Improving the Image Quality of Your Drone Maps

A Photographer’s Top Three Tips for Taking Better Aerial Images

Mar 10, 2017 · 7 min read
Justin Moore of Aerial Airborne Photography
  1. Adjust Your ISO for Crisp Images
  2. Customize White Balance for a Consistent Map

How to Adjust Your Camera’s Manual Settings in the DJI GO App

Since all of my tips involve manually adjusting the settings of your camera, it’s important to first understand how to do this in your DJI GO App. You can get more in-depth instructions from DroneDeploy’s support documentation, but here’s a basic overview:

Use Your Histogram to Adjust Shutter Speed

View the histogram on the DJI GO app in order to adjust shutter speed | Image: DJI Support
Map of real estate development taken after manually adjusting the camera settings on a DJI Mavic. Explore the map

Set Your ISO at 100 for Crisp Images

Remember the old days of photography, before the digital era, when you had to buy camera films of different speeds? ISO is the digital equivalent. It indicates the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. In automatic mode, DroneDeploy will select a fast enough shutter speed to avoid motion blur — to do this, however, it may have to bump up the ISO. The problem is, if the ISO increases too much, you run the risk of excess “noise” in your images. In other words, you’ll lose some of the detail and get that overly pixelated — or grainy — look. DroneDeploy’s automatic settings already do a good job of managing the balance between the shutter speed and the ISO, but if you want to bump up the quality of your images even further, I suggest setting your ISO manually.

Manually adjust the ISO in the DJI GO app

Customize White Balance for a Consistent Map

Finally, I’d suggest customizing the white balance of your images. The white balance is the temperature of the image — how much yellow or blue cast is present. In the automatic settings, your camera will adjust the white balance continuously throughout the course of a map, making an individual decision for each photograph. For mapping, because consistency across all of your images is so important, I’ve found it’s best to set the white balance beforehand and keep it there for the duration.

picture (left) pre-processing and (right) after adjusting the white balance
Set a custom value of white balance by selecting “Custom” at the bottom of the list and select appropriate temperature.

Take the Next Step: Learn More About Photography and Post Processing

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from automatic mode and taken the plunge into your camera’s manual settings. I think you’ll find these three steps make a difference in your image quality, but I also highly recommend any commercial drone operator invest the time to take an introductory photography class. You don’t need anything fancy. A fundamental photography class, a few hours a week for a month or so is a great way to get a handle on the basics.

Use Adobe Lightroom and other post-processing tools to further improve your images

Where to Learn More

To hear Justin and other drone service providers talk about how they’ve found success in the industry, make sure to watch our recent webinar, How to Build a New Drone Business.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at


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DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at