Drones, multi-rotor helicopters, and quad-copters are the latest must-have pieces of kit. They’re so popular that the sheer number available is rather overwhelming. With a massive range in speed, quality, and cameras, not to mention price, it’s hard to know what to get. The majority of drones have four rotors; however, the similarities end there.
Here’s a run-down of what to expect from camera drones and the best drones with a camera…
Regardless of make or model, you can usually expect five to 15 minutes of flight time from your drone between charges. You will need to invest in a few spare batteries, as well as some rechargeable AA batteries. The majority of controllers require four alkaline batteries, and quickly burn through them – especially if you’re shooting video.
Always check the specs of a drone before buying, as they don’t necessarily come with a camera. Those that don’t usually support a GoPro camera, or something similar, but they will need to be bought separately along with a gimbal. If you want a real-time video stream, you will also need to be sure your drone is suitable, as even those with cameras do not always support this feature.
Drones supporting video are at the higher end of the price spectrum. If you want aerial video, you should invest in a drone that offers a minimum of 720 p (1280 x 720). Check reviews and if possible test drive a drone before purchasing as quality varies. One 720 p camera is not the same as another and the results can differ greatly, even though the specs are the same.
For maximum quality of image, ensure you get a drone with a gimbal – a camera mount that is gryo-stabilised, keeping the camera steady while the drone moves and tilts. This will give you the best quality video, but setups like this do not come cheap.
The method of recording differs from drone to drone, with some recording directly to an SD card or USB drive, and others recording from the drone’s remote control. It’s even possible to record straight to your smartphone. Aim for direct recording as it’s generally more reliable and the results are higher quality.
The best drones with a camera
DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is a top of the line drone and, without doubt, the best camera drone currently available. The video quality is good (4k video) and the drone offers steady, easy control. If you need to capture complicated, cinematic aerial shots, this is the drone for you. Be warned though, the batteries are expensive, and it’s still behind some other models when used in intelligent mode. Despite this, it’s less expensive than models that offer a superior intelligent mode such as the 3DR Solo, and the Phantom is the far better choice when it comes to obstacle avoidance. It also comes with its own camera and gimbal, which the Solo lacks.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus V3.0
If your budget won’t stretch to the Phantom 4, the Phantom 2 is a great piece of kit. With 1080 p aerial image capabilities, it’s the best budget option for a good drone with its own camera.