Best drone for GoPro [Full options for 2021]

The world of action cameras has been dominated by GoPro for many years. I know many people who have purchased a GoPro to capture a variety of different activities in their life including action sports and holidays. During this time I think there are many people who have considered purchasing a drone and wondered to themselves if they could use their GoPro with a drone to capture stunning aerial footage. Why buy a camera drone if you could save some money by using your action camera? In this article we can go over the best drone for GoPro including how you can put a GoPro on a drone and the best drone is currently on the market – and available – for use with a GoPro.

The best drone for go pro is the DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter V2.0 bundle with gimbal. Alternatively, you can buy an adapter for your current drone which enables you to hang a GoPro underneath the drone to capture a unique perspective of your flight.

GoPro’s own drone – the GoPro Karma drone was discontinued in 2018. It didn’t capture the imagination or attention of drone enthusiasts quite like they were expecting. On the surface it had all of the key features such as a maximum speed of 35 mph, a maximum altitude of 4500 m, and a number of simple automatic operating modes such as dronie, cable camp, reveal, and orbit – very similar to the modes that DJI drone customers are familiar with.

Two weeks after the release of the GoPro Karma drone in 2016 it suffered a full recall as there were several reports of the drone falling out of the sky. In 2017, even though the karma drone reached the number two market position in its price band, after the well-known brand DJI, it was unable to keep up with the innovation of various other brands.

Just because the GoPro Karma drone no longer exists, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other options for you to use your GoPro on a drone.

Can you put GoPro on drone?

There are plenty of options for putting a GoPro on a drone.

The most versatile option – where you can use almost any drone – is to use a Mount which has been specially designed for attaching a GoPro to the top or bottom of any drone.

Attach it to any drone

As each new model of drone gets released there is a frantic rush to create third-party accessories for that drone. This means that there are a number of popular accessories which can quickly be attached to drones after their release. For example, the DJI Mavic air 2S is one of the more recent drones but within only a few weeks you are able to attach a GoPro to the top of the drone with a number of mounts such as the STARTRC multifunctional extension bracket camera mount.

STARTRC Mavic Air 2S Multifunctional Extension Bracket Camera Mount (https://amzn.to/3yi0ohQ)

The great thing about dedicated accessories is that they are designed specifically for the drone that they are being attached to. This allows it to have a very stable and secure connection with the drone and you can attach multiple third party accessories with this bracket Mount.

I would recommend against a connection which is solely secured with an adhesive or a sticky material as this can quickly degrade over time and put your GoPro at risk of falling off and never being found again.

The issue with just sticking your GoPro on to a drone is that you are not able to control the direction the drone is pointing in in the same way you can if the drone was attached to a gimbal.

A gimbal is a 2D or 3D moving Mount which allows you to point your camera in a variety of different directions.

If you want to know the full difference between a two axis and three axis gimbal check out my other article – where I have diagrams and the best drones – click here to be taken to article.

2 axis vs 3 axis gimbal

GoPro gimbal mounts

Drones which have a dedicated GoPro gimbal Mount result in the best stability and shots for your drone. Typically, a drone that has a dedicated gimbal Mount will have a secure case in which that GoPro sets which can be connected right into the frame of the drone which results for an incredibly stable and secure camera attachment.

There are also drones that have a dedicated GoPro mount which have been designed by the manufacturer for compatibility with a variety of GoPro cameras.

A great example of a drone that has a dedicated GoPro hero for gimbal is the DJI Phantom 2 V20. Which is still available.

The drone comes with a fully stabilised gimbal which attaches to the bottom of the drone. Upon attaching to the DJI drone you need to install and calibrate the DJI gimbal using the software to make sure that the gimbal responds appropriately to the movement of the drone and the directions that are given by the pilot. There is an intricate communication and movement control system between the drone and the gimbal which will result in a much smoother image.

Besides purchasing a drone with a fully actuated gimbal you can also buy a drone which carries the GoPro underneath but does not have the capability to stabilise the footage.

These are known as GoPro stationary mounts.

