GoPro drones are a specialized niche of the general flying drone and quadcopter category. A GoPro drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is operated remotely and provides the capability to attach a GoPro camera using a fixed mounting bracket or gimbal to the underside of its belly. The controllable gimbal in the GoPro drones allows the user to capture spectacular aerial photographs and video footage. The flight ability of the best flying drones matched with the video quality of GoPro, is the pinnacle of aerial viewing technology. Check out our list of the best GoPro drones in our section below.
5 Best GoPro Drones of 2018
Here are the all around best GoPro drones and best rated drones with cameras currently on the market.
The GoPro Karma kit comes with the foldable Karma drone, Karma controller with touch screen display, a HERO5 black camera, and a fancy carrying case for it all. You can also opt to buy the standalone drone without the HERO5 and save yourself about $300 bucks.
The carrying case is comfortable to wear and is about the size of a backpack. It is an expensive proposition coming in at around $1000, but it is an excellent kit that will provide years of enjoyment if treated right. The footage this unit captures is gorgeous, shake-free, and easy to turn into a professional production.
The HERO5 Black camera that comes with this kit can capture 4K, 1440p, or 1080p video as well as photos up to 12MP with 30 FPS burst and time lapse features. That is one heck of a camera. Matched with the rotating gimbal on the drone itself (which is controlled by a wheel on the Karma controller) it is a force to be reckoned with.
Ultra portable, you can take the GoPro Karma drone with you anywhere. Fold it up and stow it away in the lightweight case. When you’re ready to rock and roll unfold the drone and attach the propellers, boom you are ready to fly like an eagle. It is expensive, but certainly one of the best drones for video recording and photography available.
The Phantom 3 is yet another great quadcopter from DJI and a successor to its extremely popular Phantom 1 and 2. While this doesn’t come with a GoPro camera, the stock camera is capable of 4K video and high resolution photography. And the big win is that it is less than half the cost of the GoPro Karma we mentioned above. DJI makes one of the best GoPro gimbals so if you wanted to go with a DJI without a camera and add on a GoPro that isn’t a bad route either.
It has a flight time of about 20-25 minutes and is available in four bundle options. You can actually view a live image streamed from the drone that can be located up to a half mile away using DJI’s free Go smartphone app. GPS assisted flight is integrated with advanced features such as Follow Me, Waypoints, and Point of Interest modes. You can read more about these intelligent modes on DJI’s website.
DJI includes a number of accessories with the DJI Phantom P3: 1 battery, 1 charger, the radio controller with an integrated smartphone mount, 8GB micro SD card, 2 sets of propellers, and of course the drone with the 2.7K HD video and 12 megapixel photo capability. It is safe to say that by buying the Phantom P3 you’re getting one of the best 4K drones out there.
Traxxas is a big name in the RC car and boat categories. They are known for their hobby grade vehicles and using some of the best components out there. The Aton Plus Quadcopter is no different, and for about $500 bucks you’re getting one of the fastest and most functional quadcopters available. It is one of the best reviewed and top rated quadcopter by drone enthusiasts. It is our pick for the best drone for videography.
What makes the Aton Plus one of the best GoPro drones is the fact that it has two well functioning modes: sport and film mode. Sport mode delivers blistering speeds of 50+ MPH and film mode provides an extra stable platform for quality filming and photography. Obviously you’ll get a lot longer flight time with drone switched to film mode (around 20 minutes). If you’re mobbing around at 50 MPH, it’s probably not going to last much longer than 10.
It comes with a camera mounting bracket but note that a camera is not included in this package, you will need to select and purchase your own. The 2-Axis gimbal is compatible with most GoPros, but double check your intended model before you buy. The flight range distance of 400 feet isn’t shabby either. Another neat little feature is the status bar, which will light up with 4 bright green LEDs, letting you know all systems are go for take off. It is a minor feature, but a cool touch.
