Without doubt, 4k UHD video is definitely the starting baseline standard for market entry into aerial filming with drones.   Today, we look at what exactly 4k UHD video is and the real benefits to shooting in 4k.

We do a tour of the drones presently equipped with 4k ultra high definition video cameras and look at a few spectacular UHD videos to give you a feel for this technology.

This year has already produced a number of 4k UHD videos drones.  In 2015, we had 6 out of the box drones with 4k ultra high definition video cameras.

What Is 4K UHD Video Answered

4k ultra high definition is defined as a display with at least 8 million active pixels, with the lower resolution boundary being at least 3,840 by 2,160.  So, if you own a 4k Ultra HD TV (also known as UHD TVs), this will deliver a massive four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD. That is eight million pixels compared to two million pixels.

When it comes to 4k UHD video, there are multiple varieties of 4k digital content ranging from 3,840 x 2,160 to 4,096 x 3,112.

However, the 3,840 by 2,160 resolution is the most consistent number used by most UHD/4k HD TVs and monitors. It’s a nice, even number, doubling the horizontal and vertical pixels offered by 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) which is the current standard for high definition.

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NCIX Tech tips over on YouTube also have a full and well explained  video of everything about 4k UHD.

What’s So Great About 4K UHD

Photographers who routinely view their work on a HD TV are seeing only a fraction of the detail inherent in their pictures when they view them at 2160p.  A 4k display reveals so much more nuance and detail. The higher resolution images are simply way better.

Better Resolution And Faster Frame Rates

Ultra HD isn’t just about quadrupling resolution, it also supports faster frame rates, insane contrast dynamics and extended colors. According to research by the EBU and the BBC, viewers are equally receptive to high native frame rates (up to 100 Hz), because images are perceived to be more naturalistic and detailed.

We all take digital snaps at a higher resolution than we see them onscreen. Watching your holiday JPEGs on the TV is fun and convenient, but you’re only seeing a fraction of what’s present in the image.  A 4k TV with ultra high definition JPEG playback will reveal four times the picture information. It’s like seeing your photographs again for the first time.

The higher pixel density of a 4k panel also enable you get much closer without the grid like structure of the image itself becoming visible – this means you can comfortably watch a much larger screen from the same seating position as your current Full HD panel.

Now lets look st some spectacular aerial film. This 1st video was filmed with a Phantom 3 Professional in 4k UHD. The location for this stunningly scenic video shooting is Koh Yao Yai in Thailand.

Why Record With 4K UHD Video Camera

At a minimum, shooting video in 4k UHD, provides a future proof master copy of your footage should 4k truly take off as a mass-market phenomenon (in a way that 3D has not). Even if you deliver the final video in HD, dealing with a higher resolution 4k master file gives you greater latitude to re-frame, zoom and manipulate your footage without degrading video quality.  Increased fineness and contrast is then possible with output to DVD and Blu-ray.

Some cinematographers choose to record at 4k when using the Super 35 film format to offset any resolution loss which may occur during video processing.

4K UHD Video Drones

Below I have details of 6 top of the range and latest drones with 4k UHD Video cameras. These are all top quality with plenty more excellent features on top of the 4k ultra high definition video.  Most of these drones have many autonomous flight modes which allow you to concentrate on aerial filming and photography.

Flight modes such as waypoint navigation, points of interest, follow me, watch me, orbit and tracking modes.  These drones all have the very best in fail safe flying systems.

DJI Inspire 1 Drone With 4K UHD Camera

Spectacular 4k UHD video of the MaldivesThe Inspire 1 is without doubt the best drone to date.  It’s high tech with plenty of new patented technology. If you are new to the drone sector, DJI is the largest drone manufacturer and supplier.

Now, this quadcopter allows you to shoot up to 4k UHD video at 30 frames per second. You can also capture 12 megapixel photos with the Inspire 1 camera. The lens consists of 9 separate elements, including an aspherical element, for extreme clarity, while Adobe DNG RAW support gives you the power to make every shot a masterpiece.

