But what really sets the AA108 apart is its wide range of extra features that make it prefect for users at any skill level. Beginners can take advantage of its headless and altitude hold modes to help with the steep learning curve that comes with flying your first quadcopter. Advanced users can set it at the higher speed setting to see what the aircraft can really do, taking advantage of the high-quality HD camera features and custom pathing to get great footage and pull off amazing stunts.
My first issue is the lack of documentation for the Standard model. I am able to locate documentation for the Advanced and Professional models but nothing for the Standard model. If it exists it's a well kept secret. I did read the users manual for the Advanced model but it has flight modes which are not present in the Standard model. Due to the lack of documentation I couldn't diagnosis a problem I appeared to be having with my aircraft. On a hunch I ended up exchanging it ... full review
The Fisheye Camera is hands down the best feature, especially being a camera drone. It’s a 14MG device that is able to take photos in high resolution, as well as videos in 30 fps. The lens can provide an 180-degree angle without the picture becoming distorted in any way, which is pretty neat. You will need a smart device of some sort, such as your tablet or phone, to use as a controller through the application, however.
Flying the Disco isn’t like flying other RC airplanes. If you want to go up, just push the stick up and it automatically adjusts the motor speed and wing pitch to go up at a steady controllable pace. If you want to go left or right, just push in a direction and it will go there. The Disco won’t flip or roll out of control like a standard plane. Even if you lose signal, the Disco will fly back to you just like a DJI drone would.
The DJI Mavic Air offers a 32MP sensor, 4K video capability up to 30 fps, and fully panoramic image functions. There’s a 3-axis gimbal for stability when filming in flight, and there’s some pretty detailed environment sensing to help the drone get its bearings while flying. The model delivers up to 21 minutes of flight time, which is on par with much of the mid-to-pro-level drone market. There’s 8GB of onboard storage, HDR capabilities, and more.
FPV, or ‘First Person View’, drones give you the best possible experience imaginable, giving you a front seat to the action. FPV works by having a camera mounted on the drone, broadcasting a live video stream to the drone’s transmitter, FPV goggles, or a smart device. You’re able to fly more precisely and gain better shots with an eye in the sky than you normally would from your view from just the ground.
This thing is a highly sophisticated and advanced piece of aeronautics technology. It is not a toy. The firmware and remote controller requires updating before operation. That consists of downloading the zip file from the Dji website, loading them onto the micro SD card, and inserting it into the micro SD slot on the gimbal. After that it's pretty automatic. First flight: DO NOT FLY INDOORS for the first flight. Attitude mode means it relies solely on the VPS sensors and does not have GPS guidance. In which case the bird can get a little squirrelly and takes practice and experience with the controls to know how to maneuver without GPS. To stop the motor when landing, either initiate the Return to Home function (in which case the drone will land itself) or put the sticks both down and inward for an instantaneous canceling of the motors, or put the ... full review
The Hubsan H501S packs a lot of features into a much smaller frame than other quadcopters with similar features. To start, it has a 6-axis flight control system,built in GPS and altimeter which keeps this unit very stable in flight. This allows it to have features such as follow-me, return-to-home, and hold-position. It also does quite well in windy conditions. It has four brushless motors complete with gold blades. There’s a spare set in the box too. The fixed 1080P HD camera transmits standard 5.8G wireless video from a distance of about 300 meters. There is an SD slot to record video directly under the camera. The lipo battery is large at 7.4V 2700mAh and has a charging time of approximately 150 minutes. You should have a flight time of about 19 minutes.
This micro drone has definitely caught our attention. It can do 360 flips, fly for a surprising 10 minutes, and comes with a one year warranty, can you believe it? A drone that’s no bigger than the average adult hand has a warranty. It’s only $25, too! You even get 60 meters of range, lag-free, which is stupidly awesome for such a tiny piece of hardware.
The JJRC H26WM is a great drone for beginners or those who want a casual drone to zip around with. The camera is pretty decent but nothing too fancy, so don’t expect the world from it. The maximum amount of flight time you can get is approximately 7 minutes, so having an extra battery is a good idea. The camera allows for 2MP in FPV which swings around in all directions.
The most expensive version of the Hubsan X4 is the H107D. It’s mainly for FPV, which allows you to see everything that the drone can see in real time. The design is slightly different from any of the other models and it has a black antenna on the bottom. Although FPV is really cool, this is probably my least favorite version of the Hubsan X4, mainly because the flight time isn’t as good as the other models and the FPV range is only a couple hundred feet. It’s also about 2 times more expensive than the Hubsan with the HD camera.
Although this isn’t really a camera drone, it comes with an action camera mount, so you can attach your GoPro or Yi cam to get some aerial shots. Honestly, with a little bit of practice, maybe a better camera mount and some good editing software, you could probably produce some amazing shots using something like the Hero 6 with its built in image stabilization.
The best camera drones in 2020 are equipped with a handful of smart flight features. These make capturing stunning footage in difficult situations much easier and fun. For example, for times when you are shooting fast-moving objects, a feature like ActiveTrack will direct the camera drone to recognize and track a subject while keeping it in the frame. There are a variety of other intelligent features available on camera drones, so do be sure to check those out before buying yours.
