The aerial footage from a 4k drone is without doubt just stunning. Today, we review the 10 best 4k drones on the market now. We also look at 4k camera technology and the real benefits to filming with a 4k drone camera.
These 4k drones equipped with ultra high definition video cameras are capturing spectacular videos.
All of the 4k drones featured below have advanced features such as precision stabilization and autonomous flight modes to make filming easier. There are also a number of 4k drones with collision avoidance technology.
4k video recording cameras on drones is becoming the standard entry point for professional aerial filming. In 2016, we started to see the first of the 4k drone cameras coming to the market. 2017 produced a number of 4k video recording drones. Now, in 2018, we already have the latest DJI Mavic Air with a 4k drone camera.
4K Drone Video Technology
A video camera drone with 4k ultra high definition resolution is defined as a display with at least 8 million active pixels, with the lower resolution boundary being at least 3,840 x 2,160. So, if you own a 4k drone, this will deliver a massive four times as much detail as 1080p full HD. That is eight million pixels compared to two million pixels.
When it comes to 4k video cameras, there are multiple varieties of 4k digital content ranging from 3,840 x 2,160 to 4,096 x 3,112.
However, the 3,840 x 2,160 resolution is the most consistent video recording mode used by most drone manufacturers such as DJI, Yuneec, GoPro, Hubsan and Walkera. It is also the most common video recording mode from UHD/4k HD TVs and monitors.
The 3,840 x 2,160 doubles the horizontal and vertical pixels offered by 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) which is the current standard for high definition. However, there are also 4k drones which you can film in 4096 x 2160.
The DJI Inspire 2 uses a new CineCore 2.0 image processing system, capable of recording 5.2K videos in Cinema DNG, Apple ProRes and more. This drone is for creating Hollywood quality film. It even comes with a ground gimbal so you can film both aerial and ground shots with the Inspire 2.
Why Record With 4K UHD Video Camera
At a minimum, shooting video in 4k UHD, provides a future proof master copy of your footage should 4k truly take off as a mass-market phenomenon (in a way that 3D has not).
Even if you deliver the final video in HD, dealing with a higher resolution 4k master file gives you greater latitude to re-frame, zoom and manipulate your footage without degrading video quality. Increased fineness and contrast is then possible with output to DVD and Blu-ray.
Some cinematographers choose to record at 4k when using the Super 35 film format to offset any resolution loss which may occur during video processing.
Flight modes such as waypoint navigation, points of interest, follow me, watch me, orbit and tracking modes. These drones all have the very best in fail safe flying systems.
Below we do a quick review of the following 4k drones along with some nice videos.
- DJI Mavic Air
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro
- DJI Inspire 1
- DJI Inspire 2
- Yuneec Typhoon H
- Yuneec Q400 4k
- Yuneec Breeze
- Walkera Voyager 4
- Walkera Vitus
- Autel X-Star Premium 4k
- Soon to be released Autel Robotics EVO – Pending Release Date
4k Drone – DJI Mavic Air
The new Mavic Air 4k drone is the first major release of 2018. Again, DJI have come up with another beautifully designed quadcopter. The Mavic Air’s elegant design makes it very portable. It is smaller than the DJI Spark when folded. However, when unfolded, it is bigger than the Spark. It’s technology is a huge jump on the DJI Spark.
It’s a fun drone with exceptional technology such as the advanced gesture recognition, 3 axis gimbal, 4k camera, 3 directions of environment sensing (forward, backward and downwards) and smart capture camera technology. It also flies for 21 minutes with a video transmission of 4 km (2.48 miles). It’s max flight range is 10 km without wind and has a max height about sea level of 5 km (3.1 mile.)
DJI ActiveTrack technology is taken to a new level on the Mavic Air. It can sense up to 16 objects, which you can then choose the right subject to track. It easily follows targets whether they are running, jumping or cycling. .
Mavic Air Camera Video
It’s camera captures seriously professional 4k video at 30 frames per second, recording at 100 megabytes per second to capture every second in ultra high definition quality.
You can also record high speed adventure and sports as the Mavic Air support recording 1080p at 120 frames per second.
Mavic Air Video Resolution
4K Ultra HD: 3840 × 2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2720 × 1530 24/25/30/48/50/60p
FHD: 1920 × 1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
HD: 1280 × 720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
Mavic Air Camera Still Shots
DJI keep breaking into new grounds of drone innovation both in their drones, gimbals and also their cameras.
With the Mavic Air, DJI introduced new HDR algorithms to obtain the correct exposure settings intelligently according to the lighting conditions.
Overexposed or dark areas are processed for more natural transitions between highlights and shadows, while DSP acceleration allows for more efficient shooting.
