Best Drone for GoPro
Drones are becoming more popular by the day. While remote controlled air vehicles are nothing new – they’ve been around for years – drones are a bit different. So what separates a drone from your uncle’s collection of RC helicopters? Drones give us more control and allow us to take payloads, such as a GoPro, into the skies.
With today’s drones, we don’t even have to know how to fly to take to the skies. They’re self-balancing, computerized, autonomous flying machines. With GoPro constantly improving the size and quality of their cameras it makes perfect sense to pair your drone with a camera.
Our goal is to help you understand the qualities to look for when ordering a drone for your GoPro. We aren’t wasting time talking about normal drones, just the ones you need to get some sick footage with that tiny camera. Let’s get into it!
Quick Answer: Best GoPro Drones for 2017
- DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter V2.0 Bundle
- GoPro Karma with HERO5 Black
- Traxxas Aton Plus Quadcopter with 2-Axis Gimbal
- 3DR Solo Aerial Drone
- 3DR Solo Quadcopter (No Gimbal)
Let’s take a look at some of the GoPro drones available today that will really take your filming to the next level.
Drones For GoPro Reviews
This white drone is a quad rotor model, like most. It features a 3-axis gimbal made for the GoPro Hero 4 Black. That’s right, it’s specifically made just for the Hero 4 Black, so double check before trying to rig it to work with other models of camera. If you want to rig the drone to work with other models of GoPro you’ll need the H3-3D model of gimbal mount.
The upgraded V2 model features a longer flight time and native support for the Zen Muse H4-3D gimbal. They beefed up the battery for a 25-30-minute flight time which is pretty good for the value of the drone.
One thing I don’t like about this model is that the gimbal must be installed after delivery. This means manually updating the firmware, and calibrating the adjustments for the gimbal. It seems like a big oversight when other drones come ready out of the box. However, installing and adjusting the gimbal aftermarket means more ability to swap out that gimbal for other options.
I also don’t like that there is no view on the controller to see what your camera is filming. It does make the drone a bit cheaper though, and once you get used to it, you should be able to get good footage.
This could be a good choice for those who want more control over their payload options.
One thing I like about this quadcopter is that it’s set up to work with a GoPro Hero 5 right out of the box. There’s no guessing about compatibility, no worrying about messing with the gimbal. It’s just ready to go. Oh yeah, did I mention that it comes with a GoPro Hero 5 Black right out of the box, too?
The great thing about this drone is that it’s made directly by GoPro, straight from the manufacturer’s specs. That means everything is going to fit. All the parts are made to work together. If you’re like me, this is a serious consideration because knowing that the whole system is made to work seamlessly removes a ton of aftermarket stress and tinkering in the setup process.
Major selling points of this drone are the compact, lightweight case which the drone easily folds into. There’s a small handheld control unit with a live feed video display and gaming style controls. I also like that you can remove the camera and the stabilizer unit and then use them with the handheld grip for stabilized hand shot video!
Some users report instability issues with drone hardware but GoPro does stand behind the product.
This is an amazing choice for a one-stop shop if you want a drone and camera ready to go!
This quadcopter GoPro filming machine has a few advanced features to make the experience better for new or expert users. While I wish that the gimbal was a full three-axis unit, the drone makes up for that lack with several features I love.
There are two modes – sport or filming mode. In sport mode, the drone is capable of awesome 50+ mph speeds. In filming mode, the computerized systems become optimized for stability and filming. It also brings more customization and personalization to the table than other drones we’ve reviewed. You can switch the lighting and colors on much of the drone by swapping out the durable composite parts.
One awesome feature is the dual mode GPS. This allows the Traxxas Aton drone to easily and simply return to the user at any time with a push of a button. Beware, however, as this is not a perfect feature. It is possible for the drone to collide with objects when returning in some situations.
Ideal for users who want a filming drone and a recreational quadcopter for any situation.
This GoPro drone is meant to carry your camera and feed it back to you via your phone. The controller has a built in support unit that can attach your iPhone or Android. Load up the app for a live stream video feed and control of the camera.
On the drone is a built in 1 GHz computer controlled with Pixhawk flight software. This software controls the four 880 KV motors and communicates back to the handheld controller to give you complete control over the flight of your camera drone. It does have a built in 3-axis gimbal which is ideal for top quality image stabilization. Nearly a must-have in my book!
This drone comes pre-programmed with flight paths to help you get the best shots possible right out of the box. They worked directly with GoPro to make sure this drone is ready to support your camera.
At a reasonable price, this drone might make a good choice for those seeking an entry level model.
