WATCH: Breathtaking nature footage... taken from a drone

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Drone nature shots
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Drone nature shots

Remote-control aerial photography is here. Are we ready?

Drones aren't always the rights-infringing death machines conjured up by news stories. Sometimes they do the world quite a bit of good. Take the above nature footage by Thomas Renck, a hobbyist whose camera-equipped tricopter captured a pack of wild coyotes sweeping across a hillside in Riverside, Calif. The vantage point makes the video look like something straight out of a Discovery Channel documentary.

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Remote-controlled aerial cameras aren't exactly new. Anyone with $299 in their pocket and an Android or iPhone can order their own app-controlled Parrot AR Drone off Amazon right now. 

Or take the new DJI Phantom UAV that went on sale for $700 earlier this month. It's designed to be used for photography and can be linked with a GoPro camera, which is a huge hit with the adventure sport set. Here's a sample of the Phantom in action:

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Pretty stuff, right? Fast Company's Neal Ungerleider took one for a test spin and loved it. "Users can knock out professional-quality aerial photography in a matter of minutes," says Ungerleider. "Despite the Phantom's relatively limited battery life — about 15 minutes of flight time — that is more than enough time to film stunning aerial video."

Of course, the coming explosion of remote-control photography will undoubtedly freak out folks concerned about their privacy. That's 100 percent understandable. On the other hand, commercialized drones will open up new, creative kinds of photography and filmmaking once reserved for outlandish Hollywood budgets. I'll leave the last word to Brian Anderson at Vice's Motherboard, who makes a great point:

When it comes to managing natural resources or tracking endangered creatures, advancing drone technology is forcing us, amid fierce debate and uncertainties about how drones are being used in the new theatre of war, to reaffirm the age-old notion that it's not the tool — it's how we use it. [Motherboard]

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