GoPro cameras have truly been a revolution in the field of action videos! And now that we are in the drone era, little GoPro cameras seem to be the perfect for aerial photography and videography when mounted on a drone!
GoPro cameras can be attached to GoPro’s compatible drones through a gimbal or a set mount bracket. Ideally, you need a quadcopter drone to get complete benefit of your GoPro’s prowess in capturing amazing aerial footage of your action like hiking, rock-climbing, surfing and so on…
But, with a lot of drones in the market, you might feel a bit overwhelmed and confused when deciding which one is best suited for you. Well, you don’t need to worry anymore, because you just landed in the right place! If you’re looking for a drone that works with your GoPro camera, this article will give you a general overview of the best consumer drones that can be used with GoPros.
As a videographer, I get the chance to use drones quite often. So, after trying a few of these, supported by an extensive research on GoPro drones, I have come up with this guide that lists 7 best drones for GoPro in 2020.
What Drone Should You Buy?
There are many factors that you need to consider before deciding on what drone you should buy. For this, I’m firstly going to ask you a very simple question:
Are you a Hobbyist or Professional Flyer?
The suitability of a drone for your GoPro depends greatly upon your purpose of shooting. If you’re a photo/videography hobbyist who loves to capture aerial shots of your adventures, the choice of a perfect drone for you would be in stark contrast to those who are professionals in the field. In this article, several drones have been reviewed. For each of these drones, it’s mentioned whether they are suitable for hobbyists or professional flyers.
Here are various other factors that you must consider before making your decision.
Drones With vs Drones Without Integrated Camera
Two types of drones are there in the market: the ones with an integrated camera and the ones without it. Some of the drones with an integrated camera (like DJI drones) can fly with a GoPro mounted on top, while many others can’t. Drones without an integrated camera, on the other hand, are designed to accommodate an external camera like GoPro. Both the types have their own pros and cons; so you must decide accordingly.
Price vs Performance
This is one of the most important factors to consider. You must think about the value and features you are getting for the price you’re paying. The drone should be worth its price.
Here are a few important features of drones:
GPS: This one is probably the most important feature for a beginner because it helps keep the drone stable even in windy situations.
Range: A long distance range (control + video transmission) is ideal – you must look for at least 2-3 km.
Battery life: Drones suffer from short battery life. On average, you want to have at least 15 minutes for a good flight. 20 minutes is the average battery life on mid-high end consumer drones.
Price: Anything below $200 is considered as a low end drone. These drones are very basic and often without GPS. But it’s good to start out and practice. For more professional looking, stable and good quality videos, you need to opt for at least a mid range drone. At around $300 and above, you can find these drones with GPS with a tiltable camera or compatible with GoPro cameras. A drone above $1k is considered to be high end, and these are often designed for professionals users. These drones are more reliable and of a better quality, like DJI Mavic Pro 2 and similar.
GoPro Karma Drone: What Went Wrong?
Karma Drone has been the first and only drone by GoPro. This slim and portable quadcopter drone also had some nice features, similar to DJI drones.
However, the tale of Karma Drone isn’t quite happy! With several complaints about its battery life and its initial battery flaw that led to many of these drones falling down, this product went through a lot of rough patches. It couldn’t compete with the likes of DJI drones which were way more advanced.
Ultimately, the Karma drone had to be discontinued in 2018. It’s no longer available and that’s why we’ve not included it in our list.
Best Drone with Camera (GoPro compatible)
As the name suggests, these drones come with an integrated camera, but you can also mount your GoPro on top of them to utilize your GoPro’s amazing features and video quality. Having a GoPro mounted on top of these drones allows you to shoot some amazing aerials from multiple points of view (POVs).
DJI, the top brand for consumer drones, makes a lot of reliable drones of this kind. Here’s the detailed review of one of them.
DJI Mavic Air with GoPro Mounted
DJI Mavic Air is a highly reliable quadcopter with its own camera. Many users managed to mount a GoPro camera on it successfully, making it dual camera. This may add some weight on the drone so the battery could drain faster. But it’s definitely a good hack to try out as it provides another point of view and GoPro’s quality during your flights!
