In today's massive post, we are deep diving into the subject of FPV (First Person View) and featuring some cool drones with FPV feature along with a quick review of each of them. Before we present you all that meat, let's talk about FPV itself.
Have you ever imagined how it would be to fly a drone without a camera?! It is mere like kite flying. I know you agreed my point. The invention of camera drone may date back to roughly a decade ago and the advancement has never stopped. Today, camera in a drone is not just to capture images or to take aerial footages but to see the bird-eye-view live. This is made possible by the FPV technology in the drone that offers immersive 3D effect to its pilot.
We are talking about the immersive effect that you can experience in a camera drone. Yes, you guessed it right! This is about FPV aka First Person View. In simple words FPV in nothing but the privilege you have in a camera drone to see what exactly the drone is seeing from the sky in real time.
|DJI Spark, Fly More Combo, Alpine White||4.5|
|DJI Phantom 4 PRO PLUS Drone Quadcopter||4.3|
|Holy Stone F181W Wifi FPV Drone||4.1|
|Hubsan H507A X4 Star APP Driven Drone||4.0|
|Hubsan X4 Brushless FPV Quad||4.0|
Let's get into the detailed review of each of the drone we featured just above. Hope our comprehensive unbiased review helps you in finding best in class drones that match your requirements.
Choose wisely and fly safely!
Appearances are deceptive and are so true in case of DJI Spark. Though the drone is small in size it has got a lot to offer you. You can not just fly the drone confidently using the appropriate flight modes but also can push your creative boundaries and seize the movement whenever you are inspired to. Plus, you will be in the front seat to witness what exactly your drone is seeing flying up in the sky, that too in real time using Spark’s FPV!
Is it not exciting?! So let us see the comprehensive overview of this cute little bird from DJI.
Look wise, the mini-drone is pretty attractive. Apart from Alpine white color, the model is available in many attractive colors like lava red, meadow green, sky blue and sunrise yellow. That’s wow!
Talking about the specifications of this little fella, well, like any DJI product it is a bundle of surprises.
DJI spark offers intelligent flight modes. ‘Active track’ to recognize and follow a subject, ‘Gesture control’ to easily take selfies, ‘tapfly’ to capture the image of the exact location as you specified by taping on the mobile screen – are only too few to mention.
Using many templates and filters available in the DJI’s GoApp you can also edit and share the photos taken from the Spark instantly on social media.
Good news is that, by offering all these DJI signature technologies, the mini-drone has not compromised with the flight time. It flies for a decent time of 16 minutes on a single charge.
Since you have landed here mainly looking for the FPV functionality in the drone, let us talk about the camera specification now. The camera has f/2.6 wide-angle lens to make sure that every image captured will be sharp and picturesque.The 1/2.3 inches CMOS sensor shoots at videos at 1080p and still images at 12mp. Shake-free shots are assured with the mechanical gimbal stabilization. All in all, no major concerns about the overall camera features of the Spark and is definitely a good deal for the money.
With the DJI Spark with you, you will get to see a lot around your surroundings. The innovative High-Definition technology transmits videos at 720p even when the mini-drone is flying as far as nearly 2 kilometers. To enjoy the immersive effect, you can even pair the drone with DJI Goggles. However please note that the goggles are not available in this combo and you need to buy it separately.
In any type of drones, safety features are the most important. The DJI spark has not fallen short of this expectation too. The flight autonomy system of the DJI Spark includes VPS(Vision Positioning System), dual-band GPS, highly accurate IMU(inertial measurement unit).
So, the drone can very well sense the obstacles from up to 16 feet away and lands safely thereby avoiding unfortunate accidental crashes. The intelligent battery system can estimate the remaining flight time and lets you know the battery status in advance. Is the battery critically low? Is the connection lost? no GPS signal? don’t worry, simply hit the ‘retun home button’ and the drone will fly back to you.
It flies awesomely well, can capture stunning pictures and provide the stupendous view of your surrounding using its FPV functionality and is backed by all the necessary features to have a worry-free flight.So, with no major limitations, DJI spark is undoubtedly a wise choice to make.
Yet another DJI drone! I, kind of get excited every time I see a DJI product, the Phantom series in particular. They are at the top in every matric whether it is video quality, ease of use, reliable flight controls or performance.
Like any other DJI Phantom drones, the Phantom 4 Pro+ plus also offer great user experience right out of the box. The controller has wide 5.5 inch LCD touchscreen, long joysticks and most importantly provides good grip. Since the screen of this ergonomic controller is bright enough even in direct sunlight, it is easy to see the images as well as to read the necessary flight information to make instant flight decisions.
