Best 23 Drones With Camera In 2018

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Thanks to fast developing technology of our time, there are literally hundreds of manufacturers offering a variety of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or simply – drones with camera, so picking out the right one may not be your everyday walk in the park. If the experience has taught us anything, it’s to always conduct an extensive research about a high-tech product you want to buy, even if you’re not planning to spend a fortune. With that being said, get ready to answer a few of these questions before you choose a drone that will suit your needs.

Do You Know How To Fly a Drone?

You’ve probably seen a few toy helicopters in your lifetime, but did you ever try to fly one? It’s not easy at all. Actually, controlling any kind of flying device is surprisingly difficult and requires a lot of practice, so it’s definitely better to start practicing with a cheaper drone. Almost every drone will fly in a slightly different manner depending on its controller; some will allow the drone to be more agile, others will improve its stability. The more expensive drones are usually equipped with high-tech sensors that will help you fly it like a true professional, but we suggest that you start with a beginner model drone with camera until you hone your flying skills.

What Type of Drone With Camera Do You Need?

We can sort the drones in roughly four categories based on their wing configuration and number of rotors: single-rotor, multi-rotor, fixed-wings and hybrids. In this article we’ll stick to multi-rotor and hybrid drones, because they’re easier to control, they stabilize themselves automatically and therefore can be used to take photos and capture videos more efficiently. This is exactly why the so-called quadcopters are the most popular drones nowadays; they can hover, have a built-in GPS system for easier coordination and they’re mostly equipped with better cameras. However, due to their multi-rotor technology and additional built-in equipment, quadcopters drain the battery a lot faster than other drone models, which is resulting in shorter flying time.

What Photo Quality Are You Looking For?

Most drones come with a built-in camera, or at least have the option for mounting one. The cheapest, low-end drones are mostly equipped with 480p cameras, which is an old standard and doesn’t look very good compared to HD picture made with 720p camera. When a full HD 1080p resolution entered the scene, its older brother 720p was slowly getting replaced and renamed to HD Ready. With 1080p resolution becoming an industry standard around the world, you should probably look for a drone with camera that operates in this resolution too. Unless you’re a real photo-enthusiast aiming for ultra-quality pictures that only 4K camera can provide and only a few can enjoy its full potential, because  most of us are still using good old full HD monitors and TV sets. 4K is definitely the future of camera technology, but it’s still paving its way to the mainstream.

Are You Ready to Invest in The Accompanying Equipment?

This section doesn’t apply to you if you’re only looking for a drone that your kid can fly around the house, but if you’re planning to spend a couple of hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on your new high-quality drone with camera, then you should definitely consider two more things: buying a good controller and a reliable charger. Most controller transmitters can be upgraded to match new drone technologies, so it’d be a smart move to buy a top rated controller that you can use for many years to come. When it comes to battery charger, the ones that usually come with quadcopters are slow and unreliable, plus they can only charge one type and size of batteries. Buying a better quality charger that can charge different types of batteries might seem unnecessary at the moment, but it will surely prove to be a good investment in the long run.

And Finally, Why Should You Buy a Drone With Camera?

The better question would be – why wouldn’t you? Even if you’re planning to take just a few aerial shots of your neighborhood, or capture the breathtaking sunset at your favorite seaside resort, drone with camera would most definitely prove to be a very useful gadget in your collection. The learning curve for operating a drone isn’t too steep and there’s no doubt your new skill will be something to be proud of. And if you’re a professional photographer or videographer, having a drone with camera by your side can only increase your creative potential.


Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter Drone

This entry-level quadcopter is actually a neat little monster, weighing only 5oz (0.3 lbs) which makes it one of the smallest best-selling (nano) drones out there. F181 is far from the prettiest drone we’ve seen, but it sure doesn’t look like a cheap toy. Two LED lights, blue at the front and red indicating the rear, will help you determine the drone’s position, especially if you’re flying it by night.

It comes with a 2MP camera able to record videos at 30fps and take snapshots in 720p resolution, which are stored on its default 2GB micro SD card (supports up to 16GB). Although it doesn’t have a professional camera and FPV option (First Person View – live feed preview on the controller or smartphone), it will be enough for a beginner to take it for a casual flight up to 100 meters and take photos of the environment.

The batteries are said to support about 7 to 9 minutes of flying time, but since the package includes two set of batteries you can easily double it. Before you take off, you’ll need to attach its landing gear manually using a screwdriver (included in the package), as well as blade protecting frames which are also included in the package (not mandatory, but recommended for beginners). The 2.4 Ghz remote controller needs 4 AA batteries to work, it’s light and displays important information such as battery life, camera mode, LED lights status, and the drone’s range and drift adjustment.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that F181 has four skill level modes for pilots: Low, Medium, High and Expert, and each difficulty level offers different handling sensitivity, drone rotation and speed. If you’re a beginner, we suggest you stick to Low and Medium skill level mode at least for first flights, but don’t worry because F181 is a very stable flyer both indoors and outdoors.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Cheap and tiny

+ Built from ABS elastic plastic that protects the drone in the case of crash

+ Has the altitude-hold function that allows it to hover in place and 360 flip ability (for experts only!)

– Low resolution snapshots and shaky videos from the camera

– Camera doesn’t have First Person View option

– Short flight time

Specifications:

Camera: 2MP 720p

Battery: 3.7v 750mA

Flying time: About 7 to 9 minutes


Syma X5C Quadcopter

With its price around $45, weighting only 2 pounds and built to withstand crashes, Syma X5C has to be one of the cheapest, lightest and strongest quadcopters ideal for both kids and intermediate flyers. Its white shell, LED lights and camera placement are well designed, the controller operates on the standard 2.4 Ghz and takes 4 AA batteries. Typical red and blue LED lights at the back and the front will tell you which way the drone is facing, and you’ll be surprised by its maneuverability which can be compared to more expensive models.

