Cinematography

How to Find the Best 4k Drones

Whether you’re an indie filmmaker, a Hollywood pro, or a creative soccer parent, buying a 4K video drone will up your game in a major way. We have recommendations on the best 4K drones for quality, the best drones for a tight budget, and the most portable drones, all of which let you expand your horizons as you continue your journey with drone cinematography.  No matter your experience level, you can start with a short rental and determine whether you’ll commit for the long-term.

Choosing the Video Drone that’s Right for You

There are tons of factors that impact your choice when renting or buying a video drone. Price is a very simple factor that can be reduced down to purchasing the most expensive drone you can afford, without any further consideration. If your budget is more flexible, though, let’s examine four other factors to consider besides price: camera choice, size, video quality, and flying noise.

Camera Options and Video Quality

Back in the earliest days of drones, the kind you built yourself, no camera was included and you had to hack a point-and-shoot model to allow interval shooting of still images. We’ve sure come a long way: modern drones almost always include a camera, with the best models equaling the image and video quality of professional DSLR units.

 

The most flexible drones have camera ports on the bottom that allow you to swap out stabilized cameras, or even let you install a camera with an interchangeable lens mount. The Inspire 2 series, for example, has a bottom-mounted camera port that takes a wide range of options. The flagship model of camera, the Zenmuse X7, has a 24MP (Super 35 size) sensor capable of taking 6K video and supporting 4 different high-quality prime lenses. For maximal flexibility in post processing, the sensor has a phenomenal 14 stops of dynamic range and records in either CinemaDNG or Apple’s ProRes Raw codec. No matter which codec you choose, you’ll never lack for image detail when recording at up to 4.4 Gbps on the removable solid-state drive (SSD).

 

If your ground crew production unit is using Micro Four-Thirds (MFT) cameras like the Panasonic GH4 or GH5, the MFT Zenmuse X5S will make you feel right at home. Compatible with a wide range of MFT prime lenses, the X5S allows you to keep the same look and field of view as the rest of your production, minimizing the post-processing work needed to match your desired look. The 20MP sensor inside the X5S can record 5.2K at 4.2 Gbps, giving you plenty of room to open up detail in the shadows as you shoot in DJI’s D-Log format.

 

Hopefully all of the gobbledygook terms above made sense, but if not, you might consider a simpler option for your Inspire 2 cinematography drone. The Zenmuse X4S is only $599, but still sports a large 1” sensor and records in 4K at 60 frames per second. With a high-quality f/2.8 fixed lens on front, you’ll be able to capture 20MP still images and video at up to 100 Mbps in the consumer friendly h.264 codec (which is likely what your cell phone and video camera have). Users with advanced editing software and powerful computers will appreciate DJI’s inclusion of the newer h.265 (HEVC) codec that allows twice the information at the same bitrate, effectively giving you the equivalent of 200-Mbps footage in the same storage space.

 

Finally, if you don’t need to change cameras and aren’t worried about extensive color grading during post-processing, the Inspire 2 has several little brothers that can serve nicely. The Phantom 4 Pro Plus has the same sensor and high-quality lens of the Zenmuse X4S, but in a full package that includes the drone and a controller with LCD screen for $1499.

Size

If you’ve decided that a fixed camera is the way to go, but need a smaller unit than the Phantom 4 Pro, the DJI Mavic series has several options that will give you maximum portability while still letting you shoot in glorious 4K.

 

The Mavic Pro Platinum has a similar unfolded size and flight time (30 minutes) to the Phantom 4 Pro, but when folded it takes up a small fraction of the space, fitting easily into your backpack. The micro-sized controller holds a phone for live viewing while filming on your drone, and the 12MP sensor records 60Mbps 4K to give you stabilized footage comparable to the best cell phones. The Mavic Air keeps the same sensor and controller, but the body is even smaller, fitting in a large pocket on your jacket. This tiny drone sacrifices about 7-9 minutes of flight time (yielding around 21 minutes per charge), but is so portable and convenient that it’s perfect for hiking or a dense urban environment. Just remember to bring a few spare batteries . . .

Noise

Of all the options and criteria in choosing the best drone for movies, you don’t often think of how loud a drone will be until you start flying. Fortunately, there’s an option that produces significantly less noise than most other video drones: the Mavic Pro Platinum that we mentioned above. With specially engineered motors and propellers, the Mavic Pro Platinum generates about 60% less overall noise power and has a tuned noise signature that makes it much more pleasing to the human ear.

Go Forth and Create!

No matter which drone you choose, the creative possibilities are endless. You’ll be able to find a great video drone for the simplest or most complex project, and the learning curve is easier than you’d think. Whether you need modular cameras and lenses, or a small quiet drone to record your daughter’s game-winning goal, each option we’ve discussed can be a great choice.

 

Aside from cameras and cinematography, even the aerial part is now simple. Thanks to obstacle avoidance sensors and sophisticated autonomous navigation modes, you can concentrate on capturing great drone video without worrying about flying. Get ready to unleash your inner filmmaker and rent a drone today!