32 Megapixel Sphere Panoramas
The Mavic Air can stitch 25 photos together in just a few seconds to create a stunningly clear sphere panorama.
Mavic Air Sensor And Still Image Size
- 1/2.3” CMOS
- Effective Pixels: 12 MP
- 4:3 4056 x 3040
- 16:9 4056 x 2280
Mavic Air Lens
- FOV: 85°
- 35 mm Format Equivalent: 24 mm
- Aperture: f/2.8
- Shooting Range: 0.5 m to ∞
You can read further on the many features of this quadcopter in our Mavic Air review. This 4k drone is already receiving spectacular reviews.
4k Drone – DJI Inspire 1
The Inspire 1 is without doubt one of the best drone to date. It is high tech with plenty of new patented technology.
Now, this quadcopter allows you to shoot up to 4k UHD video at 30 frames per second. You can also capture 12 megapixel photos with the Inspire 1 camera.
The lens consists of 9 separate elements, including an aspherical element, for extreme clarity, while Adobe DNG RAW support gives you the power to make every shot a masterpiece.
The rectilinear, curved lens design eliminates distortion such as barrel fisheye effect and the 20 mm focal length opens up your shots to a remarkably wide angle without that fish-eye look.
The arms lift out of sight giving an unrestricted 360 degree view of the world to create real share quality images like never before. The Inspire 1 has the following ultra high definition video recording modes:
Inspire 1 Video Camera Resolution
- UHD: 4096 x 2160 (24/25p) and 3840 x 2160 (24/25/30p). It also has a max video bitrate of 60 Mbps
The Pro model comes with the Zenmuse X5R which is the world’s first Micro Four Thirds aerial camera capable of recording lossless 4k videos in RAW. With a frame rate of up to 30 fps and 1.7 Gbps average bitrate allows you to capture breathtaking video footage every time.
This camera also takes 16 megapixel images with stunning details, while the integrated 3-axis stabilization gimbal keeps the camera level. Here are the 4K ultra high definition video resolution;
- UHD: 4096×2160 (24/25p) and 3840×2160 (25/30p). Also a max video bitrate of 2.4 Gbps (Average: 1.7 Gbps)
Here is a spectacular 4k UHD video shooting in the Maldives. This was filmed with the awesome DJI Inspire 1.
4K Drone Camera – DJI Phantom 4 Pro
The Phantom 4 Pro video recording drone captures stunning 4k UHD video. You can also take 20 megapixel still shots. This 4k drone has many intelligent flight modes which allow the drone to fly autonomously freeing you to concentrate and work the 4k video camera.
The Phantom 4 Pro has exceptional flying stability giving you the sharpest of 4k video.
Another, great feature of the Phantom 4 Pro is that it can detect obstacles in 5 directions and then take the necessary action to either fly over, around or hover in front of the object. This collision avoidance technology in the Phantom 4 Pro uses Vision, Ultrasonic and Infrared sensors. It really is terrific technology.
Flying a drone and working the camera at the same time can be quite difficult. While it is terrific to have a 4k drone, you still need to be able to concentrate on your video filming angles and shots. This can be very difficult and it is the best reason to own a 4k drone with autonomous flight modes.
The Phantom 4 Pro comes come with all the following autonomous and intelligent flight modes which make filming very easy.
- 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
These modes work with the obstacle sensing and vision positioning technology which means, that while you are concentrating on getting great 4k aerial film and still photos, you won’t crash into something. You can read further and watch videos of the all the Phantom 4 Pro Intelligent Flight Modes here.
This 4k video quadcopter has the following ultra high definition videos shooting resolutions;
Phantom 4 Pro Video Camera Resolution (4k)
C4K: 4096 × 2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
4K: 3840 × 2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
C4K: 4096 × 2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
4K: 3840 × 2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
It has a max video bitrate of 60 Mbps. Photos formats in JPEG and DNG (RAW). With video you can save in MP4 / MOV ( MPEG – 4 AVC / H.264 ).
The DJI Phantom 4 is a terrific quadcopter and it the 1st choice for many Professional Aerial Photographers. There are also some terrific Phantom 4 bundle offers available at the moment.
Here is some very scenic 4k UHD aerial shooting with the latest Phantom 4. It films with exceptional quality.
4K Drone – DJI Mavic Pro
The Mavic is DJI’s first foldable, fully portable aerial camera system. It is almost small enough to fit in your pocket.
With a 4K UHD camera, obstacle avoidance, super stable flight stability, intelligent flight modes for filming and safety, this makes the Mavic Pro the most advanced drone you could ever fit into your backpack or shoulder bag.
The Mavic Pro has the following autonomous flight modes to make filming with this 4k drone very easy.
