Camera drones are all the rage right now among photography enthusiasts and filmmakers. And now that the price of camera drones has come down significantly since they were first released, the interest is skyrocketing. There are many different drones with a camera available right now, ranging from $100 to drones to buy for $1000 and up.
There are different level of drone photography enthusiasts, and here we have different levels of camera drones on this list: one flying camera drone for the experience pilot, one for the intermediate, and one for brand new pilots.
Read on to see our choices for the top 5 best camera drones to buy in 2016, and if you’re looking for more drones for sale that don’t necessarily have cameras or auto follow drones, check out our other lists.
1. DJI Inspire 1 EVERYTHING You Need Kit $4,199
The best of the camera drones to buy is the DJI Inspire 1. The DJI Inspire 1 has a cutting edge design that allows for two controllers to be used simultaneously — one to control the drone’s flight, and the other to control the camera. This drone with camera gives users an unprecedented level of control for recording and snapping photos.
Of course, the DJI Inspire 1 wouldn’t be the best camera drone if it didn’t have a 4K camera (which it does). It also has a 3-axis gimbal that can rotate to get the perfect view of what the user is filming. With the Inspire, you’re able to record 4K video at 24-30FPS, or 1080p at up to 60FPS. The camera snaps photos at 12 megapixels. And because you can control the camera while someone else flies it, you’re able to capture shots that are more complex and artistic than ever before.
The arms are made up carbon fiber, giving users the strength to maneuver in the air. The Inspire 1 can reach speeds up to almost 50 mph, and can stay in the air with a flight time of up to 18 minutes.
The DJI Inspire 1 also uses Trackimo Tracker technology for when your drone flies out of sight. The Trackimo tracker is the lightest GPS tracker available, and it gives you instant alerts on your phone.
The Inspire 1 also has a few new features that have yet to be seen in any of the other drones to buy on the market, including a sonar positioning mechanism, 4K camera, and an optional dual controller system.
DJI also has the Phantom 2 vision and Phantom 3 out now as well, but they’re more for hobbyists, whereas the Inspire 1 is intended more for drone video enthusiasts and professionals. In our opinion, you won’t find a better flying camera for the price.
The DJI Inspire 1 made Heavy’s list of the 6 best drones for sale for its innovative two controller design that works flawlessly to capture 4K video. This camera drone captures the smoothest footage of any of the other drones available, which is why we consider it not only the best DJI drone, but also the best quadcopter with camera available. If you’re looking to go absolutely crazy, there’s an even better DJI Inspire 1 deal in our list of the best drone kits for sale.
- DJI Inspire 1 Aerial Camera Drone
- 2 Remotes
- Professional Travel Case
- 64GB UHS-I/U3 Micro SDHC Memory Card
- Battery Charger
- DJI TB48 Intelligent Flight battery
- DJi 1345 Self-Tightening Props
- High Speed Memory Card Reader
- Lanyard (from Drones Etc)
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
- Trackimo Tracker
Watch This Footage Captured With the DJI Inspire 1 Camera Drone
- Modular Design Allows For Upgrades
- 4K Video at 30FPS, 1080p at 60FPS
- Included case holds 6 batteries
- Comes with 64GB SD Card
- Live HD view
- Dual Controller Support
2. Yuneec Q500 Typhoon Quadcopter
For a cheaper option, Yuneec’s Q500 Typhoon drone with camera is a great option that will save you a significant amount of money. It comes in at just $1,249, and still has a ton of great features. While it’s not possible to capture 4K video with it, the Yuneec Q500 is capable of recording 1080P surveillance footage at 60FPS and snaps still photos at 16 megapixels. It also has a 3-Axis Gimbal to help get the perfect shot. It has a wide angle 130-degree field of view lens.
The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon comes bundled with the ST10 Personal Ground Station controller, which is a 10-channel, 2.4GHz transmitter and 5.8GHz video receiver. It uses traditional RC joysticks to pilot the drone, and it comes with a built-in Android mobile device that has a 4.5″ touchscreen to view FPV videos. While a 32GB SD card is all that is included, the Typhoon supports up to a whopping 128GB card.
The Q500 also comes with two stellar 5400mAh flight batteries that allows for up to 25 minutes of flight time per charge.
It’s also notable that this camera drone has three different flight modes: Smart Mode, Angle Mode, and Home Mode. The Smart Mode is designed for beginners and uses the on board GPS to establish a 26′ “SAFE circle” around the pilot to always ensure that the pilot never loses visual. Angle Mode is optimized for more experienced pilots, giving the user more control over the steep and pitch angles. Home Mode is a safety feature that can be activated via the ST10 controller at anytime, and will automatically return the drone to its home point.
Yuneec’s newest drone is frequently compared to the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus. What’s also notable about the Q500 Typhoon drone with camera is that it has great tech support (with all the contact information right at your fingertips when you first open the box). Users can easily find the information they need to contact the company about any issues that may arise with their new drone, and Typhoon always responds quickly to correct your issue. When you compare their customer service with DJI’s, Typhoon is the clear winner. The Yuneec Q500 is the perfect drone for intermediate to experienced users.
Price: $699 (36 percent off MSRP)
- Q500 Typhoon Drone
- 1080P HD Camera
- CGO2-GB 3 Axis Precision Gimbal
- ST10 Controller
- 2 Batteries
- 32GB Micro SD card
- Smartphone Mount
- Handheld Gimbal (CGO Steadygrip)
- Aluminum Case
Watch This Footage Captured With the Yuneec Q500 Camera Drone
- Great Customer Service
- 1080p at 60FPS
- Included case holds 6 batteries
- Comes with 8GB SD Card
- Live HD view
- No Dual Controls
- No 4K Camera
3. Parrot BeBop Full HD 1080P Fisheye Camera Drone
If you’re looking for the cheap camera drone option, the clear choice is the Parrot Bebop Quadcopter that has 14MP FULL HD 1080P capabilities for a fraction of the price of the other drones on this list. Obviously, the price drop means it comes with significantly less features. There’s no 4K capabilities nor does it record in 60FPS. But, it records full 1080P HD videos at 30FPS and can take stills at 14 megapixels. You can read our full Parrot Bebop Drone review here.
