Drones are considered to be the hot, new thing on the market and have only become popular in recent years. You would think that every drone is expensive and unaffordable for the ordinary folk who simply want to have some fun with it(even those who use drones for business purposes don’t wan to spend money). However, you would be surprised to find out that there are various types of drones in existence, each with different price tags and functions.
Drone Name Camera Type Resolution Megapixel DJI Phantom 4 Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel DJI Mavic Pro Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel Syma X5C Explorers Camera Attached 720p 2 Megapixel Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0 VR Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel Yuneec Typhoon H Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys Camera Attached 720p 2 Megapixel DJI Phantom 3 Standard Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel Parrot Bebop Drone 2 Integrated with Gimbal 720p 14 Megapixel Blade Chroma 4K Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4K 12 Megapixel DJI Inspire 1 Integrated with Gimbal Up To 4k 12 Megapixel
What Is A Camera Drone
A camera drone is a flying device which uses a camera to take pictures and shoot videos from a rather different perspective than usual, some would say a much more professional manner. It’s controlled by radio waves and either uses fixed wings or rotors to fly(They are also known as quadcopters). Some drones arrive with a pre-installed camera and some have a space reserved for your own personal camera. Other features greatly depend on the specific model since people buy camera drones for various activities. For example, drones are sometimes used to get an aerial shot of a concert or a football game and the result is usually stunning. Some of the usual features include software for flight planning, autopilot, various thick shots capabilities and more.
First of all, let’s understand what you might need to use a drone for.
Filmmaking – Both professional and amateur filmmakers use drones to capture some footage from a new and interesting perspective. Professionals usually need expensive camera drones to carry cameras of high quality whereas amateurs can use cheaper options before making it big.
Agriculture – Drones can be very useful for people owning large agricultural areas where they grow different crops. You can shoot high-quality videos in order to see what is going on without having to spend the entire day in the field getting dirty.
For fun! – Owning a drone is a cool idea all by itself. You can have your fun with it in various ways. If you are a professional photographer, owning a drone can give you the edge over your competition. You and your friends can also pull off some amazing stunts and share it on social media to make them look even better.
There is a wide variety of factors that should influence your decision about buying a drone. Once you decide whether you need a professional drone or an amateur one, your job is not done.
Things To Consider:
Even though drones are not expensive as they used to be, buying one still requires you to dig deep into your pocket. The price of a drone is pretty much dependent on its functionality. Toy drones are the cheapest but they lack some basic features, like a GPS tracker or normal flight duration.
Even after you buy it, expenses don’t stop because a camera drone is a fragile piece of equipment. Batteries generally require often replacements and even a slight in-air collision will require repairs which can only be done safely by the manufacturer or a very mechanically inclined person.
There are a couple of reasons why flying a drone can be very difficult.
People tend to look down on drones as they will think you are capturing their faces on camera without their permission. This is one of the reasons that drones are difficult to use in populated areas with a lot of people around.
The second reason would be the fact that no one around you knows just how good you are at maneuvering it. If you are a beginner and are reading this, practice controlling your drones where there are no people around. It will be much easier for you because you won’t be receiving constant complaints and annoying questions from other people. Additionally, a beginner will have a hard time getting to know the controls and it’s better to do it out in the open where you have nothing to crash into (for your wallet’s sake).
The third reason would be finding places where you can legally fly your drones. This might not be a huge issue for countries other than the US since the trend is yet to catch on, but the US takes remote-controlled flying devices very serious. Before making your first flight, be sure to check where you are legally allowed to fly. Certain areas such as urban downtown or national parks are off limit and fines can be quite hefty. Also, the US government requires all drones weighing between 0.55 pound and 55 pounds (250 grams – 25 kilograms) to be registered with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Most Important Features
The most important things about a drone are its maximum flight duration, camera quality, the controller, and GPS quality.
When it comes to flight time, it’s still very short. The complexity of each drone is very high and that makes its battery life shorter than you would expect. Different models and manufacturers claim different maximum flight durations but the real result might be somewhat different. We’re not claiming that manufacturers are lying but it’s just that their numbers often refer to flights under perfect conditions and at lower speeds.
