Drone usage is almost as bad as Ford vs Chevy, Rolex vs Omega, Invicta vs anything. Before we go down that path of drone hatred though let's have a discussion. I've been a photographer for over 40 years, recently I decided to add another tool to my photo bag. I bought a drone. Now before we get into the drone hatred part let me say first that right now I am NOT doing commercial jobs with it. Before I can do that I have to study for and pass the FAA part 107 test which I'm studying for now. All of this pertains to the US and I'm not sure of the commercial requirements in other countries. I personally research the laws in every state and country I plan to fly and shoot video/photos in though. That's the right thing to do really. Now on to the hard stuff as if the test wasn't hard enough. The drone haters.
If you are in the camp that hates drones for privacy reasons I would like for you to consider this. 99.9% of the consumer drones have a fixed wide angle lens. At 50 feet in the air you look almost like an ant. I couldn't tell you if you wear wearing shorts or pants. Unless you are spying on a mountain range a drone with a wide angle lens is useless for invading your privacy. A crop duster and a point and shoot camera would be much better for that. Bottom line, it's very rarely happening. Sure we could scour the internet and find that guy but almost every drone user is just interested in video and photography of landscapes. Here's a test if you have a drone. Put your watch on the ground, put the drone up. Take some watch photos. It's not really working is it? OK, so now you say "they'll fly close and sneak up on you".
Have you heard one? That would be like the guy from the Chainsaw movies sneaking up on you. A drone ain't sneaking up on anyone. Outside your window at night? Well first the low light capabilities is horrible and the swarm of bees sound would alert anyone. I had a heated discussion with a lady in a restaurant recently who used the "noise" argument. She said the drone noise would ruin her nature experience. I asked her what she drove to get to the park? Did it make noise? I then asked her about her children crying in the restaurant. We've all had that dinner ruined by a screaming baby but we never really wanted to ban babies. Most drone users, especially myself, will hike miles away from any people just so we won't disturb others. Of course not every drone user does that, there are always the rotten apples. We don't want to draw attention to the drone because of the stigma placed upon it. There are thousands of stories and videos of drone users being verbally attacked in public places where drone use was legal by those people I just described. Most of us research the legal places to fly. Yes National Parks and most State Parks are off limits which is sad but is the law and we follow it. That screaming baby? He's perfectly allowed in the National Park. That telephoto lens? Also perfectly legal. Both of those items are the excuses used to ban drones, noise and privacy. Some cities have passed laws that say a person's privacy extends above their house into space. Dig a hole in the ground in your backyard and find oil. Think you own it? Think again. The FAA has ruled that they control the airspace from a blade of grass to space making the local laws moot. So far, to my knowledge no one has tested those local laws in a federal court. If they were to hold up in court then you need to sue all the airlines for violating your homeowners airspace. Big money there for sure.
I fly legal, I even use a phone app to show me the FAA restricted areas. The problem is that area is shrinking. We are fighting those mentioned above as well as Amazon and Google. Yes Amazon, the place that sells most of the drones. They want to control the airspace for their future endeavors such as same day delivery. I know, I know, there is this guy down the street making all that noise, flying over people's houses but consider this. People speed, run stop signs, drive with no insurance every day. Does that mean we ban cars? Does every driver break the law? Do we ban drones because of one guy down the street? The same argument could be made about firearms really.
I've tried to show how the drone is not a very good tool to invade someone's privacy, a cheap camera and telephoto lens is much better for that. I tried to show that the noise is no difference than a Harley blasting through Yellowstone or a crying baby. We're not banning that. What does that leave us with? Actually it's the word "drone" that we're left with and therein lies the problem. The word "drone" has become an ugly word with spying and military connections. Most of us try to chance that to "quadcopter" now. It's less suspicious I guess. Sorry for the rant, if you have a quad or ever get to use one and see your first really good video or photograph you'll know what I'm talking about What are your thoughts?
The Palouse wheat harvest at golden hour: