Best Drone Cameras 2018 – Buyer’s Guide & ReviewsLast Updated: December 1, 2018
Drones are among the most popular tech products of the early 21st century, and whether for professional or leisuretime use, they are here to stay. Our team looked at the best drone cameras on the market and compiled the following buyer’s guide and reviews to help you choose the product that will suit you best.
There are few tech items that are cooler and more exciting than aerial drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which, along with their professional applications goes some way to explaining their incredible penetration over the past number of years. Drones are here to stay. In fact, there are now more unmanned than manned flights in the skies, and over the next decade, demand for the best drone cameras and UAVs is expected to triple the industry in size.
Our reviews team have taken a look at the best drone cameras and accessories on the market and compiled this list and reviews of the 10 best drone cameras for 2018. They’re expensive items, and even if you are sold on the idea, making the right choice of product requires discretion and care.
Best Drone Cameras 2018
The following buyers guide brings together a comprehensive range of the best drone cameras, from high to low price points. Happy flying!
The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum is the best all-round drone camera in our roundup, and this Fly More combo travel bundle gives you all you need to take to the air with ease for the very first time. The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum is incredibly easy to control, even indoors. It will also fit easily inside a pocket and offers the users extended flight time of up to 30 minutes..
Number of Customer Ratings: 128
Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
In superficial design terms there is not much separating the Mavic Pro Platinum from its Mavic Pro predecessor. It folds into a neat bundle for carrying, measuring just 3.3in x 3.3in x 7.8in and weighing a mere 1.6lbs. You don’t even have to remove the propellors for storage, as they fold also. All told, you’ll will get this from a side pocket in a carrying bag and into the air in a matter of minutes. As noted above, you get another 10 minutes of flying time with this model, and the appliance is a lot quieter in the air too.
It’s always a good idea to get two batteries and this Fly More travel bundle is well worth the extra money for the two extra batteries, in addition to a carrying case, a spare pair of propellors, a charging hub and a car charger.
To turn to more technical matters, this drone gathers data from GPS and GLONASS satellites and can hover in place with a high degree of accuracy. Even indoors without the aid of satellites, the user has a huge degree of control over the Mavic Pro Platinum. In standard flight model, you’ll get 20mph with the Obstacle Avoidance feature enabled. In Sport mode, with the obstacle sensors disabled, the top speed will double to 40mph.
This drone comes with the same game-control sized remote control that came with its predecessor, the Mavic Pro. The remote has an LCD display and two manual sticks for flight control. There are buttons for power, return to home and pause, control wheels for exposure and gimbal tilt, as well as video and still photo capture buttons.
To get the full first person view from your drone’s camera, however, you’ll need to clip your smartphone onto the remote (and this one can accommodate even the large ones like the iPhone 8 Plus). All you need is a phone that can run the DJI Go 4 app. Android sets require 4.4 or more recent, while iOS must be version 9.0 or newer. The smartphone and app opens up another range of functions, beyond the standard analog joystick flight control—there are automated flight patterns, TapFly (which enables you to fly the appliance by tapping your screen) and more.
Video & Image Quality
The Mavic Pro Platinum, like the Mavic Pro, uses a nose-mounted camera that is stabilised with a 3-axis gimbal. It’s got a pretty wide field of view, and can record 60Mbps 4k video as well as JPG and DNG still pictures. The imagery is of excellent standard, and for still images the drone can even shoot in protract mode. Whether with video or still images, the Mavic Pro Platinum camera can be adjusted for focus, until the cameras on many other drones
DJ Mavic Pro – Summary
For its size, this is the best small drone camera on the market. One of its best features is its incredible portability. We loved the way in which its folding propellors and the entire unit folded down into a lightweight block that would be easy to carry even in your pocket without fear of damage. But the carrying case and the other accessories that come with the Fly More travel bundle make this a very tempting purchase for the first- time buyer. We would definitely recommend it.
|DJI Mavic Pro Platinum - Our Verdict|
|With quieter, slicker operation in the air and extended flight time (almost 10 minutes more than its predecessor), the Mavic Pro Platinum is the best drone camera for its size. It will be a little bit expensive for some tastes, but its reliability, superb video & photo quality and overall ease of use make this a great purchase.|
|DJI Mavic Pro Platinum - Pros||DJI Mavic Pro Platinum - Cons|
|Very easy drone to transport around, and can be set up and in the air in a matter of minutes. Video and photo quality is superb for a drone of this size.||May be a little bit expensive for some. The drone can be purchased without the Fly More bundle, but the price is still high.|
The GoPro Karma comes complete with a handheld stabilizer unit. It’s extremely portable too, and the controller has a neat built-in display, making it even easier to control.