The advantage of not needing to use the smartphone while drone flying is a big plus. Feeling butterflies in the stomach while setting the $2000 worth bird into the sky for the first time? Though it is obvious, believe me, there is absolutely no reason for you to worry. The Phantom 4 Pro+ is highly reliable. The drone has four directions obstacle avoidance and five direction obstacle avoidance.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro plus has all the necessary intelligent flight features and can fly at the speed of 45 mph when the sports mode is set. The battery life is also not compromised, the 4 Pro plus flies for 30 minutes on a single charge providing more time for you to click amazing aerial images.
The video quality of the Phantom 4 Pro plus gets a full 10 on 10. It is not just a hype but the obvious end result of the great camera system. The camera is capable of filming 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. With the improved aperture control, the camera can be compared with any professional level cameras.
Not just this, the 1 inch wide CMOS sensors, 3 axis gimbal stabilization and the mechanical shutter with the maximum speed of 1/2000s of the 4 Pro+ cameras ensures crystal clear, distortion-free images/videos every time.
Coming to the main aspect that we are talking about in this post, that is FPV. Again, you owe big thanks to the wide and bright screen of the Phantom 4 Pro+.
The light bridge video transmission system also plays a major role in FPV. It uses time division multiplexing to transmit signals and to achieve transmission reliability. Maximum video transmission range of 4.3 miles is assured in Phantom4 Pro plus. The clear LCD lit screen along with the 1080p high-resolution display without any latency gives you such a real effect that you may think you are riding shotgun right next to the camera on the drone!
It is a common perception that best things are really very expensive. But, it need not be so always.
Here is an FPV camera from Holy Stone that is very much affordable and can satiate all most all of your expectations from a drone.
Though Holy Stone F181W offers most of the useful drone features including descent camera quality and FPV, it cost as less as some $100. Is it not a great deal of the money?!
The drone weighs roughly 4.9 ounces and in spite of being a small bird, the flight stability is not compromised. The 6-axis flight control system provides the much-needed stability and wind resistance. And to improve the learning curve, it features the headless mode where you don’t have to adjust the drone’s position before flying.
The Holy Stone F181W quad takes 70 to 90 minutes to fully get charged and flies for 7 to 10 minutes on a single charge. Now, this is little disappointing, since you get less time to fly after waiting to get it charged for more than an hour.
However, with the 3D flips, multiple speed control, altitude hold mode for easy hovering, one key take off and landing make this Holy Stone easy to fly and fun at the same time. The controllable bright LED lights help you to easily fly the drone during dark nights.
Being a proud topper in the list of highly reliable, durable and stable drones under $120 range, this holy stone drone may not set the world on fire but is definitely one among the high-quality product from a company that you can reasonably trust. The drone features 120 degrees field-of-view wide angle WiFi camera that can take quality aerial footage at 720p.
Thanks to the Holy stone’s FPV Real-time transmission, you get to see what the drone is actually seeing from the horizon that too in real time. You can see the live video directly from the drone on your mobile screen by installing the holy Stone App.
Not compromising on the safety and reliability aspects Holy Stone has offered all the necessary features in this affordable price range. So, all in all, the F181W from Holy Stone is a great quad to have.
However please note that this is may not ideal for serious aerial photo/ videographers looking for advanced functionalities. The F181W is suited for beginners to intermediate level drone fliers and can capture some decent pictures.
If you are looking for really advanced drones for aerial photography then go for the DJI Phantom series drones which not just boast best in class cameras but offers advanced flight features at the same time.
Yet another lightweight drone from Hubsan.Hubsan is good at stuffing all the necessary features in their small to mid-size drones and keeping the price tag highly affordable. Hubsan H507A is one such reliable drone that weighs hardly a pound. Better not to underestimate H507A looking at its size. The little fella has a lot in store to surprise you.
Since you don’t have anything to assemble, the H507A is ready to fly quadcopter right out of the box and is easy to fly too. Please note that the unit does not come with a remote controller. The Hubsan H507A quad is compatible with Andriod/iOS systems. You need to download the “X-HUBSAN’ App to start flying the little bird.
The App is pretty much easy to use and the drone flies very well for 8 minutes on a single charge. Now, 8 minutes of flying time may not make most of you happy. But I am sure you will be greatly surprised once I start listing the features the drone is offering in this low price range.
The Hubsan H507A provides fearless flying experience even for a pilot with average flying skills with its headless mode and automatic return features. If the drone’s battery dries out beyond a particular threshold or the signal is interrupted you don’t have to worry about crash-landings or losing the drone.With the return home feature, the drone will automatically fly back to its take-off location.
