Quadcopters make astounding aerial vehicles that stun spectators with well-executed flips and twists in the sky, but all drone fans know that they do more than that.
Those who need to capture aerial shots from the air for their work will find a drone with a HD camera highly useful. It is a must to have some savvy in selecting a drone with a camera.
How to choose a quadcopter with an HD camera
Bear a few pointers in mind when choosing a drone with a camera.
1. Possible use
The first of these tips is to think of how you might use it. If you are an amateur photographer who needs to capture mesmerizing aerial shots, you will need a drone with a camera. Real estate professionals who need to scour properties in an area will also find the aerial images taken by camera drone handy.
2. Skill level and safety
Then, consider your skill level. If you are a beginning pilot, it is not advisable to invest in an expensive drone. Every drone is accident prone, so consider your experience when buying one.
3. Assembly or Ready to Fly
Many people who enjoy assembling vehicles, while others are in a hurry to fly their drones as soon as they take them out of the box. You can pilot drones that come Ready to Fly (RTF) immediately. You may have to spend some time attaching motors and rotors to others. Think about whether you are patient enough to put a drone together before buying one.
Of course, you must think of what comes in a quadcopter package. Spare parts add to a drone’s durability. You are likely to fly a drone into trees, especially if you are piloting one for the first time. Extra rotors or propeller guards will become useful.
If you have flown drones for some time, you are likely to have a camera or other equipment on hand. If you already own a Go Pro camera, you may want to consider a drone that enables you to attach it.
6. Flight time
You will definitely need to put flight time on your list of considerations when picking a drone out. Some drones only fly for 5 to 7 minutes, while others have more powerful batteries that allow them to stay in the air for a longer time.
7. Imaging Sensor Type
To decide on the effectiveness of your quadcopter’s camera, find out what image sensor it uses. Digital cameras either use CCD (charge coupled device) or CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensors.
Cameras with CMOS sensors generate lower quality images, because photons tend to hit transistors. They are cheaper because manufacturers can produce them by using any production line. Such cameras are also lighter.
Digital cameras that rely on CCD sensors use a lot of power, but they generate high quality images. They are light-sensitive and have a better range. They also produce less noise.
8. Video encoding
Digital cameras use an NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) or PAL (Phase Alternating Line) system to encode videos. NTSC systems are mostly used in America, while PAL systems are prevalent in Europe, Africa and parts of Asia.
PAL systems have a 720 by 576 dpi resolution, with a frame rate of 25fps. NTSC systems offer users a 720 by 480 dpi resolution, and a frame rate of 30fps. PAL systems offer better resolution, while NTSC systems have a better frame rate.
9. Field of view
Different cameras have different focal widths and lengths. The lower the length, the wider the width or Field of View (FOV). If the camera’s FOV is too wide, it will create a fish-eye effect. It is important to pick a field of view that you are comfortable with.
10. Camera resolution definition
Experts use TVL (TV lines) to measure a camera’s resolution. TV lines refer to the number of black and white alternating lines it can display. A 600 TVL camera can display 300 black and 300 white lines. A camera with better definition will have a higher TVL.
11. Camera size and voltage
You must find a camera of a suitable weight. Most digital cameras weigh between 20 to 50 grams. They come with either 3.5 or 12 volts of power. Those with 12 volts of power are useful, because you can usually power them with your main LIPO battery.
12. Camera settings
The best quadcopter digital cameras allow users to change their settings from their screen displays. Take some time to understand your chosen camera’s settings if you are a beginning pilot.
The Best Quadcopters with HD cameras
Bearing these considerations in mind, these are some of the best quadcopters with cameras on the market.
Blade 350 QX3 AP combo RTF
The Blade QX3 RTF quadcopter is one which pilots and photographers will fall in love with immediately. Competent in the air and able to capture stunning aerial images, it serves their needs.
Suitable for first time pilots, it includes a DX4 transmitter powered by the Spektrum technology used by PC experts the world over. Pilots have absolute control of their craft, which stays in the air for more than 15 minutes. Smart Mode, which allows it to fly in the direction the pilot pushes the transmitter’s stick, is suitable for novice pilots. AP mode, for skilled pilots and photography enthusiasts, allows a pilot to maneuver the craft at different pitches and angles.
The QX3’s Return to Home feature makes sure that it never gets lost. The QX3 flies right out of the box, so there is hardly anything to assemble.
What amazes many about this nifty craft is how easy it is to control. Not complex, novice pilots can master it almost immediately. Lightweight, it weighs a mere 7.5 ounces (213 grams).
Few cameras can produce the high-definition photographs that the QX3’s camera captures. Professional photographers will find this lightweight quadcopter a boon. Forests and streams have never looked better from the air. The camera pans steadily, recording clear, smooth images. For its price range, its camera and gimbal are top quality.