The Falcore streams 720p 60fps video directly to the controller which is already impressive (other racing drones stream analog standard definition video), but what’s more important is the 27mS latency. This is what makes the Connex system different from other digital transmission technologies. On a camera drone like the Phantom 4, the video latency is over 100mS. That’s fine for doing aerial photography, but for drone racing 27mS is the standard and having any more latency than that makes it hard to fly fast.
The battery on the F181 will last about 7-9 minutes and takes about 80 minutes to charge. This quad actually comes with an extra battery, but according to the manufacturer, you should wait 10 minutes between flights otherwise the motors and circuit board may overheat. This was reiterated by the reviews we have seen by others who were disappointed that their motors overheated on the first day. Customer service does appear to be excellent in dealing with these types of problems.
The Vortex 285 is another drone from ImmersionRC. It’s actually one of the first ready-to-fly FPV racing drones that came to market back in 2015, but because of the features it has and the price, it’s still very relevant even today. It runs similar firmware to the Vortex 250 Pro, but the hardware is just slightly slower which means that it shouldn’t be as responsive.
With a reasonable flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 11 miles, you’ve got a lot to work with in terms of setting up your shot and creating sweeping artistic videography. While larger than some of the other drones reviewed here, it’s able to fold and should fit in a large backpack. It’s easy to control and fly, with accurate obstacle detection and top speeds of 45 mph.
I can’t cover everything about the Inspire 2 on this page, but one thing that I need to mention is that this is not something you should buy for your 12-year-old son as a gift. The Inspire 2 costs roughly $6,000 and is intended mainly for people who want the absolute best aerial photography/cinematography tool on the market; however, the Inspire 2 is still one of the easiest drones to fly, so don’t feel intimidated. Whether you have a real use for this drone, or you just want something that will impress all of your friends, the Inspire 2 is definitely a drone worth looking into.
The Skydio R1 is an amazing piece of new technology. It’s the first truly autonomous drone that you can buy right now. If you’ve ever flown a drone before, you know that it can be hard to shoot videos of yourself. Even with the obstacle avoidance and follow modes like Active Track on DJI drones, it’s really hard to control the drone and get it into the right mode to follow you. Once the drone is following you, it will usually go a few seconds before coming to an obstacle and failing to follow you.
It shoots 1080p video and stabilizes it using a mechanical gimbal. This makes the Spark much better at shooting video than drones that only rely on digital stabilization. You can get exactly the kind of shot you’re looking for by connecting the Spark to your phone via Wi-Fi and using the virtual joysticks, but there’s an easier way of shooting that can make even a beginner look like a pro.
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When looking at cheap drones for sale, it’s hard to find something that ticks all the boxes. This sleek looking, foldable drone does just that. It is a true powerhouse among budget drones. It comes with WiFi app control and a remote control function. This works with your smartphone and allows you to control your drone as well as take photos and videos. It also comes with a remote control in case you don't want to use your phone. The aerial camera provides real-time image and video transmission which allows you to take stunning videos and pictures with its HD camera. This drone comes with an advanced barometer which allows it to have a more powerful air pressure altitude hold function. This ensures stable quality images and videos. It also comes with headless mode and one key return. For more advanced flyers it has the ability to do 360-degree rolls and other tricks.
It is the most famous name in consumer drones and DJI always delivers the goods. The Mavic 2 Zoom was launched in 2018 and comes with some ground-breaking features. The camera comes with a 4x lossless zoom and FHD video. It also includes a 2x optical zoom of 24 mm to 48 mm. The sensor has a resolution of 12 MP and 1/2.3 inches CMOS. Other features include avoidance sensors that cover all around the object.
It comes in an amazing design and can even be controlled with voice commands. The camera has an HD resolution of 720 pixels. It comes pre-assembled and so just needs charging for setting up. The 720p HD camera can take pictures at a 120-degree wide-angle. It also has an FPV aspect, which means that it has a Wi-Fi real-time transmission for connecting to the phone.
For the power system, it has Lumenier RX2206-11 2350Kv motors and Lumenier 30A BLHeli_S ESCs with DSHOT Multishot and all of the other high-speed communication protocols you need. The flight controller is a MPU6000, STM32F405 (what a mouth full!). Basically, it’s a clone of a flight controller called the REVO that originally cost over $100 to make and had a super fast F4 processor. The FPV system is nothing that will blow you away like on the Falcore drone. It’s just your standard 200mW 5.8GHz Raceband TX and 600TVL camera, but it gets the job done for pro pilots, so I guess we can’t complain!
Jim Fisher is our lead analyst for cameras, drones, and digital imaging. He studied at RPI and worked on the retail side of the industry at B&H before landing at PCMag. He has a thing for old lenses, boneyards, and waterfowl. When he’s not out with his camera, Jim enjoys watching bad and good television, playing video games (poorly), and reading. You can find him on Instagram @jamespfisher