Camera quality is a vital feature which should be given the most proper research when it comes to making your final decision. A proper camera needs to be controlled remotely and the user should have complete control over various factors such as positioning, zooming and shutter speed. Of course, this goes only for drones that already come with a pre-installed camera. If you need to mount your own camera, some of the popular choices for aerial photography and video-making include:
Flight controllers are also vital and they should include all functions necessary for your activity. Another thing to consider is a good battery life because you really don’t want your drone controller to bail out on you mid-flight. Especially since the immediate crash might put your drone out of the sky permanently. You should also be able to use your drone properly and have control over everything. You should also look for a controller with a screen that shows just what is your drone capturing at the moment since you don’t want to take blind shots.
Now Let’s get to the Reviews of the Top 10 Drones.
We are going to start off big by providing a review about DJI Phantom 4 from DJI, a real powerhouse in the camera drone market coming from China. They manufacture drones for a wide audience but this is a professional drone with a high-quality 4K camera. One of its main advantages is that almost anyone who has read its manual can fly it with ease. It uses a system called OSS (Obstacle Sensing System) which is implemented in order to avoid obstacles by using sensors to locate if it’s about to crash.
A nice feature goes by the name of Sport mode. When this mode is activated, the drone can move at a higher speed (up to 45 mph/72kph). If you connect first-person goggles, you can enjoy this speed from a great perspective. If you want to have complete control over your camera drone, you will need the iOS or Android application which lets you adjust various settings, view the camera, and take action. There are various smart traveling modes which use a GPS to provide the best experience.
Our second entry on the list is yet another professional model by the same company. It’s no coincidence since they specialize in this category and are hardly challenged by other brands. DJI Mavic Pro is great for traveling because it can easily be folded and carried in a small bag. There is a variety of automated flying modes which will try to make your desired activity easier and more enjoyable. Even though the drone seems casual and smaller, it delivers the same performance you would see in the more professional-looking models, such as the Phantom 4 Pro. However, its relaxed and compact design doesn’t make it any cheaper!
The camera on this drone is excellent and you can shoot 1080p videos. You can control the drone from up to 4.3 miles away (7 km). Although, since it’s pretty light, it cannot withstand strong winds as it will immediately disrupt the camera’s balance.
We love the controller since it looks just like a game console controller! However, you will have to connect your phone in order to see just what your camera is recording. You can even control the drone with your phone when you switch to Wi-Fi mode. It’s only good for short distances but it looks cool enough to take an awesome group photo!
After a couple of professional camera drones for users who are willing to pay for a high-quality gadget, it’s time to review a smaller, cheaper toy drone available for people who just want to have some fun. Syma X5C’s price is very affordable and it’s a great choice some fun in your backyard. It comes with a 720p HD camera and a microSD card with 4GB of storage available.
Since it’s lightweight and built for amateurs, the resulting video can be a bit shaky. The pictures you take might be blurry from time to time. The real issue is the maximum flight duration, which is around 7-10 minutes. This means you shouldn’t go too far or get distracted because that might result in an unwanted “mayday!”. The time needed to charge the battery is 90 minutes. The batteries are very cheap and easily replaceable. All of its flaws are really not something to complain about when you find out that it’s only $50.
This is probably one of the easiest drones to simply pick up and begin your first flight. A couple of features it provides make the Ghostdrone stand out from its competition. Also, The price it goes for is lower than some of the professional models on the market by almost 50%. Note that this is not a camera drone for professional purposes even though its specifications sound awesome. However, it almost checks out every item on our extensive list of features a drone for a beginner drone.
One of the coolest features would be the VR headset which offers a first-person perspective on what the camera is currently recording. You might have a hard time controlling the drone with the headset on so we recommend you to simply have someone else enjoy the view while you control it. The camera is great; 12 megapixels with the ability to shoot up to 4K videos. There is no controller for the drone since you use your smartphone (iOS or Android) to control it by pairing it with the headset. The maximum flight duration is pretty good and it’s around 25 minutes.
When it comes to Yuneec Typhoon H, the unique factors that stand out from the competition are some of its functions, which are originally found in camera drones at double the Typhoon’s price tag. Its design is somewhat strange and it could be compared to an insect, given the composition of its rotors and sensors. Its main features include a 360-degree rotational camera and landing gear which can be retracted. Those are the things that make it stand out from the competition with a similar price. The flying modes include Angle and Smart, and they are pretty basic since there are no automated flying modes with the GPS tracker.
There are some major issues with Yuneec Typhoon H. The random flyaways sometimes occur, causing it not to respond to the controller and it can slam into the first obstacle(yeah, that’s not good). It also struggles with one of its motors which tends to overheat. Replacement parts are actually pretty cheap but if these issues turn out to be consistent, that might be a huge issue. On the other hand, when it performs normally, it’s pretty enjoyable to use and it can take great photos. It’s somewhat expensive but the price is to be expected from a professional camera drone.
