The GoPro camera revolutionized the “action” photography industry, providing a small, resilient, and high definition camera that is easy to attach to pretty much anything. Drone enthusiasts quickly realized the benefits of these awesome little cameras, and began attaching them via various different mechanisms to their quadcopters.
Not soon after, manufacturers saw the demand, and quickly began creating quadcopters with both GoPro mounts and GoPro cameras themselves attached.
The combination of a higher end quadcopter equipped with a GoPro camera, can produce some absolutely amazing aerial photography:
The video above was taken with a DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro.
There are many drone enthusiasts and professionals looking or the best drone for a GoPro, and frankly, we’ve been looking to pick one up as well. Thus we decided to share our research and findings with you.
- Our Top Pick
- How we picked the best drones for GoPro
- Best Drones for GoPro
- 1 – DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro
- 2 – Ghost Aerial by eHang
- 3 – CX-20 by Cheerson
- 4 – Blade 350 QX3
- 5 – Solo by 3D Robotics
- 6 – Ionic Stratus
- Final Thoughts on the Best Drones for GoPro
Our Top Pick
For those of you wanting us to cut straight to the chase, our top pick for the best drone for GoPro is the DJI Phantom 2. While it may not have the sleekest design and the latest bleeding edge features, it’s a solid and proven quadcopter that is in use by many professionals and amateurs.
However, with that being said, we really like the Ghost Aerial by eHang as well. It’s not our top pick, at least not yet. We love the look, the features, the control interface, and the fact it can be equipped with a Gimbal and GoPro. It didn’t make our top pick, as it just hasn’t been around long enough. Reliability is an important feature with a GoPro equipped quad, and only time can prove reliability.
But – If you ARE looking to be more on the bleeding edge, and need a GoPro compatible quadcopter, the Ghost Aerial by eHang might just be the right choice for you.
How we picked the best drones for GoPro
In our search for the best drones for GoPro, we spent lots of time scouring the various manufacturer’s websites, drone sites, various retailers, and even quadcopter forums. We saw a pattern where 6 different drones continued to show up in everyone’s lists as the best quadcopter for use with a GoPro camera. These were:
- Phantom 2 with GoPro by DJI
- Ghost Aerial by eHang
- CX-20 by Cheerson
- 350 QX3 by Blade
- Solo by 3D Robotics
- Stratus by Ionic
We put together a spreadsheet, listed out all the features, and assigned a weighted ranking to each. Using the data from all the various sources, combined with some own flight experience of our own, we rated each quadcopter. Ratings from real customers from Amazon.com where also heavily factored in, to avoid an bias on our part.
The spreadsheet ranked all of the best drones for GoPro as follows below:
Best Drones for GoPro
Here are the top ranked drones for GoPro on the market today (beginning of 2016). We’ll continue to evaluate the various new and enhanced models and update our findings.
Without further adieu …
While an older model, the DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro is still our top pick and the best drone for the GoPro camera. While the Phantom 2 isn’t perfect in every way, it does genuinely offer great overall value.
Great for all skill levels
Beginners will love its ability to hover in place and fly back to its point of origin in case of a full signal loss. Advanced users will appreciate the gimbal support and high-quality materials. You can count on this drone to be fun, easy-to-fly and well-made — three components that definitely make the Phantom 2 a drone worth considering.
Excellent Battery Life
The Lithium-ion battery pack that comes with it is a propriety design, which means that it won’t be interchangeable with batteries from other devices, especially outside of DJI. While some might gripe over the proprietary battery design, it was likely necessary to get all of the other specifications of the machine well-tuned as they are.
The real impact here will be to your bottom line, should you choose to purchase a set of backup batteries. Stopping your flying in order to charge a battery is a real drag, so one or two extra batteries are typically added to any drone enthusiast’s kit.
The batteries are a bit costly, but they have clear LCD displays right on the trunk of the pack, giving you information about remaining flight time and remaining battery power. Each fully-charged battery should be good for about 25 minutes of flight time with the GoPro turned on and recording unless your weather conditions are below-par.
Supports a Gimbal
Action shot fans will rejoice to find out that the Phantom 2 does indeed support a full gimbal. You can get those steady shots you’re so used to seeing in music videos, movies, and professional aerial photography. The “steady-cam shot” is only really possible with a drone that supports a gimbal, so it is nice to see the Phantom 2 has that covered, and has the power to support the additional weight, with no ill side effects.
No FPV (First Person View)
FPV will not be available with the DJI Phantom 2 right out of the box, which does make it harder to get the best video shots, when you can’t easily see what you’re capturing. Fortunately, there is a workaround, if you choose to add the DJI Phantom FPV Kit, which is compatible with the GoPro hero.
