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Using Drone Photography to Capture Action Sports

Drones are this generation’s model airplanes on steroids. Their speed, versatility and powerful camera technology make drone photography a natural for shooting Hollywood movies or HD sports.

With a drone and a remote control, you too can take pro-quality photos and video almost anywhere.

One of the best ways to use your drone is to capture action sports, whether in your backyard or at your child’s big game. Read on for our drone rules and guidelines for getting the perfect shot without landing on the no-fly list.

Bring the Right Equipment
In general, the best drones for sports photography will have built-in cameras, flight stabilization and enough flight time between charges that you won’t miss the perfect shot.

On the high end of the spectrum, the Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Drone is a compact, fast and agile drone with a pro-level camera and seriously impressive flight range. Want to capture full 1080p HD video, or stream video of the action live from a big event? You’ll want to try this model.

If you’re looking for a fun drone that’s equal parts futuristic toy and flying camera, the Parrot Mambo Minidrone is a good bet. It boasts optimized flight stability and a respectable built-in camera for in-flight photos and nature shots. And it goes beyond photography with its soft-impact cannon and grabber accessories. Invent your own backyard sports, or take your breakfast table to the future by summoning your drone to drop sugar in your coffee.

Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t expect to unbox your brand-new drone in the bleachers and capture a perfect play. Practice flying in the backyard until you can guarantee a smooth takeoff and landing with no crashes. In optimal weather conditions, you should be able to take off gently, hover and change direction before landing again. Even the most stable drones need to be controlled carefully to capture a good photo, and that’s up to the pilot.

If you’re a rookie flyer, the Parrot Swing Minidrone can help you master the controls. With its X-shaped wing design, it’s one of the most stable quadcopter-style drones. Its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities look fancy, but this drone is as easy to learn as it is fun to fly (or race). And, of course, it has a built-in camera, so you can get the hang of drone photography at the same time.

 Fly right
Most new drones are durable in normal conditions, but bad weather makes for bad drone photography. Be smart: check weather conditions, especially wind, before taking your drone on a field trip. On a gusty day, you should consider grounding your craft.

It’s currently legal to fly drones in most areas (fun fact: they’re classified like model airplanes). But there are rules for flying drones that you need to know before taking off in public, especially if you’re going to a sports game or other public event:

  • Fly no higher than 400 feet.
  • Stay clear of manned aircraft or professional and government drone operations.
  • Never fly directly over people or vehicles.
  • Avoid taking photos of people or private property without consent.
  • Check with the venue and event organizers for specific drone rules.

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to give the sports team, parents and other spectators a heads-up that you’ll be taking drone shots. If your skills are up to snuff, they may even want copies for themselves.

U.S. Cellular has a wide selection of the best drones for everyone from novice flyers to pro photographers.