The 8GB micro SD card is included in the package and X5C will use it to store not-so-amazing-although-decent stills and videos captured by its 720p camera. They don’t really look like full HD recordings, but nevertheless the camera is capable of capturing some nice aerial shots by day.

Its 6-axis gyroscope stabilization system is responsible for keeping the drone steady in the air during forward/upward acceleration. Although it’s a versatile and durable quadcopter that can take up to 8 minutes of flying time, we suggest you don’t try flying it in strong wind if you’re inexperienced. And because it doesn’t use GPS and therefore doesn’t have the return home option, you’ll have to fly it back to you manually every time, but even if you crash it in a big tree on the way, you can rest assured that X5C won’t break.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Cheap, lightweight and hard-skinned

+ Very agile

+ Great for practice

– Camera is not so good

– Not very stable in wind conditions of 20Mph or more

Specifications:

Camera: 2MP 1280 x 720p

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po

Flying time: About 7 minutes


UDI U818A HD+ Drone with Camera

With its minimalistic, yet stylish design and thin plastic build that makes U818A very quick and maneuverable in the air, this drone is another affordable beginner’s gem from Udi, a company that has received a lot of critical acclaim in the last few years.

The controller is medium sized and made from the same thin plastic like the drone itself, so it feels a bit weak-built in your hands. It’s covered in buttons, although its functions are pretty much the same like every other drone controller in this price range; you can change the drone flight mode, do a 360 flip, take a photo or capture a video (start/stop button). Nevertheless, powered by four AA batteries and operating at 2.4Ghz frequency, the remote controller is actually very simple to use and offers solid control of the drone.

In the air, the U818A proved to be quite stable at both flying speeds – Low and High, even though it’s made of light plastic and comes with integrated prop guards. You’d also be surprised by the amount of damage this little aircraft can take, but on the other hand, better keep it dry because it can’t handle exposure to moisture. And if you’re aiming for more drone speed and agility, you can remove its prop guards along with the body shell, which might also add a few moments of flight time. Speaking of which, an extra 3.7V 500mAh battery pack is included in the original package, and this seems to be a great tradition at Udi.

At 640×480 resolution in which the videos are taken, you won’t be able to distinguish a lot of details because the colors are too bright, there’s too much noise (don’t even try using it by night) and the drone has no stabilization technology. Photos are captured at 1280×960 resolution and look way better than videos, especially if taken by day. Another thing you should keep in mind is to fully charge the batteries before using the camera, because the photos and videos won’t be saved if the drone runs out of battery.

In conclusion, having a really small 1MP camera with tiny lens allows the U818A to take pictures and videos of outdated quality, but it still can be used as an agile and hardy practice drone that will help you master the art of flying (and taking disappointing photos).

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Easy to fly and durable

+ Fast and maneuverable

– Doesn’t have altitude hold an auto take-off features

– Blurry photos and noisy videos are unsatisfying

Specifications:

Camera: 1MP stills and video (1280 x 720 / 32kHz mono audio)

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li Po

Flight time: About 8-10 minutes


Syma X5SW Quadcopter

After X5C and U818A, Syma X5SW must be one of the few excellent practice drones for under $100 that even a 12 year old kid can fly. Its construction is solid and makes it pretty stable in the air (especially indoors), but try not to take it out in winds stronger than 10 mph. The headless mode mostly works okay, and the drone has two speed modes – low and high. Flying at high speed will drain the battery even faster, especially in the wind, so the flight time will drop from 5-6 minutes to even less. This can be considered a major downside for the X5SW, together with the fact that battery recharging time is about 130 minutes.

The only difference between X5SW and X5C is the First Person View camera which allows you to preview the video on your smartphone, and this is not something that many other cheap drones can offer. Unfortunately, the FPV feed streaming over Wi-Fi suffers from high latency, so you might have to wait for whole 2 seconds for the picture to appear on your smartphone screen. Latency won’t be that bad when the quadcopter is close to you, but as soon as you take it higher in the air, the FPV feed becomes almost useless. This is why flying the drone by relying solely on FPV is not recommended.

The 0.3 megapixel camera gives a surprisingly clear picture and, of course, you can unmount it if you just want to fly the drone. Thanks to its stability in the air, the photos and videos can be taken without too much noise.

One of the X5SW’s strongest attributes is definitely its controller. You’ll appreciate the LCD screen that gives you a lot of useful information while flying the drone: Wi-Fi signal strength, moving direction, battery life etc. All these features plus the affordable price make the X5SW a drone that will definitely get your money’s worth.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Affordable FPV

+ Stable flight performance

+ Information-rich LCD display on the drone’s controller

– High latency FPV

– Slow battery recharging time

Specifications:

Camera: 2.0 MP Wi-Fi FPV

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li Po

Flight time: 5 minutes


Ehang GHOSTDRONE 2.0

You may be unpleasantly surprised by the GhostDrone 2.0 price, but as soon as you start flying it with nothing but your smartphone, and taking some really impressive photos and videos with its 4K camera, you’ll probably agree with us that this drone is not a joke.

And not only that! The controller is your smartphone, but the commands are sent over GhostDrone’s VR headset which allows you to turn the drone’s camera by moving your head. The built-in gimbal will help you with capturing smooth footage, and you can choose either a 30fps mode with high quality 4K, or go for the highest setting which is 120fps at 1080 pixels. Either way, we were very pleased with photos and videos GhostDrone is able to capture.

