Electronics

Best Drone Cameras 2018

In this (Updated) guide, we’re going to review the Best Drones for the money.

When you want to take some aerial photography, most people don’t have the budget to rent out helicopters and planes.

These days, you don’t really need this type of expensive solution because a drone with great camera options can provide a comparable experience.

Here is the list of best drone cameras of 2018:

Best Drone Cameras 2018

ItemResolutionMegapixelsFlight Time 
3DR Solo Quadcopter
(Editor's Choice)
N/AN/A15 minutes Check Price
DJI Mavic Pro
(Editor's Choice)
4K1227 minutes Check Price
DJI T600-Single-Controllers Inspire 1 Quadcopter 4K1218 minutes Check Price
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0 Quadcopter1080p825 minutes Check Price
Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon Quadcopter
(Editor's Choice)
4K1223 minutes Check Price
Parrot Bebop 21080p1425 minutes Check Price
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Quadcopter720pN/A12 minutes Check Price
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro4K1225 minutes Check Price
GoPro Karma4K1227 minutes Check Price
Contixo F17+ RC Quadcopter Photography Drone4K1618 minutes Check Price

Other Awesome Lists:

1) 3DR Solo QuadcopterDrone with Camera Reviews

 

One of the coolest features of the 3DR Solo Quadcopter is its amazingly sleek and responsive controller. It has a clamshell design that features two stick to control the copter and a large display at the front that will show you everything that the drone itself is filming. This product doesn’t come with its own camera, but you can easily add a gimbal and a GoPro to the device so that you can take some truly stunning and original aerial shots.

Even though the control system is impressive in its own right, this camera drone also can be controlled via smartphone. In fact, 3DR has its own iOS and Android app so that you can use your favorite device as a control system – complete with video feed. 3DR designed the solo to be truly versatile; you can even plug the controller into an external monitor like an HDTV via the HMDI port at its rear. This feature lets you see the footage at a higher resolution.

PROS

  • The fact that you can hook this camera drone up to either an iOS or Android-based device means that there’s a lot of overall conveniences.
  • Since this doesn’t come with a camera, you can purchase a top-of-the-line GoPro and save some cash.
  • The clamshell controller has a lot of built-in functionality and can even be attached to a larger monitor via HDMI.

CONS

  • Unfortunately, the GPS on this product doesn’t always have the most accurate information.


2) DJI Mavic Pro

 

When you need detail, nothing beats UHD for jaw-dropping high resolution. This product, the DJI Mavic Pro, has an onboard camera that is able to deliver 4K video content and has some top-notch maneuverability in the air. In fact, the DJI Mavic Pro is often considered one of the best drones with cameras for aerial photography on the market today.

The Mavic Pro also stands out when it comes to raw range; you can still control and receive footage from up to seven kilometers away! Add to this its robust flight time of 25 minutes, and you start to realize why the Mavic Pro is so well-loved in the camera drone world. If you need to get to a remote footage location quickly, the Pro has a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

When you’re done with your footage, the Mavic Pro folds down to a compact, water bottle-sized form, which makes it easy to pack up and take to your next shooting location.

PROS

  • When you have seven kilometers of range, you can really embrace your desire to explore your surroundings and take remote footage.
  • This camera drone has an excellent flight time that’ll keep you airborne for a full 25 minutes.
  • With 4K video recording capabilities, your footage won’t be lacking in detail and color depth.

CONS

  • If you’re a beginner, you’ll definitely have trouble keeping this advanced-level camera drone under control due to its fast speeds.


3) DJI T600-Single-Controllers Inspire 1 Quadcopter

 

DJI has a rather robust selection of camera drones that can work for anyone who’s serious about aerial photography. The T600 shines as part of this line due to the fact that you can remove the gimbal and camera system so that you can upgrade the camera drone in the future as camera technology progresses. This makes this a good evergreen drone; you can rest assured that your aerial photography will be of current-generation of quality.