With this kit, you’ll have the ability to get that first-person view you really want. You can just snap your phone onto the controller and use it as the FPV screen.
Final Thoughts on the Phantom 2 drone with GoPro
As a middle-of-the-road option budget-wise, the DJI Phantom 2 is nothing to sneeze at. The Phantom 2 is a pretty solid drone for capturing aerial photography or video. The device, remote and battery all exhibit high-end materials and also show off a rather refined fit and finish. Regular drone enthusiasts will really welcome the brushless motors and self-tightening propellers, both higher-end features that traditionally weren’t available for shoppers in the amateur or hobby market. For those seeking a rather nimble, technologically-advanced and not too expensive drone — the Phantom 2 might be your best move.
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest, the Phantom 3 is out, and supports a built in HD camera, that while not a GoPro, is very high quality. For even higher end photography needs, DJI also has the Inspire.
2 – Ghost Aerial by eHang
The Ehang Ghost drone comes to us as a new quadcopter that is being distributed by Hobbico. The lack of a standard RC transmitter for use in controlling this drone as many are used to seeing makes it a unique drone in the market.
Instead of the traditional RC control, the Ghost Aerial is controlled by a tablet or Smartphone with a “G-box” aiding in the process. The G-Box communicates with the phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and additional the G-Box communicates to the drone in the air. The ease of operation is such that one doesn’t need to know how to operate it before they can fly.
Easy to fly
The Ghost Aerial is easy and quick to assemble out of the box. After assembly that’s followed by charging of the G-Box and the flight battery, your iOS can now be connected to the G-Box. On the G-Box, press the power button so as to turn it on and then select EHang network on your Wi-Fi settings.
The Ghost is locked as you start flying and won’t allow you click the unlock option till at least six satellites have been acquired by the drone. Once it gets six satellites, click unlock followed by the Takeoff button. The drone then takes off and begins auto hovering about 30 feet high. While in hover mode, a slider, on the right, can be used to decrease or increase the altitude. The slider found on the top right can be used to rotate the copter left or right. The response to these sliders is almost instant.
A really neat feature of the Ghost Aerial is it’s “follow mode”, which causes the quadcopter to follow you.
By simply clicking a spot/point on the map, you will trigger the Ghost to move faster. As long as you are at least 10M high, the Ghost moves to the pointed map and hovers there. Hitting the Stop button makes the copter to hover wherever it will be. Hitting the Return button descends the copter to 10M high while pressing the Landing button brings it to landing. It slowly descends, lands, shuts of the motor ultimately locks itself. The hole manner of navigation is really slick.
Range and Battery Life
The G-box gives a radius range of about 0.6 miles. The quadcopter is capable of traveling at up to 50mph though for safety reasons, it’s capped at 10mph. The drone is also capable of going against winds at speeds of up to 21knots without the loss of too much video quality and flies in a stable manner.
With the GoPro camera installed, the 5,400 mAh battery can go for up to 20 minutes. Without the camera, it does 30 minutes.
GoPro and Gimbal
The Ghost Aerial comes equipped with a built in 3-axis aircraft grade aluminum gimbal. A GoPro isn’t included, the gimbal and quadcopter are GoPro ready, and it has a mount for a GoPro Hero 4, Hero 3+, Hero 3.
Final Thoughts on the Ghost Aerial
Flying this copter is advantageous since very little experience is needed; it comes with long flight times and is associated with solid flights regardless of the weather conditions. Bottom line – We LOVE this quadcopter. Given a little more time in the market to determine reliability and work out issues, this could very easily become our favorite GoPro equipped quadcopter!
3 – CX-20 by Cheerson
Cheerson is the maker of one of our favorite micro quadcopters, and their new full-size Cheerson CX-20 drone is winning the hearts of many drone fanatics and aerial photographers.
Easy Flight Control
The Cherson CX-20 Auto-Pathfinder comes with a remote controller as well as a receiver. However, you will have to buy 4 x AA batteries for transmission. Its 2.4 G ISM frequency enables you to control it from 300m but it can be affected by the environment of the flight.
To add to the pleasure of your experience, you can use more than one remote at the same time to control it since it is designed in such a way that frequency hopping interference is cancelled. In addition, a remote communications link is at your disposal.
The drone has an in-built MX autopilot system which enables high quality flight performance and a GPS module and which allow you to switch between GPS Attitude and Attitude Control mode in order to gain your preferred flight experience.
