One of the coolest things nowadays is to own a drone even if there is absolutely no reason to have one. Only recently launched, the trend of flying a drone has been on an exponential rise with various drone manufacturers collaborating with camera makers to add that extra star to your adventurous trips or filmmaking. And, this is your one-stop-read to everything there is to know about some of the best camera drones out there in the present market.
The drone market is currently dominated by Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co. or DJI. A Chinese company known for manufacturing hi-end drones in the market; in other words, it is the Apple of smartphone industry and its Phantom lineup is the iPhone. However, in addition to DJI’s Phantom variants, we will also be talking about the company’s Mavic drone that has caught our attention and made it on the list here.
Best Drones With Camera In 2017
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
DJI Mavic Pro is the ultimate mixture of flying, light-weight design, and videography. It doesn’t matter if you’re an enthusiast or a professional; it is a drone worth your money. Even though there is a list of hi-end drones that you can opt for but Mavic Pro is the only one that requires zero trade-offs between compact design and travel-friendliness.
Here’s a look at key features of DJI Mavic Pro
The onboard camera at DJI Mavic Pro is capable of recording HD video at 4K/30fps or 1080p/96fps while flying into winds up to 24mph. The company-fit camera capable of clicking 12MP Raw or JPG format images and is ideal for photographers since it can switch between landscape and portrait orientation. In terms of focus, DJI Mavic Pro’s camera has the ability to sharpen on any object and move within 2-feet of it.
DJI Mavic Pro is integrated with improved OcuSync transmission system that empowers it to live stream HD video from more than four miles away. The aforementioned transmission system is paired with Precision Landing System that enables it to safely land within one inch of where it took off; landing protocol makes use of GPS coordinates and video camera.
Controllers are the final nails in the coffin when it comes to drones and users demand them to be equally well designed and compact. So far, DJI has never disappointed with its drone controllers and similar is the case here, Mavic Pro’s controller is not only fancy like the drone itself but it comes with the ability to support your smartphone as a monitor. Yes, users can tether their smart devices to the controller and hold it as their display screen for the HD camera mounted on the drone.
One of the key attractions of Mavic Pro is its app that offers complete control over flight. In addition to this, the Intelligent Flight Mode offers the following features:
- Point of Interest: It allows Mavic Pro to circle a targeted coordinate.
- Waypoints: It allows the drone to repeat its trajectory, marking the displacements from the point it was initiated.
- Follow Me: The feature is as simple as it sounds, following around the drone’s controller.
- Active Track: It is triggered to follow any moving object on the ground or space.
- Terrain Follow: A decent yet important feature to keep a safe distance from the ground.
Having a metal body, DJI Mavic Pro is not one of those premium drones that require tiresome disassembling before being packed in your bags. Given the rising popularity and demand of drones, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made it mandatory for drone owners to register their gadget before putting them in air.
All-in-all, the DJI Mavic Pro is going to do you a total damage of $999. It is one of the most professional drones with an affordable price tag. It delivers battery life, imagery, range and autonomous features that were previously expected from drones twice its size.
GoPro Karma Drone
Next up on our list—without a surprise—is none other than GoPro Karma. Now, some of the enthusiasts may beg to differ with our standards of evaluating a drone, but our list is based on thorough research. The fact that GoPro Karma has not only made it on the list but also hooked the second position is because of its factory-mounted action camera; the only feature that saved it from becoming a major market flop.
Let’s take a look at some of GoPro Karma’s key features:
Unlike most drones in the market that are not able to keep their cameras in-line while all that diving and dipping in the air, GoPro Karma is the key player in terms of steady imagery. In addition to stable images, GoPro has mounted the camera at drone’s front instead of placing it under the body. GoPro has already received enough criticism for trying out new camera placement since it only permits a few inches of camera rotation unless users intend to rotate the drone with it. However, on the bright side, images from front-mounted camera give zero interference from propellers and landing gear.
Coming toward the best part about GoPro Karma, the option to choose between GoPro Hero 4 and Hero 5. Yes, you read it right, fans have the option to make their pick between the two aforementioned amazing action-camera of GoPro; also depending on which one you can afford. Hero 5 offers recording options such as 1080p/120 and 720p/240. Both the cameras top at 4K at 30fps and they record; bottom line, GoPro Karma records audio, a unique feature that you will not find among DJI products.
