.

10. Skate 360

Fascinating and intriguing film using new technology in a surprising way. Editing was clever too. Even though this new technology is not being used widely as the equipment isn’t producing the best results, this bucks that theory. I really enjoyed it.  I perhaps would have liked to have seen another camera used but not making the film any longer just to cut in – perhaps showing “normal” camera footage so we could see the difference and give variety of shots

11. The World in Slow Motion

I love the use of slow motion high frame rates in film making and this is a great film. Although I do like to see normal speed footage especially with something like the humming birds because thats what is remarkable about a humming bird the speed so perhaps could have shown the birds in real time as well.  I think the film maker wanted to show show us life and the world in slow motion, hence every shot.  So its a film that surprises you in that way. I Like the editing techniques in this where some of the slow motion is speeded up.

As you can see the standard was so high! I had such difficulty choosing.


Watching all several times and in the end it was…..  Rise.  It just stayed with me and found it very inspiring .


This year 2018…I am inspired not only to do some personal creative projects but also to travel more, these films made me want to do that so I will be found clutching my passport looking for cheap deals and places I can travel to, with or without my drone.

My advice is if you want to enter this competition then start thinking now about your project.  Get shooting, editing and colour grading.

Filmcovert software is so easy to use and you can download from the website a free trial and then you can see how simple and what stunning results you can come up with.   Sign up for the news letter and get creating.

Thank you to all at Filmconvert for asking me to judge last year. I really enjoyed it. Thank you to all entrants, I am sorry I couldn’t award you all the winning prizes.

The Drone Lass


The UK Drone collective

Drone collective cover
Photo by Rebecca Douglas on her Phantom 4 pro

Along with Becki Warner from Warner vision and Photographer Rebecca Douglas we have set up a female only UK based drone group.  First of all I need you to share this far and wide as we want to create a nice friendly group of women who fly drones.

Because we need to connect to others like us who want to inspire others to take up flying drones.  We are also looking at creating meet ups and further training opportunties.

Click here to join

Now I know that there has been a bit of a backlash from some of the facebook groups and forums that we posted this on.  Why it is that women set up little tiny groups on their own? Don’t worry we are not men bashing, we like men as approximately half the population are men. Between us we have fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons so we are not against men.   Sometimes when we ask a question we get ridiculed. I have seen it on forums where women ask a drone question and you get a few sarcastic replies all unfortunately by men as they are the majority. There are some very supportive men and they have helped me a lot. We thought we would information share, support each other as we work at our drone businesses.  We haven’t ruled out the possibility of opening up the group at a later date.

Hell,  I don’t even make my blog known on the UK forums, incase there is some kind of backlash and trolling.  It’s not that I am super sensitive, I just don’t want to deal with what can be quite a toxic place.    I know that there are a number of NQE trainers giving my blog out to help people and I am presuming some are men as the majority of people on the course are men, and they read what I have written. Yes as a collective all drone pilots professional and law abiding hobbyists it’s  good to stick together, share info but unfortunately it doesn’t always feel that way.

There are what I call feminist men, like my Dad who told his little girls, girls can do anything they want, whilst showing us how diesel and petrol engines work and what the differences are.  I have lived by that and to be honest when I was growing up in the late 90’s and early part of the noughties,  I wasn’t aware of sexism. I just got on with it, perhaps I had a tougher skin. Perhaps I let this stuff wash over or perhaps I just wasn’t aware and I just have always carried on regardless in life.

Young girl coding Copyright Emma Gibbs

However there has been a shift recently and I think its a lot to do with the fact that women have been making some ground up and this threatens some men.  It makes the question what will happen to them, they think what work will they do?   If half the work force were to be women in most professions would the men feel uncomfortable.  So because of that then we have seen suppression and that means in all forms. It seems with lots of scandals coming to light that things have been going on behind closed doors.  Many men and women knew about these scandals all were scared, men scared to speak out and stand up to it could jeopardise their careers and women the same.  Some feeling the shame for not being strong, when actually they were being strong just by standing up all day and carrying on trying to carry the pain of what they have suffered. Yes, I am talking about the recent sex scandals.

