Enjoy worry-free surfing with these 5 autonomous drones

Surfing is a widely popular sport. The introduction of action cameras further improved its popularity as huge audiences got access to thrilling footages of people surfing. Nowadays, drones are leading the charge by enabling a cheap solution to aerial surfing videos which, quite frankly, look awesome. And take that with a grain of salt since I’m not even a big fan of surfing… but I still think the videos look amazing.

drones-for-surfing-featured

So, if you’re an active surfer and you would like to share your passion with the world, then drones with camera could be an interesting method of doing just that. Imagine jumping on top of a huge wave and taming it as you ride on its tail, while your drone hovers above you from a safe distance, capturing those incredible moments.

They are relatively cheap but provide you with all the essentials you need to start your own surfing channel on YouTube. If you are looking to buy one for this purpose and you don’t know where to look, then this article is a proper start. Besides giving you general information revolving around good drones for surfing, it will also present you with a list of drones to check out.

TABLE: Drones for mountain biking

NameImageCameraRangeTimeBest Price
5. GeniusIdea FollowGeniusIdea Follow table4K100m20minSee price now
4. DJI Spark1080p2000m16minSee price now
3. SwellPro Splash 3 Auto4K1000m16minSee price now
2. GoPro KarmaGoPro3000m20minSee price now
1. DJI Mavic Pro4K7000m27minSee price now

 

FAQ : Drones for surfers

What makes a good surfing drone?

The first thing that comes to most people’s mind is waterproof design. Well, I have to disappoint you – there aren’t too many fully waterproof drones out there. As a matter of fact, only 1 drone from the list down below is considered waterproof and that’s SwellPro Splash Drone 3 Auto. But we’ll talk more about it later on.

The thing that really makes a good surfing drone is none other than the set of features it supports. More precisely, a good surfing drone needs to have GPS and the notorious Follow Me mode. Without those 2, your surfing drone won’t be able to do much… in terms of recording surfing at least.

But, having a drone with these 2 features alone won’t make up for awesome surfing footage. Nope! You also need to make sure you know how to operate it properly. And that’s exactly what’s explained down below.

How to use a drone to record yourself surfing?

There are several options you should consider using while trying to get the most awesome surfing footage. The best one is obviously the one I already mentioned above – Follow Me mode. This will allow you to set up your drone’s software so that it follows your movement wherever you go. The pre-flight settings for Follow Me vary drastically from model to model, but the crucial thing you must do is make sure the altitude is set at a fixed position. This will ensure your drone doesn’t fall in the water which would mean certain death for all circuitry inside.

If you get sick and tired of Follow Me, then you can experiment with other autonomous flight modes your drone comes equipped with. For instance, there are modes such as Orbit, Cable Cam and so on, which bring similar autonomous flight just in different recording manner. Experiment with them and you might move your surfing-videos game even higher!

READ LATER : Long range drones / Drones with GoPro cameras / Best drones for sale

These drones aren’t waterproof!

waterproof vs water resistantI feel like I haven’t emphasised this one enough. You see, these drones aren’t waterproof so they should not be submerged at any time. If you need a waterproof drone, then here is a list of Best waterproof drones for you. Even though some of them might be marketed as water resistant, you should know that waterproof and water-resistant mean completely different things.

While the latter simply means that the product can, for example., take a few raindrops without breaking, the former represents complete safety of all inner parts from any sort of water damage…

So yeah, what I’m basically trying to say here is that you should be extremely careful when flying these things over water. And don’t… I repeat – DON’T submerge them in water. It will ruin your expensive toy for sure!

 

DOPEST DRONES FOR SURFING :

Now that you know the basics about good drones for surfing, it’s time to take you through the list of best ones currently available for purchase. Let’s dive straight into the list, shall we?!

5. GeniusIdea Follow

GeniusIdea FollowStarting off at number 5 we have a brand-new drone called Follow. A very simplistic name covers a truly innovative drone made by GeniusIdea.

We are talking about a miniature drone here, not that bigger than the next one on our list, DJI Spark. So, what is so innovative about this little birdie? Well, read the next 2 paragraphs and you might just find out!

GeniusIdea Follow is a truly genius drone for several reasons. First of all, you won’t believe when you see its propellers. As a matter of fact, you won’t believe when you see its entire body. Why? Well, it is not made out of conventional materials. Nope! Everything is made out of highly durable rubber materials. This allows bending, twisting and turning without any sort of damage to the actual drone. So, if you are looking for an extremely durable drone that can drop from 100 feet and survive as if it was nothing, then GeniusIdea Follow is the drone you’re looking for (I can’t help myself with these subtle Star Wars references).

But, there’s another reason GeniusIdea Follow is a highly innovative drone. You see, instead of running on traditional LiPo batteries which are used by 99% of mainstream drones, this little fella runs on good old Lithium ones. They cost as low as $3 (although I warmly recommend you get more expensive, rechargeable ones) and can provide up to 20 minutes of airtime.

