Sky High: Great New Drones for Amazing Aerial Images

October 20, 2017

By Greg Scoblete

DJI Phantom 4 Advanced
Editor's Choice

This replacement to the original Phantom 4 offers an improved camera with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor with 4K recording up to 60p. It offers many of the same features as the P4 Pro, including options to record in H.264 and the newer, more efficient H.265 video codec. The camera has an f/2.8-11 lens with a 24mm (equivalent) focal length and a mechanical shutter. There are five vision sensors, a forward-facing obstacle avoidance system and GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning chips. However, it lacks the P4 Pro’s infrared vision system and the backward-facing obstacle avoidance sensors. The Advanced+ model includes a remote control with a 5.5-inch HD display built in. The standard P4 Advanced comes with a controller that requires a smartphone.
Price: $1,349+

Yuneec H520

The H520 is a six-rotor aircraft that can be outfitted with a number of different camera options, including the new CGO-CI camera, which is targeted at cinema and broadcast users. The CGO-C1 4K camera sports a 50mm lens and supports panoramic shooting, burst and time-lapse modes. The camera sits on a 360-degree, three-axis gimbal. The craft’s landing gear retracts, giving you a clear view of your aerial surroundings. You can also tilt the camera and gimbal up 20 degrees—a feature principally designed for drone inspections but also useful for filmmakers in search of unique angles. It incorporates Intel RealSense technology to map out obstacles along a flight path and navigate around them.
Price: $2,499+

GDU Byrd Premium 2.0

GDU holds the distinction of beating both GoPro and DJI to market with a folding drone. The Premium 2.0 offers a modular design so you can swap out cameras and gimbals if you want to upgrade or change imaging devices without replacing the entire drone. Out of the box, you can purchase the Premium 2.0 with a 4K camera, but there are modules for mounting a DSLR plus a unit with an integrated camera and a 10x zoom. The 4K camera records at up to 30 fps and can capture full HD at 60 fps or 12-megapixel still images. The drone has a vision positioning system to fly when GPS is lost and can beam an HD signal to a remote from up to 2,000 meters away. You’ll enjoy about 29 minutes of flight time on a fully charged battery.
Price: $1,049

DJI Spark

Tired of lugging around a large drone? At 1.5 pounds, the DJI Spark is roughly the size of a soda can. Despite its size, the Spark has all of the autonomous flight modes and safety features of the Mavic Pro, including GPS/GLONASS and a Visual Positioning System. It can detect and avoid obstacles up to 16 feet in front of it. The Spark doesn’t record 4K video, but you’ll be able to capture full HD/30p video. Its integrated camera sits on a two-axis gimbal and features a 1/2.3-inch, 12-megapixel CMOS sensor. The 25mm lens (35mm equivalent) offers an 81.9-degree field of view. The Spark can fly for roughly 16 minutes on a fully charged battery.
Price: $499