Recording aerial videos can be highly addictive because you often times get a vantage point that were only once available to Hollywood studios. Flying with a quadcopter camera kit can increase the fun you have by several folds because you can 1) still enjoy flying the quadcopters, but 2) you can share the videos with all your friends.
Entry Level Quadcopter with Camera
The very basic hobbyist quadcopter like the Hubsan X4 and the UFC quadcopter will have integrated video recording capability. These type of quadcopter appeals to the first time flyers whose skills at flying aren’t quite honed yet. The beauty of these quadcopter is that they are built to withstand hard impacts and are in the sub $100 range if you had to replace them. The disadvantage of these quadcopter is that the in board cameras are of lower quality. The Hubsan X4 records in 720 x 480 resolution.
What’s excellent about this quadcopter is that it’s easy to maneuver and it’s a bunch of fun. However if you’re recording video, the battery life can be very short with about five minutes of flying time. The Hubsan will sometimes start to climb or fall which will require constant adjustment to the throttle which makes hoovering difficult.
A quadcopter kit with a higher quality video camera is the Heli-Max 1SQ VCam, which can record at 1280 x 720 resolution on a microsd card and captures 1MP stills. Because it’s a smaller quadcopter, flying it in the wind can be quite a challenge. But nonetheless, this quadcopter is quite nimble and a joy to fly with flips at a push of a button.
Enthusiast Quadcopter with Camera
Two of the more popular quadcopter with camera kits are the AR Drone 2.0 and the DJI Phantom. The AR Drone is an all in one quadcopter that has an integrated HD camera that is capable of recording in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30 frames per second. One specific difference that separates the AR Drone from other quadcopters is that you control the quadcopter using your smart phone. There are pros and cons to this, but some enthusiasts prefer an actual transmitter with physical joystick controls. With the smart phone you could also store and share your flight data (time, speed, and altitude) as well view live streaming to your smartphone or ipad. Videos are stored directly to the device using the AR.FreeFlight 2.0 piloting app.
The DJI Phantom on the other hand comes in several series: the DJI Phantom 1, the DJI Phantom 2 with zen muse gimbal and the all in one DJI Phantom Vision. The major distinguishing factor from other quadcopter camera kits is that the DJI Phantom specifically built to pair with the leading wearable sports camera, the GoPro Hero. Talk about insane video and photo quality, the latest GoPro Hero 3+ Black version is capable of capturing gorgeous 12MP stills at up to 30 frames per second for fast action sequences as well as 1080p resolution videos with 60 frames per second. Pair that with a DJI Phantom and you have an unstoppable aerial videography force.
Because the GoPro Hero is a fixed wide angle camera, one issue that most people see when they fly the GoPro with a DJI is an effect called the Jello-effect. This effect is an undulating ripple in video caused by the vibration of the propellers. There are fixes to this and DJI acknowledged this by packaging the zenmuse H3-2D gimbal with the Phantom 2 quadcopter. The zenmuse gimbal is a 2-axis, motorized stabilizer, built with isolators that stabilizes the quadcopter’s vibration incurred by the rotors. It also enables quadcopter camera tilting between -130° to +50° and provides the smoothest possible aerial video when the Phantom 2 is hovering mid-air. Tilting is controlled by a lever on the back of the transmitter. The other key difference with this setup from the original DJI Phantom is that with the improved prop design and a bigger battery, the flying time now lasts up to 22 minutes versus 14 minutes on the original.
Alternatively, DJI has an in one camera quadcopter kit called the Phantom 2 Vision. The Phantom Vision packaged a high resolution 14MP camera with a single axis that is capable of tilting while recording in 1080p resolution via a micro SD card. What’s different about this Phantom version is that it has aWi-Fi extender allows live remote video streaming from up to 980 feet away. Flight time is up to 25 minutes on a single charge using the included 5,200-mAh lithium polymer (LiPo) battery.
If you’re having a hard time deciding between either to record using the GoPro camera or the built in Phantom Vision camera, check out the quality differences in the video below.
So one of the distinguishing feature of the Phantom Vision is that it has a built in First Person View function that allows you to view livestreaming from the camera via your smartphone. It’s just as if you were in the pilot seat. For the GoPro setup, the alternative to is to install a FPV kit like the predator fat shark setup. Another popular FPV setup that’s used with DJI Phantom is the Kumba Cam transmitter.
Quadcopters with Camera Comparison Chart
|UDI RC U816A UFO Quadcopter 2.4Ghz with 6 Axis Gryo and Camera||7 minutes||6.5 inches||$||3.5|
|Badboy Quadcopter With Camera v959||5-6 minutes||6 inches||$||3.3|
|DJI Phantom 1||10 minutes||13 inches||$$||4.2|
|DJI Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-2D Camera Gimbal||22 minutes||13 inches||$$$||5.0|
|DJI Phantom 2 Vision||25 minutes||13 inches||$$$||5.0|
|Parrot AR Drone||10 minutes||23 inches||$$||4.6|