Number of Customer Ratings: 60
Average Rating: 2.9 out of 5 stars
Design of the GoPro Karma has always been one of its strongest aspects, although the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum has a more ingenious folding system that enables it to fold up to smaller than the Karma Drone’s folded dimensions of 14.4in x 8.8in x 3.5in. But that’s still small enough to be carried easily from place to place. The Karma’s camera sits up front on the nose, meaning that shots of the rotors or chassis of the drone will be rare indeed.
And another feature that is bound to go over well with camera enthusiasts is that the camera can be removed from the drone and used as a standard GoPro Hero 5 camera on the ground.
The build quality feels lightweight but robust, and can withstand the shocks of scuffs on the ground and hard landings, and even if you crash and there’s damage, it’s easy to source replacement parts, and to replace them by yourself. One of the real downsides, however, is the lack of any ultrasonic sensors or collision-detection features that have become standard on drone cameras.
Range is average, at about 3km, but battery life is poor, lasting for a maximum of only 20 minutes, requiring you to have the footage that you need and all other requirements well planned and mapped out before your put the drone to the skies.
The controller supplied with the Karma is a real standout, especially given its integrated 5in touchscreen that also gives you a first-person viewpoint from the camera while in the air, so you won’t have to integrate a smartphone into the unit.
It’s a little bit disappointing then that the Karma has only four autonomous flying modes, but they are not fully autonomous in that the drone must first be flown, and then you set the flight path for the mode. Sometimes we found that calibration was an issue here, where the camera would position itself at angles that left the horizon line askew.
Video & Image Quality
The GoPro Hero5 camera supplied with the Karma drone ensures that any of your video or still photo imagery is of stunning quality, with crisp detail and colors that really pop. The drone has a three-axis gimbal that works well with the rotors to give you professional-standard aerial crane or dolly shots from your drone.
Editing is an absolute treat too, thanks to GoPro’s apps Quik (for footage) and Spice (for audio), which enables you to edit on the fly and upload to the web, all from your smartphone.
There is also handheld stabiliser with this package, which enables you to shoot pretty steady footage on the move while on the ground. It really comes into its own for slow-pan footage.
GoPro Karma – Summary
A very easy to set-up and use drone camera rig, the GoPro Karma is probably one of the best appliances for newcomers to this area. It’s easy to fold and carry around to where you need it, and the quality of the footage is wonderful. However, for extended flying time and more consistent performance, you’ll need to go for a more expensive setup.
|GoPro Karma - Our Verdict|
|Pretty decent for a drone in this price range, but the quirks and problems with the GoPro Karma will prevent it from being a serious contender to the best DJI machines any time soon.|
|GoPro Karma - Pros||GoPro Karma - Cons|
|We liked the easy set up and folding design of this drone, the quality of the video and still imagery, and the fact that the camera can be used independent of the drone.||Battery life is limited, as are the auto flight path modes, and the gimbal sometimes fails to keep the camera on an even horizontal in the air.|
The DJI Phantom 4 is the cream of the crop, probably the most professional of the best drone cameras available today. With follow and ‘return to home’ functionality, this is a dream of a machine to use. There is also obstacle detection and avoidance, while the slow-motion video recording functionality is a great touch.
Number of Customer Ratings: 457
Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars
The latest Phantom 4 does not have any major design upgrades on the Phantom 3 Professional. It has that model’s same white plastic body although it’s a little more streamlined. The drone measures 7in x 11.5in x 11.5in and weighs 7lbs, so if you want to fly it in the US, you will have to register this appliance with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) first.
DJI supplies a compact carrying case with the Phantom 4, which will hold the drone, the remote control, the charger, propellors and two spare batteries. It’s one of the best free cases we have seen in our research of the best drone cameras.
One notable advance over previous DJI models is the gimbal, which has been redesigned to include a flexible shock mount inside the chassis, allow the camera to be secured on the left and right. The attachment point allows for upward and downward tilt and modest left and right movement. The micro USB port and the microSD memory card slot have also been incorporated into the body for greater ease of access.