The under $100 drone from Hubsan is GPS enabled and thus features Follow me feature. The Auto takeoff and landing is also another useful feature that will come to your rescue most of the times. Waypoint navigation adds another feather to this tiny quad’s cap. The images and videos captured are comparatively far better than that non-GPS enabled drones of this price range.
The Altitude hold mode helps in taking clear still images to a great extent. Ability to see the bird-eye view in real time is always exciting for every drone enthusiasts. The 720P real time FPV transmission of the H507A proves that Hubsan has not compromised on customer satisfaction while building this under $100 quadcopter.
Lot many expensive features stuffed in an inexpensive package. Yes, we are talking about one of the models of Hubsan quadcopters – the ‘Hubsan X4 brushless quad’ in particular. Made of powerful brushless motors the X4 quad is durable. The drone is heavy enough to handle moderate wind and is ideal for both indoor and outdoor flying.
The Hubsan X4 is GPS (universal version) enabled and can follow you everywhere and anywhere you go and takes amazing aerial footages. Yes, you heard it right! The drone comes with its built-in 1080 HD camera that can capture stunning pictures from up in the sky.
Another important feature that has made Hubsan X4 well deserved to be in our “five best FPV drone” list is its ability to provide First Person View. The drone gives real-time video transmission and to guarantee interference-free operation, the transmission works on 5.8 G wireless. The transmission range is 300 meters and is pretty good enough.
The 4.3 inch wide LCD display screen of the remote controller further enhances the FPV feature.It is not exciting that you can easily see what the drone is seeing in real time on the screen of the device on your palm and can also monitor and control the flight movements accordingly?!
The list of features does not end here. The Hubsan bird is very much easy to fly with its headless mode and one key return functionalities. The intelligent battery system provides extend the flying time of 20 minutes.
Wait, the overview remains incomplete if its “Anti flip functionality” goes unmentioned. The name says it all, once this functionality is set, you can not make single button flips. However, please note that this mode can be activated only when your flying the drone in ‘Expert mode’ and in all other cases, anti-flip does nothing.
All in all, the Hubsan X4 is undoubtedly a great drone in the $ 200 range and provides most of the GPS enabled flight features, safety features, FPV and much more.
The FPV functionality makes you feel like you are sitting in the cockpit and seeing the world from the sky and controlling the drone’s movement accordingly. So FPV provides the most exciting immersive effect and the ability to easily maneuver the drone’s movement at the same time. Otherwise, staring at the drone flying far away from you up in the sky and controlling it would definitely a tough task. So, FPV in your drone is a must especially if you are going to the drone race next time.
It is natural that everything looks tricky and difficult in the first few attempts and so is true in case of the FPV also. As they say, practice makes man perfect, looking at the world through lens gives you whole new experience and makes it comparatively easier to maneuver the drone. So, here are few things about FPV flying that you need to be aware of.
The transmitter is the one that transmits the image to the ground. In most of the FPV drones, video transmitter works at 2.4 GHz. Some of the drones also feature 5.8 GHz video transmission to avoid interference issues. The affordable FPV drone Hubsan X4 is a good example to mention here.
The receiver receives the video signal from the sky. The receiver would be the remote controller or your smartphone/tablet. Since to enjoy the live streaming widescreen is very much necessary most of the FPV drones come with the remote controller having wide screens that are often LCD lit.
Now, this is something very obvious. After all, the camera is what captures aerial footages and still images. Since the image and/or video quality is at most important factor to enjoy the real-time bird-eye view, go through the camera specification of the FPV camera thoroughly before purchasing.
You will not be able to fly the drone properly if the video quality is too fuzzy and in a worst case, you may end up crash landing it which is definitely not good.
The display is nothing but where you get to witness the FPV. In most of the case, it will be the screen on the remote controller or your smartphone or tablet. In any of that case, widescreen is obviously advantageous. For example, in case of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+, the controller’s screen is wide and brighter enough to see the videos easily even in direct sunlight.
Apart from the above “must have” features there are certain aspects that are “nice to” have in an FPV drone, like longer battery life, reasonable control range, reliable obstacle avoidance, advanced flight features and other safety features.
Since how much to spend on an FPV drone is purely up to one’s personal choice we are not going to talk much about the budget factor. However, please remember that every feature of a drone adds up to its price. There are a wide variety of FPV drones available on the market in a different price range. There are some basic FPV drones under $100, under $200 and advanced ones in some $2000 or $3000 range.
This article is brought to you by Drone Trends's Editorial team. Drone Trends team is passionate about drones and quadcopters.