BEST BEGINNER QUADCOPTER AND VIDEO DRONES FOR 2015


Table of Contents


Best Video Drone

Best Beginner Quadcopter


best beginner quadcopter

Going into the 2015 holiday season, we decided to put together our list of the best beginner quadcopter and video drones for 2015. This will hopefully make it easier for everyone to find that perfect beginner quadcopter or drone this holiday season!

BEST VIDEO DRONE

Below is a list of our favorite drones that are designed for shooting video and taking pictures. Most of these have built in cameras and gimbal systems and have FPV (first person view) onboard. These drones range in price from $400 to well over $4,000. Whether you are a brand new pilot, or seasoned expert, there is a drone for you in this list.

Once you start perfecting your flying skills, check out our post “Top 10 Drone Footage Tips” to expand your skills!

Are you new to drones? Visit our “How Drones Work” article to learn more.


Ease of Use
9.5
Camera Quality
8.5
Flight Time
8.5
Price (Higher is Better)
7.0
OVERALL SCORE
9.0

PROS

Gold Standard for Beginner to Advanced Pilots
Easy to Use and Fly
Built in Lightbridge FPV
4K Video is Amazing in Good Light
12MP RAW Photos

CONS

No retractable landing gear
Small camera sensor
Camera Not Upgradeable
Expensive Batteries

BUY IT

The Phantom 3 Professional is perhaps the most popular drone in the world. The Pro model adds in 4K video and intelligent batteries all while maintaining 20 minute flight times. Its ease to use and beautiful UHD video makes this one of our favorite drones.

The Phantom 3 Professional just seems to do everything perfectly, and that’s what we want in a drone. There’s a good reason that there are so many of these flying around. The 4K video is gorgeous, FPV distance is extremely good (over 1 mile), and the gimbal is buttery smooth and stable.

The only additional features you would need or want out of this is dual operator and retractable landing gear, but that is exactly why DJI made the Inspire 1. So if you are looking for a drone that shoots amazing video and has incredible FPV, look no farther than the DJI Phantom 3 Professional.


Ease of Use
9.5
Camera Quality
8.0
Flight Time
8.5
Price (Higher is Better)
8.0
OVERALL SCORE
8.5

PROS

2.7K Video
Built in Lightbridge FPV
Easy to Use and Fly

CONS

No retractable landing gear
Small camera sensor
No 4K
Camera Not Upgradeable
Expensive Batteries

BUY IT

The Phantom 3 Advanced shares many of the same features as the Professional model, but lacks 4K video and intelligent batteries. For most these are subtle differences, especially the consumers not requiring 4K video.

The Advanced model showcases most of the same features that make the Professional such an amazing drone. It has the FPV distance, DJI Go App capability, and is incredibly easy to fly. The only real downside is 2.7K video instead of 4K. However, for most people this isn’t an issue and is a good reason to save a few hundred bucks.


Ease of Use
9.5
Camera Quality
7.0
Flight Time
9.0
Price (Higher is Better)
8.5
OVERALL SCORE
8.5

PROS

1080P Video Does Look Very Good
Much Cheaper than Pro and Advanced Models
Perfect for Those Less Concerned With Video Resolution

CONS

No 4K
Limited FPV Distance

BUY IT

The Phantom 3 Standard is a step down from the Advanced version, still capable of shooting 2.7k video, but with a major decrease in FPV distance. It also lacks the bottom position sensors. For many consumers that fly recreationally, this is the best bang for their buck.

The Standard model fills the gap for pilots who want that buttery smooth gimbal, FPV, and video capabilities, but are okay with sacrificing FPV distance and video resolution. Think of the Professional and Advanced models being for pilots trying to operate commercially, and the Standard is for hobbyists flying around for fun. The Standard has all the features that make the Phantom 3 lineup truly amazing, and a price point that appeals to most anyone.


ease of use
8.0
camera quality
7.5
flight time
8.5
price (higher is better)
6
overall score
7

PROS

4K Video
Slow Motion 1080P
Built in Android Based FPV Screen
Included Handheld Video Mount

CONS

Video is Blurry Towards the Edges of the Frame
Slow Gimbal
Flight Characteristics aren’t Very Responsive

BUY IT

The Q500 has many good qualities on paper, but many don’t perform as well as expected. The 4K video suffers in comparison to similarly priced drones, and the handheld mount runs through batteries like crazy.