Maximum speed in standard mode is an impressive 35mph, while Sport mode will bring that up to 45mph, and the footage is quite stable even at these top speeds.
Again, there are only marginal differences between the Phantom 4 controller and the remotes for the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced drones. You will have to clip a smartphone or tablet to the remote to give you a first-person POV from the drone camera in the air, but it’s a fun model to play around with. However, you should not underestimate its power or sensitivity and you should be responsible at all times, and ensure that both the remote and the aircraft are fully charged prior to flying.
The DJI Go app, which is available for Android and iOS devices, which will enable you to adjust flight and image capture settings, as well as engaging Intelligent Flight modes, and viewing telemetry data. It’s possible to flying without GPS, which is convenient for indoors work, and the drone can be controlled either via the control sticks on the remote, or allow it to fly solo using the automated flight modes in the app. For those of you who are unaccustomed to drone flying, the DJI Go App even has a flight simulator where you can practice flying over a virtual landscape.
One of the best new features on the Phantom 3 is obstacle avoidance, which will make your drone stop and hover instead of flying into walls or other obstacles. It’s very sensitive and although the sensors are front-facing only, it’s a fantastic feature for newcomers to drone-flying and more seasoned practitioners alike.
Video & Image Quality
The Phantom 4 camera has been tweaked to provide greater sharpness along the edge of the frame, and its lens captures a 20mm field of vision. Video quality is also good, with maximum of 4K quality, while still images can be captured in a variety of formats at a resolution of 12 megapixels.
DJI Phantom 4 – Summary
DJI has come up with another winner in the consumer drone sector with the Phantom 4, which takes all of the best points of its predecessor the Phantom 3 and subtly improves them.
|DJI Phantom 4 - Our Verdict|
|With fantastic features like obstacle avoidance and a great app that includes a flight simulator amongst many other extras, the DJI Phantom 4 is a brilliant drone camera unit. Its operating range, flying time, camera quality is also backed up by a host of safety features.|
|DJI Phantom 4 - Pros||DJI Phantom 4 - Cons|
|This is a very easily-flown drone, with great features like obstacle avoidance in addition to automated flight modes and a range of safety features. Video capture and still imagery is fantastic.||The only real criticism we have of the DJI Phantom 4 is its price, but if you're prepared to make the investment, it's worth every cent.|
This drone has a removable camera, so is extremely flexible. There is a raft of advanced functions available with the DJI Inspire 2, and the entire package is incredibly high quality in materials and construction.
The bundle also includes a carrying case complete with remote control; 4 propeller pairs; 2 DJI intelligent flight batteries; a charger and charging hub; power and USB cables; 16GB MicroSD memory card; a Sandisk Ultra 64GB MicroSD memory card; a vision system calibrate plate; 3 gimbal dampers; propeller mounting plates; and four battery insulation stickers; as well as a five-piece cleaning kit and microfibre cloth.
Number of Customer Ratings: 18
Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This drone camera unit from DJI is a bit of a beast. Even without a camera installed it weighs more than 7lbs, so it will have to be registered with the FAA before you put it into the sky. It has a fixed built-in camera that provides forward video feed to the controller. The camera that will be used for video capture (in this bundle it’s a Zenmuse X4S) hangs under the body, stabilised with a three-axis gimbal, and capable of 360-degree rotation.
The DJI Inspire can support two remotes, one for the drone controller, and one for the camera operator, with all the video from the inbuilt camera and the Zenmus X4S sent over the same stream. However, the remotes are pricey, and a second one will cost you northward of $500.
For such a large drone, the DJI Inspire 2 has a surprising battery life of around 25 minutes’ flying time, and covers of almost 15,000ft in range. Its cruising speed is around 40mp in standard flight mode, but in Sport mode it can hit almost 70mph. A word of caution there, though. Given the size of the Inspire 2, and the fact you deactivate the drone’s obstacle avoidance safety feature to activate Sport mode, look for a large, unimpeded area to go Sport with the Inspire 2.
The safety features in the Inspire 2 are top notch, and include basic functions such as Return To Home, which brings the drone back to the point of launch if there is any disruption in communication between the remote and the drone. Other safety features include obstacle avoidance, a major feature in helping you to avoid accidents and collisions. The DJI Inspire 2’s forward facing sensors can detect obstacles from 100ft away
Video & Image Quality
Stunning is the only word that seems appropriate to describe the quality of imagery from the Zenmuse X4S camera on the DJI Inspire 2. The ability to change lenses has a significant amount to do with this, go course. You’ll be able to use alternative lenses for striking effects including lens flare and higher and lower contrasts, as well as depth of field and other effects that you won’t see in the average drone.
