Pick the Perfect Drone with Camera
Picking the perfect drone with a camera can be tricky especially with all of the different models currently on the market. Unfortunately, some brands are out for profit and don’t necessarily deliver the quality you want in a camera drone.
That is why I have compiled this list of criteria so you know what to look for to ensure you are getting a high quality camera drone. If you want to look at some high quality camera drones on your own please check out these sites!
There are three informal tiers of camera drones
- Consumer Camera Drones - These drones are for the everyday drone pilot who wants to have some fun flying a drone around but also wants a Camera to be able to record HD video and pictures. The UDI U818 HD+ FPV VR Upgrade is a great example of a top end consumer drone. Because this is the bulk of the drones on the market this is what this article will focus on, but because you want to be educated buyers I will also touch on the other two tiers.
- Novice Videographer Drones - These are the bottom of the very best camera drones but have a much higher price tag because of it. These models add in GPS stabilization, sensors, compass, and a camera stabilization gimbal. A good example of this would be the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, DJI Phantom Mavic, or the GoPro Karma. However for the average consumer these are much pricier and it is suggested to start with a consumer drone. (https://usatoyz.com/collections/drones)
- Professional Videographer Drones - These drones have all the features of a novice drone and then some. With crazy range, 4k video, obstacle avoidance, separate camera controller and more these drones are the top on the market but are usually over $1000. Examples of this are the DJI Inspire, and DJI Phantom 4. If you are feeling especially adventurous DJI also sells a kit for an octocopter which can lift a stabilized DSLR Camera. (https://usatoyz.com/collections/drones)
With this information let’s delve into what makes a good camera drone and what to look for when shopping for your future camera drone.1. Camera Quality
One of the most important aspects of a camera drone, obviously, is the camera quality. While resolution can vary, you should aim to get a camera drone with 720p. If it doesn’t have 720p I wouldn’t buy it, there is most likely a better drone out there. If you want to upgrade to 1080p you will have to upgrade into the other tiers for now (although with constant advancements 1080p may come into the consumer tier as well). 720p is the top standard for consumer drones so you should aim to get a drone with this resolution. Another way you may see this is 2MP camera. For an example listing of a drone with a 720P camera see the UDI U818A HD+.
Digital resolution isn’t the only factor at play in camera quality, the lens and sensor play a big part in quality. While not very many listings will post the sensor or lens specifications, this can be something gleaned from a look at the pictures; if the lens looks higher quality (glass or clear plastic lens vs. a small hole) the camera overall will look better.
The mounting and durability of the camera are also a factor to consider. You want a low profile camera or a camera built into the frame for max durability. For an example of a large lens, frame integrated camera check out the UDI U28 Kestrel or the UDI U28W Kestrel with Wifi FPV.
Stability plays a huge role in how your video /pictures come out. A shaky drone = shaky video. The designers of the UDI Raven, U45 Blue Jay, and UDI818A FPV with VR Upgrade had this in mind which makes it a great example of how to pick the perfect camera drone, especially if you are worried about being a little shaky on the control sticks.
The Raven has auto-altitude hold function which keeps the drone at a near constant altitude while all you have to worry about is framing the shot. This is ideal because the altitude hold removes a factor during flight which allows you to focus on the shot while the drone remains at a smooth altitude.
Not just drones with altitude hold can be stable however. For example the UDI Glede is very stable because of its large size, this allows small changes to be less noticeable during filming giving your videos a more smooth look.
3. Battery Life
The Glede is also a great candidate for top drone with camera because of its battery life. You want to look for drones with large battery capacity (measured in mAh), but not too big. What I mean by this is you want to maximize the weight of the battery vs. the power it gives. I have flown all the consumer grade drones linked in this article and all have been properly optimized for best flight times. A good flight time means you can fly longer even while recording HD video.
Another factor is multi-cell batteries, the UDI U818 HD+ FPV and the UDI Glede are two examples of two cell battery drones. The more cells means the more power. For drones like the large Glede, the power is proportional to the size, but on drones like the U818, this added power means you get even faster responses which allows for great, quick drone camera shots.4. Ease of Recording
Another factor to consider is the ease of recording and the ease to review those recordings. Drones like the UX5C or the U818 HD+ FPV are good examples of drones that are very easy to record videos and pictures with as well as extremely easy to review.
Using the WiFi FPV app with the U818 FPV, you can save pictures directly to your phone for easy access. And videos record to a micro SD card. Using the included converter these can easily be reviewed on a computer. You can initiate the pictures or video straight from the app!
Even drones without the app are easy to use for video and photos such as the UX5C. You can record straight from the controller and LEDs indicate its status on the drone. The pictures and videos can then be reviewed using the included converter.
The easier it is to record the more fun you will have looking at your footage from the sky!
Some bonus options, while not necessary, can be very influential when looking to purchase a camera drone. Some examples are altitude stabilization, FPV, headless mode, WiFi App, VR goggles. These are features that make filming more stable, easier to frame, easier to fly, or easier to record excellent footage. All of these options are helpful and it is a good idea to make sure you drone includes at least one or two of these options in order to reach your full drone filming potential. The best drone for bonus options as well as great in the above categories is the U818A WiFi FPV drone with VR Upgrade, this is by far one of the best consumer camera drones currently on the market. All of the drones mentioned in this article have been personally tested by me and all fulfill at least one bonus option as well as being the best in all of the above categories.
Hopefully you found this article helpful and please feel free to leave questions and I’d be happy to answer them. If you think you want to ease into drones before purchasing one with a camera I would recommend these drones as a good beginner drone, UFO 3000, U32, and many others.
Check out these drones and more here!