Best Quadcopter Drones of 2016

This year has been great for drones and quadcopters. New technological advancements in both quadcopter and camera technology has paved the way for a new breed of aerial marvels that are pushing boundaries and defining the “age of drones.”

The quadcopters themselves have evolved from their roots; no longer restricted to surveillance and military applications, you’ll find that people use them now for almost everything, from added security feature for homes and business, to assistants in farms and ranches.

Of all the drone types, the camera quadcopter remains the most popular one – and the most competitive. There’s a lot to be said about capturing images from a literal bird’s eye view, and competition is incredibly fierce. The technological boost has seen amazing quadcopters that are now used in more professional settings; there are a handful of movies that have been captured using quadcopters, and these remain the top choice in handy and maneuverable surveillance technology. 

As the year comes to a close, it’s about time that we look back at five of the top rated camera quadcopters of 2016. These drones are the best of the best and boast innovative camera and drone technology, making capturing pictures an adventure in itself.

Blade Chroma 4k

Blade Chroma’s 4k quadcopter ranked among the most awaited drones this year, and for good reason. It’s one of the drones that were competing for the much coveted title of the best photography drone of the year. Its claim to fame is that it’s one of the few quadcopters that boasts the ability to capture amazing pictures and videos in 1080p and 4k formats. Combined with its rather sleek build and above-average battery capacity, it made the competition for the best camera drone a battle of who can capture pictures best and for a long time.

While the Blade Chroma’s 4k camera capabilities are obviously what puts it on this list, its auxiliary features make it an exceptional quadcopter. Its battery has an average lifespan of 30 minutes, which is considerably longer than what other drones can offer.

Its navigational capabilities are something to discuss, though. The Blade Chroma features a Smart Mode that’s ideal for beginners, and Follow Me and Tracking Modes that allow it to line the perfect shot and follow you around, respectively. This quadcopter also has a Return Home feature that makes the drone land safely with just a switch of the button.

The Blade Chroma’s 4k camera capabilities, easy navigation, and the ability to fly for 30 minutes on a single charge makes it one of the top rated camera drones of the year. It’s certainly exciting to see what Horizon Hobby has in store for us next year when they already have quadcopters like this.

Yuneec Typhoon 4k

The Yuneec Typhoon 4k series from Chinese manufacturer Yuneec International is well-known for giving the DJI Phantom series a run for its money. As the best in Yuneec’s H series, this high-flying drone can capture 1080p and 4k images and videos, making it one of the best camera quadcopters in our list.

The Typhoon certainly kicked up a storm when it was announced, and many heralded it as a direct competitor to the much beloved DJI Phantom series. But what does this drone offer that makes it such a threat to one of our favorite hobby quadcopters? It’s the six-rotor system.

While the six rotors make it larger than most camera drones, it is exceedingly powerful in terms of flight capabilities for drones in its price range. The six rotors give enough power to lift it high in the air and reach levels that even the DJI Phantom cannot reach, making it ideal for professional photographers who want that perfect aerial shot. The quadcopter also has an innovative switching system that allows it to remain flying on five rotors just in case one of them fails.

And let’s not forget the camera capabilities of this drone. Just like the Blade Chroma, the Yuneec Typhoon can capture 4k images and video in great detail. Auto flight modes and an above average battery lifespan certainly make it an attractive quadcopter worth purchasing, even if it does look a bit clunky and too big to fly.

The Yuneec Typhoon is a titan in the quadcopter world, and is a favorite among hobbyists and professionals alike. 

DJI Phantom 3

We give DJI Phantom a lot of credit as one of the few drones that put quadcopters in the spotlight. It’s the hobbyist’s quintessential quadcopter, featuring easy interface and controls that list it among the most reliable of all drones out there.

The Phantom series is smaller than DJI’s Inspire line of quadcopters. Size doesn’t matter for this drone, though; it’s small and lighter frame makes it easier to control, and can be carried and transported in the same case it’s shipped in. How’s that for convenient? 

