Outdoor hobbies and activities are important parts of our everyday lives. It’s what motivates us, reliefs our stress and helps us escape a hardworking week every now and then. However, the biggest problem with outdoor activities and sports is the fact there’s rarely any way to capture them and save them for years to come. What good are memories which you can’t remember?!
Well, these next 5 drones are absolutely amazing as far as resolving that issue goes! They can fly for very long amounts of time, are very stable… and some of them are fully autonomous and will keep the camera on you while you’re doing your thing. It’s not magic – it’s high tech drone systems that are becoming more affordable than ever. So, driven by those thoughts, let’s jump straight to action and see what are the best drones for filming sports out there!
Table: Drones for Filming Sports
|5. MJX Bugs 2W||1080p||1km||16min||See best offer|
|4. Hubsan Zino||4K||4km||22min||See best offer|
|3. DJI Mavic Air||4K||4km||20min||See best offer|
|2. Parrot Anafi||4K||4km||25min||See best offer|
|1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro||4K||8km||30min||See best offer|
5. MJX Bugs 2W
We all know that BUgs 2W is a real spiritual successor of the highly popular MJX Bugs 3. For the given price tag, you really won’t be able to get a drone better than this one. It is a small, yet very versatile drone with a bunch of new and improved functions. Some of the features have only been seen on high-end models a while ago… and now you got them for just a fraction of the price. The main differences between the 2 are that Bugs 2W sports a camera as well as a handful of effective smart features… both of which weren’t present with the original Bugs 3.
Smart and powerful little bugger
This drone is absolutely bonkers. You get almost 1km of operating range, which is crazy in itself, but even more so when you consider competitor drones that can barely reach 500 meters of operating range. And that’s not all; the Bugs 2W is quite powerful as well, with the addition of long-life batteries that push its flight time to 18 full minutes. That’s 18 minutes of flight time. What other drone has these capabilities, let alone when you consider the price? Goes to show how much care and effort MJX puts into their products!
Cheapest GPS drone on the market
The Bugs 2W does have a camera, but it’s not breathtaking (but then again, it tries to be balanced except when it comes to performance). You will, however, be happy with it as it has a solid CMOS sensor that can record in Full HD. In any case, it’s much better than what you’d get from a regular entry-level drone. Jello is non-existent except in windy weather, but it’s nothing distracting.
So, why is the MJX Bugs 2W smart? Well, it definitely won’t lose its way! It comes with an integrated GPS module with the addition of Altitude Hold and Return to Home. The former is necessary if you want to start your aerial photography hobby – and that’s exactly what the Bugs 2W offers! All in all, a very strong addition to the MJX drone family.
4. Hubsan Zino
Hubsan Zino is the first fella we’re going to talk about here. It’s a relatively cheap drone whose Pro version comes at around $400, so you can’t really expect state of the art performance from it. However, it’s still a very capable bugger that ought to surprise you with its stats and camera quality.
When talking about raw performance, they don’t come better than Hubsan Zino! The same goes for that notorious price/performance ratio, and let’s just say that’s a test Zino passes with straight A’s without even breaking a sweat.
What am I babbling about? Well, for starters – Hubsan Zino can reach 4 kilometers away from its transmitter. Of course, I’m referring to the Pro version here, since that’s realistically the only version capable of recording outdoor sports thanks to its range and replaceable lens filters. On top of that, Hubsan Zino can also endure more than 20 minutes in the air, which is unheard of at such a low price range.
Don’t even get me started on its features. You see, it’s ridiculous to think you could use a drone without altitude hold or GPS for filming sports. Luckily, Hubsan Zino features both, as well as a few extras like autonomous filming modes, failsafe, and return to home. Both the hardware and software side of this little bugger pass with flying marks, no doubt about it!
Wicked Camera and Stabilization
This little sucker doesn’t fail to deliver in terms of camera quality and stabilization either. Not only does it have a fully functional 3-axis gimbal that ensures smoothness no matter the occasion, but it also possesses a brilliant 4K-ready camera that shoots in what seems to be steady 30fps. It’s not silky smooth 60fps, but that’s a trait only much more expensive drone posses.