In terms of range, this drone can go as far as 150 meters, which goes to show it’s not meant for exploration. Instead it’s meant for taking awesome pictures and videos at a relatively close distance to its user.

Last but not least, I should mention a thing or two about its camera. It sports a 4K CMOS sensor that captures gorgeous videos and images. Combine that with Follow Me drone and intuitive controls at a cheap price and you’ll understand why GeniusIdea Follow made its way onto the 5th spot of this list!

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

4. DJI Spark

dji-spark-camera-drone_webIf you love miniature drones and want a truly premium model (don’t get me wrong, GeniusIdea Follow is as great drone but somehow doesn’t “feel” as premium as this one), then give DJI Spark benefit of the doubt.

Why ? Well, we are talking about a drone that takes the world “mini” to a completely different level. It’s not bigger than a smartphone, for f*cks sake… I’m not even mad – that’s amazing! But, other than its size, surely there are other amazing aspects about DJI Spark?

Of course there are! Let’s start off with its camera, and build our way towards the specs. Even though it’s not a 4K sensor, only 1080p, it still has hardware gimbal for the purpose of image stabilisation. Needless to say, this allows Spark to capture brilliant, buttery smooth aerial videos at all times.

Furthermore, it has access to DJI GO app as well, which brings a plethora of adjustability and smart features just waiting for you to experiment with them. The one you’ll be using the most is surely Follow Me mode. It works perfect, although you’ll most likely want to buy DJI Spark Fly More Combo for the benefit of having an actual physical controller.

In terms of range, things are looking sharp as DJI Spark (when equipped with its controller) can supposedly reach up to 2000 meters. However, some users are suggesting that number is far off the actual performance. They’re claiming only 500-600 meters which could be a result of nearby interference.

As far as airtime is concerned, DJI Spark is looking damn fine with 15 to 16 minutes of active flying and recording. While this number isn’t as huge as Mavic Pro’s, you have to take into account the size difference between the two. Last but not least, DJI Spark offers Follow Me mode which I’m sure all of you are interested in. In fact, it supports ActiveTrack which is DJI’s version of Follow Me.

In addition to that, DJI Spark can also respond to your hand gestures with Palmlaunch and PalmControl, which is something you might find interesting during the first few days of using Spark.

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

3. SwellPro Splash Drone 3 Auto

SWELLPRO-SPLASH-DRONE-AUTOAs I already mentioned above, this is the only waterproof drone on this list. It is made by SwellPro and possesses great features and a brilliant camera.

So, with both those aspects taken into consideration, there is no doubt Splash Drone 3 Auto is a great option for shooting surfing videos.

Even if it falls into the water, it will receive no damage. As a matter of fact, it will rise up from it as if nothing had happened. But of course, that is not the only awesome thing about SwellPro Splash Drone 3 Auto.

You’ll be amazed to find out this birdie can actually record underwater action. That’s because its camera/gimbal combination boasts with IP67 waterproof certification. Also, we are talking about a 4K camera with integrated 2-axis gimbal which is bound to produce silk smooth footage. Moving forward to the insides, Splash Drone 3 Auto sports the all new S3 flight controller (not to be mistaken with inferior F3).

Besides that, this little fella has GPS and GLONASS support as well as safety check features which ensure the drone is in optimal conditions before flying out.

As far as performance is concerned, there is nothing to worry about since this thing runs on powerful 620Kv brushless motors and quick release 1242 propellers. Oh, and yeah – they are made out of carbon fiber. Specifications are solid at the very least. Airtime goes up to 16 minutes while the range is looking good at 1000 meters.

Lastly, SwellPro Splash Drone 3 Auto also comes with a 5.8Ghz FPV function as well as its dedicated monitor/controller. It is nicely designed and fits perfectly into mid-sized hands. So, considering everything stated about this drone, I believe it’s pretty clear that it’s well worth the money. If not for its performance and great camera then surely for its waterproof design and ability to record underwater action.

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

2. GoPro Karma

gopro_karma_webFor the full surfing photography experience, there is no better option than GoPro Karma. That’s because within this package, you are not only getting an aerial photo platform but a handheld/body mounted one too.

With the introduction of Karma Grip, users can switch the play from their drone and in their own hands (or on their own bodies) in order to achieve POV footage like never before.

Sure, you can use a conventional GoPro mount on your helmet… but you would not have the benefits of hardware image stabilization that’s implemented into Karma Grip.

