Cinematic helicopter shots like the sweeping glory of a hundred Wildebeests trampling over Savannah used to be an exclusive realm of large production houses like the Discovery Channel.
Not anymore. The advent of personal drones has bought aerial photography to an arm’s reach (pun intended) of anyone who can work a remote controller.
The popularity of personal drones has seen an explosion of manufacturers in recent years offering both professional and amateur videographers a slew of options.
So many in fact, that you’ll almost wish you were an aerodynamic engineer to cut through the clutter. Fret not, for we’ve done the market research to find out top Quadcopter drones suited for your budget.
But first, let’s get a quick primer on what exactly is a quadcopter, the major advantages of using one and what features should you look out for while making your purchase decision.
First, let’s take a look at a few current bestselling quadcopters:
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones mounted with cameras have been used by military forces for decades in reconnaissance and combat operations.
They’ve also been deployed by paramilitary forces, agriculturalists and professional filmmakers for ops that a man won’t, or simply can’t do.
While drones can come with as many wings as you like, Quadcopters have proven themselves adept at aerial photography thanks to the balance and stability afforded by their four-rotor x-wing design.
To fly, quadcopters use two pairs of propellers. One of these pairs moves clockwise and the other moves counter-clockwise. A ‘pilot’ operates the quadcopter using a remote control transmitter that sends signals to a receiver built into the quadcopter.
From the ground, the operator can change the speed and pitch of the propellers to control the movement of the quadcopter.
While there is a bit of a learning curve, most users familiar with modern smartphones should be able to get one flying in a matter of minutes.
To take aerial photographs, quadcopters designed for photography or videography can have cameras or gimbals mounted on them. They also incorporate three-axis gyroscopes to minimize shaking and allow them to capture clear images and smooth video footage.
The Best Quadcopter
Here’s our list of what we consider the best quadcopters currently on the market.
This quadcopter comes with a Dual 1GHZ Linux CPU which allows you to control both the quadcopter remotely and change the position of the camera as needed. Because of it’s powerful CPU, this is considered one of the most “intelligent” quadcopters available.
This quadcopter is easy to use, even for beginners. Its flight is GPS satellite-guided and there is an auto “take-off and land” and a “return home” feature.
There’s also an e-brake that allows you to quickly stop the drone’s flight and let it hover in mid-air. To access these features, you can either use the Solo’s remote control or download the mobile app and control it from the device of your choice.
The Solo also has a patent-pending computer-assisted technology called Smart Shots. According to the manufacturer, Smart Shots will allow users to set up the shot they want in real-time, then tap “play” on the app. The Solo will then execute the shot with a high level of precision.
- Solo’s video game-style controller will feel familiar the second you pick it up, even if you’ve...
- In case you missed it in the picture…that’s a high-quality HDMI port directly from the...
- Full-featured app for iOS and Android puts total craft control at your fingertips.
The Phantom 3 is fast. The DJI Phantom 3 is one of the best regarded quadcopters on the market, and for good reason. It is nimble – the Phantom’s motors are some of the most powerful on the market which means faster acceleration and deceleration.
The Phantom has an average speed of 36 miles per hour. Its maximum ascent speed is 13 mph and its maximum descent speed is 4 mph; the Phantom will get you to your dream shot a lot quicker than most other drones in the market.
Aside from its powerful motors, one other reason this quadcopter can move so fast and be so easily maneuvered is it’s extremely lightweight. This is mostly due to it’s small but powerful battery.
The Phantom 3 also boasts of a 4480mAh battery which translates to a healthy 23 minutes of flight and shoot time per charge.
The Phantom can be controlled via phone or tablet. It’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Using your device, you can get a 720p HD live feed of what your drone is seeing and recording – always an advantage.
You can also use your mobile device’s data connection to stream this live feed directly onto YouTube, if you so wish.
- 4k UHD video recording with fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal; Vision Positioning system allows stable...
- Lightbridge digital streaming allows live viewing of 720p video (full resolution video is...
- Included flight battery and rechargable remote controller means this system is ready to fly out of...
- DJI Pilot app for iOS and Android allows live viewing and complete camera control (phone/tablet sold...
- Kindly refer all the Tutorial Videos given in the Image Section on the Catalog before use for the...
What Are Quadcopters?
Quadcopters are a type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can fly in any direction, and they have four propellers, hence the name!
