WHAT KIND OF DRONE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
If you are searching for a drone, chances are you have a purpose in mind, and a reason for wanting one. There is a seemingly endless amount of possibilities for drone technology. Different types of drones are going to work better for certain tasks, while some are better for others. There are three basic types of drones. These include:
The standard camera drone is extremely popular among consumers. They are designed with the capability of capturing beautiful aerial footage and photography. Whether you are a beginner or novice photographer, camera drones can capture the images that would otherwise elude your camera’s lens. In general, these drones are fitted with a camera that is capable of capturing HD video, as well as high-resolution, high quality photos. The best part about these is you don’t even have to leave your property to get these high-quality images. Generally, they are quadcopters that come ready to fly, and provide you with an entirely new outlook on photography. Camera drones have proven to be very useful since their inception, capturing helpful footage that has aided in search and rescue missions, as well as crime scene footage.
If you have never seen a drone in action, I highly recommend visiting YouTube and checking out some of the many drone videos available there. This is a great first step in familiarizing yourself with the many capabilities and possibilities related to the exciting drone industry. They truly a provide a one of a kind flying experience that you can enjoy, and even share the experience with your friends and family. Because when it comes to drones, playing with such newly released technology is exciting and even liberating. If you are having trouble deciding which drone is the right one for you, this guide -illustrating the best drones on the market – should prove incredibly useful in helping you decide.
So, what is the absolute best camera drone on the market right now?
#The DJI Phantom 4 PRO. Let me tell you some of the many reasons why.
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO is one of many high-quality drones for sale today. It stands out however, with impressive innovation and amazing high speeds. Of course, if you are looking to purchase a camera drone, I am certain that you do not want just any drone with a camera. You want one that is going to be able to take high quality images as well as footage. Well, the DJI Phantom 4 PRO has the best HD live streaming out of all the cool drones available today. The DJI Phantom 4 PRO offers high quality video and imaging with a one inch 20-megapixel sensor that is able to capture 4K/60FPS quality video, with another option called burst mode that can shoot stills at 14 FPS.
- 4K Video with 20 Megapixel photos using a 1-inch sensor
- HD video streaming right to your mobile
- 3D vision positioning for consistent flight
- Quick release propellers
- Mobile app
- Long battery life (22-30 minutes)
- Front, side, and rear facing obstacle avoidance technology
- Active visual subject tracking
- Free In-app simulator for learning
Build and customer service
The frame of the DJI Phantom PRO 4 is of solid construction. And with solidity also comes the look of elegance. It is a beautiful drone. Recently DJI has become the pinnacle when it comes to providing customer service. They even offer DJI Care which is like a protection type plan. It allows you to send your DJI drone to them and have it fixed for free when needed. Even if it crashed and it was your fault.
What’s the bottom line?
The DJI is one of the absolute best drones today, and is the best camera drone available. Priced at $1,399, this beauty is sure to live up to every one of your expectations. It is of top quality both in construction, and the HD camera. Basically, if you are ready to take the next step into buying a camera drone, choose the Phantom 4 PRO. You cannot go wrong.
#DJI Phantom 3
The DJI Phantom 3 is the predecessor of the Phantom 4. It is highly recommended to those searching for the best drone that is easy to use, and produces excellent video quality and prolonged flying time. There are not very many drones out there that compare to the Phantom 3 in functionality or innovation. One very excellent thing about the DJI models is that there is an impressive community surrounding these drones. DJI has a lot of adamant followers and for good reason. They are the leader in camera drone technology. Being that there is such a vast community, any questions you may have about your Phantom 3, you could surely find on the internet. With thousands of videos on YouTube already, with more added daily, it is likely that someone out there once had the same questions and put the answers online. There are four different Phantom 3 models that you can choose from when you go to purchase your cool drone.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional – This one is right at the top of the food chain so to speak. It comes standard with the follow-me feature, GPS waypoints, point of interest, optical flow, and ultrasonic sensors that are used for height and position, and will hold when no GPS signal is available. Also, a 4K video recording with 20 total minutes of flight.
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced – This one will do everything the Professional model will do, only at 2.7K instead of 4K.
DJI Phantom 3 standard – This is the lowest price model at just $499. The remote-control system with this one is the same as the remote for the Phantom 2. The drawback is it does not feature any optical-flow or ultrasonic sensors.
