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Quadcopter with Camera: Best Products on the Market

Quadcopter With Camera
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

The world is completely hyped over these cute, small, and intelligent toys! Actually, if it were to take a closer look, we’d see that the best quadcopter with camera is far away from a toy. Yes, they are mostly used for recreational purposes, but the image quality they offer and the image stabilization features allow them to compete with some of the best professional cameras on the market.

The basic use is for creating amazing videos and taking breathtaking pictures of the surrounding areas, but people also use them to see over places that are difficult to access, or to map a certain area. For example, quadcopters with camera are used by real-estate agents to showcase properties and gain more clients (isn’t this clever?). Another example is constituted by cattle breeders who use them for surveillance of the land and finding any lost animals.

The main differences between a quadcopter and drone

Even though all quadcopters are drones, not all drones are quadcopters. Actually, there are noticeable differences between what we usually call drones and quadcopters, the latter being a specific category of UAVs.

Quadcopter vs Drone

They are listed below.

  • First of all, the quadcopter has 4 engines that allow it to lift vertically through its propellers. Each pair of rotors turns in an opposite direction ensuring the vehicle an amazing stability. This makes them extremely popular in the world of video recording which is why most are already equipped with cameras or have the necessary equipment to attach one.
  • When it comes to build, quadcopters are considered to be simpler than drones used by the military or other services. They are usually made out of a flight controller, an electronic pace controls, propellers, casing and a protective frame. This makes them easy to build in your own garage (if you have the necessary knowledge) and the best part, they are cheaper.
  • When it comes to design, in my humble opinion, quadcopters are way cooler. They make you think about Avatar (yes, the movie!) and you’re kind of feeling like you’re controlling an actual helicopter.
  • Another difference is the GPS framework that most quadcopters don’t have. Drones used for surveillance and military objectives are equipped with powerful GPS systems that allow them to be independent. A quadcopter is usually controlled from the ground using either a remote control or a smartphone or tablet and they must communicate with their command center at all times.

Why buy a quadcopter?

Quadcopters are extremely stable and, due to their stabilization system, they manage to offer an extremely smooth flight. This makes them the best flying vehicles to have when it comes to creating aerial photography and videography.

Quadcopter

Before quadcopters, most such materials were realized from a real helicopter but the result was always extremely noisy or shaky which made this kind of activity very difficult and time consuming. Now, if you chose a professional quadcopter, you will have the possibility to take fantastic vistas from heights you couldn’t reach otherwise. Even more, the best models can transmit live feed and can be controlled using smartphone apps!

Important features to consider

Quadcopters with camera are designed for one basic purpose: to get high in the air and take great videos and pictures of the surrounding areas. With this in mind, each producer equipped their drones with a series of features which made them more or less fit for the professional job.

Quadcopter Features

The first question you have to answer to when purchasing such a vehicle is “what am I going to use it for?” There are about 3 possible answers that will give you all the necessary details to find the right UAV for you. These answers are:

  • For professional videos and pictures and other activities that require high-resolution and quality
  • For mapping, surveillance and amateur videos and pictures
  • For learning how to fly and general entertainment

In each of these 3 situations, you will have to look for a series of features. Below we put together a short list that describes each one of these features, to make sure you end up with the right vehicle for your needs.

The camera

Quadcopters that come with an integrated camera implement different versions of quality. For example, an expensive multirotor designed for professional work will usually have a high-quality camera with over 14 megapixels, and full HD (or even 4K) video capabilities. This will allow you to create print-quality photos and crystal-clear videos that will astonish and amaze every viewer.

Quadcopter Camera

If you want more control over the filming angle, and the possibility to zoom in or out, consider a multirotor with an attached camera (and not built-in). This way, you can mount a GoPro or even an entire DSLR and fly it over the landscape or activity you need immortalized.

Control options

Quadcopters are usually controlled from the ground using a remote control. Still, the latest models also have GPS systems built-in so you can program a flight path or make in-flight corrections. Some can actually be controlled using your smartphone or tablet using the WiFi signal. If you’re looking for extra-accuracy during flight, a quadcopter with a remote control and GPS system offers the perfect combination.

Quadcopter Control Option

For example, most modern DJI quads can be programmed to return home automatically, which is very handy in case of emergency.

