Best Camera Drones Buying Guide (2018 Update)

Exceptional aerial photos and videos appear in magazines, television and social media on a daily basis. Stunning drone imagery probably has you in awe thinking about how you can acquire a camera drone to shoots these shots for yourself. Drone aerials breathe new life into the cityscapes we thought we knew from the ground; our childhood dreams of flight realized. Here’s all you need to know when considering your first camera drone (For photographers, here are 8 things to know before buying a drone for photography).

What exactly are camera drones?

Drones, also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are multi-rotor, remote controlled flying devices. ‘Camera drones’ are drones equipped with cameras. Camera drones push the limits of how we typically perceive the world around us, offering new possibilities for filming, photography, inspection, surveying, mapping and more.

What can you do with camera drones?

Camera drones enable us to access spaces and create compositions in fresh new ways. They are increasingly used in a variety of occasions: for professional aerial photography or cinematography, recording moments in different sporting events, getting cool travel snaps and capturing unique photos for events including weddings and casual gatherings.

Stunning city view
Photo from SkyPixel   Photographer: Island

Wedding heart of love
Photo from SkyPixel  Photographer: Johann Pidoux

What should you consider when buying your new camera drone?

It is a good time to get yourself a camera drone. The best UAV companies are continuously trying to impress the market with unique and innovative camera drone models that not only have great features but are also reliable and intuitive. What’s more, prices of camera drones have come down. You can buy an entry-level camera drone for less than $400 USD. For close to $2000 USD you can purchase a drone with professional image quality and performance.

Camera drones come with a ton of features, and it is important to think about these to find the one most suitable for you:

  1. Flight Safety & Reliability

Safety is always a key issue when buying a camera drone. Stable and worry-free flight requires an advanced flight controller, which handles commands intelligently. The more intelligent the brain, the greater the chances your shiny new camera drone won’t fall out of the sky, broken and uninvited. Try to find a camera drone with an advanced obstacle avoidance system. Top drones even have features like auto return-to-home for when the drone’s battery is running low.

  1. Imaging System

Good camera drones are powerful tools that have high-definition camera capabilities for industry-leading image quality. Sensor size, ISO range, shutter speed, photography modes and more decide which bracket the camera drone will fit. Professional level camera drones will have 1 inch sensors and are able to capture at least 12 megapixels photographs and video in 4K or even 5.2K and RAW.

Equally important is the gimbal quality. Aerial photography requires stabilization for capturing smooth footage during flight. That is why we emphasize choosing a top quality gimbal, that can reduce the shake resulting from flight. Currently, on the market, there are 2-axis gimbals and 3-axis gimbals, and we strongly recommend going for no less than the latter.

  1. Transmission System

Video transmission is a vital aspect of aerial photography in that it transmits what the camera captures straight to your phone in real time. If video transmission is delayed or interfered with, you might find it difficult to control your drone’s HD camera, let alone store those carefully captured images. Advanced transmission systems support dual frequencies of both 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz for greater interference resistance, and have a long transimitting distance.

  1. Intelligent Functions

Top camera drones are equipped with a handful of smart flight features. These make capturing stunning footage in difficult situations much easier and fun. For example, for times when you are shooting fast-moving objects, a feature like “ActiveTrack” will direct the camera drone to recognize and track a subject while keeping it in the frame. There are a variety of other intelligent features available on camera drones, so do be sure to check those out before buying your camera drone!

  1. Portability

‘Portability’ is the new trend of the camera drone market. Most of the time, it is inconvenient and tough to carry a large, heavy camera drone around. This is particularly the case for those of you who want to shoot when traveling. By that rationale, smaller camera drones make it infinitely easier for you to shoot on the go, no matter if hiking or partying.

  1. Service

Camera drones are relatively easy to damage while expensive to repair. This is why what value-added services are offered with your drone is a crucial factor when deciding which drone manufacturer to go with. Besides the standard warrantee, buying your camera drone from a company that offers in-depth tutorials, personal training, workshops and so on is a smart decision. What’s more, there are accident insurance services available. For novice pilots, these services are always a big plus.

Best Drone Recommendations (Updated for Early 2018):

No. 1 – Mavic Air  Check the Price

– Powerful and portable

– 4K 3-axis gimbal camera

– 3-directional environment sensing

– Takes 32 MP Sphere panoramas quickly

– SmartCapture mode

No. 2 – Spark  Check the Price

– Affordable mini drone that features all of DJI’s signature technologies

– Easy-to-fly with gesture control

– Suitable for beginners

– 12MP photos for selfies

No. 3 – Mavic Pro  Check the Price

– Ideal for enthusiasts, beginners, and travelers

– Foldable and portable

– 4K camera

– 27-minute flight time

– 7KM control range

No. 4 – Phantom 4 Pro Check the Price

– For professionals seeking excellent image quality and industry-leading flight performance

– 4K videos and 20MP Photos

– 30-minute flight time

– 1-inch sensor

– 7KM control range

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