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:
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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.
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Design and Build Quality: Portable Powerhouse
DJI, a pioneer in drone technology, has always impressed with its innovative designs. The Mavic 2 Pro is no exception.
At first glance, its sleek, aerodynamic profile combined with the signature folding mechanism of the Mavic series ensures portability without compromising on functionality.
The drone’s robust build, comprised of high-quality materials, ensures it can withstand the rigors of outdoor use.
With a weight of just 907 grams, it’s astonishing to see the amount of advanced tech packed into this compact form.
The obstacle sensors on all sides add another layer of safety, ensuring that pilots can focus on capturing breathtaking shots without the constant fear of collisions.
Camera Quality: A Photographer’s Dream
Perhaps the most notable upgrade in the Mavic 2 Pro is its camera. Equipped with a 1-inch CMOS sensor and a partnership with Hasselblad (a renowned camera manufacturer), the drone promises and delivers exceptional image quality.
With the ability to capture 20MP stills and 4K UHD videos, the imagery is not only sharp but boasts accurate color reproduction and a broad dynamic range.
This is particularly beneficial for professional photographers and videographers who require top-notch quality for commercial projects.
The adjustable aperture, ranging from f/2.8 to f/11, allows pilots to exert creative control over their shots, particularly in varying lighting conditions.
Moreover, the 10-bit Dlog-M color profile offers greater flexibility in post-production, ensuring creators can bring their vision to life with precision.
Flight Performance and Features: Sky’s the Limit
The Mavic 2 Pro’s performance in the sky is nothing short of exemplary.
With a top speed of 44 mph (in Sport mode) and a commendable flight time of up to 31 minutes on a full charge, it caters to both adrenaline seekers and those looking to capture prolonged, cinematic shots.
DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 technology ensures a stable connection up to 8km, providing live feedback in 1080p – a boon for those looking to frame their shots with accuracy.
However, it’s not just about raw flight capabilities.
The Mavic 2 Pro comes with an array of intelligent flight modes, such as ActiveTrack 2.0, which can precisely follow moving subjects, and Hyperlapse, creating the effect of moving time-lapses which add a touch of drama to any video.
The Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) lets the drone automatically avoid obstacles, making it more accessible for newcomers and reducing the likelihood of mishaps.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro stands as a testament to DJI’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of drone technology.
It skillfully marries cutting-edge tech with user-friendly features, making it a top choice for both professionals and hobbyists.
While its price point may be on the higher side, the sheer quality and performance it offers justify the investment.
In the realm of consumer drones, the Mavic 2 Pro undoubtedly soars high, setting benchmarks for others to follow.
- Equipped with a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 20MP 1” CMOS Sensor, the Mavic 2 camera drone...
- Up to 31 minutes flight time, 44 mph max speed, 907G takeoff weight, 3-axis gimbal for steady shots,...
- Functions include ActiveTrack 2.0, Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, Hyperlapse, Low-Noise Design,...
- The standard remote controller offers up to 135 minutes of battery life on a full charge. Use with...
- DJI GO 4 App requires iOS 10.0.2, Android 5.0 or above. Compatible devices include: iPhone 11 Pro...
2. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
Design and Build: The Iconic White Falcon
The DJI Phantom series has often been recognized for its iconic and consistent design, and the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 proudly continues this tradition.
With its gleaming white body, it stands out, often referred to as the “iPhone of drones.”
The drone’s robust construction signifies durability, and its widened landing gears ensure safe landings.
Unlike its predecessors, the V2.0 introduces more aerodynamic motor and propeller design, resulting in a 60% noise power reduction.
This quiet operation is a subtle yet impactful improvement, especially for users looking to fly in noise-sensitive environments.
The inclusion of dual frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) enhances signal reliability, making sure the connection remains stable even in crowded signal areas.
Camera Capabilities: Cinematic Mastery from Above
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0’s camera is undeniably its crown jewel. Sporting a 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor, it captures details with precision.
The lens, made up of eight elements, is organized in seven groups; it’s this meticulous design that ensures images are sharp and crisp.
When it comes to video, the ability to record in 4K at 60fps is a game-changer, ensuring buttery-smooth footage suitable for professional filmmaking.
The mechanical shutter eliminates the rolling shutter distortion, which can often be observed when capturing fast-moving subjects.
In addition to this, the drone boasts an impressive 14 stops of dynamic range, ensuring that the shadows and highlights are beautifully balanced in high-contrast scenarios.
The inclusion of various intelligent shooting modes, like Burst Mode, Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), and Interval Mode, enhances the photographic flexibility, allowing both beginners and pros to capture stunning visuals.
Flight and Features: Precision and Intelligence Combined
Flight performance is where the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 truly shines.
