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GoPro Drone Guide (2 Types) Best Drone, Factors, Alternatives

Looking for the best GoPro drone, but confused with all the options? In this post, you’ll learn about the two types of GoPro drones: GoPro Karma and drones that can carry a GoPro camera. We include all the details, factors, and alternative drones.  

gopro drone

2 Types of GoPro Drones

There are two ways to fly a GoPro camera on a drone. 

  1. GoPro Karma drone. (Discontinued) This drone was made to work with the Hero4 camera. It came with a removable gimbal which could be used in-drone or hand-held. You might find it used on eBay, but it is no longer sold by GoPro. The GoPro Karma was first announced back in December 2015. And in January 2018, GoPro confirmed that they were shuttering the Karma drone division. 
  2. GoPro Drone Mount: There are a few lower-end drones that come with GoPro mounts. Or you could mount your GoPro to any drone. More on both options below.

Before we get into all the specifics, here’s the info you’re looking for.

What is the Best Drone for GoPro?

The only GoPro cameras that will work on these drones are the Hero3 and Hero4 models. Newer GoPro cameras won’t work on any of these drones. We’ll give more options later in the post.

Here is the best drone that is made to hold a GoPro camera (Hero3 or Hero4). 

Force1 F100GP: This quadcopter comes with an HD camera, and a mount that is compatible with Hero3 or Hero4 cameras.  

  • Comes with 2, 1800mAh batteries (15 minute flight time) and charger.
  • It has a 1640 foot (500 meter) range.
  • It comes with trick settings (360 degree flips) and swappable shells in 3 colors. These features prove that it is only a toy and not a serious drone. 

So while this is technically the best option, I don’t recommend it. I would never risk my camera or the safety of bystanders with a low-end drone like this.

3 More Drones With GoPro Mounts

Some other drones with GoPro mounts include the AEE AP9 and Traxxas 7908. These are both low-end drones and not compatible with newer model GoPro cameras.

I did find the iFlight Protek35 quadcopter that comes with a GoPro mount that will house any of the current model GoPro cameras. It mounts above the propellers and housing, rather than the typical under-drone mount.

In my research, lots of other posts list cameras like the Holy Stone HS700E and HS720 as a great drone for mounting a GoPro. But they don’t actually come with GoPro compatible mounts. They do have built in 4K cameras and are well reviewed. The DJI Phantom 2 also came with a mounting bracket for a GoPro camera.

Can I Mount My GoPro to Any Drone? 

Yes, technically, any drone can carry a GoPro camera. Just slap a 3M adhesive pad on the drone and mount your camera.

There are some limitations to the adhesive mount technique. Like your drones power (can it carry a payload?) and will the extra weight exceed what’s allowed by your aviation authority. Add to this, the lack of camera control and absence of a camera gimbal, and your results will be less than stellar.

Plus, you’re probably looking at entry level drones. Otherwise you would probably be looking at a drone with built in camera. Adding the extra weight can make the drone handle differently. And entry level units are already less predicable and have less safety and AI features. 

best drone for gopro

I should note that the images in this post showing a GoPro Hero9 mounted on top of a DJI Mini 2 are not serious. I wouldn’t attempt this setup – the camera is too heavy and too tall to be safe to take off. It is illustrative only. Please do not attempt this setup. 

Should I Buy a Drone with GoPro Mount?

I understand why it’s attractive. It seems like a good way to get more from your GoPro. 

But I don’t it’s a good solution.

For me, the costs just don’t make sense. A Hero9 camera costs around $400. Add a basic drone with GoPro mount for another $250. That puts it at around $650. 

And for around $450 you can buy a DJI Mini 2 with a built in 4K camera. And it is a DJI drone. With current tech, safety features, and reliability. 

In addition to the costs, here are 5 other factors to consider. 

5 Factors to Consider with GoPro Drones

Here are five things to consider, before buying a drone to mount your GoPro to. 

  1. Drone reliability: This is the biggest factor. Even if the drone offers all the other features below, if it isn’t reliable, then it’s worthless. It isn’t like a flashlight or a camera. If a drone fails, it could be permanent lost or seriously hurt someone. Low-end drones aren’t worth the risk. 
  2. Gimbal: This allows the camera angle to be adjusted in flight. Without this feature, you will be very limited in the content you can create. 
  3. Remote Control: Start/stop recording, switch to still photos, adjust the gimbal. Without this feature, you’ll have to start filming at take off and film until landing. And you are unable to adjust camera settings in flight. 
  4. Stability: How stable is the mount holding the camera to the drone? I’m not sure that an adhesive mount is the best option here. While some of the GoPro mounts are bolted to the drone, I’m doubtful that they’ll prevent camera shake. Many are basic plastic baskets – and GoPro cameras are like a small sail. I think it will experience camera shake while flying, especially in wind. 
  5. Charging the camera: With a basic mount, your camera won’t charge from the drone battery. For most settings, this isn’t a big deal. GoPro batteries usually last longer than a drone battery, so you could change it each time you change the battery on the drone. 

