Nowadays, drones are so widely available that anyone can purchase one. In fact, the drone market has become so competitive that there are now various different types of drones on the market. Each with its own set of special features and benefits which you can enjoy efficiently. To your surprise, you can now even find drones that can be paired with night vision cameras.
You can find drones with several beginner’s friendly features that make it efficient to fly them. One such feature to look out for when choosing your next drone which is new for many people is the night vision camera compatibility. Look for a drone that can be paired with night vision cameras but that is if you need night vision.
Many people don’t even realize there are drone models available that allow you to see what they’re recording while flying even in the dark. Fortunately, without having an external device such as a monitor or phone being used.
Read below for our top 5 picks of drones that can be paired with night vision cameras and how each drone is specifically meant for certain uses.
Can You Get Drones With Night Vision?
In short, yes. You may not see them advertised on Amazon or Walmart. But you can get drones with night vision capabilities and then attach a thermal camera to them for quality night imaging. But the more important question is which drones have these features?
There are several drones that can be paired with night vision cameras in the market including DJI, Holy Stone, and many more. Holy Stone HS170 Predator Drone w/ Altitude Hold & Headless Mode is a great example of one of such drones.
There are better drones than HS170 out there in terms of features and specs. Plus they will also provide you with a satisfactory camera quality even in low light. Moreover, it is by far one of the best drones that come equipped with WiFi (to allow streaming from your phone) and also has headless mode and altitude hold features built-in. Making it one of the ideal drones for kids as well newbies in drone flying!
It also comes equipped with an HD camera capable of taking decent shots…etc. Include a how-to section on configuring the drone with night-vision cameras. This will make readers understand about how they need to configure their drone with night vision capability.
What is Night Vision Compatible Drones?
There are many drones in the market that comes with unique features. But you don’t often hear about drones that can be paired with a night vision camera. Nevertheless, first, it is important to know what are night-vision compatible drones?
These are the drones that can record and take pictures and videos in low-light conditions and still provide you with appreciable quality. This can be done in three different ways.
Either your drone features a very impressive low light camera that way, you can record some good quality shots in the dark. The other two options are thermal and infrared or IR cameras. Both of which allow you to record things even in the dark.
However, before getting yourself a night vision camera, make sure you know which way is the most suitable for you. A thermal or infrared camera will not provide you pictures a low light camera will. Plus, there are a couple of more complexities when it comes to flying a night-vision drone. Especially if you use a drone for commercial purposes.
According to the FAA rules and regulations, to fly a commercial drone during the night, you need to have a waiver for the nighttime flight from them. Moreover, all three ways of making your drone compatible with nighttime vision give completely different outputs. Therefore, knowing which one is best for you is very important.
Types of Night Visions for Drones
As we have mentioned above drones that can be paired with night vision cameras uses three different methods. Each of them has its own uniqueness and uses and make sure that you know every type will not work for you. With that being said the three methods through which you can make your drones compatible with night vision includes:
1. Low Light Camera
If you own a good quality 4K camera drone, then that means that you can capture some pretty decent shots even in low light. Most top-notch drone cameras come with large lenses along with a large CMOS chip.
This chip enables the drone camera to capture some fantastic shots while adjusting to the lighting in the background. By manually controlling the settings of such drones and after developing the images from RAW, you will get some amazing shots even in low lighting.
2. Infrared IR Camera
We all know that infrared lights are not visible to the human eye. But thanks to the Infrared cameras, now you drones can pick up infrared lights. Many commercial drones in the market use this technology to capture things in the dark.
Normally you will find an infrared LED near the camera of the drone. Its job is to emit infrared light so that camera can detect it and capture some shots. Grayscale is the most common rendering of images taken with an infrared cam.
3. Thermal Camera
Thermal cameras are cameras that don’t need any source of light. They use the thermal or heat energy of different materials and objects to create an image that you would have often seen in movies. You can use these kinds of cameras for various uses. Especially if you have a commercial drone then this camera will come in handy.
Many prosumer-level drones come with dual visible and thermal cameras. They are not the most common technology found in drones. But there are a couple of options that you can get from the market at a reasonable rate.
5 Best Drones That Can Be Paired with Night Vision Cameras
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Range: 11 miles
- Battery life: 31 minutes
If you’re looking for one of (if not THE) best drone on the market right now, then look no further than DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro. It can shoot 4K video at 60fps and 12-megapixel images in Adobe DNG RAW and JPEG formats. The Mavic 2 Pro comes with an ultra-compact 3-axis gimbal and a long-lasting Intelligent Flight Battery that will allow you to capture up to 27 minutes of flight time.
And because it’s from DJI, your footage is sure to be smooth thanks to DJI’s gimbal stabilization technology. This drone also comes with a remote controller that gives you precise control over your camera so that you can have complete creative freedom.
Plus, when paired with DJI’s FPV Goggles, flying your drone feels like you’re piloting a fighter jet! While it does come with some upgrades from its predecessor, it’s still remarkably portable which makes it perfect for people who are always on the go.
