Once you’ve unpacked and assembled your drone, then charged the battery and controller, you’re pretty much set to fly. However, it doesn’t take long to realise that there are a few accessories that can make your experience better. There are also some that can improve the quality of the video and stills you produce. So let’s take a look at the best drone accessories currently available.
Neutral Density Filters
Neutral density filters are pretty much essential for shooting video. That’s especially true with drones like the DJI Mavic Air that don’t give you any control over the aperture setting. Even drones like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V.20 and the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro only give you a limited aperture range (f/2.8-11). That means that even at a low ISO setting, you have to use a fast shutter speed in bright light.
A neutral density filter reduces the amount of the light reaching the camera’s sensor. That means you can reduce the shutter speed. With the right filter, you’ll be able to follow the 180-degree shutter rule and use a shutter speed that’s twice the frame rate. In many cases, a shutter speed of 1/50sec or 1/60sec is what’s required.
The filters are easy to fit. They just screw onto the camera, but you may need to remove a clear filter or bezel first.
LaCie DJI CoPilot
It sounds like it’s going to help fly your drone, but the LaCie DJI CoPilot is actually a 2TB hard drive. It’s a winner for drone pilots because it has an SD card slot and a USB port to enable you to download your footage and images. It also has a rechargeable battery so you can use it without a computer or mains power.
Conveniently, it’s supplied with cables to connect the CoPilot to iOS or Android phones, so you can check that your files have downloaded and even share them directly from the drive.
Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD
The WD My Passport Wireless SSD is another portable storage device with an SD card slot and USB port for backing-up images and videos. However, rather than a spinning hard drive, the My Passport Wireless SSD uses solid state technology. There’s also a Wi-Fi system built-in so you can connect your phone and check images etc.
Samsung EVO Plus microSD card
You need a fast memory card to shoot 4K video. The Samsung EVO Plus microSD card fits the bill nicely as it has read speeds of up to 100MB/s and writes speeds up to 90MB/s. As well as enabling 4K recording, this means you won’t be hanging around for ages waiting for your footage to transfer. It’s also a reliable card, proving itself during our extensive testing.
Samsung claims the card is waterproof, X-ray-proof and magnet-proof, and can cope with being stored at -40C to 85C. It will operate between -25C and 85C, but your drone might not be so keen!
Helpfully, Samsung supplies an SD card adaptor with the EVO Plus microSD card. This means it can be used in cameras that have SD card slots. More importantly, it’s compatible with the SD card slots in storage drives like the LaCie DJI CoPilot and WD My Passport Wireless SSD, as well as many computers.
Drone Landing Pad
If your drone decides to fly to home, you’ll be glad you used a landing pad to mark the take-off point. A landing pad is also useful for flattening long glass that might upset your drone’s object avoidance system. It also protects your drone from mud.
It’s also useful to use a landing pad when you’re learning to fly a drone as gives you a clear target. It’s easy to land just anywhere, you have to take proper control to land on a precise spot.
Most landing pads are collapsible and light, so they’re easy to carry. Pegs are usually provided to keep them in place despite the downdraft.
Many drones rely on a smartphone as part of the controller and to display the live view feed. It can all get a bit cramped when the phone is in the controller, and Kuuqa tablet stents are a good solution. They make it easier to access your phone and even a larger device like an iPhone 8 Plus or (at a stretch) an iPad mini.
A solid metal plate takes the place of your phone in the controller while an extendable clamp holds your phone or tablet above. A lanyard is included to allow you to hang the controller from your neck.
Li-Po Safe Bag
The Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) batteries that power most drones need to be handled with care. Especially when they’re charged and ready for use. Fires are rare, but they can happen as a result of physical damage to the cell. Li-Po safe bags are designed to house a battery (or batteries) and reduce the risk of a fire spreading.