FullSizeRender 4

Tuesday,  was the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote, parliament voted for it at 8pm on the 6th of February 1918, we the UK were at war.  And it was only a small amount of women, you had to be over 30,  own property or have been to university or be married. This meant 60% of women could not vote, including many of the women who worked in the war and whose jobs ended in peacetime. FullSizeRender 5

It wasn’t for another 10 years that all women got the vote in the UK and they had to be over the age of 21.  This is only 90 years ago.  So that is very recent history, I do believe it is unfortunately in our female psyche for many reasons not to value ourselves. This journey had only just begun to give women more rights.  It wasn’t until,  1956 that Civil service reforms in UK gave men and women who are teachers and have other government jobs the right to equal pay. We know we still have an issue with equal pay in this country.   In Ireland, 1976, Irish women are finally able to own their own homes outright. Then as recent as 1982, women in the UK were allowed to spend their money in English pubs without being refused service.  Yes you read that correctly 1982 and so before that you could be refused service in a pub just for being a woman.  I find that extraordinary.

It was only 2017  that forward thinking Iceland as a country has made it illegal not to pay the sexes equal pay.  They have been way ahead of the rest of the world for sometime.  It can be argued that even if women get the same pay for job roles they still not earn the equivalent if they take time out to have children.

With all that recent history in the UK it is easy to see why women still are not equal.  Not to value their skills, time and knowledge then under sell the work and services that they offer.  If you find other supportive women from all walks of life lifting each other up (if you pardon the pun) why not create that group.

It is difficult for others in a majority to think of how others feel, think and behave. I am not in an ethnic minority and so I don’t know what challenges they face in getting work with in the media industry I work. I can think of the challenges I face as a woman in technology roles and then offer an empathetic understanding but I don’t know what it’s like as I am not young person from an ethnic background.   That is why work forces in whatever industry should be diverse, you get a better balance of views and ways of working.  We should all be respectful to each other and supportive. There are opportunties for all.   Be envious or look at what others are achieving and use that to be inspired instead.

I am often asking for contributors for this blog to write about reviews, and I get lots of male volunteers and I give them space to write about their experiences, but why is it so very few women want to be featured?

They say if a woman is applying for a job she will read the job description and if she meets 100% of the criteria she will apply, if a man reads the same job description and he meets 60% of the criteria he will will apply and work out the rest when he gets the job.

Equality will only work if we get the men onside and they support women in their endeavours. I had always shied away from all female groups and asking for special opportunties, but times seem to have changed.  I spoke to my fellow female pilots and they wanted this so we could share and discuss ideas related to drones. Without the mansplaining and misogyny we have been receiving on facebook groups and drone forums.

Here in 2018 there seems to be a resurgence in feminism my Mum told me in the 90s,  it sort of drifted off as women were making great leaps and bounds or it felt they were. Now it seems with all the discussion around sexual predators, the centenary of some women getting the vote, the BBC salaries being shared in the public domain showing equality between the sexes.  Note it won’t be just the BBC, it was because the BBC was forced to publish the pay of the stars in 2017. It will also be in every industry, company and office in the land that is effected.  Equal pay is going to be hard to achieve especially if us women ourselves don’t value our skills and experience.

It feels like we are in a new wave of feminism, as we examine as a nation how much further we can go.  This is the centenary of women getting the vote in the uk and just need to look at the hashtags surrounding the social media posts  around the anniversary of women getting the vote #vote100 #100years #stillmarching #ourtimeisnow #thiscenturyisours and the one this post has been about #stillworktodo

Maybe Paperchase has got it right

Spring 2018 Paperchase stock

I do feel we will be hearing more and more discussion about equality as 2018 continues.  I have no idea if setting up and all female drone group is the right thing to do, it feels right and so myself and the small group will make no apology.  Suffragettes broke windows and burnt down buildings to get action, the suffragists took quiet action and campaigned instead in peaceful process. All wanting the same thing.  I see us more like suffragists a quiet corner where we work towards our goals in a supportive way.

