In a few short years, drones have made complicated aerial shots that would have been prohibitively expensive or downright impossible, a commonplace.
For their next trick, they'll be floating light stands.
At NAB, two companies--Light & Motion and Fiilex--demonstrated drone-mountable LED lights. Don't be surprised if more light makers--and drone companies--jump on this bandwagon soon.
Light and Motion's Stella 5000d delivers 5,000 lumens or 10,3000 Lux at 1 meter with a 120 degree beam that can be modified with existing Stella Pro lenses to cast a tighter 50 or 25 degree beam. It can be remotely controlled from the drone’s remote with modes for dimming and strobe. It is daylight balanced with a CRI of over 90. It weighs 1.6 pounds, so it will add some weight to your drone and reduce its flying time, though not by much.
The Stella Pro 5000d mounts to your drone via a 1/4-20 screw and Light & Motion says this offers the user the flexibility to mount it to the frame of a number of different drones. The light is designed to draw power (up to 45W) from a 4s or 6s battery through an XT-60 connector (or other connectors with a bit of DIY wiring), and connects to a spare channel on an RC receiver with a servo plug to control the light from a transmitter on the ground.
The 5000d is waterproof to a depth of 100 meters and can survive a 1 meter drop on concrete—not enough to save it from a very high crash but tough enough to survive a hard landing. It costs $1,500.
The AL250 is a 200W-equivalent LED with a built-in fresnel lens for focusing. It mounts to a drone via a GoPro adapter (there's an adhesive mount available if you don't have a spare mount on your drone) and weighs 0.6 pounds. It has a removable battery that's good for 25 minutes of illumination, so it's a bit more plug-and-play than the Stella 5000d in that you don't have to wire it directly to a battery to draw power. The downside: you can't control the output remotely like you can with the 5000d. You'll have to turn it on on the ground and leave it at that.
The AL250 has a color temperature of 5600K and a CRI > 90.
It's available now for $349.