#5 3DR Solo Quadcopter (No Gimbal)
If you’re looking for all of the benefits of a solid quadcopter drone without an attached gimbal, this is the model for you. You’ll be able to choose an aftermarket gimbal for whichever GoPro camera you’d like.
I love that this model features a removable battery which rests along the body of the drone. This means you can fly until the power is low, return the drone, switch batteries, and get right back to it. It’s rocking a dual onboard computer control system and offers wireless streaming from your GoPro to just about any smart phone or tablet.
One thing I love about this drone system is that the controller features an HDMI output to stream video on to any HDMI compatible screen. You could use an entire TV screen as your flight monitor for the drone! That gets me excited about the potential of this unit!
In case you’re wondering, this drone does have a follow me feature on it. That means the drone can be commanded to follow the user (based on the location of the controller) to shoot video as you move. Whether you’re kayaking, biking, or shooting a film score that’s a handy feature to have ready! While the specs tout a half mile range, I’d stay well within that according to user reviews.
This is a good choice for users looking for a drone system to build their ultimate filming setup with.
How to Choose the Best GoPro Drone for You
- GoPro Drone Payload
- Drone Battery Life
- GoPro Compatibility
- GoPro Drone Size
- Choosing the Right Drone for the Future
GoPro Drone Payload
GoPro cameras are made to withstand outdoor conditions. That means you don’t need to worry about the adverse effects of weather, dust, or accidental shock and impacts on your camera. On top of that, GoPro cameras are designed specifically to be as small and lightweight as possible while consistently offering some of the best image quality in the industry.
As if that’s not enough, GoPro cameras can be directly compatible with certain drones. They’re easy to load onto the gimbal mounts on dedicated drones. Plus, with most other systems, you won’t be able to take your camera out and film hand footage or attach it to other mounts.
Drone Battery Life
The sad reality is that any drone is going to outlast the battery life of a GoPro. Your GoPro camera is likely to be able to record for hours on end with a decent battery. Drones on the other hand are lucky to get 30 minutes of flight time.
Why? Drones just consume more power compared to your GoPro. Unless you’re willing to spend as much on a drone as you might on a new car, you’re just not going to have a battery that lasts as long as your GoPro.
Drone tech has come far enough today that we can find drones capable of fully integrating with newer GoPros. Most drones that are made specifically for working with a GoPro will be able to integrate with the Hero 4 and Hero 5 models.
Most drones are only compatible with Hero 5 and some select other models. BE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK COMPATIBILITY BEFORE ORDERING!
So, what does it mean when a drone is fully compatible? It usually means there’s a dedicated gimbal mount. Usually there’s even an integrated full or partial camera housing. Most compatible drones can access the video stream from your GoPro and feed that back to your controller.
Should you go with a non-compatible drone and retrofit it to work with your GoPro? Honestly, it’s not worth your time. The quality will be poor, you’ll have very little ability to control the camera. You’d be so much further ahead to simply find a drone built to carry a GoPro payload. The benefits are well worth it, trust me.
GoPro Drone Size
This one depends a lot on what you want to use your drone for. If you’re hoping to hike, bike, or ski into remote areas with your drone to capture shots, you may want to grab a smaller drone. Many drones have folding features or can have parts removed to make them smaller.
For professionals who may be filming with drones in easy to access areas, size isn’t nearly so important. In fact, if you know that you can easily get your car or vehicle to your destination for filming, you’ll be able to easily carry larger drones. That means you might want to consider bigger batteries, more advanced features, and other features that might not be possible on compact drones.
Choosing the Right Drone for the Future
Technology moves so fast today that it can be hard to find a drone that can last. I can say for sure that drone tech is and will continue to evolve rapidly. To maximize the use of your drone try a few of these tips.
Buy a drone at the high end of today’s price range if you plan to get several years of use out of it for professional work. High end tech will still be effective in several years. Low end tech may already be outdated.
If you’re buying a drone for a recreational hobby or just for fun, consider going cheap. You will probably quickly outgrow the performance of the drone but you’ll have a year or two to decide if you want to upgrade or stay as a hobbyist. Then you can invest in the technology available at the time!
Ultimately, the drone you choose is based on your needs. Unless you’re a pro I’d consider going with an entry level drone. As I mentioned above, the technology is constantly changing and chances are you may want to upgrade not too far down the road.
Professionals or aspiring videographers will want a drone with advanced flight capabilities such as “follow me” features, or “return to home”. Having a good visual display monitor and the capability to upgrade components is rare by critical. Interchangeable batteries is a must have for you!
It may still be a few years before we see drones hit the market with every feature we could want. For now, however, we have to choose the ones that best serve our needs in getting the kinds of shots that really matter!