The Parrot Bebop drone is incredibly easy to fly, even without all of the bells and whistles that the higher-end camera drones have. It simply uses a smartphone (Android or iOS) as a controller, which works very well within its range (roughly 100 meters). However, there is now a SkyController available that gives the drone a much larger range, albeit it at a significant price increase. But the app that Parrot uses for its drones — FreeFlight 3 — is very well designed and has a ton of great options, including one button take off and landing, video quality, camera tilt and more.
Still, what you’re getting with the Parrot Bebop drone is a great starter camera drone that won’t break the bank. It flies high, flies fast, and is capable of taking high quality video. Its fisheye lens also makes photos look great.
One of the interesting design choices by Parrot with their Bebop drone is the fact that its camera is actually at the very nose of the camera, so it doesn’t come with a gimbal. However, filming great footage is easy to do once you nail the controls down (which is also quite easy to do). Even without the gimbal, the Bebop drone is easily able to take steady, non-shaky videos thanks to Parrot’s anti-vibration algorithms the camera drone uses.
The Parrot Bebop drone comes with two lithium ion batteries and has a total flight time of roughly 22 minutes (11 minutes per battery). It’s not the greatest battery life out there by any means, but it’s not the worse, either.
The Bebop’s most notable aspect is its price point and the fact that you’re able to record 1080p30FPS video at such a low entry cost, which is why this Parrot drone made Heavy’s list of the 6 best drones for sale. It is the best quadcopter with camera for newcomers to the hobby.
Price: $464.58 (7 percent off MSRP)
- Parrot Bebop with 1080p Camera
- Two Batteries
- Lens Cap
- Extra Rotors
Watch This Footage Captured With the Parrot Bebop Camera Drone
- Price point
- Incredibly easy to setup
- Color options
- 1080P HD Video
- Slight lag with controls becomes apparent with distance
- Only 100 meters when using your smartphone to fly
- Low flight time (11 minutes on a single charge)
4. DJI Phantom 4
Of course, DJI also has the Phantom 4 now available, and it’s worthy of being called one of the best camera drones on the market for numerous reasons. First, it’s able to capture full 4K ultra HD video at 30 fps, with 12 MP photos that are crisp and clear. Second, it has a whopping 28 minutes of flight time per battery. Third, it has a maximum control range of 3.1 miles (or 72kmh for our European friends reading this).
The DJI Phantom 4’s maximum speed is a zooming 44mph.
With their newest model, DJI also added a few features over its predecessor. It now has a Tap to Fly feature that allows you to just double tap any spot on your screen, sending the Phantom 4 to that spot. It also has a Visual Tracking feature now that allows you to tell your drone to follow a certain object (read: person). The person doesn’t have to wear a band or any beacon of any sort, the Phantom 4 just knows what it’s looking at, which is why it’s able to follow someone.
Finally, the newest DJI model adds a Sport Mode, which allows for a speed increase of 25% and increased agility. We also included the Phantom 4 on our list of the best follow drones on the market right now.
- DJI PHantom 4 Quadcopter
- Remote Controller
- 4 Quick Release Propellers (2 in each set)
- Intelligent Flight Battery
- Flight Battery Charger
- AC Cable for Charger
- Gimbal Clamp
- USB OTG Cable
- Micro USB Cable
- eDigital Brush Blower
- Bluetooth Earphone
Watch This Footage Captured With the DJI Phantom 4 Camera Drone
- 4K Video
- 28 Minute Flight Time on one battery
- Long Control Range
5. Blade Chroma 4K
Blade has been a minor player in the drone market for quite sometime, but their focus has always been cheap to middle of the line drones. We’ve talked about the Blade Nano QX a few times already, as it’s their most noteworthy drone available. But now, the company has entered into the high-end 4K camera drone race with the Blade Chroma 4K, and it comes in at just $800.
It might not have some of the bells and whistles as the Phantom 4, but it isn’t too far off. For one, it actually has a slightly longer flight time over the Phantom 4, coming in at a full 30 minutes of flight time on a single battery. It has a Smart Mode for first-time pilots, which basically means there’s a mode that allows newcomers to move the drone in whatever direction they move the control stick, regardless of the direction the drone is facing. This mode also creates a SAFE circle barrier, meaning there’s a sort of safety bubble over the controller so that it won’t fly too close to the pilot or someone standing next to the pilot.
It also has its own follow-me mode, allowing pilots to set their own distance and altitude so that they can focus on solely controlling the camera. Furthermore, it has a Tracking Mode which allows the drone to follow whoever has the ST-10+ controller. Like the Phantom 4, it also has a Return Home function.
It comes with the ST-10+ controller, which is widely considered to be one of the best in the business.
The most notable downgrade here is the still photo quality — the Phantom 4’s is notably better. The instructions that come with the Blade Chroma 4K aren’t nearly as easy to follow and detailed as DJI’s, either. And because DJI is more widely known and used, you’ll have an easier time troubleshooting it on the web.
- Blade Chroma Drone
- 4 rotors
- ST-10+ Controller
- Battery Charger
Watch This Footage Captured With the Blade Chroma 4k Camera Drone
- 4K Video
- 30 Minute Flight Time on one battery
- Comes with ST-10+
- Photos are lower quality
- Manual Isn’t Easy to Follow