When it comes to controlling scheme, this drone has the ability to be controlled by two controllers. This way, you can take footage as a team; one person can control the pitch, altitude, and flight patterns of the drone, while another person handles the entire footage taking controls. Speaking of footage, this DJI product comes with a 4K shooter by default, which means that you’ll already start with some of the best resolution available for video.

PROS

  • If you’re a still photographer, you’ll be pleased to know that this aerial camera drone can take 12-megapixel shots.
  • When new camera technology becomes available, you can simply replace the gimbal and the camera with an upgrade.
  • The drone has a “follow me” function that lets you command the drone to follow you at whichever range you find appropriate.

CONS

  • You need a mobile phone in order to receive footage, which shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
  • For an already prohibitively expensive drone, extra batteries are almost unaffordable.


4) DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0 Quadcopter

 

If you don’t need blistering detailed 4K footage, then this less expensive camera drone by DJI may be just what you’re looking for. The gimbal on this product has some of the best stabilization available; your images will always appear to be tripod-perfect and still. Additionally, the 1080p videos that this camera produces will have excellent color, gorgeous detail, and you can even use Wi-Fi first-person-view so that you can create some truly realistic-looking footage.

Unlike the other DJI products that we’ve covered thus far, this product comes in at a very reasonable price point that is perfect for a beginner that’s just beginning to get into aerial photography. It even lasts a long time in the air; in fact, on a full charge, you can definitely expect about 25 minutes of footage thanks to the Phantom 2 Vision+’s 5,200 mAh battery.

Like the previous device, this camera drone also packs in a follow mode so that you can take tracking shots.

PROS

  • The propellers on this camera drone are very efficient; they will automatically adjust to filming conditions.
  • The three-axis gimbal on this product creates a very high level of stability so that your footage will always seem still.
  • With a 25 minute flight time, you’ll definitely get plenty of footage during your day.

CONS

  • For whatever reason, the live feed can run into problems during your footage-taking.
  • While it’s nice that you can physically attach a smartphone to the controller, it’d have been nice if a dedicated screen was included.


5) Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon Quadcopter

 

It’s sure bet that purchasing a 4K camera drone can get relatively expensive, but this product, which comes from Yuneec, is actually one of the more budget-friendly products in this category. Aesthetically, the Yuneec Q500+ is a very sleek product that has a lot of curves that make the product just look nice and fast. Additionally, control features like follow me, return home, watch me, and geo-fencing are all available out of the box.

As mentioned, this drone definitely delivers some UHD footage that is very stable thanks to the three-axis gimbal that is at the base of the product. If you want some nice environmental still shots, then you’ll be pleased to know that this drone also comes with the ability to take 12-megapixel photos.

Not only does this drone have a great set of footage options, but it also flies like a dream. You can control it via larger remote that has a built-in footage display or you can control it via the compact Wizard remote.

PROS

  • You can purchase this drone with a single battery, or you can purchase it in a package that includes two batteries.
  • With its sleek and shiny design, you’ll love the cool-looking aesthetic of this Yuneec drone.
  • For the low price, you get 4K video taking capabilities, which can be very excellent for those on a budget.

CONS

  • Yuneec included a very large carrying case with this product, which can be convenient but is also a bit overly large.


6) Parrot Bebop 2

 

For those directors and videographers that enjoy using a fisheye lens, this product from Parrot is a great option. This is a uniquely-shaped camera drone that has a flight that might remind some of a hummingbird; in fact, this is a camera that you’ll love if you enjoy darting-style acrobatics. This is also a drone that can really record at higher altitudes and also has a sleek, compact design that makes this the go-to drone to use if you’re comfortable flying in high winds.

Do you like to fly at night? Then, the bebop can be an excellent camera drone for your needs because it has a rear LED that has a very strong output. This LED can illuminate darker areas, which means that you can get some excellent nighttime video of nature, environments, and even people. Also, the more premium camera drones tend to have flight times approaching 30 minutes, but this drone has a charge that will let you fly for an impressive 25 minutes.

