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Quadcopters for Filming – Which one is better to Choose


Flying cameras with four propellers are used in construction, agriculture, during the filming of movies and in a dozen of different fields. In this article we will consider the form-factors of quadcopters, what affects the quality of shooting, and what role is played by additional sensors. We will get acquainted with the mobile application and flight rules.

Quadcopter format and size

All flying machines can be divided into two formats: folding and full-size. Folding models fit in a pocket or small bag – the most popular model of this format is DJI Mavic Air 2. For those looking for a simpler and cheaper device will do DJI Mavic mini 2. The ability of these models to fold into three bends does not affect the strength or quality of the shooting. They buy travel-bloggers, novice videographers, klipmakers. Check my profile here Kirill Yurovskiy.

All quadcopters are divided into compact, sports and professional.

Compact suitable for training and replace the stick for selfies, cost inexpensive, fly close. Features: Gesture control. For example: Syma X25 Pro, Syma W1Pro.

Sport units differ from their brethren with good maneuverability and bright combat coloring. Their main task is racing. They are heavier and more flying selfie sticks, equipped with additional protection for the blades and a large number of sensors. There are models designed to fly indoors and outdoors. The “natural” has a higher capacity battery. Propellers can be detached and replaced by larger/smaller spinners. Features: connection of helmets and remote controls with many settings.

Professional quadcopters are the biggest, they have powerful batteries, there is an additional stabilization system for smooth shooting, and cameras with high resolution. The large size of the device helps it successfully resist the wind and hangs in a fixed point. Example: JJRC X9PS, DJI Mavic Air 2.

Quadcopter shooting quality

Compact models shoot at the level of Full HD or 2K. Their main purpose is to take a beautiful photo for Instagram. During the flight, the image is fuzzy and disintegrates into pixels.

In “hang on point” mode, the miniature device can take some stunning selfies.

Sports drones are equipped with medium-quality filming equipment. They are not designed to take beautiful pictures of objects and nature, their main task is to transmit a picture to the operator for accurate positioning during the flight. 

Semi-professional and professional models come with stabilization systems and color filters for cameras. Characterized by high-quality video equipment with a resolution of 2, 4 and 8K. All quadcopters of this type have removable cameras. You can put quality viewfinders to get beautiful footage or cheap for training flights. 

Stabilization systems – suspensions can be two- or three-axis. Two-axis suspensions “walk” crosswise – forward, backward, right, left. Stabilization system with three axes corrects camera position vertically.

Suspension drive can be mechanical or digital, the second option allows to move the camera more smoothly and get quality footage without jerks. But it can fail because of a software error or breakage of communication, simply glitching at the wrong moment. 

During the flight, the equipment is shaking strongly – the speed of the copter can reach 140 km / h. Without a good suspension, even the best camera will show a random flutter.

Sensors and intelligent control of the quadcopter

The number of positioning sensors determines the quality of shooting and the ability to catch a beautiful angle. To the traditional set (accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope and GPS), the advanced models add external sensors. With their help, the software detects and bypasses obstacles, and sends the drone following the specified object. Simultaneously control the copter and monitor the frame – it is difficult, so the professional models have an autopilot with several programs.

Positioning – tripod mode, aka camera-mod, GPS, Opti or cinematic. It is designed for hovering in one place or smooth flying around. If the drone loses GPS-signal, Opti-sensors will automatically connect, and the drone will fly to the specified route or return to the base, flying around obstacles.

  • Point to Point – flying from point to point.
  • Point of Interest – to fly around a point of interest at a given radius.
  • Follow me – Follow the object.

Automatics do a better job of controlling the aircraft than an inexperienced pilot, but do not allow you to violate safety protocols – that is, to do the dizzying stunts that viewers love so much. For those who have already pumped up their piloting skills, there are several interesting modes. 

  • Acro (Manual) – drone-kamikaze is ready to fulfill any whim of the pilot, safety systems of the drone are disabled. 
  • Sports – allows you to lean at a dangerous angle and reach a maximum speed of 140 km/h.
  • Attitude Mode – not found in all models, of all the sensors remain enabled only the barometer. It allows the operator to do different tricks in the horizontal plane while the electronics monitor the altitude. 

All these modes are switched on the remote control or on a smartphone/tablet in the settings menu.

Mobile app for quadcopter

Professional control panels are equipped with a mounting system for a phone or a small tablet. It is easier to “steer” the drone with mechanical joysticks, to adjust modes – using the touch screen.

The mobile application fully replaces the remote control and allows you to set:

  • Camera position and focus
  • Shutter speed and depth of field
  • Quality: Full HD, HDR, resolution and frame rate
  • Shooting mode: still photo, video
  • Routes of the copter
  • Fail safe – Return to base parameters

The app displays battery level, GPS signal level, aerial position, route map, barometer, accelerometer and other sensor readings. The screen constantly displays important messages for the operator about signal loss, interference, and low battery power. If you ignore the messages, you risk drowning the device or smashing it to the ground.

You cannot do without the mobile device – it shows where the device is flying, allows you to build a route, switch sensors on or off, helps to identify restricted areas for flight.

Where and why quadcopter photography is prohibited

Filming is prohibited in areas where strategic facilities, military bases and ranges, prisons, and protected areas are located. A complete list can be seen on a Google map. Some manufacturers of copters come with their products with mobile applications that show the prohibited areas and give a warning on your smartphone screen. The information is tied to the location and is always relevant for most countries. The fact is that a flight-free zone yesterday may become a no-fly zone today. In case of violation, the operator will be penalized with a fine, and the trespasser will be removed and disposed of.


Shooting: By picking the right angle, you can make a high-quality picture even with budget equipment. If the basic camera is not satisfactory, it can be replaced by a higher quality – you need to pick up a camera similar in weight and mounting system. Without mounts you can only shoot video for yourself – no one else will not watch videos of this quality. For the creation of professional videos suitable only three-axis stabilization system, two-axis is obsolete, its only advantage – it is cheaper.

Your first acquaintance with copters is better to start with an inexpensive or particularly durable model for which you can find spare parts. In the first place, the propellers fail, they are easy to change. It is recommended to use Beginner Mode for beginners.

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