best cameras for quadcopters

If you are looking to the best camera for drones (some refer it to as quadcopter), great! You are on the right page!

I am guessing you are here because you have tried out a quadcopter and now you want to up your game by adding a camera to your drone.

Or if not, the camera from your drone probably sucks so you want to change your camera.

Still wrong? Ahh… whatever :P.

Anyways, in this article, we will discuss on some of the things you should look out for when getting a camera, best drone cameras that I recommend and lastly, how you can mount your action cam to your quadcopter.

Without further ado, let’s begin.

Features To Look Out For

Below are some of the features I feel are important to have, especially for a camera that spends a lot of time in the sky.

What is field of view1. Wide Field of View

If you don’t already know what field of view (also known as angle of view) is, it is basically the extent of which your camera can see and is measured in angle ˚.

Most action cameras have about 140˚ to 170˚ horizontal field of view whereas smartphones only have about 60˚ to 80˚ field of view, making action cameras very ideal for capturing wide amount of detail.

Below is an example of the difference between what is captured on an iPhone and what is captured with an action cam.
Action Camera Field of View VS Smartphone Field of view iphone 6 plus vs gopro hero 4 silver

2. Video Stabilisation (Gyro or Digital)

Gitup 2 review - gyro stabilization
Gyro in Git2

I feel a way that yon need to have a way where you can stabilise your video be it though post editing or real time stabilisation.

It is important to have it except if you already have a gimbal fitted into your quadcopter because shaky videos are really a pain to the eye.

Of course, having said that if you are a beginner, you wouldn’t mind shaky videos but after a while, when you become more experienced, you will realise the importance of shaky videos.

There are actually 2 main types of stabilisation  in action cameras, anti-shake and gyro. Simply said, anti-shake is used in photo while gyro is used in video. If you want to read more about it, more can be found here.

Having said that, in this case, gyro would be more important and you should definitely look for cameras with gyro stabilisation because most of your footage would be recorded in video mode.

3. Good Video Quality

VCD to 4K digital video resolutions
Credits: extremetech.com

This should be quite intuitive because the quality decides how clear and smooth the video is.

Other than looking out for the video resolution, the frame rate is just as important. Many manufacturers have used ‘fake’ resolution on their cameras, through interpolation or low frame rate.

Hence, it is important that the camera you are buying uses a real/native resolution and a frame rate of at least 30fps. The bare minimum is 25fps. Anything lower than that becomes a photo slideshow that is choppy and rough.

Having said all of that, if you were to ask me, I’d recommend going for cameras capable of filming 1080p 60 frames per second or higher.

4. Durable and Rugged

Action Cameras Traits waterproof shockproof dustproof logo iconAnother thing that you should look out for is whether it is durable and reliable.

Many of the times, due to changing wind conditions or weather, the drone isn’t able to adapt, and before you know it, it’s on the floor all shredded to pieces. (just an exaggerated example :P)

There is definitely a small chance that the drone will crash (even the best drones do) and if that happens, you don’t want your footage to be gone as well.

Hence, you’ll need something that is capable of taking a beating so that in the event of a crash, all your precious footage will still be retained. And if you’re lucky and it is not really a hard crash, you can still continue to use your camera 🙂 .

I’d recommend something that is shockproof and waterproof, which almost all action cameras have.

5. Weight

action cameras are lightLastly, you would have to consider the weight of the camera.

If the camera is too heavy, it will affect the drone center of gravity and hence it will not be able to fly properly unless you calibrate it.

Therefore, as far as the weight of the camera goes, the lighter, the better.

I’d usually recommend whoever purchasing to buy something below 85g (without waterproof housing, camera only) as my guideline.

Best Action Camera for Quadcopter

All the cameras below that I recommend are action cameras because I feel they are ideal for mounting onto and filming on drones.

Below are some cheap alternatives to GoPro, all below 100 that can fit into GoPro compatible quadcopters.

1. Mobius (Lightest and Easiest To Mount)

using mobius action cam on drone

mobius action camera Good and Light Action Cam for Quadcopters 40g

The Mobius can be mounted on the underside of your drone easily due to the shape of it. It records in 1080p – 30fps or 720 – 60fps and is also super light, weighing only 40g which is slighly more than half of a gopro (camera only).

However, having said that, it does not have remote viewing and may be a little inconvenient as you would have to connect a usb cable to your pc or use a micro-sd card reader to read the content. Otherwise, I feel it is a really good hd camera for drone​.

Note: Do not buy this if you have a GoPro compatible drone as it will not fit in the frame. However, this is perfect if there is no frame, gimbal whatsoever, and is a really popular option for those who own drones without gopro, camera,etc frames.

Demo Footage by Jimmy Yong:

Best Buy:

Banggood – 64 USD (With 8% Coupon Code: toysho)

Ebay – 69 USD 

2. Eken H9 (Cheapest and Easy To Use)

Best action cameras under 100 eken h9rCosting under 50, the Eken H9 is a good action camera for drone as ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​it is a really good yet affordable option because it has many features such as Wi-Fi, 1080p 60fps filming, 30m waterproof (with housing) and tons of accessories that comes together with it.

It also has a very user-friendly interface, hence, making it very ideal for first time buyers.

There are 2 versions, H9 and H9R. Although both is pretty much the same (h9r has larger battery capacity), the main difference is that H9R comes with a remote control but H9 does not.

Note: It is fake 4k, but overall, still a very good camera in 1080p.