The video can be easily handled for editing in most industry-standard applications, including Adobe’s Photoshop and AfterEffects. Still imagery are as good with the Zenmuse X4S as with anything that would be achievable with a high quality camera on the ground. The gimbal keeps things nice and steady, and you have the option of selecting tighter shutter speeds to keep your images as sharp as possible.
DJI Inspire 2 – Summary
The DJI Inspire 2 is a potent blend of premium magnesium alloy construction, two camera options; amazing features such as obstacle detection, and retractable landing gear and, most significantly, 360-degree camera rotation. This, along with the greatly enhanced dual-operator control, is professional-standard technology, and it has a high price point to reflect that.
|DJI Inspire 2 - Our Verdict|
|Quality construction, pro-standard flight control and safety features, and stunning standards in still and video imagery, make this a drone camera for people who take their aerial footage and editing very seriously indeed.|
|DJI Inspire 2 - Pros||DJI Inspire 2 - Cons|
|The overall construction and attention to detail in control and safety features, as well as the quality of video and photographs, make this arguably the best drone camera rig on the market.||This is not a unit for casual operators, and that's reflected in its price tag, which is prohibitive.|
The DJI Phantom 3 is an extremely cool machine, one of the best drone cameras on the market. It is amazingly portable, and extremely easy to use, with sensitive but stable control over the drone at all times.
There is also a live view feed, and its automated flight mode and ‘return to home’ functionality guarantee it a place on our roundup of best drone cameras.
Number of Customer Ratings: 959
Average Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Although it’s not quite so advanced as the Phantom 4, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional remains a compelling purchase in its own right, and it would be a great option for anyone looking to progress from a beginners unit to something a little more professional.
This is available on Amazon and elsewhere in a number of configurations (including as part of an accessory bundle; as quadcopter with additional battery; extra battery and a hard shell backpack; and second battery with a hard case. But for best value, it’s hard to top the quadcopter only option.
The 3-axis 4K UHD video camera is fully stabilized, and DJI’s latest generation of Lightbridge technology allows for 720p HD digital live video stream from the drone, enabling you to see video in real time as you fly.
Vision Positioning, the drone’s sophisticated, integrated suite of optical and ultrasonic sensors, enables precise indoor flying without any GPS signals, while there’s an integral safety database of no-fly zones in addition to the powerful DJI mobile app for your iOS or Android mobile appliance.
The Phantom 3 Professional remote control allows for a high degree of control over your drone quadcopter, although you’ll have to attach a smartphone or tablet for that all important first-person POV from the drone while it’s in the air.
As we’ve already seen in previous entries, the DJI Go app allows for precise adjustment of flight and image capture settings, as well as engaging Intelligent Flight modes, and viewing telemetry data. You’ll be able to fly your drone either using the control sticks on the remote, or allow it to fly solo using the automated flight modes in the app.
Whichever way you take control of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, it’s a fun experience for hobbyists, and satisfyingly accurate for more seasoned drone camera practitioners.
Video & Image Quality
The fully stabilised three-axis 4K UHD video camera on the Phantom 3 Professional is as amazing as you would expected from the uniformly excellent DJI Phantom series of drone cameras.
In conjunction with the various flight and safety features outlined above, this camera allows you to capture outstandingly crisp still images and crystal clear video footage from the air.
According to DJI, the range of this unit is some 2,000m (approximately 1.2 miles), but this will very much depend on atmospheric conditioners, area where the drone is being flown and proximity to sources of signal interference, etc.
DJI Phantom 3 – Summary
If you’ve been using a beginner drone model and want to upgrade, check out the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. It is a very solid performer and very user-friendly to operate, and the quality of the visuals is outstanding.
|DJI Phantom 3 Professional - Our Verdict|
|Overall, this is a fantastic drone camera that remains one of the best on the market, despite having been superseded by the Phantom 4.|
|DJI Phantom 3 Professional - Pros||DJI Phantom 3 Professional - Cons|
|Robust build, user-friendliness and great quality build make this one of the best drone cameras you could hope to find.||On the level of performance, this model has been superseded by the Phantom 4.|
The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro with Intel RealSense Technology, including such features as collision-avoidance and other safety tech, is a big advance over previous copters from this brand, including the Yuneec Q500 4K. Imaging quality quality is improved and user-friendliness and rugged construction make this an ideal drone camera.
