A drone with GPS and autopilot system including camera gives you plenty of aerial options. As well as flying it’s programmed route, a drone on autopilot can take aerial photos and video much better than any pilot can.
That is especially true in difficult weather conditions. A drone flying in autopilot mode is monitoring and adjusting it’s location thousands of times per second. Manual piloting will never be able to achieve this flight accuracy.
Having a drone with a GPS autopilot flight system and camera is essential for aerial photogrammetry, 3d mapping and multispectral imaging. For aerial photography, it is great to let the drone fly on autopilot on a given route, while you concentrate on working the camera capturing the best of video and stills.
For applications such as crop monitoring and site surveying, letting the drone fly on autopilot is a great option.
The 5 top drones reviewed here are full of innovation and it’s right up to date. These drones are very affordable and all have advanced GPS, autopilot systems and cameras which are top notch along supporting software. These drones come from DJI, Yuneec and Walkera.
Drones With GPS Autopilot And Camera
DJI Mavic Pro – GPS, 4k Camera And Autopilot
The Mavic Pro released around November 2016 is the first fold up drone from DJI. It is their smallest drone to date. However, while it is almost pocket sized, it does not lack in technology. In fact it flies perfectly still both outdoors and indoors, has collision avoidance sensors, a terrific 4k camera and many auto pilot flight modes.DJI Ad
Lets look at it’s global positioning systems, autopilot modes and camera.
Mavic Pro GPS / GLOSNASS
All DJI drones now use dual satellite connectivity using both GPS and GLOSNASS navigation systems. The Mavic Pro also uses both. These dual satellite navigation systems can give you a maximum connectivity of up to 20 satellites. Which means you should never loose a signal outdoors. Along with the 2 vision sensors and satellite systems, the Mavic has terrific return-to-home point and a new more precise landing technology.
Perfect Flight Stability
The technology is called “FlightAutonomy” and is made up of 7 components including 5 cameras (forward and downward dual vision sensors and the main camera), dual-band satellite positioning (GPS and GLONASS), 2 ultrasonic rangefinders, redundant sensors, and a group of 24 powerful, specialized computing cores.
Cameras on the left and right side in the front of the Mavic are fixed in place using an aluminum bracket to ensure the optimum alignment of the vision sensor lenses.
As the Mavic flies, dual forward and downward vision sensors measure the distance between itself and obstacles by taking photos from all four cameras and using the information to create a 3D map that tells it exactly where obstacles are.
The dual forward and downward vision sensors require visible light to function, and in bright light can see as far as 49 feet out in front. This obstacle avoidance system is activated in all Intelligent Flight Mode including all ActiveTrack modes, TapFly and Terrain Follow. It is also available during automatic Return to Home, so that the Mavic can easily make its way back without bumping into anything in its path.
Mavic With Collision Avoidance
The Mavic uses 4 Vision Sensors which sees in front and below whether you are on a cliff or in a forest. These vision sensors also work indoors giving it the smoothest flying and hovering of any drone to date.
Mavic Autopilot Modes
The Mavic Pro has many autopilot modes which make flying and filming so very simple. Here is a look at the Mavic Pro autopilot modes.
ActiveTrack is the intelligent technology which gives you the various autopilot modes to follow, track and film with. The Mavic Pro has the following autopilot modes.
- Spotlight – circle, follow behind or in front on an subject while stationary or moving.
- Profile – fly alongside the subject
- Trace – keep the camera targeted on the subject while the Mavic flies
- Terrain Follow Mode – Program the Mavic to fly as the same level above ground no matter what the terrain is
- TapFly – tap the screen and the Mavic will fly in the straight line you tapped in the DJI Go App
Mavic 4k Stabilized Camera
DJI’s engineers designed the stabilized gimbal to be smaller than ever. This camera is able to use every single pixel giving you crystal clear photos and film. With brushless motors on all three axes, the gimbal can control the camera with precision, adjusting it to eliminate shake caused by the movements of the Mavic.
