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.
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.
2. Video Stabilisation (Gyro or Digital)
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
This should be quite intuitive because the quality decides how clear and smooth the video is.
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
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.
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.
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)
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:
Banggood – 64 USD (With 8% Coupon Code: toysho)
2. Eken H9 (Cheapest and Easy To Use)
Costing 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.
**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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!