It can spend about 25 minutes in the air, which is pretty much the standard for most drones in its price range, but there’s one very appealing feature that we haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s an intelligent battery display that shows the overall battery power, but also the power of each cell. This way you can be sure that your GhostDrone 2.0 will never run out of power in mid-air, which is very important because this drone definitely isn’t one of the toughest aircrafts out there. In fact, it seems to be a lot more fragile than its competitors, but you just can’t have it all for $1000 (or can you?).

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Great 4K camera

+ Smartphone controller

+ Battery power display

– iPhone connection issues

– VR headset is sometimes buggy

Specifications:

Camera: 4K

Battery: 3.7 V 1700 mAh

Flight time: 25 minutes


DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Widely considered as “everyone’s favorite drone”, Phantom 4 is beyond doubt one of the best quadcopters compared to its competition in the same price range. Almost every feature that made his predecessor Phantom 3 stand out from the crowd has been upgraded, which means that Phantom 4 would probably be your best choice no matter if you’re a drone pilot rookie, or aged veteran.

Certainly the most exciting feature that Phantom 4 has to offer is its Obstacle Sensing System (OSS) that will protect your drone even if you’re deliberately trying to crash it into a wall. The OSS is so cautious that it won’t allow you to fly it through a stand of trees, and the only limitation are the sensors with 60 degree field of view that can spot an obstacle in front of the drone. Nevertheless, the system works perfectly and crashing the Phantom 4 seems almost impossible, especially at normal speed. There’s also a sport mode which enables the drone to fly at crazy 45 miles per hour, which is a real treat for pro pilots and professional videographers.

The controller is very reliable and FPV stream is lag-free, and just like Phantom 3, it offers intelligent flight modes such as orbit, follow, track and waypoint navigation, but the greatest of all has to be the new TapFly mode. It’s basically an automated movement of the drone, navigated from the live feed on your smartphone, meaning that Phantom 4 will automatically fly in a direction you tap on your mobile device. And it will do it smoothly the way you probably can’t while flying the drone manually.

There’s also AutoTrack feature that will make your life a lot easier. Simply tap on a subject (a person or object) and the drone will keep it in the center of the frame at all times. This feature works best at close range, as it can sometimes refuse to lock on a subject that’s either too small, or too far away from the camera.

Wise people from DJI decided to keep the same 1920p camera that Phantom 3 made so great, so the Phantom 4 is using the same model, but with extra slow motion feature recording videos at amazing 120 fps. The footage is clear, with higher dynamic range and a lot less saturation which makes it easier to manipulate in post-production.

Battery life is about 25 minutes and charging time is about one hour, which makes this drone even more desirable for everyone who can afford it.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Great camera with slow-mo option

+ Loads of new autonomous features

+ Strong build, slick design

– Only one battery is included in the package

– Quite expensive

Specifications:

Camera: 12.4 MP Wi-Fi FPV

Battery: 6000 mAh LiPo 2S

Flight time: About 25 minutes


Revell Control XS Nano Quad Cam

Let’s take a second to appreciate the Revell’s Nano Quad Cam drone extremely low price – it’s only $30! You’d expect to buy two decent t-shirts for that kind of money, so it might be better to consider purchasing the nano-drone instead. Why? Because it’s so much fun!

This time we weren’t surprised that the smallest nano-drone with camera on the market is capable of shooting photos and videos of satisfying quality. Its built-in 720p camera works very well, but because it doesn’t have the stabilizing gimbal, you should expect the footage to be shaky and blurred. Still, for $30 you can’t ask for more.

The Nano Quad Cam drone is measuring 5×5 cm, its tiny controller has a 50 m range and the average flight time is about 5 minutes. Its flashing LED lights are great for night flying and we definitely think this drone should be used for indoor activities, because of its small size and fragile build (the blades are its weak spot).

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Very, very affordable

+ Fun to use

+ Compact and lightweight

– Tricky microSD card slot

– No sound

– Propellers are easily broken

Specifications:

Camera: 1.0 MP photos / 720p HD videos

Battery: 3.7V 100 mAh Li-Po

Flight time: 4-5 minutes


Force1 U45W Blue Jay Drone With HD Camera

This average sized drone exceeded our expectations for its price range. With its slick design, professional-looking controller and VR headset compatibility, the U45 feels like a thousand dollars beginner drone that has a lot to offer.

First-time aircraft pilots will surely appreciate its headless mode that will take care of the direction in which you want to fly the drone. The altitude hold button will allow it to hover in the air while completely controlling itself, and thus giving you the chance to plan your next move. It’s also capable of taking off and landing on its own, both of which are very useful features for every beginner who wants to keep the drone in one piece (at least for a while). This little beast even supports an advanced custom route mode that allows you to plan its flying route before taking off! Definitely a highly useful feature for pre-planned camera shots.

Speaking of which, the U45’s 2 MP camera is placed in the center of the drone and is capable of taking videos at 1280×720 resolution, at amazing 30 frames per second, which means that you won’t have to worry about getting shaky and blurred videos, no matter how fast you’re flying the drone. Although the footage quality is far from perfect, the photos and videos can be compared to other more expensive drones with 2 MP cameras. But one of the best features that the U45 has to offer is the VR headset compatibility, thanks to which you can enjoy flying the drone in first person. If you don’t own a VR headset, the FPV will give you live video feed on your smartphone.