If we’re going to talk about its flight capabilities, the DJI Phanton continues to hold up in the face of competition. It’s one of the few drones in our list that feature the much coveted collision detection technology. Combined with its lighter frame and easy controls, it’s ideal for drone beginners and pure hobbyists. It’s quicker to set up and launch, requiring less than four minutes to do so. That’s an underrated boon now that clunky and large quadcopters are a thing.

As for its camera capabilities, the DJI Phantom’s 3-axis gimbal camera can capture 1080 videos at 12 fps and 4k footage at 30fps. There’s certainly a few quadcopters out there that completely outclass the DJI in camera alone, but for some, this is already good enough. It also has a battery that can last up to 28 minutes on a single charge.

The DJI Phantom remains one of the most coveted quadcopters for hobbyists thanks to a combination of easy flight controls, impressive camera capabilities, and above-average battery lifespan. It’s the quintessential drone for hobbyists and beginners alike. Read Phantom 3 Review

Blade Chroma Drone

The Blade Chroma Drone from Horizon Hobby is the Chroma 4k’s little brother, and is widely seen as an entry level quadcopter that’s really built for hobbyists and beginners. It has a simple, sleek, and no-nonsense design that gives it increased maneuverability for a camera drone, and just like DJI Phantom, it’s portable and easy to lug around.

Versatile is the word that best describes the Blade Chroma Drone. The quadcopter boasts of easy-to-use flight controls for beginners, but makes you look like a pro thanks to the drone’s responsiveness and ease in flying. Just like its older sibling, the Chroma Drone features four flight modes: 

  • Smart Mode – Great for first time pilots.
  • Aerial Photography Mode – Allows you to control the drone like an RC aircraft.
  • Follow Me Mode – Perfect for that much coveted aerial shot.
  • Tracking Mode – Allows you to capture selfies from a bird’s eye view.
  • The Blade Chroma’s versatility doesn’t end there. This quadcopter is GoPro ready, and literally has everything you need from the box to start shooting amazing footage. 

The Blade Chroma owes its success to its intuitive controls. The St-10 is a touchscreen controller that combines flight, camera, and video controls in one easy-to-use interface. You don’t need a smartphone to operate this drone – all you need is this controller. You can see the footage you’re taking on your controls!

The Blade Chroma Drone might seem like another entry level quadcopter, but its intuitive features set it apart. If you’re looking for a beginner drone that’ll make you look like a pro, this is the one for you. Read Blade Chroma Review

3D Robotics Solo

The last drone on our list is certainly not the least. The 3D Robotics Solo might seem unfamiliar to some, but it’s certainly building a reputation as one of the more reliable and easy-to-use quadcopters available. Its claim to fame is its controller, which looks strikingly similar to a video game controller – and it boasts the same seamless controls.

Simple and intuitive controls are what sets this drone apart from the rest, allowing you to capture images and footage like a real filmmaker. The drone has a deceptively durable design; it doesn’t look bulky at all, but it’s specifically designed to survive a fall. Fall damage doesn’t present any danger, as the quadcopter boasts very reliable flight capabilities that you can easily adapt to regardless of your flight skill level.

The drone comes with several flight modes that make shooting aerial videos even easier. Another notable thing about this drone is that it’s fast – really fast. This quadcopter has a top speed of 55mph, allowing you to capture high speed camera footage easily.

And finally, we talk about what sets this drone apart. The 3D Robotics Solo is the only quadcopter in the market that has two dedicated 1GHz Cortex-A9 Linux Computers – one on the controller and one aboard the drone. The one in the drone is responsible for all the flight scripting, and this means the one on the controller can focus solely on flying the drone. The quadcopter doesn’t have a built-in camera, though. This can be advantageous in its own right, as you can upgrade the camera by itself without spending money on another drone.

The 3D Robotics Solo is the ideal cam quadcopter for seamless and professional filmmaking. Keep this drone in mind in case you want to go from making home videos to shooting actual films. Read 3drobotics Solo Review

These five drones rank among the best of the best this year, and each one is designed with a specific pilot and skill set in mind. Check out our reviews for these drones so you can better decide which quadcopter suits you best.