– Active Track (Trace, Profile, Spotlight)
– Trace – Follow behind, in front or circle a subject
– Profile – Fly alongside a person or object
– Spotlight: The Mavic is trained on an object while you fly
– Gesture Mode
– Tap Fly Mode
– Terrain Follow Mode
DJI Mavic Pro Video Camera Resolution
Here are the full video recording modes of the Mavic Pro
4K UHD: 4096×2160 24p
4K UHD-1: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2704×1520 24/25/30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
Note: Read more in this excellent article entitled Mavic Pro Highlights and FAQs which shows you around this very high tech portable 4k UHD video drone.
The DJI Mavic Pro is perhaps the most popular drone. It is super easy to fly. It flies super smooth even in strong winds and films beautifully. It can be used for aerial filming, site surveying and 3D photogrammetry.
Now, here is a terrific DJI Mavic Pro 4k video which shows off really how great this small quadcopter is.
4K Camera Drone – DJI Inspire 2
The DJI Inspire 2 is a professional quadcopter specific to film making. It even comes with a hand held ground gimbal so you can use the camera for all your shots both ground and aerial.
An all-new image processing system records at up to 5.2K in CinemaDNG RAW, Apple ProRes and more. 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.
Other Inspire 2 Features
It goes from 0 to 50 mph (80 km/h) in just 5 seconds and hits a maximum speed of 58 mph (94 km/h) and has a max descent speed of 9 meters per second for unheard of speed and agility in an aircraft this size. A dual battery system prolongs the flight time to a maximum of 27 minutes (with an X4S),while self-heating technology allows it to fly even in low temperatures.
Flight Autonomy has been revised and developed specifically for the Inspire 2, providing two directions of obstacle avoidance and sensor redundancy.
You can read more on this exceptional top of the range DJI Inspire 2 here. The article includes all the Inspire 2 features including reviews and videos.
Inspire 2 Video Camera Resolutions
- 5.2K (5280 x 2972, 16:9) 30fps 12bit, 4.2Gbps
- 4K (4096 x 2160, 17:9) 60fps 10bit, 4.0Gbps
- 5.2K (5280 x 2160, 2.4:1) 30 fps (422 HQ)
- 4K (3840 x 2160, 16:9) 30 fps (4444 XQ, no alpha)
4K Drone Camera – Yuneec Typhoon H
The Typhoon H video camera drone is the latest multirotor from Yuneec. For its compact size, it is perhaps the most advanced multirotor for aerial photography and videography available.
It is equipped with six rotors, a 360-degree gimbal camera and retractable landing gear. It is also very easy and safe to fly with the latest collision avoidance sensing system.
The 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ gimbal camera captures ultra-stable 4k Ultra High Definition video, vivid 12.4 megapixel still images and can be rotated through an unlimited, 360° range of motion.
The CGO3+ gimbal camera features a high quality glass 115° field of view, wide-angle lens, and offers manual camera settings while in flight. The following are the specifications for the video camera;
- UHD: 4K @ 30 FPS
- Full HD: 1080p @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 FPS
Typhoon H multirotor offers flight time of up to 25 minutes. The Android powered ST16 Ground Station features a 7-inch touchscreen that displays live footage of your flight in HD 720p resolution and enables a wide variety of autonomous flight modes.
The following autonomous flight modes make the Yuneec Typhoon H very easy to film with. This allows you to concentrate on getting the best video.
- Orbit Me: Flies a circular path around you, keeping the camera trained on you the whole time.
- Point Of Interest: Select a subject and Typhoon H will orbit that subject autonomously.
- Journey: The multirotor will go up and out, as far as 150 feet, and capture the perfect aerial selfie.
- Curve Cable Cam: Program an invisible route for this drone to fly along. The Typhoon H will fly between pre-set coordinates while independently controlling camera position.
- Follow Me / Watch Me: Follow Me ensures that this multirotor moves along with you. Watch Me tells it to follow you while always pointing the camera at you wherever you go.
4K Drone Camera – Yuneec Typhoon Q500
The Yuneec Typhoon 4k video recording drone is an all in one package with an included Android touchscreen controller. This means faster setup and no need to add your own mobile device to capture impressive 4K videos.
The Typhoon Q500 4K quadcopter also captures 1080p at 120 frames per second 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™.
The CGO3 camera is no ordinary camera: the integrated 3-axis gimbal allows smooth shots in incomparable 4K and photos with 12 megapixels. The CGO3 camera with distortion-free 115° lens allows realistic shots. A digital video down-link will make sure that you can see and follow the live images from the camera via the remote control of your Yuneec copter or directly via your smartphone by using the free CGO app.