GoPro stationary mounts

The dedicated GoPro mounts can be actuated by a series of motors in order to move the camera independent of the drones motion. Or, the GoPro Mount may only be a stationary mount which means that you need to move the drone to the exact location and pitch in order to frame the image properly.

An example of drone which has a stationary mount is the DROCON Bugs 3.

This drone is in the budget range in this list which means that it is under US$100. It has a flight time of up to 20 minutes and a camera mount which can also fit a range of other action cams and sport cameras. There is no stabilisation or gimbal to stabilise the image.

Typically, GoPro’s stationary mounts are found on cheaper drones which raises the question as to whether or not you would really want to send your expensive GoPro camera into the skies on a relatively inexpensive drone. Typically, these drones do not have GPS or return to home features which act as a failsafe if everything goes wrong during the flight.

This is a question for you alone as you have two weather the risk of losing your expensive action camera.

 

What drone can carry a GoPro?

With each update of various drones and the continual evolution of GoPro’s range of action cams it can be hard to work out exactly what drone will carry which GoPro.

The form factor of the GoPros doesn’t change too much. But it does change enough that each release requires the manufacture of a new holder for the camera.

This, combined with the amount of new drones that are released each year makes for a dizzying array of drone gimbals that match with various GoPro cameras.

Here is a quick rundown of the drones which are recommended in this article and which GoPros they are compatible with.

DroneCompatible with
DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter V2.0Hero4 black edition
3DR Solo Quadcopter HERO3+ or HERO4
Force1 F100GP DroneHeroes 3 and 4
Syma X8G HeadlessHero
DROCON Bugs 3Hero
AEE Technology AP9Hero

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter V2.0 (https://amzn.to/3hDSmsU)

This DJI Phantom 2 bundle which comes with a three axis gimbal for the GoPro Hero 4 is a fantastic option for those looking for attaching their GoPro to a drone. This drone is getting a little bit old, but there has never been a better combination for sending your GoPro up into the sky.

By utilizing DJI as the drone you are able to access all of the advanced features and continuing software releases which make the DJI drone is an absolute pleasure to pilot.

Because the gimbal is not a stock standard DJI gimbal it can take up to 30 minutes to install the gimbal as well as update the firmware and then send it up into the sky.

The drone flies for approximately 25 minutes on a single charge and is a significant upgrade from the original found someone drone.

Also, this only works with the hero 4 black edition GoPro. There are other gimbals which you can attach the hero 3 or hero 3+ which comes as an extra option.

As long as you are comfortable installing the gimbal and updating the firmware this is probably one of the best options for using your older GoPro with a really reliable drone from a well-known manufacturer.

3DR Solo Quadcopter (https://amzn.to/3hGlT5w)

This drone has been designed to be as easy to fly as possible. It has features like single button flight and a number of smart shots including orbit, follow me, cable cam, and selfie.

It is also one of the only drones that offer a wireless video streaming in high definition from your GoPro directly to your mobile device at ranges of up to half a mile. This allows you to see a first person view perspective as your drone is fly which is something that drone flies need to fly safely and securely. Not only that, but you will also be able to move the GoPro on the gimbal which allows you to frame the shot whilst you are in the air so that you get everything that you need.

The gimbal is sold separately from the device and delivers smooth footage working with the movement of the drone to stop any shuddering or jittery movements.

Force1 F100GP Drone (https://amzn.to/36aWtrl)

This drone is a GoPro compatible drone at very affordable prices. It is compatible with the GoPro hero 3 and 4 and is powered by powerful brushless motors with a flight range of approximately 500 m.

It comes with two batteries which provide up to 15 minutes of flight time each which means that you have a total flight time of approximately 30 minutes.

If you don’t have a GoPro the drone comes with an action cam which can record videos and photos in 1080p high definition.

The drone is also very fun to fly as you can perform 360° flips at the push of a button.

Syma X8G Headless (https://amzn.to/3jFphA4)

This drone can carry a GoPro and is very affordable. This drone has got a headless mode which means that you don’t need to recognise the position of the aircraft and which weight is pointing. The drone will always move in the direction of the joystick and controls no matter what its orientation in the sky.

