What is the best Quadcopter with Camera?
If you are just getting started with quadcopters and have decided that you want a quadcopter with camera, you need to know that you have quite a lot of options. In fact, the term camera drone covers a lot of ground . You could get a quadcopter with a camera for around $20 or you could pay upwards of several thousand dollars. You could be looking for a toy or mini quad, a racing quadcopter with a FPV (first person view ) system or you could be looking for a dedicated camera drone specifically for aerial photography.
So the first thing that you need to do before you can decide what the best quadcopter with a camera for you is, is to decide exactly what you want to do with it.
Here is a breakdown of your options for camera drones to make your decision easier.
Are you just looking to get into the quadcopter hobby or will this be your first drone?
In that case, there are 2 points you should consider.
Firstly , you may not actually like it. Often the idea is more fun than actually getting stuck in. I personally don’t think this is the case here but it might apply for you. So, you should start with a cheap quadcopter (with camera) that you will quickly outgrow but that will let you experience the hobby first hand.
Secondly, if you have not flowen a drone before, the chances are that you will suck at it at first and you will crash it. True, a lot of the camera drones specifically for aerial photography pretty much fly themselves , but there is always the chance that something will break and you will need to fly your drone in manually. If you haven’t learnt how to fly previously, that could result in a vert expensive crash or even worse a lost quadcopter.
Flying a quadcopter looks easy (and some of the automatic ones can be) b ut in general, it is not as intuitive as you might think and it can take a lot of practice. Flying LOS (line of sight) has its challenges such as maintaining height and working out your quads orientation. Then if it is a FPV (first person view) quadcopter that you are going for, be prepared for a very steep learning curve, especially in acro mode. (When I first started learning to fly FPV, I couldn’t even turn a corner without crashing or going off in some wild direction and I have a background of a lot of games which made me think I would just pick it up.
So, if this is your first quad or first quadcopter with a camera then I’d advise that you buy cheap and expect to buy twice! 😉
Here are some suggestions for you to consider.
If you just want to learn to fly LOS:
If you want to learn to fly FPV
One if the cheapest ways to try this out is the Hubsan H107D. That quad has a few serious limitations but they can be overcome with a few mods. It is very cheap as a package. There is a n upgraded model (the Hubsan H107D+) which would be a much better choice now
You get into aerial photography with a camera drone:
The Syma X5UW is a entry level camera drone but it has some cool features like flips and more importantly it is very easy to control with features like hover and automatic take off and landing. The range isn’t huge at around 50M but it gives you a nice intro to flying.
It has FPV via Wifi. That is the cheaper option that will always have some lag but it you just want it to help you position then it isn’t a bad choice. Its almost always cheaper than the more advanced 5.8ghz options though as you can use your phone as a screen.
The biggest selling point or the Syma x5UW is how often it gets copied If you look around, you will see loads of cheap quadcopters that look just like the Syma. That’s because its good, it packs a lot of features in and its a great price. That all makes it a great option for beginner pilots.
What if you are more advanced and you know what you want from a quadcopter with camera?
Your choices here really come down to whether you want to go down the racing quad route or the photography route.
Racing quadcopter with Camera
Racing quadcopters are flown in what is called FPV mode and these drones typically carry 2 cameras. One camera which transmits the video back to either a screen or goggles and one for capturing the footage for playback later. The reason why these quadcopters need 2 different cameras has to do with the capabilities and limitations of each. FPV cameras need to have very low latency or lag. Even a tiny delay in processing the video and transmitting it can result in what you see being significantly behind where your quad is and when you are travelling at 100mph, that results in crashes quick!
GoPros and similar cameras which are the the standard for the video capture , record amazing footage but have relativly large delays (in the 10’s of milliseconds range) which results in un-flyable quads.
In order to keep the lag down and also to keep the data small enough for fast transmission, the FPV cameras tryically give much poorer quality video that looks grainy and flickery. This is good enough to fly be but not good enough for recorded videos.
There are many options for buying a racing quad now and you can buy cheap RTF models or you can build them yourself from scratch. Banggood and gearbest tend to be the cheapest options.
The big choices are Brushed or brushless motors and then micro or full size quads.
Brushed motors are cheaper and less powerful.
Brushless mini quadcopters
Until recently, this was not really an option but there are quite a few great brushless micro quads on the marklet now due to improving technology.
These things are fast! The brushless motors are powerful and the micro quads weigh next to nothing. That means they are great fun but I would probably advise starting out with a less powerful (and cheaper) brushed micro quad to learn with.
Once you are ready though you have quite a few options. Id recommend looking checking out the Eachine Arora as a great brushless Racing drone.
Full size racing drone with cameras.
Once you decide to go for a full size racing quadcopter your options are endless. You can buy any parts and generally, you will be able to swap out and upgrade as you go. That being said, there a lot of RTF or ARTF (almost ready to fly) packages available available to get you started.
One pre-built racing drone which is absolutely amazing is the Diatone Crusader 220. This one is unbelievably fast and achieves speed and manoeuvrability that has only been seen in custom quads up until now. Check out the video below to get an idea but be careful with it as it is a beast!
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