- DJI Lightbridge video downlink
- GPS and GLONASS Dual positioning module
- 23 minutes of total flying time
- Powered by one lithium polymer battery
- 2.7K HD video recording with a completely stabilized 3-axis gimbal
- 720p video viewing capability
- DJI Pilot app
Much like the other Phantom models, the included camera shoots nothing but high quality imaging. Capable of shooting 2.7K video, with the app integrated into the controller it is easy to view and shoot perspectives of all kinds. Live HD View allows you to connect your smart phone or tablet directly to your drone, making the view your drone’s point of view your own with live streaming. If you wish you take photographs instead of video, this model is capable of producing 12MP still pictures. The exact make of this camera is Sony EXMOR, and features a single shot mode, burst shooting mode, auto exposure bracketing, bracketed frames, as well as the time-lapse mode. It takes a mini SD card to save your footage for future viewing and sharing. With the gimbal positioned your camera is able to pan and tilt to capture every beautiful minute of every drone adventure.
#DJI Inspire 1
As you can see, DJI is the name in the drone industry. With various unique models to choose from, their products are top quality innovation. The DJI Inspire 1 is by far one of the most advanced quadcopters on the market today. It comes equipped with all the features of the Phantom 3 Professional but is on a much larger scale. Its construction is also impressive as it stands out as having a cooler, more durable frame than the Phantom 3. For those who are using the DJI Inspire 1 professionally, you might have more luck with the DJI Inspire pro. It features a micro-four-thirds 4K camera with 13 stops of active range, interchangeable lenses and a sensor 8 times larger than the standard Inspire 1 camera. If you desire something even more advanced still, the DJI Inspire 1 raw has a 500GB SSD and 4K Raw video recording for working in professional post-production type environments. What’s even more is the camera on every DJI Inspire 1 model is completely detachable. This allows for manual image/video shooting as well.
Who uses them?
The DJI Inspire 1 is more oriented toward those of you who have at least a slight idea of what you are doing when it comes to piloting these cool drones. The DJI Inspire 1 models are not something you should be giving to your 12-year-old son or daughter for their birthdays, there are cool toy drones for that purpose. This is a serious machine that is ideal for the experienced pilot. Plus, it just looks really cool!
Here are some of the specs
- Maximum rising speed of 16.4 f/s
- Max lowering speed of 13.1 f/s
- Max tilt angle of 30 degree
- Model T600
- Maximum speed of 49 mph
#Yuneec Typhoon H
Unlike DJI, the Yuneec brand is not as widely known. That does not however, stop them from competing against some of the big boys in the vast, cool drone universe. In fact, the Yuneec Typhoon H is the top competitor of the DJI Phantom. It has a 360-degree capable gimbal, and six rotors with completely retractable landing gear. Total flying time is 20 minutes much like the Inspire. It also has the obstacle avoidance capability along with good video quality, ensuring that all of the images you capture look as beautiful as possible. Because it does have six rotors, the flight made by the Typhoon is both smooth and consistent. Uncontrollable elements like the wind are unlikely to take this baby down, with the Typhoon remaining on a steady course. Perhaps one of the coolest features of the Typhoon H is the fact that is one motor happens to go out, the drone should remain in the air without having too much trouble. The Typhoon comes with an all in one Android controller that makes navigating and planning a breeze. This also means that the user will not have to worry about using their mobile device in addition to the controller.
Now, let’s look at some of the specs
- 4K camera
- 25-minute flight time
- 35-degree roll angle
- Sonar sensors to prevent unnecessary crashes
- Dimensions – 20-1/2″W x 18″H x 11-5/8″D
- 12-megapixel still camera
- Wide angle lens for optimum viewing
- Included flight simulator
- Rechargeable battery
If you are looking for a high-quality drone, the is one of the best drones out there. While it may not have all the features of the DJI models, it does put up quite a fight in side by side comparison. Priced at $1,199 it is more cost effective than some of the DJI models while boasting a lot of the same features.
