Fotokite Phi is A New Category Of Elevated Photography For Real Estate

April 6th, 2016

FotokiteThere’s a new variation on doing elevated photography called Fotokite that will be available in a few months. Fotokite is an interesting approach to doing elevated photography. Don’t mistake it for a drone replacement because it’s clearly not. It’s a tethered drone which makes it much simpler than a standard drone. This tethered approach solves a number of issues that standard drones have:

  1. Tethering allows simpler electronics and makes it much cheaper than a regular drone.
  2. It is so simple to operate it requires NO training. You just take it out of the box and fly it. Just like a child flying a kite. Probably easier!
  3. The tethering also eliminates many of the regulatory issues.

While you can’t get the fantastic video that an untethered drone can get as you can see from the video above you can still get some pretty interesting shots. It has a long tether that is extra. I think it will have application in real estate photography for those that are looking for something better than a pole but simpler than a drone.

Initially, it’s being sold in Europe (Switzerland) but they will ship to many other countries.

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8 Responses to “Fotokite Phi is A New Category Of Elevated Photography For Real Estate”

  • There has been a lot of discussion about tethering a RCMA to get around FAA regulations in the US, but no legal analysis (from an attorney not working for a RCMA manufacturer.) Some people were claiming that they could tie a string to their Phantom and be perfectly legal, but I’d be very wary of statements like that when they aren’t coming as an official statement from a regulatory agency like the FAA.

    I’ll stay away from RCMAs until there is some solid legal framework in place, insurance riders that don’t have weasel clauses built in and a customer base that is willing to pay a reasonable price.

    My customers have be very happy with Pole Aerial Photography to get elevated pictures where appropriate. Use on most of the middle class homes in my area would just highlight the roof or close proximity of neighboring homes. In a strange reality warp, the larger and more expensive estates nearby are nearly 100% photographed by the agent’s with their cell phones. (ok, maybe 99.5%).

  • Ack, In the last paragraph I should have stated that “Use of RCMAs on most….”

  • Actually, per the FAA there are regulations, if by regulations you mean registration.

    Q20. What about tethered sUAS?
    A. Both tethered and untethered sUAS must be registered. (from

    I ordered a Fotokite Phi when they were in development. Expect to see it in June. I’ll let you know how it works…

  • Be careful about saying tethering eliminates all the regulatory issues – except registration. Even regular kites have regulations – most notably height and airport regulations.

  • I have 2 questions. First, the fotokite products seem to be designed for video. Can it provide professional quality photos? Or are clients willing to accept lower quality images as long as they are aerial?
    Second, is there a tethered drone product that allows you to add your own camera? Seems like an obvious idea that someone must have implemented.

  • I am wondering if this could be used to do a walk-thru of the inside of a home easier than the agents using their phone to create the video?

    A little bit of video editing and the idea seems very simplistic.

  • I hope all you drone flyers who don’t have pilots licenses have talked to your attorneys. Mine told me that, since it is still considered “illegal” to fly drones commercially without a pilot’s license, that I would be running the liability risk of paying for everything if anything happened- damage, injury, etc. because my insurance company is not going to pay for anything “illegal”. Read your policies. Also, I would be putting my brokers at risk as well, because they would be the ones contracting me.
    I am like Ken Brown. Keep it simple, Stupid– or maybe in this case Smart. Until there is some better determination from the FAA, I love my pole.

  • I had a very long and productive (or unproductive) 45 min. chat on the phone to the assistant to the head of the FAA in charge of integrating drones in the USA. Originally in the initial FAA proposal, tethering made the drone… not a drone or UAV. There was one single official waiver sent to one guy that made a system… for one unit. After that there was no more sent out. And basically the FAA, as of a few months ago told me… tethering does not make using a drone for commercial use.

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