With a maximum flight time of 30 minutes and a top speed of 45 mph, it caters to extended shoots and high-paced action sequences.
The implementation of the OcuSync 2.0 HD transmission system is noteworthy, allowing for auto-switching between 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies and supporting a wireless connection to DJI Goggles.
The Five-direction obstacle sensing and Four-direction obstacle avoidance ensure the drone’s safety, reducing chances of accidents substantially.
But what sets the drone apart are its intelligent flight modes. Features like ActiveTrack enables the drone to recognize and follow subjects, capturing them with precision.
The Draw mode lets users draw a route on screen, and the drone will follow, ensuring complex shots are executed seamlessly.
TapFly, Return to Home, and Gesture Mode further simplify the piloting experience, making it more accessible to beginners.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is more than just an upgrade; it’s a testament to DJI’s prowess in innovating and refining their products.
For professionals looking for cinematic quality, or hobbyists wanting a reliable and feature-rich drone, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a compelling choice.
It effortlessly merges superior imaging capabilities with intuitive flight features, all packaged in an iconic design.
If one is looking for a drone that embodies excellence in aerial cinematography, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 stands as a formidable contender.
- Replacement Aircraft body for Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 Series
- Compatible Remote: GL300L, GL300K Only (NOT bind others)
- Includes: Aircraft(with Gimbal Camera) and Carry Case
- Excludes: Remote Controller, Battery, Charger, Propellers and other Accessories
- Brand New Never Used
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.
3. Autel Robotics EVO II
Design and Build: Robustness Meets Portability
The Autel Robotics EVO II sports a distinct and rugged design that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
While its bright orange color ensures it stands out during flights, it’s the drone’s compactness that makes it a favorite among enthusiasts.
Despite its sophisticated features, EVO II maintains a foldable design which makes it incredibly portable.
The robustness of its build assures pilots of its durability even in challenging environments.
Its retractable landing gear and downward vision sensors facilitate safer landings, and the inclusion of an OLED screen on the controller is a game-changer.
This screen offers vital flight data without needing a smartphone, marking a leap in convenience for the user.
Camera and Imaging: A Feast for the Eyes
EVO II takes aerial imaging to unprecedented heights. It boasts an 8K camera that captures ultra-high-resolution videos, making it one of the very few drones in the market with such capabilities.
This means users can zoom into their footage post-shoot without sacrificing image quality.
The 48MP camera ensures that every detail, texture, and nuance is captured with precision.
With a 1/2″ CMOS sensor, the drone’s low-light capabilities are commendable, ensuring clarity even during twilight hours.
The f/1.8 aperture ensures a shallow depth of field, allowing for bokeh effects that can make aerial shots look dreamy and cinematic.
Furthermore, EVO II’s HDR (High Dynamic Range) video ensures that both shadows and highlights are well-balanced, offering a professional-grade quality to the footage.
Flight Features and Performance: Precision in the Skies
When it comes to flight performance, the Autel Robotics EVO II leaves no stone unturned.
With an impressive 40-minute flight time, pilots have ample time to capture their desired shots without constantly worrying about battery life.
The 5.5-mile range, backed by a 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz real-time auto-switching, ensures that the drone remains connected and responsive even when flying at considerable distances.
What’s truly impressive is its 12 computer vision sensors that provide omnidirectional obstacle avoidance.
This translates to safer flights as the drone can detect obstacles from all directions, reducing the chances of collisions. Dynamic tracking further enhances its capabilities.
Whether you’re tracking a moving vehicle or a person, EVO II can lock onto the subject and follow with impeccable precision.
Autel Robotics EVO II is not just another drone in the market; it’s a technological marvel that pushes the boundaries of what consumer drones can achieve.
Whether it’s the exceptional camera capabilities, the extended flight times, or the advanced safety features, EVO II stands out in every department.
For professionals seeking unparalleled imaging quality or hobbyists looking for a reliable, feature-packed drone, the Autel Robotics EVO II proves to be an excellent investment. It’s not just about capturing moments; it’s about capturing them in their finest detail and glory.
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4. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
Design and Build: Setting A New Standard
The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a manifestation of how innovation can reshape the aesthetics and functionality of drones.
Sporting a hexacopter design, this drone separates itself from the conventional quadcopter structure seen in many of its competitors.
The six rotors not only contribute to its distinct appearance but also enhance its flight stability.
Even if one rotor fails, the Typhoon H Pro can safely land with the remaining five, a safety feature that many drone enthusiasts appreciate.
The retractable landing gear and 360-degree rotating gimbal ensure that pilots get unobstructed shots from any angle.
Weighing just under 4 lbs, it’s robust and sturdy, making it apt for a variety of aerial tasks.
The carbon fiber arms and the quality construction materials used give it a premium feel, ensuring longevity and durability.
