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Best drones with camera: My top 10 quadcopters in 2017


In the search for the best camera drones you might find that there are many articles stuffing your face with the most expensive ones just to make as much affiliate cash from you as possible.

Many of these guides don’t even account for newer drones, and try to sell you into drones that will give you very poor video results.

To download the full infographic click here.

I’ll try to make this as unbiased as possible and give you the most “bang for your buck” ​drones available spring 2017.

I’m not going to recommend:

  • drones that don’t have good GPS
  • Drones that have shaky footage or no gimbal at all

This means prices will probably all be over $400, because there’s nothing decent under that sum.

What are the benefits of getting a good ready to fly camera drone?​

  • You can actually use any of these for professional videos (as most of these record 4k)
  • you don't need to have an extensive drone or camera knowledge to opperate any of these ( they come ready to fly out of the box) and all have safety features integrated.
  • you are certain to get a good camera that shoots smooth video straight out of the box (although making adjustments can improve things)

Obstacle avoidance may seem like a gimmick for some people, but it’s actually useful in real life.

Even for people who actually take care of their drones.

The only drones with obstacle avoidance technology I recommend to get are the ones also listed in the info-graphic above.​

What are the best drones with OBSTACLE AVOIDANCE?

Dji Spark- Best for its price?

Dji is a market giant that always has the edge when it comes to drone technology.

Their newest drone: the DJI Spark is small, considered a selfie drone and has some very advanced flight features.

It comes with a vision system in front that can:

  • Detect you and enable gesture control
  • It can also do obstacle avoidance and stop the drone before collision.
  • Just like the other DJI drones, it creates a 3d map of the world to detect objects.
dji spark

When it comes to obstacle sensing technologyDJI has the lead in the market, as they’re the only ones who currently have sucesfully implemented it in a couple of their drones.

Yuneec typhoon H

Yuneec is a very professional company that has a history with creating advanced planes and helicopters.

They are probably the first competitor I have in mind for DJI.

​The typhoon H is pretty much the first ever drone on the market with obstacle avoidance technology.

The obstacle avoidance technology is made by Intel and it’s called Intel Realsense, which is basically a very advanced sonar unit.

This drone is very comparable with the Phantom 4 from DJI in this department. So you can have a look at my Phantom 4 vs Yuneec Typhoon comparison.

yuneec typhoon h

DJI Mavic Pro

Just as the others before, the Mavic has a front facing detection system that does its job really well.

  • It can stop before hitting objects
  • It can avoid and change the course when certain objects are in front of it.

This is a very compact yet super capable drone, but more on its other features later.

This obstacle avoidance technology is called “Flight Autonomy” and it uses:

  • the 2 forward facing sensors
  • the main camera
  • 2 cameras on the bottom
  • 2 sonars on the bottom

With all these it can detect objects up to 15 m in front and can hold it’s position relative to the ground when there’s no GPS.

dji mavic detection hardware

Phantom 4 Pro - last but clearly not least!

The visual positioning system on the Phantom 4 PRO is like nothing you’ve ever seen!

  • It can stop before hitting objects in 4 directions)
  • It can avoid and change the course when certain objects are in front of it.
phantom 4 pro visual positioning system

The drone has the following sensors:

  • a set of 2 rear visual sensors ( so you can fly bakwards safely)
  • 2 forward cameras (and the main camera)
  • Bottom cameras and sonars
  • Lateral infrared sensors ( one on each side)

This means it’s protected from 5 directions and the only way to really crash it is to hit something from above!

Camera drones with best battery life?

Battery life is something most people ask me before buying a drone. This means everyone understands its importance.

Here are a few situations where longer battery life can be important:​

  • When you want to fly further with the drone (you need battery for safe return)
  • If you want to do time lapses you’ll need certanly more than a few minutes
  • When you’re waiting for a certain event to happen and can’t risk missing it.
  • It’s also very convenient not to have a lot of batteries and have to change them often.

Keep in mind that these flight times are in perfect conditions and with battery depleted!