The Yuneec comes with many features, but none of them seem to work overly well. The video is a little blurry towards the edges of the frame, and the handheld video mount doesn’t perform overly well. For this price point, we would recommend the Phantom 3 Professional or Advanced.


ease of use
9.5
camera quality
9.5
flight time
7.0
price (higher is better)
3.0
overall score
8.0

PROS

Micro 4/3s Sensor
Interchangeable Lenses
4K RAW Option
Dual Operator
Built in Lightbridge FPV
Retractable Landing Gear
Camera Gimbal has 360 degrees of movement

CONS

The X5 and X5R are overpriced.
Flight Time is Less Than the Original Inspire
Expensive Batteries
No Pilot FPV Camera for Dual Operator

BUY IT

The DJI Inspire 1 Pro is the cream of the crop, and has the price tag to prove it. The major difference between the Inspire 1 and the Inspire 1 Pro is the new micro 4/3s camera, coined the Zenmuse X5 and X5R. Both of these are micro 4/3’s with interchangeable lenses, but the X5R offers 4K RAW with built-in solid state drive.

This is the ultimate set up before going to a heavy lift platform for REDS and Alexas. The price may seem a little high, but has every feature we want. The larger micro 4/3s sensor handles low light much better than the previous X3 and finally offers interchangeable lenses for creative shots.

If you’re looking for the most professional platform out there, this is for you.
Our in-depth review here.


ease of use
9.5
camera quality
8.5
flight time
7.5
price (higher is better)
5.0
overall score
8.5

PROS

Dual Operator Option
Retractable Landing Gear
Built in Lightbridge FPV
Camera Gimbal has 360 degrees of movement

CONS

Expensive Batteries
No Pilot FPV Camera for Dual Operator
Small Camera Sensor

BUY IT

The DJI Inspire 1 was DJI’s first RTF platform that offered both 4K video and dual operator FPV. The camera shares the same sensor as the Phantom 3 Pro, but the dual operator capability with retractable landing gear makes it one of a kind.

The platform is nearly the same as the Inspire 1 Pro, except with the smaller X3 camera instead of the X5. However, the X3 does amazing for 90% of the shots you would ever need. The real noticeable difference between the two is when lighting gets low. We have found that the original Inspire fits such a perfect niche that it is hard to say no to. It is significantly cheaper than the Inspire 1 Pro, and has all the high end features like dual operator and a 360 degree gimbal.


ease of use
8.5
camera quality
NA
flight time
8.0
price (higher is better)
6.0
overall score
7.0

PROS

Built in Transmitter FPV
Easy to Use and Fly
Well Constructed
Intelligent Modes Work Well

CONS

Gimbal Sold Separately ($400)
No Included Camera
FPV Has Poor Distance
Other Drones in the Same Category Far Outperform it.

BUY IT

The Solo is a solid flying platform and has future potential. But being in the same price class as the Phantom series, it hardly competes. The FPV is inferior to the Phantoms, as well as not having any sort of gimbal or camera system built in. For this price range, we’d recommend a Phantom 3 Advanced or Professional.

The saving grace with the Solo is its attached accessory bay. 3DR is pushing for third party suppliers to start creating accessories for this. I’m guessing items like flashlights and FPV equipment will be the standard.


ease of use
8.5
camera quality
6.0
flight time
5.0
price (higher is better)
8.5
overall score
7.5

PROS

TONS of Features
Ready to Fly Out of the Box
Affordable Price

CONS

FPV Lags Pretty Bad
Video Quality isn’t Great
No Included Transmitter (fly with your phone)
Low Flight Time

BUY IT

The Bebop is perfect for someone brand new to drones and doesn’t want a price that is overly committing. For $450, it has every feature a new drone pilot could ask for. It doesn’t do all of them near as well as others. But for the price, it is a great intro drone and would make for a great gift under the tree this holiday season.

BEST BEGINNER QUADCOPTER

Our list of best beginner quadcopter and drones showcases platforms smaller in size and less featured driven than the “Video Drones” shown above. What beginner drones do offer are price points that make them extremely affordable, fun to fly, and small enough to be flown in the house. These are the perfect stocking stuffers.

Beginner drones are much more difficult to fly. This is because they lack the automation and stability systems that larger drones have. This makes them incredibly fun to fly. Since the inevitable crash will occur, they tolerate the occasional drywall or carpet just fine and have cheap replacement parts.

The rating and ranking values below are not relative or comparable to the ranking scale in “Best Video Drones” above. They are only relative to this category.


ease of use
8.5
camera quality
NA
flight time
4.0
price (higher is better)
9.0
overall score
8.5

PROS

Easy to Fly
Very Small – Fits in Your Palm
Cheap Replacement Parts
SUPER Fun!
Sub $100

CONS

Short Battery Life
Doesn’t Handle Wind Very Well

BUY IT

The Blade Nano QX is our favorite “in-the-house” quad. It fits in the palm of your hand and is surprisingly easy to fly. Since it is so small, it doesn’t handle strong winds very well. The Nano comes with prop guards and does a great job handling the inevitable crash.