Camera and Imaging: Excellence in Every Frame
The camera capabilities of the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro are nothing short of spectacular.
With its CGO3+ 4K UHD camera, the drone captures sharp, clear, and detailed footage, making it a favorite among professional photographers and videographers.
This 12MP camera can shoot 4K videos at 30fps and full HD 1080p videos at 120fps, ideal for slow-motion capture.
The wide-angle lens ensures a broader field of view without the pesky fish-eye distortion commonly seen in some drones.
The 3-axis gimbal, which can rotate a full 360 degrees, ensures that the footage remains smooth and jitter-free, regardless of the drone’s movements.
The raw footage and stills have rich color reproduction, dynamic range, and clarity, making post-processing a breeze and ensuring that the final output is always of the highest quality.
Flight Performance and Features: Above and Beyond
Flight-wise, the Typhoon H Pro is both a beast and a beauty. With a flight time of up to 25 minutes on a single charge, pilots can explore and capture more.
The 7-inch touchscreen integrated into the ST16 Ground Station controller offers intuitive controls and displays real-time telemetry data, eliminating the need for a separate device.
Its Intel RealSense Technology is a game-changer, providing advanced collision avoidance by mapping and remembering its environment, making it easier and safer to fly in challenging locations.
The various flight modes, including Follow Me, Curve Cable Cam, and Journey mode, provide pilots with diverse shooting options, ensuring creative flexibility.
The drone’s 5-rotor fail-safe mode, No Fly Zone feature, and ultrasonic proximity detection further enhance its safety features, making it one of the most reliable drones in the market.
For those venturing into the realm of professional aerial photography or seasoned drone pilots seeking an upgrade, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro presents itself as a compelling choice.
It strikes a fine balance between advanced features, safety, camera quality, and flight performance.
In a market flooded with options, the Typhoon H Pro stands tall, offering a seamless fusion of innovation, design, and efficiency.
Whether you’re capturing breathtaking landscapes, high-speed action shots, or cinematic videos, this drone ensures that every frame is a masterpiece.
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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.
5. DJI Mavic Air 2
Design and Portability: Evolution Perfected
The DJI Mavic Air 2 boasts a design that seamlessly marries elegance with functionality.
At first glance, it’s evident that DJI has retained the brand’s signature aesthetics, blending in elements from its predecessors while making notable improvements.
Weighing approximately 570 grams, the drone is incredibly compact, making it ideal for travel and adventure enthusiasts.
Its foldable arms and propellers enable a more streamlined profile, ensuring easy storage and portability. The drone also incorporates a more aerodynamic design, which contributes to its impressive flight performance.
The ergonomically designed remote controller, with an integrated smartphone holder, adds to the overall user experience, providing pilots with a comfortable grip and uncluttered interface.
Camera Capabilities: A Leap in Aerial Photography
The Mavic Air 2’s camera is a true testament to DJI’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of aerial photography.
Housing a half-inch Quad Bayer sensor, the drone is capable of capturing stunning 48MP photos, ensuring that every detail, from vast landscapes to intricate structures, is rendered with absolute clarity.
With a capability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps, it’s a dream come true for videographers seeking to capture cinematic footage.
The drone’s SmartPhoto feature integrates scene recognition, HyperLight, and HDR into one mode, optimizing every shot based on the environment.
The 8K Hyperlapse is another feather in its cap, allowing pilots to transform hours into seconds, resulting in mesmerizing time-lapse videos.
Furthermore, the 3-axis gimbal stabilizes the camera even in windy conditions or high-speed movement, ensuring that every shot is smooth and jitter-free.
Performance and Features: Sky’s the Limit
When it comes to flight performance, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is nothing short of phenomenal.
Boasting a maximum flight time of 34 minutes and a top speed of 42.5 mph, it allows users to explore more and fly further.
The OcuSync 2.0 ensures a stable connection up to 10 km, providing a live HD feed and reducing latency.
One of the standout features is the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0, which allows the drone to create a real-time map of its environment and intelligently avoid obstacles.
The FocusTrack suite offers three intelligent tracking modes – ActiveTrack 3.0, Point of Interest 3.0, and Spotlight 2.0, providing creators with tools to get the perfect shot every time.
Safety has also been given due consideration, with features like geofencing, Return to Home, and AirSense technology that warns pilots of other aircraft in the vicinity.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is not just a drone; it’s a statement.
It encapsulates the brand’s vision, bringing together cutting-edge technology, robust performance, and superior camera capabilities in a compact package.
For both seasoned pilots and beginners, it offers an unrivaled flying experience, cementing its position as one of the top contenders in the world of consumer drones.
Every flight with the Mavic Air 2 is an opportunity to see the world from a new perspective, capturing memories that last a lifetime.
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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.
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