Live streaming

This is a feature that most advanced quadcopters are equipped with. It comes in handy because you can actually see what you are filming and you can adjust the angles accordingly. The best way to enjoy this option is to buy a quadcopter with WiFi capabilities, but you must make sure you have the necessary WiFi power to maintain connectivity even when the drone drifts away. Most quadcopters are equipped with repeaters which allow you a distance of up to 350 feet.

Battery life

This aspect is very important when you’re thinking about buying a multirotor. Some of the cheapest models only allow you 6 or 7 minutes of flight which is a very short time interval if you want to film something of high-quality. A professional drone is equipped with a better battery and allows you about 25 minutes of flight which is 3 times more than its siblings. Even more, some have two batteries so the flying session will be longer.

Quadcopter Battery Life

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a quadcopter and you don’t need to send it on long trips, it’s recommended to buy one that allows you to swap batteries. This way you won’t have to wait until the battery charges to fly again.

Accessories

You will be able to appreciate the quadcopter’s quality by the number of accessories in the box. For example, some drones don’t come with a gimbal or protective guards for propellers. So, if you want to take it outside, you will have to invest some extra money in your newly discovered hobby. Do your homework first, and make sure you get everything you need, even though it is a bit pricier.

Once you get hooked, you might end up spending more on accessories than on the drone itself. Just keep in mind that, when it comes to accessories, you might end up buying them anyways. This happens if you are a professional and you want to perform certain activities. Still, if you choose a drone that already comes with a few accessories, you’ll save some money.

Quadcopter With Protective Guard

Now that you know which features are the most important, you will be able to find the right UAV for you. And all this without getting confused and frustrated by all the technical terms such a vehicle may bring into your life.

Best Camera Quadcopters

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Weight:  1380 gDJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Size:  350 mm (without propellers)

Camera: 4K

Battery: 5.350 mAh, 15.2V Li-Po

Flight time: 28 minutes

Controller type: Remote Control + Phone/Tablet            

Special features: Sense-and-avoid technology, sport mode, active track

Best use: Professional & amateurfilm and photography

It is called the drone for everyone because it is equipped with amazing technology and features. The DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter is actually one of the smartest drones on the market and offers controls that even a three-years-old could understand.

The Phantom 4 is easily guided with the pilot app which can be installed on most Android and iOS devices and offers butter-smooth footage due to the amazing Visual Positioning systems in has in place. According to DJI, the Phantom 4 is 5 times more stable than its predecessor and this says a lot!

The drone is also equipped with an automatic obstacle avoidance system (you wouldn’t want to crash this beauty in the nearest tree, would you?). However, having this mode on, it means that the drone will only go about 22 miles/h. If you want more speed, the regular and sport modes are at your disposal with 35 and respective 45 miles per hour.

While the design is similar with the other Phantom projects, this drone is unique in quality and results. It is a blessing for professional photographers and videographers and it offers a fantastic flying experience!

Check the price on Amazon

DJI Inspire 1

Weight: 2.93 kgDJI Inspire

Size: 11.4 x 21.3 x 23.2 inches

Camera: 4K

Battery: 4,500 mAh

Flight time: 18 minutes

Controller type: Remote control + phone or tablet

Special features: Camera does 360 degrees rolls, dual operation, retractable landing gear

Best use: Film and photography

This is another excellent model from DJI that shoots amazing 4K videos. Dji Inspire 1 is one big drone and for many is too bulky, but it’s a very good filming platform due to its durability and image-quality features. Unlike the Phantom 4, this drone is not a good fit for beginners as some may find it pretty hard to control. Since it is heavier than other models, it is also a bit more difficult to understand in flight.

You can use the controller to fly it or you can just use your smartphone or tablet. The good part here is that there is an option for dual-control. With this option, one person can control the drone while another person can focus their attention for controlling the camera. Speaking of which, the camera can be adjusted in flight and the drone is built in such a way that propellers and the landing gear stay out of the picture at all times.

Even more, the camera is removable. This means you can upgrade the camera or install a handheld mount. The Inspire 1 is also quite intelligent in flight and the powerful GPS system allows it to follow a subject or return to base.

It’s a pretty expensive drone but if you want the perfect flying filming platform at your command then this model from DJI is the perfect one for you.