Number of Customer Ratings: 248
Average Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars
At first glance, this Yuneec Typhoon H Pro drone camera has a huge amount to recommend it, and that’s thanks largely to its design. It has six rotors, which boost the power available to the typical drone, and its 4K camera can rotate freely through 360-degrees.
Its quite large for a drone camera, measuring 20.5 x 12.2in x 18in with the rotors removed and the rotor arms folded down. And at 3.7lbs weight, this will have to be registered with the FAA.
This drone is supplied with two batteries, the ST16 and Wizard remote controls, and a backpack. The ST16 Ground Station is an integrated transmitter & receiver giving you full control over the Typhoon H Pro, so you’ll have no need to attach an external mobile device. However, it is quite large and unwieldy, and not really suitable for transport if you opt to purchase a model without a backpack.
The signal strength of the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is not the strongest. One good feature is the RealSense system that will turn around the drone and fly it home if you happen to fly beyond its operating range. However, please be aware that battery life is just 19 minutes maximum, and recharging will take about two hours.
It’s not really the fastest drone in the world either, especially when compared with some of the other units on this post. With obstacle avoidance turned off, you’ll get it up to about 30mph, but with obstacle avoidance on, it slows down to just 6mph. While this is disappointing, one of the things we liked about this drone’s obstacle avoidance system is that it shows you how far away the obstacle is, and helps you to navigate around objects when flying manually. Please note, however, this this feature will not function at higher speeds.
Apart from the shortcomings with the remote control, the signal strength of the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is not the strongest. One good feature is its RealSense system that will turn around the drone and fly it home if you happen to fly beyond its operating range. However, please be aware that battery life is just 19 minutes maximum, and recharging will take about two hours.
Video & Image Quality
The quality of the visuals from the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is very satisfactory. It has a wide coverage area but without any visible distortion, and there are four video modes available—Natural, Gorgeous, Raw and Night. The camera hangs low enough to keep rotors out of the footage, although they will intrude very occasionally. The gimbal in this unit does really well at keeping the camera and the footage rock steady.
Still images can be captured in JPG or raw DNG, at 12 megalpixel (4:3) or 8 megapixel (16:9) resolution, which is just as good as you would achieve with any static camera on the ground.
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro – Summary
At the price, this is ultimately a disappointment, and that’s a pity, because there is a lot to recommend and like about the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro. The good points, including grab features such as retractable landing gear and remote control with integrated display, and decent operation, are, unfortunately, outweighed by the fact that flight time is limited to little more than 19 minutes. That’s not really enough compared to the other units in this price range.
|Yuneec Q500 4K - Our Verdict|
|While this is one of the best drone cameras on the basis of design and features, Yuneec needs to return it to the drawing board for its very disappointing battery life. We also found the remote interface a little unwieldy.|
|Yuneec Q500 4K - Pros||Yuneec Q500 4K - Cons|
|Overall design, Intel RealSense and other safety features, dual-operator support for advanced drone work, and a freely rotating video camera.||Limited battery life, fitful obstacle avoidance system—major flaws for a drone camera at a price point northward of $1,000.|
There are a lot of factors in the 3D Robotics Solo’s favour. First of all, the design is extremely pleasing, it’s gimbal supported, and there is both iOS and Android app support. Best of all, it’s a budget friendly device, so, if you’re a beginner, you really can’t go wrong.
Number of Customer Ratings: 368
Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars
At the outset, it has to be pointed out that this is a quadcopter only deal, and that you’ll have to hand over more for a gimbal and Hero GoPro Camera that it’s designed to accommodate. This will suit more serious drone enthusiasts who like to build a system from separates. As to the drone quadcopter itself, there is a lovely, sleek design to this drone, which will make it attractive to newcomers to drone footage.
One of the really cool things about this drone is that it has been made specifically for aerial videographers, so its simple and user-friendly interface, which controls several autonomous flight modes, incredibly reliable performance, robust design to shrug off falls, and 55mph top speed, are all geared towards ensuring you get the best quality footage.
This is one of the most robustly built units that we assessed for this review. All parts are strong, and seem to have been designed in such a way as to give maximum protection to the gimbal and camera in the event of a fall.
