The Gadget Show on Channel 5 is techie heaven on all levels and a firm favorite with the crew here at Epic. They recently carried out a product test feature on the ‘love em or hate em’ Camera Drone.
Once, drones were only used by governments but today, the ‘Copter Camera’ is available all over the UK from around £50.00 for the really cheap up to a couple of thousand.
We are a little divided on how we feel about them having heard from friends in the professional firing business regarding how many times a drone has impacted on a display for one reason or another from falling from the sky onto crowds, knocking a shell off course and the people on the ground taking footage or photographs which have the lights of the drones on them, these are just a few of the reasons why the great unwashed are undecided about this new technology. That said, they offer up some brilliant footage when taken in amongst the bursting fireworks. As advised by the Civil Aviation Authority, they passed the operation of the devices onto a drone specialist Chris Ayres to avoid any possibility of interfering with the competitors in this fiercely fought event.
In this short video feature, the test team put the three chosen drones through their paces in a number of situations to see how they fared including first of all at a skateboarding track and then over to a grand firework display at Catton Hall, Derbyshire for Jubilee Fireworks’ Festival of Fireworks which pits the best in the World against one another on this one night super display competition.
First up; Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite Edition (GPS) which was found to be disappointing overall and highly unstable and difficult to manouevre but it is the least expensive of the 3 at £255.00 and the images are questionable at best.
Second to fly was the Blade 350 QX AP Combo RTF in the middle of our price range at £630.00 and sadly, the performance was once again at best underwhelming and the images were grainy and unclear with out of focus and a little washed out and in the midst of fireworks and the controls proved to be difficult to use. I must be honest, for over £600 I would have expected a much better result.
Finally, the daddy of those tested was without a shadow of a doubt the SJ Phantom 2 Vision + which retails at around £800.00. The quality of the video footage and the photographs was nothing short of awesome and it captured the midst of the display with top marks for moveability, image quality and ease of use.
So, the upshot is that yes, drones are the future but there have to be massive advancements in classification, where they can and cannot fly (we all heard about the incident where an R/C drone almost hit a passenger plane at Heathrow and the one which landed on the front lawn of the Whitehouse) and some sort of collision avoidance system before we all go out and buy one.
As with any technology though, the drones will continue to improve in quality and abilities and the price will come down too.
In the meantime, check out the Gadget Show video –
If you skip along to 5 minutes 30, the fireworks start shortly after.