June 23 2022

Drone Photography: There’s a self-flying camera app for that

Kendall Martin

Kendall Martin

Self-flying camera drones with reliable obstacle avoidance and advanced software Skills make drone photography attainable for all. That’s why when we first started developing flying cameras, we knew that the control experience had to be simple and easy for non-pilots.

Adjust modes/settings as well as export footage/photos with the Skydio App
Adjust modes/settings as well as export footage/photos with the Skydio App

There’s a self-flying camera app for that

We set out to create an App that felt less like a cockpit, and more like a camera app. In fact, when we launched Skydio R1 in 2017, the app was the only way to operate the drone, that’s right – no controller! That’s how highly we regard the App experience in our ecosystem. With Skydio 2/2+, we’ve allowed for more optionality to enhance performance based on what you’re trying to film. Skydio 2+ has three unique control options for you to fly with: Skydio App, Controller, and/or Skydio Beacon.

Fly with the Skydio App, Beacon and/or Controller.
Fly with the Skydio App, Beacon and/or Controller.

The Skydio App - Reliable and unique cinematic Skills

Flying with the App gives you access to Skydio’s full suite of cinematic Skills, tracking modes and camera settings. It can be used on its own, or paired with both the Controller and/or the Skydio Beacon to enhance your chosen flight experience.

Fly with the Skydio App, Beacon and/or Controller.
Fly with the Skydio App, Beacon and/or Controller.

While some of Skydio’s cinematic Skills may seem familiar to you, understand that no other drone flies like a Skydio. Most experienced drone-pilots are wary of autonomous flight modes due to fallible and unreliable obstacle avoidance, but thanks to 360 vision with no blind spots, reliable autonomous flight is now possible.

Computer vision visualization of Skydio 2+ mapping an area autonomously
Computer vision visualization of Skydio 2+ mapping an area autonomously

Thanks to unique hardware design, vision system, and brilliant software, Skydio is able to build more advanced and useful Skills than any other drone maker. The success of both 3D Scan and KeyFrame are direct reflection of Skydio’s investment and commitment to vision based autonomous flight. KeyFrame is an incredible tool for filmmakers and creators alike to design mind-bending shots, and let Skydio smoothly nail the shot with robotic precision. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for a $1099 drone that can be piloted with a phone.

Parkour KeyFrame designed and submitted by Cai Garcia for the KeyFrame Challenge
Parkour KeyFrame designed and submitted by Cai Garcia for the KeyFrame Challenge

App + Controller - The end of stressful manual flight

Flying a Skydio drone manually with the App + Controller is unique because it is continuously 3D mapping its environment while in flight. It makes decisions about where to fly, and where not to fly, based on your inputs and the obstacles it senses in the area. If you tell Skydio to fly into a wall, it won’t, so don’t even try.

Manually piloting Skydio 2+ in obstacles
Manually piloting Skydio 2+ safely in and around obstacles


However if you point the camera towards a tree tree and fly forward it, not only will it avoid crashing into the tree, it will safely plan a path around the tree for you. The result is incredibly smooth footage, as well as incredible confidence when positioning your drone to take a photo, even when backing into obstacles. You can even use obstacles as the foreground in your shots without putting your camera (or your stress levels) in dangerous territory. This ability to focus on the shot, over anything else, is truly unique to the Skydio piloting experience.

Skydio 2+ following autonomously in dense forest
Skydio 2+ following autonomously in dense forest

App + Beacon - Autonomous Action Sports Photography

Skydio is well-known for its mind-bending ability to fly iself, avoid obstacles, and capture shots completely hands-free. Pairing the App + the Skydio Beacon, unlocks the full potential of Skydio high-speed autonomous tracking. It’s in this environment that Skydio truly outshines any other drone photographer alive. While snapping top-down photos of the Utah desert may be beautiful, there’s nothing quite like the in-your-face shots produced by a Skydio drone. Not only are these types of shots unique to Skydio, they can be damn near impossible for any other drone to pull off.

Photographer taking landscape photos captured by Skydio KeyFrame
Photographer taking landscape photos captured by Skydio KeyFrame

Time in the air > Timing the shot

Planning and timing are critical for high-end photography, but with Skydio, you can toss up your self-flying camera drone up to do its thing. After 25 minutes of flight, you’ll have over 80,000 “bangers” to choose from and share if you’re filming in 4K/60. Just scrub through your footage post-flight, select a frame of your favorite moment and export a 4K still image to your camera roll. 

High-quality 4k frame exported from the Skydio App after 20 minute autonomous flight
High-quality 4k frame exported from the Skydio App after 20 minute autonomous flight

The best part is, you just got to enjoy the entire ride, instead of trying to capture photos of yourself manually the whole time, or worse, asking someone else to take them for you.

Flying drones is hard

Drone pilots, content creators and photographers don’t have too much issue positioning for “top-down” landscape photos. They’ve spent hours at the sticks, they’re familiar with flying drones, and how to avoid danger (trees). However, for new pilots, even taking off in the first place can be an anxiety inducing experience. As a new pilot, once you’re in the air, it’s nearly impossible to think about framing shots or thinking creatively.

Skydio 2 getting low to nail the shot in obstacles
Skydio 2 getting low to nail the shot in obstacles

Skydio makes it fun and easy

Skydio 2+ enables so much more than the classic “top-down” landscape shot. You can capture more unique moments and perspectives while also living in the moment, something truly unattainable with any other drone. If you want to get into drone photography, there's no better place to get comfortable with flying drones than with a Skydio. If someone tells you that you’re taking the “easy” way, then you can just smile and wave as your autonomous robot-camera-drone captures the moment while you enjoy the adventure!