BEST PICK

Best Video Drones: A New Perspective to Aerial Photography

Best Video Drones
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

Drones are one of the most innovative creations ever! Their small size, sturdy design and compact nature can be used for a number of purposes. For instance, camera drones are widely used by professionals for capturing the best in the field of aerial photography and by hobbyists experimenting with a little mid-air flight and recording video footages. But video drones allow you to do a lot more than this! Video drones can be used for military purposes, for carrying out rescue operations, for issues like bomb detection and the likes.

If you too are making up your mind to get hold of the best video drone, but are confused which one to pick, we are here to help you. Catch’em all!

Top Picks For Video Drones

Video drones are some of the most popular drones on the market. They are constantly gaining speed when it comes to the technology developments that allow them to become as incredible and useful as they are. Developments are not slowing down either, which will be outlined below for some of the more current video drones.

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Weight: 8.8 poundsDJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Size:  12.8 x 8.6 x 14.9 inches

Camera:  4K

Battery: 5350mAh

Flight time: 28 minutes

Controller type: Intelligent Flight Controller with smartphone/smart device compatibility

Special features: Precision Hovering, Tap to Fly, Visual Tracking, Sport Mode, Position Mode, Active Track, Intelligent Flight Mode, Atti Mode, extended flight time

Best use: Great for those who want one of the best video/camera drones on the market. Works through the features paired with the camera to gain the best shots possible

The DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter is one of the most praised video drones on the planet, not just in the market. It has had revolutionary improvements from the previous version, the Phantom 3, including the extended flight time by up to 5 minutes longer where flight time is concerned.

It’s a drone that is made for avid photographers. The features, such as Atti Mode, which holds its place in the air to get a steady shot, work together with the camera to get the best shots in any scenario.

The camera itself is quite the marvel. The high-performance camera boasts clean video in 4K at 30fps, 1080p HD at 120fps, especially for slow motion, and a new lens design that increases the sharpness of both videos and still images. The 3-axis gimbal has a new, more advanced design for in-flight photography and recording to ensure that all outcomes are smooth, even if complex maneuvers are taking place.

Check the price on Amazon

Yuneec Q500 Typhoon Quadcopter

Weight: 2.5 poundsYuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter

Size:  22.2 x 16.5 x 9.4 inches

Camera:  4K CGO3-GB

Battery: 5400mAh

Flight time: 20 minutes

Controller type: Pre-bound ST10+ ground station unit with built-in Android touchscreen

Special features: Handheld SteadyGrip, Follow Me, Watch Me, Return to Home

Best use: Great for photographers who want good quality videos and still photos without too many flashy features that can gunk up the flight time

The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon Quadcopter brings a superb camera and video quality and basic, yet useful, features to the table. Yuneec has crafted a drone that boasts a high-quality camera and basic features that maximize the capabilities of such. For example, the Follow Me feature is great for taking a video of yourself to get the perfect aerial shots.

The Q500 4K includes the ST10+ controller that includes an Android touchscreen, eliminating the need to add your smartphone or smart device into the mix. The 4K CGO3-GB camera boasts 1080p UHD, ultra-high definition, resolution quality at 120fps, perfect for slow motion video, that works incredibly well with Handheld SteadyGrip to get the best still shots possible. In fact, UHD is the latest and greatest where resolution is concerned, and is four steps above regular HD.

Still photographs are taken at 12MP, and you can capture life overall in 4K UHD quality that blows any other camera out of the water. The 3-axis gimbal and the combination of the camera and digital video downlink ensures that you get a steady, clear shot every time. You can also control the camera angle from the ST10+ from the horizon all the way to 90 degrees downward.

Check the price on Amazon

DJI Mavic Pro

Weight: 1.6 poundsDJI Mavic Pro

Size:  11.4 x 7.1 x 9.4 inches

Camera:  4K

Battery: 3830mAh

Flight time: 27 minutes

Controller type: OcuSync transmission with smartphone/smart device capabilities

Special features: Folds into an extremely compact size, OcuSync transmission technology, Return to Home mode, FlightAutonomy technology, Precision Hover, Adobe DNG RAW supported, Vision Positioning System, Auto Takeoff, Auto Land, Front Collision Detection, Vision Sensors, POV Mode

Best use: Great for those who want a simple, easily transported drone that sports high-tech video and photo capabilities

The DJI Mavic Pro might be one of the most conveniently high-tech video drones that have ever been created. The compact design is incredibly neat. It lets you fold up the drone to about the size of a regular water bottle for easy transportation, which means you can take it literally anywhere. This also means that you do not need a protective case which is very convenient, considering most are heavy, bulky, and a nuisance in general.

