Software for Starters

Awesome. Another question. We were speaking earlier on the phantompilot site, this is J.D. from pennsylvania. As i’m just starting my business, and leaning toward dronedeploy, can you speak to what type of deliverables i could put out using the pro version as opposed to the business one? Is there a lot I could do without gcp’s to start out? Also, what are your thoughts on mapsmadeeasy?

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Hey JD! Glad you made it here. The addition of GCP’s is by far the biggest difference between the two license types, but you also get a more consolidated place to share you information from. The Pro version in my opinion is good for someone who only wants maps or may be flying for themselves to do the analytics online whereas the Business plan starts moving towards sharing the information with a broader audience that requires more types of data. That said I think there is quite allot you can do with just maps, 3D presentation models and progress photos, but I think you will quickly outgrow that and particularly if you want to cater to construction clients you will need to get to elevation work sooner rather than later.

Maps Made Easy has come a long way in this department in the past year or so by allowing for the use of real surveyed GCP’s so there is a definitely plus for them vs the DroneDeploy Pro account. Also MME has the pay-as-you-go model which over time may not be as good of a deal as a subscription, but for getting started it eases the initial need for shelling out larger sums. It all depends on how much you are going to fly. If you pay month-by-month for the Pro plan on DD you pay $150/month. That’s about 2,500 images in the MME points system which would make about 400-500 acres of map. With DroneDeploy you can probably get 4-5 999 image maps with fair use which could map about 700-800 acres. If you buy Pro by the year then it obviously gets much more affordable, but if you only need to map 200 acres per month then the other might be better.

I would say DroneDeploy’s 3D modeled structures are a little better than MME’s, but they are not as nice as what you could get from more controlled local processing like Agisoft Metashape or Pix4D Mapper. If you are doing terrain and stockpiles though this is of little consequence.

any thoughts on pix4dcloud, its cheaper and seems to have easier sharing capabilities? also would you be willing to give suggestions on pricing deliverables? One of the places I’m getting stuck as well is what do I charge clients for basic map, progression photos, etc. I will be doing this on the side for myself, my first thought was to make an initial contact with a local contractor i actually worked for years ago and try to make a connection and even offer some free services to build a portfolio…thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Pix4D Cloud and Cloud Advanced are pretty much their levels of DroneDeploy’s Pro and Business. With the advent of Pix4D Cloud Advanced you can manage GCP’s on the cloud platform just like DroneDeploy has always done. I have never tried GCP’s with the standard cloud platform so I don’t understand what they mean by having to import and tag the GCP’s in Pix4D Mapper and then completing the processing in Pix4D Cloud Standard. Does this mean you need a license of Mapper or can you just use it in free mode? Not sure what the answer is to that.

It’s really hard to nail down any of the major softwares apples-to-apples against each other because their levels are not standardized and they have different costs for different functionalities. I am sure there is allot more to say about my summary below so hopefully other users will chime in.

DroneDeploy Pro

  • $149/month
  • No 3D Data Exports
  • No Overlays
  • No GCP’s
  • Progress Photo Viewing
  • Fair Use approximately 5000 images, but only 1000 images/map

Pix4D Cloud Standard

  • $199/month
  • No Overlays
  • No GCP’s without Mapper license
  • No Progress Photos
  • Fair Use approximately 2500 images, but can use all 2500 in one map

DroneDeploy Business

  • $449/month
  • $49/GCP Map
  • Progress Photo, Panorama and Video Viewing
  • Local Coordinate System Exports
  • No Fair-Use and 3000 images per map

Pix4D Cloud Advanced

  • $349/month
  • GCP’s Included
  • No Pano, Video or Progress Photo Viewing
  • No Local Coordinate System Exports without GCP’s
  • Still Fair-Use of 2500 images per month

I believe you can use auto gcp in pix4dcloud without mapper, I’m actually checking on this. I am most likely going with pix4dcloud. I’ve been trialing it this week and the sharing capabilities are selling me. One advantage is the ability to share a simple url link and the receiver or client opens the same dashboard I see and has full control of tools among other things. Still using my DroneDeploy trial, I just came seem to get a good or user friendly deliverable. I’m really interested in using gcp’s and I’m looking into the Trimble catalyst. Thanks again for all your help,it’s appreciated.


Make sure you are distinguishing between the regular cloud license and the advanced.

You can send a link from DroneDeploy, but it is view-only. I’ll take a look at Pix4D Cloud and see what they are doing that DroneDeploy can’t

Make sure that when you look into GNSS equipment from Trimble that you be aware of the subscription required to get centimeter accuracy. They have different levels of service that provide different ranges of accuracy so make sure you get the Precision package.
As an alternate you might want to study what CORS/NTRIP services are available in your area. Many states offer free NTRIP by which you can purchase just a rover like the Emlid Reach RS2. In Texas we don’t have any free services so we have to pay for it, but the time it saves more than pays for having to maintain and setup a base station. Our subscription pays for itself in less than 6-months not including that time savings.

jdlippa: +1 on MichaelL’s recommendation for the Emlid Reach RS2 on NTRIP. I’m backing out of that market in my area and have one to sell (posted in another thread). Drop a line to if interested.

Also check out Open Drone Map with their new cloud processing called Lightning. Very affordable and capable.

Regards… R