You need the right camera to capture great images with your drone. Since not all drones initially come with cameras, or if you want to replace yours with a better camera, you might wonder how to choose that “perfect” drone camera. This process can be longer than you expect, especially without guidance.
This article will explain the factors you must consider when choosing the best drone camera in this guide. Learn about the top picks in the market as well. With these, selecting the best camera to elevate your drone photography experience would be easier.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Drone Camera
Before anything, first things first—determine your specific needs and goals for aerial photography. For instance, do you need it for professional aerial shots or simply for your hobby? Do you need one with the highest quality and amazing sensors?
This will make it a little easier when considering the following factors:
Resolution is at the top of the list and should be your top priority. High resolution is important for high-quality aerial photographs and footage. Drone cameras nowadays can capture 4K and even 8K resolution footage. Some quality cameras can capture up to 2.7K if you're on a budget. A camera with 4K resolution would be ideal for quality images and video.
The resolution also refers to the number of pixels the camera can capture. The higher the number, the better the resolution. That’s why cameras with 1080MP can take up to 4K footage.
The sensor size refers to the camera’s image sensor, which affects the amount of light your camera can capture. For reference, the larger the size, the more light it can capture. This means your captured images will have higher quality and more details, even under low-light conditions.
Aside from the light and quality, the sensor size can also affect how big of an area you can capture in a single image. A larger sensor size can capture a larger area, so you don’t have to capture multiple ones just to cover a given survey area.
The camera shutter is the device that controls how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to light when taking images. The shutter speed is how fast you can capture an image. It affects the light exposure duration and how sharp and blurry your photos will be.
The shorter the shutter speed, the less motion blur there is. This results in sharper images when the drone is moving at speed. It also means shorter shooting intervals to capture multiple images quickly and continuously.
The ISO determines the sensor’s sensitivity to light. With low ISO, there is less image noise and better image quality. Higher ISO can introduce more image noise, affecting the output's accuracy and details.
However, it’s also important to balance ISO and the light conditions you’re in. For instance, using low ISO in low-light conditions leads to underexposed images. That’s why, for better control, choose a camera with a wide range of ISO settings to adjust the sensitivity based on the existing lighting conditions.
Gimbal or Image Stabilization
For clear aerial images, you need a stable camera. To ensure this, check for built-in gimbal or image stabilization to capture higher image and video qualities. The gimbal is a mechanical device that stabilizes the camera. At the same time, image stabilization is a software-based technology that reduces the effects of camera shake. Both of these help in keeping the camera steady as the drone flies.
Size and Weight
You must ensure your drone can carry and support the camera without any problem. So, you must check the camera's size and weight when choosing one. These factors can directly influence the drone’s aerodynamic performance, flight time, and maneuverability. They can also affect how easily it can be mounted on the drone.
Lastly, you must ensure the drone camera is compatible with your drone. This is important because not all cameras work with all kinds of drones. To ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, always check for this.
Top 3 Picks for the Best Drone Cameras for Photography
For a headstart in your shopping journey, here are some of the best cameras you can choose from:
1. DJI FLIR Zenmuse XT
For the best option, and if you have a DJI drone, the Zenmuse XT is at the top of the list. It has two models and configurations to match your needs: Zenmuse XT 640 x 512 and Zenmuse XT 336 x 256. The main difference between these models is their field of view.
The DJI Zenmuse XT generally offers FLIR thermal imaging and gimbal technology. This makes it the ultimate solution for people looking for fast and reliable aerial thermal imaging. The camera has high-sensitivity infrared scanning at 640/30 fps or 336/60 fps. It’s also stable, easy to fly, and fully integrated with apps for easier control and editing.
2. Autel Robotics EVO II 6K Gimbal Aerial Drone Camera
For Autel Robotics drones, this EVO II Pro Gimbal Camera is one of the best options. It can take photos with up to 20MP of resolution and record 5.5K and 2.7K videos with a data rate of up to 120 Mbps. Stability is also not a problem since it has a built-in gimbal for stabilization. With this camera, you can capture high-quality videos and images.
3. DJI Action 2 Camera
The DJI Action 2 is a versatile and powerful action camera. Its renowned magnetic design allows you to swap out accessories when needed easily. This action camera has many intuitive features to capture quality images even in harsh conditions. Here are some of it:
- 155° Super-Wide FOV
- Waterproof, Dustproof, and Drop-proof
The best drone camera is necessary to capture the best aerial photos and footage. When choosing one to use, check all the technical specifications. These include resolution, sensor, ISO, shutter speed, stability, compatibility, and size and weight.
You can check out our drone with camera collection for more options or drones with great cameras. We offer a wide range of amazing products from reliable brands that you can choose from!