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How much does Drone Photography Cost?

Average Price
£50 - £200 per hour

What is the price of Drone hire?

Looking to grab a video or photography shot from above? Read our handy guide to find out how much drone operators will charge for their services.

What is Aerial & Drone Photography?

Have you ever watched a film or TV show, and wondered how they managed to capture stunning landscapes that are shot from above? In the old days, it was probably captured from a helicopter. Though this would cost thousands, and be reserved for only the biggest Hollywood budgets. These days, anyone can reproduce such shots when they hire a professional drone operator. 

Drone photography can be used for a variety of purposes. This includes advertising, weddings, film/TV, journalism, estate agent listings, construction, engineering, agricultural surveys, events and more. It can take the form of a static image, a video, or a combination of both. 

While it’s possible to buy your own drone, professional drone pilots have not only the expertise required, but the right licenses and insurance to operate a drone. For some drone operators, this includes flying at extreme heights, at night and even over high-risk areas of the UK. All of which is only available with the right certification and training, before you even consider the quality of the shot. Therefore, professional drone operators are in high demand. 

How much does Drone Photography cost? 

Drone photography costs between £50 and £200 per hour on average. As you may have noticed, there is quite a sizable price difference, and that’s because it depends on what the drone photography is for. 

For example, there’s a huge difference between someone wanting to inspect their roof tiles, versus a film company requiring an image that needs to be shot from a considerable height.

Average cost of Drone Photography
Average cost (per hour)£75
Minimum cost (per hour)£50
Maximum cost (per hour)£200

Your drone pilot may charge by the hour, but most commonly they will give you a fixed fee. The total fee will take into account the time needed, the drone model you select and also any post-production that’s required. 

What changes the price of Drone photography? 

The cost of hiring a drone varies depending on several factors, including: 

  • Job type

  • Drone model

  • Permission level

  • Personnel required

  • Image quality

  • Post-processing

  • Time

  • Experience

  • Location

Job type

The common denominator with all drone jobs is that they will be shooting footage or images from a height. But the job that you request will either be straightforward or require more specialist equipment, not to mention manpower to complete. 

For basic jobs, expect to pay anywhere between £150 and £500. Such jobs may only take a couple of hours of work, and usually only require 1 pilot. 

Moving into the more specialist drone work can set you back anywhere between £1,500 and £4,000. Such work includes any job which takes a significant amount of time, experience or personnel to complete. Specialist jobs will also use more expensive drone models. 

Aerial photography involves sending an aircraft (manned or battery operated) to capture images. This service starts at £800, though can run into several thousands, especially for TV work or similar larger projects. 

Average cost of Drone photography based on the type of job
Type of drone jobHighest average price Lowest average price
Drone hire (standard)£500£150
Drone hire (specialist)£4,000£1,500
Blimp with drone£900£450
Aerial photography£2,000£800

Drone model

Commercial drones cost anywhere between £1,300 for a DJI Mavic model, up to £200,000 for a Hybrid VTOL fixed-wing aircraft to purchase. Therefore, the cost to hire one will vary depending on which model you opt for. 

Considering the hire prices of the most common drones, you can expect to pay £490 for a Mavic Pro, up to £2,500 for a Matrix 600. There are hundreds of different drone models in total, making it a very flexible service whether you are conducting a 2D land survey or shooting a movie for cinema release. 

Average cost of Drone Photography based on the drone model
Drone modelAverage rental cost
Mavic Pro£490
Phantom 4£600
Inspire 1 Pro£650
Matrix 600£2,500

Permission level

Drone operators who own drones weighing 250g must register with the authorities. Official drone licenses cost £1,000 to obtain in the UK, which must be renewed every 12 months. Within this, different permission levels are available ranging from a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operation), through to non-standard permission, which is for jobs which have a greater operational risk. 

The most high-risk jobs (such as flying above central London) require the operator to possess public liability insurance to the value of at least £1,000,000. Although the job itself obviously won’t be nearly as expensive as this, such expertise will cost more than a novice drone operator just starting out, who doesn’t have such a permission level. 

Personnel required 

Some drone operators work solo, and others require several pilots, runners, monitor operators etc. The more complex your job, the more expensive it will be. 

Image quality

The image quality you require is going to depend on the purpose. At the time of writing, the most common image quality levels vary between SD, HD, 4K, 6K and 8K. 

The higher the image quality you need, the more the project will cost, owing to the shooting capabilities of each particular drone model. Keep in mind that not all devices have the ability to stream 8K quality (or above), so speak to your drone operator for further advice. 

Post-processing

Depending on the type of footage or images you wish to capture, you may want to have it post-processed by the drone company. This could include video stitching, colour grading, voiceovers, adding music or other cool special effects. 

Some people will be confident to edit their own drone footage too, so it all depends on your requirements and technical knowledge. 

Video editors may charge anywhere from £100 to £400 per minute of finished footage for their services. Images will usually be far cheaper to edit than video. 

Time

Drone pilots typically charge by the hour, half-day or full-day. 

Some drone shots can be captured in a matter of minutes, others will take all day if not a few days to complete. The time also factors in the travel time for your operators, especially if you are hiring contractors from outside of your local area. 

Experience

Drone operators vary significantly in terms of experience, as well as industry background. As an example, anyone can train to operate a drone, but specialists such as surveyors or accident investigators can also operate a drone. If carrying out a specialist survey by a professional in that industry, expect the drone service to cost more. 

Location

The cost of hiring a drone may also depend on where you live. The cheapest area to hire a drone in the UK is typically the North East, averaging at £350. The most expensive area is London at £550

The price difference is due to varying operational costs. Plus, drone pilots in London will most certainly require the top level of permission and insurance, due to the higher risk of flying over the capital versus rural areas. 

Average cost of Drone Photography based on the location
LocationAverage drone hire cost
Midlands£385
London£550
North East£350
North West£400
South West£400

Is it worth getting Drone photography?

The advantage of a drone is that it can scale huge heights in a matter of seconds. So whether you want to create an impressive showreel or ascertain the condition of a building, there’s nothing else that can compare.

The images or video captured will look absolutely stunning, especially when used for promotional purposes. Therefore, drone photography is well worth the investment, especially when you hire a licensed drone pilot who will give the best possible results. 

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