What we like: This amazing drone is lightweight and has a compact, foldable design to ensure that you can take it anywhere with you. It has an in-built 12 megapixel camera with a three-axis gimbal which lets you shoot some incredibly smooth and stabilized footage even during high-speed motion. The camera supports 4K HD video at 30 fps and enables you to get up to 32 megapixel sphere panoramas with the ability to stitch 25 photos together in just eight seconds! The drone also has a collision avoidance mechanism to automatically prevent it from colliding with objects.
You can control this drone from as far as 2 kms away. With its Intelligent Flight lithium battery, you get a maximum of 21 minutes of flight time per charge, which is quite impressive! The remote controller that comes with this drone is well-designed. And you can also use your smartphone instead of the controller for a quick flight. To add to all this, the fact that this drone can fly with a GoPro mounted on top of it is a factor that makes this product a must buy for GoPro lovers!
What we don’t like: A slight issue has been encountered with this drone’s signal that connects it with its controller. It seems to get interference often if you are flying it by a city.
Best Drones for GoPro
Moving forward, we’ll now focus on those mounts that are completely designed with GoPro or GoPro like action cameras in mind. These drones are built to accommodate an external camera and, therefore, are cheaper since they don’t have the camera component. Such drones are ideal for you if you are already a GoPro owner.
However, the main drawback of drones without a camera is that you have to configure different devices together in order for them to work seamlessly (drone + camera + video transmitter to remote control, etc.).
Here are 6 best drones of this type for your GoPro:
#1: 3DR Solo Quadcopter
3DR Solo Quadcopter is one of the leading drones compatible with GoPro cameras. It’s great for professional looking aerial shots.
What we like: This machine is sturdy with a plastic housing and LED lights at each corner. Built specifically for your GoPro, it does its job pretty well with a 3-axis gimbal and quality peripherals to enhance the flight. Overall, this is a stable drone that hovers quite well and is fairly smooth. It’s Powerful Smart Shot technology provides crisp, stabilized and truly cinematic aerial footage of your action. You get four flight modes: Orbit, Follow-me, Cable Cam and selfie mode. The video game-style controller feels intuitive and its full-featured app for iOS and Android lets you have total craft control at your fingertips.
What we don’t like: Although it’s still available on Amazon, the product has been discontinued by the company. Hence, do not expect support from 3DR.
#2: DJI Phantom 2
DJI Phantom 2 is another great quadcopter by the leading drone maker. Compatible with GoPro Hero cameras, this drone is a great choice for professional GoPro photo/videography.
What we like: When you mount your expensive GoPro to a drone, you want to ensure that it is safe, easy to fly and easy to control. DJI Phantom 2 helps you achieve all that and more… It is a widely popular drone that has been used by many to record quality videos. Phantom 2 has a return to home function that lets you retrieve it even if the controls are switched off or if you lose control. It also has an integrated GPS system and various other safety features designed to prevent crashes. With this drone, you get built in support for the advanced Zen muse H3-2D gimbal (can be optionally purchased bundled with the drone) which provides you with amazing camera stability and silky-smooth shots. Another significant reason why we love DJI Phantom 2 is its long flight time. You can fly the quadcopter for as long as 25 minutes on one charge!
What we don’t like: This quadcopter is not compact. While its size makes it ideal for large & open spaces, if you need to navigate tighter spaces, this drone may not be the right option for you.
#3: Potensic D85 Drone
Compatible with most sports cameras and almost all GoPros, Potensic D85, which was released in 2019, is a relatively new and well-priced drone for quality aerial footage of your action.
What we like: Potensic D85 is probably the best choice for you if you own a Hero 7 cam. Equipped with four high quality brushless motors that let it reach up to 50km/h speed, this drone’s double 7.4V 2800mAh high capacity batteries provide a whopping 40 minutes of flight time per full charge (2 batteries)! It does come with a camera, but that can easily be replaced with your GoPro. With built-in GPS, you can be assured of a safe flight and have fun with three flight modes: Route design, follow me and orbit mode. Also, in case the drone has lost signal or has a low battery, it can auto return; so you don’t have to worry about losing your quadcopter. What’s more? You also get a carrying case in the package that is big enough to hold your drone as well as additional accessories.