The rectilinear, curved lens design eliminates distortion such as barrel fisheye effect and the 20 mm focal length opens up your shots to a remarkably wide angle without that fish-eye look.

The arms lift out of sight giving an unrestricted 360 degree view of the world to create real share quality images like never before.  The Inspire 1 has the following ultra high definition video recording modes:

UHD: 4096 x 2160 (24/25p) and  3840 x 2160 (24/25/30p). It also has a max video bitrate of 60 Mbps

Lossless Micros four thirds 4k UHD video camera on the DJI Inspire 1 ProfessionalThe Pro model comes with the Zenmuse X5R which is the world’s first Micro Four Thirds aerial camera capable of recording lossless 4k videos in RAW. With a frame rate of up to 30 fps and 1.7 Gbps average bitrate allows you to capture breathtaking video footage every time.

This camera also takes 16 megapixel images with stunning details, while the integrated 3-axis stabilization gimbal keeps the camera level. Here are the 4K ultra high definition video resolution;

  • UHD: 4096×2160 (24/25p) and 3840×2160 (25/30p). Also a max video bitrate of 2.4 Gbps (Average: 1.7 Gbps)

Read a full Inspire 1 review on this highly innovative drone. Here is a spectacular 4k UHD video shooting in the Maldives.  This was filmed with the awesome DJI Inspire 1.

DJI Phantom 4 With 4K UHD Video Camera

We now have the new Phantom 4 with UHD video which has just come out onto the market.  This has many intelligent flight modes which allow the drone to fly autonomously freeing you to concentrate and work the camera.

The Intelligent Flight Modes are TapFly, ActiveTrack, Waypoints, Points of Interest and Course Lock. These work with the amazing obstacle sensing and vision positioning technology which means, that while you are concentrating on getting a great photo, you won’t crash into something. The Phantom 4 intelligent flight modes make flying and filming with this drone real easy.

This quadcopter has the following ultra high definition videos shooting resolutions;

  • UHD: 4096×2160 (4K) 24 / 25p and 3840×2160 (4K) 24 / 25 / 30p

It has a max video bitrate of 60 Mbps.  Photos formats in JPEG and DNG (RAW). With video you can save in MP4 / MOV ( MPEG – 4 AVC / H.264 ).

Here is some very scenic 4k UHD aerial shooting with the latest Phantom 4.  It films with exceptional quality.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone With 4k UHD Camera

The Mavic is DJI’s first foldable, fully portable aerial camera system. It’s almost small enough to fit in your pocket. With a 4K UHD camera, obstacle avoidance, intelligent flight modes for filming and safety, this makes the Mavic Pro the most advanced drone you could ever fit into your backpack or purse.  The Mavic Pro is released a few weeks now and you can watch many Mavic Pro 4k UHD videos here.

Here are the full video recording modes of the Mavic Pro

4K UHD: 4096×2160 24p
4K UHD-1: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2704×1520 24/25/30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p

If you would like to read some more we have an excellent article entitled DJI Mavic Pro Highlights and FAQs which shows you quickly around this very portable 4k UHD video drone.

Yuneec Typhoon H Drone With 4K UHD Video Camera

Yuneec Typhoon H 4k UHD Video DroneThe Typhoon H is the latest multirotor from Yuneec.  For its compact size, it is perhaps the most advanced multirotor for aerial photography and videography available.

It is equipped with six rotors, a 360-degree gimbal camera and retractable landing gear.  It is also very easy and safe to fly with the latest collision avoidance sensing system.

The 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ gimbal camera captures ultra-stable 4k Ultra High Definition video, vivid 12 megapixel still images and can be rotated through an unlimited, 360° range of motion.

