A few years ago, if you said people would be piloting high-tech, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles around their neighborhoods, you’d be looked at like you were crazy. But UAVs (or drones, as they’ve become known in the common parlance) are here, and they’re not just for crazy billionaires either. Drone technology is becoming increasingly affordable for consumers who enjoy piloting the gyroscope-enabled devices around the sky, and a big draw is the ability to take aerial photographs and videos. Here are some of the best camera-equipped drones available for purchase today.
DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD Quadcopter: This sleek, futuristic drone, like many, is a quadcopter, meaning it uses four rotors for flight that the user controls via a handset. The Phantom P3 is particularly well-suited for photography, coming equipped with a camera that can capture beautiful 2.7k HD videos and 12-megapixel photographs, in all types of lighting conditions. The camera is also operated by the remote control, and the drone’s steady flight mechanism means videos come out looking incredibly smooth. Paired with the free DJI Go app, the drone will even stream a live image to your phone or tablet from up to a half mile away. The Phantom P3 comes with an 8GB micro SD card for storing images and videos.
Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter: This very affordable drone is a great option for people new to piloting drones or veteran pilots looking to expand their arsenal. Holy Stone’s quadcopter comes with an extra battery, which you’ll need for longer shoots, since the runtime is only around 8 minutes. But that’s long enough to capture some great-looking images with the built-in HD camera. The F181 also has an innovative altitude hold function that lets you maintain altitude while releasing the throttle, letting you shoot images or video while hovering at the current height.
UDI U818A HD+ Drone: The UDI U818a HD+ has 6 axis gyroscopic stability, making it very stable and wind-resistant in flight, and thus great for aerial photography. It’s also a great drone for performing 360-degree flips and other stunts, all of which look particularly wild when captured through the drone’s POV. The 2-megapixel camera is more than adequate for recording your adventures, and the drone features headless mode, a recent trend in drone design that makes it easier for beginners to fly. Simply put, headless mode orients the drone in relation to the pilot, so you don’t have to distinguish between the different rotors when controlling your drone.
Holy Stone X400 FPV RC Quadcopter: Another great quadcopter from Holy Stone, the X400C is enabled with FPV live video, allowing you to transmit in real time from your drone to your phone. The 2.4GHz flying control system makes for stable flight, as does headless mode. There’s a function that allows you to roll or flip the drone with one keypress, making this a fun drone for kids or anyone who loves to show off. And the one key return function brings the drone back to you for a safe landing, even if it’s out of your range of sight.