This 4K camera uses core technologies found in all DJI cameras. It is equipped with a 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, commonly found in professional sport cameras, and an aerial imaging optimized integrated lens with an equivalent focal length of 28mm. this allows the camera to provide smooth 4K video at 30fps, 1080P video at 96fps and 12 megapixel photos.
Mavic Camera Specifications
Sensor – 1/2.3” (CMOS), Effective pixels: 12.35 M (Total pixels: 12.71M)
Lens FOV: 78.8° 28 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.2 with distortion of < 1.5% Focus from 0.5 m to ∞
ISO Range: 100-3200 (video)
Shutter Speed: 8s -1/8000s
Max Image Size: 4000×3000
Video Recording Modes as Follows:
C4K – 4096 × 2160 at 24 frames per second
4K – 3840 × 2160 at 24 / 25 / 30 frames per second
2.7K – 2704 × 1520 at 24 / 25 /30 frames per second
FHD – 1920 × 1080 24 /25 / 30 /48 / 50 /60 /96 frames per second
HD: 1280 × 720 24 /25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120 frames per second
The Mavic Pro has many more terrific features including a 4.3 mile (7km) transmission range. Read further on this exceptional Mavic Pro quadcopter here.
Phantom 4 Pro – 12 Autopilot Modes and 4k Video
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro was released in November 2016 is a top of the range professional drone. However, it’s price is at the time of writing is USD 1,499.00 which makes it perhaps the best value drone on the market to date.
The Phantom 4 Pro can be used for professional filming and can also be used to create 3D photogrammetry imagery. For perfect 3D imagery, the drone GPS, autopilot system and camera needs to work seamlessly. You get that with the Phantom 4 Pro.
Phantom 4 Pro GPS
The Phantom 4 draws on up to 24 satellites to give you more accuracy and a faster connection to satellites. It uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS. The Phantom 4 is completely aware of its starting point, location and relation to you during flight.
These intelligent flight system means it knows its last position, provides return to home, shows you where it is on a map and much more.
Phantom 4 Pro Autopilot Flight Modes
The Phantom 4 flight autonomy systems make flying and filming so very easy. However, to make flying and filming this easy, there is some serious technology behind it all.
The Phantom 4 Pro uses a complex network of ten component groups including seven cameras — forward, rearward and downward dual vision sensors and the primary camera — an infrared sensing system, dual-band satellite positioning (GPS and GLONASS), two downward facing ultrasonic rangefinders, redundant IMUs and compass, and a group of powerful, specialized computing cores.
The Phantom 4 Pro acquires a real-time view of its environment and information about the height and position of nearby obstacles to create a 3D map it can locate itself within. The IMU and compass collect crucial flight status, speed and direction data, while redundant IMUs and compass monitor critical data and rule out possible errors, dramatically enhancing the reliability of flight.
Along with it GPS autopilot system, you have the following technologies;
- Active Track (Profile, Spotlight, Circle)
- Draw Waypoints
- Terrain Follow Mode
- Tripod Mode
- Gesture Mode
- S-Mode (Sport)
- P-Mode (Position)
- A-Mode (Attitude)
- Beginner Mode
- Course Lock
- Home Lock
- Obstacle Avoidance
You can read further on these features in this article on the Phantom 4 Pro Flight Modes.
Phantom 4 Pro Obstacle Sensing
Flight Autonomy on the Phantom 4 Pro uses a set of high-resolution stereo vision sensors placed at the rear in addition to the pair placed at the front as well as infrared sensing systems placed on the left and right sides. This network creates a total of 5 directions of obstacle sensing and 4-direction of obstacle avoidance, protecting the Phantom 4 Pro and allowing the pilot to be more adventurous in their flying and filming.
Phantom 4 Pro Camera
The Phantom 4 Pro camera system has been significantly upgraded from the Phantom 4, improving every part of the camera including, sensor size, resolution, image processing system, and more, making it the most powerful Phantom camera ever.
