best-camera-drone-dji-inspire-1

What are the best camera drones in 2017?

Guide to the best drones with a camera and the best drones for photography.

Name Flight Time Max Speed Stability Review
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 ≃25m 18mph 8.5/10 Review
Blade Chroma ≃30m 40mph 7/10 Review
DJI Phantom 3 Pro ≃23m 36mph 8/10 Review
Autel X-Star ≃25m 36mph 7/10 Review
DJI Phantom 4 ≃28m 45mph 8/10 Review
Yuneec Typhoon H ≃25m 22mph 10/10 Review
DJI Inspire 1 ≃18m 50mph 9/10 Review

7. Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4k

yuneec typhoon q500

Weight: 1100g
Max Speed: 8m/s or 18mph
Flight Time: ≃ 25 minutes
Diagonal: 565mm
Operating range: ≃ 800m
Battery: 5200mAH LiPo

The Q500 4k is a futuristic and stylish drone which is one of the best camera drones. The flight controller that’s included in the package has an integrated FPV android screen so you won’t have to connect a smartphone or tablet. I like having a built in LCD screen but the screen is just 5.5 inches and the resolution is only 480p so the FPV isn’t that high quality. The drone comes fully assembled with spare parts, including 2 spare batteries to maximize flight time, so you won’t have to worry about setting anything up or buying extras.

It comes with a 3-Axis Gimbal and a CGO3-GB Camera with 115 degrees of view which can be removed and used with their handheld camera mount. This camera can capture 4k footage at 24 or 30fps and take 12MP stills. If you want to drop the quality to 1080p it lets you record 120fps which is great if you’re looking to slow footage down. The video quality is generally very good although it does blur slightly around the edges.

One of it’s biggest strengths is its stability, however, one of the ways it achieves this is by compromising its speed. Its top speed is approximately 18mph with GPS turned on but it does speed up slightly when GPS is turned off. It is a relatively slow quadcopter but it does fly quietly and smoothly and stays airborne for up to 25 minutes. The Q500 4k also has advanced flight modes including follow me, watch me and GPS positioning. Finally, one reason why people often choose Yuneec is because they provide some of the best customer service. They have a great record of responding promptly to resolve any issues that arise.

The biggest weakness of the drone is its video transmission range. It’s pretty frustrating because once you fly the drone out of the maximum range for a few seconds it does not reconnect. You’ll need to land the drone and restart it to reconnect the FPV. The range is approximately 250m so it really isn’t suitable for longer distance recording.

Overall this is a solid drone. The lack of speed can be irritating if you’re used to faster quads but if you’re looking for something you can hang in the air and be stable while capturing high-quality images at relatively short distances this is a great choice.


6. Blade chroma 4k

blade chroma

Weight: 1300 grams
Max Speed: 17m/s or 40mph
Flight Time: ≃ 30 minutes
Diagonal: 400mm
Operating range: ≃ 400m
Battery: 5400mAH LiPo 3S

The Blade Chroma is a good all round camera drone that is really enjoyable to fly. It holds positions well, it’s agile and stays in the air for a huge 30 minutes. It captures crisp footage in 4k definition and it includes a distortion camera lens that eliminates the fisheye effect. The camera included is the CGO3, the same as the Yuneec Q500 and is a good 4k camera which is detachable for use with a hand mount.

Some of the features I like about this include the SAFE technology which creates a safety bubble around the controller to stop it flying too close to the pilot. Other features include Follow Me, Tracking Mode, Return to Home and Adjustable Flight Boundaries. There’s also some pretty cool LEDS in the motors which are bright and let you know how much battery life you have remaining.

I enjoyed using the ST-10 controller (the same as what comes with the Yuneec Q500). It’s easy to use and has an FPV touchscreen built into the transmitter. These controls are simple to use, but in case you’re struggling Blade has included a smart mode for beginners. This means there’s an option to simply fly the Chroma in whichever direction you want regardless of which way it’s facing.

The body and landing gear are made of plastic which isn’t that strong but it would probably survive a crash (I didn’t test this!), although it’s worth flying on the safe side. This quad is generally very reliable but there have been a few cases of it flying off when losing GPS. Fortunately, this is rare and the Blade has antennae mounted on the mast to improve GPS signal. Just make sure you’re familiar with the controls before you fly this (it’s easy to fly), and keep hold of the controls just in case. If you do lose control remember there is a switch on the controller which returns the quad back to its launch point.

Blade have traditionally made cheaper drones and with the Chroma they’ve made the jump into premium camera drones. It is one of the best drones you can buy with a camera but it’s definitely worth looking at the other options available for the same price.