3DR solo - 20 minutes

3DR Solo is a very capable go pro drone with a modular format.

With a battery life of 20 minutes it’s enough to satisfy most peoples needs.

However, its still on the bottom of the list, as my other recommendations are even more impressive.

This drone has some very good features for an awesome price, and that’s why it made it on my top camera drones list!

3dr solo flight modes

Yuneec and DJI - 25 minutes

I have brought together all the drones with about 25 minutes of flight times  

At 20– 25 minutes of battery, you’ll certanly have enough to catch some important moments and not be afraid of it landing before you get your shot.

These are the drones with 25 minutes of battery time:

  • DJi Phantom 3 Pro
  • Yuneec Q500 4k
  • Yuneec Typhoon H
  • DJI Inspire 2

DJi Mavic and Xiaomi - 27 minutes

Xiaomi has released their first drone pretty recently and now they have upgraded it to 4k. Not only that, but it also comes with a very good battery life time!

Both DJI Mavic and Xiaomi 4k drone have 27 minutes of flight time in perfect conditions.

That translates in about 23-25 minutes of real world flight.

This is an amazing flight time and that’s why I recommend the DJI Mavic and Xiaomi to most people!​

Also, both of these quadcopters have smart batteries, which will make them last longer in time and improve their safety.​

mavic and xiaomi best camera drones

Phantom 4 Pro - 30 minutes!

We’ve seen that the Phantom 4 Pro has the best collision avoidance system out of all the camera drones presented.

This time around it also has the longest lasting battery life: up to 30 minutes!!!

This is the longest flying commercial drone I’m aware of ( in this range of price).

You can get all those wedding shots with no problem without the need to make the bride wait for you to change batteries.

Hell, you could probably go for a coffee while the drone is in the air!

phantom 4 batteries

Here’s a video explaining the intelligent flight batteries

camera drones wind resistance

Drone wind resitance

Wind resistance is very importat for a camera drone for a few reasons. The main ones I can think of are:

  • More image stability
  • Less chances for accidents to happen
​As you can see in the diagram above, there is a tendency for smaller drones to have more difficulty in windy conditions
Paul Archer
Chief Gator
DJI Inspire 2 - best wind control
Yuneec Typhoon H
DJI Mavic
Phantom 4 and 4 PRO
Xiaomi and Phantom 3
DJI Spark
camera drones with less noise

Noise can be important for some people.

Here’s my experience:

  • It attracts a lot of attention from the fellow humans in the surroundings
  • It can scare away any wildlife you might want to capture (happened to me with a bunch of bisons) ​
  • And it can be simply annoying if you’re not really into loud noises.

When starting up a huge drone like the Inspire or dji Phantom 4 you’re going to have quite a big audience and it will even annoy some people.

I haven’t really tested all the drones to see the exact decibels, but there’s two main categories:

  • Loud ones: DJI Inspire, Phantom 4 series, Yuneec Typhoon H
  • Not so loud ones: DJI mavic…. and the winner of this category: DJI Spark

Drone Flight Range

How important is flight range afterall?

It's not only about flight range, but also about signal strenght, so you'll be much safer with a longer range drone.
Paul Archer
Chief Gator

A thing to note for those of you who are flying in Europe, there’s a limitation to 3.5km in range for all drones.

Drone Flight Modes

Dji covers most of the flying modes available on the market. You can find a list with all of them explained right here.

drone flight modes

Autel X STAR Premium Flight modes

  • Orbit - flies in a perfect circle around a certain object
  • Follow - follows a subject
  • Waypoint - drone flies according to predefined waypoints

DJI Phantom 3 Flight Modes

phantom 3 pro
  • Course Lock - MY FAVORITE - it sets forward and backward control stick to a certain path and you can rotate the drone freely while in that direction.
  • Home Lock - course lock but with the direction towards the home point
  • Waypoint - drone flies according to predefined waypoints
  • Point of interest - Orbits around

