A drone with camera is an exciting idea, one of those tech toys you just have to have – ASAP! But before you buy into one and the cool idea behind it, you need to know more about these “toys for the big boys”. One of the most popular platform for these drones are the quadcopters and for a very good reason. Quadcopters are basically RC helicopters but instead of having one main rotor on top and a tail rotor in its backside, it has 4 rotors positioned in a cross-type configuration. What you get is a very stable drone platform that is very easy to fly.
Stability and cameras
One of the key factors to getting an image thru a camera is stability. Even a thousand-dollar camera will not be able to give you clear pictures when the one taking the video or photograph is running while taking the shot. This is why the best drone with camera must be a very stable, quiet, and easy to control flying craft.
If you can have this, flying and recording videos will be easy as a breeze, something you can do even with your eyes closed. Thanks to the quadricopter this is actually possible. By mounting a camera into a drone you have a killer combination – a flying machine that can go anywhere, and a camera platform that is solid as a rock, giving you perfect shots and video streams at all times.
What makes these quadricopters very stable?
- Design – the design of the quadricopter drone is at the very core of its stable characteristics. Its four rotors are actually not spinning in the same direction. They are grouped into pairs, one pair rotates clockwise, the other pair rotates counter-clockwise. This arrangement allows the drone to thread the air better, providing a more stable ride for the cameras.
- Sophisticated electronics – there is a very good reason why these drones are surfacing just now. This is because the technology that makes the quad rotor concept possible is now in existence. The computer that is on board the drone is so sophisticated that if microprocessors are not as advanced as they are right now, it would mean the quadcopter needs to carry a desktop-size CPU just to process the computation needed to get the drone in the air.
- Sophisticated auto pilot systems – the modern drone quadricopter employs many systems to ensure a stable flight for you (flyer) and the camera. The first system is the gyro/accelerometer sensor that allows the drone to detect pitches, rolls, and yaws in the copter’s movement while in flight. This sensor reacts to these movements in the air and counters it to keep it very stable. The second stabilizing system is the ultrasonic sensor that orients the quadricopter to its vertical position in space. This allows the drone to hover automatically even if your fingers leave the remote control. It stays in a stable altitude, a great way to enjoy an elevated view thru the onboard camera.
The last but not the least auto pilot system used in a quadcopter drone is a look-down camera that orients the flying machine visually. The camera gives the on-board computer a sense of location by getting visual cues on the ground below. If there is a huge rock in the ground, the camera will feed that rock’s position to the computer and it will use it as a mark for stable hovering.
Drones with cameras need all these things for the streaming images to be enjoyable. The good news is that even the most basic entry level RC quadcopter drones are equipped with any of these systems. Without it these high tech toys will never leave the ground.
Image capture technology and the drone
The reasons why a drone with video camera is even possible right now is that first, the quadricopter design already exists and it can be bought at a low price (“low” considering the technology behind it all). Small but powerful cameras are also available now and they too are immensely affordable.
HD cameras can be bought now at a fraction of what they originally cost a decade ago. And then the streaming technology that allows the image to be captured remotely and sent to a display of a controller is also in existence now and on top of that, it boasts a decent image transmission speed.
What are the factors you should consider in buying drones with camera?
- Good camera quality – this is a no-brainer. The higher the quality of your camera the better images you will get from up in the air. It is such a waste to have a camera on board and not enjoy the images being sent back to you. However you need to factor in your use. If you are a photographer/videographer your camera needs to deliver higher image quality so it might be a bit different compared to the needs of a person who is just after the first person view experience while flying the drone. The price range of the suitable cameras for each use differs a lot too.
- First person view transmitters – there are two options available for this one. The first one is a digital antenna. This should work for many people because of its relatively low cost. But the static and the signal definition is pretty basic. This results to somewhat poor image quality. The other option is more ideal for professional image capture use. Wi-Fi transmitters use a Wi-Fi signal to transmit images from the camera to a Wi-Fi enabled device such as smart phones and tablets. The advantages of this option are that the signal can be high definition plus the range is longer than that of a digital antenna. An HD drone video camera maximizes this kind of video signal transmission.
A drone with camera can be had cheap if you are ready to make some small compromises on the image quality. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 can be a good option for a low cost, basic drone with camera. At a cost of less than $300, you can already fly a camera-equipped quadcopter.