If you own a GoPro, and want to buy a drone to get your GoPro in the air, then this guide is for you.
UPDATE: GoPro has announced their first drone, called the Karma. Since the Karma is designed by GoPro to work with their cameras, it’s safe to say that it’s going to be the best option for attaching your GoPro to a drone. If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out the drones below, but if you want the best, check out the Karma.
Best Budget-Friendly GoPro Drone:
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but you want a drone that can carry a GoPro (and is more than just a toy) the Cheerson CX-20 is a good option.
NOTE: In my list of the Best Drones Under $150, I said the Syma X8G was the best option for someone with a GoPro, but if you’re willing to go over the $150 limit, you can get a lot more drone for not a lot more money with the CX-20.
The biggest feature of the CX-20 that you won’t get with cheaper drones is a GPS system. By using GPS signals to find its location, the CX-20 can hold a position better, which makes it a lot easier to control.
Having GPS enables additional features like Auto Go Home, where the drone will automatically fly back to the place where it took off from, and land safely, if your drone loses contact with the controller.
The CX-20 also includes a Low Voltage Protection system that will activate the Auto Go Home function automatically if the battery runs low, so you don’t have to worry about the drone falling out of the sky with a dead battery.
Another upgrade over cheaper drones are the CX-20’s brushless motors. Brushless motors last a LOT longer than the brushed motors found in lower priced drones, which can sometimes stop working after just a few dozen flights.
If you want to fly outdoors, the CX-20 is a larger drone (about the size of a DJI Phantom) which keeps it stable when you’re flying in mild wind.
You get 10-15 minutes of flight time out of the CX-20 battery, which should be plenty of time to explore the drone’s 1,000 foot range, and you can also buy spare batteries if you want more flight time with back-to-back flights.
The controller is pretty basic, with no screens of any kind, but it has easy-to-access switches to control things like the flight mode, and activate the Auto Go Home feature.
The CX-20 comes with a mount for a GoPro, but keep in mind that it’s not a gimbal, so it’s going to be fixed in one position. The camera will point where the drone points, and you might get some shake in the video if you move too quickly, but with a little practice, you should be able to get useable footage that’s great for sharing on social media.
Best Full-Featured GoPro Drone:
Yuneec Typhoon G
If you want the best bang for the buck with a GoPro compatible drone, the Yuneec Typhoon G is the drone to get.
First, the Typhoon G comes with a controller that Yuneec calls the “ST10+ Ground Station”, and it actually includes a built-in touchscreen so you don’t have to use your own smartphone or tablet.
The Typhoon G includes a First Person View (FPV) system that connects directly to your GoPro, and streams live video back to the controller. The video down link works up to 1,200 feet away, so you have plenty of range while taking advantage of the 25-minute flight time.
To keep the camera steady and level with the horizon as you fly around, the Typhoon G includes a 3-axis gimbal that you can adjust from the controller.
As an added bonus, when you’re not flying the drone, you can actually remove the gimbal and attach it to the included ‘SteadyGrip’, turning your GoPro into a handheld steadicam.
When flying, the Typhoon G has a few advanced camera features that make it easy to get the shot you want, including Follow Me, where the drone will follow the pilot, and Watch Me, where the GoPro will stay pointed at the pilot, no matter which way the drone flies.
With advanced drone features, advanced camera features, a high-quality gimbal, and a controller with built-in touchscreen, the Yuneec Typhoon G is the drone to get if you want to capture photos and videos with your GoPro.
What About The 3D Robotics Solo?
The 3D Robotics Solo is an AMAZING drone, and was designed specifically for using a GoPro, so you get features like FPV, camera control, and stabilization right out of the box.
The Solo actually has separate computers in the drone and in the controller, so the Solo can work the camera as you fly, or fly itself while you work the camera. It’s like having your own personal film crew.
And when it comes to integrating the GoPro camera, 3D Robotics actually worked directly with GoPro to make Solo the first and only drone that can deliver HD video from a GoPro straight to a mobile device, and gives you access to in-flight control of the HERO4.
However, since 3D Robotics announced that they would be shifting away from the consumer drone market, and focusing instead on commercial drones, it’s hard to recommend such a significant investment on a drone with a limited future.
What About The DJI Phantom?
The last Phantom to support the GoPro camera was the Phantom 2 with Zenmuse Gimbal, but I don’t recommend a Phantom for flying a GoPro because the cost of a Phantom 2, plus everything you’d need to connect the GoPro, like a Gimbal and FPV system, is going to be higher than the more current Phantom 3, and even then, the features of the drone and camera aren’t going to be as good.
When DJI announced the Phantom 4, they dropped the prices on the Phantom 3 so much that it no longer made sense to get a Phantom 2 and piece together everything you’d need for a GoPro. The Phantom 3 Standard includes a high quality camera that’s just as good as a GoPro, a built-in FPV setup, and still costs less than a Phantom 2, even before you add the cost of a GoPro.
If you want the best possible camera, the Phantom 3 Professional includes a built-in 4K camera, which will outperform even the highest quality GoPro.
And unlike GoPro footage, which has a fisheye effect that has to be edited out with post-processing, the built-in Phantom cameras automatically adjust the footage to eliminate the fisheye effect, which drastically improves your footage and cuts down on your editing time.
Like many drone recommendations, the right GoPro drone for you is going to depend on your budget.
Of all the GoPro compatible drones, the Yuneec Typhoon G is my main recommendation, because its a good balance between features and price. You get a fantastic drone with a 3-axis gimbal for the GoPro, and live first person view video streamed down to a built-in monitor in the controller.
If you’re looking to save some money, the Cheerson CX-20 is still a good option as a starter drone. It doesn’t include a gimbal, so it’s going to be much harder to get smooth video, and it doesn’t include live video streaming, so you can’t actually see what you’re capturing, but it’s a great introduction to flying a camera drone, and if you find that you like flying drones, you can always upgrade later.
If you want the best of the best, the 3D Robotics Solo with Gimbal is the drone to get. It has a ton of advanced features, and can actually control the GoPro settings remotely from the ground. But, since 3DR recently announced that they’re shifting focus away from the consumer drone industry, the future of the Solo is uncertain.