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Aerial shots can take your photography and videography to the next level, but there was a time when you would have had to have access to a crane, helicopter or both to get the kinds of shots you would want. Nowadays, with the widespread availability of drones, you can get the kinds of cinematic shots that would make Martin Scorsese proud. Drones fit into the category of unmanned aerial vehicles, which can refer to anything from enormous military drones to handheld consumer devices. One of the most impressive innovations in the world of consumer drones is “follow-me” technology.
Follow-me technology refers to the ability of drones to follow a target without the use of a remote control. Follow me drones are an excellent choice for any adventure athlete who wants to capture themselves skiing, mountain biking or climbing. While a GoPro strapped to a helmet helps capture the point-of-view action, a follow-me drone can add a lot to your videos by capturing your entire body in motion. Follow-me drones typically rely on some sort of tethering — whether that’s a wrist-device or a phone — to keep the drone following its target. Some advanced models, like those made by DJI, use recognition technology to actually see what they’re following.
We’ve rounded up some of the best follow me drones available. Many of these feature an automatic “return home” function, which will bring the drone back to you when the battery is low. Plus, most of these options come with a high-def camera built-in. These are the ones to get.
1. DJI Mavic Air
DJI is probably the top brand when it comes to follow-me technology. The Mavic Air boasts many of the features of the Phantom, DJI’s other flagship model, but in a smaller package. The Mavic Air utilizes ActiveTrack which can be used to help track yourself. You can also control the unit using the compact, folding remote controller.
Pros: Top of the line standard. Compact and lightweight. The drone folds for easy storage. ActiveTrack can recognize 16 targets and be set to a specific one. Camera supports 4K video.
2. Holy Stone Foldable GPS Drone
Holy Stone’s impressive drone comes with a 2K FHD camera built-in, which is adjustable up to 90 degrees for capturing a variety of shots. There are several automatic flight features — it can either automatically follow you, a pre-set path, or it can circle a designated point. The unit will automatically return to you when the battery is low.
Pros: Various flight features including follow me mode or pre-set path. Brushless motor for quieter operation and longer battery life. Automatic return feature when the battery is low.
Cons: Not as high-quality video or photography when compared with DJI.
3. Potensic T25 GPS Drone, FPV RC Drone
This option from Protensic is affordable while maintaining many of the top features of premium brands. It comes with an HD camera with a 120-degree field of view, and built-in WiFi makes for easy transmission of videos. It can be set to follow you, or you can set a custom path for the drone to track. It will automatically return if the battery is low.
Pros: Affordable, 120-degree field of view camera. Follow me feature or customized flight paths.
Cons: 1080p camera is not as high quality as options.
4. Contixo F22 GPS Drone
Contixo’s affordable quadcopter drone can fold to be as small as the palm of your hand, making it easy to take on the go. It can be used to shoot in a variety of modes including follow me, orbit mode, or it can be flown along a pre-set path. Plus, the auto-return feature means that it won’t get stranded if it gets lost or runs out of battery.
Pros: Foldable to a compact size, features gesture controls. Follow me and return to home features.
Cons: Camera could be better quality.