The sensor size is more important to image quality than the number of pixels because a larger sensor captures more information in every pixel, improving dynamic range, signal-to-noise ratio, and low light performance. The 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor in the Phantom 4 Pro is almost four times the size of the Phantom 4.
It uses larger pixels and has a maximum ISO of 12800 as well as increased contrast. It is good enough for images to be used immediately, while also capturing enough detail for advanced post-processing.
An enhanced video processing system allows video to be captured in cinema and production optimized DCI 4K/60 (4096 x 2160/60 frames per second) at a bitrate of 100 Mbps, enabling you to get high-resolution slow motion shots. The Phantom 4 Pro also supports the H.265 video codec (Maximum resolution 4096 X 2160/30 fps).
For a given bitrate, H.265 doubles the amount of image processing as H.264, resulting in significantly enhanced image quality. Record in the high dynamic range D-log mode to make the most of this image data for color grading.
Here is a terrific Phantom 4 review video. It has to be the most innovative drone to date.
DJI Inspire 2 – Autopilot, 5.2k Video Camera
The Inspire 2 released in November 2016, takes everything that was great in the Inspire 1 and further improves on it. It has an all new image processing system which records at up to 5.2K in Cinema DNG RAW,Apple ProRes and more. It goes from 0 to 50 mph in just 5 seconds and hits a maximum speed of 58 mph.
A dual battery system prolongs the flight time to a maximum of 27 minutes.
Flight Autonomy has been revised and developed specifically for the Inspire 2, providing two directions of obstacle avoidance and sensor redundancy. Increased intelligence adds multiple intelligent flight modes, including Spotlight Pro, giving even single pilots the ability to create complex, dramatic shots.
An upgraded video transmission system is now capable of dual signal frequency and dual channel, streaming video from an onboard FPV camera and the main camera simultaneously, for better pilot and camera operator collaboration.
Inspire 2 GPS And Glonass
The Inspire 2 uses both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems which can locate up to 24 satellites giving you more accuracy and a faster connection to satellites.
4G LTE Network Connection
The Inspire 2 supports control over 4G. However, a USB dongle and SDK development is required. This high bandwidth allows the Inspire 2 to transmit high quality videos to a network server or can be used for ultra-long distance control. It also cuts video transmission latency to 500 ms.
Inspire 2 Autopilot Systems
Sense And Avoid – Forward and downward vision systems enable the Inspire 2 to detect obstacles up to 30 meters ahead, allowing for protected flight at up to 34 mph at a controllable attitude angle of 25°. Upward facing infrared sensors scan obstacles 16ft above, adding protection when flying in enclosed spaces. Obstacle sensing systems are active during normal flight, Return To Home and all Intelligent Flight Modes. These sensors are core components of the DJI Flight Autonomy system, which brings the below intelligent features to the Inspire 2:
Spotlight Pro – is a powerful tracking mode which uses advanced visual tracking algorithms to lock onto a subject during flight, regardless of the direction that the Inspire 2 flies, creating shots that would once have required a dedicated camera operator. If the gimbal comes close to reaching its rotation limits,the Inspire 2 itself will rotate in the same direction without affecting flight control or the shot being captured to free up gimbal movement.
Other Inspire 2 Autonomous Flight modes are:
- Spotlight Pro
- Points of Interest
- Smart Return To Home
- Obstacle Sense And Avoid
Spotlight Pro is available in all Intelligent Flight Modes.
DJI Inspire 2 Camera
Integrated into the Inspire 2 is the brand new CineCore 2.0 image processing system, capable of recording 5.2K videos in Cinema DNG, Apple ProRes and more. CineCore 2.0 is built into the aircraft nose and works with any camera connected through the dedicated gimbal port. Now, at present the Zenmuse X4S and X5S gimbal / cameras are compatible with the Inspire 2.
Zenmuse X5S Gimbal / Camera
Equipped with an uprated Micro 4/3 sensor, the Zenmuse X5S has a dynamic range of 12.8 stops. It supports up to eight standard M4 / 3 lenses (including zoom lenses) with focal lengths ranging from 9mm-45mm (equivalent to 18 mm – 90 mm on a 35 mm camera), allowing more creative flexibility.