PROS

  • The Bebop packs in a 2700 mAh battery that will let you fly the camera drone for almost a half hour.
  • The LED flash is a great tool to open up night flying; you can illuminate a fairly large area with it.
  • For such a small camera drone, this product has a lot of power and can pick up to some very fast speeds.
  • Its design is excellent for flying during windy days; it’s just squat enough to cut through the wind.

CONS

  • The software that allows you to control the device via smartphone apps isn’t as consistent as it could be.


7) Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Quadcopter

 

Another Parrot product, the AR.Drone 2.0 is a great, budget-friendly camera drone that should suit most beginner pilots due to its accessibility. Under the hood, this drone packs in a 1000 mAh lithium polymer battery that is able to provide about 12 minutes of 720p video footage and flight times. This drone is very small; in fact, it may just be the smallest camera drone in this guide, but that being said, it definitely can provide a very robust experience  for those that are looking for cheap camera drones.

While this isn’t what anyone would call a professional camera drone, this product definitely serves as a good drone for taking footage from time to time. To fly it, you can use an NVIDIA shield or a standard smartphone; the controls are simple and intuitive for beginner pilots. Also, rather than a single professional-grade camera, the AR.Drone actually employs a dual-camera setup that’s positioned at the base of the drone, which means that you can take some pretty fun shots.

PROS

  • As a toy-grade drone, this drone can easily meet the FAA’s requirements; it’s even very easy to update.
  • This drone has a simple yet fun flying system; this is really an excellent drone to earn your wings on.

CONS

  • The battery life on this drone lasts a mere 12 minutes, which can definitely be disappointing.
  • You can’t really fly this drone without a smartphone, and for the more complex acrobatics, you’ll need an NVIDIA Shield.


8) Yuneec Typhoon H Pro

 

Another DSLR camera drone that’s very beginner-friendly, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro has a strong suite of features that make sure that it also serves as a great all-around drone as well. It even features a controller that has a built-in display that will let you monitor your footage, which is rare for modern devices. While this isn’t the cheapest camera drone out there, most beginners will relish in its key features.

One of the features that makes this a good drone for people who are learning is its durability. The device has a carbon fiber body that ensures that it can take a few hits without too much trouble. Add to this the fact that it has collision avoidance systems, and you’ve got a great camera drone for anyone that’s going to be learning to fly right.

Additionally, the drone includes GPS stabilized flight control that works in conjunction with the 3-axis gimbal to provide some truly professional-grade videos and images. Overall, there’s just a lot of great support in this product for the consumer.

PROS

  • The Typhoon H Pro is able to capture and record 4K video and take 12-megapixel photos.
  • You can use two controllers so that one person flies and the other person handles the filming duties.
  • There is absolutely no assembly required with this drone; it comes ready to fly right out of the box.

CONS

  • The compass can sometimes malfunction, which means that you’ll sometimes need to calibrate it.


9) GoPro Karma

 

There’s no camera system today that’s more iconic for extreme filmmaking than the GoPro, and the Karma is designed to quickly and easily bring this accomplished pedigree to the drone. The GoPro Hero 6 comes with this drone, which means that you’ll be able to get 4K footage at 60 frames per second. You’ll also be able to take photos with the 12-megapixel still shooter as well.

These types of camera drones are always more versatile because you can change out the Hero 6 for another GoPro camera, which means that you’ll always be able to keep up with camera trends. When taking video and photo, the Karma has an excellent stabilization system that prevents shaky footage.

The karma also shines in the fact that it’s convertible. You can fold it up and mount it on your body like you would for a standard GoPro experience. When you’re ready to fly, you can just unfold it and attach the propellers in order to get airborne.

PROS

  • This is a rugged and durable camera drone that is able to be converted so that you can hold it in your hands or mount it on your body.
  • Since it uses a mounting system, you can easily switch out your Hero 6 camera for a later model.

CONS

  • For some reason, you may lose reception from time to time. When this happens, you’ll have to recalibrate the device.


