Best Video Drones [6 Outstanding Drones for Video 2017]

Camera quality is one of your main concerns when looking for just the right video drone. You need something that will get the job done easily, yet stand out from the rest.

So how do you sift through all the hype of each and every option on the market and make an informed decision on which best suits your needs?

We’ve got all the details on the best drones for video for all your needs in 2017.

You’re welcome, friends.

#1 DJI Mavic Pro

– Ultimate Portability –

Portability is the Mavic Pro’s forte. This powerful piece of technology has mastered the art of travel by easily folding up into an 83 mm x 83 mm x 198 mm version of itself. Yet, it boasts a high degree of complexity, making it one of DJI’s most sophisticated flying cameras produced to date.

It also has some really cool features such as obstacle avoidance, follow me mode (active track) and dronie by gesture.

It is being re-released on February 10, 2017.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                          27 minutes

Control Range:                     7 km

Speed:                                  65 km/h

Gimbal:                                3-axis

Video Resolution:                4K

Camera Resolution:            12 mp

About the Camera:

The Mavic Pro has an integrated 3-axis camera stabilization system. What does this mean for you? Clear photos, smooth videos, and no pixels lost. Its 4K sensor allows you to capture every shot at 30 frames per second.

You get live FPV via the DJI Go App, you can control it with iPad, iPhone or Android devices.

The DJI Mavic Pro is a long range drone, with  ground breaking features, and excellent flight time.

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#2 DJI Phantom 4 Pro

– Outstanding Flight Time and Technology –

With a longer flight time and smarter features, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro offers the best of both worlds. What’s more, its all-new DJI Phantom camera with a 1-inch 20-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor brings your visions to life.

Like the Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro has some awesome and ground breaking features. Capture drone selfies with Gesture Mode, have the drone follow you or something else with ActiveTrack and enjoy the 4 direction obstacle avoidance.

It also has an outstanding long range of 7 km.

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is to be released on January 15, 2017.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                          30 minutes

Control Range:                     7 km

Speed:                                  72 km/h

Video Resolution:                4K 60 fps

Sensor Range:                     30 m

Obstacle Sensing:                5 Direction

About the Camera:

The camera with this video drone uses a 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. It is the first DJI camera to use a mechanical shutter. So there’s no more rolling shutter distortion when capturing images of fast-moving objects or while flying at high speeds. Its video processing supports H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps, both with a 100Mbps bitrate.

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#3 DJI Inspire 2

– For Professional Video –

Image quality, power and intelligence combine to make one great option for professional filmmakers and other enterprises around the world. This company took everything good about the Inspire 1 and made it even better, with unmatched speed, agility, and technology.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                         25-27 minutes

Control Range:                    7 km

Speed:                                 94 km/h

Video Resolution:               5.2K/4K

Sensory Range:                  30 m

Live View:                           1080 p

About the Camera:

The DJI Inspire 2 has integrated the brand new CineCore 2.0 image processing system. This means you can record 5.2K videos in CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes. Its video processing also supports H.265 4K or H.264 4K at 100 Mbps. CineCore 2.0 is built right into the nose of the Inspire 2 and works with any camera that is connected through the dedicated gimbal port. Recorded video can be stored simultaneously on the DJI CINESSD and a Micro-SD card.

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#4 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter

– Great for Beginners –

Solo packs a mean aerial punch with its over 35+ sensors and 20 microprocessors. This means more capabilities and easier maneuverability.

Need a repair? This modular design allows for quick motor replacement or camera gimbal changes with a simple screwdriver, ensuring your long future in Solo drone piloting.

This also makes the 3DR Solo the best video drone for beginners.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                         20 minutes (15 minutes with payload)

Speed:                                 55 mph

Max Altitude:                       400 ft

Range:                                 .6 miles

Max Payload:                       800 g

Battery Charge Time:          ~1.5 hours

About the Camera:

The Solo is designed for GoPro, but you supply the camera.

The 3DR Solo video drone has camera tilt control, preset camera options, and start/stop recording. The GoPro camera with Solo 3-axis gimbal is a professionally stabilized aerial video. It is the first 3-axis gimbal in the world to offer in-flight GoPro control with the free mobile app.