The transmission range is an impressive 4.3 miles long, you can have a live feed of your flight streamed straight to your smartphone or compatible smart device, and the Vision Positioning System ensures that, through GPS and GLONASS, you can fly inside and out. The vision sensors aid in ensuring that your drone avoids as many collisions as possible.

You have 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 96fps to choose from where video resolutions are concerned, and you also get 12MP still photographs in your choice of DNG RAW or JPEG format, too. The tiny motorized gimbal and suite sensors ensure a stable, clear flight that boast the same for videos and still photographs.

Check the price on Amazon

3DR Solo Drone

Weight: 8 pounds3DR Solo Drone

Size:  18.4 x 16 x 14.1 inches

Camera:  Your choice of GoPro

Battery: 5200mAh

Flight time: 20 minutes

Controller type: 3DR Link WiFi transmitter with smartphone/smart device capabilities

Special features: Live stream through GoPro to your smartphone/smart device, Site Scan app, Autonomous Flight control, LED status lights, OLED display, Selfie Mode, Smart Shots Mode

Best use: Great for those who want a basic, stable drone that offers superb video and camera capabilities

The 3DR Solo Drone is a very basic yet radically high-tech piece of hardware. This drone has fewer features that allows the camera and video to be maximized as much as possible. It does not come with a camera, but any GoPro from the Hero line is your definite best bet.

With the onboard GoPro you can stream the live flight feed directly to your smartphone or smart device. The range is only half a mile, but that’s still a pretty decent amount.

In fact, this drone is the first drone that has in-flight access for GoPro, and you can start and stop your recordings and adjust the settings of the camera itself using the transmitter from the ground. No other drone has this type of technology, even if it does support an onboard GoPro.

Check the price on Amazon

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

Weight: 9.2 poundsDJI Phantom 3 Professional

Size:  18 x 13 x 8 inches

Camera:  4K UHD

Battery: 4480mAh

Flight time: 23 minutes

Controller type: DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink transmitter

Special features: GPS-Assisted Hover, Vision Positioning System, Automatic Flight Logs, Return to Home, live HD stream, Follow Me, Ground Station, Point of Interest, Waypoint

Best use: Great for those who want both a professional drone and a professional camera for photos and videos all wrapped up into one package

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is just another incredible drone from the Phantom line produced by DJI. The DJI GO app allows you to see a live streaming feed from your drone’s current flight, where you can also control the camera, or you can do all of this using your smartphone or smart device while attached to the transmitter.

The quality you will get from the live stream is only 720p, but you will also be recording the feed automatically through the internal microSD card.

With video recording during the flight, you can expect up to 4K UHD resolution that is made 100% stable through the 3-axis gimbal system. When shooting in 4K UHD resolution you get 40fps, while photos are 12MP. The professional lens ensures that no distortion is possible with your photos and videos, because it’s a f/2.8 lens that comes with a 94-degree field of view.

Features, such as Follow Me and Waypoint, maximize the capabilities that go with the camera. You can set Follow Me, for example, to get a video of you doing whatever it is you want to capture on film.

Check the price on Amazon

Blade Chroma Camera Drone

Weight: 2.9 poundsBlade Chroma Camera Drone

Size:  13.1 x 13.1 x 9.5 inches

Camera:  GoPro

Battery: 6300mAh

Flight time: 25 minutes

Controller type: DSM2 or DSMX transmitter

Special features: Advanced SAFE Plus technology, Smart Mode, Return to Home, mast-mounted GPS antenna, Aerial Photography Mode, Tracking Mode, adjustable flight boundaries,

Best use: For those who want a drone that has beginner aerial photography capabilities and is both easy to fly and has added features (not just for photography and video purposes). It’s also a great drone for those who want to customize their camera to their needs and wants specifically

The Blade Chroma Camera Drone is a great starter drone for those who want to be able to fly as a beginner and take some decent shots and videos in the air. Smart Mode is specifically designed for beginners who are hitting the skies and wanting to learn how aerial photography and flying a drone at the same time works. AP Mode is better for those who are more experienced or are professional pilots.

The included mount is specifically for a GoPro, the GoPro Hero 4 is highly recommended for this drone, but you can get a separate extension. With the upgraded 3-axis stabilized camera setup, you can use a CGO3 4K BLH8622, CGO2+ 1080p BLH8621, GoPro-Ready GPH4 Brushless BLH8627.

