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|GoPro Karma Drone||Hero Go Pro Included|
|DJI Phantom 2UAV||Not Included|
|3DR SA12 A||Not Included|
|Veho VXD-001||1080p HD|
|Walkera QRX350 Pro||Not Included|
There are many reasons why we should celebrate the constant development of technology. Not only have developments in digital technology brought us many benefits in the way we work, and in the home, but many aspects of technological advances have allowed us to have more fun. Consider the digital camera: once an expensive item available only to those who could afford it, the chances are you now have a quite capable one on your smartphone. The upshot of digital camera development has been the rise of the GoPro, those wonderfully effective cameras that we use to stream our exciting sporting pursuits.
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Then there’s a range of gimmicks that have crossed over from the professional world to that of leisure; drones, those four-rotor quadcopters that are fun and exciting, were developed as aids to the emergency services, as they can be flown into very awkward spaces to send back images without the need for risking a life. Of course, there are now many fun drones available for leisure use, so what happens if – for example – you combine a drone with a GoPro?
That’s what this review is looking at: GoPro drones that we reckon will be up there as one of the must-have Christmas presents this year, and that are superbly effective, easy to use and very capable. These drones can be used to film beautifully clear, wonderfully evocative footage of whatever you are doing, wherever you are, or of the flight itself, and they are fantastic devices that bring you a whole world of new possibilities. You may have thought of a GoPro as something you attach to your helmet when cycling or indulging in one of many other pursuits, but using one with drone opens the floodgates for a wealth of opportunities.
So, without further hesitation, let’s have a look at the top 10 best GoPro drones on the market today, and show you how one of these can really add to your enjoyment.
Table of Contents
The Top 10 Best Go-Pro Drones
Let’s get something straight before we begin: there are many very cheap, fun and usable drones on the market, and they are great for beginners. We must stress that those we are reviewing here are a level or two above that. These are professional-level drones that are designed primarily for use with a camera, in order to return excellent video. The beginner may find that a less sophisticated model would be a wise choice to begin with.
That’s not to say, however, that these drones are difficult to fly: one of the benefits of the quadcopter is that, by its very nature, it is inherently more stable than a standard RC helicopter, and can hover much more easily. This one, from GoPro itself, is the Karma, and it has many excellent benefits. It comes with a top quality HERO5 camera as part of the kit. It folds into a bespoke case for carrying around and all you need to do is open the blades and fly away.
If you want, you can also use it as a hand-held or body-mounted camera. It has a stabiliser for fine pictures when in flight, plus a one touch take-off and landing feature. It also comes with built-in geo-restriction, so you cannot fly it in restricted airspace – an important point we will come to later. You also get a full tutorial, which is a handy addition, and it can be set to hover at your chosen altitude. With 15 minutes of flying time it is pretty impressive, although at around £1200 it is at the top end of the price range.
The DJI Phantom range is one of the most popular drone collections of all, promising excellent performance and durable construction. This latest model comes with improved propulsion system for increased performance, and is a very neat drone indeed. It’s compatible with GoPro HERO cameras up to number 4 – but neither the mount nor the camera is included – and is fully-featured and ready to fly.
You get a very capable drone with one-touch return to home for added safety – less chance of losing the machine when your battery indicator tells you it’s getting low – plus a very neat controller that is easy to use and well-designed. It is fitted with sophisticated gimbals – stabilisers for steady flight – so will return great pictures and video, and is easy to fly straight out of the box.
Altitude lock and stable hovering come as part of the parcel, which makes things a lot easier, and it features a very powerful battery that can provide as much as 25 minutes flying time – a massive amount compared to some of these. You don’t get a spare battery, or spare propellers, but at around £500, it’s not bad value for a quality drone of a professional level.
3: 3DR SA12 A
It is worth noting that, with some drones – as they are actually unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) you may need to get a licence to fly from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This is especially the case if you intend to fly at night, when you will also need to show the requisite red and green navigation lights. Fortunately, those on this list don’t need this certification, so can be flown by anyone. Still, it is sensible to observe the safety rules concerning flying drones.