They’re sometimes called drones and quadcopters are used in filmmaking and video production to capture aerial shots that otherwise wouldn’t be captured.
The body of a quadcopter can be made up of many different materials such as plastic, metal, or carbon fiber.
The quadcopter’s body also houses the battery and electronics to power it. It has two arms connected by a frame with motors attached on top to control altitude and rotation speed.
The DJI Inspire is probably the most popular 4K quadcopter available on the market. People love the Inspire for its ability to capture video with 4K resolution. The Inspire is certainly one of our absolute favorites!
The Inspire’s design might appear at first as a little ungainly. It has large propellers driven by some very powerful motors, but it’s actually very lightweight and quite easily maneuverable.
Its propellers are mounted on carbon fiber arms that are strong but lightweight.
The Inspire uses 3-axis gimbal technology to ensure it’s camera takes steady footage with minimal shaking. It has a 94-degree wide-angle lens that helps to eliminate distortion and ensures the captured footage is crisp and clear.
We’ve already mentioned the great video resolution of the Inspire. What we didn’t mention is that it also captures incredibly good still photos at 12 megapixels. Both the camera and the gimbal are detachable, so it’s easy to upgrade or customize the Inspire.
If you’re planning on using a quadcopter to shoot indoor footage, the Inspire is a great quadcopter to use. It uses sonic waves and Optical Flow technology to ensure smooth indoor flying (if you’re daring enough!)
The Inspire is equipped with DJI’s Lightbridge technology that allows it to transmit video from a maximum distance of 2km. This means you can view a real-time feed from the quadcopter as long as you are within range. The Inspire can transmit 720p HD video directly onto your mobile device.
There are provisions for dual control use with the Inspire. This means that one person can control the quadcopter’s flight and the other can control the gimbal and the camera. This allows you to take more precise images, as everyone involved has a very specific aim in the production.
The Inspire’s smart battery management system allows you to see the remaining battery life and also calculates the amount of time that the drone can still stay airborne and recording.
It can also calculate the amount of time that will be needed before the Inspire will need to fly back and land.
Highly recommended by us!
- This Item Includes: DJI Inspire 1 V2.0 Ready-to-Fly Quadcopter - Remote Controller - Camera with...
- Capture 4K Video and 12MP Stills
- 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizes Camera
- Up to 1.2 Mile Radio Range,GPS-Based Flight Control System,Vision Positioning for Indoor Flying,Live...
- Thrust-Boosted Motors / New Propellers,Retractable Carbon Fiber Arms,Unobstructed 360°...
This ready-to-fly quadcopter has an integrated 3-axis precision gimbal camera that can shoot 4K/3fps HD video. It can also shoot 1080p / 120fps video. The Typhoon can store up to 128 GB of video footage.
It has an aluminum case, making it quite sturdy while still remaining lightweight and easy to maneuver. It has a maximum flight speed of 35mph and a flight time of about 25 minutes. It can easily be flown both indoors and outdoors.
The Typhoon has a 115-degree, wide-angle, distortion-free lens and a steady handheld grip that allows it to capture clear and steady footage at a variety of angles.
If you’re just starting out using quadcopters, one feature of the Typhoon you will really like is it’s Home Mode. When set to Home Mode, the Typhoon will automatically fly back to the pilot. Home Mode ensures the quadcopter lands around 4 to 8 meters from where you stand. Awesome!
Recommended as a great entry-level option.
- Personal Ground Station with built-in touchscreen, Integrated 3-axis precision gimbal camera
- 4K/30fps ultra high definition video and excellent Full HD 60 FPS
- User controlled video resolution, white balance and light exposure
- 12 megapixel photos with No-Distortion Lens
- Does not include Aluminum case, includes one battery
Advantages of Using Quadcopters
• Capture a unique aerial perspective.
• Film new perspectives.
• No need to leave ground level via a helicopter to film.
• Get a steady aerial view of your work that would be impossible with any other device.
• Drone footage is more lively and action-packed than traditional video recording.
• Save yourself time by using drones instead of hiring an expensive crew for filming.
• Capture scenes from angles that weren’t possible in the past.
This is a fun but effective quadcopter for beginners. It has a 1080p HD camera, which is kind of basic compared to the other quadcopters on this list, but still takes some clear and useable footage.
The Hubsan provides about 20 minutes of flying and shooting time. It uses brushless motors for a quiet flight, so it eliminates some of the background noise you might otherwise capture on video.
