Equipment

We’re Now Renting Drones – And Here is Your Guide

Starting today, we’re going to start offering drones available for rental. Obviously, this is a bit of a dicey decision, as there is a lot of variables that come into play when it comes to flying, renting, and servicing drones when compared to video and photography equipment. However, we’ve decided to do so because we want to continue to offer the best products available to our customers so that they can keep creating – without limitations.

That said, I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about flying drones, what you need to know, and some helpful tips on how to make your next drone rental an enjoyable one. As an owner of a DJI Inspire 1 myself, and someone who has flown dozens of drones over the years, I can speak personally and say that the experience is an incredible one. However, there first must be some rules and regulations in place before renting a drone.

How to Be Eligible for a Drone Rental

No registration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required, though is certainly encouraged to ensure safe and responsible flying. Registration is only $5, and is good for 3 years after the registration date. While not required for personal flying, it is certainly encouraged by both the FAA and Lensrentals.com.

If flying your drone for commercial purposes, you’re required to hold a remote pilot airman certificate, and your drone must be registered with the FAA.

Breakdown of Flight Rules and Regulations

Along with being registered with the FAA, you must also abide by all federal and local laws pertaining to drone use. While laws vary from location to location, the general guidelines and requirements from the FAA are broken down as follows —

  For Recreational Flying For Commercial Flying
Who qualifies? Anyone who is not using the drone for commercial purposes Anyone commercial use in connection with the use of a drone. Examples include professional wedding or real estate photography or commercial cinematography.
Drone requirements:
  • Must be less than 55 pounds
  • Must be less than 55 pounds
Flight rules:
  • Must fly under 400 feet above ground
  • Drone must remain in the operator’s line of sight
  • Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport or heliport without contacting the airport or control tower
  • Must fly under 400 feet above ground or within 400 feet of a structure if more than 400 feet above ground
  • Drone must remain in the operator’s line of sight
  • Must fly at or below 100 MPH
  • May only fly during daylight hours
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft
  • May not fly over people

Rental Rules

Users are responsible for inspecting and ensuring all drones are in working flying condition before use.

Lensrentals does not assume, and the customer indemnifies Lensrentals against any liability or claims resulting from use or malfunction of the equipment. Renter assumes all liability that may arise from use or failure of the equipment.

Renter assumes and shall bear the entire risk of damage to the equipment from any cause, except damage in the possession of the Shipper.

All drone rentals are subject to the full Lensrentals Rental Agreement.

Drones Available for Rental

At this current time, we’re bringing you 3 different drone models available for rental. For those unacquainted to DJI’s product line of drones, a short list of features and specs are listed below, but they’re broken down into three very simple styles and purposes. The DJI Mavic Pro is designed for portability. With its foldable arms, the DJI Mavic Pro folds down into a size slightly larger than a 12oz soda can. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is noticeably larger than the Mavic Pro and is among the most common drone designs in recent years (The white ‘X’ shaped body). The larger size of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro allows for more stable flying and generally faster speeds. Finally, the DJI Inspire 2 Pro is the largest all in one quadcopter available from DJI and is designed for the pro market of drone flyers. Quite a bit larger than even the Phantom 4, the DJI Inspire 2 allows for even more stability and faster flying, a carbon fiber construction, and 360-degree camera access. 

  DJI Mavic Pro DJI Phantom 4 Pro DJI Inspire 2 Pro
Flight Time ~21 Minutes ~28 Minutes ~27 Minutes
Max Speed 40 mph 45 mph 58 mph
Sensor Size CMOS 1/2.3” CMOS 1” CMOS 1″
Image Size 12.5 Effective MPs 20 Effective MPs 20 Effective MPs
Video Recording C4K: 4096×2160 24p
4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
H.265
C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
4K:3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @65Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 48/50/60p @80Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @50Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 48/50/60p @65Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 120p @100Mbps
HD:1280×720 24/25/30p @25Mbps
HD:1280×720 48/50/60p @35Mbps
HD:1280×720 120p @60MbpsH.264
C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
4K:3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @80Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 48/50/60p @100Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @60Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 48/50/60 @80Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 120p @100Mbps
HD:1280×720 24/25/30p @30Mbps
HD:1280×720 48/50/60p @45Mbps
HD:1280×720 120p @80Mbps
H.264
C4K:4096×216023.976/24/25/29.97/47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×216023.976/24/25/29.97/47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
2.7K: 2720×153023.976/24/25/29.97p @80Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
FHD: 1920×108023.976/24/25/29.97p @60Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @80Mbps119.88p @100MbpsH.265
C4K: 4096×216023.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×216023.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
2.7K: 2720×153023.976/24/25/29.97p @65Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @80Mbps
FHD: 1920×108023.976/24/25/29.97p @50Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @65Mbps
119.88p @100Mbps
       