What we don’t like: Our only complaint regarding this awesome drone is about the battery charge time. It takes almost 6-7 hours to recharge. If it came with a fast charger, it would have been better!
#4: Altair Aerial Blackhawk
With an action camera mount for GoPro Hero 3 and 4 or other similar sized cams, Altair Aerial Blackhawk is another great option for your aerial GoPro shooting needs in HD. It is meant for intermediate pilots.
What we like: Unlike some other plastic body drones, this one is built with a stable metal body. This heavy-duty quadcopter gives you an exciting experience with its high-speed, a good 300-500m transmission range and great performance even in windy conditions. You get a decent 15-17 minutes flight time on Medium Throttle Flying. The Six Axis Gyros on the Blackhawk allow you to fly in any direction, providing a smooth and realistic flying experience. It also comes with a built-in Automatic Lock Protection which helps prevent burnouts in case of a deadlock.
What we don’t like: This drone is speedy and is meant for professionals. It’s pretty difficult for a beginner to fly, especially in windy conditions.
#5: DROCON Bugs 3
Compatible with all GoPro Heros, DROCON Bugs 3 comes at a budget price, but provides great performance. It is easy to pilot for starters, yet fun for professionals!
What we like: Bugs 3 comes with a brushless motor that doesn’t overheat or melt (unlike its plastic counterparts) and is, thus, considerably safer. It is tough and has the ability to perform flawlessly even in windy conditions. You get a good 15-20 minutes of flight time per charge: 15 minutes at mid-to-high throttle, and up to 18-20 minutes with conservative use. The drone has the ability to adjust according to its pilot. It can fly smoothly for beginners, but can also go remarkably fast for expert pilots. The weak signal/low power alarm always lets you retain 100% control of this quadcopter. With LED lights, it’s perfect for a night flight along the beach!
What we don’t like: Blue Bugs 3 is a bit hard to set up. You do get an instruction manual, but the instructions are not very clear in it.
#6: Force1 F100GP
A great budget quadcopter, the Force1 F100GP is the perfect GoPro aerial photo/videography solution for both experts and beginners. It is compatible with GoPro Hero 3 & 4 cameras.
What we like: This drone comes with an in-built 1080p HD camera in addition to a mount that fits your GoPro. It lets you catch brilliant and crisp birds-eye footage while enjoying a highly responsive and smooth flight. The brushless motor of this quadcopter is super-quiet and provides a smooth trip with great video and photo quality. This drone has a remarkably long flight time of about 15-17 minutes, plus it also comes with a spare battery! Controlling it is extremely simple: it pulls off amazing 360° flips quite easily and you get a choice of high or low speed for optimum flexibility. The 500 metre range that this drone provides is also pretty decent!
What we don’t like: With no GPS, this drone doesn’t return to you automatically unless you fly it back. So, you must not let it get out of sight. Also, when the battery is low, you get just about 5 minutes to bring it back to the ground carefully. If you don’t, it will turn off in the middle of the air and fall!
Final Words – What’s our Top Pick?
Since I’m a DJI user and have used several other drones as well, I can say from experience that DJI drones like Mavic Air and Mavic Pro are the best drones for consumers (hobbyist and professionals). I would highly recommend the DJI Mavic Pro drone (with an integrated camera) for you if your intent is to do professional work. If necessary, you can also adapt a GoPro on it for awesome multiple POV footage.
Otherwise, if you want to use a drone for your hobby (for example, during holidays, hikings or adventures) and you already own a GoPro, then I would suggest that you go for a 3DR solo quadcopter if it suits your pocket. For those hobbyists who want a budget drone, Potensic D85 is the perfect choice as it still features a GPS to keep it more stable during your flights.
Also Check Out:
- GoPro Karma Drone: Should you buy it in 2020?
- GoPro Karma Battery: Specs, Flight time, Price [Review 2020]