Even though the primary use of drones back in the days was to partake in military tasks, they’ve reached a long way from that during these last few years. But, there is one thing that still connects military drones to those popular today – of course, I am talking about cameras! Yes, when people think of a drone, among the first things they’ll think of are 4 propellers, “that DJI drone” and cameras…
However, today we are going to turn that story upside down! Instead of giving you an article related to Drones With Cameras we will give you a list of ones without them. Additionally, we will also explain some of the crucial facts behind their existence as well as some of the frequently asked questions related to them. So, without any further adue let’s kick off with the list and see are there any good drones without camera available for purchase!
Table: Drones without camera
|5. Cheerson CX-10||20m||6min||See best offer|
|4. Syma X5A-1||50m||7min||See best offer|
|3. Holy Stone HS170||50m||7min||See best offer|
|2. MJX Bugs 3||300m||15min||See best offer|
|1. MJX Bugs 3 Mini||300m||10min||See best offer|
When people think about drones, the first thing they’ll think about are those gigantic military models. Some, more experienced people, might’ve already heard about DJI Phantom or similar… but I bet you’ll have a tough time finding someone who knows about drones that can fit into the palm of your hand. Meet Cheerson CX-10, a drone that can do exactly that – fit into the palm of your hand. This thing is so small that even its controller is more than twice the size. And I am not even kidding with this one. But it’s still fun to fly, and here’s why:
Tiniest drone ever
Cheerson CX-10 portrays the essence of drone simplicity. There is no camera, no onboard GPS, or any of such gimmicks. After all, where on Earth would they fit? However, what it does have are a miniature flight controller board, small but potent battery and 4 tiny brushed motors. It comes in a variety of colors and guess what – it is dirt cheap! Seriously, click the link below this text and it will lead you straight to a listing on Amazon. Once there, I’m sure you will burst into laughter when you see how much this little bugger goes for.
It’s actually pretty fun to fly
The best thing about Cheerson CX-10 is the fun factor. Whether you’re buying this for yourself or as a present, one thing is certain – whoever gets to use it will have a blast. It’s addicting! You get to control something that small but with such precision. It’s not the fastest drone out there by any means, but it’s still fast enough to keep you entertained for longer periods of time. Best of all, it has adjustable speed modes and can fly around for roughly 5 to 7 minutes. Operating range, of course, won’t be reaching long distances. 10-20 meters is all you will be getting with Cheerson CX-10. And quite frankly, for such a small drone, that’s more than enough.
4. Syma X5A-1
Syma, one of the most popular entry-level brands on the drone market. Their X5 series of drones is what made them so popular in the first place. With that in mind, it’s not surprising at all to see them making dozens of supporting models such as this one. Syma X5A-1 is the name and it’s basically the most slimmed-down version available on the market. The biggest difference with this one is the fact that it doesn’t have a camera. However, it is still able to deliver that superb X5 series performance that will leave you craving for more!
The simplest model in Syma X5 series
Even though we’re looking at a very simple model here, it would be vile of us to say that Syma X5A-1 doesn’t have some flair. For instance, this thing still packs a solid set of features. These include headless mode (very useful for beginners), one key takeoff/landing, 3D flips, 2 adjustable speeds. Add to that bright LEDs for night flights and you got yourself a proper little champ. It’s not too fast so children are welcome to practice on this one. Simply put them in the slowest speed setting and they will be all set to pilot this beauty.
Not too shabby…
As far as piloting Syma X5A-1 is concerned, it’s as fun as it gets! Quick turns, fast rolls in your desired direction, awesome punchouts… Syma X5A-1 has it all. Including propeller guards that come packaged inside the box. When it comes to technical details and specifications, it doesn’t fail to deliver either. Thanks to its 350mAh 3.7V LiPo, this thing can fly around for 6 to 8 minutes. Oh, I almost forgot, you will have around 30 to 50 meters of range with this thing since its receiver is quite powerful. All in all, Syma X5A-1 might not be the best drone from X5 series, but it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re keen on buying a drone without a camera.
Holy Stone is another very popular brand in the entry-level drone market. Similarly to MJX, they are slowly turning their attention to mid-tier with several new drones being released. One of their first highly popular drones is the HS170. A cute little bugger with stylish appearance… and not so stylish controller. Well, I mean, just look at that thing. It’s horrendous. Luckily, drone design makes up for that, especially considering the fact it’s pretty durable too. Enough with the intro, let’s dig deeper and find out why is Holy Stone HS170 placed 3rd on this list.