The U45’s battery life allows about 5-8 minutes of flight time, and the maximum distance it can travel is 100 meters. We strongly suggest that you get another set of batteries for this great beginner’s drone so you can fully exploit its potential.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Custom Route mode

+ Cheap and easy to control

+ Auto Take Off and Landing option

+ VR headset compatibility

– No Return Home option

– No gimbal on the camera

Specifications:

Camera: 2 MP FVP

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Battery x 2

Flight time: 7-8 minutes


Syma X11C Quadcopter

If you’re looking for compact and affordable drone to test your flying skills and maybe take a few photos for fun, Syma X11C might be the right choice for you. This mini quadcopter fits in the palm of your hand and is made of high quality plastic that can withstand a lot of crashes (and we do mean a lot).

The controller is small yet well-designed, operates at 2.4 Ghz frequency and gives a pretty fast reaction speed while operating the drone. With standard control options this radio controller will allow you to take full control of the drone without interference, and after test flight we came to conclusion that Syma X11C is one very stable and reliable drone.

Though you shouldn’t expect high quality footage for this price, the basic 2 MP camera on Syma X11C is still able to capture decent photos and videos. It will work a lot better in daylight and thanks to the overall drone stability you won’t have to worry about getting blurred footage too much.

As usual, the Syma X11C has USB port through which you can connect it the computer to upload recorded material and charge the drone. It takes about 60 minutes to fully charge its batteries and it can fly for as long as 10 minutes without using the camera, or about 8 minutes with recording videos.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Affordable

+ Very stable and durable

– Camera is almost unusable in low light conditions

Specifications:

Camera: 2 MP

Battery: 3.7 Volt, 200 Mah Li-poly

Flight time: 8-10 minutes


Eachine E10C Mini Quadcopter

A really tiny aircraft such as this one and its basic HD camera obviously won’t satisfy everyone’s needs, but even so, the E10C is fun and reliable quadcopter for beginners. It comes in small package with no additional accessories (no spare propellers or guards), it’s equipped with a low capacity 120 mAh Li-Po integrated battery that will allow about 5 minutes of flying time and cannot be swapped while recharging. Luckily, it needs only 25-30 minutes to be fully charged.

The remote controller is only 11×7 cm, which seems very small at first glance, but nevertheless, it’s easy to use and offers a lot of precision. It has three different speed modes – low, medium and high – and simple buttons for taking photos and recording videos. There’s absolutely nothing special about it, it’s lightweight, ergonomic and has about 25 m control range.

One of the downsides of this funny little drone is that it doesn’t have a First Person View camera, which was added on its successor E10W (basically the same aircraft, but with live feed video). As you could’ve guessed, the camera on E10C is also very tiny, yet takes photos and captures videos of surprisingly good quality for its size. Videos are recorded with 1280×720 pixels at 30fps, and still photos are taken with 1920×1080 pixels. The footage will look washed out if taken in low-light conditions, but if you take your E10C for an outdoor adventure in daylight, it will make a significant difference.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Easy and fun to use

+ Pretty good camera for its size

– Short battery life

– Sometimes it’s too tiny to keep track of it during flying

Specifications:

Camera: 2 MP 720p

Battery: 3.7V 150mah

Flight time: 5-6 minutes


DJI Mavic Pro Drone

The popular Mavic Pro is currently one of the smallest drones on the market, but it nevertheless delivers high video quality, has a long battery life, as well as very long operating range that you’d expect from drones at least twice its size.

Its appearance and size are combined with smart design. Having four folding hands and props – two on the side and the other two below – makes it easy to assemble and allows its rotors and propellers to be carried with it all the time, instead of having to remove and mount them every time you need to transport the drone. This makes the Mavic Pro exceptionally portable drone whose weight hardly exceeds 800g.

Mavic’s remote control is also much smaller than other drones. Unlike other DJI remotes, the Mavic Pro has a small LCD screen that allows you to fly without DJI application, while having all the necessary information on the screen: the drone’s distance, flying height and movement direction. On the right side of the drone, under a small cover, there’s a button that allows you to switch from RC mode to Wi-Fi mode. After that simply connect your phone to the Mavic’s Wi-fi network, and with the help of DJI GO app you can fly it with ease.

The camera and gimbal are very similar to those on Phantom, except the camera is notably smaller. It uses the same sensor which captures 4K videos and takes 12 megapixel photos, the only difference is that Mavic’s camera doesn’t have a wide field of view and automatic focus. During our testing, we paid special attention to manual focus in each frame, and we got crystal clear pictures like the ones that larger DJI drones are known to take.

For the average consumer and less demanding professional photographers, Mavic Pro is definitely the new standard with its portability and powerful 4K camera.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Compact foldable design

+ Very good battery life for its size

+ High quality camera

+ Amazingly long range

– Not user repairable

– Adjusting manual focus can be tricky

Specifications:

Camera: 12 MP 4K Camera

Battery: 11.4 V 3830 mAh LiPo S3

Flight time: 22-25 minutes


Yuneec Typhoon Hexacopter

A relevant “top drones” list has to include Typhoon Hexacopter, a truly magnificent aircraft with amazing specifications that will satisfy most videographers and seasoned drone pilots. Designed like a black high-tech robot from Hollywood Sci-Fi flick, the Typhoon H is equipped with six engines, powerful 4K camera and professional remote controller.

This is a large, yet lightweight drone and its arms fold before flying up in the air, which gives the camera a clear 360-degree field of view. Thanks to its rotatable gimbal, the CGO3+ camera can also rotate around the drone, so you don’t need to rotate the entire aircraft like it’s usually the case. It captures very sharp videos at 4K resolution and takes 12 MP photos with smooth motion and minimum amount of noise. A set of rubber joints on both gimbal and camera that are attached to the base of the body will prevent shaking when you start the rotors, resulting in even better-looking footage.

