The Best Drones with Night Vision Cameras (See in the Dark!)

Last updated: 7th January 2020
SwagDrone 210-UP

SwagDrone 210-UP

Walkera F210

Walkera F210

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It wasn’t long when someone flying a camera drone imagined doing the same but by night. Best drones with night vision are still in their beginnings, but there are multiple excellent choices on the market for all of your tactical needs.

Additionally, night vision drones can prove to be very useful, especially in rural areas. Here you can survey land without walking through the mud in the dark.

Because they are so versatile when it comes to utility, the number of these drones exploded in the last few years. Apart from professional infrared camera drones that can see everything with only their own IR light, there are affordable consumer drones that can be used for this purpose.

Finally, there are options to modify some of the existing high-end drones with IR or night vision cameras. But, for the majority of users, a good, dedicated night vision drone will be the best overall option.

Those who understand how infra-red cameras work may realize why they are not as easy to be incorporated into a drone. There are several issues, both technically and design-wise.

By installing the light, the manufacturer needs to sacrifice a bit of battery life, as well as to add weight. And when those issues are solved, you need a camera that will have enough light entering to have a good picture.

Thankfully, several drone makers have found the right balance between making a good night vision camera and a useful drone. These devices act like high-quality mid-range drones with their flight features.

But, their cameras work just as we would want them. They give a clear and detailed picture that is easy to see with goggles or via your smartphone.

Best Night Vision Drones

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SwagDrone 210-UP

The SwagDrone is a stunning beginner-friendly night vision drone that’s also capable of racing.

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SwagDrone 210-UP
  • Flight Time: ~10 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~120 minutes
  • Range: 800m / 2625ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.8GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 700TVL night vision camera
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 800m / 2625ft
  • Weight: 370g / 13.05oz (without battery)
  • Working Temperature: ~0°C to ~35°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use 

We may receive compensation on qualifying purchases via our links. This does not change how we review items. For more information, please read our affiliate disclosure.

The 210-UP is an excellent example of a dedicated night vision drone that is effective and affordable. It takes several design cues from prior models and focuses on delivering a good night vision image.

Because of the weight discrepancy made by the IR lamp, the drone’s center of mass is pushed above the propellers. This makes the camera stable were it actually is, and not where a regular drone camera would be.

The racing drone look does provide some additional agility if needed. But, if you are flying only with the assistance of the infrared lamp, you will want to limit loops and turn, as to provide as much light in front of you as possible.

This drone doesn’t have GPS features, but rather uses internal sensors to stabilize your flying and assist you in more difficult turns. And once you become more proficient, you can always disable this assistance.

With the F3 STM32 flight processor, all of these tools will work together to provide you with a better flying experience and a superior night vision video.

Finally, the drone is very sturdy and will remain virtually intact in those moments where you aren’t able to stick the loop quite to the end.

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+ Pros

+ Easy to fly
+ Solid camera setup
+ Good range
+ Durable

- Cons

- Low flight time
- No GPS

Walkera F210

The Walkera F210 is our number one pick as the best drone with night vision.

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Walkera F210
  • Flight Time: ~9 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~120 minutes
  • Range: 400m / 1312ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.8GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 700TVL night vision camera
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 400m / 1312ft
  • Weight: 375g / 13.22oz
  • Working Temperature: ~-10°C to ~+40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

We may receive compensation on qualifying purchases via our links. This does not change how we review items. For more information, please read our affiliate disclosure.

The F210 has almost everything that comes in mind when buying a night vision drone. It is fast, maneuverable, and adaptable, and gives a clear image even in almost pitch dark.

Additionally, the drone is made to withstand stronger winds and suboptimal weather, with the center of mass placed slightly above the propellers.

By design, the F210 looks as if it would be a racing drone, but bigger. The antenna is relatively large, and a lot of emphases are given to stability. But this is all done because of the camera.

Under a fairly powerful 700TVL night vision camera, there is an IR lamp that efficiently illuminates the ground. This provides the camera with a clear view and good detail of everything you might want to see.

Additionally, there is a pair of FPV goggles that will transmit what the camera sees directly to the pilot, giving them a lot of time to react.

With the range of ~400 meters and slightly less than 10 minutes of flight time, this drone is very good for reconnaissance and surveillance if you are trekking or working security.

For those who are interested in the sport, this drone can be quite fast. And the FPV setup might make for an interesting night time racing bout.

We may receive compensation on qualifying purchases via our links. This does not change how we review items. For more information, please read our affiliate disclosure.

+ Pros

+ Easy to fly
+ Powerful motor
+ Solid camera setup
+ Excellent FPV setup

- Cons

- Low flight time
- No GPS

Buyer’s Guide: Drones with Night Vision

As is the case with almost any drone on the market today, the main issue when picking out the best one is what you will be using it for. Selecting the best drones with night vision is not different.

But, when it comes to night vision, the main factor you will focus on in your needs is the distance. Depending on how far from you want your drone from the object you are filming, you can access how powerful you need the camera to be.

Additionally, it will be different if you plan on flying your drone in low light or complete darkness. Moonless nights in rural areas will require drone’s own light source while flying by night in a city just needs a good lens.

Aside from the title feature, the best drones with night vision still need to be high-quality drones. Flight and navigation can’t suffer because of the camera quality.

Similar to good HD drones, stability will also be important, as it will give the camera lens enough time to take in light and produce a clear picture.

Finally, you will need to adjust the battery time and motor strength to the conditions you are flying in. Most places become windier at night, and your drone will need to compensate for that.

How Do Night Vision Drones Work?