Holy Stone HS170 Predator is the full name of this drone. Quite frankly, the name Predator suits it perfectly. It’s fast, agile and pretty quiet considering the fact it’s running on brushed motors. For extra durability, you’ll find lightweight prop guards inside the box. No extra batteries, however. If you want that I’m afraid you will have to scroll down to the 1st spot on this list. In terms of performance, Holy Stone HS170 won’t let you down. 6 to 8 minutes of flight time and 50 meters of control range is what you can expect from this little fella. For such a cheap brushed model, these numbers are more than appropriate.
Great for children
Considering the size, design, and price of Holy Stone Hs170, it goes without question that it’s a children-friendly model. The durability is on point too – this thing will stand the test of time (and crashes, more likely) for more than you’d initially expect. Features, on the other hand, aren’t exactly its strong point. It does have headless mode which makes controlling a lot easier for beginners. But other than that, you won’t have anything useful to write home about. To sum it all up – think of Holy Stone HS170 as a slight upgrade over the previous 2 models. If, on the other hand, you would like something bigger and with a proper punch… continue reading the next entry on this list!
2. MJX Bugs 3
Now we’re talking – this is a first proper drone (at least in my honest opinion) on this entire list. Sure, previous 3 models are all fun to fly… but if you want something with a bit more punch, go for this one! MJX Bugs 3 is what brought MJX onto the big stage in the drone industry. Their first “viral” drone that paved the way for future models that took the market by storm. So, if this is how it all started with MJX, it’s only logical to take a closer look. Let’s go!
This is how it all started…
MJX Bugs 3 was, in fact, MJX’s first brushless drone with plenty of ambition. Luckily for them, it fulfilled all of their expectations, and then some. With 3D stunts (on such a huge drone), low voltage protection as well as other similar safety features, MJX Bugs 3 was set for success. It really was! The canopy is sturdy as well, so there’s no need to worry about it breaking after the very first crash. The camera support is pretty good too. MJX Bugs 3 comes with a simple (yet effective) camera bracket. It allows you to mount your action camera on the drone and create mesmerizing aerial footage with ease.
Performance-wise, MJX Bugs 3 delivers great value for your money. Once again, we’re talking about a brushless drone here. However, those brushless motors aren’t even their strongest aspect. You see, this drone can travel around 15+ minutes and reach roughly 300 meters away from its transmitter. Go ahead, compare it to previous models and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Heck, even its younger brother MJX Bugs 3 Mini can’t surpass it in terms of operating range. Last but not least, we’re talking about a huge 310mm (in diagonal) drone here that can easily carry action cameras onboard. It’s ready to fly straight out of the box. The only thing you might need to do is charge it up and you’ll be good to go!
At the very top of the food chain, MJX Bugs 3 Mini stands proudly with a magnificent performance and superb durability. This little fella is pretty much the ultimate drone without a camera all thanks to the raw power it has underneath that gorgeous canopy. As you can see from the picture above, it is powered by a brushless motor just like its big brother – the original MJX Bugs 3. This, alone, is worth the price tag… but don’t you worry for a second there – MJX Bugs 3 Mini has plenty of other things to offer to its potential buyers. Let’s check them out!
MJX is rocking the entry-level market
First up, a brief explanation. As some of you have probably already noticed, both top-placed models on this list belong to one particular brand – MJX. The truth is, MJX has been doing itself a world of good by releasing one great drone after another. It all started with the original MJX Bugs 3 Mini – an impressive brushless drone with powerful internals. This little puppy runs on a powerful 850mAh 2S LiPo battery with 45C rating. There’s even a small surprise for you once you open up the box – there are 2 batteries inside. Due to the fact MJX Bugs 3 Mini can fly for around 10 minutes per battery, you’re basically getting 20 minutes of flight time with this little fella. The operating range is great too, for those of you looking to get some long-distance action. Go up to 300 meters and you’ll be fine. Anything further than that and you might risk breaking the signal.
Turn this puppy into an FPV beast
In terms of motors, what you’re looking at here are 1306 2750Kv brushless motors that pack quite the punch. Propellers are dual-bladed and not too big which explains such a good flight time. In terms of the camera, as you can see on the picture above there’s just an LED located up in the front. But, if you are looking to make an upgrade later on, you should know that it’s pretty easy to install a miniature camera in there. Simply replace the LED with a camera and you’ll be good to go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it difficult to fly these drones?
