9 Best Underwater drones in 2021 (and what to avoid)
If you’re looking for drone accessories you’ll notice that you get bombarded with a ton of options to choose from, some of which are totally useless for most people.
In this article, I’ll actually rank them in order of importance from my experience after years of flying drones.
It’s really hard to know which are the best drone accessories if you don’t have any experience first hand with them, that’s why I’ll focus on the ones that provide the most change in your overall flight and cinematic results and less on the ones that are just gimmicks.
We’re going to focus mostly on camera drones for the likes of DJI, Xiaomi, Hubsan, Parrot etc and less on FPV drones, as that is a very different category altogether.
In this section we’ll take a look at my top 5 accessories, tell you why I picked these and give you the best options to buy for each of them and where to buy them from.
I checked out other articles before writing this, to see if there’s actually any need for me to add another piece of content on the internet.
And I was not very impressed with their recommendations, as it shows they haven’t used camera drones properly.
ND filters make the most difference in the final result of what a camera drone is actually made for, taking videos and photos.
ND filters are basically a pair of sunglasses for your quadcopter, sort of a small slightly opaque lens that you put over the main camera of your drone.
ND filters basic function is to block some of the light that gets into the camera. Why would you want to do that?
For a few reasons, like preventing glare, removing weird sun reflections, but the most important of all is by far maintaining the 180 shutter rule in cinematography.
This explanation might not be enough if you don’t know the basics of cameras, but here’s my shot at explaining it:
As you probably know, every camera has shutter speed and that means how fast the drone camera basically blinks to let light in. It’s measured in time (how long it keeps its eyes opened before every other blink).
The number is usually very small, something like 1/120 or 1/80 (which is a second divided by 80).
There’s also frame rate, which as you know, means how many frames per second you shoot in.
Here’s where the 180 degree shutter rule comes in.
If the shutter speed is too low ( a very small number like 1/600) it means the drone is blinking really fast (in layman's terms) and the footage is going to end up jittery and not cinematic at all.
This is VERY apparent especially when using drones since there is almost permanent movement in the camera (or else it’s boring).
To prevent this and create creamy smooth footage you need to have some motion blur and that is created using the 180-degree shutter rule:
Your shutter speed should be 2x your frame rate.
Simple as that.
So if you are filming in 30 fps, try to reach around 1/60 ( the 60 should be 2 x 30 in this case). If you’re filming in 60 FPS, try to reach about 1/120.
If you try to match the 180 degree rule on a sunny day you’ll find out that the image will be greatly overexposed, and that the ISO can’t be lower than 200, let’s say.
So the only way for any camera to properly expose the image is to greatly change the shutter speed and you’ll end up with jittery footage that’s simply too sharp and not cinematic at all.
If you apply a proper ND filter on top of the drone, it will block that light to a corresponding level so you can keep the 180-degree shutter rule and your footage creamy and smooth.
ND filters can also come with polarized lenses so it adds another layer of professionalism. This means it will remove weird reflections from glasses, car windows and water.
ND filters come in packs of at least 3 usually (that’s what I recommend you buy at least). They have a set of numbers on them, something like 8, 12, 24, 64 etc in which the greater the number the more light they block.
So you’ll need to put the right ND filter for every daylight scenario and set it up before you fly.
That’s why I recommend getting a pack of at least a few to have what to choose from.
Two of the companies I tried ND filters multiple times from are PGYtech and Freewell.
The best places to buy ND filters are Amazon and Banggood.
PGYTech is a very high quality drone accessory brand that I tested extensively, they might have higher prices but very high quality products.
Freewell is a company that started producing filters exclusively and they do an outstanding job, just like PGYtech. Now they seem to produce other accessories too.
Ok, so there are some drones that already come with their own bags or backpacks directly from the manufacturer, but very few of them provide proper protection or good portability for your other accessories.
One of the best ways to make your drone transportation safer and find a unified way to store your other camera stuff and accessories properly is by buying the proper carrying case.
Here are some of the benefits the right carrying case can come with:
People are often asking me if they should get a handheld hard case for their Mavic or a backpack, and to be fair, if it’s a good one, both can work ok.
I like the hard shell of a hard case as it’s very protective and I’m not scared anyone might sit on it and ruin my equipment.
