The word “ drone” is a pretty broad term. There are many different types of drones that can do many different things. For starters, some drones are used for farming, firefighting, or military purposes. More recently, commercial drones have come on the scene to be used for recreation and photography. We’re going to look closely at the different cameras used exclusively with drones. The cameras in commercial drones are going to be a bit different from other drone cameras, mostly in the way of sensors and filters, but otherwise the cameras are pretty much the same.
Some commercial drones have a camera built in, or they come with a camera that is ready to attach. Others have a place to attach a camera or are at least capable of carrying a camera’s weight, but you actually have to get the camera separately. The drones with a camera already built in are, understandably, going to be more expensive. But with these you may actually be saving money since you don’t have to pay for a camera on top of the drone price. Typically, these cameras are made specifically for that model of drone and are going to operate the best with it. Some examples are the Walkera Tali H500, the Hubsan X4, and the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+.
The cameras that come with the drones are going to vary from drone to drone. They’re going to have different features and different specs. So with these, make sure you do your research to ensure you are getting a good camera as well as a good drone. I’ve found that that the DJI camera drones are top quality in every aspect, but if these are out of your price range, there are other competitive options: such as the Parrot AR drone 2.0 and the Blade 350 QX2 AP.
Drones that do not come with a camera are going to be cheaper initially but may actually cost you more money once you buy the camera in addition to the drone. With these drones, you need to think about which camera is going to be the best fit for you and your drone. Many people swear by the GoPro cameras, so this is a good place to start. The standard choice is the GoPro Hero3 Black but GoPro has now come out with a Hero4 series that offers you amazing camera quality. They’re expensive but totally worth it if you’re looking for a camera to buy for your drone.
Here’s a ball-park range of specs you should look for in a drone camera: a resolution of about 1080p 30 fps or better; weight of about 80g or less; and a battery time of at least 80 min. Along with all of this, of course, you want the camera with the best price. Like I’ve already said, the GoPro Hero4 Black is great and GoPro is always a top choice for drones. But, if you’re looking for something cheaper, you might want to look into the Sony AS100V.
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