3. DJI Mavic Air
One of the best drones released up to date. The Mavic Air is splendid; taking the best parts of both the Mavic Pro and Spark. Many have speculated about what role the Mavic Air will have and is it just the continuation of the Spark series. All of these questions have been answered and, well, you’re in for a wild ride if you opt to purchase this drone. The drone itself has a bit more similarity to the Mavic Pro than the Spark, but it’s obvious they went for a combination of these two. What does this mean? Well, let’s see…
More features than its predecessor
Taking inspiration from the Mavic Pro, this bad boy also has some amazing features. There are some good old favorites such as TapFly and ActiveTrack; features that DJI drone pilots know and love. But, there are also some new additions: SmartCapture, QuickShots, and FlightAutonomy 2.0 are what’s new in the Mavic Air. FlightAutonomy 2.0 is essentially a better version of the obstacle avoidance system.
When it comes to imaging, you can’t go wrong with the Mavic Air. It sports a 4K-ready camera that records in 30fps (although you can lower the resolution to get a bit more frames). The 3-axis gimbal completes the set. You won’t experience any side effects of filming from a flying vehicle such as the jello effect or shakiness.
Taking things to the extreme
4 to 5 kilometers. Yup – 4 to 5 kilometers of operating range. That’s crazy to think about, let alone do in real life. If someone told me a couple of years ago that drones would have more than 500 meters of operating range, I’d tell them they’re crazy.
To top it off, the Mavic Air can fly for around 20 minutes per charge. Oh, and the batteries are incredible – 3S LiPO battery that has 2375mAh capacity. DJI’s Mavic Air is definitely a must-have for drone lovers and pilots alike.
2. Parrot Anafi
Runner-up is the brand new Parrot Anafi. A highly anticipated drone with a huge twist. Yup – this drone has something that is definitely unique and uncomparable with any other drone on the market… Well, excluding custom built ones for industry-specific purposes. So, as far as mainstream (read B2C) drones are concerned, Parrot Anafi definitely has that unique factor. Want to know more about it? Well keep on reading then…
Why is it so unique?
Well, there are actually 2 unique aspects to this drone that drastically differentiate it from the rest of the competition. Starting off with the smaller one, Parrot Anafi is shaped just like a bug. Parrot made sure we all get that via their initial presentations in which they thoroughly explained where they took the concept design from. If you do further research you’ll come to the realization that Parrot Anafi is shaped like a bee…
On the other hand, the unique aspect that’s actually quite the game changer is the onboard camera. Parrot Anafi can boast with a Sony IMX230 sensor. In other words, Anafi is able to record 4K videos with up to 1000mbps bitrate. But that’s not the unique part. Nope! The unique part is the 3-axis gimbal that can pitch up by 180 degrees. This means the camera can look straight up which will provide you with an impressive perspective from your footage. Combine that with lossless zooming up to 3 times and you got yourself a great drone for filming sports whenever you might need it.
Is that everything Anafi has to offer?
Nope, not at all! Parrot Anafi is an impressive performer too. Its top speed goes slightly above 30mph and it can fly for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Add to that whopping 4 kilometers (slightly lower in urban areas with lots of interference and bad optical visibility) and you will understand that there is more to Parrot Anafi than that brilliantly implemented upward-tilting gimbal. Also, have I mentioned that Parrot Anafi is completely foldable which helps it take up an impressively small amount of space. The folding mechanism is also quite unique so, now that I think of it, perhaps it should’ve gone in the segment above… Well, I guess it’s too late now since we’re already at the end of the line. Parrot Anafi, a brand new drone, surely has what it takes to compete with DJI Mavic Pro. Does it seem interesting to you as well? Let us know in the comment section below!
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
At the moment, if you’re looking for drones for filming sports and you are only going to settle with the best of the best, then DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the drone you should be looking at. It’s arguably the best mainstream drone on the market, but its price tag is driving casual users away. But, if you’re a prosumer and money is not an issue, they really don’t come better than this work of art!
The Camera is Superb
Let’s start with the most important bit – the camera! As the title suggests, it’s outright phenomenal. We’re talking about a Hasselblad L1D-20C camera here, featuring a 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor with adjustable aperture f/2.8 – F/11. 10-bit Dlog-M is here as well as 10-bit HDR footage. Needless to say, 4K 60fps HDR 10 footage that this bad boy is capable of will sweep you off your feet, assuming you watch it on a TV that supports all of the aforementioned tech.