Battery life gives about 20 minutes flight time which is okay, but you’ll actually get close to 23 if you keep your flights to hovering and more leisurely progress. It takes just over 90 minutes to recharge the battery, so we’d recommend buying at least two spares so you can have them on standby if you are working on an assignment that is more extended than the average pleasure flight.
One of the things that a newcomer will love about the 3D Robotics Solo is the video game-style controller, which brings a great air of familiarity to the whole thing, and is likely to greatly lessen the length of time you’ll need to get accustomed to drone flying.
The camera and copter are literally at your fingertips, thanks to push-button commands, and you’ll be able to take off, land, and even pause the copter in the middle of the air at a single push of the button.
Video and still imagery capture too are not much more complex than the skills you’d need to operate a point and press camera. The control also has a high-quality HDMI port, so you’ll be able to link the controller, and hence the drone, to any screen or iOS or Android-enabled device.
As remote control systems go, thanks to Solo’s full-featured app, there is very little here that would be beyond the grasp of anyone looking to use a drone for the first time to get decent quality aerial photos or video footage.
Video & Image Quality
The video and image quality are very good, as you would expect from a GoPro Hero 4 camera, though please do remember that this is something that you’ll have to invest in separately if you are going to purchase this particular quadcopter.
3D Robotics Solo – Summary
if we disregard the fact that this deal is for a quadcopter only—with no gimbal or GoPro Hero 4 camera supplied—there is an awful lot to recommend the 3D Robotics Solo for users who are more interested in what’s required for the best quality aerial footage they can possibly get at a reasonable price point. For the chassis alone and the full-featured app that’s been designed for iOS and Android devices, you’re getting a gateway to a wonderful world of high quality aerial still and video footage.
|3D Robotics Solo - Our Verdict|
|This is a great quadcopter, which would be fantastic for learning the basics of flight, via a controller that is game-control intuitive and easy to use, and an incredibly robust chassis build, designed to fend off the effects of the worst crashes.|
|3D Robotics Solo - Pros||3D Robotics Solo - Cons|
|Durability, simplicity, ease of use.||Does not come with a camera and gimbal.|
The Parrot Bebop 2 is not really for the pros, but it has a sheer sense of fun and accessibility that would make it impossible to exclude from our roundup of the best drone cameras. It comes with a very well supported remote control with apps that made the drone very easy to control, however, like a lot of drones in this price range, it needs a mobile device plugged into the remote to give the users POV visuals from the drone camera.
Number of Customer Ratings: 306
Average Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars
The Parrot Bebop 2 is a giant leap forward over the Parrot Bebop. It will fly for further and higher, and includes a remote as well as FPV goggles. While there are much better units for performance and more compact ones in size, this one has a pretty decent balance between fun hobbyist and serious intent.
This is a very compact, small quadcopter that, even when ready for flight, measures just 3.5in x 12.9in x 12.9in and weighs only 1.1lbs. One disadvantage, however, is that it does not fold down for storage, so it is a little bit more unwieldy to take from place to place, than, say, the DJI Mavic Pro.
Not everyone is crazy about the FPV headset and remote control, and often opt to just buy the device minus those items. But we have to say that the Skycontroller 2 is definitely worth buying, as it delivers superior performance over smartphone control, with more responsive sticks and better communication quality thanks to its antenna.
Propellor installation on this drone is a little painful, as it requires a small tool to twist the prop and lock it into position while holding the motor in place. It’s vitally important that you do not lose this tool if you plan to store this drone in its original package (which requires removal of the props).
While it’s rated for an operating range of 1.24 miles, we found it much more limited, especially in suburban and urban environments. In rural areas, it’s possible to fly this drone for about 1,500ft before video signal is interrupted. However, this is a perfectly respectable flying range in our view.
We really like the options of flying the drone either with your mobile device and the Parrot FreeFlight Pro app; with the remote and no mobile device; with the remote connected to your smartphone; or linked to the FPV goggles.
For our money, the remote control has a lovely tactile feel, which makes precise control more easy to achieve. It’s also much easier to build up your flying skills by practicing with the remote, because this drone can do forward and backward flips, and execute barrel rolls in either direction, which will make a dramatic difference to the kind of aerial footage you can capture.
If you are new to drones and are concerned about flying out of range, the Parrot app enables the user to limit the Bebop’s operating range by means of a geofence, which is a great solution, particularly if you’re in an area with a lot of wireless networks that might interfere.
