There are many reasons why people get into flying quadcopters. For some, it’s about high-speed maneuvers, barrel rolls, and flips. For others, it’s about having a weekend hobby that can help them “get away” for a few hours. But then there’s the group of people who fly because they simply love aerial videography. If you fall in this group, you’ve probably wondered what the best quadcopter with camera really is. With so many review websites out, it can be hard to determine which RC drones are actually worth their price.
Below we’re going to cover 10 different RC drone models that I believe are the top choices for people interested in aerial videography. When creating this list, I followed a strict set of criteria for determining which ones were actually the “best”. For example, the best quadcopter with camera needs to be:
- Affordable: Most people don’t realize that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to buy a drone with a camera. In fact, the cheaper camera models are about $35-$50. Granted, they don’t offer super-HD quality recording, but they’re still pretty good for the price (and allow you to hone your aerial photography skills).
- Durable: The best quadcopter with camera needs to be extremely durable. Why? Because in your quest to capture stunning aerial footage, you’re going to experience your fair share of crashes. But if your drone isn’t very durable, then one crash could permanently damage it. Some of the models that you’ll read about below were selected because of their durability.
- Easy-to-Maneuver: In order to capture clear aerial footage, you need a drone that’s easy to maneuver. Think about it: if your quadcopter is difficult to control, then how can you expect to capture stable aerial footage? For the most part, the models below are fairly easy to operate and control, even if you’re an absolute beginner.
- Have a Quality Camera: Obviously, the best quadcopter with camera needs to offer a high-quality camera with recording and photo-taking capabilities. As a general rule of thumb, anything between 7- and 10-megapixels is considered excellent. If you want to learn more about aerial photography, then be sure to read my article, 7 Aerial Photography Tips for Beginners.
With that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at what they are!
Best Quadcopter with Camera- #10: Syma X5C
Not only is the Syma X5C an excellent beginner flyer, but it’s also a highly-affordable recorder. While the drone’s 2-megapixel camera isn’t HD quality by any means, it’s still descent for the price. Click here to check out aerial footage caught by the quadcopter. Remember that the best quadcopter with camera needs to offer great stability, which is exactly what the X5C offers. Due to its lightweight (about 3 ounces), it’s not the most stable recorder in heavier breezes. However, when wind conditions are calm, even absolute beginners shouldn’t have problems capturing amazing aerial footage.
#9: UDI U818A
The UDI 818A is a great entry-level quadcopter that’s very tough. Thanks to its durability, you can capture unique aerial shots without the constant worry of breaking your drone. On paper, UDI claims that the U818A offers HD quality recording capabilities. I’d say that this is a farfetched claim. Yes, the camera quality is okay, but it’s definitely not HD material (click here for aerial footage). It’s not the best quadcopter with camera on this list, but it comes pretty close. For its relatively low price tag, it’s a great way to gain some experience with aerial videography. The U818A offers a flight time of 6-9 minutes and a remote distance of approximately 30 meters.
#8: Hubsan X4 H107D
The Hubsan X4 H107D offers FPV (First Person Flying) capabilities and quality video resolution, so it definitely qualifies as the best quadcopter with camera for 2015. The drone’s FPV setup allows you to capture aerial footage without having to actually “see” your quadcopter. On the X4’s transmitter (controller), there’s a color LCD monitor that shows you, in real-time, what the drone’s 3-megapixel camera is seeing. Priced under $200, it’s definitely one of the cheaper FPV recorders on the market. Click here for a firsthand view of aerial footage caught by the H107D. Another added benefit is the drone’s remote distance, which is approximately 100 meters.
#7: Syma X8C
At first glance, the Syma X8C resembles the DJI Phantom 3- tall landing gear, a bulky body, and striped arms. But there are many major differences between the two. Remember that the best quadcopter with camera needs to be able to remain stable in the air, and that’s exactly what the X8C offers. This quadcopter is big: it measures 20 x 20 x 6.5 inches and weighs about 600 grams (including the battery). Due to its hefty size, it’s able to capture stable aerial footage without struggling. I love the drone’s impressive transmitter range, which is about 100 meters. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the X8C.
#6: Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is one of the few consumer drones out there that’s controlled via a mobile device. Some flyers don’t like this (they prefer standard RC transmitters), but personally, I don’t have a problem with it. The AR Drone 2.0 qualifies as the best quadcopter with camera because it’s as tough as a rock. Thanks to the drone’s tough & flexible foam cover, even hard impacts shouldn’t cause too much damage. The drone features an impressive HD 720p camera, so you know you’re going to receive quality aerial footage whenever you fly. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter.
#5: Hubsan X4 H107C
The reason why the Hubsan X4 H107C qualifies as the best quadcopter with camera for 2015 is because it’s one of the more affordable models on this list. Camera quality isn’t professional grade by a long shot, but it’s still good enough to get started in aerial photography. The X4 H107C is relatively easy to fly, even if you’re an absolute beginner. Officially, video resolution for this beginner drone is 720 x 480, and it shoots at 25 FPS (Frames-Per-Second). An added benefit to this model is that you can adjust the transmitter’s sensitivity level to better suit your flying experience. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the Hubsan X4 H107C.
#4: DJI Phantom 2 Vision+
While it’s not as good as its cousin, the DJI Phantom 3, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is still an exceptional quadcopter for recording quality aerial footage. Aside from its super-stable flight characteristics and stable design, it offers crystal-clear recording capabilities that are very good for the price tag. One reason why this model qualifies as the best quadcopter with camera is because it provides you with the ability to pre-program specific coordinates for the drone. Once programmed, the quadcopter will automatically fly to those coordinates all by itself. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+.
#3: Parrot Bebop
No best quadcopter with camera list would be complete without the Parrot Bebop. It’s an upgraded version of its close cousin, the AR Drone 2.0. In short, the Bebop is extremely durable, so it definitely qualifies as the best quadcopter with camera. I’ve crashed mine several times from pretty high up without causing any significant damage to my drone. It’s this kind of toughness that you should expect when you pay several hundred dollars for a quadcopter. It’s also one of the few models on this list that can be flown only with a smartphone or tablet. If you want to learn more, be sure to read the full review, and to check out aerial footage captured by the Bebop, be sure to click here.
#2: 3DR Iris+
The 3DR Iris+ is well-known for its GPS-based features like: “Follow the Leader” function, “Geo-Fencing” function, and finally, the “Mission Planning” function. In follow-the-leader mode, the quadcopter will automatically follow you without you having to actively be behind the controls. In geo-fencing mode, you can set imaginary boundaries in the air which, when passed by the drone, will initiate an immediate landing. If you’re looking to take professional aerial footage for under $1,000, then this is the way to go. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the 3DR Iris+.
#1: DJI Phantom 3
The DJI Phantom 3 is by far the best quadcopter with camera that a beginner aerial photographer can buy. The reason why it’s my #1 recommendation is because it combines professional-grade camera quality with easy-to-use controls. For this reason, even a complete beginner shouldn’t have a trouble getting it in the air. The Phantom 3 offers every useful feature/benefit that you could ever want or need in a consumer drone: a “return-to-home” function, 20-25 minutes of flight time, FPV (First Person Flying) capabilities, an aesthetic design, and much more. Click here to check out aerial footage captured by the Phantom 3.
At the end of the day, what you choose will depend on your disposable income and experience level. As we previously mentioned in this review, it’s better to hone your skills on a cheaper model first. Then, as your skill begins to increase, consider moving up to a more expensive model. If you have any questions about how to buy a drone, be sure to leave them in the comment box below.