Feel free to comment on this post, I would like to hear your views.

The Drone Lass


Note this is group is now called The UK Female drone collective this is due to another group with a similar name setting up their by line was for those kicked out of other groups for breaking the law!  We are not those people…so added in the Female. Come join us if you want support and learn how NOT to break the law!  – update 29/4/2019


The Economist

The Guardian



Hold off updating your DJI go app

Dear all

Thursday 25th January and I noticed this morning that my app is asking to be updated, you may also find the same.  Thought I best dig around.  I am looking forward to taking advantage of the new features. But not wanting to have a drone fall out of the sky or what ever the flight instability might be.   Please hold off updating as requested by DJI. Never a dull moment droning!

DJI updates

Happy Thursday,  tomorrow – Friday ! should be nice flying weather in most parts of the UK, make the most of it.

The Drone Lass



DJI Mavic Air



So this morning James Beer was giving his review of the Mavic Pro and now we have the DJI Mavic Air.  With the heady excitement of a drone launch that harks back to the time of Steve Jobs launching Apple products in a darkened auditorium with an enthusiastic cheering room of drone geeks. This was no where near as slick,  a very nervous Michael Perry, North American DJI head honcho, stumbled over his words either he was very very excited, hadn’t had enough time to rehearse or was just so nervous at getting all the info imparted to the audience it made for slightly uncomfortable viewing.  But who cares we have a new drone!

What is interesting is that social media feeds were way ahead of this launch we knew yesterday what was being launched the internet being more leaky than a leaky bucket. We even saw photos and a few of the specs revealed. As the live stream from New York got going it seems that DJI social media team were tweeting way ahead of the actual press conference.  The press are such leaky bunch and its all down to who can get this information out faster than anyone else. But who cares we have a new drone!

So like christmas elves Michael Perry informed us as soon as the Mavic Pro was launched  18 months ago (which is dinosaur years in the drone world ) they went back to the drawing board to redesign, reinvigorated and reimagine this drone.  To be honest this reimagine thing that DJI goes on about makes it sound so exciting and yes I do believe there are now a number of us wanting a Mavic Air.

So the Mavic Air what is it like? Well its half the size of the Mavic Pro and weighs 41% less.   It will fly for 21 minutes on one battery, which were were informed is the longest flight time for a drone of this size.  Cue some more heady marketing language it has , power, intelligence, and is portable (my inspire is portable it’s all relative)  – they did say it was a good looking drone and stopped short of saying it has a good sense of humour and is good with children! 😉

The Mavic Air is all of these things as described.  Because it’s powerful it needed a new ventilation system design, it has a 3 axis gimbal 4k camera with additional new designed casing and also increased distance coverage.

It’s a small drone, to prove this it came out of a Mary Poppins sized pocked of Michael Perry’s gilet, that contained his wallet, his i-phone and the controller which has handy removable joy sticks.  I think one joy I won’t be looking forward to if I were to purchase will be hunting around for them as they fall out of your hands and down a hill or crevice and replacing them will be an unnecessary cost.   In 300 plus years that plastic will still be in existence and someone will be able to pick it up and say oh my god they used to fly drones here! I see why they have decided to do the removable joy sticks to make the controller truly portable, but I really think that will be a niggle.

So what about the other specs for this drone? 

22 Mph wind resistance  for a drone 430g that is very impressive, considering that is the one thing that holds me back from purchasing a small drone like this.

The camera is a 1/2.3 CMOS sensor 24mm F2.8  camera that is capable of 100Mbps at 4k and 30fps.  Again on a drone this size will be impressive if its capable of all this.

Loads of different flight modes, new panoramic mode that can stitch 25 photos together automatically.

