Best Drone Camera Alternatives
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Having a drone with a camera opens up a world of filming opportunities. You can film from a perspective you wouldn’t be able to otherwise and create stunning shots and recordings. That said, the cameras that come standard when you purchase a drone are often significantly more expensive than they should be and not really worth the money. In most cases, it’s better to purchase a drone without a camera and then buy a camera separately.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for in-depth and valuable advice on how to pick the right camera for your drone, you’ve come to the right place! On this page, we’ll discuss in great detail the things you should look for when choosing a camera for your drone, how to set it up, and we’ll also highlight some of the best cameras for drones currently available on the market.
What to Look for When Picking a Drone Camera
Here are some of the most important features you should look for when choosing a new camera for your drone:
You always want to get the best quality shots when flying a drone. With that in mind, this is often a very subjective factor, as not every drone flyer is looking for the same video performance. Of course, if you’re aiming for high-quality shots you can sell or use professionally, you want to pay great attention to both the video resolution and the frame rate. Even if you’re just a casual flyer, you should ideally aim for at least 1080p/30fps.
What’s the point of a 4K camera if the end result comes up as a shaky blur? If you’re a beginner or casual drone flyer, you might not mind a shaky video. That said, the difference in overall quality with and without video stabilization is distinctly noticeable. There are two types of stabilization, anti-shake and gyro. In this case, the latter is more critical if you want to make high-quality recordings without any annoying shakes.
The weight of the camera is another essential criterion to consider during the decision-making process. When choosing your new camera, a simple rule of thumb is, the lighter, the better. If you pick a camera that’s too heavy, it’ll have a negative impact on your drone’s center of gravity and affect its performance. Try to go with a camera under 100gr or even 80gr.
Even if you buy a more expensive drone, sometimes it won’t be able to handle a sudden gust of wind and will end up on the ground. With that in mind, there’ll always be a chance of crashing, and when that happens, the last thing you want to happen is for your camera to get destroyed in the process. For this reason, you should always pick a robust camera that can take a hit in case of an accident. Luckily, most cameras nowadays come waterproof and shockproof, allowing you to choose from more suitable options.
Best Alternative Drone Camera Options
With tens of different drone cameras available out there, not all are worth your time and money. That’s why we’re here. Based on the criteria we shared with you above, here’s a detailed rundown of the five best cameras for drones:
GoPro HERO – Best Overall
What’s there to be said about the GoPro Hero series that hasn’t been said before? The gold standard of all action cameras, not just drone ones, the GoPro is an unrivaled option if you want the absolute best and are prepared to pay for it.
It’s very sturdy and durable. Plus, it can withstand water pressure for up to 40 meters (131 feet). GoPro Hero supports a massive external MicroSD memory, up to 32GB. The base GoPro Hero version can support a recording quality of 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps. There is also a 4K version (GoPro Hero8 Black), running at over $300.
GoPro’s Hero camera is a popular choice, especially among experienced drone flyers who are looking to pair their expensive drones with a camera of equal quality. With this in mind, if you’re a beginner, it might not make sense spending so much money on such a camera, as you won’t be maximizing its potential.
DBPOWER Action Camera – Best GoPro Alternative
Just from the DBPower Action Camera’s looks and design, you can see that it’s strongly based on the GoPro. This aside, the most important thing is that the DBPower Action Camera comes at a much lower price point than the GoPro Hero while still offering very similar performance features.
It comes with an intuitive touchscreen and is waterproof for up to 148 feet, even more than what the GoPro can provide you with. The camera is coupled with a very solid image stabilization feature, scene modes, adjustable FOV. It also supports Wi-Fi and comes with a wrist remote control. Plus, it can actually support 4K filming, if you don’t find 25fps too low for your videos.
Mobius – Most User-friendly
Extremely light, easy to use, and simple to mount, the Mobius camera is a great choice if you’re primarily looking for a straightforward and easy-to-use drone camera. It’s unmatchable in terms of weight, as it is only 1.4 ounces (or 40 grams). Despite this, it can support an amazing battery life of up to two hours or more!
Mobius also excels in the performance department. You can record 1080p/30fps video or scale down the resolution for better framerate, at 720p/60fps. Because of its size and compactness, the Mobius doesn’t support remote viewing, so you’ll have to undergo additional steps to read the content.
If you have a drone that already has a frame for a GoPro or similar cameras, the Mobius isn’t the best option. That said, this camera is a perfect option if you own a basic drone that doesn’t have any frame, a gimbal, or designated camera space.
Firefly Q6 – Built-in Gyro Stabilization
More expensive than the previous two cameras, the Firefly Q6 also comes with more features than the previous two. It’s shockproof, waterproof, has a Wi-Fi feature, and pretty much clears all other criteria you would ask for when choosing a reliable drone camera.
Plus, when you add to this the fact that the Firefly Q6 has its own gyro stabilization, as well as a front screen, the price point it comes at is certainly worth it. This camera also comes with a 4K camera. If you’re looking for a sound action camera, the Firefly Q6 is undoubtedly one of the best options on the market.
How to Attach the Camera to Your Drone
Ok, now that you’ve selected a camera you want to buy, how can you attach it to your drone? Regardless of which drone you might have, you’ll be able to choose at least one of the following three methods for attaching the camera to your drone:
- Mount it Directly to Your Drone – Some drones come compatible with third-party action cameras. If you’ve already purchased such a drone with this in mind, you’ll be able to fit and secure your new camera onto the drone within seconds.
- Buy a Gimbal for the Camera – If your drone doesn’t come with a built-in frame but is compatible with a gimbal, it’s a good choice to buy the gimbal separately to mount the camera. This will also add the extra stabilization needed for better-quality shots.
- Go Down the DIY Road – Secure the camera to your drone with zip ties or other sturdy materials.
A Quick Sum Up
Purchasing the right camera for your drone will provide you with a perspective you hadn’t experienced before. It’s exciting, entertaining, and fun for your entire family. It’s understandable to have difficulties figuring out the most suitable camera for your drone, but there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed. Hopefully, this detailed guide has helped you inch a bit closer to making a decision in the right direction. Remember the advice and tips we shared with you on this page, and you’ll undoubtedly make the right decision and have a thrilling adventure using your new drone camera.