10) Contixo F17+ RC Quadcopter Photography Drone

 

For the price, you’re getting a lot with this Contixo F17+ quadcopter. First, this is a fully UHD quadcopter; you’ll be able to record high frame rate footage that will have startling detail while you fly. Second, the still images are amazing; this camera can record stills at a quality of 16 megapixels, which makes this a truly great drone with a great camera for capturing stills.

Brushless motors generate less friction, last longer, and are more efficient than standard motors, and the F17+ has one of these motors underneath its hood. With its 2100 mAh battery, you will be able to fly this camera drone for about 18 minutes in totality. The camera drone also comes with a controller that has features that will tell you when the battery is low or when the signal is weak.

If the Contixo 4K camera that comes with the product isn’t your cup of tea, then you can replace it with another camera like a GoPro with little effort.

PROS

  • The F17+ comes with an aluminum hard case so that the camera is protected during transport.
  • This product allows you to capture stills at 16 megapixels, which will grant you a truly high level of detail.
  • This is a 4K camera that comes in at a very reasonable price; it also has a lot of built-in stabilization due to its gimbal.

CONS

  • Running the camera while flying can sap the battery significantly, especially at 4K resolutions.

Video Camera Drones Buyer’s Guide

What is a drone?

A drone is an unmanned flying machine that can be piloted by an operator on the ground. These devices provide some fun aerial adventures, can be used for drone racing, and are absolutely excellent when used for aerial photography. Drones are also very versatile; in fact, there are even drone products that will be used for things like e-commerce, food delivery, and security.

What’s the point of a camera drone?

There was a time when aerial shots were expensive affairs that required huge cranes, low-flying airplanes, or helicopters. Camera drones, on the other hand, can deliver high-resolution images and video and are vastly more inexpensive by comparison. These small flying cameramen can accomplish a multitude of filming tricks and can stay in the air for an extended period without having to be recharged.

What kinds of videography jobs can you perform with a camera drone?

When you’re flying a camera drone, you’ll be able to aerial pan, execute tracking shots, and perform dramatic flyovers. For example, if you’re filming a wedding, it would add a lot of spectacle to your video composition to have a drone fly in and take aerial shots of the bride and groom. Additionally, these flying cameras can also provide you with a vantage point that isn’t easily reachable by standard methods so that you can truly provide a unique vide experience.

Can you use a camera drone to take aerial stills?

While many people use these cameras to provide video content, just about every camera drone has the ability to deliver aerial skills that can be used in art compositions. If this is the kind of drone photography that you’re interested in, look for a drone that has software/hardware image stabilization, a high megapixel count, and aerial stabilizers.

How much space do you need for a camera drone?

When you’re taking photos and videos with your camera drone, you don’t need a lot of space; you just need enough room for the drone not to be affected by things like trees, light poles, and other environmental hazards. While wide open spaces can be advantageous, you really aren’t limited to a camera drone, especially if you know how to maneuver one.

Can camera drones be used inside?

While you may want a larger amount of space for your photography, using a camera drone to film indoors can add a unique perspective to your filmmaking. While this will definitely require some advanced piloting skills, the payoff can be excellent, especially as the modern drones that exist on the market have stabilization that can make panning and tracking shots look very smooth and natural.

What is a gimbal?

The gimbal on a drone has one purpose: it keeps the camera level. Gimbals are definitely one of the most important components of a camera drone because many inhibit the vibration of the drone and keep the footage being filmed steady. Drone Flyers Multirotor and Quadcopter Info’s Youtube page has a great breakdown on why the modern gimbal is so important to aerial photography.

To put it simply, according to the video, you can consider these devices to be like a “tripod in the sky.” They’ll make your footage more palatable after you’re done the filming.

What are some of the top camera drone brands?

Aerial photography via drone is becoming a very popular pastime. People simply love the sweeping landscape shots, the tracking shots that are available from the air, and the simple feeling of freedom that can arise when flying a drone. As a result of this popularity, several drone brands have become prominent. These include:

  • Syma
  • DJI
  • Parrot
  • Yuneec
  • GoPro
  • 3DR

Are camera drones used in modern filmmaking?

