The Pros and Cons of Drone vs. Helicopter Aerial Filming

We are in a digital age with technology flourishing all around us. One aspect of technology that many people and businesses are beginning to implement is aerial photography and videography. Two ways to capture stunning footage from a bird’s eye view are with drones and with helicopters. Many aerial photography companies utilize both, and there are pros and cons to both of these methods. This article will cover both aerial drone and helicopter filming to give you an idea of which application might be better suited for your needs. 

Aerial Photography with Drones

By: Kennedy Martinez


 1. Versatile Flying Capabilities

 Drones are great for capturing aerial footage at lower altitudes and through difficult obstacles such as bridges or buildings. The biggest advantage a drone has against a helicopter is that they can fly in many places that helicopters can’t. They also give you the opportunity to capture 360-degree shots as their compact size makes it easy for them to rotate around objects.

2. Budget Friendly

If you want brilliant footage, but don’t want to break the bank, drone filming may be a perfect fit. Costs vary depending on the aerial photography company that you use, but prices usually fall between $8,000-$10,000 for the full crew, equipment, camera system, and insurance. These costs are significantly less expensive than helicopter filming.

If you’re a recreational flyer, check out the best drones for kids and beginner drones that won’t break your budget at



1. Shorter Flying Times

One thing to take into account when considering drone filming is that they can only fly a short amount of time before having to change batteries. Even some of the most professional drones will need to come back for a battery change within 10-15 minutes. This can add a significant amount of time to projects as pilots have to stop every so often to change batteries instead of being able to shoot continuously.

2. Altitude Constraints 

Along with shorter flying times, another setback when flying drones is altitude constraints. Drones can only fly a maximum of 400 feet above the ground per FAA regulations, so they are better for shorter distances and shorter durations of filming. If you need footage from a higher point of view, you may want to consider hiring helicopter filming services, or contracting with a Drone Service Provider, such as New York based Cinematic Aerospace, who has experience and familiarity with obtaining waivers from the FAA, to allow drone flight above 400 ft.

Aerial Photography with Helicopters


1. Fly Higher and Longer

 An advantage that helicopters can offer is their ability to fly at generally higher altitudes than a drone. Helicopters are great when capturing panoramic footage of large areas like cities and events. They are able to fly further than any commercially available drone. Helicopters can fly for hours and miles as opposed to drones that can only for minutes and within your line of sight.

2. Shooting Location Flexibility

One benefit of helicopters is the ability to shoot across many different locations. Sometimes projects require multiple aerial shots across different locations. With a drone, this can be time prohibitive and difficult to achieve. However, helicopters can not only take the videos but transport the crew as well which makes multi-location shoots easier to manage.



1. More Costly

The cost of hiring helicopter services can add up quickly. The longer the shoot, the higher the costs. On the less expensive side, a helicopter can cost around $5,000 but if you are looking for movie-quality aerial footage, you could be looking at paying closer to $20,000 for footage. This is a major financial decision so it’s important to decide what kind of footage you are looking for before choosing a drone over a helicopter.

2. Potential Safety Risks

There are some safety risks involved when flying helicopters. Crew members and passengers can be at risk being in the air and are required to have safety equipment such as harnesses and restraint systems, especially for “doors-off” flight. With drones, pilots can stay safely on the ground and capture footage.


With technology quickly advancing each day, many people are finding ways to take advantage of these digital innovations. One aspect of technology that many people have begun implementing is aerial photography and videography. There are two ways to capture stunning footage from a bird’s eye view, with drones and with helicopters. Many aerial photography companies utilize both, and there are pros and cons to both of these methods. There is a possibility that drones will become more widely used by professional companies as their capabilities grow each day.