Looking for the best FPV drone? This guide will help you to choose, tell you what to watch out for, and give you up-to-date prices.
First Person View, or FPV, drones have been increasing in popularity for some time. Many of the early drone enthusiasts built this way, placing a camera on the front of the ‘copter and piloting via a live view seen on video goggles. A gamer would argue that “first person view” is just a matter of perspective, and has been ever since Wolfenstein 3D, but in the drone world that view doesn’t quite cut it.
ARF: almost ready to fly (some construction needed)
BNF: bind and fly (a drone where you need to buy your own controller
Cinewhoop: Small drones designed for safe flying around people
FPV: first-person view
Freestyle: Flying acrobatically / acro for fun
HUD: head-up display
Lipo: Lithium polymer battery
mAh: milli Amp hours (a measure of battery capacity)
PNP: plug and play (a drone where you need to provide the receiver/transmitter)
RTF: ready to fly
Spotter: A friend to keep an eye on the wider airspace in case you get lost in the zone.
VTX: video transmitter
Here we will take FPV to mean drones which at least allow goggle-wearing, and encourage speed. In that context, FPV has always been popular with the hobby community as well as interested visitors at events like the International Drone Day “Mini Air Show,” first held in 2015. More recently this has been commercialized as a spectator (not to mention TV) event by organizations like the Drone Racing League and Multi GP.
Modern FPV drones still come from an exciting, varied market of small enthusiast-led companies, though the biggest firm in the industry, DJI, seems now to have fully committed. There is unrestrained joyful fun to be had, but the unique cinematographic possibilities of FPV haven’t gone unnoticed so, since we’re a photography site, we’ve covered other ways of getting the FPV-look in this list too.
However you want to join the fun that is mini acrobatics, here is a selection of the best choices, whether you’re planning to buy ready-to-fly (RTF) or take the DIY route.
Best FPV drones in 2023
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It’s easy to love the robust (we checked!) DJI Avata, which makes the joys of FPV flight readily accessible for the average consumer. If this is your first FPV aircraft it’s a significant investment as you need all the accessories, and some space to fly. What is exciting though is how easy things are beyond that, with consumer safety features and stability as well as a great camera; certainly better than most FPV drones with strapped on GoPro Mini-like cameras which lack physical stabilization.
In other words, you can fly FPV – and capture amazing footage – without getting the soldering iron out. It’s also worth thinking that, in value terms, the GoPro which piggy-backs on a self-build is another cost, as is the controller, so the initial price isn’t so bad.
In terms of flaws, the ports are inconvenient. We’d also have liked one of DJI’s custom bags in the Fly More kit as it’s a clumsy collection of bits to carry.
The Avata isn’t quite for everyone because FPV will always be a little special. To unleash the maximum speed mode and acrobatics you’ll need to add a stick-type remote controller, which will add to the budget. Still the standard bundles are probably easier to use than the DJI FPV and, on balance, we’d take the whoop-style frame over the collision sensors any day.
Read our full DJI Avata review (opens in new tab)
The DJI FPV is a drone with a lot of possible uses; it has a good quality camera that (if you supply fast enough MicroSD cards (opens in new tab)) can capture 4K at 60fps. Unusually for a dedicated FPV drone, the camera features mechanical stabilization, albeit only on the X axis (good digital image stabilization handles the Y axis and camera vibrationn well). Delicate gimbal motors might seem vulnerable, but the frame has a degree of roll-bar-like protection for the camera, and, perhaps more importantly, this is where DJI’s other major area of development plays a significant role: collision sensors.
Unlike most FPV drones, the DJI FPV can be flown at two lower (but still exciting) speed options with very effective collision sensors in operation. They will either stop to a hover or even steer around objects rather than hit them. An ‘all stop’ button can also initiate hover nearly immediately, while the drone boasts the usual GPS-powered return-to-home expected on a consumer drone of this price. DJI’s dedicated ‘FPV Goggles V2’ operate at 120fps and are also thoughtfully designed, with a large field of view not too taxing on the eyes or headband; the visual quality is breath-taking compared with early analog equivalents, but arguably the newer DJI Goggles 2 are more portable, bringing us back to the Avata (see our separate guide to the best FPV goggles (opens in new tab)).
Read our full DJI FPV Combo review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Powered by Xing-E 2207 2750KV motors, the Nazgul 5 might be named after the baddies in Lord of the Rings, but that power is a useful thing if you choose to act responsibly; many drone pilots lamented the increase in weight to the latest GoPro cameras (opens in new tab), but this powerful machine seems unconcerned by the extra grams. (Perhaps that’s why it uses the Succex-EF4 flight stack?)
With 5mm thick carbon arms, this drone is going to be difficult to break even in a pretty fast collision, but if you want to try iFlight is offering the machine in both (fast) 4S and (screeching) 6S versions. It can even keep up with a fixed wing. The firm is also well known for the quality of its default PIDs (flight settings), and this machine is no exception, which means even pilots used to the consumer-friendly experiences of camera drones should be able to transition to the world of FPV.