Today, the camera drone is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, there are even several Hollywood movies that have used the technology in order to film difficult aerial shots. These drones weren’t just used for high up, eye-in-the-sky footage, they were also used for catching footage that was relatively intimate, like the footage that was captured during “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

How long will a camera drone stay in the sky?

This can vary based on a wide variety of factors. Modern day drones have the ability to stay in the air for a much longer time than the first generation drones from just a few years ago. That being said, there are a few features that will greatly affect the amount of time a drone can stay airborne.

Here are a few:

  • Drone weight – The rotors of a drone have to work harder to carry more weight, so if your drone weighs a lot, then this will significantly tax the systems of your drone; meaning you’ll drain the battery faster.
  • Durable materials – Some drones are designed more for durability than flight duration. Heavier, more damage-resistant compositions will add weight and reduce flight time.
  • Add-on components – Once again, if you have heavier cameras and specialized gimbals that weight a lot, you’re going to experience less time airborne.

What kind of systems will keep your drone intact?

It can be hard out there in the sky, which is why many modern drones incorporate a few key technologies that are designed to protect your drone from calamity. One of the better features is collision avoidance; this feature will use sensors around the drone to detect if there is a potentially damaging object around the device.

If a crash occurs, will the drone be utterly destroyed?

Modern drones are very durable; with materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, and harder plastics, you’d be amazed the kinds of dustups that your new drone can withstand. That being said, sometimes damage does occur, but most drone manufacturers provide replacement parts so that you can get airborne again. Additionally, the cameras on these drones are also very durable, but if you do have a damaged camera, this will definitely be the most expensive to repair component.

What can you do to avoid damage during a crash?

Crashes are definitely inevitable. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take so that you can get back to your aerial photography. Here are a few:

  • If a crash is occurring, try to steer towards a clearing so that you can easily retrieve your drone.
  • Try to right the drone so that it lands on its landing gear.
  • Stop the rotors and any motors from working so that you don’t damage them or their surrounding objects during the crash.

What are the primary video resolutions of a camera drone?

Currently, if you’re planning on doing any type of aerial photography, you’ll want to have a good resolution so that your viewers can experience the details of your flight. With this in mind, only HD and above resolutions will do. HD starts at 720p resolutions and currently goes up to 4K resolutions on camera drones.

If you’re looking for top-tier detail, then UHD or 4K is definitely the way to go.

How much can you expect to spend on a camera drone?

As a general rule, camera drones have a tendency to get more expensive when they include features like 4K video capture, complex gimbals, multiple rotors, and collision systems. A good, base level camera drone will start around $250 or so, but as features increase, it’s easy to find camera drones that cost well over $1000. When you’re thinking about purchasing a good drone, it’s a good idea to consider what you’ll be using it for; if you’re going to be taking professional-level footage, consider spending more cash.

Do you need a license to fly a drone?

As of last year, if you plan on engaging in drone flying for business purposes, you’ll definitely need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In fact, even if you’re just engaging in some light for-fun aerial photography, you’ll still need to register your drone with the FAA. If you have any questions about obtaining a license to fly a drone through the FAA, then check out this guide.

How can you deal with windier days?

This takes a lot of practice. It’s a good idea to start out gathering footage on milder days and then work your way up so that you can learn how to pilot during windier ones. Just remember, winds over 10 miles per hour will wreck your drone totally, so if it gets that fast, bring production for that day to a close.

What kind of drone flying experience can you expect?

Each drone is designed to accommodate a certain skill level. If you’re a beginner, don’t try to fast track your way to a more advanced drone; you’ll simply wreck it before you can learn to fly it properly. With that in mind, many drones come in beginner, intermediate, and advanced flying levels.

What makes a drone a beginner camera drone?