We found that the appliance will fly for about 19 minutes on a single charge, which is pretty decent, but not the best result either, especially for a drone camera of this size. The Bebop 2 will fly at about 24mph, which is quite swift, especially when flying close to the ground.
Video & Image Quality
Quality is a mixed bag. The drone has a large circular fish-eye lens, but because the video is cropped from a small sensor, the high resolution is a little offset by the soft edges. The camera is also prone to lens flare, although some photographers don’t mind this. Video is pretty stable, but all in all, if video footage is a priority for you, it may be wise to consider a larger outlay. Whether for video or still imagery, we suggest it’s best to shoot with the full lens and the sensor, and then cropping afterwards in Photoshop or other editing programs to suit your tastes and requirements.
Parrot Bebop 2 – Summary
There’s a lot about the Bebop 2 we liked, from its name on down! Battery performance and range is more than decent, as is speed, and video is very stable. It can perform aerobatic flips and barrel rolls, so it’s good fun if you want to just focus on piloting rather than filming. Actually, it’s a fun machine in general to operate—just don’t come to it expecting to find premium standards in still imagery in video.
|Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV Pack - Our Verdict|
|The verdict on this drone unit ultimately depends on what you require it for. On balance we liked it for its compact design, its user-friendliness, its potential for aerobatics and stability of its 1080p video. However, you'll be limited to using this either in rural areas because it has difficulty with long ranges in built-up areas with more WiFi signals.|
|Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV Pack - Pros||Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV Pack - Cons|
|Extremely functional and portable device, with a quality of video that you might not expect from such a lightweight device. It also has a great flight app that's compatible with both iOS and Android.||You'll not get much range out of this in cities or the suburbs, and you'll get a fish-eye effect on full-resolution images. You will also require a smartphone or other mobile device to get camera POV with the remote.|
This drone has been around for a while, and despite the fact that it does not come with a camera (although it does come with an excellent mount that is compatible with GoPro cameras), it remains one of the best available. The Cheerson Hobby CX-20 may be towards the least expensive price range for drones, but it boasts a range of features that were compelling reasons for the drone’s inclusion in this review.
There are a surprising range of features for a drone in this price range, such as vision-positioning, pathfinder, and auto-return. The general high quality of construction impresses, as does its flexibility, allowing you to either practice piloting or add a GoPro camera for the highest quality video and still aerial footage. It’s also a lot easier to fly than some of the other drones here, but its battery life is a little weak. However, it’s definitely recommended for a newcomer to drone cameras.
Number of Customer Ratings: 89
Average Rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
The Cheerson Hobby CX-20 quadcopter is a simple, uncomplicated and affordable drone camera rig, and build quality reflects its price point, which is significantly lower than many of the drone cameras features in the post so far. Although it has a somewhat plastic-y look, giving rise to concerns about its durability, what really counts here is what its capable of in the air.
CX-20 is available only in white, which is a little3 bit dull, but one of the really outstanding design features is its high intensity LED lights. These are great for flying in low light conditions or when night falls, to help you guide the orientation of the drone. Actually, while we’re on orientation, one of the things we did not like about the design of this drone is that it is quite difficult to discern front from rear.
Overall, while it’s robust enough for most pilots, please beware that this drone is not indestructible, and that if you’re a complete newcomer prone to crashing, perhaps this rig might not be robust enough for you. That having been said, there is a nice extended landing gear on this drone that does a good job of protecting the business end of the rig during landings.
Battery life is a bit of a disappointment, but then again, that’s only because the CX-20 has been superseded by other rigs. The CX-20 has a flight time of just 15 minutes, and the battery, which is slightly larger than some of the others, takes around two hours to charge fully. For that reason, it would be wise to purchase at least one spare if you decide to buy a Cheerson Hobby CX-20.
Although this may not be for absolute beginners, the CX-20 controller is big and comfortable to hold and simple to operate too. It’s pretty no-frills tough, and does not feature an LCD screen or mobile device mounting. You get a power switch, two sticks, buttons for activating camera and trim. Flight features include Altitude Hold, Return to Home, Orientation Control and GPS Hold.
This is a very stable flier, which will be great news for those who decide to add a GoPro camera to the rig, with smooth transitions in every direction, even in the windiest of conditions. However, while it has a range of almost 100ft, it travels only at about 17-18mph.