Check the price on Amazon

Yuneec Breeze 4K

Weight: 3.3 poundsYuneec Breeze

Size:  3.1 x 8.6 x 11 inches

Camera:  4K UHD

Battery: 1150mAh

Flight time: 12 minutes

Controller type: FPV controller with 720p image resolution transmission with smartphone/smart device connected

Special features: Smartphone and smart device capabilities through Breeze Cam app, Indoor Positioning Sensors, infrared sensor, Pilot Mode, Selfie Mode, Orbit Mode, Journey Mode, Follow Me Mode, sharing videos and photos to social media through downloading to app, Auto Takeoff, Auto Land

Best use: Great for those who want a short flight time to get some incredible shots

Though Yuneec Breeze 4K has somewhat of a disappointing flight time, it’s the perfect drone for getting some quick shots in the air. In fact, Yuneec designed the 5 automated flight modes to ensure that the drone would be able to focus more on the photos and videos taken instead of the flight itself.

Through your smartphone or smart device, whichever you have going with the drone, you can view a live transmission feed in 720p resolution. Where videos and stills are concerned, however, you get 4K UDH resolution for videos and 13MP still photos. You can download, save, and share all of the videos and photographs you’ve taken to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and more.

Check the price on Amazon

DJI Inspire 1

Weight: 21.8 poundsDJI Inspire 1

Size:  17.2 x 11.9 x 17.8 inches

Camera:  4K with Zen Muse X5 stabilization gimbal system

Battery: 5700mAh

Flight time: 22 minutes

Controller type: DJI Lightbridge transmitter

Special features: Transforming carbon fiber arms, intelligent power management system, dual GPD positioning system, Fail Safe, Vision Positioning System

Best use: Great for those who want a video drone that has more attention to the camera capabilities than the features

The DJI Inspire 1 has some incredible camera capabilities. This drone is more about the videos and pictures than the actual aspects of what features are needed to make a great drone. Still, it’s a great drone for those who want to focus more on aerial photography than anything.

It comes with a 1/2.3” sensor, has 12MP stills, a 9 element rectilinear wide-angle lens, has 4K videos, and can record at either 4096×2160 at fps or 1920×1080 at 60fps. It also comes with a 360-degree camera range, has a 3-axis Zen Muse X5 gimbal stabilization, and has carbon fiber arms that constantly transform when in the air to ensure that nothing ruins your shots.

Check the price on Amazon

Things to consider while flying a video drone

It must be said that although you are very eager to fly a drone as soon as you lay your hands on it, there are, certain considerations you need to make before doing so.

Weather conditions

The first thing you need to consider before flying a drone is the weather conditions. First of all, the weather conditions do affect your overall flight experience. The best time to go out and fly a drone would be during a sunny day with clear skies as you will get to play with it thoroughly.

Flying Video Drone

It is recommended to avoid the winters for flying a drone. The primary reason for this is the fact that batteries might freeze mid-air which is not good news for the drone.

Moreover, it can also have an adverse effect on other parts of the product including the wings. It would be wise to read up the manual provided by the manufacturer to know the suitable conditions for flying the drone.

Check the drone

If you want to have a nice flight, then it would be wise to check the drone thoroughly before taking it out. The first thing you will need to do is check every inch of the product for any damages or loose parts. Here you can give a little extra attention on the propellers to make sure that they are fixed properly – this will ensure you they do not come out of the drone mid-air.

Checking The Drone

Apart from these, other important parts of the drone include the camera gimbal and the battery pack which will also require a good screening before a flight. The camera gimbal is an integral part of any video drone so take the necessary steps to protect it as you wouldn’t want it to come out while the drone is in the air.

Lastly, if your inspection leads to the discovery of some faulty parts then it would be advisable that you get them replaced before you decide to take the drone for a flight.

Knowing the laws

If you are serious about flying a video drone, then it is not a bad idea to take a quick look at the laws of the land. The advent of video drones has forced various countries to put in place certain laws which will protect its civilian’s personal information and affirm the security of the country.

Man Is Reading The Law

If we take the rules set by the FAA or US Federal Aviation Administration then you will understand the reason behind knowing the flight rules better.

Here are some of the standard guidelines you need to abide by if you are flying a drone over American airspace:

  • Make sure that the drone is not in any way interfering with a manned aircraft.
  • The drones cannot be flown within 5 miles radius of an airport
  • Flying a drone near any military airbase or installations is strictly prohibited
  • You are not allowed to fly a drone at an altitude exceeding 400 feet.

Know your drone

When you have chosen a drone, then it is imperative that you are aware of its capabilities. You need to know what the drone can do and what the limitations of the drones are. It basically means that you should have knowledge of the altitude it can fly, as well as how fast the drone can go.

Knowing Your Drone

It would be wise to get every detail of the drone before using it so that you don’t get surprised while you are flying it.

Battery capacity

One of the pivotal features of the drone you will need to have a good knowledge about is the battery capacity of the product. The first thing here is its capability of holding a charge. This will help you gauge as to how long you can you keep the drone in the air.

The best way to understand the battery capacity of the drone would be to go for a short test flight. By assessing how much charge the drone is consuming in a short span of time, you can have a rough prediction of how long it will hold on a long flight.