Walkera Scout X4
Another gem is the Walkera Scout X4. This sleek drone is the perfect flying tool for every pilot. It also an apt choice for aerial photographers.
Waypoint mission planning allows pilots to plan and trace the X4’s flight path. They can set the craft’s designated take off points via their touch screens, allowing it to launch anywhere they want it to. With the Follow Me mode, the drone goes anywhere the pilot does. GPS position holding makes sure that the craft hovers in place when it has to. Pilots can enable GPS position holding with a single touch of a button. With these features and the Return to Home facility, the X4 never gets lost.
A multipurpose plane, the craft can use either 4-motors or 8 motors. This increases its payload when needed.
One of the great plus points of the X4 is its Real Time Telemetry feature. Pilots can trace the footage that the craft’s Ilook camera captures in real-time. The 720P Ilook camera offers high-definition transmission. With the help of a G2D brushless gimbal, images are stable. The camera snaps them at 30 fps. This lightweight camera weighs merely 125 grams.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus comes ready to fly. Pilots do not need to spend undue time putting the Vision Plus together, because it can fly as soon as they remove it from the box. The integrated GPS auto-pilot system offers altitude lock and stable hovering. The return home feature and an anti-static compass make sure that pilots never lose their craft.
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus comes with a high-definition camera that captures photos at 720 p and videos at 1080p. Smooth flight allows pilots to snap 14 megapixel photos without any shaky, “jello” effects. A 3-axis gimbal ensures steady shots, while its tilt control feature allows the camera to capture images from unique perspectives. Photographers can choose to capture images in slow motion.
The Vision Plus has an IOS and Android compatible application that allows real-time telemetry monitoring of its images and videos. Pilots can synchronize the images and videos they capture by beaming them straight to their mobile phones via WIFI.
DJI Phantom 3 professional quadcopter
Pilots and photographers who want a flawless combination of flight and photography should consider the DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter. Coming in standard and professional versions, it never fails to impress.
As with the Phantom 2 Vision Plus, DJI includes in-built GPS features in the Phantom 3. A pilot can record the craft’s takeoff point and recall it at the touch of a button. The Return Home and Follow Me features keep the drone with the pilot, guaranteeing that it will never become lost.
The Phantom 3 is clearly a quadcopter that beginners can control. It hovers in place at the touch of a switch. Dynamic motors, with electromagnets that keep them under control, allow a pilot to guide it along the path he wants. It flies for 25 minutes after a single charge.
Stable flight aside, those most remarkable feature of the Phantom 3 is that it is a flying, 12 megapixel HD camera. A 3 axis gimbal guarantees smooth, crystalline images. DJI’s handy functional mobile application allows real-time telemetry, so photographers can see view the footage the craft captures and edit it on the go. This feature allows them to experience mesmerizing views from above.
DJI Inspire 1
Drone and photography enthusiasts can turn to another quadcopter DJI’s arsenal of aerial devices, the Inspire 1. Like its fellow drones, its efficiency never fails to marvel.
GPS location features track the drone, while its Vision Positioning system allows pilots to enjoy flight experiences indoors. Pilots can do this even when GPS is unavailable. An ideal quadcopter for beginning pilots, it has an auto takeoff and landing feature that makes it easy to manage. The craft’s Return to Home feature ensures that the drone is never lost. Dynamic, the home point moves wherever the pilot goes. He will always know where the drone lands. Remote control customization allows a pilot to tailor the drone’s transmitter controls to his needs. The intelligent power management system tells a pilot how long he can fly. A dynamic propulsion system caters to advanced flight.
The inspire 1’s 4K, 720p camera is another high functioning tool. DJI’s mobile application, compatible with IOS and Android devices, allow real-time telemetry. A user sees what the camera does. Lightbridge technology transmits images and video wirelessly, up to 2km away. The craft’s modular system allows pilots to upgrade his camera at any time.
Tips & Tricks
Those who are looking for a more affordable quadcopter to capture high-definition aerial images from different perspectives can consider the Blade QX3, which costs under $900 on Amazon. It has a high quality camera that snaps aerial shots in Aerial Photography mode.
Pilots and photographers who need to carry a heavier loads may consider the Walkera Scout X4. A multipurpose plane, pilots can fly it using either 4 or 8 motors. Its Ilook camera has a 2D brushless gimbal that keeps it steady.
Photographers who need to take precise shots in place can consider the Phantom 2 Vision Plus or the Phantom 3. Note that the Phantom 3 has a Professional version. The Standard version has a camera that captures only 2.7 K of HD video, while the Professional version takes 4K HD shots. A professional photographer will prefer the Phantom 3 Professional drone.
Beginning pilots and photographers should have the DJI Inspire 1 in mind. Remote control customization caters to their needs. Its camera capture flawless 4K HD video.
Choosing a quadcopter with a camera depends on what you look for in both. This said, these recommended drones will delight aspiring photographers and pilots.