Here at Aerial Republic we pride ourselves on our kit. Because without it, we’d never be able to produce the work we do for our amazing clients.
That’s why, ever since setting-up shop in the UK in 2014 – having formally been established in 2008 in Asia working on many documentaries for National geographic and FOX – we’ve always tried to invest in the very best drones, lenses and cameras available. Never resting on our laurels or sitting still for a single second.
In this blog we’ll take a look inside our kitbag, delving deeper than ever before. From 6K cameras to some of the biggest and best drones available on the market, take a peek behind the curtain and discover what professional drone hire looks like today.
Each of our cameras fall into one of two categories – those that function as an independent body, and those designed specifically for drones and aerial photography/videography. The camera we opt to use will be determined by the shoot itself, as well as the brief sent across by the client.
First up is the X5R manufactured by Chinese behemoths DJI. Boasting a Micro Four Thirds sensor, this beast is capable of shooting lossless 4K videos in Cinema DNG 12-Bit RAW with V-LOG . What this means is with the X5R mounted to one of our drones, we’re able to capture stunning footage up to 60fps at the first time of asking.
In congested areas, the law dictates that drones weighing more than 7KG can’t be used, so to have this much flexibility makes the X5R a priceless piece of kit. What’s more, the X5R is more than capable of standing up against other rigs, such as the Red or Alexa, enabling us to produce imagery with exceptional quality in even the most build-up areas.
Furthermore, the X5R can use a multitude of lenses with focal lengths of 12mm to 45mm (25mm – 90mm full frame equivalent ). This drone is built for speed and is ideal for tracking cars. In fact, it certainly held its own when filming Red Bull Racing’s F1 cars with Daniel Ricciardo & Max Verstappen behind the wheel in Barcelona…
Another camera boasting a Micro Four Thirds sensor is Panasonic’s GH4. Unlike the DJI X5R however, the GH4 works just as well as a run-and-gun camera or as part of a ground rig. In this sense it’s much more of a traditional body, but that’s not say it doesn’t pack a punch, while 4K recording capabilities make it a great piece of kit on set.
We shot the entire series of BBC’s Award Winning show “Our Dancing Town” using this camera as we needed a lightweight camera capable of producing broadcast quality footage that we could mount to various platforms to create a 6-minute, 1 take, 400 contributor, 1 mile tracking shot with a ground to aerial transition at the end with no cut!
Taking things up a notch we have the Panasonic GH5. What’s interesting about these cameras is that although they boast the same sensor as the GH4, they’re capable of capturing video in both 8-bit & 10-bit, whether you’re shooting HD or Ultra HD, from 60 frames per second all the way up to 180 frames per second without breaking a sweat.
What’s more, our GH5’s are always equipped with the latest updates and V’Log is installed to ensure that perfect grade every time!
Capturing stills at 20MP makes it a much better all-rounder too. Combine that with 6K photo still image extraction and a touchscreen interface, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Needless to say we rarely go on a shoot without this beast of a camera.
In our opinion at least, the GH5 is the all-round king of the DSLR market!
The first body in our line-up to boast a full frame sensor is the Sony A7Rii. What makes this camera so special is that it’s capable of capturing RAW images with a resolution of 42MP – doubling the still image quality of the GH5. It’s also capable of shooting video at 50fps in 4K, while its ridiculous ISO range makes it a real performer in low light. It’s tilting monitor also makes it a standout candidate when mounted to a ground rig.
We use the A7Rii mainly with our gimbal systems for those silky smooth cinematic tracking shots and low light night shoots.
Last but not least is our pride and joy, the RED Epic Dragon: a camera capable of capturing video at 100fps in stunning 6K – that’s 9 times more pixels than HD.
We can also record up to 300fps in 2k resolution with this camera – without a doubt one of the best aerial setups available, suitable for high-end commercials, film & television.
We’ve created our own system for this beast, featuring a fully customised Ronin MX gimbal that works seamlessly with a Matrice 600 Pro drone. Unlike other operators out there we also use a remote stop/start with our RED Epic Dragon, helping us to reserve precious battery life while simultaneously cutting the time spent editing footage in post.
Read more about the RED Epic Dragon and check out our in-depth review here.
As most videographers will tell you, having the best camera in the world can only get you so far. That’s why here at Aerial Republic, we only use the best lenses (typically known as ‘glass’), available for our drone hire clients. Enabling us to capture razor sharp footage all year round, here’s a closer look at some of our favourites.