But, enough on Karma Grip, let’s talk a bit about the drone itself. For those of you who don’t know, Karma represents GoPro’s entrance to the drones’ market… and in a brilliant fashion as it seems. It’s not too big (often compared to DJI Mavic Pro which is featured at the first spot) but still possesses great characteristics across all sectors. For instance, GoPro Karma can reach up to 3 kilometers. Furthermore, it can stay in the air for roughly 20 minutes (2-3 minutes less when recording in 4K). Yes, this birdie is capable of recording in 4K. Here’s how…

GoPro Karma comes with full support for the newest GoPro action cameras. This is, of course, unsurprising. So, you are free to set up your brand-new GoPro Hero 5 Black (or purchase the bundled package of drone plus the camera) via the provided 3-axis gimbal and you’re good to go. In terms of features, GoPro Karma seems solid. With access to GPS and a handful of autonomous flight modes, I’m sure you’ll have an easy time of recording excellent surfing videos.

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

1. DJI Mavic Pro

dji_mavic_webWhen it comes to the best mainstream drones, they don’t come much better than DJI Mavic Pro. This beautifully designed drone possesses the performance of fully sized models packed at an incredibly small package.

As a matter of fact, I’d even go to the extent and call Mavic Pro as good as Phantom 4 at virtually every trait. But, of course, there will always be some minor disadvantages since we are talking about a much smaller model. Despite them, DJI Mavic Pro proudly bears the crown of the best surfing drone on the market. Why exactly? Let’s see…

First things you should know about DJI Mavic Pro are its respective specifications. You see, even though this is an insanely small and foldable drone, it bears top-tier specifications. We are talking about 7 kilometers of range and up to 27 minutes of flight time.

Truth be told though, you’re looking at a few minutes less than that if you are thinking of recording in Follow Me mode for the entire flight duration. Despite that, DJI Mavic Pro still offers the best flight time in terms of small and compact drone tier. And it does so by a mile… if you don’t mind my figure of speech.

As far as the features are concerned, DJI Mavic Pro has a whole ton of them more in addition to already mentioned Follow Me mode. There are several other smart flight modes which deliver nothing but stellar performance across the board. Imaging solution is nothing short of brilliant either.

In fact, you are looking at the world’s smallest 3-axis gimbal and camera combination. And believe it or not, it delivers 4K resolution at steady 30 frames per second. All things considered, there is no doubt that DJI Mavic Pro is one hell of a drone. So, if you are a surfer and you’d like to have your own aerial photography platform with money not being an issue, then DJI Mavic Pro seems like a no brainer.

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

HONORABLE MENTION

If this drone was released at the time of writing this article, I’m sure it would be among the best 3 models in our list. However, its Kickstarter campaign has just finished and it’s slowly starting to ship out to early bird backers… so it’s only here as an honorable mention.

AirDog ADII

AirDog ARIIAfter finishing its Kickstarter campaign off with style, AirDog ADII is making its way to backers in the following weeks. After that, it will finally be released to public. You can expect that to be somewhere around the Holiday season. Undoubtedly, AirDog ADII will sell like crazy. But, what exactly can this drone do? What’s so special about it? Well, the truth is – it delivers exceptional performance and does so with an unconventional controller called AirLeash. But, since this is not a drone suitable for exploration but rather on close-up photography, how good can it be? More on that in the next 2 paragraphs!

Starting off with the AirLeash, we are basically referring to a device that’s very similar to a smartwatch. Except, it has physical buttons and is completely waterproof. The drone, however, is not – so bear that in mind! Back to the Airleash – it features a small LCD screen along with several physical buttons used for navigating through the menus. Controls are simple and very intuitive, allowing you to concentrate on surfing rather than controlling your drone. Besides, AIrDog ADII is an exceptional drone in terms of software/hardware synergy. All of its autonomous flight features are extremely responsive and work, I’ll dare to say it, even better than the newest DJI models. Especially Follow Me drone which is of crucial importance for good surfing videos.

In terms of hardware and specifications, AirDog ADII doesn’t fail to deliver either. Airtime is standing good at approximately 15 minutes of active flying and recording. Range, on the other hand, confirms my point that this is not an exploration drone. With only 150 meters of operating range (that’s most likely to keep all of its recognition software at optimal levels in direct correlation with object distance), you won’t be able to go to long trips. But, what you will be able to do is record fine surfing videos with intuitive AirLeash controls. Simply set up Follow Me mode and tap the Record button when you get on top of a huge wave… the result will surely amaze you! Photography-wise user satisfaction is guaranteed since AirLeash comes with a 3-axis gimbal that supports GoPro Hero 5. Enough said!

Show me the best price for : Ashburn, United States

 

Conclusion

With our honorable mention, I am afraid we have come to the end of our article. I hope it’s been an informative read to you guys, as it took a lot effort to write it. As some of you probably notice, I steered away from toy-grade models as I believe they’re no good for people who want to experience great surfing footage. But, there still are 2 aggressively priced models that are well worth the money. I’m talking about GeniusIdea Follow and DJI Spark, both of which will surprise you with their performance… and size!

Until next time, happy flying… and surfing!

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Enjoy worry-free surfing with these 5 autonom…

by Vito Dronelli time to read: 13 min
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