Another thing Traxxas fans are fond of in this one is the open source software that comes with the Aton. It is compatible with applications such as Mission Planner (which allow you to view your flights on satellite maps). Also, the Traxxas Flight Link is solid and well conceived. It is a userfriendly smartphone app that allows the user to customize flight settings such as control rates and geofence radius.
An excellent budget drone, the F100 Ghost is an ideal solution for those looking for the best affordable drone with camera. If you don’t need 4K or 1440p, this gets the job done and still captures 1080p HD action. You get 2 batteries in this kit which both last 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes of flight time before you have to tap the charger.
It’s not like the motor is cheap either. This is a brushless motor with noise-dampening tech which helps out when you’re attempting to create quality videos. The low and high speed modes are nice for beginners, once the beginner gets the hang of things they can flip it into high speed mode. Also, low speed mode is nice for taking photos and capturing video.
Another cool feature about this drone is its stunt capabilities. Fly by your friends and then execute a quick 360 degree flip with the tap of a button. That’s a sure way to make them oooh and awwww. Overall, Force1 has put together a solid package for a fair price, and if you don’t mind sacrificing the ability to take 4K and 1440p video and don’t need insane top speeds, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars with this option. Given the price and quality, this easily made our list of the best drones with HD cameras.
Parrot makes some of the best drones on the market. Their Parrot Mambo drone is actually one of our favorite drones of all time. The Parrot Bebop 2 is one of the best quadcopters with camera. This is the lightest, most compact camera drone on our list and is our pick for the best mini drone with camera. The crazy thing about the Parrot Bebop 2 is its flight range. You can get up to 1.2 miles away with the Parrot Skycontroller 2 at your command. The included stock camera is no GoPro, but it does shoot in full 1080P HD as well as 14Mpx photos. You choose the footage format: JPEG, DNG, or RAW.
The 2700mAh battery delivers about 25 minutes of flight time, thanks to Bebop 2’s lightweight design. We suggest picking up a second battery with your purchase for double the fun. There are a few matters of business to take care of before flying the drone. Fully charge the battery, register the drone with the FAA, and update your Bebop 2’s software to the latest version. At that point, you are ready to rock and roll.
The Parrot ‘Cockpitglasses’ is a really cool accessory that Parrot included in this bundle. These FPV goggles provide a truly immersive flight experience. You can go to inaccessible places like never before when you combine the goggles, two joystick controller, and precision piloted drone. To set this up, all you need is the FreeFlight Pro app on your smartphone. Then, place your smartphone in the goggles and prepare yourself. You will feel like you’re flying and the rest of the world no longer exists. It is really cool. The FreeFlight Pro app can also be used to save routes, films, photo, and other types of data. It is essentially your command center for the Parrot Bebop.
What is a GoPro Drone Exactly?
GoPro ready drones are capable of safely carrying and controlling cameras. Many folks use ‘GoPro Drone’ as a blanket term for any drone that is capable of carrying a camera and FPV. If you haven’t heard of them, a GoPro is a miniature camera that can be attached to virtually anything to allow hands free video footage capture. You’ll see snowboards, skaters, and bikers attach them to their helmets, but there are dozens of applications. GoPros have a protective waterproof and shock resistant casing that prevents damage during extreme conditions and physical impact.
GoPro drones open up a whole new world and perspective for photographers and videographers. Being able to shoot from the sky at 4K resolution is a pretty amazing technological feat. We recommend checking out National Geographic’s camera drone guide to see what these bad boys are truly capable of.
Some hobbyists advise on building or assembling a GoPro drone from scratch. While it may be cheaper, it can take a lot of time, especially for those of us who do not have a lot of experience with soldering or electronics work. Whether you’re on the hunt for the best drones for filming or the best drone for aerial photography, there’s a great drone solution for every application.
Some of the GoPro cameras have Wi-Fi capabilities that enable photographers to geotag their specific location. Additionally, they can be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots thus enabling the users to control their cameras shoot from a mobile device. The return home feature in most drones also offers a timely solution to loss of UAVs and camera equipment.
Some of the noteworthy acronyms used in the drone industry include BNF, RTF, FPV and GPS.
