Looking to take one of those amazing videos of yourself paddle boarding with whales in the middle of a vast expanse of ocean? You need a waterproof drone to capture all the action. See video below for inspiration.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (aka UAV’s, or drones in common parlance) now provide us with an easy and affordable way to take aerial shots and videos, a feat that could have been inconceivable some years back without a helicopter and a couple-of-thousand-dollars budget.
But not only is it now possible for the regular Joe Blow to take award-winning shots from impossible aerial angles, but also do so without going out of his/her way. Or spending a dime in the process. And all the while having a heck of a time.
Why Waterproof Drones Make Sense
We always encourage anyone keen on acquiring a drone to invest in a waterproof model if they can. This is for the simple reason that a waterproof drone is ideal for use in all conditions, including inclement weather and for filming your paddle boarding over the ocean.
Plus, accidents do happen and you never quite know for sure where your drone could find itself, especially considering their limited flight time. It would be a bummer to watch your drone sink to the bottom of the water and take all your footage with it!
So, having the peace of mind that comes from the guarantee that your cherished toy is safe irrespective of landing is never a bad thing.
Now, for anyone who needs a drone for filming close to water, a waterproof drone is not an ‘if’, but a must.
This could be for partakers of watersports such as surfing, paddle boarding, wakeboarding and so on, as well as other water-orientated activities like fishing, rafting, or even holiday yachting for those who spare no expense when they go on vacation.
Notice we did not say water-resistant as there is a huge difference between the two.
Water resistant drones are those that are able to resist water penetration only to a certain degree, but not fully. In comparison, waterproof models are completely impermeable to water.
That would be a wonderful feature on a quadcopter, don’t you think?
Best Waterproof Drones with Cameras
Only as recently as 5 years ago, fully waterproof consumer drones were hard to come by. But as with all things tech, it was only a matter of time before the technology caught up with consumer needs.
In this review guide, we share the best waterproof drones with cameras you will find in the marketplace.
What’s interesting about the drone market is that despite the saturation of drones in the marketplace, finding a good drone with both waterproof and camera features isn’t easy. It’s almost always either the waterproof feature or the camera, rarely both.
It is thus not surprising these models tend to be a tad costlier than your normal drone. But that’s not to mean there are no pocket-friendly options available.
When shopping, we would also encourage you to look into the finer details when weighing up the specifications to make sure your buy can ultimately meet your needs.
We say this because you will come across some splash-proof units that can only handle light showers, others are not ideal vessels for use in saltwater, while there are those that are not fully submersible.
For the most part, though, our picks are 100% waterproof and would be at home down the river or in the sea, so any of these choices should prove an excellent buy.
With that out of the way, let’s dive straight in.
Parrot Hydrofoil MiniDrone
- No FAA registration required
- Water and air-ready Hydrofoil MiniDrone with embedded VGA mini camera (480X640)
- Built with streamlined foils and hydrodynamic hull to move quickly through the water
Starting us off is the Hydrofoil MiniDrone courtesy of Parrot, a brand known and loved by all in the drone community.
Parrot are popular for their quality and affordable releases that are a hit with the public, and this little fella is no different. In fact, not only is this the cheapest waterproof drone with camera on our list, but you will be hard pressed to find a better quality model for this price in the waterproof/camera category.
The Parrot MiniDrone is a UAV that doubles up as an RC boat. Think of it as a float attachment to a mini quadcopter. A hydrodynamic hull and streamlined foils propel the boat portion of the drone through the water, but the little quadcopter can fly alone.
We have to give it to Parrot as this is a genius concept not even found on drones worth 10 times more.
The Hydrofoil MiniDrone can cruise through water at speeds of 6.2 mph, although there is a caveat to this one: it is restricted to fresh water only.
As far as flying goes, this is not exactly the most impressive flying machine, but for less than 30 bucks, it does the job satisfactorily. Once airborne, the MiniDrone can hit top speeds of 11 mph. It is capable of performing rapid turns and moves like any other quadcopter.
The model also comes with an embedded VGA mini camera (480x640) that enables you to take aerial shots whilst on flight for viewing later.
All these aspects combined mean the MiniDrone pretty much aces the fun factor.
The drone is controlled by the FreeFlight 3 app, although some users have complained about issues with the app and having to download a third-party one.
There have also been complaints about incorrect instructions for the app, something that has to do with occasional hardware upgrades that render the original instructions void.
The Parrot Hydrofoil MiniDrone has a battery life of up to 9 minutes on flight, following which you need to recharge for 25 minutes. That’s not too bad especially when juxtaposing it with more expensive models.
Still, it’s never a bad idea to pick up an extra battery with your purchase. It employs a removable 550mAh LiPo battery. Something else to note about the Parrot Hydrofoil MiniDrone is it is not entirely waterproof. Sure, it can handle sailing on water, but you risk frying the thing if it is submerged in its entirety.
