When filming extreme sports, the right drone can make all the difference in capturing those heart-pounding moments from breathtaking angles.
Whether you’re into video and drones and seeking a new creative avenue or an adrenaline-seeking enthusiast, finding the best drone for filming extreme sports is crucial for achieving stunning visuals and immersive storytelling.
The best ready-to-fly consumer drones on the market (meaning you are not building your own FPV drone) are the Mavic 3 Pro, DJI FPV, DJI Mavic Air 2S, Autel EVO II Pro, Skydio 2+, GoPro Karma, and Yuneec Typhoon H Pro.
There are, of course, a ton of considerations as to which drone to pick to film extreme sports. Mainly, the choice between a regular drone and an FPV.
In this article, we will dive into the fast-paced world of drones and explore the top contenders that excel in capturing the exhilaration and intensity of extreme sports.
From durable construction and high-performance capabilities to advanced camera features and intelligent flight modes, we’ll guide you through the essential factors to consider when selecting a drone for your filming needs.
Get ready to take your extreme sports cinematography to new heights with the perfect drone companion to capture every twist, turn, and jump with precision and artistry.
Let’s get into some suggestions of which drones are great options for extreme sports.
1. Mavic 3 Pro
|SPECS||Mavic 3 Pro|
|Dimensions||231.1 × 98 × 95.4 mm folded without propellers|
|Max Flight Time||43 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft|
|Intelligent Features||ActiveTrack 5.0, Hyperlapse, Cruise Control, QuickShots, MasterShots, FocusTrack, Spotlight, Point of Interest, and advanced return-to-home function|
|Camera||Main Hasselblad camera: 4/3-inch CMOS, 5.1k at 50 frames, Medium Tele: 1/1.3-inch CMOS, 4k at 60 frames, Tele Camera: 1/2-inch CMOS, 4k at 60 frames|
- This drone has great camera quality!
- You can shoot 5.1K at 50fps on the main camera and now have the option of two other zoom cameras, which will allow you to keep a safe distance, but still be able to capture the action.
- It’s compact, making it a great option to take with you in a backpack, and it can reach speeds up to 47 mph. This is useful for high-speed sports.
- Its Intelligent Flight Modes are some of DJI’s most advanced, so you can easily track a subject or yourself.
- This drone has quite the hefty price tag. It’s also a little heavier and bulkier than some other drones on this list.
- All in all, this is one of the best drones for extreme sports, but if you want dynamic movements only an FPV drone can do, head to number 2 on my list.
2. DJI FPV
|Dimensions||178 × 232 × 127 mm|
|Max Flight Time||20 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Forward + downward|
|Camera||1/2.3” CMOS, 4K at 60 frames, 1080p at 120 frames|
|Max Speed||140 kph; M mode: 39 m/s (27 m/s in Mainland China)
S mode: 27 m/s
N mode: 15 m/s
- This drone offers a range of specifications that make it particularly useful for filming extreme sports.
- With a maximum speed of up to 87 mph, 140 kph, and rapid acceleration, it can keep up with fast-moving subjects, capturing the exhilarating moments of extreme sports.
- The agile maneuverability and responsive controls enable precise flight trajectories, allowing filmmakers to easily navigate challenging environments and follow the action.
- The camera is not as good as the Mavic 3 Pro.
- FPV is generally more difficult to fly than a regular drone, and it does not come with ActiveTrack capabilities, so this one would be hard to fly if you yourself are participating in the sport.
- That being said, the DJI FPV still has a high-quality camera that will capture extreme sports in 4K.
- It also has the beginner N mode and obstacle avoidance systems that provide convenience, enhanced safety, and increased creative possibilities when capturing extreme sports footage.
3. DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S has the ability to perceive its environment in four directions: up, down, forward, and backward, allowing it to actively avoid obstacles, even in complex scenarios and at high speeds.