Without a drama, GoPro Karma is out and about its backpack, and airborne in minutes. It is one of the few drones that do not demand a learning curve for newbies. But, the realistic flight time of the drone has stood out to be 18 minutes in total, 20 minutes if you’re lucky; we know that’s not too exciting. As far as the speed is concerned, GoPro Karma maxes out at 35 mph and it faces no trouble flying close to the ground. However, numerous reports on the internet suggest that the drone tends to drift around while hovering. In terms of distance, GoPro Karma can go as far as 3Km or 3000 meters—sufficiently far enough to be the pilot’s added pair of sight. However, it is important here to mention that the FAA’s latest regulations require drones to stay insight of their respective pilots.
If GoPro was not famous for its action cameras, Karma’s controllers would have been the best feature of the drone. Karma’s controllers have taken care of all the hassle and efforts that go into connecting a smartphone; the controller comes with a built-in screen that only requires you to flip it open for a decent view straight from the mounted action camera on the drone.
In addition to the portability of the drone, GoPro Karma comes with a Handheld Stabilizer that enables users to record seamless video even when on the move. When packed, the drone weighs around 10lbs, significantly lighter than other comparable drones in the market. Having said this, light weight is no substitute for outdated software. GoPro Karma’s operating system doesn’t support some of the attractive features such as:
- Follow Me mode
- Obstacle Avoidance
- Downward Positioning Sensor
After all the ups and downs, GoPro Karma is going to cost you $799 without a camera, so it’s a must-buy for all those who already own GoPro Hero 4. As for those who just became a fan of action-camera maker after reading the review, they will have to shell out $999 or $1099 for Karma bundled with Hero 4 or Hero 5, respectively.
DJI Phantom 4 Drone
Securing the third spot on our list is yet another product from DJI, the DJI Phantom 4. Carefully designed for aerial photography and cinematography, this DJI drone is one of the most intelligent and user-friendly camera drone. DJI particularly launched this product to target extravagant photographers. It’s almost like an airborne DSLR, which explains the attached price tag, but we shall get to that later.
Here’s a look at the important areas of DJI Phantom 4:
Starting off with what DJI Phantom 4 came into the market for, the imagery. Now, other drones may have similar or better cameras, but they offer only a limited set of angles and that annoys photography enthusiasts to a great extent; we’re talking about f/2.8 lens that wider than most competitors out there. The drone-mounted camera can be rotated 90 degrees without its vision being intercepted by the drone’s body itself. In terms of specifications, Phantom 4 records video in 4K at 30fps and its resolution goes as high as 12MP in still images.
Compared with its predecessor—DJI Phantom 3—Phantom 4 runs a total flight time of 28 minutes, which is 5 minutes longer than its older version. Its speed tops at 45 mph and weighs considerably appropriate given its hi-end features. If we were to compare it with usual RTF camera drones, DJI Phantom 4 has shown more stable flight and can fly as far as 4.3 miles away from its radio source.
Like controllers of the aforementioned drones, DJI Phantom 4 is on the same page in terms of attractive controllers. A handy grip may be secondary to many people, but enthusiasts cannot look beyond the one-touch functionalities introduced right on the controller. In addition to this, the DJI Phantom 4 charges your connected smart device right from the controller itself.
As pointed out earlier, DJI Phantom 4 was particularly rolled out for photographers and it fulfills all other basic requirements as well in addition to imagery. For example, its operating system takes care of the following modes:
- Point of Interest
- GPS Waypoint
- Course Lock
- Return to Home
- Follow Me
- Gesture Mode
The drone’s Phantom 4 Pro variant offers additional features including Active Track, TapFly, and Draw that assist in hi-end videography and cinematic shots. Now, DJI may have put a bit heavy price tag on this machine, but we have had our test run and it is absolutely worth the money. DJI Phantom 4 comes with a total damage of $1,399 and additional accessories can add a few more bucks.
That’s a wrap, for now, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that you too must have fallen in love with drones by now, particularly drones with the camera. You may have become a fan our top picks mentioned above but we assure you, the drone industry all over is JUST GETTING STARTED.