If the drone we’re testing happens to have a camera capable of recording, we capture as much footage as we possibly can. We’ll shoot in dark places, light places, and places with lots of color and contrast. This footage is then compared to all the highlight reels that we filmed with other drones, which helps us get a sense of the camera’s strengths and weaknesses. We also test any accessories that accompany the camera, like lenses, filters, gimbals, or FPV goggles. Finally, we’ll also let you know if the camera setup is upgradable, so you wont be stuck with an outdated shooter in two years.
One of the cheaper options for an autopilot drone is the Hubsan H501S. It doesn’t have as many camera features as some of the more professional drones, but it is still equipped with some great auto features. It comes with a 1080p HD camera and has automatic return, altitude mode, and follow-me capabilities. It’s small, compact size makes it good for traveling and you get an average of 20 minutes of flying which is great for the price you’re paying. While more professional drone features are missing, you’re still getting a nice drone for less than $300.
The first retail multi-rotor drones were little more than flying toys with limited range and battery power. Their small motors were charged via battery pack, and a basic RF controller moved their rotors to achieve loops, dives, and hovers. But technology has grown in recent years, and today, many people use these types of drones to perform aerobatic stunts and aerial races.
This drone seriously has it all. It’s powerful. It’s portable. It can dodge obstacles autonomously. And to top it all off, it has a camera that produces some of the best-looking aerial imagery we’ve ever seen. Truth be told, you can get a lot of these features in the original (and still very good) Mavic Pro, but the Mavic 2 Pro just does everything better.
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.
The Mavic 2’s camera also blows the previous generation out of the proverbial water (or maybe the air?). Thanks to its larger 1-inch image sensor and better processing tech, the Mav 2 Pro can capture 4K video in 10-bit color — which essentially means it can capture nearly a billion more discrete colors than its predecessor. It also has aperture control, which gives you far more control over exposure and depth of field.
Similarly, having a few extra batteries won’t hurt, especially if you want to use the drone for extended periods of time at a go. Most drones over 50 have batteries that are available in six pack sets, with a charger also found within the set. These batteries can give you an average flight time of between 5 to 10 minutes before recharging, or replacing them if you don’t have a power source near you. Also note that battery time is usually affected by blade protectors, as well as when there’s a camera attached to the machine.
The drones we review are ready-to-fly models, so you can use them right out of the box. In most cases, you'll need to bring your own Android or iOS device to view the camera feed in real-time, but we've reviewed a few models that stream video directly to a remote control. We don't cover racing, industrial, or agricultural aircraft here—our focus is on aircraft intended for aerial imaging and videography.
The Holy Stone F181C is our second best drone under $100. The Remote Uses a modified controller that resembles a pad of the playback station with an additional LCD screen connected to the front end to provide direct images of the buzz. It has a small fragile button and Joystick, never force the accelerator/controller too much, it can break easily. Battery 750mAh, 7-9 minutes. You must drain the battery before recharging it to increase the life of the battery. Camera Comes with a fully equipped 2MP camera that can record videos and take 720P resolution images and save to the 2GB SD that comes with the alternate drone or bottle disc attached to the USB drone drive.
Registering is easy. If you have a toy drone, you probably don’t need to register it, but for those of you buying camera drones, here’s how it works. You just go to registermyuas.faa.gov, fill out a few important questions like what model drone you have, where you live, and your email address. Then you pay a small license fee, print out your new registration number, and attach it to your drone in a place where it can be seen.
Since repairs are as easy as soldering a couple motors and the flight controller has proven reliable and capable, people have developed a few nice modifications for it. Modifications such as a chassis swap with lighter and more durable materials are fairly easy, even for those without electronics skills, and yield longer flight times as well as further improved handling.
For those looking for a basic done that has FPV camera capabilities that are still pretty decent, but at a fair price, the Hubsan H502S is definitely the way to go. There are minimal features, mostly just the GPS function, which is a nice touch that makes all the difference, and you get up to 12 minutes of flying time on a single charge. You also get Return to Home, Follow Me, one-key control, the whole set.
The Altair AA108 is durably built and will not break easily. You can count on a solid flight time of around 10 minutes, a bit less when you’re running it FPV. However the 720p camera really works well and connects to your phone through WiFi. It’s easy to fly because it has 3 flight modes, 1 beginner, 2 intermediate and 3 advanced mode. It also has Altitude Hold which allows you to take your thumb off the control and the drone holds it’s own altitude, making it very stable because it’s not bouncing up and down as you try to maintain altitude!