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07/23/2023 07:51 pm GMT
|SPECS||DJI Air 2S|
|Dimensions||180 × 97 × 77 mm|
|Max Flight Time||31 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Four-directional obstacle sensing|
|Camera||1” CMOS, 5.4K at 30fps|
|Intelligent Flight Modes||FocusTrack, Point of Interest 3.0, Spotlight 2.0, ActiveTrack 4.0., Hyperlapse, MasterShots, and QuickShots|
- This is an excellent choice for filming extreme sports due to its image quality, powerful stabilization, responsive flight performance, Intelligent Flight Modes, and reliable safety features.
- Its 1-inch CMOS sensor, 5.4K video recording, and advanced gimbal stabilization capture stunning footage with exceptional clarity.
- The drone’s agility and maximum speed of 42.5 mph allow it to keep up with fast-paced action, while Intelligent Flight Modes simplify tracking and capturing dynamic shots.
- Additionally, its obstacle sensors enhance flight safety, making the Mavic Air 2S a reliable and capable tool for capturing thrilling moments in extreme sports.
- Although it has a ton of Intelligent Flight features, MasterShots is only available in 1080p max. The flight time is also not as long as the Mavic 3 Pro.
- You’re also locked at an aperture of f/2.8, giving you less flexibility and control over your exposure. Make sure to get those ND filters!
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4. Autel EVO II Pro
|SPECS||Autel EVO II Pro|
|Dimensions||228 x 113 x 110 mm|
|Max Flight Time||40 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Omnidirectional Binocular Sensing System|
|Camera||1” CMOS, 6K at 30fps|
|Intelligent Flight Modes||Dynamic Track, Parallel Track, Tripod Track, Viewpoint, Orbit, Gesture Control, VR|
- Here’s a great drone for extreme sports due to its impressive features and capabilities.
- Its 6K camera resolution and 1-inch sensor deliver exceptional image quality, allowing you to capture highly detailed and vibrant footage.
- The three-axis gimbal stabilization ensures smooth and stable shots, even during fast-paced movements.
- The drone’s extended flight time of up to 40 minutes provides ample opportunity to capture lengthy sessions, while its maximum speed of 45 mph allows it to keep up with the action.
- The obstacle avoidance system enhances flight safety, making the Autel EVO II Pro a reliable choice for filming extreme sports.
- This drone is a heavy little guy. So far, this is the heaviest drone on the list.
- It’s also known for being very aggressive on obstacle sensing and automated movements, which might make for less smooth footage if using an automated mode.
5. Skydio 2+
|Dimensions||229 x 274 x 126 mm|
|Max Flight Time||27 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Omnidirectional and above/below super fisheye lenses for 360° view|
|Camera||1/2.3” CMOS, 4K at 60fps|
|Intelligent Flight Modes||Motion Track (relative to subject motion), Fixed Track (relative to absolute orientation), One Shots (dronie, rocket, boomerang, and vortex), and cable cam (single pass, looping, or track)|
- This is an excellent drone due to its advanced tracking capabilities and intelligent flight features.
- Its 4K camera and three-axis gimbal stabilization capture high-quality footage with smooth and stable shots.
- What sets the Skydio 2+ apart is its impressive autonomous tracking abilities powered by advanced computer vision technology.
- It can accurately follow and keep the subject in the frame, even in complex and fast-paced environments, making it ideal for capturing dynamic action during extreme sports.
- Its obstacle avoidance system also ensures enhanced safety, allowing the drone to navigate challenging terrains while avoiding collisions.
- The flight time is shorter than some other drones on this list.
- The camera is also not as great as some of the other drones.
- Like the Autel Evo II Pro, because this drone is known for its obstacle avoidance capabilities, sometimes it can get a little too aggressive and sense an obstacle and brake when you don’t want it to.