Now, about this model: it’s a very neat drone that comes with all the features; it’s compatible with GoPro HERO cameras – which you should buy in addition – and it is designed to be easy to fly with high performance and all the required features. Be aware this is not a toy, and is probably best left to those with at least some knowledge of flying drones.
It has powerful motors and can auto-hover with amazing steadiness to return great stills or video; it has single-touch commands for hovering and altitude – as well as to return home – and it is easy to get used to. Indeed, it is said to be one of the most intelligent – in terms of its operating system – drones of all, so is well worth a look. At a little less than £600 it is not the cheapest, but nor is it the most expensive of these.
4: Veho VXD-001
There are many drones that are designed for taking pictures and videos, and of those reviewed so far, we reckon this to be perhaps the most dedicated of the lot. It’s clearly aimed at the photographer who wants to take aerial shots – rather than the drone enthusiast who wants to take pictures – and as such is designed to be easy to fly and operate. Indeed, one-touch take off, auto hover and altitude hold are all part of the bargain.
Also included in the package is an excellent, 1080p video or 16mega-pixel still camera which coupled with the amazing stability offered by the drone, return excellent images that can be stored or streamed live to iPhone, Android and other formats. The advanced GPS system means that you can keep an eye on where your drone is headed – with a range of up to 300m – and if the location signal is lost, it will simply come home.
A powerful battery – said to be the biggest available – means you get as much as 25-minutes of flying time, while it can automatically detect the Wi-Fi signal of your devices when in flight. Overall, this is a very impressive choice for the photographer looking for aerial shots and videos, and while there is no spare battery or blades, at under £800 it is what you would expect to pay for a quality drone such as this.
A little earlier we talked of a drone that was fitted with a function preventing it from flying in restricted airspace. This is a problem with unlicensed drones, and with foolish people choosing to fly them close to airport or airfield flight paths and in the process, not only endangering people’s lives, but threatening to bring the hobby of drone flying to a close. It would be all too easy for the powers that be to have them banned, so please ensure you fly responsibly.
What can we say about this model? Well, it’s a quality drone that, in this company, could perhaps be considered a budget buy. That is not to dismiss it in any way: it is a very capable drone, comes with all the usual required features – altitude hold, auto hover, return home – and more, and it is well made from durable materials and relatively easy to fly.
It also comes with an integrated camera; it’s not the greatest but is perfectly capable of taking very fine pictures and video. It’s intended as an entry-level model and the manufacturer makes no secret of that. There’s no spare battery – it’s adequate but not great – and no spare blades, but at around £300 this may be a great choice for a beginner who wants something more than an average drone.
The interesting thing about this model, from CXHOBBY, is that the software it uses is open-source; this means you should be able to find many add-ons that can enhance the performance and usefulness of your drone. For example, while it comes with auto-return function for when the drone goes out of its allotted range, you can use an open-source add-on to program it to return when requested with just one touch of a button.
This model comes with a camera mount included – but no camera; this is a disappointment as we are primarily looking at drones for people who want to take photographs. It is fully compatible with GoPro devices, however, so you can take your pick of the camera you want to use. It comes with 6-axis stability – great for flying outdoors and offering excellent performance in light wind – and is very easy to control.
You can perform all the manoeuvres you want with this drone, and it is on a non-interference frequency, and overall, it is a batter than average hobby drone, rather than one for the serious user. However, at around £300, this would make a great gift, and there are a number of accessories you can use to customise your drone.
This drone, a rather interesting and innovative design, has a unique and rather clever selling point. While you do get a traditional controller, the manufacturer encourages you to fly it using your smartphone. It’s done by clever computers and gyroscopes: you tilt your phone, the drone obeys, and so on. It takes some getting used to, but it is a clever touch that – once you get the hang of it – makes life a lot easier. There are many instructions you can give it just by moving your phone – including hover – and it also has a ‘follow me’ function where the drone will track you if instructed.