At this price point the drone doesn’t come with a gimbal that moves but rather a simple case that slots into the undercarriage of the drone. This means that you will not be able to control the direction of the camera as it is flying and there is no opportunity to review the footage in real-time as the drone is being flown.

You simply set the camera to record and take off. Then, you have to do hope that you have captured the right shots. If you want the ability to control the gimbal and the camera you should choose an active gimbal for holding your GoPro.

DROCON Bugs 3 (https://amzn.to/3ApX71U)

This drone, although inexpensive, has an action camera adapter which slots into the drones undercarriage. It supports numerous GoPro and other sports cameras because of the simple design.

The bugs 3 drone will give you approximately 15 minutes of flight on a single charge. If you are flying conservatively you may even achieve flight times of greater than 20 minutes.

The camera mount does not come as standard with the drone but you can add it for an extra US$20. It is able to support a range of GoPro cameras as well as Xiaomi and other sports cameras. It is not included with the price of the drone and so you’ll have to provide your own.

This drone is best suited for people who do not want to spend much on a drone and have a GoPro already at hand. That is because the drone is really in the beginner hobby market and if you are more interested in drone photography you should choose a drone that has the ability to control the gimbal independently of the drones movement.

AEE Technology AP9 (https://amzn.to/3xl0zc9)        

even though this drone comes at a much greater price point than others in this series it is still only considered a toy. The extra money get you some GPS and auto stability features with some autonomous flight functions such as position hold and hover. This makes it much friendlier to fly as a new drone pilot.

It has a maximum speed of 44 mph and a cruising speed of approximately 22 to 33 mph.

It can fly on its lithium polymer battery for approximately 25 minutes before needing to be recharged. The extra money also gets you and auto return feature which returns the drone to its takeoff point and automatically lands.

The drone is compatible with GoPro hero action cameras.

This drone is perfect for someone who wants something a little bit more than a toy is able to do some of the advanced features like return to home and auto hover which makes piloting a much nicer experience.

So, there were the best drones on the market which enable you to use a GoPro with your drone. And, like I mentioned above, the drone and GoPro market changes so quickly that it is hard to find the best drone on the market with an adapter that fits the best GoPro action camera on the market.

Buyers guide for drone with a GoPo

In this section, we can go through the buyer’s guide for purchasing a drone that supports a GoPro.

Obviously, the first thing that you need to worry about is the type of GoPro that you want to use with your drone. You may not want to purchase a new GoPro to fit the latest adapters and drones. You can use what you already have.

Type of GoPro

The type of GoPro that use will ultimately dictate the sort of image quality you can expect from your drone flight.

With nearly all of the drones, above, with the exception of the 3DR Solo Quadcopter, you will not be able to see a first person view of the drone as it is flying. That is not necessarily a problem if you keep your line of sight with your drone. However, my favourite flying experience is when you can view the first person view of the drone – it also makes it much easier to fly toward you when the controls are reversed.

The type of GoPro use will also dictate the quality and the type of videos that you can capture.

GoPro Fusion

This is one of the latest versions of the GoPro action cam series which enables you to take 360° video at a 5.2 K definition. The amazing thing about flying this with a drone is that you will be able to capture incredible 360° VR experiences using your drone. You can also transform spherical photos into traditional shots and you can create and share your shots using the GoPro app.

GoPro Hero series

GoPro is famous for its hero series action cams.

Currently, the best GoPro is on the market are the hero seven, the hero eight, and the hero nine. There is also the GoPro Max.

Each has its own benefits and drawbacks but for drone flying the most important thing is that it can stabilise the footage and that it is able to last for an entire drone flight (or multiple drone flights) to capture and store high definition footage.

The most important part for drone flights is to capture cinematic and atmospheric shots using slow motion. The way that you capture slow motion shots with a drone is to use a high frame rate video which you can then slow down in postproduction in order to get a smooth slow motion video.

Here are some of the frame rates of popular GoPro action cameras.

Frame Per second

As technology and camera hardware becomes less and less expensive we are seeing higher definition videos being captured at increasingly high frame rates. You can see this trend from the frame rates of the hero five all the way through to the hero nine.