5. DJI Phantom 3 Pro

phantom3pro

Weight: 1280 grams
Max Speed: 16m/s or 36mph
Flight Time: ≃ 23 minutes
Diagonal: 590mm
Operating range: ≃ 2000m
Battery: 6000mAh 2S liPo

The Phantom 3 range is one of the most popular drones on the market. They include pretty much everything you could want from a drone at a reasonable price. The Phantom 3 Pro is the latest edition which is specifically designed to capture high-quality images.

This is one of the steadiest drones I’ve flown, the 3-axis gimbal is incredibly effective in ensuring smooth footage even when flying up to 35mph. It records footage in full 4k with 4096 by 2160p at 24p and 3840 by 2160 by 2160p and 30p. You can also view a crisp stream (on smartphone or tablet) in 720p FPV and the RC transmitter enables you to attach your iPad or smartphone as a monitor. This quad also has intelligent design which restricts you from entering restricted flight zones, so you won’t get into trouble! You can also use follow me, course lock, waypoints, home lock, and points of interest.

There are no real faults with this drone, the only negative is that it’s simply not quite as good as the Phantom 4. One possible issue is that to fly this you will need a smartphone or tablet with the DJI app installed. Another minor issue is that DJI aren’t great for customer service if you encounter a problem. However, because they are the most popular drones there are a huge amount of online videos and tutorials which can help you. I’m also here to try and help if you have any issues!

I would recommend this drone to just about anyone. It’s really high quality and you won’t get anything for the same price that gives you such an excellent experience.

 


4. Autel X-Star Premium

autel x-star premium

Weight (with Battery and camera): 1420 grams
Max Speed: 16m/s or 36mph
Flight Time: ≃ 25 minutes
Diagonal: 353mm
Range: ≃ 2000m
Battery: 6000mAH liPo

The Autel X-Star Premium is an outstanding quadcopter that’s been designed as a direct competitor to the Phantom. You probably noticed the very similar design and you can buy it in either orange or white.

It comes with a gimbal and 4k HD camera with a 108* field of view that takes 12mp stills. The camera and gimbal can be removed by the push of a button. This is useful for future upgrades or replacements and is much more convenient than the Phantom.

This quad handles really well in the wind and you can FPV stream to your smartphone or tablet from up to 1.2 miles away. It has a maximum speed of 35mph and has a flight time of 25 minutes. I like the controller that comes with this as there are extra buttons such as return to home and take off which make it easier to pilot. There is also an LCD screen in the controller which can provide helpful information in case your smartphone turns off.

One thing it’s lacking is some of the features of the Phantom 4. It doesn’t include ActiveTrack, TapFly, Point of Interest or Collision avoidance. However, it does still have follow me, orbit and return to home features. Another difference to the Phantom is its handling. It’s a bit more responsive to your controls so moves a bit more erratically. This is a good or bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for solid stability then go with a Phantom, if you want something a bit more fun to fly then I’d go with the Autel.

Overall this is an excellent drone that’s easy to operate with great video quality, you’ll have a good time flying this drone. It’s more expensive than the Phantom 3 Pro but cheaper than the Phantom 4, which seems pretty fair. If you really care about customer service I’d chose the Autel as they are renowned for being very helpful if you call them with an issue. Their office is based in the US and is open 7 days a week.


3. DJI Phantom 4

dji phantom 4

Weight: (with Battery and camera): 1380  grams
Max Speed: 20m/s or 45mph
Flight Time: ≃ 28 minutes
Diagonal: 350mm
Radio range: ≃ 5000m
Battery: 6000mAh 2S liPo

The elegant looking Phantom 4 is an upgrade from the Phantom 3 Pro. It has the same camera as the Phantom 3 but it includes the 3 axis gimbal on an internal mount for extra smoothness of footage. The Phantom 4 is quite a bit more expensive than the Phantom 3 Pro, however, there are a number of new features that improve the flying experience and help to justify its price.

One improvement is that the Phantom 4’s maximum speed is now 45mph. This is an increase of over 25% so it’s a noticeable improvement. Secondly, they have increased the maximum control range to a whopping 3.1 miles and increased their flight time to 28 minutes.

DJI’s most revolutionary change has been their additions to their already brilliant advanced flight modes. They have added a tap to fly feature which enables the pilot to simply tap a spot on their FPV screen and the Phantom 4 will fly straight to that spot. They have also added new “obstacle avoidance” sensors which help to detect objects around it to help you avoid crashing.

One thing to consider is that it is a few hundred dollars more expensive that the Phantom 3 Pro. If you’re on a tighter budget and you don’t feel these extra features are that important I’d go for the Phantom 3 Pro, which is still an incredible drone. If you can afford to spend a bit more then I wholeheartedly recommend this drone. Overall the Phantom 4 is reliable, silky smooth, and one of the best camera drones money can buy.


