How to get legal ‘drone shots’ in no-fly zones

As a drone pilot, you are confronted with no-fly zones at more and more tourist hotspots. Take the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco for example. The bridge just begs for aerial images, but for safety reasons and the surrounding national park, drones are not allowed near the bridge. Videomaker Karen X. Cheng has found a creative solution: with the help of a small 360º camera and some accessories, she makes “drone shots” everywhere.

How to get legal ‘drone shots’ in no-fly zones

In a video that Karen posted on Twitter, you can see some beautiful aerial shots that were apparently made with a drone. But appearances can be deceiving. Karen did not use a drone to make the images, but a pocket-sized 360º camera: an Insta360 One X2 to be precise.

The special thing about this camera is that the image is completely captured in 360º. Afterward, you can remove any desired crop from the image. Thanks to advanced software image stabilization – calls this FlowState Stabilization – you get extremely smooth shots, comparable to those of a gimbal-stabilized drone.

How To Get Legal Drone Shots In No-Fly Zones

To obtain the unique drone perspective, Karen used a number of accessories, ranging from a fishing rod to raise the camera in one smooth movement to a kite to take an overview shot. A long selfie stick proves to be ideal for simulating a “drony”. And with the help of a , you can even get FPV-style drone shots.

Creativity to create legal ‘drone shots’

The moral of the story: with a little creativity, as a videomaker you can make the most beautiful aerial shots, even in places where you are not allowed to fly with a drone at all. You only need a small 360º camera and some tools.

The Insta360 One X2 360º action cam has 2 fisheye lenses and captures all your shots with 5.7K resolution in 360º. Thanks to FlowState Stabilization you get extremely stable images. In the Insta360 app or with the help of Insta360 Studio you can then extract the desired shots from the source material. It is also possible to create hyperlapses.

How To Get Legal 'Drone Shots' In No-Fly Zones

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This article first appeared on and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

Wiebe de Jager
Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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