• Aero-amphibious (boat and plane capabilities)
• Built-in VGA mini camera
• Stunt capable
• Fast charging time
• Shock resistant
• Camera is not the highest quality
• Unclear instructions
• Not fully submersible in water
Swellpro Splash Drone 3 Waterproof Drone
This is where it starts to get serious.
From its design to the specs and capabilities, the Splash Drone 3 from Swellpro is a thing of beauty and was for a long time considered one of the best, if not the best, waterproof drone with a camera.
We say this because the Splash Drone 3 has been around for sometime. It was launched through Kickstarter in 2015, but the fact it was built as a waterproof model for true quadcopter enthusiasts means it can still hold its own even in today’s market.
Good thing is, it has undergone modifications over the years, so the tech is up to snuff with the needs of the day.
The current version is available in two offerings – the Auto model with its world beating 4K camera, and the Fisherman model with its payload release system which allows you to transport and drop cargo at your designated location.
The Auto model doesn’t come with the payload release feature, but can be upgraded to include it by purchasing an add-on.
If you are looking for a drone for paddle boarding and/or activities, you cannot go wrong with Swellpro Splash Drone 3. This is a fully waterproof drone that can be used in all weather – and all water bodies, fresh or salty.
It packs a 4K camera that can capture both high quality videos and stills. Matter of fact, for a long time since its release, this was the only waterproof drone that could film 4K video above and below water.
Today, we have multiple other options, good examples including the Autel Robotics X-Star Drone with 4K camera and DJI Mavic 2 Pro, two other great models well worth your consideration, albeit they do not come with waterproof capabilities.
Anyone who has used a drone camera knows picture quality can be affected by weather and shaking. But the Splash Drone 3 has got you covered on that front.
Not only does its 4K camera guarantee the best shots, but it’s also supported by gimbal stabilization. This is the technology that prevents camera shaking and allows free rotation of the camera independent of the drone’s positioning.
The only issue – and this is not unique to this model, or any camera for that matter – is when water droplets are left on the lens.
The drone has a modular design that makes it easy to modify and tailor to different conditions and requirements. The frame and motor are both waterproof and durable, but that does not absolve you of the need for regular cleaning, particularly after using the drone in and around salt water.
The complexity of the Swellpro Splash Drone 3 also means a few drawbacks are inevitable. For example, for such an expensive waterproof drone, a flight time of 15 minutes somehow feels insufficient. In all fairness, though, it is practical to also remember few high-tech models boast such an ‘impressive’ flight time, with most falling below the 12-minute mark.
The Splash Drone 3 also lacks prop guards which could be an issue for inexperienced users, although not so much the established pros. For the price, obstacle avoidance would have been a welcome feature.
On the bright side, most of these disadvantages can be addressed. So we can only hope future updates will come bearing good news.
All in all, there isn’t a lot not to like about the Splash Drone 3.
• 100% waterproof drone
• Modular design
• Long-lasting frame
• 2-axis gimbal
• Can film underwater
• Multifunctional controller
• No prop guards
• Lack of obstacle avoidance
• Small access panel
Swellpro Spry Waterproof Drone
The Swellpro Spry is another solid release from Swellpro.
It has been described as the maiden small waterproof drone that can capture picture-perfect 4K video of action sports while following you at high speed. Just what the watersport adrenaline junkie needs.
First thing to note about the Swellpro Spry is that it is an aero-amphibious drone – i.e. it can fly through the air and convert into a mini-submarine under water. It can also land and take off from water; flip even.
It can stay submerged down to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. Its remote controller is also waterproof.
It is small nuances such as these that make this more than just a glorified electronic kite for the big boys to play with. Indeed, it can be used for commercial fishing operations, search and rescue efforts and other such intense use cases.
This is aided by a good range of 800m, and an array of top features the Spry carries. These include built-in GPS, Follow Orbit, and Return to Boat, the latter a feature that enables the drone to return to the position of the RC, even on a moving boat.
A 3600mAh battery and four brushless motors can lift it 1600 feet above ground and propel it at speeds of 43mph with a single battery charge that can last you 16 minutes. According to Swellpro, 3-bladed ‘high-angle’ propellers can achieve even faster speeds than the standard propellers.
The Swellpro Spry drone is equipped with an impressive camera that sports a Sony 1/2.3” sensor. It can capture high quality 4K video at 30fps (even more impressive on slow-mo) and 12MP stills.
The recordings are stored on an onboard microSD card (max 64GB) and the drone’s Wi-Fi capabilities make it possible to live-stream the happenings through a 4.3-inch digital screen on the remote.
Not only that, the feed can also be shared with an unlimited number of viewing devices, so other people other than the pilot can see what’s happening.
A combination of a 1-axis gimbal and optical image stabilization means picture clarity shouldn’t be a concern with the Spry.