#Yuneec Q500 4K
This model is one of Yuneec’s earlier ones, and as the name infers it is capable of shooting 4K video like all the other drones we have discussed thus far. When you purchase the Yuneec Q500 4K camera drone, you will immediately reap the benefits as you receive two batteries instead of the standard one that comes with other drones. The camera is detachable and you will find a hand mount also included, to enable you to take those beautiful ground shots you need. The greatest feature here perhaps is the android device that has been integrated into the remote controller, making your flight much easier as you won’t have to worry about using an additional mobile device to operate your cool new drone.
Let’s talk specs
- 16-megapixel camera
- 25-minutes total flying times
- Maximum flight height – 400 ft.
- For ages 12 and up
- Lithium polymer battery
- 4K video
- Maximum ascent speed – 9.8 f/s
- Descent speed – 6.6 f/s
- File formats of JPEG and DNG Raw
- Automatic white balance
- Maximum rotational velocity of 65-degrees/s
- Maximum bank angle of 35-degrees/s
End of story?
The Yuneec Q500 4K is priced at around $929 and is a lot of bang for your buck. It offers an array of excellent features, on a durable easy to use frame and control system. Perhaps the biggest drawback when it comes to this camera drone is that is not as popular as the drones with cameras we discussed earlier. Therefore, there probably won’t be much in the way of user reviews and YouTube videos. So, troubleshooting when you have issues with the drone might prove a bit tricky. However, you can always contact the company directly and ask your questions there. They have a very knowledgeable staff working their customer service line, and any problems you may be having should be brought there.
The 3DR Solo is a smaller model compared to the others on this list. And while it is super easy to use, it is also highly functional. In some ways, the 3D Robotics Solo is similar to the Phantom 3, although instead of utilizing a normal camera like the other camera drones, it actually integrates a GoPro Hero 4 instead. This system really is a 2-for-1 as the GoPro Hero 4 camera is easy to remove and use for ground shots or filming bike trips etc. The GoPro Hero 4 is a lot more than just a decent camera. The 3DR Solo has a gimbal and accessory bay, meaning it will be easy to find third party parts for your drone. Perhaps the biggest drawback with the 3DR Solo is the fact that when you purchase it for $999 you do not receive all the bells and whistles. In fact, in order to get the GoPro Hero 4 along with the 3DR gimbal for your drone, you are going to end up spending $1,900. In retrospect, however that is a similar price to camera drones that include the camera initially, so it definitely is not as bad as it sounds.
Let’s have a look at the specs
- Maximum speed of 55 miles per hour
- Total range of .5 miles
- Total flight time of 25 minutes
- Compatible with the GoPro 3, 3+, and the GoPro 4
- 720p video streaming
- Maximum altitude of 400 ft.
- Max ascent speed – 10 m/s
- Max descent speed – 10 m/s
- 880 kV motor
- 3DR link secure Wi-Fi communication
- Dimensions are 10X18
Is this cool drone a good choice for me?
While everyone’s wants and needs differ, the use of camera drones does have one thing in common; the desire to capture beautiful, unique images that you would not have been able to capture otherwise. If a good camera is important to you, then buying this model along with the GoPro is sure to satisfy your photographic thirst, and provide you with beautiful imagery.
# Finally, in the realm of the best camera drones, we have the Parrot Bebop
The Parrot Bebop is one of the more advanced drones when it comes to technology. It is a much smaller camera drone when compared to its predecessors on this list. When you purchase the Parrot Bebop you will have the capability to control it from your smart mobile device, or you can utilize the optional SkyController. The SkyController is fitted with easy joystick controls to conveniently fly your new drone through the sky. The SkyController has long range capabilities, HDMI output, and quite a few other cool drone features. The AR drone was released prior to this, and with the release of the Parrot Bebop you will see vast improvements made from the AR drone. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy features here is the video system. The Parrot Bebop features a 14-megapixel camera fitted with a wide-angle fish eye lens. With the use of the fish eye lens, the user can take 14-megapixel images, and have them edited with any issues corrected, and then sent to your device for viewing. It also shoots 1080p video at the same time, that is digitally stabilized and then sent to the 8GB worth of storage. Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Parrot Bebop is that you must use your smart device to control it once it is in the air. This makes it difficult to have absolute and precise control like you need. Therefore, you must purchase the SkyController separately priced at $400. With the Parrot Bebop costing $499, to have absolute control you will need to spend around $900 with the controller included.
So, what’s the bottom line?