Video Camera Resolution
- 4K @ 24/25 FPS
- 2.7K @ 30 FPS
- 2.5K @ 30 FPS –
- Full HD: 1080p @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 FPS
- HD: 720p @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 FPS
You can read and watch some fantastic video footage in this full Yuneec Q500 4k review.
4K Camera Drone – Yuneec Breeze
The Yuneec Breeze is less than 10 inches in diameter and weighs less than 1lb so you can discreetly store your small selfie drone in almost every bag. It a really practical fun drone and integrated and pivotable 4K UHD video camera which captures strikingly sharp selfies, aerial photos and snapshots.
Your smartphone serves as the controller with live image transmission. This Yuneec Breeze 4k drone has a number of autonomous flight modes including
Yuneec 4k Drone Resolution
The Breeze is equipped with a vertically adjustable 4K UHD camera, which ensures high quality video footage. It can take 13-megapixel selfies and stills. All photos and videos are dynamic and razor-sharp, thanks to electronic image stabilization and the premium photo chipset.
- Video resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Photo resolution: 4160 x 3120 (13 MP)
Intelligent Flight Modes
- Pilot Mode – Manually steer it using your virtual control sticks or by tilting your smart device like an ordinary RC model.
- Selfie Mode – Simply use the slider in the app to set the distance and the height
- Orbit Mode – Easily task Breeze to orbit around you or an external object. The flight can be paused at any time
- Journey Mode – In this mode, your Breeze will fly away from you slowly and then back to you taking the same path while constantly tracking you in its viewfinder
- Follow Me Mode – Fly the breeze manually at the desired height and distance from which you want it to follow you. Activate the function and the Breeze will track your every movement
4K Drone – Walkera Voyager 4
The Voyager 4 is the latest professional drone from Walkera. Walkera use 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 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.
This Walkera Voyager 4k drone has an amazing 18x optical zoom lens which is pretty outstanding.
Voyager 4 Video 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)
Video Camera Resolution
- 30 fps (3840 x2160)
- 60 fps (1920 x 1080)
- 120 fps (1280 x 720)
Voyager 4 Intelligent Flight Modes
This Walkera Voyager 4k drone has the following intelligent flight modes for both safety and easy of flying.
- Altitude Hold Mode
- Circle Flight Mode
- One-Key Back To Base
- One Key Take Off And Landing
- Destination Planning Waypoint
- Fly Around Object
This 4k drone has many more tremendous features and you can read more in this excellent Walkera Voyager 4 review.
4K Drone – Walkera Vitus
The Vitus is the latest mini drone with 4k aerial camera just released by Walkera. It comes with dual mode global positioning satellite system. This 4k drone has exceptional design in that the quadcopter arms, landing gear and propeller blades can be folded. It is small and weighs less than 1lb.
For such as small drone, it is hard to believe they could fit in the collision avoidance technology. But they did. The Walkera Vitus comes with Time Of Flight (ToF) technology and 3 high precision sensors to avoid obstacles in the front, left and right.
4k Video Camera
The camera support 4k at 30 fps and 12 megapixel for still images. You can also shoot 1080p at 60 fps. The 85 degree ultra low distortion wide angle lens helps to keep the original details and gives very share and deep color to your aerial film.
For precision stability, this 4k drone comes with a miniature sized 3 axis stabilization gimbal.
4K Drone – Autel X-Star Premium
The X-Star Premium 4k drone is an amazingly easy to fly quadcopter. The 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal can record crystal-clear, smooth Ultra HD videos or take 12-MP photos with HD Live View up to 1.2 miles away.
This drone is ready to fly out of the box, and can be flown with or without the help of the free Starlink mobile app. It has dual GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation and aided by the Starpoint Positioning System making this drone very safe and flies super stable, even indoors or at low altitudes.
Where other drones might become erratic or fly away when there is magnetic interference, the X-Star is equipped with their exclusive SecureFly technology to help the drone come back home safely.
Learning to fly the X-Star is easy: you can start the motors, take off and land, hover, or have the drone automatically return home by using the one-touch buttons on the remote controller. The controller’s integrated LCD displays critical flight information, allowing the Starlink mobile app to show fullscreen live HD video.
This 4k drone has a number of autopilot features such as follow, orbit, waypoints, and also lets you adjust camera settings and record images in flight.
Video Camera Resolutions
- Still Photography Modes – 12 mp Single shot, Bursts, AEB, Bracketed frames, Time-lapseStill Photography Modes 12 mp Single shot, Bursts, AEB, Bracketed frames, Time-lapse
- Video Recording Modes 4K Ultra HD plus QHD, FHD, HD, and Superview settings
- Max Frame Rates 4K30, 2.7K60, 1080p120, 720p240
- Max Field of View 108°
By Fintan Corrigan