Quick shot intelligent video modes, which are just getting more and more advanced each time DJI re-imagines it’s drones.  This means that pilots won’t need the skills they had to have before.   Smart capture just like the spark before – this hand gesturing which isn’t always as successful as lot of online reviews have suggested.  It apparently is new and improved .

In addition there is this very safe new addition of APAS Advanced Pilot assistance systems so building on obstacle avoidance that was introduced nearly 2 years ago – this drone will go round obstacles and fly over and around.  Now that is impressive! This is due to 7 onboard cameras and new software so yes it is going to live up to is safer drone label.



What else,  oh yes it comes in Arctic White, Onyx Black and Flame red.  But from underneath when flying  you will still see a black casing.


I may have missed out a lot of additional information there was a lot to take in.


So how much will this drone cost?  £769 for the Mavic Air x 1, Intelligent Flight Battery x 1, Charger x 1, Power Cable x 1, Propeller Pair x 4 , Propeller Guards x 1 Gimbal Protector x 1 Carrying Case x 1 Spare Controller Sticks x 1Remote Controller Cable x 3 Communication Cable x 1 USB Adapter x 1 RC Cable Slider x 3

For the fly more combo £949 all the above plus  1 x RC Controller 1 x USB & Lighting cables for device connection, 1 x Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 x Battery charger 4 x Spare propellers, 1 x Propeller guards Pair, 1 x Travel case, 1 x Power cable, 1 x User guide.

fly more combo
DJI Mavic Air – Fly more combo


If you have recently bought a Mavic Pro – don’t despair you still have a great drone.  There are advantages of both the Mavic air and the pro and as DJI reimagines it’s drones so quickly whatever drone you buy it is out of date as soon as you buy it. New cameras and new phones all pander to the tech geeks need to stay at the for front of tech which unfortunately moves so fast you can’t keep up.   As always assess the drone that you use and what you use it for, buy what you can afford also what you can afford to crash!,

I am currently using an inspire 1 for TV and everyone is happy but one day I will have to upgrade but that will be once I have the funds and the desire to do so.

What is exciting about drone companies constantly developing the technology means that the new developments from this drone will filter through the ranges to the new drones, I for one can’t wait to see what happens with the Phantom range.

Shipping starts on the 28th of January and you can pre-order from selected stockists I see that Heliguy made their internet page for pre-order live as soon as the press conference in New York ended.  Please note I am not affiliated to this company but I recommend them as their customer service is 5 star!

This drone will not be for the drone pro users but a fun drone and may be like the Mavic pro be good for corporates, web and social media films.   Anyone obtaining money for drone work will still be requiring a PFCO and insurance to operate professionally.

Please comment if you are planning on buying one, I would happily let you write a review!

I am looking forward to seeing what the footage and real reviews are like and those will start to filter through to the internet in the next few days and weeks