The Parrot Bebop is a cool drone, but it has its setbacks. While it does have its benefits, I would not recommend this one for any kind of professional use. I would say it would be a good gift to your child or partner who just wants to have a little fun, and learn a bit about flying their first drone.
FPV or racer drones
FPV is an abbreviation that stands for first person view. They are known to be faster than your average drone, alternatively being called FPV racers as they are often raced against pilots, producing high speed thrills and chases. Typically, FPV drones are fitted with a small camera capable of live streaming footage directly to you. This is achieved using special video goggles worn by the user to receive live footage as it comes in. With top speeds reaching over 150 mph in some models, the thrills and the possibilities are endless when you use an FPV drone.
|Model Name||Estimated Price (USD)||Drone Type|
|TBS Vendetta||$499||racing drone|
|IRC Vortex 250 Pro||$499||racing drone|
|IRC Vortex 285||$329||racing drone|
|Lumenier QAV250||$539||racing drone|
|Eachine Racer 250 RTF||$359||racing drone|
What are the best racer/FPV drones to buy today?
FPV/racer drones are a fun and exciting option that are often utilized to experience the flight and perspective of a real aircraft pilot. Many times, hence the name, they are used to race other drones, reaching pretty impressive speeds. The use of the racer drone is highly addicting and provides an experience unlike anything you have experienced before. So, let’s start with perhaps the best racer drone you can purchase today.
#TBS Vendetta racer drone
This is a small drone model that is specially designed for first person view or PFV flying along with freestyle racing. It is a fun and exciting option for anyone interested in learning to race drones as it is an experience similar to RC car racing, only with a much more exhilarating aerial view. While there are many racer drone options out there that come ‘ready to fly’, this one is by far the best in my opinion. While it is not boxed with a controller, FPV goggles, or battery and charger, often the drone racer likes to individually select these components on their own to ensure they are fitting in with each one of their needs. It is often seen that the majority of racer of FPV drones are noticeably smaller than their sister camera drone models. Do not be mistaken however, while they are smaller they still pack quite a bit of power, reaching speeds in the upwards of 70 mph. What is even more impressive is the fact that it can reach speeds of 100 mph when you’re nose diving down the side of a cliff, or other elevated surface.
So, what makes it so special?
You might find yourself wondering why this FPV drone is so special. Well, let me answer that for you. For starters, it is manufactured to be of the utmost quality. It is heavy duty and definitely will not break easily, so if you do happen to crash you should have nothing to worry about. After all the occasional crash should be expected, even if you are a great pilot. Every single part on this quadcopter is built exceptionally well for top quality functionality. Another great aspect is that if you do happen to crash, repairs are going to be a lot easier than some of the other drones on the market today. This ideal for this type of drone as drone racing does often end up with a few drones needing repairs before, during, or after racing. Repairs on the TBS Vendetta are easily performed right there on the spot!
If you are searching for the best drone in the racer or first person view category, this one is going to be the absolute best option for you. Priced on the low side at $499 you cannot go wrong with the TBS Vendetta.
#The next best racer drone is the IRC Vortex 250 Pro
This is another high-quality racer drone that happens to be in direct competition with the aforementioned TBS Vendetta. And it definitely gives it a run for its money. Priced at the same point at the Vendetta you are getting a lot of the same features and quality. One of the drawbacks however, is that it only comes with two bladed propellers instead of the three that come with the Vendetta. Also, this model is going to be quite a bit heavier. Two bladed propellers are more efficient; however, they do lack the power of having three bladed propellers. It is possible to modify the props, but when you do you will also need to be prepared to re-tune the flight controller. Perhaps the biggest drawback here is that the Vortex is not going to be as easy to perform quick repairs on. Also, it lacks the modular components and removable arms. So, while it may not be as great as the Vendetta, it is still of the utmost quality and is definitely one of the best drones to buy today. It is especially better than its older model, the Vortex 285.
What are the specs?
- GoPro-3/4 mount included at time of purchase
- Loud lost model alarm in case your drone goes off the map, or crashes
- Rigid 4mm carbon fiber arms
- Built-in black box controller
This drone might not be the absolute best drone to buy today, but since it is priced at $499 you are still receiving a high-quality, durable model that will suit most, if not all of your racing needs.
