As this has been one of DroneLife’s most popular lists, it has been gnawing at me that it needed an update. Eight months (which is the equivalent of about 3 years in the technology industry) has passed since this post was initially published and the drone community has changed dramatically in that small window of time.
For starters, GoPro has officially announced they are developing their own drone, so it stands to reason when that product is released, it will be the best drone to use with a GoPro camera.
The other major development in drones over the last eight months has been the trend of drone manufacturers developing their own cameras instead of relying on their customers to have, or purchase, one for themselves.
There will certainly be a market for drones that use GoPro cameras – upcoming releases like the Hexo + and the AirDog include mounts for the action cameras but not the camera itself – but these developments are important to consider when you are looking to buy your first drone.
Original story from 10/13/14:
Over the past few years, GoPro has become the “go-to” HD/personal camera across the sporting world and has most recently emerged as the darling of the commercial drone industry. As UAV enthusiast Chris Anderson noted in a recent interview:
“As go GoPros, so goes drones. GoPros have really revolutionized the experience of telling your life. But the one thing it can’t do is put a camera on a crane, like a film director, that’s where our drones come in. YouTube created the GoPro boom, and GoPro created the drone boom.”
Since many UAVs listed in DRONELIFE’s Buy-A-Drone Guide do not include cameras (specifically so enthusiasts can choose their own), here are five that stand out as the best drones with GoPro cameras:
IRIS+ by 3D Robotics
Speaking of Anderson, his company, 3D Robotics, offers a top-of-the-line, GoPro-ready UAV in its IRIS+ model. Unlike the Goo Goo Dolls’ eponymous hit “Iris,” 3DR’s version “DOES want the world to see it” with its amazing Pixhawk autopilot system that enables agile, autonomous flight, thanks to its two-axis gimbal. Although it doesn’t ship with a GoPro, users can order a Go-Pro Hero3+ Silver HD camera as an option. The IRIS+ boasts an Automatic Mission Planning mode in which pilots can chart a predetermined flight plan using an Android device with the free DroidPlanner app. $599
*Important note: While 3DR is still shipping the Iris+, the company’s focus has shifted to it newer model…
Solo by 3D Robotics
The second generation of 3D Robotics consumer drones, the Solo the powered by two, on-board 1 Ghz computers and streams video from a GoPro right to your smartphone or tablet. The Solo comes equipped with advanced safety features and photography assist functionality like pre-programmed smart shots for expert cinematography. Like the Iris+ the Solo does not come with a GoPro or gimbal, but they can be added to your order when you purchase. Additionally, the Solo gimbal is designed to be modular, meaning future gimbals and payloads released by 3DR will be compatible with your Solo.
Another intermediate-level quad, the QR X350 offers 7-9 minutes of flight with a GoPro mounted (bracket sold separately). Walkera is known for its high-end drones and the QR X350 is the company’s simplest model within its portable GPS drone product line. The system comes standard with Walkera’s Devo7 2.4Ghz Transmitter, GPS Altitude Hold, One Key Return Home, optional Wi-Fi control and a 5200 mHa 3S LiPo battery capable of 25 minutes of flight time (without the camera). $1,099
If you’re looking for a higher-end UAV that synchs perfectly with a GoPro, look no further than the Phantom 2. The drone offers semi-autonomous flight patterns and longer flight times than the first generation of Phantoms. It includes the Naza-M V2 GPS controlled autopilot system which features “position and altitude hold as well as the ‘return to home’ failsafe.”
With a 2.4 Ghz Remote Control Receiver (with a range of 1 km), speeds up to 15 m/s (horizontal) and 6 m/s (vertical),a 5200mAH LiPo battery capable of a flight time of 25 min, high Intensity LED lights under each arm and self-tightening propellers, the Phantom 2 ranks as one of the best for GoPro-ready drones. $699
*Important note: DJI is slowly phasing out the Phantom 2 in favor of their newer model the Phantom 3. While this does mean you can usually find a Phantom 2 on the cheap – making it an excellent drone for beginners – it is quickly becoming outdated.
eHang’s Ghost drone might be the most unique entry on this list because it eschews tradition control mechanics for a ‘tap and fly’ method of piloting that is done completely on your smartphone or tablet.
In the compatible mobile app you simply, tap a point on the map and the Ghost will fly there leaving you to focus entirely on taking the perfect picture. It is important to note that while the Ghost is compatible with both iOS and Android operating system, you must tailor your drone specifically for your OS of choice.
The Ghost is available in a number of packages but the Aerial edition comes with a GoPro camera mount. Though, if you don’t already have an action camera, the Aerial Plus edition includes eHang’s custom camera as well as the mount. $729
Removed from the list:
StormDrone by Helipal, which has gone through several iterations and is now more of a racing drone rather than a beginner/photography drone.
200 QX by Blade no longer ships with a GoPro mount because Blade has begun developing their own cameras.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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