Showing all 15 results

DJI Inspire 1 – Buy NEW

$ 1,999.00

DJI Inspire 1 – Buy NEW

Rent or Buy New or Used

$ 1,999.00
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DJI Matrice 600 Pro Hexacopter – Buy NEW

  • Works with Zenmuse Gimbals / Cameras
  • Works with Ronin-MX Gimbal
  • Up to 34 Pound Total Take-Off Weight
  • Integrated Lightbridge 2 Support
  • Full HD 1080p Live Monitoring
  • A3 Pro Flight Controller
  • Controllable with DJI Go App
  • Increased Performance / Modular Design
  • Collapsible Design for Easy Transport
  • Six Flight Batteries and Six-Bay Charger
$ 4,999.00
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DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian – 20MP Camera, 4K Video – Buy NEW

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

1″ 20MP CMOS Sensor
Electroplated Magnesium Gimbal
Gimbal-Stabilized 4K60 / 20MP Imaging
Four Directions of Obstacle Avoidance
Top Speed of 45 mph in Sport Mode
Maximum Control Range of 4.3 Miles
Visual Tracking of Moving Subject
TapFly – Fly With a Tap of the Finger
Distinctive Matte-Gray Obsidian Finish
Up to 30 Minutes Flying Time

$ 1,499.00
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DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 – Buy NEW

$ 1,499.00

DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 – Buy NEW

Rent or Buy New/Used

  • 30 Min Flight Time
  • 7 km Control Range
  • 4K Video 60fps
  • 4 dB Noise Reduction
  • 30m Sensor Range
  • 5-Direction of Obstacle Sensing
$ 1,499.00
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DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ Obsidian – 20MP Camera, 4K Video – Includes 5.5″ Screen – Buy NEW

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1″ 20MP CMOS Sensor
  • Electroplated Magnesium Gimbal
  • Gimbal-Stabilized 4K60 / 20MP Imaging
  • Four Directions of Obstacle Avoidance
  • Top Speed of 45 mph in Sport Mode
  • Maximum Control Range of 4.3 Miles
  • Visual Tracking of Moving Subject
  • Distinctive Matte-Gray Obsidian Finish
  • Up to 30 Minutes Flying Time
  • Remote Controller with 1080p Display
$ 1,799.00
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DJI X5 Camera – Buy NEW

$ 1,799.00

DJI X5 Camera – Buy NEW

Rent or Buy New or Used

$ 1,799.00
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DJI Zenmuse X4S – Buy NEW

$ 599.00

DJI Zenmuse X4S – Buy NEW

The NDVI Zenmuse X4S Camera Unit is a custom triple band (RGN) NDVI camera for the DJI Inspire 2 and Matrice 200 series.

Upgrade your current platform into an NDVI scouting device instantly, using DJI’s exchangeable gimbal design.

$ 599.00
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DJI ZENMUSE X5S – Buy NEW

$ 1,899.00

DJI ZENMUSE X5S – Buy NEW

5.2K video support for high-end professional filmmaking

  • Gimbal + Camera + Lens
  • Micro 4/3 Sensor
  • 5.2K at 30 fps / 4K at 60 fps
  • 20.8MP Still Images
  • 12.8 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • 12-Bit Raw
  • 20 fps Continuous Burst
$ 1,899.00
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DJI Zenmuse X7 – Buy NEW

$ 2,699.00

DJI Zenmuse X7 – Buy NEW

Fully compatible with the DJI Inspire 2, the Zenmuse X7 is a compact Super 35 camera with an integrated gimbal made for high-end filmmaking.

Super 35 Sensor | 6K CinemaDNG | 5.2K Apple ProRes | 14 Stops of Dynamic Range

$ 2,699.00
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DJI Zenmuse X7 DL/DL-S Lens Set – Buy NEW

DJI DL/DL-S Lenses are professional prime lenses specially designed for aerial photography. Featured light-weighting carbon fiber casing, those lenses are able to reduce the payload of the gimbal and camera, improving the stability when shooting. With the DJI DL mount (diameter: 58mm), the lenses can be mounted onto Zenmuse X7, providing varying focal lengths. When used with Zenmuse X7, the focal length multiplier is 1.5 when taking stills.

$ 4,299.00
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Inspire 2 with X5S camera – Buy New

 

Special Order

  • 25-27M Battery Life
  • 4.6Mile Range
  • Includes ProRes Unlock
$ 9,850.00
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Phantom 4 Pro Plus (With LCD Screen) – Buy NEW

Rent or Buy New or Used

  • ~30Min Flight Time
  • 4-way Obstacle Avoidance
  • 4K Video / 20MP camera
  • Includes 5.5″ Screen
$ 1,799.00
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XF Camera System by PhaseOne

Contact us for pricing

XF Camera System by PhaseOne

Special Order – Request A Quote

Contact us for pricing
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Yuneec E-90 Camera & Gimbal – 1″ Sensor 20MP 4K – Buy NEW

  • 20 megapixel resolution
  • 1″ CMOS sensor
  • 4K resolution at 60 frames per second
  • Digital live image transmission with 720p HD
  • Supports histogram for professional exposure control
  • Endless 360° rotation of the gimbal for perfect image stabilization
  • Full control of the camera via ST16S transmitter
  • Compatible with Typhoon H520
$ 1,299.99
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