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Trying to do some aerial photography?
Or take eye-catching videos from the sky?
Consumer drones have become the best and most cost-efficient way to get a bird’s eye view of the world around us.
If you’re looking for a flying camera, this article breaks down 11 of the best camera drones for any sized budget.
From top manufacturers like DJI, Yuneec, Syma, and 3D Robotics, you will find quality quadcopters for any pilot — from professional aerial photographers to recreational pilots.
Scroll down to start from the beginning, or use the table below to get an overview of each drone.
DJI Phantom 3 Series
YUNEEC Q500 4K Typhoon
DJI Phantom 4
Syma X8G With 8MP Camera
Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon
Blade Chroma (4K Camera)
DJI Inspire 1 PRO
Holy Stone F181
Yuneec Typhoon G
Cheerson CX-20 Professional
The DJI Phantom 3 is one of the top drones for sale. It gives the broadest range of pilots the features they want at an affordable price.
The Phantom 3 comes in four versions:
1. The Phantom 3 Standard —The Phantom 3 Standard offers less features than the other versions, but it is also the cheapest. Even so, it has a 25-minute flight time, can shoot 2.7K video, and it takes 12 megapixel still photos. This puts the Phantom 3 Standard ahead of many other drones in its price range.
2. The Phantom 3 Advanced —The Phantom 3 Advanced also shoots 2.7k video and takes 12 megapixel stills, but it has a long range of 5 km and it offers live FPV (first person view) streaming of the camera’s view to your controller.
3. The Phantom 3 Professional —The Phantom 3 Professional’s video quality takes a massive jump up to 4K, making it an excellent choice for pro pilots.
4.The Phantom 3 4K —The Phantom 3 4K offers 4K video capture capability, just like the Professional, but control distance decreases to 1,200m.
For $449 for the Standard up to $888 for the Professional, you really can’t go wrong with the price-to-features ratio of this quadcopter.
The Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon rivals DJI’s Phantom line.
With its built-in camera, the Q500 Typhoon shoots 4K video in 1080p and takes 12 megapixel stills. It also comes with two autonomous flight modes (Watch Me and Follow Me).
And the controller comes with a built-in touch screen to adjust settings and get a live FPV feed from your drone’s camera.
If you’re looking for a high quality drone, flying this quadcopter is a smart choice.
Note: Want to improve your aerial photography/videography skills? Check out this list of drone training courses.
DJI’s latest release brings out the big guns.
The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the most advanced drones on the market, harboring some fascinatingly sophisticated technology.
The Phantom 4 shoots 4K video, takes 12 megapixel stills, and has one of the longest flight times of any drones at 28 minutes (longest in the Phantom line as well). It also comes with an obstacle avoidance system. The drone will literally move out of the way or bounce backwards when obstacles come in its way.
And it offers five intelligent flight modes — Follow Me, Course Lock, Waypoints, Home Lock, and Point of Interest.
The price of this R/C drone has come down significantly since its release, so you can get some of the most advanced features available for an even better price.
If you’re looking for a good drone to practice your aerial photography and videography skills, the Syma X8G is an excellent quadcopter for beginners.
It’s a cheap drone that offers a surprising set of features. The onboard camera shoots HD 720P and 1080P videos, and it takes 8 megapixel still photos.
The Syma X8G also comes with Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC), meaning you have the option of maneuvering the drone based on where the nose (front) is facing or having the forward direction have nothing to do with where the nose is facing. This lowers the learning curve and can make taking certain shots easier.
All in all, this is an excellent UAV for aspiring pilots and aerial photographers/videographers.
The Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon comes ready-to-fly as one of the top drones on the market.
Its camera can take 16 megapixel still photos and 1080p videos at 60FPS, with a redesigned lens that produces less image distortion. The quadcopter also relays an FPV feed to the 5.5 inch screen on your controller, so there’s no need to buy an additional monitor or goggles.
The Q500+ is a powerful professional-grade drone.
The Blade Chroma is one of my favorite drones on this list, mainly because it offers a 30 minute flight time (much longer than most drones).
It’s also one of the more affordable quadcopters that shoots 4K video, which is quickly becoming the standard for aerial photos and videos. And like the Yuneec Q500 and Q500+, its controller has a built-in screen for reading flight telemetry data (like battery life) and getting a first person view of your drone.
And with autonomous flight modes standard, the Chroma becomes a fully-featured aerial photo/video tool.
The DJI Inspire 1 PRO is a drone for high-end aerial photography and videography.
It comes with a camera that shoots 4k video and takes incredible 16 megapixel still photos. It also features DJI’s five intelligent flight modes that allow you to fly your drone autonomously.
The lens is detachable, which gives pilots the ability to further customize their shots. And the Inspire 1 PRO’s arms move up during flight, giving your camera a 360 degree view.
The Inspire 1 PRO is one of the best consumer UAVs on the market right now.
The 3D Robotics Solo is one of the most technologically advanced drones in its price range. And it’s now under $300.
It allows in-flight access to your GoPro, giving you the ability to adjust camera settings, start recording, and stop recording while flying. Solo also comes with four autonomous flight modes that differ slightly from DJI’s — Follow Me, Orbit, Cable Cam, and Selfie.
The quadcopter’s controller is manufactured in a video game design to make it easier to handle, and it offers one-touch takeoff and landing.
This is one of the few drones that beginners and veterans alike can fly to get professional quality shots.
See Also: 10 Best Drones for GoPro Cameras – 2018 Buyer’s Guide
The Holy Stone F181 is an excellent quadcopter for building your aerial photography and videography skills.
It comes with an onboard camera that shoots video in HD 720p. It also offers a one-key return-to-home function (a press of a button brings the drone back to you) and an LCD screen on the controller shows you flight telemetry data.
For less than $100, the Holy Stone F181 is a great training drone.
The Yuneec Typhoon G rivals much of the DJI Phantom 3 series.
It comes with Watch Me and Follow Me autonomous flight modes, GoPro camera capability (Hero 3, 3+, or 4), and its controller contains a 5.5 inch screen for viewing flight telemetry data (like battery life) and changing the drone’s settings.
The Typhoon G also has a solid flight time of 25 minutes. For aerial photographers and videographers, longer flight time is a god send, helping them save time and money on batteries.
The CX-20 Professional is on the higher end of Cheerson‘s line of quadcopters.
The camera mount supports a GoPro, the camera of choice for many pro aerial photographers and videographers (no matter the drone model). The CX-20 also offers a very respectable 15 minute flight time.
It’s ready to fly right out of the box with a max speed of 10 meters per second, and the quadcopter’s Auto-Pathfinder has GPS Attitude and Attitude Control Mode to customize your flight experience.
If you’re a GoPro user or want to become one, the CX-20 Professional is an affordable path for you to get in sky and start taking expert quality shots.
This list of camera drones is not exhaustive, but it’s a solid starting point for any pilot wanting to get into the sky and take some shots.
Just make sure to budget correctly and buy a drone that matches your skill level.