The drone includes the Caddx vista HD digital video transmission system, so you’ll likely need DJI FPV Goggles which will be something of an investment in themselves though. Other than that, you get a good selection of accessories in the box: antennas, tools, rubber battery stickers, props, and more.(opens in new tab)
The Cetus is a small drone with the relatively unusual addition of an optical flow sensor. Not only does this offer drift-free hover, but a gentle automatic landing when the battery is failing – both huge boons for beginners. First-time pilots can work their way up through three modes, including a full traditional FPV style. The same applies to the tech; the goggles and controller are of the same kind you can use with other real RF drones.
The controller, in fact, has an especially pleasing feel for ‘noobs’, with real RC-controller sticks surrounded by a more game-like housing. Indeed it can be used as a USB joystick when connected to drone simulators. It’s a shame that this is a live-view experience only – you’ll need to invest in pricier goggles for a record option – but this package is more about fun.(opens in new tab)
Like it or not, the historical chain of names ending in “—whoop” is now part of quadcopter lore, and this is a Cinewhoop (opens in new tab) – meaning it has the power to lift a GoPro but isn’t too dangerous to avoid up close and personal. The word ‘pusher’ in the product name refers to the inverted engine arrangement, which makes it look a little like a skeletal hovercraft but has the effect of a cleaner airflow beneath the craft for smoother flight (and, by extension, smoother video).
The tiny size means it can be flown through small gaps, chasing subjects like skateboarders. It’s a few grams heavier than other 2.5-inch drones. We did wonder, however, if replacing the bull-nosed props with 5-blade types may offer a smoother flight, though any GoPro with image stabilization will see no issues anyway.
Flexibility is a big advantage of the FPV space, and the ProTek25 is available in analog too, but the digital option includes the Caddax Polar Vista 60fps FPV camera which will connect to the DJI goggles and controller.
Freestyle airframes are built to take a lot of punishment with naked propellors for maximum efficiency. DJI’s latest transmission & control system for the FPV community, the O3, is a little bigger than its predecessor and can’t fit in many prior builds, which is why this airframe is such a good choice for someone going freestyle; it’ll let them use all the latest DJI gear (goggles, controller etc.) to maximum effect, while still mounting the FPV camera without problems. The kit also comes with all tools required to tweak your camera angle (many pilots like to experiment with this) and preplace props.
Mostly, though, we love the power and flexibility; 4S and 6S versions lay down 1960KV and 2450KV through the SpeedX2 2107.5 brushless motors. And when you decide you want to check the engineering you can check the parameters live using Bluetooth and the SpeedyBee phone app – a much better solution than plugging into a computer.(opens in new tab)
The EMAX TinyHawk 3 is a great nano drone to start flying with; the wheelbase (motor-to-motor measurement) is just 75mm, so the drone is smaller in the box than either the controller or goggles but, crucially, all those things are available in the same box, assuming you choose the Ready To Fly (RTF) bundle.
It’s possible to stay aloft for up to 7 minutes, OK for a machine with tiny 2-inch props, or blast along at up to 50mph (again impressive at this size). If you’re doing so in low light the array of LEDs provides the opportunity to wow the assembled crowds; their brightness responds to the accelerator.
In the past, Emax’s kits have included gamepad-like controllers, but this includes the new E8 transmitter which has a more traditional feel, better for learning pinch controls. It also has a mount for the bundled Transporter 2 receiver screen, which can either be worn as a traditional FPV screen or used atop the controller if preferred. The Transporter 2 can record video to an SD card, too.
While there isn’t the power to carry a GoPro, the camera provides surprisingly good-looking video – much more so than other small drones – thanks to its dynamic range, white balance, and the 200mw VTX (transmitter) which ensures better transmission than many in the category. The only real complaint is the ‘land now’ warning seems to come a little early, so the drone is better suited to racing flight than aggressive “acro” (acrobatics).
Bigger than some whoop-class drones, the CineLog 35 has a few refinements which make for longer flights. It’s also possible to sacrifice some minutes and direct the power to lift heavier GoPro cameras. You can hold a GoPro 10 aloft to record your flights for posterity using the included mount. Better still, the camera – if attached – will be connected to a dampening platform to reduce the jelly effect from the drone’s motors. Nevertheless, the aircraft's 203 x 203mm pusher frame is 236.6g so you can also fly free of weight restriction concerns when you’re operating without a recording camera. GEPRC offers both a 4S and 6S edition of the compact quad.(opens in new tab)
This is one geeky quad (if you’ve not got this far through the list without realizing there is a lot of self-building in the FPV community, that’s on us really, so sorry). The BUZZ Freestyle is built to go fast, but it does have a built-in camera which – if you supply your own FPV goggles – you’ll be able to pilot through. As is typical with drones in this class, you can tweak the angle the camera points back at base, but there is no option to adjust things mid-flight. On the plus side, the Caddx Ratel 1200TVL HDR camera supplies a better-than-average video signal, though still via NTSC or PAL.