Check the price on Amazon

Yuneec Typhoon Q500 Quadcopter

Weight: 1.100 gramsYuneec Typhoon Q500 Quadcopter

Size: 565 x 420 x 240 mm

Camera: 4K

Battery: 5.400 mAh

Flight time: 25 minutes

Controller type: Remote Control + Phone/Tablet

Special features:  Facial recognition, adjustable camera, following and targeting

Best use: Film & Photography

This is a one good looking drone! Actually, due to its very interesting design, sleek features, and elongated body, it was dubbed the “mermaid drone”. But don’t be fooled by the design, this is a pretty big drone!

Besides the impressive look, the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 Quadcopter has a lot of very useful features and can shoot amazing 4K videos. It can also record in slow-motion while it will maintain the same clarity and sharpness of a normal video. The gimbal is simple (3-axis), but it offers amazing stability which allows beginners to shot great videos and stills as well.

If you want a drone that it has a high score on both features and looks, then this is the right drone for you.

Check the price on Amazon

3DR Solo Quadcopter

Weight: 1.500 grams3dr Solo Quadcopter

Size: 16.4×16.5×9.2 inches

Camera: Doesn’t come with a camera – supports several GoPro Hero models

Battery: 5.200 mAh

Flight time: 23 minutes

Controller type: Remote Control + Phone/Tablet

Special features: Selfie, orbit, follow me, cable cam

Best use: Film & Photography if you buy a GoPro

This model is known as the world’s first smart drone and the features that you will find here are very interesting and helpful. The 3DR Solo Quadcopter doesn’t come with a camera but it’s compatible with some GoPro models that can be easily attached to the gimbal.

This quadcopter is perfect for professionals and for beginners as well. The body is durable enough to sustain minor crashes without any “injuries”. It also allows you to change the camera and the software can be easily upgraded via USB connection.

The drone can reach up to 55 mph and the flight is extremely stable. However, the GPS system may give you some troubles as the connection is not always crystal clear.

Check the price on Amazon

DJI Phantom 3

Weight: 1.280 gramsDJI Phantom 3 

Size: 15 x 15 x 12 inches

Camera: 4K

Battery: 4.480 mAh

Flight time: 23 minutes

Controller type: Remote Control + Phone/Tablet

Best use: Film & Photography

You might say that there is nothing new about this model, compared with the previous ones, but you would be wrong. The DJI Phantom 3 is equipped with new motors and a new optical sensor that will help the quadcopter be much more stable in flight. This optical sensor will also help with filming since the flight is much stable.

As you can see, the design is unchanged, which may bring on some critics, but why change something that is, by now, iconic for DJI products? The controller is still the standard model, with the possibility to attach a mobile device for live feed.

This is one of the best drones from DJI with a wide range of improved features and is made for professionals as well for beginners. It’s very easy to learn how to use it and you will love every single moment when you will fly it.

Check the price on Amazon

Faa Drone Registration Requirement

As a quadcopter pilot (sounds really cool, right?) you are responsible of getting up to date with the latest regulations imposed by the airspace authority in your country. These may seem like small toys, but they are actually considered flying vehicles and, the bigger they are, the regulations may get more severe.

Faa Drone Registration

In the United States, starting with December 2015, anyone owning a drone or a quadcopter with a certain weight must register it to the FAA before they can fly it legally. Also, all the drones we discussed above must be registered.

Recommendations Before Buying Your First Quadcopter

Before opening the browser and going online looking for quadcopters, there are a few things we feel you need to know. We don’t intent in any way to reduce your enthusiasm towards drones and quadcopters, but you must be prepared for what’s to come.

No one is a born pilot

Don’t expect to unpack the quadcopter, turn it on, and start flying! This will never happen, especially if you’re a beginner. Any quadcopter requires training and some getting used to. Each multirotor is controlled by a flight computer which is nothing else than a computer that keeps the vehicle stable in the air.

No One is a Born Pilot

Without this tiny computer, no one would be able to fly drones! Each flight controller is set differently and this makes every quadcopter unique. Certain models are configured to be faster and more agile while others bet their existence on stability and control.

Usually, the more expensive drones are easier to keep in the air while the cheap ones are more difficult to stabilize and fly. However, this is not always the case. If we consider the case of the Phantom 4 and the Inspire 1, we’ll see that even though both are quite expensive, the Phantom is beginner friendly while the Inspire 1 requires and experienced pilot.