Its Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) in the Auto-Pathfinder enables the user to control the nose direction and the forward direction. Therefore, at whichever point the nose lies, it doesn’t affect the direction in which the drone is flying.
The CX-20 flies at an attitude of approximately 300m. You can control it from as far as 300m. You can move it forward or backward, up and down and turn it left or right. In addition it has auto-return functions, hover as well as side-flying.
GoPro Support but no included Gimbal
GoPro integration and aerial photography capabilities. Its integration allows you to mount a GoPro Camera on it, consequently producing excellent recording from a high view as well as give you a superb experience flying it.
The Auto-Pathfinder’s camera mount can be removed and attached. On it you can fit any light cameras and any other light equipment which you might during footage.
Once you order your drone, the sellers have all the hardware and software job done. All you will have to do is to attach the propellers, charge the batteries as well as mount the RC Transmitter batteries and you are ready to fly.
Speed and Battery Life
The drone flies at a high speed of 10m/s when flying horizontally and a high of 6m/s when moving vertically with a great stability. It can fly for as long as 15 minutes due to its complete design and light weight.
Good Low Battery Handling
First, the LED indicator produces an alarm by blinking and producing a sound. This will warn early enough to recharge the battery. Secondly, the Auto-Pathfinder’s system senses the low voltage of the battery and prompts the drone to make an emergency landing.
Final Thoughts on the Cheerson Cx-20
Cheerson is one of the top drone/quadcopter manufacturers in China, and have really established a name for themselves. The CX-20 lives up to that reputation, and provides an inexpensive and fun quadcopter to fly. The more you fly and use it, the more you’ll love it. Incredible value for your money.
4 – Blade 350 QX3
The Blade 350 QX3 is a lightweight flying drone that aims to improve aerial photography and video recording. The drone is a well-constructed quadcopter that is very user friendly.
The QX3 is 7.5 inches tall, 18.3 inches wide and weighs 2.11 pounds. This small size makes it easier to take off and navigate while it also makes it less daunting to new pilots.
Camera and mounts
The 350 Qx3 comes GoPro ready straight out of the box hence you can easily attach your GoPro Camera on the compatible mount. However, a GoPro Camera is not included in the package.
There is also a version of the Blade 350 QX3 is fitted with a new, eye-ball like camera called the CG02. The camera has a maximum resolution of 16MP stills and is capable of shooting 1080p video at 60 fps. The camera is mounted onto a three axis gimbal which serves to stabilize the camera while flying. The gimbal stabilizes in the roll, pitch and yaw axes but the pilot can only control the pitch (tilt). The camera’s power is provided by the drone’s battery so there’s no need for a separate camera battery. Equipped with the CG02, the quadcopter isn’t GoPro compatible.
Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope (SAFE) Technology
SAFE was developed specially for aerial photography and video recording. The SAFE technology has two flight modes, Stability mode and Agility mode, which can be manually interchanged during flight. Both modes make use of altitude and GPS sensors to hold position in a hover while they also feature self-leveling. There is also a Return Home function which will enable the drone to land itself when activated.
The drone scores really high in navigation. It has different programmed modes that affect its maneuverability. The different modes are able to suit different types of pilots and uses. Following are some of the modes:
Smart Mode – This is ideal for beginner pilots. It features Stick Relativity which enables the drone to move in the direction the pilot wants regardless of the direction of the nose. It works well even if the drone is spinning.
Aerial Photography (AP) Mode – This is for more experienced pilots. In this mode, Stick Relativity is turned off, giving the pilot more control by allowing steeper pitch and bank angles. This mode is best for shooting high energy action videos as it makes it possible to get faster tracking and panning shots.
Stability and Agility Modes – These are for highly experienced pilots who desire more aerobatic flights and greater drone response.
SAFE Circle Flight Boundary
Inexperienced pilots are prone to the mistake of flying the drone too close, too far or directly into themselves. The SAFE Circle Flight Boundary eliminates this risk by creating an invisible flight boundary beyond which the drone can’t fly. Out of the box, the boundaries have preset values of 100 meters from and 50 meters above the pilot. These values can easily be reprogrammed using the drone’s included programmer.
The drone includes a free, intuitive programming interface through which one can monitor and adjust the drone’s systems, settings and re-calibrate the sensors.
Battery and Flight Time
The quad is fitted with a 3000 mAh battery that can achieve up to 15 minutes of flight time for a steady flight. Normally the flight range is between 8 – 12 minutes depending on the demands placed on the drone.
Mobile Control App
The drone has a mobile app in the iOS and Android platforms which enables the drone to be controlled whilst receiving a live stream from the camera. The quadcopter is paired to your smartphone or tablet through a 5.8 GHz Wi-Fi link.
