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I am interested in taking video and still photos of trains from different perspectives

 I've been thinking of possibly using a drone to do it but know very little about using a drone for this videography/photography and choosing one that would be good for this purpose.

Does anyone here use a drone for railroad videography or photography? If you do, what make and model drone do you use and why that particular model?

Btw, in case it makes a difference in what drone to choose, I live in a suburban urban area along the northeast corridor where there are many electrified raillines and wonder if or how much this situation should affect the choice of which drone to use.

Last edited by ogaugeguy
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Please consider becoming an accomplished drone pilot before you run out and fly by yourself.  Yes the technology makes it easy for anyone to fly, but there are lots of safety and regulatory (FAA) concerns to consider.

Check out this link to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).  Find a local club in your area.  The RC community is just as friendly and helpful as the OGR people.  AMA Link Here.

Local club members will help you select a great flying drone and even teach you how to fly it.

Be safe and have fun!





@EBT Jim posted:

What do you fly, Ron ... RC airplanes?


Yes... All fixed wing.  All electric.  Mostly foam 1400MM (55").  Although we have a few 6 foot balsa trainers that are fun too.  I have two quadcopter drones, but I find them boring and no longer fly them.  I suppose if I invested in the whole FPV GPS it might be more fun.  But then that just brings more FAA issues and neighbor complaints I don't want to deal with.

Years ago, I used to fly in my backyard when I was surrounded by corn.  Now that I have neighbors, I belong to a local club and fly my planes there.

Have Fun!



I would recommend the DJI Mavic Air 2, great 4k video and stills. BUT you must learn to be a good pilot first. Make sure where you want to fly is legal. Practice in an open area and just do very simple forward and back moves. If you get in trouble just push the button on your controller and it will return to you where you took off. To be flying around a moving train is not easy. You don't have time to think about what your next move will be. Practice tell you know all the moves. This won't be an overnight thing. I know you most likely have seen some great shots but remember you don't lay your $800 down and go fly. There are plenty of videos about the Mavic Air 2 so look at them and see if that's what you want. Take a look:   Don

Last edited by scale rail

I agree with everything else that is posted, there are a lot places you can't fly and it seems to me even more are being added all the time. I jumped into the hobby in 2016, but I didn't stick with it due to the restrictive nature of the hobby and some drones just sound like a nest of angry wasps! That said, I had a great time with my DJI Spark (an older model they discontinued) and I did enjoy seeing trains from a different perspective. Attached, Palmer, MA in the winter.  


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Before you go fly and get into trouble, there are inexpensive community college courses that cover what you need to know.  There are also online courses, and plenty of you tube tutorials.  Don't forget to register your sUAV (small unmanned aerial vehicle) with the FAA if it weighs more than .55lbs.

I concur with Ron to join a local flying club (I belong to two).  However, I would talk to club members before you join since some clubs have few, if any, quad-copter pilots.  Still, while most fly fixed wing or helicopter models, they can help you learn the ropes of model aircraft flying.

Thanks, everyone so far for your helpful advice and insights. Someone mentioned to my wife that DJI Drones replacement for their discontinued Spark is the Mavic Mini, a palm size drone weighing only 250 grams that doesn't require registering it with the government. Does anyone have experience with this drone or know someone who does and if so, what are your thought about using it to take video or photos of trains?

I would think it would be cool to use a drone to get to hard to reach areas on larger layouts and do some filming. 

If you are going to stay inside there are some very inexpensive sUAS quad-copters that take video.  A little more money can get you streaming to your smart phone.

Make sure you get one with altitude hold (usually pressure sensing).  If you don’t you will have lots of crash landings into your trains.

Also, even a small indoor drone produces a lot of down draft, so if you did not glue your ballast down it will be blown off the table.

I have thought about using my large sUAV I use for search and rescue training to film my layout’s progress, but it would blow my trains off the table.

Just another comment. Flying a sUAV with GPS is easy to learn. When we talk about training we mean learning the rules and regulations required to legally, and safely, fly a sUAV in today’s airspace. And because people are doing stupid things with their quad-copters (like flying too close to trains), there are more rules coming all the time.

If you get a “drone”, learn the rules and be safe. 

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