The CGO3+ gimbal camera features a high quality glass 115° field of view, wide-angle lens, and offers manual camera settings while in flight.  The following are the specifications for the video camera;

  • 4k UHD: 30 fps

Typhoon H multirotor offers flight time of up to 25 minutes.   The Android powered ST16 Ground Station features a 7-inch touchscreen that displays live footage of your flight in HD 720p resolution and enables a wide variety of autonomous flight modes.

The following autonomous flight modes make the Yuneec Typhoon H very easy to film with.  This allows you to concentrate on getting the best video.

  • Orbit Me: Flies a circular path around you, keeping the camera trained on you the whole time.
  • Point Of Interest: Select a subject and Typhoon H will orbit that subject autonomously.
  • Journey: The multirotor will go up and out, as far as 150 feet, and capture the perfect aerial selfie.
  • Curve Cable Cam: Program an invisible route for  this drone to fly along.  The Typhoon H will fly between pre-set coordinates while independently controlling camera position.
  • Follow Me / Watch Me: Follow Me ensures that this multirotor moves along with you. Watch Me tells it to follow you while always pointing the camera at you wherever you go.

DJI Phantom 3 Pro With 4K UHD Camera

With the Phantom 3 Pro, you’re shooting 4k video at up to 30 frames per second and capturing 12 megapixel photos that look crisper and cleaner than ever.

The camera on the Professional model has an f/2.8 lens with a 94⁰ field of view, virtually eliminating the unwanted lens distortion common in other cameras not built to shoot from the air. Built from 9 separate elements, including two aspherical elements, that reduce weight and complexity without sacrificing image quality, this lens brings the brightest, truest colors to life.

When paired with DJI’s industry-standard gimbal stabilization technology, your camera is held perfectly stable no matter how you fly. This 3-axis gimbal makes complex shots and hovering for long exposure photos easy. Your camera is capturing smooth, stable footage throughout your entire flight, and the camera and gimbal are fully controllable by the included remote controller and dedicated DJI Go app.

It’s UHD video recording modes are:

  • UHD: 4096 x 2160 (24/25p) and  3840 x 2160p (24/25/30p)

Now the DJI Phantom 3 is no longer being manufactured as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and the Mavic have replaced this Phantom 3 model.

Yuneec Typhoon Q500 Drone With 4K UHD Video

The Yuneec Q500 4k uses the CGO3 4k 3-axis integrated gimbal camera system. With ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution, four times higher than HD, the camera delivers high-quality images with the ability to capture slow motion at 1080p 120fps and 12 megapixel photos. This 4k camera allows to to film with incredible detail and unparalleled realism.

The CGO3 is an innovative combination of a 3-axis gimbal, camera and digital video downlink. Control the tilt angle direction from the ST10+ and view the world from above, as if you were flying, from horizon to 90 degrees down.

Here are the ultra high video resolution for the Q500;

  • UHD: 4K at 30 fps, 2.7K at 30 fps, 2.5K at 30 fps

3DR Solo Drone With 4k UHD Video Camera

The 3DR Solo drone was specifically designed for the GoPro Hero 4 camera. The 3DR has many features such as cable cam, orbit, follow me and selfie which will allow you to capture great aerial photos and film from all angles.

The GoPro Hero 4 can film 4k UHD video at 30 frames per second and 2.7K at 60 frames per second. The Hero 4 is the first camera of its kind to feature ultra high resolution, high frame rate video as powerful as this. Once the exclusive domain of large, costly cameras, HERO 4 Black delivers truly professional video quality in a tiny package. Stunning clarity. Liquid-smooth slow-motion playback. Cinema-quality capture. HERO 4 Black brings it all.

With 12 megapixel burst photos at a blistering 30 frames per second, HERO 4 black helps you capture the moments you don’t want to miss. Capture single photos, or choose Time Lapse mode to shoot photos automatically at set time intervals from 0.5 to 60 seconds—great for gear-mounted shots when the shutter button is out of reach.

The 3DR Solo is top notch and terrific for shooting great aerial scenery in 4k UHD.  Here is the 3DR SOLO filming in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta. Totally WOW.

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