For beginners, there are two safety features. The first level of Low Voltage Protection kicks in to warn you when the battery is running low, giving you one to two minutes of flight time so you can land the drone safely yourself. The second level of LVP automatically starts to bring the quadcopter down, to avoid a hard crash landing.
The other good feature is Return to Home, which is a great feature for pilots who lose sight of their drone. At the push of a button, RtH returns the copter to its take-off location at the push of a button.
Video & Image Quality
Not applicable for this drone, but the drone comes with a mount that is compatible with GoPro cameras.
Cheerson Hobby CX-20 Professional – Summary
We think that, even though this is a little bit vintage, its flight time and range, while not great for experienced fliers, will make it a great buy for someone who is upgrading from a toy drone, and who knows the basics and is ready to go to the next level of drone piloting. The lack of a camera is disappointing, but at least it has been made compatible with some of the best cameras in the business.
|Cheerson Hobby CX-20 FPV Pack - Our Verdict|
|Taken on its own merits, and allowing for the fact that it doesn't come with a camera, this is an excellent drone rig. It's a great flier, solidly built, and only the battery life might be a serious let down for more experienced users.|
|Cheerson Hobby CX-20 FPV Pack - Pros||Cheerson Hobby CX-20 FPV Pack - Cons|
|Robust, chunky, no-frills design; simple controls that make it easy to get the drone into the air straight out of the box.||This is a slightly older drone rig, with weaker battery life and range than other drones on this page, and the lack of a camera might put off some purchases. However, an excellent rig on which to perfect your piloting skills.|
Again, although this is at the cheap end of the price range, the 3D Robotics Iris+ packs a variety of impressive features. Like the Cheerson drone above, the 3D Robotics Iris+ does not come with a camera, but it does include a camera mount that’s compatible with Go-Pro cameras, meaning also that the camera can be replaced if you want to up the ante in terms of your video and still footage.
It’s great for the newcomer by dint of its sheer user-friendliness, and novices will also welcome features such as its auto return to home, while the remote control displays real-time data for additional control over the drone. Beware, though… the accessories and add-ons are quite pricey, battery life limits your flight time to 16 minutes, and the build quality is not high-end.
Number of Customer Ratings: 28
Average Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars
At first glance, this drone rig looks a bit spindly, but it’s actually incredible strong and tough. It may be a lightweight quadcopter, but it can carry a payload of up to 400g, which makes it perfect for an aspiring aerial photographer or videographer looking to get into drone piloting seriously for the first time.
Battery life is actually quite decent. Average charging time for the the 5100 mAh 3S LiPo battery is one hour, and a full charge will deliver flying time of up to 22 minutes, depending on payload.
This is a very easy drone quadcopter to fly, and especially at the beginning if you are flying prior to the installation of a camera, you get ample flying time to practice the various manoeuvres of which it is capable.
This drone has a range of features that make it absolutely perfect for those drone pilots who are upgrading into more serious tech for the first time. It has an advanced GPS system, and was the first rig to have the Follow Me feature, which locks onto the pilot location and follows you wherever you go. Auto Mission Planning enables you to plot a course using a set of programme waypoints to your chosen destination. Geofence is fantastic for noise, as it will prevent your drone from crossing the range boundary. If it reaches that point, it will automatically return to its take-off location.
The drone has plenty of safety features, including auto-land, which returns the 3D Robotics Iris+ to auto land at its pre-set home area if battery is about to die. The drone will also return to home when the remote control signal is lost. And if GPS signal is interrupted, all control goes to manual.
Video & Image Quality
Not applicable for this drone, but the drone comes with a mount that is compatible with GoPro cameras. However, most people who have used this drone for videography say that its GPS features and stability make it a treat for aerial photography, whether still or video.
3D Robotics Iris+ Drone – Summary
Again, this is one of the older drone rigs, but it’s an impressive performer and while the lack of a camera is initially disappointing, the price point constitutes great value for money, and the drone comes with a rig that is compatible with GoPro cameras.
|3D Robotics Iris+ Drone - Our Verdict|
|This is a great value for money drone rig with fantastic GPS and safety features, and the only disappointing thing about it is the lack of a camera in the package.|
|3D Robotics Iris+ Drone - Pros||3D Robotics Iris+ Drone - Cons|
|Advanced GPS features and auto flying modes, good payload capacity and swift maximum flying speed.||Lack of a camera with the drone (although a camera mount is supplied.|