Final thoughts on the Blade 350 QX3
The Blade 350 QX3 quad-copter is an excellent drone with a lightweight construction and innovative design that greatly improves aerial photo stills and smooth video recording. It is very accommodating to new pilots and has a myriad of safety modes and features which greatly reduce the risk of crashing the drone.
The QX3 drone also features many cool features that many of the drones in the market don’t sport. It is best suited for a newbie pilot who wishes to develop his/her skills to a professional level.
5 – Solo by 3D Robotics
The 3D robotics solo is considered as one of the best drones for GoPro available today. The Solo comes with a smart controller that is easy to use and a set of instructions that are simple to understand. The quadcopter is simplicity in operation makes it easy for beginners to learn to fly it.
A 3D Robotics Solo has a flight time of 20 minutes with a gimbal or Gopro camera and is slightly more at around 25 minutes if one is not using a gimbal or GoPro camera.
The Solo has an built-in rechargeable lithium battery.
GoPro and Gimbal
A 3DR Solo enables you to to have complete control of GoPro settings remotely. This means you can change the resolution while flying.
Flying the 3DR Solo
A 3DR solo is easy to fly and operates similar to the same way as a Phantom operates. The controls are the same and has a Compass and a GPS. The controls looks similar to a Playstation or Xbox gaming controller, and has a mount for your handheld device, allow FPV flight.
Final thoughts on the 3D Robotics Solo
With a 3D Robotics Solo, capturing beautiful aerial shots is no longer a big problem for a good camera person. What one can achieve with this tool even the most experienced pilots. The Solo is a great looking quadcopter, with many new features, and great flight capability. We really like this quad, and love flying it.
6 – Ionic Stratus
The Ionic Stratus drone is among the least expensive camera mountable drones available on the market. The Stratus also provides support for the GoPro camera and promises amazing aerial photos and video.
The drone also comes several innovative features that include headless mode and customizable throttle control sticks, which make the drone super-easy to navigate.
Ionic Stratus quadcopter drone is very stable, easily-controlled, and amazingly inexpensive for a drone with many of the highly desirable features all in one affordable package. The drone boasts 6 axis gyro stability system, which allows it to maintain high level of stability and reliability while in air, even when it’s performing a 360 degrees flips or any other trick.
This drone comes with a landing gear to help cushion its landing, improve the overall stability, and to keep it and attached cameras safe from the detrimental effects of rough landing.
The transmitter’s controls are responsiveness, hence making the quadcopter easy to control during flight. The transmitter helps the drone in moving in several directions. This drone can move left, right, down, up, and can conduct a 360 degrees flips with just the push of a single button. The controller offers 3 different speeds to select from in order to get the flying experience needed.
One of the really nice features found on this drone, especially considering it’s low cost, is a headless mode. This allows you to fly the Ionic Stratus without having to be concerned with which direct is the front. The quadcopter quadcopter automatically compensates. The headless mode works efficiently to improve the control the user has over the drone’s movement.
It even includes a one key return feature to bring the quad back to it’s take off location.
GoPro supported, but no Gimbal
The Ionic Stratus comes out of the box ready to mount a GoPro camera using the included GoPro holder. This allows the capturing of high-quality photos from the air. The drone provides stable and secure carrying of your GoPro camera captures excellent quality video and photos. The mount itself is rubber, to assist with shock absorbing. The mount does a really good job at damping vibrations and movement.
Unfortunately a gimbal isn’t available or included with the Ionic Stratus. FPV is also not available.
Long charge time
The drone has been praised by reviewers even though it isn’t perfect. The minutes for charging it to completion is too long since it take 1 hour for charging to be complete. A flight time of 10 minutes is also pretty short. The only solution to have a much longer flight time is through purchasing extra battery online.
Final thoughts on the Ionic Stratus
The drone has other practical accessories that clearly completes its appeal. They include protection frames, landing skids, and the rotating blades. The drone is ready for use and the user doesn’t have to buy extra appliances or parts so as to use it. We really like this quadcopter, and makes for a great low cost option, yet still allows for the use of a GoPro camera. We do wish it had gimbal support.
The Ionic Stratus is an outstanding low cost option.
Final Thoughts on the Best Drones for GoPro
There you have it, our top 6 picks for Best Drones for GoPro. We tried really hard to provide with you a set of top rated quadcopters with different levels of features, and in different price ranges. What really surprised us was how many lower cost models still have tons of great features, and fly really really well. The drone technology is really advancing, with costs really coming down.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these quads. They are all very good quality, and provide solid GoPro support.