Happy new drone day – adventure unfolds



James Beer – Mavic review

Copyright: James Beer  DJI MAVIC PRO
With rumours flying round the internet about what will be announced today by DJI, we turn to the DJI mavic and today I hand the blog over to James Beer a talented film maker from Brighton, I was thinking about buying a Mavic and thought why not get him to do a a review! Over to James
James Beer flying the DJI Mavic Pro
Why did I chose a DJI Mavic Pro? After a year of owning a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, to get myself to grips with operating a drone and practising for my PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations), I upgraded my drone to a Mavic Pro as I was now qualified to use drones in my video work. The Mavic is fantastic. It is not only smaller and lighter, it’s form factor is hugely more appealing than the traditional Phantom series. It packs down so small that it can be thrown into any backpack or suitcase and taken on your travels and for a videographer that is very very handy.
Before I go on and tell you that this is the best drone in the world, it isn’t, it’s just perfect for me. The 4k video is decent and the photos look good. DJI have used a 1/2.3” (CMOS) sensor which is the same sensor used by the Phantom 4 so its pretty good considering its size. I use mine for both videography and photography and shoot mostly in 4k as the 1080 is not amazing.
Natures colours in trees copyright James Beer
Positives. The battery lasts almost 27 minutes (according to DJI) which is usually more than enough time for one flight. The blades don’t need removing each time you pack it away, they just fold in. The arms tuck under and in so all you have is the body of the drone (unlike the Phantom). It is fast, especially when you put it in sport mode. All the different flying modes ‘Tripod’, ‘Cinematic’, ‘Point of Interest’ are really useful but ’Active Track’ is my favourite so far. When it comes to sticking to your moving target this mode does a great job of tracking the subject in centre frame whilst you manoeuvre the drone from side to side. More proximity sensors have been added (5 cameras and 2 sonic rangefinders) that have saved me a few times as judging distances can be tricky when you cant see too well. The list goes on but they are a few of my favourite plus points.
Seaplane taken on the DJI Mavic Pro – Copyright James Beer
Negative points. It doesn’t have many to be honest. If you want a better picture quality go for the Phantom Pro or another of DJI’s higher end drones. The only little gripe I have with it is I sometimes forget to take off with the lens guard because you miss it when setting up but that is not the drones fault. Professionals will be able to pick holes in picture quality but the average user will think it’s fantastic. 
Brighton Pier taken with DJI Mavic Pro, copyright James Beer
Who is it for? I think it is good for videographers with corporate work that ends up on internet but I wouldn’t say it is professional enough for film work or big budget ads. It is also good for the hobbyist who wants to take unique photos and not break the bank. For the money I am still blown away at the value you get for £1,099 of drone. Its build quality and stability in the air fils you with confidence to fly it over water or in slightly tricky places. I would recommend this to anyone looking to get into drone photography/videography. For some it would make a good back up drone to their bigger drone but for me it is the perfect entry drone to filmmaking. 
Brighton West Pier – copyright James Beer


James can be contacted via his business website 23 Digital  or twitter as James and his business twitter  

  Thank you James for this review and the amazing photos.  I adore the shot of Brighton West Pier to think that has been taken on a small drone is just amazing, obviously a great eye for drone photography proving to be a talented creator in many visual disciplines.  

The Drone Lass


Niche work


In late autumn 2017 I was asked to fly the drone for Radio 4.  I admit, I thought it a strange request at first knowing radio to be a listening non visual format.   Approached by the production company Whistle down, they were looking for someone to appear in a new programme about niche work, for BBC Radio 4.

Drones are no longer niche and are mainstream, this programme would be about the world of drone defence.  A niche industry that is springing up to combat the rogue drone operators that have taken to the skies. We are all aware of those that feel they need to fly near airports and those also delivering drugs to prisons.

This small extract from the programme was to be about an excellent company Drone Defence and they wanted me to fly the drone in a set up scenario and have it defended by the CEO of the company Richard Gill.

Both presenter and producer were concerned I would not be willing. I suppose they were worried that drone pilots would be against such a technology.  Not this drone pilot.  Currently we have a major problem about drones flying in places where they shouldn’t.

Even with the drone geofencing that DJI and Yuneec have on the drones, to stop them in their tracks around airports and landing strips,  there are people hacking the software.  I get on a plane, to go on holiday, I want to be safe knowing that those rogue operators are not able to fly near airports.   So it was a joy to spend a couple of hours with the presenter  Nick Baker,  producer Leeanne Coyle and CEO of Drone Defence Richard Gill.

The programme is online for another 21 days! Click on the link below

 Niche work, if you can get it on radio i-player 

I am really impressed at the technology that Rick Gill has developed and I do believe he has found a niche and unfortunately with those who continue to cause danger and break the law his company will be in demand.

Glad to say no drones were harmed in the making of the programme.

The Drone Lass

Team Dronie! Left to Right – Presenter Nick Baker, Rick Gill at the helm, Me and Leeanne Coyle (producer)