The new CineCore 2.0 image processing system on the Inspire 2 makes the Zenmuse X5S capable of capturing 5.2K at 30 frames per second. CinemaDNG video and Apple ProRes video as well as 4K at 60 frames per second using H.264 and 4K at 30 frames per second using H.265 (both at 100 Mbps).
Continuous DNG burst shooting at 20 frames per second with 20.8 MP images is also supported. The Zenmuse X5S was designed for high-end professional aerial imaging.
Zenmuse X4S Gimbal / Camera
The Zenmuse X4S is a powerful camera featuring a 20 megapixel 1-inch sensor and a maximum ISO of 12,800. Dynamic range is increased from the Zenmuse X3 by 1 stop, with signal to noise ratio and color sensitivity increased by 1.5 stops for next-level image quality. The Zenmuse X4S uses a DJI-designed compact lens with low dispersion and low distortion 24 mm equivalent prime lens.
This 84° FOV, high resolution lens makes the Zenmuse X4S as powerful during aerial imaging as it is on the ground.Combined with CineCore 2.0, the Inspire 2’s powerful image processing system.
It can record 4K at 60 frames per second and 4K/30 frames per second, H.265 videos at a 100 Mbps bitrate and over sample 5.2K video into 4K video in real-time, capturing fine image details.
In Burst Mode, the Zenmuse X4S supports 14 frames per second shooting at 20 megapixels in both JPEG and DNG formats. It is able to make the difficult balance between agility and image quality.
DJI Inspire 2 – A Film Makers Dream Come True
The next video show the outstanding quality of filming which can be achieved using the DJI Inspire 2. This was filmed entirely with the Inspire 2. Not just the aerial shots but also the close-ups of the actors and indoor scenes too. Compared to other top market cameras for filming, the Inspire 2 is absolutely great value.
Read further on the DJI Inspire 2 professional filming drone.
Yuneec Typhoon H – GPS, Autopilot And 4k Camera
This Typhoon H Pro multirotor is the very latest drone from Yuneec. This means it has all the very latest in drone innovation including 4k camera, GPS, Intel Realsense Collision Avoidance and the following many intelligent autopilot modes;
- Collision Avoidance
- Point of Interest
- Curve Cable Cam
- Follow Me / Watch Me
- Dynamic Return to Home
- Auto Take Off
Typhoon H Camera
The camera is integrated into the CGO3+ gimbal. The 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ gimbal camera captures ultra-stable video and vivid still images and can be rotated in an unlimited, 360-degree range of motion.
The CGO3+ gimbal camera features an improved 115-degree wide-angle fixed focus lens, and integrated video downlink module that delivers 720p real image transmission of your flight as well as the option of manual camera settings. Below are the camera resolutions;
- 4K UHD 30fps, HD 1080p 120fps video / 12 Megapixel still camera
The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro model uses the Intel Real Sense Collision Avoidance technology. The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro price is practically a giveaway at the moment.
Here a look at this beautiful Typhoon H. This is another drone which has everything. It has strong GPS technology, great autopilot flights modes and a top camera to film with.
Walkera Scout X4 – GPS, Autopilot And 4k Camera
The Scout X4 from Walkera Technology features a new advanced GPS flight control system which allows for a more accurate flight along with terrific GPS position holding. The Failsafe Return To Home feature is part of this GPS flight control system. The GPS mode allows for 1 button start and hold feature.
Autopilot With Ground Station
The Walkera Scout X4 features waypoint mission planning. You can program an incredible 128 waypoints including flight designation through your touch screen tablet or phone and using the Bluetooth ground station device which is part of the package. Another terrific feature is the ability to circle a GPS waypoint.
