And with many modern drones coming equipped with high-quality cameras these days, you can capture some stunning aerial footage too.
It pays to choose the right model for you, whether you're an expert or a first-time flier. Novices can choose user-friendliness and safety features to get up and running quickly – and avoid crashing, of course. More experienced pilots or those looking to use their drone for more cinematic purposes will look for technical fine-tuning as well as features such as improved speed, range, and object tracking.
So, here are four of the best camera drones at the budget end of the drone marketplace. Ranging from a lower end drone at £438 to top-of-the-range models at £1,299.
1. DJI Mavic Pro: The best camera drone there is
The Mavic Pro is the most expensive on the list but it has all of the hallmarks of a high-end drone with a rare and valuable quality – it’s portable. You can pick it up with one hand, fold it and store it in a backpack; very handy if you need to travel a long way on foot to get to a suitable place to fly.
As with all DJI drones, user-friendliness is at the Mavic Pro’s heart: launched at the touch of a button on the DJI Smartphone app, the drone leaps into the air and remains still, until you are ready to fly. There is an optional Beginner mode which limits the drone’s speed, while built-in sensors help it avoid crashing into obstacles and track moving objects.
Its high-speed mode allows you to fly at 40mph, flight time is 27 minutes and the range is an impressive 4.3 miles, although you’ll lose sight of it long before you reach that limit.
Tap Fly is a feature, allowing you to navigate at the touch of a button. Its ‘surveillance mode’ enables the drone to circle an object, pointing the camera at it the whole time, it's imposing but impressive.
At £999 its rare combination of handy size, user-friendliness and a huge range of features means it’s one of the most convenient drones you can buy.
2. DJI Phantom 3: Good all-rounder at a low price
DJI’s Phantom 3 has been superseded by the Phantom 4, which has more technical features as you would expect. But it does have its own significant bag of tricks and it's half the price.
In the world of Drones this is a bargain, and it’s as easy to fly as DJI’s more expensive models, aided as it is by the full gamut of sensors, including GPS, compass, altimeter and gyroscope sensors.
Another reason to consider the Phantom 3; is the quality of video footage is high: 2,704 x 1,524, with even 4K video available on the Professional model. Also, the camera is installed on an active, motorised gimbal, ensuring rock steady video footage.
Handy features include the remote control, which lets you attach a Smartphone or tablet for a drone’s eye view streamed live from the Phantom 3 itself. There’s also a Beginner mode that restricts range and altitude until you’re feeling more experienced with flight controls.
The Phantom 3 is a perfectly good drone at a very reasonable price. If you’re not sure about shelling out on a Phantom 4 or Mavic Pro, it’s definitely the best drone in its price range.
3. DJI Phantom 4: The Phantom 3 with more tech
The outstanding feature of the Phantom 4 is its automatic object-avoidance, made possible by a pair of small, front-facing cameras. This technology means the drone can identify obstacles and respond accordingly, either stopping in its flight path or going around them.
The same cameras let you track moving objects for awesome selfie video footage, and there's more. The Phantom 4’s eponymous Tap Fly feature means you can send the drone to a particular location, simply by tapping it into the DJI Smartphone app. The controls feature an invaluable pause button, allowing you to halt the Phantom 4 in its tracks if you wish. Also, an optional Beginner mode can restrict the drone’s range to 30m, which is very handy when learning to get to grips with it.
The numbers are impressive too: 28 minutes of flight time, maximum speeds of up to 45mph and a top-of-the-range 4K camera qualify this as an excellent piece of hardware.
The Parrot Disco couldn't be easier to launch: simply switch on, throw it into the air, and watch it circle in autopilot above you, until you are ready to fly. And once you get going, it really delivers. It’s responsive, it records flights in impressive 1080p resolution and the VR display keeps you handily informed of your speed, altitude, and remaining battery. It also has a very impressive flight time of 45 minutes, an extensive control range of 1.24 miles, and a maximum speed of 50mph.
The landings do take a bit of practice and you will need a wide, open space in which to fly, the Parrot Disco offers a different yet thrilling drone flying experience.
Parrot DISCO Fixed Wing Drone with Skycontroller 2 and Cockpit FPV Glasses with 45 minutes flight time & return to home
*All prices are accurate at the time of the publication of this article, however prices and availability are subject to change*.