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6. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
|SPECS||Yuneec Typhoon H Pro|
|Dimensions||520 × 456 × 296 mm|
|Max Flight Time||22 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||RealSense obstacle avoidance, 3D modeling|
|Camera||1/2.3″ CMOS, 4K at 30 frames|
|Intelligent Flight Modes||Orbit, POI, Journey, Curve Cable Cam, Follow Me, Return Home|
- The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a hexacopter with a 4K camera and three-axis gimbal stabilization.
- It offers advanced flight modes like Orbit, Follow Me, and Journey, allowing for automated and precise tracking of subjects.
- The hexacopter design provides redundancy and increased stability, making it suitable for filming in challenging conditions.
- This is the largest and heaviest drone on the list, so it may not be as convenient and portable for remote extreme sports.
- Also, the battery life is only 22 minutes, which is not the shortest of the drones on this list, but not the best.
- The camera quality is also lacking compared to the other drones on this list.
7. GoPro Karma
|Dimensions||303 x 411 x 117 mm|
|Max Flight Time||20 mins|
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors||Omnidirectional and above/below super fisheye lenses for 360° view|
|Camera||N/A (Depending on the GoPro)|
- Although discontinued by the manufacturer, the GoPro Karma is still a reliable option for filming extreme sports. You can find it on places like eBay or second-hand marketplaces.
- It’s compatible with GoPro cameras, providing high-quality footage with stabilization.
- The Karma Grip handheld stabilizer can also be detached from the drone for ground-level shots, offering versatility in capturing dynamic sports activities.
- This drone is discontinued, so you will not be able to find much after-sales service once purchased if anything happens.
- A lot of people have also had issues connecting to GPS.
- All in all, this drone is not as reliable as the DJI drones or other manufacturers.
What is an extreme sport?
Extreme sports are adventurous and high-risk activities that involve significant physical exertion and often occur in unconventional or challenging environments.
These sports typically push the boundaries of traditional recreational activities and involve elements of speed, height, danger, and adrenaline-inducing experiences.
Add a drone to the mix, and now we’re on a new level.
Examples of extreme sports include:
- Snowboarding: Descending snow-covered slopes while standing on a snowboard, performing tricks, jumps, and navigating through varied terrain.
- Surfing: Riding ocean waves using a surfboard, often in powerful and challenging conditions, showcasing skill, balance, and agility.
- Skydiving: Jumping from an aircraft at high altitudes and free-falling before deploying a parachute to safely land on the ground.
- Mountain Biking: Riding bicycles on off-road trails, often on mountainous or rugged terrain, involving technical challenges, jumps, and obstacles.
- Rock Climbing: Ascending steep rock formations or artificial walls using hands, feet, and specialized equipment, relying on strength, technique, and mental focus.
- Base Jumping: Jumping from fixed structures like cliffs, bridges, or buildings, and deploying a parachute to slow descent and land safely.
- Motocross: Riding motorcycles on off-road tracks with challenging jumps, turns, and obstacles, showcasing speed, skill, and control.
- Wingsuit Flying: Wearing a specialized jumpsuit with fabric wings and gliding through the air after jumping from a high point, often in proximity to mountains or cliffs.
- Skateboarding: Performing tricks and maneuvers on a skateboard, including jumps, flips, and grinds, often in skate parks or urban environments.
- Whitewater Rafting: Navigating fast-moving and turbulent rivers on inflatable rafts, often encountering rapids and challenging water conditions.
These are just a few examples of the wide range of extreme sports enthusiasts pursue worldwide.
Each sport offers unique challenges, thrills, and opportunities for individuals seeking an adrenaline rush and testing their physical and mental capabilities.
Not to mention, each offers its own challenges when trying to film with a drone.
This should be the first consideration when choosing a drone to film your extreme sport.
What exactly are you filming, in what kind of environment, and at what speed? Are there elements that pose a danger to the drone, like obstacles or water?
These are all very important when deciding what drone you want to use.
Here’s an example: you want to film someone riding a motorcycle. Great! Excellent choice.
