There is so much talk today of drones, many people forget that no-so-long-ago the only radio-controlled contraptions flying about above us weren’t drones at all. From expensive kids toys to sleek and elaborate big kid designs, RC helicopters had a proper and seemingly permanent place in the sky, and despite the recent drone onslaught, it appears they still do. The reasons are many.
First, helicopters are not as expensive as drones, making them a more cost-effective way to get into the RC hobby and a particularly smart choice when first starting out. In addition, the controls for helicopters can be much simpler than the complex operating systems of some of today’s even simplistic drones.
Coupled with the fact most helicopters don’t boast extensive features or specs, learning to use them is less of a never-ending chore and more of a success story. Yet, most of all, RC helicopters with cameras allow folks to plain have fun.
Where does one start all this RC fun?
Well, just like with drones, there are numerous options available on the market and it is important to be honest with your skills, commitment and budget. There is no point in spending hundreds on a machine that you will likely only use a couple of times, nor does it make sense to cheap out when you truly want to get into the RC hobby.
Instead, let’s explore some of the best remote helicopter with camera on the market so that you can make an honest, informed choice and get at those controls while the desire stirs.
So, what is the best RC helicopter with a camera?
Well, that can be a hard question and mostly because there are oodles of choices out there. Most remote-control helicopters do not have a camera, likely due to stability concerns and the influx of drones. Still, there are some solid choices in the category.
According to Amazon’s star ratings, one such choice is the S977 model by WLToys. Not only does this mini 3.5 channel copter sport an actual crash withstanding metal body but it also enjoys some other stellar features, such as: 130-megapixel camera, a 7-10 minute flight time and an impressive 10 meter RC distance and ceiling height.
Other pros of the S977:
- Small size – fits in the palm of your hand!
- Comes with required 3.7 V 280mAh LiPo battery
- 3-axis gyroscope ensures stable flight
- Includes 512MB Micro SD Card
- Flashlights provide low-light night-flight capabilities
- Separate camera and video controls
- Includes a 512 MB microSD memory card
- Costs under $40 US
- Camera quality is not equal to that of many drones, better in well-lit areas
- Controls are relatively simple, not challenging for more advanced pilots
When Small is Big…
Another great pick in the remote heli with camera category is the Nano Spy Copter from World Tech Toys. But don’t be fooled: this tiny copter packs a big punch! With a built-in 3-axis gyroscope for automatic flying and hovering stability, this Nano lets you focus on the part you enjoy most: flying!
This out of the box, ready to fly model is built to withstand the learning curve with a tough metal body construction. The hi-resolution digital video camera – mounted immediately under the cockpit, provides quality video and pictures.
Other Pros for the Nano Spy Copter include:
- Small size
- 640 x 480p camera
- 110-140 V integrated LiPo battery in the box
- 5 channel support via 2.4GHz
- Total flight time of up to 10 minutes
- Comes complete with 1GB microSD memory card
- Use indoor or outdoor
- Cost is low, under $40 US
- Battery is a lower voltage
- While there is a warranty program for this machine, feedback suggests they are hard to work with or even get a hold of when problems arise
Sometimes what makes some the best isn’t just the machine itself, but more the one where the company has your back, and in that department the Haktoys ATS S735C/HAK738C model is a solid best. Not only does this remote helicopter camera system come ready to fly out of the box, but it does so in style with an alloy metal body, elastic blades and flybar that withstands crashes and a detailed paint job.
It sports an Intelligent RC System and has precise 360° directional movement. Perfect for those with some previous coaxial (double rotor) flying experience, this chopper boasts both a coaxial rotor and single rear rotor, making flyer a little more dynamic.
Other Pros of the S735C are:
- Bright, colorful LED lights
- 4 GHz frequency provides 3.5 channels for better control and simultaneous flights
- large 30” photo and video camera
- Built in gyroscope provides smooth flying, hoovering and picture quality
- Rechargeable built-in 7.4V 1500mAh Li-ion battery in fully charged in only 2-3 hours
- Flight time is approximately 8 to 12 minutes
- Flight range is impressive: up to 300 feet
- Slow-Fast adjustable speed modes
- Withstands up to 5 mph breezes
- Micro SD card included
- Manufacturer, ATS toys, is committed to quality and service and is very responsive to consumer needs
- Remote control does not have LED screen
- Cost is much higher: about $140 US
To Drone or To Heli, that is the Question
Clearly, there are not the choices in the RC helicopters with cameras category that exist when looking at the drones of today, but that doesn’t mean remote control camera systems aren’t worth looking into. Sure, the cameras are perhaps not as advanced, but with 3-axis built-in gyroscopes, it is still possible to get quality camera footage with the ease of heli controls.
And, though, technology is clearly geared more to the drone division of the industry, there are still some great companies making some tough little copters that might just be worth your time, money and consideration.