• 100% waterproof
• Aero-amphibious drone
• Decent flight time
• Remarkable camera
• Image stabilization
• Wi-Fi connectivity
• Livestream capabilities across legion of devices
• Complaints about loss of RC signal
Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 WiFi FPV Drone
- Headless/IOC function. Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By using headless/IOC, the forward direction has nothing to do with nose direction....
- Equipped with the latest 6-Axis flight control systems, 3D lock, more scheduled flight, operating more to the force!
- Equipped with HD camera to take photos and videos while flying! Bring a new perspective to your photos and videos from the air.
For anyone who needs a decent drone with waterproof and camera and doesn’t want to splash hundreds or a few thousand dollars on a drone, the Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 is one of the best models in the lower-price category.
Consider it one of the top picks for the ordinary drone user who desires a cool waterproof drone for filming their paddle boarding activities.
The Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 is 100% waterproof, a feat not even some top-of-the-line models can match. It can fly in the rain and sail on water without the risk of damaging the electronics when it submerges.
But we have an issue with it in that the camera option is optional, and the camera is not fully waterproof, which beats the purpose of filming or snapping while in the high seas. Unless, of course, you are a skilled drone flyer and can comfortably bring the thing on board without the risk of crushing it into the water. But even then…
Still, for a model that comes in at less than $50, it is no wonder most consumers who own this drone unanimously agree it’s ‘one of the best toy-grade quadcopters’ money can get.
The Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 has a lightweight airframe which makes it susceptible to damage, so you need to be careful not to splash it hard when landing in the waters.
We love that this drone is equipped with features that you find on pricier models, some of which make the craft easier to control even for inexperienced users. These include Headless Mode, Hovering and Return Home function.
A 6-axis gyro also serves to make the unmanned aerial vehicle stable in flight and easy to control.
The Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 has a range of less than 100 meters and a flight time of about 8 minutes. Recharge takes a while (1 hour).
Its agility is outstanding. It can perform impressive maneuvers and stunts, including 360-degree rolls and flips even at full pelt.
Overall, this should prove a great buy for beginner flyers, casual users, or anyone looking for a cool waterproof drone without breaking the bank.
• Fun drone well suited for everyday use
• User friendly
• Great maneuverability and stability
• Useful features found in more advanced drones
• Excellent value for money
• Field of range is less than 100 meters (60-70 meters)
• Charging time is a bit lengthy
• Some reported outages and faults
• Irregular battery strength
PowerVision PowerRay Wizard Underwater Drone
- UPC: 852123007813
- Weight: 16.000 lbs
Rounding off our list of top waterproof drones equipped with cameras is a drone widely regarded as one of the best value options on the market, be it for professional or recreational use.
The PowerVision PowerRay Wizard is not just any ordinary drone. Rather, this is a model for use underwater – at a max depth of 98 feet to be precise. And it comes with the bells and whistles to aid in fishing, mapping, exploration, observing or recording marine life etc. etc.
In other words, you just found a drone that doubles up as an underwater camcorder which means you don’t have to dig deeper into your back pocket for that underwater video camera that has been forever on your wishlist. You can paddle board out to some reefs, then use the underwater drone to look at the coral reef and wildlife. The Powervision can easily be stored on your inflatable paddle board the using net storage.
Don’t worry, the battery on this drone can hold up to 4 hours in still water, although high-speed racing mode drains it within 30 minutes. A 6400mAh lithium polymer battery powers the drone, aided by three thrusters.
Depending on use, a full battery charge takes roughly 2.5 hours on average, so you would be wise to plan your activities well in advance.
The PowerRay Wizard is equipped with twin 3-watt lights for better clarity underwater, qualified with 450 lumens and a 6500k color temperature to allow for the best conditions to take great shots even in pitch darkness.
The fisherman in you will especially appreciate the Fishfinder and Bait Drop Line features. These make it easy to locate fish and leave bait in the most viable spots. And we are not talking a small area as the tether for this drone is 230 feet long.
That aside, the PowerVision PowerRay Wizard comes with a first-rate camera that can capture incredible 12-megapixel photos and record 4K video. The drone even comes bundled with a 64GB SD card that ensures you are ready to roll from the get-go.
The package comes complete with VR goggles to give you a snapshot of what it’s like piloting the drone from its perspective. Akin to being in the cockpit. Also included is a wireless controller so you don’t have to control the drone from a smartphone app.
Overall, the PowerRay Wizard from PowerVision is a top-notch underwater drone packed with awesome features. It is one of the highest quality options available at this price point, and an investment well worth it.
• Fully submersible drone
• Built-in 4K UHD camera
• Effective lights for exploration in the dark
• VR headset provided for fully immersive experience
• 64GB SD card
• Setup software can be a pain work with
• Advanced drone that requires a bit of a learning curve