Of course, the stabilization is nothing short of brilliant either. As you’d come to expect, this is a 3-axis gimbal, but a much-improved one that shows no signs of twitching or failing to cope with the speed, no matter how fast the drone is flying. DJI Mavic 2 Pro will provide you with nothing but the smoothest of rides, which is why it’s considered one of the best drones for filming sports outdoors!
Features and Specs Will Excite You!
Let’s move on to the specifications. As always, DJI puts the latest and greatest of transmission and battery tech into their Mavic models, and the same goes for their Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom. When talking about battery duration, you’ll be happy to know you can expect up to half an hour of flight time per charge. if that’s not enough to record your outdoor sporting shenanigans, then I don’t know what is.
On top of that, the second generation of Mavic models can reach as far as 8 kilometers, which is roughly 1 kilometer more than the original Mavic Pro. Combine that with features like omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, several layers of failsafe, and a whole plethora of autonomous flight features that’ll significantly up your social media game and allow you to create the ideal aerial sporting footage.
Obstacle avoidance and object tracking systems are getting better and better
There’s no denying it anymore – obstacle avoidance and object tracking systems have come a long way ever since the first drones with this tech started emerging on the market. Even though DJI was the leader in terms of object tracking algorithms, there are several up and coming companies that aim to take the trophy away from the China-based giant.
AI-driven obstacle avoidance has been a thing for quite a while but has found its place in mainstream drones just recently. It’s far more advanced than previous obstacle avoidance/object tracking systems and will pave the way for drone usage across numerous additional scenarios.
Skydio 2 pushes the envelope up a notch with even more sophisticated tracking thanks to a plethora of onboard cameras. To conclude – both obstacle avoidance and object tracking systems are bound to keep getting better and better with more competitiveness in the upper brackets of this niche.
The next generation of DJI drones, and by this I am primarily referring to DJI Phantom 5 and DJI Mavic 3 Pro, will definitely see long awaiting improvements to DJI’s ActiveTrack technology. How long will we have to wait for it? Well, that’s a question for another time…
FAQ: Best Drones for filming sports
What is crucial for a sports drone?
Great camera – This one goes without question! If you want to create precious memories of your outdoor activities, then your drone’s camera is of crucial importance. Hardware stabilization is a must for enthusiasts, as well as a 4K-ready, high-MPX CMOS sensor. On the other hand, if you are just looking for an entry-level drone for the very basics of aerial videos, then software stabilization and 1080p should be good enough for you.
Follow Me feature – The biggest technological advancement in recent years have been with object tracking and obstacle avoidance. Heck, there are fully functional autonomous cars already driving on the streets, serving as a real-life testament to these advancements. Drones are in the picture too – Follow Me feature (or ActiveTrack as far as DJI is concerned) is important if you want a fully autonomous experience while playing sports.
Altitude Hold feature – If the budget is tight but you’d still like something you can just position in a static location and it will record the video without you having to trim it all the time, then you must look for an Altitude Hold drone. For the best value for money, go for MJX Bugs 2W. It has a full HD camera, great flight time and pinpoint accurate Altitude Hold feature… basically everything you need from your sports filming drone.
How much range is enough?
If you end up buying a drone whose range isn’t enough for your needs, there will be no end to your misery. In fact, you’ll most likely end up writing a negative review on Amazon… or even sell it on Craiglist and get a new one. For sports filming drones, the matter is even more trivial since there are different types of users onboard. Half only plans on shooting close-range shots of outdoor activities. They won’t be exceeding 100 meters so there’s no need for a long-range beast such as DJI Mavic Air. However, some people want a versatile drone that’s not just good at filming sports but exploring and long-range recordings as well.
Wrapping things ups
With a couple of notable words surrounding obstacle avoidance systems, it’s time to wrap things up! Drones for filming sports are bound to make it big in such a rapidly growing niche. As a matter of fact – DJI is still working on improving their ActiveTrack system that could push the odds in their favor against tough competitors including Skydio R1 and AirDog ADII. Which one is the superior model at the time of writing this article, you ask?… Well, chances are high you’ll end up choosing between the first two spots on the list above!
Thank you all for reading, and as always – happy flying!
Vito Dronelli, Content Editor @DronesGlobe