Here at Quadcopters.com we are always keen to keep an eye on what other reviewers feel about quadcopter’s we have tried and tested for you. Over the last few months we have reviewed a number of high-quality camera drones that we would describe as being for semi-professional use thanks to a combination of the quality of the drone, gimbal and camera attached. Over the last couple of weeks, we have done a bit of research on 20 different review sites for quadcopters to see what they considered to be the best camera quadcopters or camera drones available on the market today. The range was remarkably varied, but we were pleased to see that the ones we gave specific mention to ranked at the top of the list. The following is the result of our research:
- The DJI Phantom Inspire 1 – what everyone seemed to like about this particular drone is its design. You can spot the Phantom Inspire a mile away through its distinctive aerodynamic design and black carbon-fiber arms. From the practical point of view, an 18-minute flight time is perhaps its weakest feature, but this is made up for with its automatic return to base when a signal is lost or the battery level drops below a particular point. Where the camera is concerned, you have 4K capability of shooting up to 30 frames a second or 60 frames per second for 1080p video, well you can also get 12 megapixel photos from the gimbal-mounted camera. However, at nearly $4000, this is not chump change, though you do get a vision positioning system that uses the camera and sonar sensors to detect exactly where the drone is and which will automatically adjust the legs by raising them or lowering them on takeoff or landing. In addition, you also get a second controller, ample replacement props, a 64 GB microSD card and a Pelican case to protect the drone
- Parrot Bebop – this drone excels with a 14-megapixel fisheye camera which can capture a 180° range of 1080p video at 30 frames per second without any horizontal distortion that you would normally find with wide-angled action cameras. Built-in safety features include an emergency mode which safely lands the drone, whilst the propellers will also instantly stop spinning to protect them. The Bebop comes with the Freeflight 3 at which can be used on either Android or iOS devices with a clever one-touch return to home feature. There is an option to also by the Parrot Skycontroller which will appeal greatly to the pilot enthusiast as opposed to the photography enthusiast though for those who are keen to store the images, Parrot also has a Parrot Cloud where over 100,000 Bebop owners have uploaded images direct from the drone. At 22 minutes of flying time and you’ve got a pretty impressive all-round drone.
- DJI Phantom 4 – no shortlist of camera drones would be complete without the DJI Phantom 4 in it. With a gimbal-mounted 4K camera capable of shooting 30 frames per second, this is definitely semi-pro territory. Our favorite feature of this particular drone is the Vision Positioning System which kicks into action when you let go of the joystick controls – the drone will break instantly and hover in place, even in a strong wind, while there is the added benefit of ActiveTrack which you can set to follow a specific moving object. Once you add the Obstacle Sensing System you pretty much have the complete package and which will help explain why DJI are the market leaders in camera drones.
- 3DR Solo Smart Drone – this is possibly the drone of choice for those who already have a Go pro camera as you have the option to fit an optional gimbal for it which will enable you to execute what are called Smart Shots – preprogrammed movements such as Orbit, Follow and Cable Cam which will instantly give your videos a professional feel. We particularly liked the hand controller as it has amount for your smart phone and convenient camera controls on the shoulders, as well as on-screen flight time display and a remarkably handy vibration function to let you know when the battery is running low as sometimes your eyes can’t always be in the right place at the right time. This quadcopter has also been designed for the photographer as on-board stabilization allows you to concentrate on setting up your shots without actually having to worry about keeping the drone in the air.
- Blade Chroma 4K/GoPro – we like this drone because it comes with four options, ranging from an all-inclusive drone with a 4K camera, additional battery carrying case to a more basic model which will allow you to mount your own Go Pro Hero 4 on a three-axis gimbal. The two more expensive models come with a 4K cameras standard as well as a controller with a built-in screen for video recording and tracking critical flight data such as altitude, speed and remaining flight time. There we always recommend beginners to drones by a very cheap model to begin with, for those of you who have made a fairly large leap there is Smart Mode for novice pilots who are still learning the ropes. At the opposite end of the scale there is the AP Mode which is for a far more experienced pilots and those who want to have total control over the drone.
We’re pretty sure that where camera drones are concerned with covered all the bases for the best and most popular ones available on the market today, but if you have a different opinion, please have your say and tell us what your preference is, and why.