Yuneec Typhoon H Flight Modes

  • Orbit me - flies in a perfect circle around you
  • Point of interest
  • Journey - the hexacopter flyes away from a subject in sort of a cinematic selfie mode (similar to the dronie on the Spark)
  • Curve Cable cam - flies according to waypoints that also have their height preset for each one.
  • Follow me/watch me
  • Dynamic return to home - returns to home while avoiding obstacles
typhoon h

3DR Solo Flight Modes

  • Drift mode - Similar to flying a fixed wing aircraft (more for entertainment)
  • Selfie Mode - similar to a dronie mode
  • Orbit - drone revolves around a point of interest
  • Cable Cam- Follows a certain flight path while you control the drone orientation and camera angle
  • Follow

Yuneec q500 4k Flight Modes

  • Watch me - drone keeps the camera oriented towards a subject
  • Follow me
  • Point of interest - orbits around a chosen point

Inspire 2 Pro Flight Modes

  • Spotlight Pro Mode - The 360 camera keeps the subject in frame whatever the orientation of the drone is.
  • Point of interest
  • Waypoints
  • Quickspin- The quickspin flight mode for Inspire 2 enables a quick position change for the drone in the other direction without changing camera position
  • Tap Fly - You can tap on the screen where you want the drone to fly and so shall it do!!
  • Active Track - A smart way to track a subject by drawing a box around them
  • Smart Return to Home - Obstacle avoidance when returning home ( this Quadcopter has obstacle avoidance sensors in every direction, even above)

Xiaomi Mi 4k Flight Modes

  • Point Flight - does an orbit around a certain point on the map at a preset height.
  • Flight Planning - basically waypoints, but you can also choose these on the map itself (DJI doesn't have this feature)
  • Dronie Flight - takes a selfie video
xiaomi mi 4k flight features

DJI Spark Flight Modes

Quickshot Modes – These are automatic ways to create cinematic footage with your drone, pretty unique to the DJI Spark

  • Rocket- The drone flies above you and turns the camera downward
  • Dronie - Your classic backwards flying dronie shot
  • Circle - Does a circle around a certain object
  • Helix - My favorite flying mode on the Spark. Does a circle while at the same time increasing altitude, therefore flying in a helix shape.

The other “standard” dji Flight modes are also available for the Spark:

  • Tap Fly – it flies where you tap on your phone
  • Active track – drone subject tracking at its best

Gesture control – A unique feature of the DJI Spark, that isn’t found in any other drone on the market is the ability to control the drone by using your hand and different gestures.

dji spark gesture control mode
  • Palm Takeoff - By pressing the back button twice, the quadcopter will take off from your palm.
  • Palm Control - You can lift your hand towards the drone while it's facing you and, after it detects you, control it in any direction by moving your palm.
  • Away and Follow - This is more of a selfie mode. You can wave at the drone for 2 seconds and it will fly 3m away from you and start following you.
  • Take a selfie - When it's away, you need just make a box shape with your hands and it will take a selfie with you.
  • Video recording start/stop - By raising one of your hands at 45 degrees you can start or stop video recording while in gesture control.
  • Beckon - by raising both hands upwards the DJI spark will come back at you and land in your palm.

DJI Mavic Flight Modes

  • Follow me
  • Course Lock - fixed course where you're free to turn around the drone and get creative shots
  • Home lock - Course lock towards the home poin
  • Point of interest
  • Tap Fly
  • Gestures (selfie gesture and follow me)
  • Terrain follow mode - The drone will keep a constant height from the ground while flying forward towards uneven terrain.
  • Tripod mode - flies very steadily and slowly (good for time lapses)
  • Smart return to home - uses 3d obstacle avoidance

DJI Phantom 4 PRO Flight Modes

  • Active Track - Profile mode, Spotlight, Circle
  • Draw Waypoints - this mode enables you to draw waypoints on the map itself
  • Tap Fly
  • Terrain Follow Mode (same as DJI Mavic above)
  • Tripod Mode
  • Gesture mode
  • Course Lock and Home Lock

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

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