4 Best Alternative GoPro Drones

If you’ve decided against mounting your high-end GoPro to a low-end drone, I applaud you. Here are a few options.

2 Economical Drones

  • DJI Mini 2

    DJI Mini 2: This is a great option – and I own one of these. It is one of the cheapest, quality drones available. And at 249 grams, it falls under the threshold of legislated drones of many aviation authorities, including Canada. It shoots 4K, has a 31 minute flight time, 10km video transmission, and has Intelligence Modes. Consider the Fly More combo for extra batteries and props, charger, and carry bag. 

  • Parrot ANAFI: This unit has similar features to the DJI Mini 2 and comes in a little more expensive. A unique feature is that its gimbal vertically rotates 180° – allowing for above drone shots. It also shoots 4K video and has a 25 minute flight time. It comes in at 320 grams (11.3 oz) so it doesn’t have the same flying freedom as the Mini 2. Make sure to check your local laws to see what size drones are regulated. 

2 Mid Range Drones

  • DJI Air 2S: I really like this drone and I almost bought it last month. It shoots 5.4K video, has 4 direction obstacle sensing, and a 31 minute flight time. It has a 1 inch CMOS sensor and the new MasterShots feature. With MasterShots, the drone will automatically fly numerous routes. This is a great feature for beginner cinematographers and one that will also save time. 
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro: This drone is a classic and can be used to run a drone business. Its Hasselblad camera shoots 4K video and 20MP photos with it’s 1″ CMOS sensor. Flight time of 31 minutes.

Another drone that looks impressive is the Autel Robotics EVO II. It shoots 8K video and 48MP photos. And 40 minutes of flight time. 

What’s the Best Cheap Drone for GoPro?

I don’t think this question has a good answer. Why would you want strap your high end action camera to a cheap drone and launch it into the air? The best drone for GoPro is the ____. If you want the cheapest drone that will come back to you, I recommend the DJI Mini 2. 

Best Drone for GoPro Hero4

The 3DR Solo was made for the GoPro Hero4, complete with The best drone for Hero4 used to be the 3DR Solo. Back in the day, it has an impressive set of specs. And it was on my wishlist back then. But the 3DR Solo was discontinued years ago. And the only option for the Hero4 camera is to choose one of the above options. 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a GoPro user for almost four years – and I own 7 of them (Hero, Hero3, Hero4, Hero5, Hero7, Hero8, Hero9). I like the camera and image quality. 

But I have no plans to strap them to a drone. In my opinion, DJI is the best option for a drone with quality camera. If you want a stable drone with a great camera, I recommend the DJI Mini 2. It is the least expensive camera drone that has acceptable stability and image quality. 

best gopro drone alternative

Pictured is the DJI Mini 2 drone on landing pad

More Reading: Drone Terminology 63 Terms and Acronyms

If you’re a Canadian, these guides should help: How to Get Your Canadian Drone License and the Best Drone Insurance in Canada.

Your Turn

Are you flying a GoPro mounted on a drone? What set up are you planning? I would love to hear what’s working for you!

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James

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

How can they put a check in the mavic column for controler screen resolution, and call it 1080P? The mavic has no screen, it has an information display that shows no video at all. Having to use your own phone as a screen is an inconvenience, and should be listed as such, not an advantage.

DexAtl

Friday 21st of October 2016

I like some of the features of each but I tend more toward the Mavic...small size/easy carry, longer battery life, included camera, more advanced features. I would like for the view to be a bit wider on the Mavic but I think it will suffice for my needs. Due to the smaller size I am more likely to carry the Mavic on my motorcycle as I go exploring different areas. The flight distance is not a big deal to me since I have little desire to ever let my drone get that far from me. If the Karma had some of the more advanced features like obstacle avoidance and pre-programmed flight paths and I already had a Go-Pro camera I would go that direction. I also have 2 of the 3DRs...purchased during the recent big price drop.

Bryan Haines

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

I agree - it appears to be much more able as a drone. I only wish I could mount the Hero4 or Hero5 on the Mavic.

Ricardo

Friday 21st of October 2016

Man! They are nice toys but I must wait till became less costly

Bryan Haines

Friday 21st of October 2016

Agreed! It shouldn't be long - the industry is growing so fast it's surprising how much tech $1000 will buy today, compared to a few years ago.

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