It also has the capacity to send back a live video feed to the controller, so you can see what the quadcopter’s camera is seeing and filming in real-time.
Another cool feature of the Hubsan is it’s Follow Me Mode. If you place the Hubsan on Follow Me Mode, it will automatically follow you around. This means you can easily shoot footage on the move and get some really cool action shots.
The Hubsan can follow whoever is holding its controller even as they walk, run, or if they’re on a vehicle such as a car or a bike.
The Hubsan also has a return to home function, which many people, especially those who are just starting out flying a quadcopter like. It ensures that your fancy new piece of equipment safely comes back to you at the end of it’s flight.
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Advantages of a Quadcopter
With the use of a quadcopter, you can easily and cost-effectively add the ability to shoot aerial footage into your video filming resume.
You can take panoramic photos of places and events and get shots in hard to reach or even dangerous places. Really advantageous!
One great example of how versatile a good quadcopter can be is the way they were used during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
If you watched the skiing and snowboarding events, there is a good chance that the breath-taking and exciting action you were seeing were being taken by a quadcopter that was remotely controlled to follow along and film the action.
A standing camera or even one handheld by a moving cameraman would never have been able to keep up as well as the quadcopters did.
Another advantage that a quadcopter offers – that a standard helicopter would not – is its ability to fly almost undetected.
Also, because of its smaller size, a quadcopter allows you to get closer to your subject without getting into the shot or disturbing the scene.
Think about that intense segment of a pack Grey wolves chasing their prey on Netflix’s Our Planet.
The entire shot was filmed using drones with such precision and stealth that neither the pack nor the prey could detect the quadcopter’s presence.
What to look out for in a Quadcopter
Quadcopter drones are some of the hottest pieces of consumer tech today and manufacturers try hard to outdo each other with every new version.
That’s good news for us! Here’s a list of the most important aspects or features you should pay attention to while shopping for a Quadcopter drone.
Do you need to fit all your gear in a camera bag and backpack for mobility? Or you don’t mind putting it in the trunk for your shoots?
Some drone models have folding wings and light-weight construction which keeps them mobile even on the ground.
2. Battery life
Nobody likes breaking the flow of a great shot to land the drone and swap out batteries. Those extra 15 minutes can make all the difference if you’re filming live events.
3. Obstacle detection and avoidance
While many models pack in ‘smart’ features for amateur users, the smartest thing you can do up in the air is avoid being downed.
Look out for advanced obstacle detection sensors that will prevent you from accidentally crashing your expensive flying camera into a tree.
Depending on where you live, strong winds could mean the difference between flying a drone and flying a kite. Invest in a quadcopter with stability tech which makes it resilient to strong gusts of wind.
There is now a burgeoning ecosystem for drone accessories with nifty addons supplementing your quadcopter’s capabilities. Look out for models that support modular designs for future-proofing your investment.
Best Quadcopter – In Conclusion
As with anything, purchase decisions for video gear are built around a number of factors. First and foremost is how much are you willing to spend on it.
We think we’ve presented a number of options here for the best quadcopter in a range of price points and budgets. The best quadcopter is no use to you if you can’t afford it! That’s why we’ve tried to cater to every type of budget in this article.
The other major consideration is how you intend on using it. Are you looking for something that’ll get you started or are you ready to dive into the world of amateur drone videography?
If you’re only starting out with drones as a hobby then pick up an entry-level device that is ‘read-to-fly’ out of the box and comes equipped with automated flight modes.
On the other hand, you might be looking to use the quadcopter on bigger budget video projects or for narrative filmmaking purposes.
In this case, you might consider some of the more high-end models mentioned here which boast advanced features and modular designs that can add immense value to your production.
Also, take into account where you’ll be using your quadcopter drone:
- Indoors or outdoors?
- Do you live near the coast with consistently strong winds?
- Are you planning on shooting around dense urban areas with a lot of in-flight obstacles?
Pick a quadcopter that has the technology to complement your usage conditions so you can focus on flying and shooting.
Finally, please do keep your federal laws and environmental sensibilities in consideration while using your quadcopter drone.
While many parts of the world have well-defined laws around personal aerial photography, community perception and privacy concerns can vary from place to place. When in doubt, always check if it’s okay to fly, shoot and post it online.
We hope this guide to the best quadcopter has been useful to you. Did we miss out listing your favorite quadcopter? Let us know in the comments below here.