- The GPS – Global Positioning System. This system mainly facilitates easier location and control of the drone.
- FPV – First Person View. This is a live video feed feature that allows the user to see exactly what the attached camera is seeing.
- BNF – Bind-n-Fly. This term refers to relatively cheaper drones that require the user to already have a transmitter or controller that they can ‘bind’ and connect with the drone.
- RTF – Ready-to-Fly. RTF means the drone comes with everything required to fly including the transmitter as well as the batteries.
Check out the video below featuring Bobby Brown (pro freestyle skier) using the Karma Drone to capture 4K footage.
Benefits and Applications of GoPro Drones
GoPro Drones have revolutionized aerial photography and videography. The light equipment in these drones allow for easier control and elevation thus giving the user better perspective. Perspective is the key word here. We used to only get aerial views from satellites or flying in a commercial airliner for example. Now the average individual can attain aerial awareness like no other time in our history.
Most professional photographers agree that getting good landscape images can only be achieved by elevation. Long gone are the days that professional photographers have to build platforms atop their vehicles so as to shoot from a higher perspective. A higher perspective not only makes landscapes look longer but also makes them look larger than life.
The reason GoPro drones are so popular is the fact that GoPro is a trusted brand. Moreover, GoPro has been around for quite a while and their products have been tried and tested. The consumer is guaranteed one of the best products available. GoPro drones meet most of the key aspects of camera drone flying for instance power distribution, smart batteries, flight controllers, flight sensors, HD FPV and so on.
With the continued improvement in drone technology, waterproof drones with HD GoPro cameras can be used by sailors for photography, lifting and carrying of heavy loads, as well as search and rescue missions. These drones can even be used to locate victims and even drop lifesaving aids to them. You can imagine how useful drones were with recent Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a GoPro Drone
Typically the kind of drone you want is mainly dependent on the intended purpose, size, flight time, and the flight range. For instance there are Endurance drones that have a 36 hours maximum flight time and a remarkable range of about 650km.
However, GoPro drones are mostly small in size, have short flight times and ranges since they are mainly intended for aerial photography and videography. The most notable alternative to GoPro drones are remote controlled helicopters and airplanes, however, the multi-rotor drones have been proven to be more stable and also the attached GoPro camera provides unmatched quality of video footage. For instance in quad-copters; the two propellers parallel to each other spin counter-clockwise while the other two spin clockwise thus offering even more stability during flight.
Before using or even purchasing a drone it’s important to consider the laws and regulations surrounding drone use in a given area. Drones have been banned in some regions due to some of the danger they pose. For example, a collision between a drone and a helicopter may prove fatal. They want to prevent the worst from happening such as a drown being flown into a crowd of people and so on. Also, due to the quantity of reported privacy rights invasions it is recommended to use any drone with respect to the law.
The following are some of the factors to consider in determining the best GoPro drone for you:
- Flight Time. Flight time is a very important element to look out for since the drone should preferably stay in the air for at least 10 minutes. Watch out for the cheaper models, some have extremely weak batteries which you’ll have to swap out for a higher capacity one. The flight time is dependent on the battery capacity and weight of the drone.
- Size. Drones come in all shapes and size. Small sized drones are great toys for kids or for indoor fun while large drones are built to carry heavy loads like video cameras. GoPro drones are usually medium sized since the GoPro cameras don’t take up as much room as some less compact cameras.
- Range. While some companies may claim a range of over 100m it is still recommended that any UAV to be used in the operator’s line of sight (approximately 50m). Also if you are operating on WiFi a whole other consideration comes into play.
- First Person View (FPV). FPV capabilities allow the drone pilot to see everything that is being captured by the GoPro camera in real time directly on a smartphone or controller display. Some drones may have this capability while others may require the user to purchase extra hardware components.
- Replacement Parts. Lastly, due to the fragile nature of drones it is important to consider a GoPro drone that has easily obtainable spare parts. If you stick with the most popular brands and models, this shouldn’t be an issue.