We should also mention that Typhoon H has a system for collision avoidance with ultrasonic rangefinder that will check for obstacles during flight and successfully avoid them. Its flight time is about 25 minutes and it can fly for as fast as 45 Mph.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Top quality photos and videos

+ Fast and maneuverable

+ Professional controller with big video preview

– Collision avoidance works only with objects in front

Specifications:

Camera: 12MP 4K Camera

Battery: 5400mAh 3S 11.1V LiPo

Flight time: Up to 25 minutes


DJI Phantom P3-Standard Quadcopter

The DJI Phantom 3 series are famous for their durability and reliable cameras, but they’re also considered to be too expensive for average users – drone beginners. This is probably the main reason why smart people from DJI decided to introduce Phantom 3 Standard which integrates almost every feature that made the series famous, minus the high price you can’t afford.

It is our firm belief that you probably won’t be able to find such an excellent quadcopter for a better price. It’s extremely easy to control thanks to its GPS positioning, it can stay in the air for about 25 minutes and you won’t have to charge it for longer than 40 minutes, which is pretty neat. You won’t need more than 15 minutes to take basic control over the drone and it’s very stable in the air.

The controller is very comfortable to hold, it doesn’t look or feel like it’s made of cheap plastic, which is often the case with entry level drones such as this one, but it lacks a few control options like “record” and “stop” buttons for photo and video recording, as well as Return Home button. Also, it’s control range is 1km, which is significantly shorter than of Phantom Advanced and Professional. Nevertheless, the controller response rate is satisfying and it allows 720p FPV during the flight.

And finally, its strongest feature, especially for the price, has to be the 4K camera that captures very nice footage without shaking and jittering thanks to its gimbal.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Ready to fly

+ Affordable

+ Great 4K camera

+ Very stable

– The camera is fixed and can’t be upgraded

– Doesn’t support live broadcast video

Specifications:

Camera: 12 MP 4K Camera

Battery: 15.2 V 4480 mAh LiPo

Flight time: About 25 minutes


JJRC H37 Elfie

Advertised as the first selfie drone that can fit into your pocket comfortably, the JJRC Elfie is aimed at beginners and casual pilots who don’t want to spend a lot of money for a fun aircraft they can fly around the house.

The JJRC Elfie comes with a carrying pouch and will become your best friend almost instantly. It weighs only 73 grams and since it doesn’t have a controller you won’t have any problems carrying it with you. The JJRC UFO app is used to control the drone via your smartphone, and although the interface is quite simple and friendly, touching the screen is not an easy way to fly the Elfie, especially with a slight delay between the controls and drone’s reactions. Wi-Fi connection was also sluggish from time to time, so we have to conclude that a decent transmitter would be a much better option.

Among standard features that are supported by other compact drones, such as headless mode and altitude hold for example, the JJRC Elfie stands out with one unique feature called the G-Sensor mode. Using the accelerometer on your phone, the G-Sensor mode controls the drone in the direction you tilt your phone. It’s a very useful feature that makes the JJRC Elfie more reliable and stable while flying.

And finally, what about the camera? We have to be totally honest and tell you that it has to be the JJRC Elfie’s weakest feature. The 640x480p videos are disappointing, especially when compared to other compact drones like DJI Mavic and Yunec Breeze, but on the other hand, you probably can’t expect anything more from a $40 selfie drone. However, it will be enough for a quick aerial shot of your apartment and thanks to the G-Sensor mode, you’ll have fun flying the drone via smartphone and then putting it back into your pocket.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Compact and portable

+ Foldable arms

+ G-Sensor mode

+ Comes with a nice carrying pouch

– Wi-Fi connection issues

– Unresponsive controls

– Low quality camera

Specifications:

Camera: 3 MP

Battery: 3.7 V 500 mAh LiPo

Flight time: About 7 minutes


SYMA X5HW Quadcopter With Camera

We really liked the Syma X5SW drone, but the X5HW beats his predecessor with ease. Among key features that make it so great is the altitude hold function, improved stability that the X5SW was lacking to a certain extent (“wind bug” anyone?) and slightly longer flight times.

This green quadcopter is made of light plastic that doesn’t look too solid, but it’s actually quite durable. It’s also a bit slower than X5SW, which is totally fine because now beginners can use it to capture decent footage, and if you want to speed up, you just need to remove its landing legs, prop guards and camera and there you have it. Together with its altitude hold function, which actually works surprisingly good, the X5SW is guaranteed to keep you busy and satisfied during the training period.

The 3MP camera is the same one used on the X5SW, with FPV for which you need to install the Syma FPV app on your smartphone, and which will also be used for storing captured photos and videos. Let’s be honest, the X5HW doesn’t offer high quality photos or videos, and the FPV latency on your smartphone can go up to three seconds, but it’s still a reliable toy drone that you can use to scout around your backyard, or inspect your house roof, for example.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Nice flight times for a toy drone

+ Very stable

+ Altitude hold option

– Automatic flips are unpredictable

– High latency FPV

Specifications:

Camera: WiFi FPV 0.3 MP

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li-poly

Flight time: About 5-7 minutes


DBPOWER MJX X400W Drone

Being lightweight, easy to assemble and control, the MJX X400W quadcopter offers a truly pleasant flying experience both for beginners and experts alike. With its FPV transmission and VR set compatibility, 6-axis gyroscope for increased stability and return home button, this drone guarantees fun and safe flying in most weather conditions.

Pretty much anyone will get used to the X400W controller quickly. It requires 4 AA batteries which are not included in the package, has 12 buttons in total (including flight speed, light switch, headless mode etc.), about 100 meters transmission range and a standard smartphone placeholder which will allow you to fly the drone in real-time first person mode. Only one 3.7V 750maH battery is included in the package and it takes about 100 minutes to charge it, which is very cool compared to other drones taking 120 minutes or more. The usual flight time is around 8 minutes, but it’s a lot less if you’re using VR mode and/or LED lights for night flying.