Now, you need to decide what kind of look and movement you are going for with how you want your video to look.
This will prompt you to decide the type of drone you want to use. Regular or FPV?
Regular vs. FPV: Which drone is better for extreme sports?
First, what is the difference between regular and FPV drones?
When comparing a regular drone to an FPV, some differences include flight experience, intended usage, and features. Here’s a breakdown of the main points:
A regular drone provides a more traditional flight experience, where you control the drone by observing its movements from the ground through a live video feed.
On the other hand, an FPV drone offers an immersive first-person view, allowing you to see the flight path from the drone’s perspective through FPV goggles or a monitor.
This creates a more immersive and thrilling experience as if you’re inside the drone itself.
Purpose and Usage
Regular drones are commonly used as a tool for photography, videography, surveying, mapping, and recreational flying.
They are designed to provide stable flights and easy maneuverability and often include advanced camera capabilities.
FPV drones, however, are primarily focused on delivering an exhilarating flight experience, often used in racing, freestyle flying, and capturing dynamic action shots from unique angles (great for extreme sports!).
Speed and Agility
FPV drones are specifically built for speed and agility.
They are designed to perform quick maneuvers, rapid accelerations, and tight turns, making them ideal for racing or capturing fast-paced action.
Regular drones typically prioritize stability, GPS positioning, and longer flight times over extreme speed and agility.
While regular drones often have high-quality cameras and stabilization systems for capturing professional-grade aerial photography and videography.
FPV drones generally prioritize lower-latency video transmission for the immersive flight experience.
FPV drones may have lower-resolution or specialized FPV cameras optimized for real-time first-person view.
Controller and Flight Modes
Regular drones typically use a standard handheld controller with joysticks and various buttons for flight control and camera adjustments.
FPV drones often use a specialized controller that resembles a video game controller, with additional controls for adjusting the FPV camera angle, flight mode selection, and even programming custom maneuvers.
Although it may sound like FPV drones are the clear choice when filming extreme sports, it’s important to remember that regular drones are more versatile and suitable for a wide range of uses and skills.
Some things to consider are camera quality and, most importantly, skill level.
Unless you have already been flying FPV for quite some time or at least using a simulator to practice your skills, flying an FPV drone is not something you learn in one day.
If you’re an extreme sports enthusiast looking to capture cool drone footage of the sport you love, you might want to stay away from FPV.
However, FPV drones on the market today have GPS capabilities, meaning there are more beginner modes you can fly on that would allow consumers to learn, although your movements would not be as dynamic as the insane shots you see on YouTube or TV.
This is why the DJI FPV makes the cut for one of the best drones to film extreme sports. It’s accessible!
It also has other features that make it a great option for those high-speed, dynamic action FPV shots.
If you’re an avid FPV drone racer, you will probably not fly the DJI FPV for extreme sports and will likely customize a drone exactly tailored to the needs of filming your extreme sport. Hats off to you!
But for the rest of us, if you want to fly FPV for these kinds of activities, the DJI FPV is a great drone.
So remember, the choice between a regular drone and an FPV drone depends on your intended use, preferences, skills, and the type of flight experience you seek.
Important considerations when choosing a drone for extreme sports
So you’ve chosen the type of drone you’re going to use, but now there’s a whole other set of factors to determine your choice.
Several key points should be considered when selecting a drone for extreme sports. These points include:
Durability and Build Quality
Extreme sports environments can be challenging, with potential hazards such as rough landings, crashes, and exposure to dust, water, and other elements.
It’s crucial to select a drone that is ruggedly built and has a durable construction to withstand the demands of extreme sports.
Flight Performance and Maneuverability
Extreme sports often involve fast-paced action and dynamic movements.
A drone with agile flight performance and excellent maneuverability will allow you to track and capture the action smoothly.
Look for drones with responsive controls, high-speed capabilities, and stable flight features.