2. Yuneec Typhoon h

YUNEEC TYPHOON H

Weight: (with Battery and camera): 1850 grams
Max Speed: 10m/s or 22mph
Flight Time: ≃ 25 minutes
Diagonal: 410mm
Radio range: ≃ 1600m
Battery: 8700mAH liPo

The Typhoon H is one of the most stable and coolest looking drones there is. The most obvious feature of this drone is that it has 6 rotors instead of the usual 4. This is designed to give it greater stability and to make sure it will able to continue flying even if one or two rotors stop working.

One of the drawbacks of most other drones is that you can only record video when facing forward because the landing gear limits the shooting area. On the Typhoon H the landing gear raises up at the press of a button and you have a rotating gimbal allowing you to see a full 360 view. There is also dual control so you can control the flight while some else controls the camera.

The Camera is a CGO3+ which provides 12-megapixel resolution and 4K video resolution with quality that is very similar to the DJI 4K camera. This camera is also detachable for a handheld mount. The Typhoon includes intelligent features such as obstacle avoidance, watch me, follow me, auto land and takeoff, points of interest and orbit.

Yuneec keep up their reputation of providing great value by including accessories. The package includes two spare batteries, an adapter, a handheld camera mount and a backpack. In addition to this, the transmitter includes a brilliant 7 inch touchscreen which delivers 720p image quality at 30fps, so you won’t have to worry about attaching your smartphone or tablet.

This is a large drone but is actually quite convenient to carry around because the arms of the Typhoon fold inwards so you can easily fit it into your case (Although it is still quite heavy!).

Unfortunately, the main downfalls of the Yuneec Typhoon are the same as the Yuneec Q500 – speed and transmission distance. This drone isn’t very fast and travels up to 23mph normally but up to 44mph in follow me mode. Also, the control range and video transmission range is low. The operating range is 1000 meters but the video transmission starts getting choppy after around 700 meters. This is still a good distance but not as good as the Phantom.

Overall this is a great drone. It’s very close in performance to the Phantom 4 it just depends on which specifications you value more. If you want something which can video at speed over long distances then go for the Phantom 4. If you want more camera maneuverability and stability then go for the Typhoon.


1. DJI inspire 1

DJI INSPIRE 1

Weight: (with Battery and camera): 2935 grams
Max Speed: 22m/s or 50mph (attitude mode with no wind)
Flight Time: ≃ 18 minutes
Diagonal Distance: 559 to 581mm
Radio range: ≃ 2000m
Battery: 4500mAh 22.2V liPo

The DJI inspire is a phenomenal piece of engineering. It comes with the features of the phantom 4 but with a larger, more intelligent, and higher quality design. It has a long range transmission distance and really high speed. The sheer strength and agility of this machine enables you to fly it in stronger winds and still maintain a really high image quality.

One of my favorite features of this drone is its transforming design which makes the landing gear and propellers rise up during flight. This combined with the 360-degree gimbal rotation ensures that you will achieve max visibility and capture all angles at high speed without seeing the arms or propellers. You can also control the movement of the camera independently of the drone itself. This is great if you’re flying with someone and want to make sure you get that perfect shot.

The inspire has the same camera specifications as the Phantom 4. A 4k video camera which records at 24FPS or 30FPS at 3840 x 2160 and captures 12MP stills. There is a 94° field of view and a non-fisheye lens so all images will be very professional and top quality. The camera is also detachable and can be used with a handheld camera mount. Other features include intelligent flight modes – follow me, course lock, home lock, waypoints, and points of interest.

It’s hard to pick a negative with this quadcopter but the battery duration is its biggest weakness. It flies for approximately 15-18 minutes which is not as long as some of the other 4k quads. It’s also considerably more expensive than the Phantom 4, despite having the same camera! Also, you have to remember that DJI aren’t great for customer service, which can be frustrating if you do encounter any issues.

If you really want to splash the cash you can buy one of the upgraded models, the Inspire 1 pro or the Inspire 1 raw. The main difference between these is the camera. The inspire 1 comes with a Zenmuse X3, while the pro comes with a Zenmuse X5 16MP and the raw a Zenmuse X5R 16MP.

Overall this drone is for people who want the best tool you can buy for professional aerial photography. It’s easy to fly and with an incredible design that’s ready to fly straight out the box. Such a great design and the upgradeable camera means that you won’t have to buy a new drone as technology advances.

 

 

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About the author

Mike Skelton

I’ve been building and flying toys since the 1990s and I love drones. Over the last couple of years I've had more and more people asking me what the best drones for sale are, whether they want one as a toy for their child or for photography. So I set up this blog to share my knowledge and help you understand the wonderful world of drones.

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