# The IRC Vortex 285 is next up
This is the first ‘ready to fly’ racer/FPV drone that his hit the market. It was initially released back in 2015. Even though it was released two years ago, due to its features, price, and capabilities it remains a strong competitor even today. The firmware that is used by the Vortex 285 is similar to the firmware used by the Vortex 250 Pro. The hardware however does run slower meaning that it is going to be less responsive then the 250.
It does however have excellent performing power, as well as precise flying. The construction here is good however, it is quite a bit larger than its predecessor although the arms do fold in making it easy to transport. The frame however is held together by several plastic pieces making it less durable than the 250.
Let’s take a look at the specs, shall we?
- It has a camera mount that is easy to tilt, free of any vibration
- Pro tuning options
- GoPro (3/4) mount and Mobius mounting option
- 285-sized foldable mini-quad
- Embedded flight controller with the CleanFlight app
- Carbon fiber and plastic injected design
So, while the IRC Vortex 285 may not be the best drone to buy today, it is still a competitor. It has stable flight and various user friendly features making it a good choice for the drone racers out there.
# The Lumeneir QAV 250 is next in line with racer/FPV drones
This quadcopter is designed especially for exciting freestyle flight. While it may not be in the number one spot, it is still a very cool drone that ranks among the best FPV drones on the market currently. I would say that the Lumeneir QAV 250 is the best option for those drone hobbyists out there. It had many noteworthy components, and is easily customized to suit your every need and desire. Like the Vendetta, this is simply a drone frame. The standard version does not come equipped and ‘ready to fly’. You can however, purchase the ‘ready to fly’ version for a bit more if that’s your thing. I would definitely recommend this model to those with a little know how when it comes to fixing, and keeping drone in the best condition possible. It is not a beginner drone by any means. Because it is customizable though, it is easy to find parts from both Lumeneir and 3rd party companies, giving you a variety of choices for customization. The Lumeneir QAV 250 is priced at just $130. If you are too excited and wish to purchase the more ‘ready to fly’ model you will end up spending the same amount as you would if you purchased the Vortex. Exact pricing is about $539. I highly recommend this model to those who like putting work in to make this cool drone exactly what you have always wanted.
# Lastly, we have the Eachine Racer 250 RTF
with cheaper parts, making it much less durable than some other racer drone. OveraWhile this is a good drone for the price, many racer drone enthusiasts will surely find themselves wanting a more advanced model. However, if you are just getting started than this cool drone might be just the one for you. It comes ‘ready to fly’ and can be quite speedy. It has many exciting features as well, and all for the low price of $359 – much cheaper than the other cool drones in the FPV or racer category. There are several different cheaper racer drone models and I only recommend these really to those who want to break into drone racing without spending a ton of money. Much of the Eachine racer is constructed ll, I suppose this is a good choice if you just cannot wait to get started. And while it is cheaper in its construction and such, it is still ranked decently highly among First Person View drones.
Here are some of the specs:
- 14-minutes total flight time
- Comes with 4 rotors
- Comes with a remote control
- 280 mm wingspan
- Body is constructed of carbon fiber
- Plastic rotors
- LED lights
- Brushless motor
- Weighs .9 pounds
As I mentioned previously, this is not the best racer/FPV drone however it does have its benefits; especially for those who are new to the world of drone racing. If you are more experienced I would highly recommend that you choose another model like the Vortex 250 Pro or 285.
Toy drones encompass much of the recreational space when it comes to drone use. They provide an excellent beginner flying experience, giving you the head start you need when you purchase a larger model. Toy drones are small in size and sometimes feature a small camera allowing you to play around and have fun without requiring extensive drone knowledge. Even if you are a drone expert, you will still enjoy these convenient little flying toys.
Estimated Price (USD)
Lastly, we will dive into the world of the best toy drones you can buy today
Toy drones, like the name infers are a fun toy type option that are easy to use, even by children. They could be a great birthday gift for your children, or for yourself. It never hurts to get a little experience in the field before spending $500 or more on a larger, more technological FPV or camera drone. The main drawback with these is that they lack things such as sensors and GPS making them more challenging to fly.