The Backpack on the other hand is much more comfortable to carry lots of stuff in and especially if you need your hands free or are doing some offroading or walking to the destination.
However, this time there’s no need to make a compromise!
I had both examples and I couldn’t decide myself until I found out that there are actually hard case backpacks for sale!
Different drone models come with differ offers in terms of accessories, and this is no exception.
Best backpack for drones and cameras - MOSISO camera Backpack
This is a great combination between a comfortable backpack and a protective hardshell and it’s perfect for both quadcopters and your camera setup to fit inside at the same time.
Best Waterproof Camera and Drone bag -Tarion XH
This backpack not only looks good, it also separates a section for the camera and drone stuff as well as another section for your other goods.
So if you know yourself to be a hiker or want to have a multi-purpose backpack, this is the way to go.
Best Mavic Air 2 + GoPro Backpack - Smatree
This backpack is quite special as it can carry both your entire package with the DJI Mavic Air 2 ( with 5 batteries in total, controller, charger, and more) as well as your GoPro and accessories.
It can fit any action camera in there and a ton of accessories for it. What’s more, it has a hardtop and the ability to fix the GoPro on the backpack itself.
Best DJI Mini 2 Case you can buy (waterproof)
Since the Mini 2 is so… mini… an entire backpack for it would be quite an overkill for it (especially if you wouldn’t have other cameras alongside).
So what I could find to be the best choice is a Professional-looking hard case for the Fly more combo of the DJI MIni 2.
This thing is rugged, well protecting the drone and the components, fitting up to 5 batteries in there, the controller, charger, and the drone itself (including the multi-charger). There are even spaces for the spare control sticks. If you don’t have that many batteries, you can use one of the empty spaces for other small accessories you might have for it.
While the choice for a Micro SD card might seem trivial, the repercussions of choosing the wrong one can be more devastating than anything else on this list.
I found myself swearing more because of faulty Micro SD cards than because of any other drone issue combined.
Since Most drones these days are recording in 4k (some even in 6k or 8k, like the Autel Evo 2), the ability of Micro SD cards to write data fast when recording is of utmost importance.
The resolution itself isn’t everything, as Bitrate can also greatly increase the amount of data a micro SD should write per second.
With even the tiniest drones like the Mini 2 shooting in over 100mBps there’s no wonder we need some serious data storing devices.
While most cards these days can handle 1080p, when we step a level we need to look at the following in a micro sd card:
While I’m usually trying to avoid paying a premium for buying branded products, this time I’ve actually noticed a difference.
When using no-name micro SD cards I’ve encountered more problems (even though they were the same speed class, in theory).
The two brands that I suggest going for are Sandisk and Samsung.
This is the most important thing you should look for in a micro SD card for your 4k drone.
The table below shows the range at which each resolution operates and what write speeds work best for that respective category.
The categorisation is commonly separated into 3 types:
So to pick the right writing speed for your micro SD card, pick at least a 10mb/s card, preferably even 30 MB/s.
The 2 Best Micro SD Card for your drone:
While you could go lower, the 128 Gb size is perfectly matched with a more serious amount of footage you might take, so you don’t have any doubts it might run out of storage. This card is outstanding at V30 Video Speed Class, bragging to be able to do even up to 100mb/s which means it could in theory support 8k resolution too.
And it’s very cheap!
Having a sunshade for your Drone Controller is underestimated as an accessory until you actually get out there and see how difficult it is to see ANYTHING on a sunny day on your screen.
This can result in improper camera exposure, crashes, and bad shots.
Because controllers differ, the mounting position and the types of phone or tablet you're using can make the search for a drone controller shade very specific.
I found this on amazon, called the Cynova, and after I tested it, it was surprisingly effective, especially because of the additional lip it has on top.
It seems to fit only phone sized devices, not larger ones.
If you want to use a larger device like a tablet for your drone, then looking for a proportional sunshade is recommended.
A larger sunshade like this one should work very well, and on top it’s quite lightweight too.
I wrote an entire article and made videos about VR drone headsets and the cheapest way to make a kit for one.
However, what I found out testing this stuff is that having a pair of VR goggles works as the best possible sunshade.