Drone Batteries

Moreover, there are certain drones, which come with a battery meter. It would be wise to go for such a product as they can give a near perfect image of the battery capacity of the product. Lastly, one factor which can play a crucial part in gauging the battery capacity is the prevailing weather conditions.

Test the drone

Before taking the drone out for a longer flight it would be wise to test it by flying at lower altitude. This will enable you to know whether the drone is responding properly to the controller or if there are some issues with any part of the drone.

Uses of a video drone

Of course, a video drone is used to capture amazing videos right? Well, while this may be true, there are other uses you should consider.

The first person view

One of the most popular and innovative uses of a drone is the First Person View or FPV.

First Person view Drone

Here the users will be provided with special goggles which will stream the live video feeds, which are captured by the drone while flying, into these goggles for the user to view.

Taking pictures

Drones are the perfect invention for people who are into taking pictures, especially the ones with aerial views. Many nature enthusiasts are known to take pictures of the natural landscape with the help of drones.

Not sure what model to buy?

The drone market gives us a lot of exciting options to choose from. While some will give you the best camera and thus video footages, others will give you impressive flight times. Also, there are products which come with additional features like automatic take-off and landing options that might prove to be useful for beginners.

Still, with video drones, you should first consider the pros & cons and then make a decision.

PROS:

  • Versatility – drones are compact and because of their size, they are able to reach places where it would be difficult placing a camera. You can use them inside a room or outdoors, several hundred meters above the ground. They can rotate and make acrobatic turns to give you the best camera views.
  • Time saving – initially, we made use of helicopters to get aerial footages. However, that took a lot of time to set it up and the likes. Now, with the camera drones, you can easily get a few snapshots or a continuous video in the matter of a few minutes, without many hassles.
  • Good quality pictures – more and more drones that are being introduced into the markets are capable of taking HD quality pictures. With more advanced gimbals, we are only heading towards more stable pictures.
  • Easy to maneuver – being small in size and coming with good flight controllers, it is rather convenient to operate on and control the drones from a distance. You don’t need big instruments to control the devices. These can be done right from the ground level with a lot of ease.
  • Drone Filming – a lot of movies and documentaries are being shot with the help of camera drones to get the best aerial shots and to get rid of unnecessary overhead costs.
 CONS:

  • Restricted access – there are strict restrictions to where you can fly your drones (especially the ones that have a powerful camera). It is best to keep away from public places and airports and the likes.
  • Battery life – with a limited battery life, it is difficult to get the best shot in one flight.

This sums up the video drones. Got a query? Write to us in comments!

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.

  • Michael Johanson

    Thank you for this article, these are some serious aerial photography drones. Phantom 2 Vision + is definitely the best by my point of view. It has a perfect view even on strong winds because it controls its steadiness and allows you to take the best picture possible.

  • Mike Davidson

    It is widely known that several new drone models have brought aerial photography to a whole new level. For example I have made some incredible videos with my DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. It has very solid flying and its camera is just flawless. You can get about 15 minutes video depending on the conditions and flying intensity. I recommend this drone to anyone who likes aerial photography

  • Thanks for your kind words.

  • Thanks for the recommendation, Mike.

  • Mike Darrell

    First of all, let me say that I love the Rolling Spider. It’s a ton of fun to use. There are few things that give me as much joy as flying this thing around. It’s fast, incredibly stable, and easy to use. However it’s not a perfect model by any stretch of the imagination. While using it INSIDE it is very responsive. It also has a camera, which is fun to use, even if the photos are low-res

    • Jack Brown

      Well, it is considered to be a toy-grade model, and we know that such drones are far from being perfect. But, as you said it yourself, it really is ton of fun 🙂

  • Joseph Lee

    The UTO Drone U960 Hexacopter is absolutely fun to fly. Its design is cool, it looks wicked in the air. One thing, though, the WiFI camera has some delay for first person view and that makes controlling the drone a little hard. But it takes very good photos and videos indeed!

  • Jack Brown

    Well, for that price, you can’t actually expect the streaming quality of some high-end models like Phantoms or Yuneec, can you? 🙂 But, I agree that the video delay can be frustrating and it certainly makes flying difficult, but the drone is meant for aerial videography, not FPV racing, which means you use the video feed to adjust your shot, and for that, the streaming doesn’t have to be flawless.

  • Mitch Anderson

    The Rolling Spider has that novelty look and it’s really fun to have depending on your purpose. It’s fast and super stable and easy to control. It has a camera but the photos are low-res. It can be controlled only using a smartphone. But overall, kids and new flyers will like it.

    • Jack Brown

      Yup, this is not a drone that you should buy for professional aerial filming, but when it comes to having hours and hours of fun around the house, it is one of the best! 🙂