It also comes with a 4K camera, with high quality video and still capability, so you can take excellent pictures or stream video while you fly, and if it runs low on power or loses contact with your mobile, it will automatically return to base. It’s also designed to be compatible with a VR headset, for perfect FPV flying.
All in all, then, a great drone on paper, but we have noticed some less than complimentary customer reviews, in particular with regard to a lack of after-sales service. In contrast, there are others that sing its praises, so it seems to be very much a personal choice. We like it – especially the mobile phone control – and at around £450, it is rather good value among this competition.
We are nearing the end of this review now, and you will have noticed some trends across the devices we have included. For example, some come with cameras included – this is, after all, supposed to be a review of GoPro drones – but some, like this one, come with a mount only (indeed, there are some that don’t even come with a mount!) There are two sides to this: some people may want to buy the complete package, but others may already own a GoPro – or other camera – and simply want a drone.
This model, from Traxxas, is neither exceptional or otherwise: it’s a very nice drone design, made from durable and sturdy materials, and comes with all the features you would expect from a device of this standard. It has the hover and altitude hold features, can come home on request or when the battery is starting to drain, and is relatively easy to fly with a conventional controller.
It’s becoming hard to find new things to say, as all of these – bar one or two – follow a set concept – but all we can add is that, at around £475, it’s a typical price for a quality near-professional level drone without a camera.
This is a nice drone that includes a wealth of interesting features in addition to the regular ones. One of the required safety features of these devices is that they return to base when they lose contact with the controller. The clever thing about this one is that, before it automatically comes home, it will return to the last point where it was connected and try and reconnect; if it cannot, then it returns to base.
It is a neatly designed model made from suitably durable material, and one that will automatically descend if battery power is low. It is also easy to fly with all the usual aids, and has a range of up to 100m. While there is no camera included it comes with a fitted mount compatible with up to GoPro HERO4, which you will have to purchase yourself.
Auto take-off and landing are part of the package, it comes with handy neck-strap for your controller, and it is compatible with Android and iPhone devices. It’s a powerful transmitter, too, so you have complete control over all flights. At around £660 – without a camera, remember – it is not the cheapest, but it is a quality item.
We close our review of the top 10 GoPro drones with this model, which has a slightly different design concept that is very evident. Rather than the usual four legs as landing gear, this one has two helicopter-style runners and, as a result, looks rather neat! Where is also differs is in one very interesting – although questionable – factor: it’s not a quadcopter. Instead, this one has one large central blade, plus two smaller ones either side.
Now, this raises some interesting questions: quadcopters are naturally easy to fly, so why change the concept? It can only be to be different! The upshot is that, while this is an interesting model, it is not as easy to fly as a standard quadcopter – by its very nature – so we question where it stands in the market.
It does come with a powerful battery promising 30minutes flying time, it has a gimbal for mounting a GoPro but no camera is included, and it is nicely made, but we still have reservations. At just shy of £400 it is not bad value, but consider this seriously before you choose it, as it is very different.
Important Features to Consider
As show by the above reviews, there is plenty of choice when it comes to GoPro drones, so let’s just recap some of the most important features. Note: we have omitted spare battery and blades as, while desirable, none of these include them, but they are available as extras.
Camera – some of these come with a camera, some don’t; it’s up to you whether you want one with the camera include or have one already.
Features – you want return to home, auto hover, altitude hold – the more the better!
Ease of Use – most of these have one-button take off, so check before you buy
Those are our picks of what to look out for, and price is also a consideration, so all that remains now is to wrap things up.
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Let’s Wrap It Up
There are two categories here: the full-on pro-level drones complete with camera, and the entry-level models. If it’s the latter you are looking for, you can’t go wrong with the eHang Ghostdrone which, at under £500 with a great camera, is an excellent buy.
If you are looking for a more up-market set-up, we can’t help but come back to the Veho model, at number four on the list. For less than £800 you get everything you could possibly want, and more. If, however, you are intent on getting a drone with a GoPro camera, it has to be their own-brand model, the Karma, which is as advanced as you can get.
So, the choice is yours, read through again find the best go-pro drone for you and happy flying, and have fun!