# First up in the toy drone category we have the Syma X5C
This is the best toy drone to buy today. Why, you ask? Let me tell you. The Syma X5C is nothing special really, as you won’t be taking incredible aerial images with it. It does come with a camera however; the quality is comparable to that of an old-style webcam. On the upside, it is very affordable at just $44 and it performs extremely well. Also, the Syma X5C is extremely fun to fly, especially if you have never flown a drone before. With 4,200 positive Amazon reviews, it easy to see why some are drawn to this simple option
# Then we have the Hubsan X4
For many toy drone enthusiasts, this is actually the model they prefer. It is another small, beginner drone and is priced at only $45, standing out as one of the most affordable drones on this list. This cool drone is pretty speedy, as well as easily maneuvered, unlike some of the other toy drones that are a bit more difficult to control. However, it does not have any agility mode, which mean you cannot fly it completely manually unfortunately.
The Hubsan X4 is fitted with six total LED lights that are easily switched on and off through use of the controller. There are three other versions of the Hubsan, and many prefer the controllability of these in comparison to some of the other toy drones. Overall, this is a solid purchase for those of you who just want to fly a cool drone and have some fun.
#The Blade Nano QX is up next
This model is very similar to drones like the LaTrax Alias. The main difference is that it is a couple inches smaller, with not as much YAW authority. However, the Blade Nano QX is still much better than drones like the tiny Proto X. It features two different modes depending on your needs.
- Stability mode – In this mode the Blade Nano QX will level itself with the ground when you are not using the controls.
- Agility mode – In this mode you are able to completely control the drones flight, allowing you to brush up on your flying skills.
While it does not have the auto flip mode like some other toy drones, you can do flips manually which is generally more fun anyway. Since it is so much smaller than other top toy drones, it is also much more affordable. In fact, it is priced at just $90.
This is a great option for anyone who just wants to get out there and fly. It has many fun, user-friendly features and trick capabilities for impressing other toy drone enthusiasts. I would highly recommend this as it is easily affordable and fun, and easy to use.
# Getting toward the bottom of the list, next we have the LaTrax Alias
If you are looking for something more toward a cool drone that is going to help you learn to fly drones manually, than this is going to be the best drone option for you. It is incredibly durable and features a complete manual control option, great for first time and experienced fliers alike.
It has wonderful YAW authority, measuring in at just 7-inches wide, with large propellers. Bank turns, pirouette maneuvers, and an array of other tricks are more than possible with the LaTrax Alias, making it one of the more fun options. While it is a small drone, it will still support a mini camera, or video transmitter, making it a great FPV option as well.
Priced at $97 I would have to say that this is my favorite choice out of the other toy drones. It is a thrill to operate and will give you some of that much-needed flight experience you will need before upgrading to something more advanced. This is definitely a cool drone!
#Second to last, we will talk about the Parrot AR Drone 2
Let’s glance over the specs
- Ultrasonic sensors
- 2 Cameras
- 1 GHz 32-bit processor
- 1 GB of ram
- Pressure sensor
Priced at $299 this is by far one of the impressive toy drones on the market today. It is ready to be controlled by your iPhone, where you can not only see a live video feed, but record it as well. This drone runs Linux with an AR drone up AR platform allowing you to program the drone however you like. Overall, this is a good option if you need help learning to fly. However, with no manual control I would not recommend it to someone with advanced knowledge.
#Finally, we come to our last drone; The Proto X
The Proto X is the tiniest little drone you will find anywhere in the world. It’s got accelerometers, gyros, 4 motor speed controllers, and a radio receiver. All of this is rolled into a little PCB board that is no larger than a quarter. Priced at just $30 this cool drone is more than affordable and will provide fun and excitement for the tiny drone enthusiast. It is a great way to learn to fly, as well as to teach your kids a few tricks.
What is the bottom line when it comes to drones?
No matter who you are, you are going to have a great time with your drone. They offer a unique, highly addictive learning experience that can effectively prepare you for much larger models. For photographers and videographers many of these will give them a leg up in their industry, allowing them to capture beautiful images that would otherwise elude them. If you are looking for a fun experience to share with your family I would recommend buying a FPV drone or toy drone, learning to control and fly these will prove to be a lot of fun for both you and your children. After all, what is better than being able to explore and learn about nature all from the safety of your own property. With this guide, I hope you can make the right, well-informed decision when it comes time to purchase your first, or additional drone no matter what the type. From drones with cameras, to FPV drones, and toy drones; I believe there is something for everyone.