In terms of difficulty, to untrained people flying with or without cameras (we’re talking FPV here, obviously), the former is much easier to handle. To more skilled pilots it FPV or LoS won’t really matter, even though everyone has their preferences. Still, it is recommended to fly line of sight for at least a couple of days until you get all the controls written in your muscle memory. Then, after mastering line of sight flying you can move onto FPV. With that being said, here’s my answer – flying drones without camera line of sight is actually not that difficult at all! But what’s the line of sight flying in the first place?
What is the line of sight flying
As its name suggests, line of sight flying revolves around the pilot maintaining eyesight on his/her aircraft at all times. Plus, the pilot has to do so without any visual help such as FPV goggles or displays. While it’s still really easy to fly drones line of sight, if you ask me, all the fun is in FPV flying. It brings you right to the cockpit of your aircraft, right at the center of the action. The immersion is superb and your little ones experience drone flight like never before, that’s for sure!
What makes these drones ideal for first-time users?
Let’s face it, a good portion of people reading this just want to buy their kids a simple drone that they can fly around the backyard… and even break them without making a big fuss. But, other than the price tag, I doubt they know what other benefits make drones without camera ideal for first-time users (read children). So, let me take you through them really fast!
Why these drones aren’t good for racing?
Even though racing drones without camera aren’t nearly as popular as racing helicopters without cameras, there are still a few viable options available on the market. As a matter of fact, you can think of MJX Bugs 3 Mini as a solid beginner-friendly racing drone. It’s quick, agile, runs on a powerful battery and most important of all – MJX Bugs 3 Mini has acro mode. Still, considering the fact acro mode takes lots of experience and practice, it’s almost impossible for a beginner to fly it line of sight (without FPV gear).
This leads us to the following conclusion – racing drones without camera are a dying breed because professional drone racing heavily relies on acro mode and FPV. It’s just too difficult (and plain stupid, if you ask me) for professional drone racing pilots to use cameraless drones and fly them line of sight. So, to answer the question above – Why these drones aren’t good for racing – they’re just not practical, to put it simply!
Can I put a camera on some of the above-listed drones?
Yes, of course, you can! In fact, all models featured on the professional list above are made to be used specifically with a camera. Even MJX Bugs 3 Mini, the first placed casual drone can be equipped with one to help you get that FPV action going on. However, there is a slight difference in the type of cameras these drones can carry. So, let’s take a closer look at that:
As far as casual drones are concerned (keep in mind, I am only referring to the drones listed above), there’s only 2 of them that can be equipped with a camera. Just like I mentioned a couple of rows earlier, MJX Bugs 3 Mini is the best one bearing that trait. In addition to the Mini, the full sized MJX Bugs 3 can also carry a camera, a bigger one for that matter. However, don’t expect to put a fully fledged action camera on top of this little bugger. Nope! Such cameras are reserved for professional drones. MJX Bugs 3 Mini can carry one of those tiny FPV cameras or better yet – AIO FPV systems that don’t just include the camera but a handy video transmitter as well.
Now that we got MJX Bugs 3 Mini out of our way, let’s see what sort of cameras can you mount on professional drones. Nope, none of them are listed above but I’m generally talking about the likes of GoPro Karma, AirDog ADII, 3DR Solo and such. Believe it or not, the majority of these little buggers can be equipped with a full sized action camera. Keep in mind though, some of these drones come with sophisticated gimbals which might not be 100% compatible with all action cameras. Heck, even GoPro Karma requires special harnesses for older models like the GoPro Hero 4… So make sure you read your drone’s manual to see which action cameras it supports.
Wrapping things up…
Nowadays, the majority of drones come with cameras so it might actually be difficult to find a model without one. In fact, it might actually be difficult to find a proper use case specific to quadcopters without cameras. Yes, LOS practice is one thing but I can’t seem to think of anything else other than industry-specific tasks. More specifically, ones that mainly revolve around sensors instead of cameras.
Still, while the lack of cameras indeed makes them not ideal for most applications, when it comes to learning and generally providing an entry-level flying platform, cameraless (yes, that’s a new term I came up with in this article) drones are well suited. So, if you’re looking for a good drone without a camera, I really hope you’ve managed to find it here!
With that in mind, thank you all for reading and hope to see you again soon!
Vito Dronelli, Content Editor @DronesGlobe