By Bob Hammell
Not all remote controlled quadcopters or drones come equipped with cameras. So if you want to purchase one that does, you should know what your options are and which options will best fit your needs. The most popular drone brand is DJI which makes the DJI Phantom series, but we will also be discussing the AR Drone with camera.
You can also purchase drones that do not include cameras but come equipped with the camera rigs so that you could easily attach one such as a GoPro or a Hero camera but you would need to find out which cameras the rig of the drone you want to purchase is compatible with.
The Phantom 2 Vision is a quadcopter with a camera that can shoot high quality still photos with 14 megapixels and full HD video at 1080p 30/60i. During flight, it utilizes camera tilt control to stabilize the camera on the tilt axis which can be controlled remotely through the Vision app.
You can monitor flight data in real time along with a live camera view which works up to a distance of 300m with a Wi-Fi connection to your mobile device. When you snap photos or record videos, you can send them directly from the Vision directly to your phone using Wi-Fi without the need for a computer. Photos and videos can then be shared straight to Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, Picasa or Google Plus.
This camera drone offers stable hovering and precision flight with its integrated GPS autopilot system that provides stable hovering along with altitude lock. The app displays onscreen real-time flight parameters such as Wi-Fi signal strength, SD card status, battery capacity, and GPS satellites. You can also view the attitude and direction, flight distance, and height and speed.
The Phantom 2 Vision+ is another DJI quadcopter with a camera for taking pictures and recording during aerial flight. It features a radar positioning and return home function that displays the current position of the Phantom 2 Vision+ in relation to whoever is controlling it.
In the event that the Phantom 2 Vision+ exceeds the control range of the remote control it will trigger its Return to Home function which causes it to automatically fly back to its takeoff point and land. This drone has a max flight time of 25 minutes. With its onscreen real-time flight parameters, you can keep track of current flight telemetry and view exactly what your Phantom 2 Vision+ sees on your mobile device.
It comes with a high-quality camera that has a removable 4GB micro SD card. It records full HD video at 720p/60fps and 1080p/30fps giving you perfectly clear video along with an option for slow motion shots. The photos are taken at 14 megapixels and the resolution of the camera is 4384×3288. One of the unique things about the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is its No Fly Zone feature that uses new firmware to prevent the drone from going into No Fly Zones such as airports in order to prevent accidental flights in restricted areas and increase flight safety.
The Phantom FC40 comes equipped with its own smart camera and is perfect for those who are new to using drones. Its DJI designed smart camera built into the drone which supports 720p/30fps HD video and iOS or Android app control. It provides a full FPV experience up to 100m by using a 2.4G Wi-Fi connection. This drone is highly compact and can easily fit into small book bags.
Thanks to its new 5.8GHz remote control it will not interfere with the 2.4G Wi-Fi when in flight. The FC40 camera uses an Aperture F2.2 lens, has a 25cm-infinity focal range and includes a built-in 700 mAh Li-on battery. With a max speed of 6m/s the Phantom FC40 can stay in flight for over 15 minutes and can operate in temperatures from negative 10 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius.
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is a RC drone with a camera that can capture footage that can be streamed and recorded directly to your smartphone in 720p HD. It has a robust structure which is the result of its cutting edge EPP design. A single touch on the screen of your mobile device and you can control the AR Drone 2.0, making it hover, land and flip.
Its 720p HD camera records at 30FPS and uses the H264 encoding base profile. It offers low latency streaming, JPEG photo capture, video storage on the fly with USB flash drive or remote device and the HD video is recorded and sent directly to your device as you fly. The AR FreeFlight is the main application that is used to pilot and fly the AR drone. You can pilot the drone with or without the accelerometer and switch from the vertical camera to the frontal camera at any time.
The app is compatible with the AR Drone and AR Drone 2.0 and its new user-friendly interface allows you to easily record pictures, videos and navigation data then upload them instantly directly from the application. Now it also features a director mode that lets you program automatic movements so you can shoot high-quality videos as a movie director would.
You can choose your movement such as pan, traveling, crane, adjust moves and speed in real time to compose your video sequence and tune camera settings such as exposure, luminosity, and white balance. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 also has video post processing and a stabilization system so you can get clean and smoother shots.
The drone is made up of carbon fiber tubes, EPP hull injected by a sintered metal mold, high-grade fiber charged nylon plastic parts, liquid repellent nano-coating on ultrasound sensors and foam to isolate the inertial center from the engines vibration. Additionally, all parts of the drone are fully repairable and instructions for repairing parts of the drone are available on the Internet. If you are just looking for a starter drone or something that will get the job done without having to spend big bucks on something like a DJI drone, then the Parrot AR Drone is right up your alley.