Model5K4K2.7K1080p
Hero 5 Black3060120
Hero 6 Black60120240
Hero 7 Silver30NA60
Hero 7 Black60120240
Hero 8 Black60120240
Hero 9 Black3060120240

Ultimately, most shots will be recorded in 25 to 30 frames per second and you will want to also capture 60 frames per second plus. If you want to slow down the footage in postproduction and not have any doubling of frames as you stretch the footage. This is assuming that you are exporting in a 25 frames per second composition.

Size

Another very important aspect to buying a drone for a GoPro is the size of the drone. The size of the drone will dictate how easy it is for you to travel with the drone and also carry it in a backpack to your shot location.

In my experience having a drone that is portable and easy to carry means that I take it more places more often and I am able to capture footage from all of my adventures without the hassle of lugging around extra large pelican cases or heavy backpacks.

Battery Hours

Drone technology is getting better and better which means we are seeing higher flight times from a range of relatively inexpensive drones.

Having a drone with flight time of greater than 15 minutes means that you are able to cover a fair amount of distance as long as your remote control does not lose connection with the drone. If you want to know how far away you can fly a drone from its controller check out my other article – click here to be taken to the in-depth article.

Payload capacity

Drones are a complicated and precise balance between weight and lift a drone is only able to carry as much as the power of lift minus the weight of the drone.

It can be hard to know exactly what a drone can lift in the wild vs what the manufacturer says. Here is a comparison of some of the most popular commercial drones alongside drones that are manufactured to lift heavy things! You’ll be surprised exactly how much some of the smaller drones can lift!

Drone Maximum PayloadSource of information
DJI Matrice 600 Pro6 kgOfficial Website
Freefly Systems ALTA 812 kgOfficial Website
DJI Agras MG-110 kgOfficial Website
PD6B-AW-ARM20 kgOfficial Website
DJI Mavic Mini181 gYouTube experiment
DJI Mavic Air331 gYouTube experiment
DJI Mavic 2 Pro531 gYouTube experiment
DJI Phantom 31.1 kgYouTube Experiment
DJI Phantom 41.1 kgYouTube Experiment
DJI Spark65 gYouTube Experiment
VALKYRIE HEAVY PRO30 kgOfficial YouTube video

Having a fair amount of buffer space means that the drone will be able to maneuver quickly – to overcome any issues with buffeting from the wind – and also not deplete the battery as quickly.

Top or bottom mount

Lastly, an important part of choosing a drone to carry a GoPro is to work out whether or not the GoPro should be carried on top or underneath the drone. Carrying a GoPro on the top of the drone with an adapter means that you are likely going to see the body of the drone in the image and you are not going be able to use a motorized gimbal to stabilize the flight.

I would opt for using a bottom-mounted GoPro so that you are clear of the propellers and the body of the drone. If you do not have a movable gimbal I would recommend that you point the drone camera down at an angle of approximately 40 to 50° which will completely avoid getting the propellers in the shot whilst also being able to capture awesome panoramic images of the surroundings.

GoPro Drones vs Camera Drones

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find drones which can carry GoPro’s. That is simply because a drone works best with an inbuilt camera. There are a ton of benefits for buying a camera drone rather than using a GoPro with a drone that you already have or purchasing a drone for your GoPro to sit on.

When the camera is integrated into the drone you get many more features such as a live streamed first person view, a better connection, and interplay between the drone and the camera, and a much more stable flight since the drone has been designed with the camera weight and position in mind.

My recommendation would be for you to find a drone that has a built-in camera that suits your needs.

A GoPro on a drone is a great initial step into the drone flying world but if you want to be serious about drone photography and give yourself the best possible chances of capturing some awe-inspiring and cinematic shots you should consider buying a drone with a built-in camera.

Summary

In this article, we have gone over all of the best drones for GoPro and exactly what you need to look for in a drone that carries a GoPro. You have the option of an adapter for your current drone all buying a drone with a stabilized or stationary gimbal to house the GoPro during the flight.

Because the GoPro ecosystem and the drone ecosystem move so quickly my recommendation would be to purchase a camera drone which means that you are going to get a load of other features and proper integration between the camera and the drone resulting in better shots and a much more stable flight.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!