With just a click of a button the drone is also capable of doing a 3D flip that never becomes boring, and even if you crash it to the ground in the process, the X400W is built to sustain a lot of damage. Since it supports headless mode that works best at slow flying speed, all of the drone’s propellers are white colored, which can sometimes be confusing during the flight. At the same time, the drone’s two LED lights placed in the front will help you fly it at night, and its raised landing gear will protect the precious camera.

The 720p camera is acceptable for taking snapshots and recording videos at 30fps (though FPV is lagging a bit), but what really amazed us was the VR set compatibility which is very rarely found on other models in the same price range. The 3D VR set is not included in the package, but if you own it, you’ll be able to enjoy this option as if you were in the cockpit of the drone. To sum it up, the best thing about X400W is that it’s a budget drone offering a lot of great options that are usually reserved for more expensive drones on the market.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ VR headset compatibility

+ Return home function

+ Spare propellers and replacement motors are included

– Only one battery is included in the package

– Propellers could be color-coded

Specifications:

Camera: 2.0 MP Wi-Fi FPV With VR Headset Compatibility

Battery: 3.7V 750mAh Li Po

Flight time: About 8-9 minutes


Hubsan X4 Quadcopter 

Here’s another excellent beginner drone that will help you test your flying skills and enter the world of aerial footage. Hubsan X4 quadcopter is small, light, easy to control, and above else, very affordable.

Weighing only 50 grams with the battery equipped, the X4 is primarily designed for flying indoors, though we had no problems while testing it outdoors. It does look a bit fragile and the traditional landing gear is non-existent, so do your best to keep it in one piece until you’re ready to move onto an more advanced model. Just don’t forget to install the prop guards!

It’s very easy to control the X4, which is exactly why it is intended for drone beginners. It will easily maneuver in the air and the controller response rate is impressive. Also, it offers quite a lot of speed for such a light, tiny drone, which can be surprising at first and will require a few test flights to get used to it. The controller design is totally rad, as the kids would say, because it looks like a modified Sony Playstation 3 controller, it’s very comfortable and has a small LCD display that will give you some important information while flying the X4.

The 2MP camera is pretty much standard for drones in this price range, and so is the footage quality – it’s good, but definitely not amazing. Still, the X4 recording experience is very simple and straightforward: insert the SD card in the drone, press the recording button and after the flight just transfer the footage to your PC or mobile device.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Very affordable

+ Light and easy to control

– Fragile build

Specifications:

Camera: 2.0 MP

Battery: 3.7V 240mAh Li Po

Flight time: 9 minutes


Blade Glimpse Drone

At first glance, Glimpse looks like a regular palm-sized drone with low quality camera, but it’s in fact a very useful little aircraft that has much to offer. Its price is a bit higher than other nano-drones of the same class, but if you need a practice drone with a really good camera, Glimpse should be your choice.

To control the Glimpse, you’ll need a smartphone or tablet that supports 5.8 Ghz Wi-Fi connection with Glimpse app installed. While up in the air, the drone will stream live video to your mobile device via

Wi-Fi downlink up to 80 feet, and although there is some lag, the 480p preview is quite reliable. The HD camera shoots 720p videos and takes 1 MP photos, and thanks to electronic self-leveling technology, you can rest assured that the footage will be smooth.

The lightweight construction and flexible airframe make the Glimpse very agile in air, but keep in mind that it’s designed primarily for indoor flying and that almost any kind of wind will have a huge impact on its stability. It doesn’t have the altitude hold function, so you’ll have to take care of hovering, and its landing gear also works as prop guards.

The Glimpse sounds just like an insect while flying, and from a certain distance it looks like one, too. Battery can support about 8 minutes of flying time and we suggest you buy a few sets of extra propellers, as they are easily damaged but also cheap.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Great camera for a nano-drone

– Its propellers are too fragile

Specifications:

Camera: 1.0 MP photos / 720p HD videos

Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po

Flight time: 6-8 minutes


Parrot Bebop Quadcopter

Bebop Drone is halfway between professional drone and beginner’s toy. At first glance, it resembles most quadcopters on the market, but its dimensions (330 x 380 x 36 millimeters) and weight (410 grams) among few other interesting features keep it well placed with other middle-class drone aircrafts.

Bebop is constructed for indoor flying, yet the package comes with a set of propeller guards that will keep your drone safe during outdoor flights too. Propellers are actually quite durable and won’t break easily, but there’s also a set of spare ones in the package just in case.

Its maximum flight duration is about 22 minutes, and one of the best features of this model is digital stabilization which works thanks to the accelerometer just like the ones used for smartphones. Another very important feature is definitely a good quality camera that captures videos at 1920×1080 resolution in progressive 30 frames per second, which will be enough for most home users. In addition, the camera can capture images at 14 megapixels. The bad thing is that because of the wide-angle camera lens (180 degrees), videos look like the drone is flying at a much faster speed than it really is, especially during flights at lower altitude.

Bebop Drone communicates with its controller via Dual Band Wi-Fi at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, but you can also connect it to your smartphone or iPad. The controller application can be downloaded for Android, iOS and Windows, and there’s also a slightly more expensive Bebop package with SkyController add-on for tablets. It’s basically a wireless controller with two joysticks which gives you more control over the camera, has two buttons for take-off and landing, one for emergency motor cutoff and return home, as well as status lights for battery life.