There are three types of image processing that we collectively call ‘night vision’. While all three let us see outside of the visible spectrum for humans, the type of image, in the end, can be quite different.

The three types are infrared, low light, and thermal.

Thermal cameras in drones exist but can be quite heavy. Unlike IR and low light cameras, these take in thermal radiation and don’t need a light source.

As this camera requires quite a bit of power and space, it will be attached to a gimbal and protruded from the drone itself. There isn’t currently a technology to make a miniature thermal camera.

Low light cameras are simply modified to take in and process more light from the image they have. Most DSLR cameras can be adjusted for low light by changing their ISO options.

In drones, these cameras work by having a large lens and a large CMOS chip, taking in as much as they can from the environment. With a bit of processing, they can create a clear and contrasted image and even a video.

Finally, the most common and, arguably, the best way for a drone to use night vision is to have an infrared camera with an IR light. The light bounces off the target and is collected by the camera.

As the wavelength of IR is much longer than the visible spectrum, the resolution will never be as good as in regular cameras. But, the image can be clear and easily discernable.

While old IR cameras did have a green hue, with modern illumination, this is not needed, and you will receive a crisp and clear black & white image on your device or goggles.

How Might Night Vision Drones Be Used?

When it comes to the best drones with night vision, they have all of the utility of a camera drone, with a bonus feature of seeing in the dark.

That feature alone can have a wide range of uses, either in leisure activities and art or in surveying.

Drones that work with an IR camera can be used to survey land at night and follow the movements of people and animals that may be passing through. This is especially useful if you ware trekking rural areas as it will give you a superior vantage point at night.

With a night vision drone, you don’t always need to camp for the night. You can use your drone to scout ahead and then know exactly where you are going.

But, take note that drones are not suitable to assist you in hunting. Even with brushless motors, they create way too much noise to remain unnoticed by pray.

You might be able to get images and videos of animals moving, but they will be on their toes for foreign smells and movement, making them much harder to hunt.

Surveying

It might seem that most surveying is best done in bright daylight, but for some features, that is simply not possible. Heavy rainfall and draining usually happen during the night when the temperature makes a dip.

In these cases, it is often easier, faster, and safer to go with a drone than to go on foot. And the drone will provide you with a much better view than if you were on the ground.

While drone surveying will require a decent amount of math, it will be no more than you are used to when working. Calculating your range, speed, and battery life are not that difficult.

When you arrive at your location, once you have done all of the measurements you can from the ground, you can release your drone. Then you will have a whole new view of the situation.

As all of the main features that concern you will be seen in high contrast, you will be able to quickly assess the situation and give your verdict about what can and should be done.

Security

With the invention of automation, security work has witnessed a renascence.

The biggest issue when trying to protect any stationary object at night is that you usually need feet on the ground, which can be attacked or disabled. And this is exactly where the drone comes in.

By flying over with a drone, a security officer can have a superior vantage point and a better assessment of the field. Also, any obstacles on the ground can be overcome by simply going over them.

Finally, the biggest advantage of drone-assisted security is that there is no danger to the pilot. If there is a situation, everything will be recorded, and the worst thing that can happen is the drone being damaged. 

Photography

Infrared and night time photography and videography might not be as prominent as their ‘full color’ counterparts. But, going out when nocturnal critters, human or animal, start to emerge, will give you some amazing photo opportunities.

Either with specialized low-light drones or those that work with infrared, you will be able to get a clear and contrasted image and a new perspective on your subjects.

The best drones with night vision will allow an experienced photographer to look at the world in the same way as animals that hunt at night.

Thankfully, taking a shot as a drone photographer will not harm anyone.

Trekking

Traveling over the mountain, even with modern technology, is a demanding, albeit interesting, task. But, with a little help from a drone, you can never become lost in the mountains again.

By piloting a night-vision drone, you can quickly raise your view-point and look over the surrounding landscape. This will show you the lay of the land, and any possible pathways that you might take.

Additionally, the night vision camera is very sensitive to all light sources. If there is a lit cabin somewhere in the distance, you will be able to notice it from miles away.

Are You Allowed To Fly At Night?

As all night vision cameras add significantly to the weight, most of these drones will need to be registered with the Federal Flying Commission or the FFC.

Apart from this requirement, which exists for other drones as well, there are few other regulations. Still, each state and each country might have some additional rules that you should familiarize yourself with.

On the FFC website, you will be able to find instructions and notices for particular states when it comes to drones. Also, most hobby clubs that include drone pilots will be willing to share legal information with you.

The two most common laws that you should follow are trespassing and privacy. While few people will have an issue with your drone flying over their land, those that keep birds might, and they have the right.

Also, filming anyone outside of public places and without their permission is not only illegal but quite rude.

If you plan on using your drone for good, you will be free to fly them whenever you want, day or night.

Conclusion

It is a short leap from wanting to become a drone pilot and take wonderful pictures and videos from the air to wanting to do so by night. 

But, to pick out between the best drones with night vision, you will need to know when and where you will use them.

Some drones are ideal for taking large panning shots of the fields illuminated with infrared light. Others will make nice low light shots under moonlight or city light.

Regardless of what you pick, the best drones with night vision will be both useful and very entertaining to fly.

We may receive compensation on qualifying purchases via our links. This does not change how we review items. For more information, please read our affiliate disclosure.

SwagDrone 210-UP

SwagDrone 210-UP

The SwagDrone is a stunning beginner-friendly night vision drone that's also capable of racing.

Walkera F210

Walkera F210

The Walkera F210 is our number one pick as the best drone with night vision.