The process is more complicated, but basically putting your phone in a basic headset VR and connecting it to an app like litchi that can allow head tracking and VR image splitting is actually a great flying experience.
Of course, you can’t really control the drone settings properly, but you can do that before you start the flight.
While testing some accessories from the manufacturer PGYtech for my DJI Mini 2 I ordered a pair of winter photography gloves too.
They’re gloves where the finger tops can be removed for better control of a screen or camera for example.
However, these seem to work extremely well with flying drones too.
Too many times I encountered a big problem with flying in winter(besides lower battery life) that consisted of me wanting to go home and my fingers trembling.
These gloves solved all those problems in an instant. It’s terrific to be able to not have freezing hands when operating a highly sensitive flying device.
In this section we’re going through other accessories that I found useful but less necessary for most people. They can nevertheless be very important for you!
This is a camera and receiver that works in tandem with the DJI FPV goggles. If you have a cinematic FPV drone, this setup alone can considerably increase your FPV image quality in the goggles since they receive digital signal instead of analogue and that’s a considerable improvement. Also check out my article on the best FPV drone goggles.
Since everybody seems to have a drone these days, having a special and different point of view can make a difference.
Having a small 360 camera mounted on your mavic for example could end up taking some amazing shots that you will use later. It can also capture things behind the drone that you could have missed.
If you want to create videos with a drone, there’s a pretty solid chance you need to combine them with ground footage.
The best way to not end up spending a lot of money on an expensive camera drone and stabilized is to get the Osmo Pocket.
This can be a great extension to your actual drone footage and it’s incredibly stable thanks to the 3 axis system.
Dropping a controller can be quite expensive, so having a neck strap (lanyard) for it can be a cheap way to make it safer.
Plus, you can rest it against your belly if you want to do something else with your hands in the meantime.
If you want to feel like a helicopter pilot or simply plan to not land in that grass and destroy your drone, buying a landing pad can make all the difference.
Because of their bright colors (usually blue on one side and orange on the other), drone landing pads can be great accessories to help your drone land more precisely.
Since more capable drones have bottom facing sensors that detect where they land, this distinctive surface can help it pinpoint it better.
This drone accessory is very important for safety especially for people traveling and if you want to get your drone through airports.
A lipo battery bag is made from fireproof material and it makes sure that in case any battery gets damaged and on fire, there’s no issue spreading to other places.
Typical smart batteries you can find in DJI drones have safety systems in place, but they can still puff up (from personal experience) and it’s better to be safe when traveling.
This also makes airport security less tense around you.
Using a tablet for a drone can greatly improve your view of what you’re shooting, but most controllers don’t come equipped with the ability to fit larger tablets.
This is where a tablet holder comes in and extends that capability. This combined with a sunshade can make your setup pretty different from a standard one (in a good way).
While I presented the general best accessories above and pretty much covered everything you should take into consideration, I could also give some specific examples for accessories for specific popular models of drones, so you know for sure what to pick for your own quadcopter.
Since this is by far the most popular and recognizable company, I'll start by recommending some of the best accessories for the most popular models in the DJI lineup.
Since it’s my main camera drone and one of the most popular drones currently on the market (and for good reasons) I had to cover some of my personal experiences with specific accessories for it.
I bought some from PGYtech (knowing it to be a good brand) and ended up liking some, while thinking others to be useless for me.
Here’s what I liked:
Here’s what I might not end up using:
You’ll see a pattern in things I liked and didn’t like about certain accessories.
Here’s what I liked:
What I didn’t like so much:
The transmitter makes all the difference when it comes to range improvement, controllability and even having a screen for FPV. What’s more it comes at a pretty cheap price.
The Evo 2 is the flagship of Autel, a main competitor for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
This drone can shoot in 6k and 8k and has a 40 minute battery life, yet still has a similar form factor to the Mavics.
If you want to charge multiple batteries in parallel and your phone or transmitter at the same time, this is the way to go. Check the price of the Hanatora Multi Battery charger.
Buying many accessories won’t make your drone experience necessarily better, so make sure to keep things simple and have the basics covered.The best accessories for your drone might mean simple things like getting a good case, having spare batteries and some ND filters and never forget the ND filter at home.
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