In the camera drone market there is a single manufacturer who seems to dominate so much that the average consumer may not be aware of the existence of great alternatives. Some of these alternatives are much better than you’d expect while maintaining a great value. This list will consist of five quality camera drones on the market that don’t happen to have dji in their name.
ZLRC SG906 BEAST PRO
Beginning with the ZLRC SG906 BEAST PRO Drone, we have what is the cheapest option on the entire list. The SG906 BEAST PRO is a 4K camera drone which happens to sit in the sub £200 bracket. This makes it easily the most affordable camera drone on the market, especially for beginners. It also happens to be a foldable drone which allows for great portability since you won’t need any special backpack to log it around. The drone ships with 8 propellers, a transmitter (controller), USB cable and a 7.4V 2800mAh Battery. All of this gets you roughly about 25 minutes of flight-time from an approx 5h charge. To keep the price low the transmitter doesn’t include rechargeable batteries.
Instead you’ll need to fit it with 4 standard AA batteries. Since AA batteries are easily accessible and have affordable rechargeable variants, it makes for a great value saving alternative. As for the camera, you’re looking at 4K for pictures, 2K (1080p) for video, and no gimbal. Thanks to nice brushless motors, GPS positioning and Optical flow positioning it’s also fast, quiet and easy to control. Unfortunately due to the lack of a gimbal the video footage isn’t the best. There is electronic image stabilization but it’s not enough to appease to those looking to capture really high quality footage. It’s enough if you’re a person on vacation trying to get decent shots in well lit locations on a budget or for your kids first drone.
The Skydio 2 is the second drone on our list but it’s also one of the more expensive ones too and that’s actually why it’s not higher. Out of the box you get the drone, 6 props, a wall charger, USBC cable and a 4280mAh battery (16 – 20mins flight-time). Yup you don’t actually get a controller with this drone. That’s gonna set you back an extra $150USD if you wish to get one. Since the drone is priced at $1000UD you’d expect more, right? And no, I’m not acknowledging that $999 price they have on their site. Vat, shipping and other costs will easily see you spending more than 1k if you wish to have the standard configuration for this drone. Add to that it also can’t fly in low light, lacks optical flow as well as the ability to perform long ranged flights.
Basically what you get for you thousands bucks in a mostly autonomous camera with the capability to follow you almost everywhere while avoiding some of the more complex obstacles imaginable. So far I know it sounds like you shouldn’t get one but despite all of its shortcomings this is probably the best camera drones for newcomers without budgetary limitations. Thanks to its impressive tech it does all of the complex drone flying for you and if you don’t want that it can be controlled somewhat manually via the app or the optional controller. The drone also has an optional beacon priced at $150USD for those who want even more precise follow tracking. While tracking its subject the drone can capture clean beautiful 4KHDR footage at 60FPS thanks to its high quality camera module sitting on a powerful motorized gimbal. It’s an impressive piece of tech, if not a bit on the expensive side.
Autel Robotics EVO II
Next on the list is the most expensive drone on the list, the Autel Robotics EVO II. Sitting at a whopping starting price of $1495 USD you get the drone, a controller, a power supply, USB cables, 6 props and a massive 7100mAh battery. Now this is a massive powerhouse of a drone worth every penny. It’s the only 8K drone on the list and it comes with an insane amount of sensors all over it. Autel aren’t new to the camera drone space and they show their pedigree wonderfully with this product. Thanks to its 12 computer vision sensors controlled by a dual-core processor and machine learning it detects potential hazards at up to 30m away.
Its 8k camera module sits on a robust gimbal to offer up smooth 8000X6000 resolution footage with up to 4X lossless in camera zoom. It has thermal resolution IR support, HDR, 48MP stills and night photography. The drone can operate at up to 9km thanks to that massive battery while also sending video transmission. That batter gets you about 40mins flight time in forward motion and 35mins a hover. On the software and functionality front the EVO II has everything you could possibly want in a camera drone. You can set it on missions to do its autonomous capture, voice command, slow motion, object tracking, gesture controls, flight records and then some. This is every camera done fan’s wet dream and it would have been higher on the list if not for the ridiculous value the other two entries offer.
FIMI X8SE 2020
If you’re on a budget but looking for a high quality camera drone to then look no further than the FIMI X8SE 2020. This is a foldable drone sporting a 4KHDR camera module on a nice motorized gimbal all for the low low cost of $399. For that price you get the drone, transmitter, 3 USB cables, AC cable, Charger, 4 props, and a 11.4V 4500mAh Lipo Battery. All together this should get you about 35 mins of flight-time from a 3.5h charge. It’s easily on the smaller side, highly portable thanks to the foldable arms, waterproof, has both GPS and visual sensors and up to 4K/30fps with HDR support. It also supports smart tracking, 8km range, flight planning as well as panorama and night shots. It’s basically got most of the features you’d find on a drone like the EVO II but scaled back a bit and for less than half the price.
… And finally but not least we have the PowerEgg X. This drone has all the standard bells and whistles as all of the others so let’s talk about what sets it apart. Out of the box you get the drone, remote, wrist strap, Full Set of Arms & Propellers, 1 Spare Pair of Propellers, Intelligent Battery and Intelligent Charger for around $900USD. For those who want more, you can add a waterproof housing and water landing floats, along with 3 spare props for an extra $350. Unlike other drones the PowerEGG X functions as a camcorder thanks to its included straps and can even be mounted to a tripod if you so desire.
The 11.4V 3800 mAh battery should get you about 30mins on a 3.5h charge, while the facial recognition is capable of accurately automatically taking photos or recording video while tracking the subject. It can sync audio from your phone with the drone, focus on a single subject among other moving obstacles and transmit HD images from up to 3.8 miles. Thanks to its versatility and price there are no real competitors that I’d put above the PowerEGG X.
If you’re planning on getting a camera drone in the near future then this is the best one you can get thanks to its price, functions and versatility.
*This article should not be used as an official review of any of the products on this list since we have yet to review any of them at the time of writing. All information used has been acquired via the manufacturers as well as third party accounts. If we are able to we’ll properly review each product at a later date.