When capturing aerial photography for videography, it’s important to shoot with a wide lens – especially when capturing impressive landscapes or cityscapes. For this reason, our Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 has long been a steadfast favourite amongst the team here at Aerial Republic.
Sure the Voigtlander primes are great, but when we need to shoot even wider, it’s good to know we have a collection of Olympus zuiko lenses to fall back on. Currently tucked away in our kitbag is an Olympus M. Zuiko 12mm F2.0, 15mm F1.7, 25mm 1.7 and a 45mm 1.7. Having such a broad range of lenses not only allows us to maintain consistency on a shoot, it also provides us with the flexibility to mix-up our shots.
As well as stocking plenty of prime lenses, it’s equally as important to have one or two zoom lenses tucked away in our kitbag too. One such lens is the impressive Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 – a lens that’s both dust and splash proof that allows us to create a beautiful defocus effect at the push of a button. Created in partnership with Panasonic, this lens works brilliantly on both the GH4 and GH5.
Last up we have our trusty Canon lenses. Not only do these lenses pair brilliantly with the Sony A7Rii and RED Epic Dragon (via an adapter), each lens’ wide aperture makes them perfect for shooting in low light. In total we have three prime lenses: a 24mm F1.4L II USM, a EF 35mm F1.4 and a EF 50mm F1.2. Each lens comes with the impeccable build quality you’d expect from a Canon lens, with lightning quick auto-focus a key feature across the range.
Although the company has invested heavily in cameras, lenses and various other pieces of kit over the years, nothing compares to the investments made in our drones. In our opinion, our line-up of professional drones is what sets us apart from most other drone hire specialists – but don’t just take our word for it, explore the range for yourself below.
While DJI’s first run at the Inspire range proved to be a gamechanger in itself, the all-new Inspire 2 is something of a masterpiece. Costing up to £10,000 with a full kit bag of batteries, Peli-cases, monitors and stands, these drones don’t come cheap, but when you consider what the Inspire 2 offers for professional drone hire companies such as Aerial Republic, it’s worth every penny.
Not only does the Inspire 2 boast a 360 degree rotating gimbal, the simplicity of app control makes it a doddle to use on set. In terms of the cameras used on this particular drone, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to choose form both the X5 and X5R – making it easier than ever to capture stunning 4K footage from the air.
Taking things up a notch we have the Matric 600 Pro – a big improvement on its predecessor, the Matrice 600 – the first ever drone to deliver a human kidney!
This mammoth machine can carry most cameras up to a weight of 8KG and provides a full HD downlink with SDI output and additional directors monitors. The rig also benefits from having the latest DJI gimbal – the Ronin MX – which is mounted to a quick release system that allows us to go from an aerial shot to unmounting in seconds. This eliminates set-up time, reduces the amount of crew required and keep consistency of the same camera throughout an entire shoot.
Boasting improved flight performance, intelligent batteries and pre-installed arms for faster setup times, the Matrice 600 Pro is one of our most frequently used drones, especially when working on a commercial brief.
Due to the size and load capabilities of this drone we have filmed a number of live outside broadcasts for the BBC – which was never before possible – including a full season of Crimewatch. What’s more, we can also mount the broadcast downlink equipment to the drone and provide a critical signal for these productions, something very few other drone hire companies can offer.
What makes the Matrice 600 Pro so great is that it’s much steadier than its predecessor, working seamlessly with a number of gimbals and camera bodies, from the Arri Alexa Mini to the legendary RED Epic Dragon.
Known throughout the industry at the DJI ‘Spreading Wings’, both the S1000 and S900 are professional grade octocopters designed specifically for high level aerial photography and aerial videography.
Compatible with a range of gimbals and cameras – including the Sony A7Rii and the GH4 – the octocopter’s impressive load capacity makes it a particular favourite when higher quality footage is a must. What’s more, due to its compact nature (by comparison to other professional drones at least), both the S900 and S1000 come into their own when shooting in more rural locations, such as the Lake District of the outer reaches of Scotland.
Here’s an example of these drones in action filming a TV commercial with Olympian, Lizzie Armitstead…
And here’s a behind the scenes of how we made that happen…
Aside of all this amazing drone and camera technology we also have a range of gimbals and stabilized camera platforms from cable cams, car mounts to arm and vest Steadicams. Creating ultra stable footage up to 6K resolution.
To learn more about our kit and capabilities, don’t hesitate to get in touch. With CAA approved drone pilots and professional directors on standby to bring your next project to life, look no further than Aerial Republic the next time you need a professional drone hire service.
Check out our showreels right here!