The 7 Best Drones for Video Analysis 2023

By Duncan Ritchie

25-April-2023 on Tips

15 minute read

In this article, we present you with a list of the best drones for filming sports. This list has been updated for 2023 with help from analyst Francisco Lara, a pioneer of using drones for video analysis in Spanish football.


[*Note: This blog was updated April 23, 2023]

Drones seem to be ever more present in the world of sports video analysis. Analysts all over the world seem to be adding this great gadget to their arsenal of tools. And why not?

 

They allow you to see the action from angles that aren’t covered by pitch-side video cameras. They provide a birds-eye view of the action and can reveal otherwise unobtainable data.

 

With this in mind, here are some things to consider when adding a drone to your toolset and 7 recommendations for great drones for sports video analysis.

 

If you want to know more about working with drones, you might also be interested in our practical guide to working with drones.

 

Of course, if you need more information or advice on this subject, you can contact us at anytime and we’ll be glad to help you out.



Things to Consider When Buying a Drone

 

As we’re talking about relatively modern technology, there are often many questions about which is the best drone to buy in each particular case. For this reason, before getting stuck into our recommendations, we’d like to share some basic criteria that we consider essential for analysts.

 

best drones for video analysis

 

Keep in mind this general rule when buying a drone - the higher the price, the more abundant the features. This may seem obvious, but there is a huge range of prices when it comes to buying a drone, and perhaps you don’t need all the features it offers.

 

We’d also like to say that price has not been the main criteria for selecting the drones on our list. 

 

 

Flight time

 

Probably the most important factor when it comes to choosing a drone should be how long it stays in the air without needing to change the battery. So, in terms of sports, we need to think about the length of a match or training session.

 

You might want to consider looking for a drone which offers the longest flight time without having to land it and change the battery.

 

Of course, as a general rule, the longer the flight time, the bigger the battery and, obviously, the bigger the drone needed.

 

There are drones which can fly for up to two hours at a time, but these tend to be professional film-making equipment which can run into the tens of thousands to buy. In this article, we’ll concentrate more on the commercial market in which we can generally count on these rough flight times:

 

  •   Entry level drones: 5 - 10 minutes
  •   Mid-range drones: 15 - 20 minutes 
  •   High-end drones: 20 - 40 minutes


view of sports fields from drone

 

Image Quality

 

The quality of the video that a camera can capture is, of course, another major consideration when choosing a drone. Perhaps you don’t need the highest quality images when the what matters most is the positioning of players and their movement, but you also don’t want to be struggling to make this out when conducting the analysis.

 

Again, this depends on your budget and needs. There are professional heavy lift octocopters on which professional cameras can be mounted and flown, but, usually, these drones are designed for professional aerial photographers. Again, these drones are very expensive and we’re going to concentrate on the more commercial side of the market in this article.

 

So, we’ll be looking at drones which have integrated cameras. There’s a wide range of options out there but, as always, you get what you pay for. At the high-end, your looking at cameras which can film in amazing looking 8K HDR and, at the low end, you may be looking at sub-HD video, although this may suffice, especially if you are a beginner and simply looking for a low-cost way of experimenting with drones.

 

filming football with drones



Ease of Transport

 

With this concept, we’re referring to how manageable the drone is in terms of its size, weight, dimensions and ease of transport. Of course, this is completely subjective, but we recognise that many analysts already have to transport a lot of equipment without having to worry about adding a drone to the load.

 

For these analysts, a small drone may be the best choice. 


lightweight drone

 

Range

 

How far away from the controller can the drone fly? 

 

This is probably the least important of the factors for a sports analyst as, generally speaking, you won’t need to fly outside the playing area you are filming. Drone range can run anywhere from 50 metres at the entry level and up to 8 km at the really top end.


football stadium filmed from drone



Other Features

 

There are many other considerations to take into account when considering which drone to buy. Obviously, the price is going to be one of the biggest factors but, as we said earlier, we haven’t taken this into consideration because we don’t know your budget. Instead, we’ve chosen drones that we consider to be the most technically capable.

 

You must also take the law into account before you decide to fly a drone. Depending on national or local legislation, there may be restrictions on the weight of a drone, the maximum height or distance it can fly, or limited areas in which they can fly, so it’s important that you do your research in this regard.