You’ll have no problem learning to fly on a beginner camera drone. They are usually the lightest and most budget-friendly drones on the market. These drones are usually made of materials like plastic because this material is pliable and more difficult to damage while a pilot is learning the ropes.

Don’t expect a lot of tricks and maneuverability out of a beginner camera drone and the camera will usually be at the 720p level.

What makes a drone an intermediate camera drone?

Intermediate camera drones are a bit more speedy and maneuverable than beginner models. These are also designed with the idea that there’ll be a lot fewer accidents and crashes, so these will be made of more lightweight materials. These excel in outdoor areas and offer a tighter control scheme.

What makes advanced camera drones unique?

An advanced camera drone will let you pan easily, may have waypoint navigation features, and you’ll have a more nuanced control of the individual flight characteristics of the drone. With this type, you’ll be expected to have mastered hovering, panning, tracking shots, and a wide array of drone flying techniques and tricks.

How do waypoint navigation systems work?

When you’re trying to optimize your filming, the actual flying portion of the footage capturing can end up being a chore that takes away from the final results. Fortunately, some models of camera drone have waypoint navigation systems that allow you to establish a preselected flight route for your drone.

Typically, the drone will fly from waypoint to waypoint while you control its camera primarily. This means that you’ll be able to zoom in on a subject, take a look at disparate objects in the area, and monitor the footage more closely.

What kind of range can you expect a photography drone to have?

The range of a drone is very dependent on how far it can go from the radio signal being generated by your controller. In ideal conditions, you can expect more than a kilometer of range so that your drone can go far away from the transmitter. Some modern drones even have the ability to travel up to seven miles away from the transmitter, which is very versatile and useful.

What happens when the signal between the drone and the radio is interrupted?

For most modern drones, when the radio signal is interrupted, the drone will use its GPS features and initiate a “return to land” mode and return to its disembarkation point, which is where it took off from. This feature protects the drone from simply flying off or crashing to the ground, which is obviously something that you’d want to avoid.

Can you attach your own camera to a drone?

There are definitely a wide variety of camera drones that pack in their own proprietary camera systems, but having said that, there are also drones that have systems that are designed to work with different HD cameras. These are designed to ensure a good fitment between the drone and the camera and the gimbals on these drones are designed to stabilize just about any device.

Are there sites and communities specifically for drone photographers?

There are a lot! Drone flying has become a hugely popular pastime, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to know that more than one community of enthusiasts has popped up. Check out pages like the Drone Zone and Drone Photography Info to learn more about your fellow enthusiasts.

What kind of environmental photography can I expect with an aerial drone?

The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to the kinds of shots that you can execute with your camera drone. You can take beautiful nature shots that take in natural features like waterfalls, lakes, and rock formations. You can even film wildlife in their natural environment; all without disturbing their routines.

Will these devices work in all weather situations?

Heavy wind is one of the main ways that a camera drone can sustain damage, especially for beginner pilots. As a rule, it’s a good idea to try and gather footage during clearer, calmer days, but there are some drones out there that are designed to work in wetter, windier conditions.

How can you monitor your video feed?

When you’re out there collecting footage, modern drone cameras have a few ways that you can monitor what you’re filming:

  • Control-based screen – Some models of photography drones come with a controller with a somewhat larger body. When this is the case, there will be an LCD or LED screen in the middle that will display the footage that’s being captured.
  • Smartphone display – Some products can beam the footage directly to your smartphone or tablet via an app. This is a fairly convenient system, but it also means that you’ll have two separate interfaces; the video display on your phone and the controller for the drone itself.

Are there drones that are compatible with GoPros?

The GoPro has become the go-to device for capturing video and stills in the most extreme of locations, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there are drone models that are specifically designed to accommodate the dimensions of various GoPro models.

Wrapping It Up

There’s nothing quite like exploring the wide open skies and taking a little aerial photography. Whether you’re filming for a hobby or for an intended profession, you should have the best camera drones for the job. The products that we’ve selected here are all excellent for aerial photography, so read our reviews for the best steadicam drone for your needs.

Contents

Join The Discussion