RC helicopters are a load of fun! There’s just something about the ability to control a flying object as it races through the sky (or even just around your lounge!) that puts a big smile on your face. While most people get into the RC helicopter hobby simply for the excitement and satisfaction that comes with gliding low, flying high, and performing stunts, a number of enthusiasts are ditching their old helicopters in favor of an RC helicopter with camera in order to take stunning videos or photos as they fly.
Great New Possibilities
Don’t get me wrong, just getting the chance to launch my favorite heli is enough to make me grin from ear to ear!
However, an RC helicopter equipped with a state-of-the-art camera, allowing you to snap photos and take videos of anywhere you like from high above, does open up some interesting possibilities as well.
It really is the best of both worlds for any aviation and photography enthusiast, not to mention a load of fun for everyone else!
You Now Have some Choices
Thankfully, the days of strapping a Canon onto your helicopter with duct tape are also long gone. Today, technologically advanced RC helicopters are able to take professional quality photos and videos with a simple push of a button.
However this does still raise the question of should you buy an RC helicopter with camera or get a camera to attach separately as there are still some different advantages to both approaches.
Built-In Cameras are Simply Fun
There really are some amazing RC helicopters being made with cutting-edge camera and flight control technology. They may not be considered “helicopters” per se by purists, but modern RC quadcopters like the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Quadricopter are technological marvels with not too horrendous price tags.
Utilizing the latest in app technology, these flying machines can be completely controlled from an iPhone, iPad, or any Android device. Not only can you take photos or shoot videos with a simple tap on your phone, but you can also of course simply control the heli’s flight direction. Some models, such as the Parrot AR Drone, even come with autopilot or control modes and features that allow you to store and share flight data with others!
Great for the Recreational User
While these RC helicopters are perfect for anyone wanting some good ol’ recreational fun, some everyday enthusiasts and professional photographers or videographers often find their own cameras provide them with better flexibility and picture quality. However, as mentioned, taking pristine photos or sweeping videos of beautiful vistas is much more complicated than strapping on a camera and launching your heli into the air.
The functionality, fun, and ease of use associated with RC helicopters with built-in cameras cannot be questioned, but many models leave something to be desired when it comes to picture quality.
If Quality is a Major Concern, Opt for Your Own Camera
If you want to capture more professional, high quality photos and videos, then a helicopter that allows you to select the camera to attach is the way to go. By opting for such a helicopter, you’ll have much better control over the video and picture quality, and you’ll also be able to keep pace with advances in photography technology by simply swapping out your old camera for a new one.
The truth is, cameras specifically designed for action shots, such as the GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition, provide better shots than many of today’s built-in helicopter cameras.
Selection Comes With a Price
Most people in search of the perfect shot typically choose an RC helicopter that allows them to safely attach their favorite camera. After all, no one wants to see their $700 camera zooming through the air secured by a piece of rope, zip-tie, or duct tape!
Unfortunately, most helicopters that allow you to use specific cameras or swap out cameras are more expensive than models that come bundled with a camera. Therefore, you will need to be prepared to spend a little more if you want to get the best possible overhead shots.
What Type of Photos and Video Are You Taking?
Like action sports enthusiasts, RC helicopter and video enthusiasts tend to prefer the GoPro line of cameras for the picture quality they’re able to provide from fast-moving objects. Thus, many prefer slightly more expensive RC helicopters that allow them to fly and control their GoPro action cameras.
One popular model is the Dji-Phantom-Ready-Fly-Quadcopter, which allows users to easily and securely attach a GoPro Hero3 or GoPro Hero3+. Using this, you can comfortably control both their heli and their GoPro right from the transmitter.
It Helps to Be Handy
If you’re not necessarily the most tech savvy or handiest person in the world, you may be able to install and sync up your camera with your RC helicopter, but chances are it will be frustrating and may take you a while.
While it’s not rocket science, most manufacturers make it seem much easier than it is to get your camera working in sync with your helicopter. In reality, it will take a little technical prowess in order to successfully get the job done without pulling your hair out. Therefore, you should keep this in mind and be confident in your abilities to handle the hardware and technical aspects of the set-up process if you want to buy your own RC helicopter camera.
Helpful Resources Available
Thankfully, there are some very helpful resources out there, such as the below YouTube video, that explain how to attach a spy camera to an RC helicopter.
It may help to be handy, but if you follow this video even the most challenged of us you should be able to attach a small camera to an RC helicopter without too much trouble for some reasonable results.
Simply flying RC helicopters is a fun and enjoyable experience, but turning your heli into a photo or video-taking machine adds an entirely new dimension of excitement to the mix. Today, there are a number of RC helicopters with photo and video capabilities to choose from including those that come bundled with a camera. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to wade through the options available and work out when it comes to sorting out an RC helicopter with camera whats the best option for your budget and needs.