Headless mode is another prerequisite feature for your dream device. Also referred to as cheater mode, the headless mode allows you to direct the drone to see any direction it goes as forward. Thus, you do not have to bother about flipping it around and bringing it back to your location at the end of a flight. Once the headless mode has been activated, simply push the joystick in the corresponding direction you want your device to move towards.
The Altair Aerial Outlaw Drone is one of the best GPS drones around and the absolute best that you can find for under $300. Thanks to the stabilization features in GPS flight mode, this drone will keep itself hovering in midair at whatever place you choose for it to go, making it easy to line up the perfect shot for your photo or video camera. It also has a 1000 meter flight range and a flight time of nearly 20 minutes, which is great for aerial photographers who need time for a longer shoot. If you want high definition, pro-quality photography at a price that won’t break the bank, the Outlaw is the choice for you!
There’s a reason you see DJI’s Inspire showing up everywhere from movie sets to Enrique Iglesias concerts — it’s a beast. The Inspire 2 boasts some seriously impressive specs: a controllable range of up to 4.3 miles, a top speed of 67 miles per hour, forward obstacle avoidance, and all the stabilization and autopilot features you could ever ask for in a drone. But the camera is definitely the star of the show.
Yuneec also has a model with a Micro Four Thirds camera. Its Tornado H920 is a huge drone with six rotors and room to hold three batteries, giving it an unheard of 42-minute flight capability. Its CGO4 camera is essentially a custom version of the Panasonic GH4, a favorite of many a terrestrial videographer. It doesn't record uncompressed video like the Inspire 2, but it's less expensive.
The other primary consideration is how the photos and video are stored after you take them. Drones with WiFi capabilities will work with your mobile device, letting you see and store media real-time on your phone. For those that don’t, you’ll store the media on the drone, usually on a microSD card. If this is the case, know how much storage the drone comes with and whether (and by how much) it can be upgraded.
All of these multirotors include the essentials; a battery, charger, remote (more commonly referred to as a transmitter), and of course the quadcopter itself. All of these are controlled using a standard mode 2 style transmitter with the throttle on the left and adjustable trim settings. They all also handle using the same basic control scheme and the same basic auto-leveling flight mode, but much like a car, they all feel distinctly different to control.
Many manufacturers mount cameras inside the body of the drone. This is acceptable for casual photography, but if you want more professional results, consider adding an external camera mount, or gimbal. Gimbals allow you to place your video or still camera in front of the drone body, away from the vibrating motor and rotors. Gimbals can swivel and pivot, providing you with additional control over your imagery.
Even if you have no good reason to justify buying one, you have to admit that drones are cool. Some are glorified tech toys, but most models we highlight here are fit for use in imaging and cinematic applications small and large. If you think you can use a flying camera in your next project, there's some good news—the tech has come a long way in a very short time. There are models on the market now that put earlier copters to shame in terms of video quality and stabilization.
While DJI may be the first name you think of when it comes to drones, it isn't the only game in town. You can also look at models from Autel Robotics, Parrot, PowerVision, and Yuneec. Others have dabbled in the consumer drone space and exited quickly—GoPro pulled its Karma after a rocky launch and poor sales, and 3D Robotics tried to get in with the Solo, but also gave up the fight to focus on the industrial and enterprise spaces.
Justin is a certified Drone Enthusiast with several years experience piloting as many UAV aircraft as he can get his hands on. While shooting footage as a hobby has now become more of a full time job, Justin still enjoys the peaceful feeling of getting a birds eye view while hiking or on vacation with his family. Reach out to Justin by using the Dronethusiast Contact Page or email at [email protected]
The word “drone” has taken on a few different meanings over the years. Some people think of a drone as a bee, others might think of those predator drones that the military uses. The drones that most people talk about today are simply radio controlled aircraft that have some level of autonomous features. A drone can be a plane, a helicopter, a quadcopter, or any combination in-between. Most of the drones sold today are quadcopters. They have 4 rotors and a flight controller that is used to stabilize the lift from the each propeller.
Another one of the great drone on this list with the beginner in mind, the UDI 818A HD Drone is electric powered, radio controlled, and equipped with six gyroscopes for stabilization. Although it can take a decent beating, it is recommended that this drone not be flown above asphalt or concrete, as it is still made of plastic, and can break if improperly used.