Best Buy:

BangGood USD 45 

Amazon – USD 70

AliExpress – USD 52

GearBest – USD 44

**I have multiple sources because some places might not ship to your location and also there might be promotions in a certain website too.**

3. Firefly 7S (Gyro Stabilization)

best cameras for quadcopter - firefly 7s cheap gopro alternative

I feel that overall, if you were to ask me, I feel this is one of the best action camera for quadcopter as it offers quite a good value for its price.

Although this is slightly more costly than the above 2, it has gyro stabilization, and a front screen, making it a popular alternative to GoPro in quadcopter.

firefly 7s waterproof hd wifi dual screen dv action-sports-camera-for-fpv

It also has dual screens, which makes it easer to see whether you are recording or to show the basic status like duration, battery life, etc.

Other than that, it is also able to be filmed at 2.5K (fake 4K – interpolated), and Wi-Fi, shockproof, waterproof and everything you basically need for filming on a quadcopter

Below is a video comparing the difference between when gyro is on and off.

Best Buys:

GearBest – 60 USD (Flash Sale Price)

Banggood – 86 USD (With 8% Coupon Code: toysho)

AliExpress – 75 USD  

Mounting It

Now that you know the best cameras for your drone, you should be wondering how you can mount it on your drone.

If you own a drone or quadcopter, you should fall in either of the 2 situations.

Compatible with Action Cams

attach gopro to solo gimbal

OR

Solo Drone GoPro Frame Mount

If you have a drone that is compatible with action cameras, it is very easy because you can just pop it in the frame or attach it to the mount.

However, if your drone is meant for GoPro cameras but you are using another action camera, it should be able to fit into the frame if it is the same size as GoPro cameras. (Most box-style cameras have standard size which is same as GoPro)

Having said that, if you use a different camera, you might not be able to see the live feed through the drone app because different chip sets are used. However, having said that, you can still view it using the action camera app although the connection is going to be weaker (less range) than the drone.

Not Compatible with Action Cams

I believe most of you are in this scenario where your drone is not compatible with action cams, but don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

To mount your camera to your drone, you can either buy a gimbal or D.I.Y.

Buying Gimbal

feiyu tech mini3d gimbal
Feiyu Tech Mini 3D Gimbal For Aircraft

A gimbal is something you attach to your drone and then your camera, that stabilises the shot that your camera records.

Although not very costly (most less than 50) , it can be quite heavy and can hinder your drone flying, which in worst case scenario, can lead to a crash.

I really recommend buying a gimbal especially if you know that your drone is compatible with the gimbal. If not, you are taking a lot of risk. This is because most of the time, unless stated by the manufacturer, the drone will be compatible with the gimbal. Therefore, if it does not state that it is compatible, there is a high likelihood that it isn’t. If that is the case, you would have to use the below method instead.

If Drone Not Compatible With Gimbal

Both methods (DIY or mount) are actually quite DIY (do it yourself) and hence, there is risk associated to it, such as your camera dropping from the drone, etc. But don’t worry, we will cover that below 🙂

Using Mount

Basic Set Accessories and Mounts for GoPro, SJCAM, Eken, ThiEYEIf you have owned an action camera (SJCAM, Eken, Elecam, Gitup) before or are planning to buy one, almost all should come together with mounts which you can use to mount on your quadcopter.​

helmet base mount sj4000 action cam gopro accessories
Connect similar to helmet but opposite to base of quadcopter

Therefore, if you do have the mounts from the basic set shown above, you can actually use the flat base helmet mount to mount on the quadcopter. You can connect it as shown and tape it on the bottom of your drone.

Afterwards use velcro or ziptie to secure it further in case that the tape from the mount gives way.

Since you are mounting it opposite, you will also need to reverse the recording orientation of the camera.

Note: This might be a little too heavy for some drones so you’ve got to take that in consideration as well. If it is, you can use the below method.

Using DIY Method (Bluetack + Ziptie)

Using this method, it is entirely up to your imagination to mount your camera in a safe and reliable manner.

If you do not have the mounts, you can actually get some materials that should be quite easily found in your home such as bluetack, zipties, etc.

But if you want to look at an example, I feel what Ross RS did is a plausible way of mounting the camera.

What he did was he placed blueback on the bottom of the camera and zip ties to secure the camera as shown in the video below.

Summary

If you are planning to buy a camera, you must remember that it is not only used for your quadcopter but can also bed used it in many places such as in holidays, blogging, dash cam, etc so it’s okay to invest a bit more for a far better quality and very good value camera, which I have recommended above!

Anyways, this comes to the end!

I hope you have learnt something from this article and found this useful.

If you have any questions or experience with this, feel free to share it down the comments below! I’ll really appreciate it and will reply to it as soon as I can! 🙂

Till next time, see you!


–>Click here to check out my best action cams below 100! <–

–>Not sure what what to look out for in action cameras, check it out here! <–

 

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3 Comments

  1. My daughter has a drone with a camera, but the video from it is terrible and one of things I didn’t take into account when buying it was image stabilization. I wish I had had found this page before I bought it and it would have been something I would have taken into account. With 3 kids I guess the other two may want one in the future so at least all is not lost 🙂

  2. I really want to get myself a drone soon, for both aerial photography and video. A drone was used at my wedding and the results were amazing.

    There are definitely some different things to consider when it comes to a drone camera. Your article has cleared a few points up for me, so I now have a much better idea of what to look for. Cheers.

    1. Hi Darren, glad it helped!

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