Introduced in 2017, the compact DJI Spark impressed with hand gesture controls, Quickshot flight modes and a decent camera for the price.
- 16 - MIN
- 1080p - 30 FPS
- 31 - MPH
- 1.2 - MILES
An icon in its time, the DJI Phantom 3 became the iconic drone that comes to mind when you hear the word drone.
- 23 - Minutes
- 1080p - 30 FPS
- 36 - MPH
- 3.1 - MILES
The Hubsan H501S was one of the first GPS-enabled drones from Hubsan with brushless motors and a 1080p camera.
- 20 - Minutes
- 1080p - 30 FPS
- 45 - MPH
- 300 - Meters
In a world with hundreds of RC airplanes to choose from, the Parrot Disco offered an FPV camera experience on a fixed-wing drone.
- 45 - Minutes
- 1080p - 30 FPS
- 50 - MPH
- 1.24 - MILES
At this stage in the game, there are not many drones that proudly rock a 1080p camera, most are 4K drones, or they keep the resolution at 720p and under in order to reduce latency. That said, there are some solid machines out there that offer a benefit or two that make up for the lack of camera resolution. Ultimately, this is a short list that is destined to remain small.
Special note about the DJI Spark: It has a 4K sensor, but it only records in 1080p. They use the extra pixels on the sensor for digital image stabilization.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Spark introduced a brand new segment for the drone company, launching a tiny machine that packs more fun features than powerful specs. This drone had everyone talking about the Jedi mind tricks you can play with the machine, using the front camera and object detection to accept hand gestures for some basic controls. All of these fun flight features made for a focus on two other features, the ability to fly without a remote control in hand and making you the object of the flight.
The DJI Spark is small enough to easily pack around wherever you might like to go. It's powerful enough to combat some decent winds and the 12MP camera can snap some fun photographs. While the camera may have a 4K sensor on the inside, it only records 1080p video. The HD video resolution allows the use of the extra pixels for image stabilization. The Spark mechanically stabilizes two-axis of movement, using the sensor cropping to handle side-to-side image stabilization. Admitting that this makes for some of the worst video capture from a DJI drone in the last 5 years, we can't deny that that is still pretty good, and the compact nature and low price of the drone make it well worth consideration.
DJI Phantom 3
April 2015Release Date
Some might call the DJI Phantom 3 the most important drone of all time for DJI. I might say that is the Mavic Pro, but there is no way to ignore the cultural significance of the Phantom drone. For a lot of the general community out there, the Phantom 3 is the drone that comes to mind when they hear the word drone. The drone itself was solid for its time, but offers the sort of specs that get laughed out of the market today. 1080p video capture, no obstacle avoidance and more, at least on the original version. DJI launched four versions total, including the Pro and 4K, with the 4K being the last out the door and first with 4K capture.
January 2018Release Date
The Hubsan H501S was one of the first GPS enabled drones from Hubsan to offer a 1080p camera and brushless motors. This sounds like a common thing, silly to celebrate by today's standards, but this was a game changer for Hubsan and the toy drone market. Looking at 2017 and earlier, most toy-class drones, which included most all of Hubsan's drones, used inefficient brushed motors and all flew in what you might call ATTI mode. While the early drones had no navigation or a tools for object avoidance or flight assist, GPS in the H501S gave it the ability to hover and even set a GPS controlled route through the mobile app on your smart device.
With RTH functionality and more, the Hubsan H501S remains one of the best drones that live in between toy-class and what we might call the premium experience of full GPS flight control. Check out the Hubsan H501S for around $168 and watch for deals as low as $150.
Hubsan H109S Pro
January 2017Release Date
Hubsan may be popular for their smaller toy-class drones, but they build some serious gear as well. The Hubsan H109S Pro is a larger drone in their lineup, large enough to carry a GoPro. Out of the box, the H109S Pro has its own GoPro-sized camera installed, a 1080p shooter that was good in its time, but is far inferior to a modern GoPro. This is a simple machine and the gimbal is not stabilized, but if you are looking for a drone that is made to carry a GoPro camera, this is one of the best from a toy-class manufacturer.
Available in three models, the Standard offers the solid gimbal, the Advanced bumps up to a 3-axis gimbal, and the Professional has the 3-axis gimbal and updated controller with larger built-in display.
Check out the Hubsan H109S Pro starting from $319. The We must mention, this drone, like most machines made for GoPro cameras, is discontinued. You can still find it for sale, and it is still supported by Hubsan, for now.
October 2016Release Date
The term "drone" encompasses a number of machines. Some drones are ground based robots, most are quadcopters, but some are a more traditional fixed-wing design. The Parrot Disco is a fixed-wing craft, which you might consider to be a RC airplane. This style of drone takes a bit more practice to get the hang of, mainly because the craft does not hover, it must be in constant motion to avoid stalling, and at a top speed of 50mph, it can get away from you fairly quick.
The Parrot Disco is officially discontinued, but do not fret, there are many fixed-wing draft out there for you to enjoy.
The Parrot Disco often sold for around $500, but is now more than that, and often sold used.
We thought we’d sneak this in here, the DJI Goggles are designed to work with OcuSync on DJI’s 4K drones, but it does have an HDMI port and a 1080p display, perfect for consuming that 1080p footage you’ve captured.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Goggles offer an immersive experience for drone flight. As with most AR and VR headsets for drones, enjoy a first person view of the world from above. The DJI Goggles are one of very few goggles to offer a Full HD experience, with two 1080p panels, one for each eye.
Versatility is the name of the game, you can connect many popular DJI drones to the Googles via OcuSync wireless connectivity. Several flight modes allow for you to observe, or even take over and fly your drone entirely through head tracking. When you are done flying, head on home and enjoy re-watching those videos in the headset from the comfort of your couch. Six hours of battery life means you can then connect an HDMI cable and enjoy a movie or play some video games as well.
The DJI Goggles are a fantastic option for your FPV drone flights and more, but be sure to bump up to the DJI Goggles Racing Edition if you desire some high-speed fun. The base Goggles are good, but the latency bump on the RE edition makes the difference on the race track.
Grab the DJI Goggles for about $349 today.
Special consideration: DJI Mavic Mini
If you have the budget for most of the drones above, why not consider something that shoots 2.7K video for roughly the same price. The DJI Mavic Mini is proving an excellent drone for many users, especially new pilots. At 249 grams, you do not need to register with the FAA before you fly, but you get a more capable machine than most anything else on this list, and for just $400.
Please do not expect any major updates to this list over time, but if you happen to find a new 1080p camera drone that you want to see on this list, hit the comments and we’ll evaluate it.