Where EMAX does provide a welcoming hand into the deeper depths of the hobby is by supplying two full sets of props (propellors); one they call 'AVAN Flow’ – for speed – and the other ‘AVAN Scimitar’ which are slightly smaller and afford a longer flight time. We appreciated the rubber pads on the base to protect the screws on a hard landing (not to mention the immense 3K of carbon fibre woven into the frame).
Gear up with a FrSky receiver (plus batteries and a balance charger) and you’ll be off.
Thanks to a late 2022 software update combining with a stand-out feature of the Skydio – the Keyframe tool – a drone which very much isn’t about FPV has acquired an ability which might be very useful for content creators looking to emulate the now trendy and immersive style. KeyFrame is a feature of the drone which allows you to fly it from position to position, logging points on the way. Afterward the drone can repeat the journey from point to point, going in and out of structures (the sensors aren’t as GPS-dependant as some devices. Each time it can gently sweep the camera like a pro operator, at the speed of your choice. This can include using the gimbal to add a trendy FPV-like feel.
Atop this come all the other reasons for Skydio ownership – most of which are about having an angel on your shoulder to capture video without piloting needed at all, meaning for FPV enthusiasts the above is the only real use case. For action fans though, there are a lot of other reasons to look closely at the unique drone. See our full Skydio 2+ review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
This deal isn’t the cheapest on here, , and certainly not the newest, but the quad comes with everything you need to get flying except a 14.8 4S li-po and the balance charger you’ll need to top it up. That, though, is a choice most developing hobbyists want to make for themselves anyway, so there is no real loss there. The transmitter is powered by AA batteries which should last a while, and the F210 is largely built from carbon fiber so it’ll survive a few bumps – which is just as well.
We weren’t’ 100% sure about the two-blade props included; three-blade props can sometimes put out more power – but most of the time the difference wasn’t very apparent. Walkera used to make them available for an automatic 3D flight mode (the drone would automatically fly them backwards when the drone was inverted), but that novelty doesn’t seem to be on the list anymore and we can’t say we miss it, so why not tri-blade props? Ah well. On the plus side, having included goggles and a controller makes this a great starting FPV quad.
There is no arguing the quality and (crucially) relative value of the DJI Mini SE; it captures excellent video and images for a drone that's considerably cheaper than others in its stable. The only problem is that – by the strictest of enthusiast definitions – it isn’t technically an FPV drone.
That said, the view seen on your phone screen (acting as a monitor) is a first-person view. After all, a shooting game like Doom doesn’t require VR goggles. With a little ingenuity it is also possible to get that phone image in front of your eyes FPV-style: Get hold of a headset that can accept a mirrored video signal from your phone or an HDMI signal. If the latter, connect the HDMI to your phone using a device like a MiraScreen).
The fact the Mini SE isn’t the quickest drone is probably useful given that the digital video, especially mirror-cast (control isn’t as responsive as on a racer), but the experience is still good – plus all the advantages of DJI’s video recording system. In the Control menu, set the Gimbal Mode to FPV and the camera will tilt with the drone (rather than maintain level horizons), again like a ‘real’ FPV drone.
Read our full DJI Mini SE review (opens in new tab)
FPV systems explained
There are two kinds of FPV systems. Analog – the first on the scene – involves a drone’s camera having a low-power NTSC or PAL transmitter (VTX) and the pilot’s goggles including a receiver. The technology is essentially the same as that once found in all TVs, except that you must choose the drone’s broadcast frequency, then make sure you match it on your goggles. (We also have a guide to FPV goggles, by the way.) The signal is visible to anyone who tunes in (but you won’t be transmitting far – authority rules keep power output to a minimum). The radio control is bound entirely separately to the drone’s ‘brain’ (flight controller), though some overlay data onto the video feed.
If you’re looking to add a high-quality digital video signal to your FPV experience, but don’t want to buy an off-the-shelf DJI drone, then you certainly aren’t alone.
DJI has previously offered a solution called the DJI FPV Air Unit (opens in new tab), designed to work with their FPV Goggles V2 (as launched with the DJI FPV). As of late 2022, a newer replacement – the DJI O3 Air Unit – has arrived. This works with the newer FPV Goggles which arrived alongside the Avata. It offers a step up in reliability but, be warned, the 20mm lens won’t fit between the typical 19mm pillars on most freestyle frames.
Digital systems ‘bind’ to each other with relative ease, and theoretically offer greater range without glitching video, but the downside is that when the glitches do come they can be more catastrophic than gradually degrading analog.
The Caddx Air Unit can replace the DJI Air Unit in this list and can be found for less money, though the overall cost of digital FPV is still much higher than analog.
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