 

There’s a lot that you need to get to grips with when flying drones, not least getting to know the jargon that surrounds the flying of drones. But don’t worry, the deeper you delve into this world, the easier it becomes.


football analysis with drones

 

 

The Best Drones for Filming Sports

 

Disclaimer

 

The aim of this article is to give as much information to our users and readers as possible.

 

Nacsport is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or sellers mentioned in this list nor does it receive a commission for any sales coming as a direct result of this article. 

 

The information provided in this list are estimations based on the specs provided by manufacturers. We recommend you shop around to find the best packages and deals.

 

 

DJI Mavic 3

Flight time:46 minutes (40 minutes hovering)
Video resolution: 4K
Size: 347.5 x 283 x 107.7 millimeters
Weight: 895 gr.

 

Probably the best drone currently on the market for filming sports. This is the newest version of the legendary DJI drone. In addition to its battery that, in theory, should last a whole half of a football match, it has some spectacular technical characteristics. Of course, quality costs, and this may be out of reach of more modest budgets.

 

 

 

Autel Evo 2 Pro

Flight time: 40 minutes

Video resolution: 6K

Size: 397 millimeters (diameter)

Weight: 1191 gr.

 

Again, the battery here keeps the drone flying for a decent amount of time, although perhaps not for a full half of football. Has a great 20 megapixel camera with up to 6K resolution. Again, this isn’t a cheap drone, but is a great choice for those with big budgets.

 

 

DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro

Flight time: 34 minutes

Video resolution: 4K

Size: 17,1 x 24,5 x 6,2 cm

Weight: 249 gr.

 

The best thing about this drone is, without a doubt, how light it is. The fact that its weight is less than 250 grams means that it doesn’t need permission to fly in many countries. Also, since it is extremely compact, it's easy to transport. The battery is quite good - within the range of acceptability- and it films at 4K. It also has portrait format and obstacle detection. A good buy, for sure.

 

Autel EVO Lite+

Flight time: 40 mins

Video resolution: 6K

Size: 430 x 517 x 85 mm.
Weight: 835 gr.

 

There’s little to add to what the technical specs already reveal. We’re talking about another top-of-the-range drone, from a company with a great reputation, which records up to 6K at 30 megapixels, with a decent price and good flight time.

 

Being high-end, we’ll place it between the DJI Mavic 3 that tops this list and the Air 2S, which we’ll talk about later. One of its great features is that it incorporates a four-axis gimbal that allows for vertical filming.

 

 

 

Autel EVO Nano +

Flight time: 28 minutes

Video resolution: 4K

Size: 260 x 325 x 55mm.
Weight: 250gr.

 

Coming in at only 250 grams of weight, this Autel drone had to be included in this list. If size and manageability are two important characteristics for you - in addition to a lower price-, this is undoubtedly one of the models that you should be considering. On the flipside, the flight time is much shorter than others in this list.

 

 

 

DJI Air 2S 

Flight time:31 mins

Video resolution: 5.4K

Size:183 × 253 × 77 millimeters (302 mm diagonal length)
Weight:595 gr.

 

Again, another DJI drone (DJI and Autel are the most recognised brands on the market, without a doubt), the Air 2S is an excellent choice for analysts. Cheaper than those further up this list, but also very capable and powerful.

Note that it also has a powerful 20-megapixel camera and the flight time is quite considerable, reaching half an hour. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a drone for beginners, as it definitely sits at the high-end.

 

 

 

Sure Zino Mini Pro

Flight time:40 minutes

Video resolution: 4K

Size:20,2 x 16,1 x 6,1 cm.
Weight:249 gr.

 

Let’s get away from DJI and Autel for a moment - even though they considered to be the best on the market. For our last entry, let’s add this drone from Hubsan, which can certainly mix it up with the big boys.

 

This is an ultralight drone which comes in below the weight where restrictions may apply. It also meets the requirements and features needed by many analysts, including a battery which, according to the manufacturer, will last for 40 minutes.

 

 

Many More Alternatives

 

So, that’s our selection of drones but there are hundreds of other options out there, from cheap toy drones, which start at around £30, to hefty pro drones which can cost you as much as a small car.

 

We recommend that you think about what you need in terms of features, flight time and camera resolution, do your homework and, most importantly, shop around for the best deal. We’ll be back next week with another post dedicated to drones, showing you how they can be used for sports analysis in practice.

 

If you have any questions, comments or want to give your own recommendations for drones, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

 

Thanks for reading.

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