If you’re looking for the best RC helicopter with camera, you have no dearth of candidates for the title—at least, that’s if you don’t narrow it down properly. There are a lot of great camera-equipped RC copters now, but not all of them may suit your particular tastes or requirements. The best RC copter for an enthusiast with a background in photography will be different from the one for a hobbyist without much knowledge about cameras. The same goes for people with vastly differing budgets.
That’s where there’s quite a bit of variation in the products listed below. With any luck, you should be able to find at least one great copter in this lineup that meets your needs.
The Q500+ is an RC quadcopter with a 16-megapixel Full HD 1080p camera that can take videos at a rate of 60FPS. The package includes 4 propellers and 2 batteries as well as a case for the unit that is made of aluminum to protect your drone in transit. A Follow Me feature allows the drone to tail the transmitter automatically and a large, 5.5-in. screen on the control unit gives the pilot a real-time view of the camera’s picture.
- GPS-locking feature adds to its stability when flying
- Can automatically follow the transmitter
- Large LCD screen on the transmitter
- Not very fast
- Camera shots are sometimes oversaturated
Let’s start with the priciest product on the list. The Q500+ costs more than $1,200 and offers the best camera specs on this list at 16 megapixels and 60FPS. It even has an optional (although actually necessary if you take your drone shots seriously) gimbal to improve camera steadiness during flight.
Image quality is great—a professional photographer would say “good” or “OK”, but when you compare it to the other copters’ cameras, this is decidedly the best of them. Battery life is great too, about twice the length of the average runtime for the rest of the items on this list. Its overall a fantastic copter, probably just a little hampered by its low speed, but the price may severely narrow its main demographic even so.
The Holy Stone RC Drone comes with a 720p HD camera capable of recording video at 30FPS. It is packaged with a pair of 750mAH batteries. It is also designed with 6-axis Gyro stabilization.
- Affordable considering it has a 1280×720 camera
- Decently sturdy
- Battery performance (about 10 minutes) isn’t bad for its price
- Suffers greatly in windy environments
- Some units seem to have shipped with less-than-optimal batteries
This is a great buy at $90 for a mid-sized RC quadcopter and 720p camera in the package. It has some weaknesses, of course: wind makes it wildly unpredictable in the air and some users have reported at least one of their batteries seeming to take longer and longer to charge with repeated use. Our test unit’s batteries seemed to do just fine, on the other hand (though that may be in the “time will tell” category, really). It doesn’t take away from its good points, all of which make it a more-than-decent buy.
This RC quadcopter incorporates safety guards into a modular, heavy-duty plastic design intended for outdoor usage. It has a 1280x720p camera with a 30FPS recording rate, a small LCD screen displaying flight stats on the controller, LED running lights, and 6-axis gyro for stability.
- Easy to flip (for flamboyant flight)
- Very sturdy
- Comes with 2 batteries in the box
- Camera pictures can be a little shaky depending on your flight speed and environment
- Has a slight tendency to drift
This is another great bargain at $90 for a drone with a 720p camera. It even comes with 1 spare battery in its package, so you can technically have your copter out for longer than the other $90 copter on this list—if you have both batteries charged and in your possession when you go out, that is. It can do some great aerial acrobatics with relative ease and can even take a beating with aplomb if your acrobatics fail. It could use a gimbal for the camera, among other things, but it’s still a great product even without it.
The X4 H107C is Hubsan’s version of its X4 H107 model with a 0.3 megapixel camera equipped. It has a control range of 100m, an average flight time of 7-10min on its rechargeable battery, and a 6-axis flight control system. The controller also allows you to pilot it in either normal or expert flight mode. It also comes with 2 batteries in the box.
- Sturdy enough to handle some crashes
- Stable in flight
- Quite maneuverable
- Camera isn’t the greatest
- So small that you have to watch how high you fly it
This palm-sized copter is available for about $65, which gives it some solid value in our book. The camera isn’t fantastic at only 0.3 megapixels… but then again, it only costs $65, so it’s not all that bad, especially when you consider that it’s really meant for kids. Where this thing really shines is in the handling. Its small size makes it very stable and it can be maneuvered around obstacles quite neatly. You just have to watch where it goes or how high it gets up or you might lose it inadvertently.
This SYMA copter has a 2 megapixel camera on board. It has a control distance of about 50m and uses a 6-axis steering system. Its battery can yield up to 8 min of flight.
- Good, easy handling
- A good size (about 12in), so you do not have to squint as much once you start gaining altitude
- Camera video quality isn’t the best
- Blades just shut down instead of gradually losing power when battery is getting weak
This is a $43 camera copter with a surprisingly good build for its price. It won’t rival the Yuneec in this lineup, but at its price, it really doesn’t have to. It just has to handle easily, take a crash or two without disintegrating, and be relatively reliable in maintaining a connection to the transmitter—and it does all those things. The little issues it has, like the less-than-stellar camera and lack of a clear alarm mechanism for low battery power, are still minor in the face of its good points.
If you must have the absolute best in every detail here, from the flight performance and sturdiness to the camera quality, the Yuneec is the only choice for you. It’s not a cheap choice, though, which is why a lot of people end up opting for cheaper choices instead.
If your main concern is camera quality on the cheap, the best alternative is probably the UDI, followed by the Holy Stone.