You can get live HD video direct from GoPro to iOS and Android mobile devices.

If you surf, ski, skateboard, kiteboard or do other actions sports this is a good choice as it is a drone that follows you as you go along.

The 3DR SOLO is also the best drone for GoPro Hero Cameras right now.

>>> Check Price on Amazon! <<<

#5 Yuneec Typhoon H Pro with RealSense Technology

Typhoon H with RealSense technology is capable of stunning videos and photos, and is quite easy to use.

The Typhoon H Pro gives you a 360 degree range of motion, and there is a live video feed to your controller, so you dont need any other devices.

It also has some awesome video features, such as Follow Me mode, Curve Cable Cam, Point of Interest and Orbit Me.

Yuneec is also well known for their excellent customer service.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                          25 minutes

Gimbal:                                 3-axis

Field of View:                       98 degrees

Sensory Range:                   150 ft

Video Resolution:                4K

Camera Resolution:            12 mp

About the Camera:

The Typhoon has a gimbal that can be used at 360-degrees. The CG03+ camera shoots in Ultra HD 4K and 12 MP photos.

You can retract the Typhoons landing gear while you fly, so it will not get in the way of your video.

If you have a partner, you can use the “Team Mode”, one person can pilot the unit while the other films to capture the best shots (you will have to get the Yuneec Wizard for that functionality).

>>> Check Price on Amazon! <<<

#6 DJI Matrice 600 Pro

– Professional Video Drone for a Range of Cameras –

The M600 is designed for professional aerial photography and industrial applications. It has a host of DJI integration possibilities, such as with the Lightbridge 2 transmission system, for maximum performance and quick setup.

Key Specs:

Flight Time:                           Up to 40 mins

Maximum Payload:              6 kg

Control Range:                     5 km

Video Resolution:                1080 p / 60 fps

About the Camera:

This commercial drone is natively compatible with current Zenmuse cameras and gimbals. You can use it with DJI Focus, Ronin-MX gimbal, and also a range of other professional cameras, including Micro Four Thirds systems.

Long-range transmission with low latency is supported, which means more creative opportunities for aerial imaging.

>>> Check Price on Amazon! <<<

11 Tips for Drone Videography

Man with a video drone

You may first have questions about UAV certification with the FAA. Recreationally speaking, you won’t need any kind of exemption or certification, unless your drone weighs more than .55lbs or 250g. As long as you abide by the standard safety guidelines as regulated by the FAA, you are within your legal rights.

So what guidelines should you follow when using your UAV for aerial videography?

  • Fly with the light of day
  • Keep it under 400 feet
  • Establish a direct line-of-sight to your UAV
  • Never fly in national parks or over people
  • Use common sense

For tips beyond the legalities of flying your UAV, read below.

  1. Become really good at being a drone pilot.

Learning the ropes as a UAV pilot through regular practice allows you to fly your UAV in a smart, safe way. It also allows you to avoid crashing and other kinds of disasters.

Even when you’re a seasoned flier, take time out to practice with any new UAV as each one has a different feel. Although it may be hard, don’t even think about videography at first. Just focus on learning. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Choose your UAV (and its camera) wisely.

If drone videography is your desire, make sure to do your research and select a UAV made for outdoor videos. Read reviews and make an educated decision. Impulse buying will do you no good here. If you invest in a low-quality unit and camera, you’ll most likely get low-quality shots.

Many advanced aerial videographers suggest avoiding GoPro and other CMOS image sensor cameras. Instead, get CCD video camera which will offer you more stable results.

  1. Have a strong plan of attack.

When you have a limited amount of time in the air, you’re going to want to make sure all other details are in place before you head out for your flight. Optimize your flight time by developing a pre-flight checklist that prompts you to calibrate your unit, test your battery charge, survey your target area, spin your props, and check your motor shafts.

Also, make sure you plan your shots ahead of time and make mental notes of any electrical wires, tall trees, buildings or other obstacles beforehand.

  1. Have a disaster plan.

Ever pilot a flying lawnmower? Many describe piloting a drone in this way because it can be just as dangerous. To avoid disaster, never fly over crowds of people and always make sure everyone in your flight path is well aware of the dangers of flying a UAV. Any motor failure or stray propeller could spell disaster. Know your hazards, your surroundings, and your flight path before you begin to fly.