The controller also has an amplified Wi-Fi radio on top with four antennas which allow the drone to fly as far away as 2.3 km, though this is just a theoretical distance that Bebop probably won’t be able to reach due to wireless interference, different obstructions and, of course, battery life. However, we believe that the popular choice for controlling this quadcopter will be FreeFlight 3.1 application, which is available for free download on all three aforementioned platforms.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Relatively cheap

+ Easy to control

+ Great camera

– Bad connectivity

– Short battery life, especially with SkyController

Specifications:

Camera: 14 MP Wide-Angle Fish Eye

Battery: 1200 mAh LiPo

Flight time: 22 minutes


Yuneec Breeze 4K Compact Smart Drone

This drone is ideal for anyone who wants to take some aerial footage without actually having to fly the thing. Yunec Breeze is equipped with a decent camera, can easily fit into a backpack and offers a variety of filming modes.

Most of its camera controls are operated within the drone’s app. The Tasks menu gives you five options: Pilot, Selfie, Orbit, Follow me and Journey. Each of this options proved to be useful, and thanks to the camera’s digital stabilization and 4K resolution, most of the photos and videos are of high quality. Which makes perfect sense, because the Breeze is advertised as a “selfie drone” that you won’t have to bother with: let it do the job for you and just download the footage afterwards. You can even upload the photos and videos directly from its app!

The drone comes in a plastic case that can be used for transport, though there isn’t enough space to pack the battery charger. Its body is solidly-built, has four spinning motors and folding propellers, which is a unique feature among other quad drones. Piloting the Breeze is easy compared to other drones from its class, but you should know that it’s not very agile and it’s mostly used for taking photos and videos of the pilot. After all, that’s what Breeze is designed for, especially if your goal is to capture some really smooth photos and videos.

There are some compatibility issues with certain tablets and iPhones, so there’s definitely room for improvement, but in general, Breeze is a reliable and useful aircraft.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Automated flight modes

+ Compact design

+ Excellent video and photo quality

– Short battery life

– Connectivity and compatibility issues

Specifications:

Camera: 13 MP

Battery: 11.1 V 1150 mAh LiPo

Flight time: Up to 12 minutes


Syma X8G Quadcopter

It always gives us pleasure when a drone manufacturer continually meets our expectations. Since the famous X6 model, hardworking people from Syma were focused on designing useful and reliable, yet affordable aircrafts that rule the market to this day. The X8G isn’t a professional quadcopter, but it most certainly won’t let you down.

The first thing that you’ll notice is that the X8G is a pretty large and heavy drone. This is one of the reasons why its flying time is below average, giving you no more than 10 minutes of piloting and requires 200 minutes for charging the battery. It also doesn’t have many features, such as altitude hold or return home, which proved to be very useful on most drones, especially for beginners.

Still, the X8G’s strongest feature is the 8 MP camera capable of shooting pictures and videos at both 720p and 1080p resolution. Without the altitude hold function you’ll have to keep the drone steady in order to capture clear footage, but its 6-axis gyro significantly increases its stability and video and photo quality is more than satisfying for a $100 drone. Furthermore, the camera can easily be replaced with another a GoPro for example, so you have the rare privilege of choosing the right type of equipment for your X8G, which is usually not the case with other drones in its price range.

In the end, we can’t compare the X8G with other more expensive professional drones like DJI Phantom series, but if you’re looking for a cheap practice drone with an excellent camera – look no further!

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Great removable 8 MP camera

+ Affordable

– Doesn’t have many features

– Short flying time

– Long battery charging time

Specifications:

Camera: 8 MP

Battery: 7.4 V 2000 mAh LiPo

Flight time: 7-10 minutes


3D Robotics Solo Quadcopter

The Solo is a very appealing quadcopter for experienced drone pilots that require professional footage quality and exceptional aircraft durability. It weighs 3.35 pounds which is why you’ll need to get it registered with the FAA before taking off, looks quite futuristic (and somewhat scary) with its minimalistic design and matte black plastic, and supports GoPro Hero camera for mounting.

We were amazed by Solo’s speed and stability. It can fly over 55 Mph without its training wheels, which is absolutely ideal for capturing videos of fast moving objects. The fact that GoPro Hero 3, 3+ and 4 cameras are supported goes to show that clever people from 3DR wanted to give us the best possible extreme sports experience with this drone. Obviously, if you don’t own a GoPro, this means you’ll have to spend more money if you want to equip the Solo with a camera, but on the bright side, it will allow you to experiment and use new GoPro models in the upcoming years. The 3-axis gimbal is also available as an add-on for increased stability, but the included standard camera holder won’t disappoint you either.

While in the air, Solo is acting like a true drone king. Its controller is very comfortable, the number of buttons is minimal and the overall flying experience it offers is amazing. Thanks to the autonomous flight modes, you’ll be able to take high quality photos and videos even if you’re not a pro. But if you’re afraid that your piloting skills aren’t enough, Solo is built to last, which means that it’s able to stand numerous impacts without taking internal damage. Trust us on this – Solo has to be one of the best choices you can make when buying a reliable drone with camera.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Easy to fly

+ Very durable and fast

+ Camera can be upgraded

+ Five autonomous flight modes

– No automatic obstacle avoidance

– Can’t fly without a mobile device

Specifications:

Camera: GoPro Hero 3, 3+ or 4 (not included)

Battery: 2600 mAh 7.2 Vdc lithium ion

Flight time: 25 minutes


XIRO Xplorer V Drone

The Xplorer V has been awarded several times for its design, which makes perfect sense because it has to be one of the slickest and toughest drones available. It uses a fish eye lens for capturing photos and videos just like Parrot Bebop 2 drone, and it’s built to endure crashes and maintain stability under harsh weather conditions.