DJI Mavic Pro Rentals

General Flying Tips

Make a Note of Your Altitude

When using DJI’s DJIGo app, your altitude will automatically mark your starting location as 0 ft/m. Before flying anywhere, I usually fly the drone up to the treetops and make a mental note of their altitude. As you fly the drone further away and maneuver it in various directions, it’s easy to get confused with your general depth perception. Having that mental note will help you recenter your bearings, and remind you of your flight clearance.

Green Means Go, Red Means Reposition

By default, all DJI drones,  have four LEDs – one on each arm of the quadcopter. On the back of the quadcopter, are green LEDs, with red LEDs on the front. When still learning the techniques of flying, it’s always recommended to fly with the drone positioned facing the same direction as you. When turning the drone 180 degrees, by default, the controls don’t change to your position. So left suddenly becomes right, and right becomes left. It’s incredibly easy to get disoriented when this happens, so it’s always best practice to keep the drone in the same orientation of you at all times and to just rotate the camera as needed to get those specialty shots.

Never Fly Below 25% Battery

A general rule of thumb is that when your drone reaches 25% battery life, to bring it home. One of the major concerns when flying a drone is what is known as voltage drops, causing your drone to shut down and fall from the sky. While these cases are rare, they’re far more likely to happen on a depleted battery. It’s important to acknowledge the safety and risks when flying and always encouraged to land it at around 25% battery life.

Understand The Batteries, and Charge them Fully Between Uses

Another explanation for voltage drops comes in battery mishandling. The intelligent batteries within the DJI drone systems require that batteries be fully charged before retaking flight. Failure to do this can cause damage to the batteries and increases the likeliness of a voltage drop.

DJI Inspire 2 Rentals

Calibrate Your IMU and Compass

Normally when owning a drone, you’re not required to calibrate your compass and IMU before each and every flight. But because these drones are being shipped all over the United States as rentals, it’s important to calibrate both of these before your initial flight with the unit. The process is simple, and can be done within the DJIGo software, and will ensure accurate and precise measurements from the unit while it’s in the air.

 

Hopefully, by following these rules and tips, you’ll be able to have a safe flight, with plenty of opportunities to capture the photos and videos you need for your next project. As always, we ask all those who rent drones from us to fly responsibly and follow all the federal and local laws to ensure safe and responsible flying. Have photos or videos of your drone flying? Post them in the comments below!

Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at Lensrentals.com. I’m also an editorial and portrait photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • Torsten

    This is great news for me. As someone who isn’t living in the US getting my drone over for my yearly trips through parts of the US was a challenge. This year I only brought my Mavic, but as someone who’s used to good cameras the Mavic is just a bad crutch. I’ll probably rent the Inspire 2 for next years trip. Can’t wait for that X5 lens to become available until then 🙂

    Even though I’m not living in the US I’m familiar with general rules and concepts in aviation and I did extensive (months) of research about US/FAA regulations. All that even though I’m a hobbyist – I don’t sell any pictures or videos, nor do I promote anything with them and I don’t even have advertisements on my website.
    With that knowledge of the rules – which I’m sure are not 100% complete – I’m having mixed feelings about the regulations mentioned in the blog post. There’s a whole lot more that even recreational flyers should and need to be aware of. From various controlled airspaces, no fly zones to NOTAMs. Some of the cited rules are even slightly incorrect. For recreational flyers 400ft AGL is not an absolute rule – there’s more to it. Also one needs to control the airport/airfield/helipad operator AND (not or!) tower if one exists. I understand the blog post can and should not relieve the drone operator from educating himself but I wonder if having some rules listed but them not being complete and entirely correct could get you guys into trouble.

    Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer and don’t intend to become one 🙂

  • Torsten

    Mesa Arch is a good example. First of all, it’s sometimes crowded by many “photographers” and based on various blog and forum posts not always the nice and considerate type. The problem is worse about 30mi north east at Delicate Arch. That’s without drones anywhere and it isn’t a new thing. The problem is the popularity of the place and inconsiderate people – not the drones.

    I agree that it wouldn’t be a good idea to fly a drone at Mesa Arch at sunrise. Not because of the moment and running the experience – other non-drone photographers do that too – but because I don’t think it’s safe to fly at Mesa Arch with other people present, close (<50ft away) to the arch and people as well as the windy conditions.
    Beside the safety aspect, there's one simple why one can't fly legally there anyways: it's a National Park. You'd have to break at least one rule: flying in line of sight or taking off/landing/operating the drone from within the park.
    One could argue if that rule should be changed – there are pros and cons.

    In the end no rule will stop stupid people from flying there b/c one can not regulate stupidity.

    All that said, I'm traveling a lot in the western US, visit many scenic places, mostly on public lands in national monuments, national parks, and even state parks over the past 10+ years. The number of drones I've seen is still only at about 10. That even includes times where I've been at very popular places in the main season, like Yellowstone.

    I've seen one or two drone pilots doing stupid and "illegal" things. My experience so far it's lack of some form of knowledge. Like that pilot who was flying south of the Grand Teton Gate but still within the park and in Class D space around Jackson Hole airport.

    To me the "drone problem" seems to be exaggerated to me in terms of both quantity and quality. There are problems, but they don't seem to be as abundant as media reports and personal "feelings" indicate.
    Having read historic reports from the early days of the automobiles the drone concerns seem to be similar.

    Another observation I made: The "newness" of the drones is not only raising "fear" with some, it's also making things attractive. I've seen people buying drones but after weeks or months they lose interest and don't fly much if at all once the "newness" has worn off. That combined with an industry that likes to brag about the number of drones sold makes me wonder if the problem will change or maybe even go away.

  • Arun Hegde

    Zach- I agree with you that drones are the future, and share your sentiment that they be used safely, responsibly and, I will add, considerately. I will submit that, absent the invention of a cloaking device, some places should remain off limits to drones. For example, no one can convince me that it is a good idea to fly a drone through or around the Mesa Arch at sunrise. The beauty of the moment is far too fleeting, the positions to view it from so few, that it would ruin the experience for everyone other than the drone operator.

  • Stanislaw Zolczynski

    They would`t be so unhappy about intrusion if UFO hovered in the picture.

  • I’m sure 50 years ago, people were complaining at Horseshoe bend when photographers started showing up to photograph it, saying that it was obstructing their pleasant views. But the reality is, this is where the future is heading. Just as long as they’re flying safe and responsibly (much like how I wish photographers to act safe and responsibly while at Horseshoe Bend), I don’t see a problem with people using the tools at their disposal to capture an interesting and unique photo.

  • Arun Hegde

    The issue with that one drone was temporary. But the idea of spots such as those being even moderately crowded with drones is not a pleasing one. In a scenario such as that, suggesting we use a clone stamp tool is similar to suggesting that a personal respirator is an easy fix for an air pollution problem!

  • I can’t help but think that the clone stamp tool would be an easy fix for something like that…

  • Arun Hegde

    I recall a peaceful sunrise at the Horseshoe Bend a number of years ago. That tranquility was shattered by a drone; the operator flew the drone into the canyon ruining several people’s shots, including mine. Fortunately, the battery life was limited and everyone was able to go back to shooting. I can only imagine what an entire fleet of drones will do to those of us that wake up at ungodly hours or stay late to get good shots.

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