Camera Quality and Stabilization
The quality of the onboard camera is essential for capturing stunning visuals during extreme sports.
Look for drones with high-resolution cameras capable of shooting in 4K or even higher.
Additionally, built-in stabilization systems, such as gimbals, are crucial to ensure smooth and steady footage, even during fast movements or turbulent conditions.
Long flight time is crucial to maximize your drone’s usability during extreme sports sessions.
Look for drones with extended battery life to ensure you have enough time to capture the desired shots without frequent interruptions for battery changes.
Longer flight times also provide greater flexibility for exploring different angles and capturing extended sequences.
Obstacle Avoidance and Safety Features
When flying in dynamic environments, obstacles are common.
Drones with obstacle avoidance systems, such as sensors and intelligent flight modes, can prevent collisions and enhance overall flight safety.
These features are especially important when navigating through tight spaces, in areas with limited visibility, or if you yourself are engaging in an extreme sport.
Portability and Ease of Transport
Extreme sports often require travel to various locations. Therefore, choosing a drone that is compact, lightweight, and easy to transport is advantageous.
Look for drones with foldable designs or dedicated carrying cases to ensure hassle-free transportation.
User-Friendly Interface and Controls
An intuitive and user-friendly interface is essential, especially if you’re new to drone flying or must focus on capturing the action rather than complex settings.
Look for drones with straightforward controls, user-friendly apps, and customizable flight modes to enhance your flying experience.
Compatibility with Accessories
Depending on your specific needs, consider whether the drone you choose is compatible with additional accessories such as filters, extra batteries, propeller guards, or FPV goggles.
These accessories can enhance your overall experience and allow for more creative possibilities.
Autonomous flying and extreme sports
Autonomous flying in drones refers to the aircraft’s ability to operate and navigate without direct human control.
Using onboard sensors, GPS, and advanced algorithms, autonomous drones can execute flight paths, follow subjects, avoid obstacles, and perform predefined maneuvers, allowing for automated and intelligent flight operations.
This ability becomes important when using a drone for extreme sports if you’re either participating in the sport or not in the most ideal flying scenario. For example, you’re riding a bike following the action.
Of course, in some cases, it is never a good idea to fly a drone if you’re partaking in an extreme sport, but in other cases, you may very well be doing the activity, and you want to film yourself.
In these moments, make sure you have a drone with good autonomous flying features, such as ActiveTrack.
DJI’s ActiveTrack feature has made hands-off flying much easier. It will track a person or object and use its obstacle avoidance system to dodge obstacles.
This Intelligent Flight feature has been part of DJI drones since 2016, but the newer releases have a more sophisticated system that better tracks and avoids obstacles.
DJI is not the only company with impressive autonomous drone capabilities.
Skydio ranks up on the list with the Skydio 2+ drone, which, in my own experience, has been the most impressive autonomous flying drone I’ve seen in action to date.
That said, the camera quality is not as great as some of the newer releases from DJI.
Here are some suggestions of great drones with autonomous flying features that will allow you to film yourself while doing a sport:
- DJI Mavic 3 Pro
- DJI Mavic 3 Classic
- Skydio 2+
- DJI Air 2S
- Autel Evo 2 Pro
Intelligent flight modes are great features for any drone, especially in situations where you need to film yourself, but it’s important to keep in mind that you should not blindly trust the drone’s sensors and ability to maneuver around obstacles.
You should always keep your drone within your line of sight and override any autonomous flying if the drone is getting too close for safety.
Of course, technology is only getting more advanced and reliable, which means that drones may be able to avoid thin branches and wires on their own. But for now, keep an eye out.
Extreme sports offer up opportunities to capture exhilarating aerial moments.
As long as you consider the durability, flight performance including speed, camera quality, battery life, obstacle avoidance, portability, user-friendly interface, and compatibility with accessories, you should be on the right track to choosing the right drone for your needs!
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