You know that the drone will be able to withstand almost everything when it’s made of carbon fiber. Although it’s not the most versatile drone we’ve tested so far, the Xplorer V is very stable in the air and looks amazing from an aesthetic point of view because of its green LED lights. Its range is quite short compared to other drones in its class – only 500 m, but the battery will support up to 25 minutes of flying time. The controller is ergonomic and very comfortable, and even has a vibration alert for low battery, which is a very useful feature we haven’t seen before.

This drone comes with some really nice features, like automatic take-off and landing, GPS, Intelligent Orientation Control which is like a more efficient version of the standard headless mode, and the Xiro Xplore app also allows you to pre-program its flying path. All of these features will increase your flying capabilities significantly even if you’re not an experienced drone pilot.

The 14 MP camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal and captures very decent 1080p videos and 720p footage. The live video is transmitted via Wi-Fi to your smartphone without delay, but the problem is that the fish eye lens are too wide, so the video edges are always distorted and even warped if you try to rotate the drone while filming. Nevertheless, the Xplorer V is a durable, great-looking drone ideal for beginners and enthusiasts.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

+ Fantastic design

+ Very stable

+ Great flight performance in most weather conditions

– Short control range

– Camera fish eye lens is too wide

Specifications:

Camera: 14MP 1080p camera

Battery: 11.1V 5200mAh Li-Po 3S

Flight time: 25 minutes


Rise Of The Drones

Now that drones have been introduced to the global market and sold all over the world in growing numbers, they will undoubtedly be a part of our future in many ways. As modern technology is rapidly improving, drones are better equipped with each new model and their prices are significantly lower than they were just a few years ago. Today it’s possible to buy a drone for as little as $40 which can be used for practicing or playing around, and as you can see in our list, there’s also a variety of expensive professional and semi-professional aircrafts that require a certain level of expertise, as well as piloting experience.

If you never tried to fly a drone before, we suggest that you start with the cheapest and smallest models that can fit into your pocket, such as Blade Glimpse or Revel Control XS. These are great for beginners, as they will help you get familiar with the basics of drone flying for a very reasonable price, and you won’t have to worry about crashing an expensive piece of equipment. Try flying your new drone around your house first to get used to controls and the aircraft movement in general, and when you’re ready go outside and test your skills in different weather conditions. After some time and a lot of practice, you can consider buying a more expensive model.

Beginner drones are mostly designed to endure crashes and allow only slow flying speeds. They also have protective cage around their body, as well as landing and propeller guards that protect the drone (and people). Intermediate drones require more precise controls and allow more speed, which is why most of them have controllers with LCD screen for FPV flying. Advanced or professional drones have the most powerful motors, they’re mostly made of carbon fiber or other durable materials, and are always packing a HD camera.

Aerial Photography And Videography

Some models have a built-in camera system, and the quality usually depends on the price range of the model, while some models without camera allow you to try mounting the alternative camera models, such as GoPro HERO. For example, the GoPro Karma is a drone without a built-in camera and it supports three different models of GoPro camera – HERO4, HERO5 and HERO5 Session. HERO5 and HERO4 cameras capture 12 MP still images, and support JPEG and RAW photography.

One of the extremely important factors in image quality is camera stabilization. When filming during a drone flight, it is necessary to ensure that there’s as little vibration as possible. Vibrations can come from the aircraft itself, its engines or air turbulence. Smaller drones are usually more prone to vibrations than larger ones, so it is necessary to use a gimbal, a system that allows the rotation of the object around the axis and stabilizes the aircraft.

Most professional or semi-professional drones, like DJI Phantom series, have everything you need to make eye-candy aerial footage, but their prices are higher and they usually require a flight permission from the USA Federal Aviation Administration. These aircrafts are intended for professional pilots and videographers who need high quality video and photo material, so you should ask yourself whether you’re ready for such an advanced piece of equipment.

Last Minute Advice

It is important to consider the average flight time of the drone you’re planning to buy. Battery size, drone weight, weather conditions are some of the most important factors that will determine the flight time. Most of the expensive drones that are currently available on the market have average flight times around 25 minutes, and cheaper models, like the Syma X5C for example, can’t fly for longer than 7 minutes. Keep this in mind before buying the drone, as it will have a huge impact on your flying performance and abilities.

There are some very useful features that you should look for in your new drone. Among others, GPS sensors are highly suggested for beginners, because they allow the user to program the drone movement and set flight coordinates before take-off. This way the drone can circle around or follow the  target while capturing photos or videos, without you having to control it manually. Other useful features are Return home, automatic take-off and landing, Follow me etc., but most of them are usually reserved for more expensive drones. Still, if you’re a beginner, it might be better to consider buying a drone that offers some of these automatic features.

Controllers or transmitters are also important when choosing a drone. They mostly operate at 2.4Ghz frequency and have two analog sticks, while some of them have a built-in LCD screen for live feed, which is always a nice feature. Some drones don’t have controllers and are operated via mobile device, but in our experience this method isn’t always reliable for several reasons (e.g. 3D Robotics Solo). More expensive drones come with sophisticated controllers that show real-time data about the drone, such as battery life, speed and height, and allow longer control ranges without interferences.

In conclusion

There are dozens of drone models out there, and we believe that it’s safe to say at least one of them will be suitable for you. If you always wanted to be a pilot, an aerial photographer, or even a spy (just kidding), don’t hesitate to try one of the drones in our list. These remotely controlled aircrafts can be incredibly useful and fun at the same time, and after a few months of practice you’ll be amazed by your piloting skills. Remember to slowly work your way up and then move on to an advanced model for better performance. Drone piloting is not a joke, and it can be your new hobby, or even a profession, because either way there’s a bright future for both drone pilots and their aircrafts. Just make sure to take care of your safety, as well as safety of others, and always respect national drone laws and regulations, and of course, the environment.