It may cost you more than you think

If you’re just looking for a toy to fly now and then, you’re in no danger. You may have to buy an extra protection guard to make sure the propellers don’t get tangled, but that’s it.

Drone and Gear

On the other hand, if flying drones is more than just a hobby, you may be in for the long run. First of all, the quadcopter itself is going to be quite expensive, but there are other accessories that may drain your budget. These include the remote controller, the charger or the software.

Our recommendation is to make a smart purchase that will help you enjoy your passion without breaking your budget in the process. For this, you need to sit down and do your research thoroughly.

Not all quadcopters have a camera or are rtf

Not all are RTF or Ready To Fly. Quadcopters marked RTF don’t require any additional preparation to fly. You just get it out of the box and fly it.

Other acronyms used on quadcopters and drones in general are:

  • BNF (Bind and Fly) – these devices are already assembled, but they miss the flight controller. This means you’ll either have the use the one you already have (if it matches) or buy one.
  • ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) – these quadcopters may require assembly and they don’t usually have a transmitter or a receiver.

I also know we mentioned that quadcopters are the usually bought for aerial videos and pictures. Still, not all of them have a built-in or attached camera.

Quadcopter

Even more, not all cameras are high-quality. Cheaper models are cheap for a reason: the camera quality can be compared with the quality of a web cam. So, make sure to read the description carefully and don’t expect super high-quality from a $50 quadcopter.

Not sure what model to buy?

Quadcopters and drones in general are definitely very popular and very fun to own. They can be used for both work and entertainment and people can develop great passions for flying and aerial imagery. Still, deciding on the type of model can be quite confusing given the fact that there are already so many out there.

We hope that, after reading the most important features, and seeing some of the best 5 models on the market, you will have the necessary data to make an informed decision. Even more, we put together a few pros and cons of owning a quadcopter.

PROS:

  • Quadcopters come in a wide range of prices so anyone can afford them
  • They offer amazing possibilities when it comes to aerial videos and images
  • They are highly versatile as people find new ways of using them every day
  • You can experience being a pilot without taking expensive lessons
  • Quadcopters are resistant to shocks and some offer extra options of control
 CONS:

  • A quadcopter is not easy to pilot from the first try
  • Battery life is a huge issue for cheaper models
  • You must do some extensive research before finding the best one for your needs
  • It can be an expensive passion

If you still have questions regarding the type of quadcopter to purchase or any other topic-related inquires, just leave us a comment. We’ll do our best to reply as quickly as possible!

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Danny Washington

    This list is like a hall of fame for drones. I could find some really good drones like the Parrot’s Bebop which is one of my best drones from now on. Also it makes it harder to buy one, since they all are good and powerful

    • Yes, we truly have a lot of choices these days that it becomes difficult to choose one.

  • Michael Johanson

    When we talk about camera, a decent mention is the Phantom 2 Vision+. You get 15 minutes of flawless videos with perfect stability. The carbon propellers make the steadiness even better. DJI have done a great job on this one.

  • That’s why DJI is a market leader 😀

  • Veronica Blake

    For beginners the SYMA X5C-1 is just flawless. Flew one for around 2 months and it was lovely. The X5C-1 is more stable, easier to hover and can survive some rough treatment. This is a 5 star “starter” drone.

    • Jack Brown

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, especially since I also own one 😉 A great model for beginners. You will have hours of fun, learn how to control the drone, and make videos along the way, and not spend much money. A win Win!

  • Stuart Adams

    Syma is a great product. I just wish it had better range. The camera is great, but it takes better videos than still photos. The stills are kinda blurry. But the camera can be upgraded. Its very easy to fly and very stable.

    • Jack Brown

      I agree. The range could be longer, but hey, for that price, I am not complaining! 🙂 All Syma’s drones are great and I just hope that they will keep up the great work they are doing so far.

  • Cecilia McBride

    DJI Phantom 2 is my pick among these. Taking 30 frames per second at 1080p and 60fps at 720p is a priority for filmmakers. I’m also impressed by the fact that its camera has the microSD for ample storage. In addition to its high-end camera, I love its 25 minutes of flight time as enabled by the power 5200mAh battery.

  • Jack Brown

    Yup, even though this is an older model, it still is worth buying, especially if your budget doesn’t cover the new-gen models from DJI. Thanks for the comment, Cecilia, much appreciated!

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