Long range drone over beach

  1. Know all the INs and OUTs of your UAV.

Only fiddle with the settings and flying modes if you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, you may cause some kind of malfunction and not be able to get your drone back to its safe, operational self.

Advanced aerial videographers are able to fly in both manual and automatic modes because there is a time and place for each. Make sure you’re even aware if your unit has GPS capabilities or not. This may help you out significantly in getting a smoother picture.

  1. Slow and steady gets the shot.

Even advanced aerial videographers struggle to get a great shot sometimes because it takes such concentration to move your thumbs as slowly and steadily as they need to go. You want a fluid, controlled movement.

Just start small at around 3 seconds and work your way to 7+ seconds. Also, keep your camera moving in one direction and only make minor adjustments while in motion. This will take much practice and patience.

  1. Use a gimbal and a prop balancer.

For more stable video footage, you’ll want to invest in these two pieces of equipment. A gimbal is a pivoted support that holds your camera and allows it to rotate on a single axis. What you decide to purchase will depend largely on your budget, your unit, and what camera you have.

A prop balancer is does just that – it balances your propellers. Often box fresh propellers come out of their packages out of balance. This causes a “jello” effect in your footage, something you don’t want. This prop balancer indicates any imbalances which you can correct easily by adding clear tape to the lighter side.

  1. Find the sweet spot for your transmitter settings.

Some joysticks can be overly sensitive, which makes it very difficult to get a smooth, slow shot. There are videos online you can find to demonstrate the process of tweaking your transmitter settings.

  1. Fly through your shot.

Your flight path and video recording should start well before and end well after you’re in the zone you wish to capture. This will give you plenty of room to edit your footage later on, giving you a better end result.

  1. Know your flight time.

Thank you, captain obvious! If you’re 300 feet in the air and nowhere near the landing zone, draining the battery could lead to disaster. Therefore, keep an eye on your flight time and when you’re getting close to 0 evaluate your battery power. At one minute left, either end the flight and go home to recharge, or purchase extra batteries in advance and swap the drained battery for a charged one.

You should also be testing your battery before every flight. If it’s not at full capacity, your flight time will naturally be reduced. And always remember, any added weight, as in a camera or gimbal, will reduce your flight time. The charge time could take up to a couple hours, so if you don’t have that kind of time to waste, it is better to invest in extra batteries.

  1. Only fly in clear skies.

Wind, rain, and other forces of nature could spell disaster for your drone. Any wind gusts greater than 15-20 knots and you’ll want to stay grounded. They make it difficult to get smooth results anyway. The best footage is shot in wind speeds under 7-9 knots.

Avoid shooting directly into the sun or even in the same direction. This can cast a horrible shadow on your lens which warps your video. It can also highlight any dust accumulated on your lens during takeoff. Even so, make sure to clean your lens before every flight.

A few last remarks are to consider investing in a first-person-view system, and to master these aerial videography pans:

  • Birds Eye
  • Side-Slide
  • Fly-Through
  • Orbits 

Making a Real Estate Drone Video

drone shooting video of real estate

If you’re looking to make a bit of money with your drone, real estate video is a great option. First, you have to make sure you get certified to do so. You may also want to talk to your attorney about insurance and liability issues should something happen on the job. Once you do, there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind to make the best quality videos with your video drone.

You’ll want to show:

  1. The property in its entirety.

Potential buyers will want to see every square inch of the property, even if it’s covered by trees. This will give them a better idea of the actual size and shape of the property.

  1. The local neighborhood, including other houses close by, shops, parks, lakes, and more.

The neighborhood is a huge selling point. Potential buyers will want to see where they will be shopping, how well-kept the neighborhood is, along with walking distance to any stores, etc.

  1. The condition of the roof or any other assets to the property.

Your client may have just spent a small fortune on a new roof, a huge heated pool, or landscaping. They will likely want to show it off and use it to entice potential buyers.

You’ll also want to make sure you show the listing in the best light both literally and figuratively. The best way to do this is to talk to the clients, find out the strong selling points they wish to highlight, and establish a flight plan that displays those highlights in their best light.

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