Let’s review another “toy drone” manufactured by Odyssey Toys. It’s very small, to say the least, and it’s as large as your average smartphone. That’s not a bad thing. Actually, it’s one of its advantages over the other toy drones because this makes it safer to fly indoors. The quality of resulting pictures and videos are good, but it may turn out a bit blurry because the drone doesn’t have a built in camera stabilizer. Our expectations weren’t high because this drone belongs to the group of cheap drones used solely for entertainment purposes.
The camera can shoot 720p videos with a 4GB of internal microSD storage included with the Pocket Drone. The battery life can’t be described as much of a bad thing since we don’t expect anything extraordinary from such a cheap product, but you will have to limit yourself to a 7-minute flight duration under perfect conditions. Batteries are inexpensive and can be found in any hardware store. Some of its features are really cool! Such as automatic takeoff, landing, and returning.
We have already provided a review for DJI Phantom 4 and you might think that it’s just an upgraded version of this little beauty. However, that is far from the truth since they are obviously aimed at a different target audience. DJI Phantom 4 is aimed at professionals looking to capture the moment in the best way possible, whereas the Phantom 3 offers a lower price but for a similar functionality. It uses GPS to provide detailed positioning mid-flight but it lacks any other positioning systems which you can find in other Phantom 3 versions such as Advanced and Professional.
The camera can shoot a 2.7K video at 30 frames-per-second or a 1080p @30fps but you would be amazed by the end result because the video looks very stabilized and smooth. If you are not satisfied with it, you would have to deal with it since it’s impossible to remove or replace the camera. Batteries are quite specific though. They go by the name of Intelligent Flight batteries and they might be hard to find without contacting the manufacturer. This drone can easily pass a twenty-minute flight milestone but that’s still not a long flight time for major projects.
Let’s take a look at another beginner-friendly camera drone which looks and feels very simple. At first glance, it looks like a flying security camera. The Parrot Bebop definitely looks like an enemy drone you would see in a movie as a villain ship. The Bebop offers various improvements from the original Bebop drone which didn’t achieve major commercial success.
The drone is controlled by a smartphone or tablet application so there is no controller provided. You might feel that this is easy, but operating a real drone on a touch screen can feel a bit tricky from time to time. The drone is very lightweight and easy to carry around, meaning you won’t hesitate to find space when taking it on a family trip. The camera can be slightly tilted and it can cover 180 degrees of the area in front of it. You are also limited to an 8GB of internal storage which cannot be expanded.
As you can see from the name, the Chroma camera drone uses a 4K camera. The drone itself is quite small and its size can be compared to the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. Any user can easily break it down into smaller pieces, put it in a backpack. The controller provided has a built-in touch screen for a live feed of the drone’s camera. This means you won’t have to rely on your smart device to have a first-person view of what is going on(like many of it’s competitors).
Some of the modes provided include a Smart mode where you can simply push the analog stick in the direction you want the drone to move in. It’s a great mode for beginners since it does not allow the drone to fly away from you. If you are using the smart mode, there are two additional modes to switch between: Follow Me and Tracking. These modes will make the drone follow you around and the main difference between them is that the Tracking mode will always have the controller in the camera’s frame.
When you exit the Smart Mode, you can actually fly it with the Angle mode. The final mode is called Home and it represents the drone’s return-to-home feature. Just make sure there are no obstacles in between you.
You might have noticed that DJI keeps returning to our list every once in a while. That’s because they are the leading camera drone manufacturing company in the world. The DJI Inspire 1 is a advanced drone for professional purposes. Funny enough, it comes with a price tag suitable for those with deep pockets. The resolution of its built-in camera is nothing less than 4K with a smooth video quality and great stabilization. Even if that doesn’t sound good enough, you can replace it yourself with your own personal camera.
The Inspire 1 looks terrific and frightening at the same time. It’s somewhat larger than other drones on our list but still a bit slim. The camera can be rotated 360 degrees and can be tilted 125 degrees. This is one of its greatest feature since you can simply turn the camera with the drone standing still. It uses both GPS and GLONASS (Russian positioning system) to provide the best positioning feedback available. However, its battery life is not that great and you can only hope to receive around 18 minutes of flight time under perfect conditions.
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