Flying it around the house is so much fun. Although your spouse or cat will definitely think otherwise. The batteries are cheap and quick to charge, so don’t be too disappointed with the lower flight times.

SYMA X5/X5C

best_beginner_quadcodpter_syma

X5

$28.79

X5C

$47.99


ease of use
9.5
camera quality (X5C)
3.0
flight time
3.0
price (higher is better)
9.5
overall score
9.0

PROS

Very Easy to Fly
X5C is Equipped With a Camera
6-axis Gyro Stabilized
Larger than Other Drones in This Class
Incredibly Affordable
Performs Aerial Tricks

CONS

Short Battery Life
Laggy Response to Control Inputs

BUY IT

No matter what we say about the Syma X5 and X5C, it is hard to beat it’s price at $28 and $48, respectively. The good news is that the Syma is AWESOME! It is larger than the Blade Nano QX, so indoor flying is a little more of a challenge.

Flight time is between 6-8 minutes. This is fairly short in comparison to the video drones reviewed above, but pretty average for beginner drones. The X5C comes equipped with a little camera and included 2gb SD card. This camera won’t be putting any footage on the big screen, but adds a nice “fun factor” to flying where you can review your flight and footage later.

HUBSAN X4


best_beginner_quadcodpter_husban

$28.40


ease of use
7.5
camera quality
NA
flight time
4.5
price (higher is better)
9.5
overall score
8.0

PROS

Very Affordable
LEDS for Night Flying
Great for Indoors

CONS

Mainly Meant for Indoor Flying Only
No Prop Guards
Less Stable Than it’s Competition

BUY IT

The Husban X4 is another quad on the smaller side that can fit in the palm of your hand. It doesn’t fly near as stable as the Blade Nano, but for half the price, it is well worth the investment. For the price, I bought 3 of them and have a blast flying around the house not being quite as concerned as crashing as I would with other models.


ease of use
9.0
camera quality
5.0
flight time
5.5
price (higher is better)
8.5
overall score
8.5

PROS

720P HD Camera
Larger Frame to Handle More Wind
Sub $100 WITH a HD Camera

CONS

Battery Life Isn’t Great
Lightweight – Crashing Might Not be a Great Idea

BUY IT

For beginner drones, the UDI U818A-1 Discovery has it all. This is definitely larger than the Nano and Husban, but features a 720p camera and larger frame to be used outdoors. It is still on the lighter side, so be cautious with wind. The HD camera won’t blow your mind like the Video Drones above, but is still very impressive for an item just under $100.


ease of use
8.5
camera quality
5.0
flight time
4.0
price (higher is better)
6.5
overall score
7.5

PROS

True FPV Experience
Included Fatshark Headset
Same Blade Nano We Know and Trust

CONS

Low Battery Life – Especially when using FPV
Low Resolution Video on Headset

BUY IT

Alright, now this thing is fun! Yep, this is the same Blade Nano QX we were praising just above. But now it has FPV (first person view). FPV is flying the drone through the drones point of view via a headset. It is just like virtual reality video games in a sense.

Flying FPV is an absolute blast. If you have never tried it, you need to! The Blade Nano QX FPV comes with Fatshark headsets, which are usually $250ish alone. The resolution is 320×240, so nothing overly great and doesn’t perform any onboard video recording.

The only reason we put the overall score slightly lower is because of the price. $420 isn’t terrible, but is significantly higher than other drones in its category


ease of use
6.5
camera quality
NA
flight time
8.0
price (higher is better)
6.0
overall score
7.0

PROS

Highly Customizable
Carbon Fiber Construction
Super Fast
Lots of Community Support

CONS

Too Complicated for a True Beginner
No Included Camera or Transmitter/Receiver

BUY IT

The Lumenier QAV250 has developed quite a following in the drone world. It is offered in a RTF (ready to fly) package or just the frame itself. Since this is a beginners guide, we are review the RTF version only.

This drone lies somewhere between beginners and DIY’ers. It is ready to fly, but requires a transmitter to be programmed, which might be a little confusing to someone with zero RC experience. However, it is perfect for the beginner who wants to progress to building their own drones later in the future.

This model is fully customizable. The motors, props, electronics, etc. can all be modified and upgraded. This little guy is a speed demon and is constructed very well (carbon fiber). If your goal is to eventually use it for video purposes and are looking in this price range, then the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is much more appropriate. If you’d like something customizable, then this is abslutely perfect.


About the Author

Jordan Rising

Jordan is a licensed commercial helicopter pilot, an experienced drone operator, and in his free time he flies wing suits off cliffs. He knows an awful lot about flight!

WANT TO KEEP UP TO DATE?

WE WILL SEND YOU UPDATES ON NEW GEAR, DEALS, AND THE OCCASIONAL AWESOME VIDEO