The only downside to all of these features is that they come at a cost—literally. While still relatively affordable compared to other high-end drones out there, they aren’t exactly cheap which might cause some hesitation if you’re on a budget or just getting started in drone photography/videography.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
- Weight: 3.0 pounds
- Range: 4.38 miles
- Battery life: 5 hours
DJI’s current flagship drone is a high-end quadcopter that shoots high-quality photos and videos. One of its most interesting features is something called TapFly, which uses gestures to move your drone forward, backward, upward, downward, and even sideways.
This makes it easier than ever to get cinematic shots because you don’t have to worry about manually maneuvering your drone into position. The other major selling point for DJI drones is their battery life.
Phantom 4 Pro can fly for up to 30 minutes on one charge, though realistically you’ll probably be able to only shoot around 20 minutes of video before running out of juice. Still, 30 minutes will be more than enough for most video projects.
The drone also has an advanced obstacle avoidance system so you won’t accidentally crash your Phantom into trees or buildings when filming in unfamiliar territory. This makes it a great beginner’s drone that anyone could start their drone hobby with.
- Weight: 0.7 pounds
- Range: 3.5 miles
- Battery life: 25 minutes
Anafi is a drone that’s specifically designed for aerial photography and videography. And it’s great. It has an incredible range, a 25-minute flight time, and DJI’s signature stability. Plus, it can pair with a night vision camera – if you buy a $799 accessory.
In fact, one of Anafi’s biggest selling points is that it comes ready to fly out of the box – no assembly required. But make sure to order extra batteries because you’ll need them: Anafi only gets 10 minutes of battery life with its standard 1350 mAh battery.
The drone ships in mid-June and costs $549.99 — but once it hits shelves, we expect it will sell quickly on Amazon as Parrot has done well with previous drones at this price point.
Yuneec Typhoon H
- Weight: 0.55 pounds
- Range: 1 mile
- Battery life: 25 minutes
The Yuneec Typhoon H is a drone that offers up to 25 minutes of flight time, as well as an impressive 28-minute maximum distance of 50 miles. As one of two drones that feature both a 4K camera and night vision (the other being DJI’s Matrice 600 Pro), it’s definitely worth considering for those looking for professional use.
And at $1499.00, it offers up some pretty good value on its own—just don’t forget to tack on accessories like batteries and carrying cases to get your total purchase price over $1000.00!
The best part about buying from Yuneec? If you break or lose your drone within 14 days of receipt, they’ll replace it for free… no questions asked. Pretty nice deal if you ask us.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone
- Weight: 1.85 pounds
- Range: 1.2 miles
- Battery life: 30 minutes
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone is one of the drone’s best thermal drones, comes with a handheld screen, can be flown in a variety of weather conditions, and features flight data analytics. It can also be used with a range of accessories, including a night vision camera.
Moreover, you will notice that it is pretty easy to set up and fly using their smartphone app — which allows you to start and stop recording footage easily. The drone also features a 4K camera which means you can not only use the thermal camera compatibility to record at the night, but the drone will also perform impressively in low light with its normal camera.
The drone has an operating distance of 3 miles for fully automated flights or 1 mile for manual ones. One reviewer noted that it’s not as durable as DJI products but it works just fine for general applications.
Things to keep in mind
Though it may sound like a cop-out, we’re going to recommend you to fly two to three drones with night-vision cameras before making a final decision. Try all three versions of night vision if you are not sure which one is for you. There are benefits to owning these types of aircraft but figuring out what works best for you will take some time.
Before purchasing a drone or quadcopter with thermal imaging, get outside and practice flying in all kinds of conditions. You want to make sure you can handle your drone at night just as well as during daylight hours—you’ll need it!
And finally, if you own any sort of good quality camera drone and plan on doing infrared photography/videography, learn how to calibrate your camera first (it’s not always simple). The last thing you want is footage that doesn’t line up properly with your shots!
The DJI Mavic Pro has a built-in Visual Positioning System that allows it to hover in place and move precisely with vision. This feature can be paired with a compatible DJI drone that comes equipped with night vision for capturing detailed video at night or in low-light conditions.
The Mavic is one of our favorite drones for its maneuverability, image quality, price point, and portability. Moreover, if you’re looking for an affordable drone to pair with your thermal camera, check out Autel Robotics’ X-Star Premium Drone. Weighing in at just about two pounds, it’s a stable option that delivers 4K images using its onboard GoPro Hero 5 Black camera.
Its 27 minutes of flight time is slightly less than other models but still longer than most other drones without a camera. Another drone we recommend pairing with your thermal camera is 3D Robotics’ Iris+ Drone. It’s similar to Yuneec’s Q500 4K Typhoon but costs $200 less and runs Android Marshmallow software instead of iOS (you’ll need to connect an iPad mini if you want FPV).
The best part? It has 13 hours of flight time! Last but not least, we’ll look at drones from Intel’s Aero Ready to Fly Drone Collection. These drones are designed specifically for applications such as inspections—basically anything where battery life isn’t as important as a frame rate or auto-tracking capabilities.