All Walkera drones are packed with innovation and features. The Scout X4 has built in “Follow Me” mode and flies for longer than most drones up to 25 minutes. It can change from a quadcopter with 4 motors into an multirotor with 8 motors for even more power. The legs or landing gear are also retractable which is terrific for filming.
Scout X4 Camera
This comes with an integrated 3 axis, G-3D brushless gimbal. The camera is the iLook+ which shoots film at HD 1080p video and at 30 fps. The X4 also has the built in 5.8ghz transmission system for seamless uplink to the Devo F12E Transmitter, a wide angle lens, and the ability to take high quality photographs, all controllable from the transmitter.
Other cameras equipment can be used with the X4 including the GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 action cameras.
The Walkera Scout X4 price on Amazon starts at about the $850 up to the $1400 for a full package.
Here’s a terrific video showing you the Scout X4 Autopilot Ground Station along with all many more terrific features.
Walkera Voyager 4 – GPS And 18 X Optical Zoom Camera
The Voyager 4 is the latest professional drone from Walkera and was only released in the summer of 2016. What I love about Walkera is that they really put as much innovation into their drones as possible. They don’t hold back with different versions of the same drone where you have to pay for the higher spec.
Walkera Voyager 4 GPS
Walkera are also using both GPS and GLONASS dual navigation systems which pick up more satellites and enable more accurate signal receiving and location.
Voyager 4 Gimbal And Camera
The Voyager 4 has a newly designed 3 axis brushless gimbal to enable a more stabilized footage. It uses an advanced shock absorption gimbal technology which greatly reducing vibration
and movement during flight ,enabling the camera to capture stabilized and fluid footage even after magnifying the focal length.
There is only 1 other drone on the market that has an option for a zoom camera. That is the Inspire 1 and the Zenmuse Z3 gimbal camera. However the Zenmuse Z3 is only 7x optical zoom.
So this Voyager 4 camera is pretty awesome.
Main Voyager 4 Camera Specifications
Here are just a few of the camera features. Visit the Walkera Voyager 4 web page for more information.
- Name – Voyager 4k 18x UHD Camera
- Zoom Ratio – 18x
- Focal Length – 6.7 to 134.5 mm
- Output Bitrate – 32 Kbps – 16 Mbps
- Compression Standard H.264 / H.265
- Horizontal View – 59.8 – 3.00 wide angle
- Close Shot Distance – 10 mm to 1500 mm
- Total Pixels – 3840 x 2160
- ISO Range – 100 to 3200 (video) 100 to 1600 (image)
- 30 fps (3840 x2160)
- 60 fps (1920 x 1080)
- 120 fps (1280 x 720)
Voyager 4 Intelligent Flight Modes
- Altitude Hold Mode
- Circle Flight Mode
- One-Key Back To Base
- One Key Take Off And Landing
- Destination Planning Waypoint
- Fly Around Object
Voyager 4 Other Features
- Retractable Landing Gear
- 18 Channel Remote Controller
- Comprehensive App
- Live HD Transmission To 1 KM
- Detachable gimbal
- Flight time is 20 minutes
Here is a link to an excellent Walkera Voyager 4 review.
Other Top Drones With GPS and 4K Cameras
DJI Phantom 3 Range – (Professional, Advanced & Standard) – These were the top drones until very recently. Most of the top drone landscape videos on YouTube have been filmed with DJI Phantom 3 drones. DJI have a big sale on at the moment and the Phantom 3 is being practically given away at USD 399. See the link at the bottom for the DJI sale.
Yuneec Breeze 4k – Both convenient and compact, Breeze is controlled by your iOS or Android device with the Breeze Cam app and weighs just under 1 pound. Very easy to fly and capture aerial photos and video in stunning 4K Ultra High Definition.
Yuneec Typhoon 4k – One of the best value 4K drones available, an included Android touchscreen controller means faster setup and no need to add your own mobile device to capture impressive 4K video. Typhoon 4K also captures 1080p/120fps slow motion video with a full complement of manual camera settings for total creative control. Perfect ground shots are also available with the included Handheld SteadyGrip™.