So you’re heading on a drone photography adventure to Iceland. Lucky you! Assuming you already have a drone in mind, now’s the time to start thinking about the extras.
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Which accessories are going to help you capture those magical moments without weighing you down? Which additions will allow you to make the most of your time flying in Iceland?
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Below are a few different drone accessories that you should definitely consider before you board that plane.
- See also: The Ultimate Guide to Drone Vacations
Lights, Camera, Action
One of the things that makes Iceland stand out as a photography destination is the light. Depending on which time of year you are travelling, you’ll either have the endless midnight sun to work with, the bleak twilight of winter or if you’re very lucky, the mystical Northern Lights.
Rugged Highlands. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
So you get the idea: Whenever you go to Iceland, light will have an impact. So what’s that got to do with taking your drone? Well, with a certain accessory you can also use your drone as a lighting tool for when you want to shoot from the ground.
We’re talking about this accessory from LumeCube, a portable lighting company with rugged, bluetooth-enabled lights that can be attached to drones. So what’s the point? Well, for starters, they are a safety tool. These powerful lights can keep your drone visible even in dark conditions.
Second, they are perfect for a little creative exploration. For example, if you’re shooting with a DSLR on the ground, then illuminating your subject from above can make for some really unique shots. You can control the lights from your smartphone, select the brightness and even turn on a strobe effect. You can also experiment with your shutter speed to create your very own Northern Light drone effects.
Steaming Land. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
Looking for an original way to shoot Iceland with a drone? LumeCube lights can help with that. Currently the company has mounts that are compatible with the DJI Phantom 3, 4, Mavic Pro and Inspire drones, as well as the Yuneec Typhoon H, GoPro Karma and Autel Robotics X-Star.
The second thing on our drone accessories for Iceland list is probably the most obvious: spare batteries.
Your average drone will have a flight time of about 20 minutes. That’s a lot of footage, but rarely is it enough to capture a scene from every angle and to get enough video together to edit into something that you’re happy with.
Eye of the Dragon. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
Imagine travelling through Iceland and you’ll soon be able to understand how that problem will be multiplied: there are sights and spectacles at every turn. You’re going to need more batteries.
The other challenge Iceland holds for photographers is how rural it is. You can spend hours on the road and be away from your hotel or accomodation for the entire day. Spare batteries mean you can plan a day of aerial photography without having to worry about factoring in pit stops at places you can recharge.
Finally, even if you have a couple of spares already and a portable charger, bear in mind that Iceland’s weather conditions will reduce your battery life. The wind and the cold will mean your drone won’t stay in the air for as long as it would normally.
No matter what time of year you visit Iceland, one thing that’s guaranteed is a generous helping of wind. For photographers, cold hands are often a part of the challenge. Capturing moments perfectly takes times and patience, so when you're exposed to the elements, gloves are a good idea.
Icebergs Below. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
Something to keep your fingers from getting too cold is even more important when flying a drone. That’s why high up on this list of accessories is a decent pair of gloves. Numb fingers lead to clumsy controls, which will make your aerial videos jerky, unwatchable and ultimately, unprofessional.
And we don’t want that.
You might also want to think about getting a pair of touchscreen gloves. Although controlling a drone is often done through sticks on a controller, often the settings and finer details are sorted in a mobile app. You’ll be thankful when that wind is blowing!
The LaCie DJI Copilot
As we’ve mentioned already, one of the biggest challenges about travelling in Iceland in general is the sparsity of places to stop, recharge and get all of your gear ready to go again. The roads are long. Depending on your route of choice civilization can be miles away.
The Long and Winding Road. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
It’s standard to go for the whole day without being able to recharge all of those batteries, which is why spares are so important. But as well as that, when you’re shooting 4K video with a drone you might run into another problem: storage space.
4K video quickly fills up memory cards, so most drone pilots will either carry spare SD cards for a day of filming or a separate device to move all that footage across to. That’s not ideal, especially when you are trekking through the wilderness or want an option that gives you a bit more peace of mind.
You want to enjoy your travels in Iceland. That’s usually harder to do when you’re carrying around thousands of dollars’ worth of gear or worried that you’re going to lose one of your tiny SD cards. One solution is the smarter than average external hard drive from Seagate company LaCie.
Dramatic Lomagnupur. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
The 2TB LaCie DJI Copilot has its own battery, LED screen and associated smartphone app. All you have to do is attach your device or plug in your memory card, click one button and wait for all the media to be copied across.
You can then go through the drive and your media cards using the app, delete what you don’t need and organise what you want to keep. You no longer need a laptop with you day to day, which is a weight off your shoulders in more ways than one.
You can use it to manage media from your DSLR and your drone. Easy.
- See also: The Ultimate Guide to Drone Travel Gear
ND Filters are a vital piece of kit for any serious photographer. But you may not have known that most decent drones can also be fitted with miniature filters that do the same job.
The Feather Canyon. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
In Iceland, where extremes of light and icy, snow conditions are common, it’s a good idea to have these on hand for when you want more flexibility with your drone camera settings.
DJI make their own ND Filters to help you deal with a range of conditions, with different sets available for each model. Another company worth checking out is PolarPro, who have a range of cinematic filters that bring consistency and that professional touch to your drone videos.
Whether you’re shooting glaciers in Iceland, scenes beneath the midnight sun or lava fields under the glow of the northern lights, ND Filters are an ideal (and hassle-free) accessory worth having in your bag.
The Perfect Drone Bag
It goes without saying that you’re not going to be carrying all of your gear in your hands around Iceland. You’ll need a bag or case that strikes the right balance between comfortable and portable. It also needs to be rugged enough to protect your expensive drone and accessories, along with any other valuables you’re thinking of taking.
Highlands by Moonlight. Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.
When you’re travelling around Iceland, at most sights you’re going to have to walk or hike. You might even want to take two seperate bags – one hard case to store your gear for hand luggage and car travel, with another, more portable backpack for when you have to make the final trek to your perfect photography spot.
Sure, drones can fly where your camera normally can’t, but you’ll still need to do some of the work! Buy the right bag to make sure that this is as easy as possible.
Those are just six different accessories you should consider for your drone adventure to Iceland. There are plenty more out there, but some combination of these will definitely add to your experience in the Land of Fire and Ice.
About the author: Malek Murison is a tech journalist based in London. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Twitter.
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