The best cockpit cameras for pilots offer unique perspectives. The top piot cameras can help capture memorable weather scenes, unusual perspectives on locations, and the overall experience of flying cross-country.
The best cameras for pilots are usually action cameras designed for capturing action in progress at a reasonable price. Another popular type of pilot camera is 360-degree, although these cameras may offer lower image quality. Regardless of the type of camera, there are some important criteria for buyers to keep in mind.
Some of the most important things about aviation cameras to consider about include the following:
- Overall video quality – how high does the quality need to be for your usage?
- Still image capabilities – can the camera take decent still pictures if needed?
- Audio quality – is the audio quality good enough for vlogging and similar activities?
- Camera mounting – can the camera mount easily in your cockpit?
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The Best Cameras for Pilots: How to Make the Right Choice
Choosing the right aircraft camera for your needs is essential. To make the right choice, it’s important to understand the criteria most pilots use when shopping for cameras.
What video quality do you need?
When you select a camera to use as a pilot, you will need to determine your minimum video quality first. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every need; individual criteria will vary among similar usages.
You can meet your needs with a bargain airplane camera, especially if most of your videography is for personal use. Personal videography has more to do with making memories than documentation.
Most of these videos will be casual and mainly shared with family and friends. Less-expensive cameras can capture high-quality video that will impress viewers.
How much detail, such as detail from instrumentation, is necessary during your video playback? You will need a higher resolution and megapixel count if featuring anything more detailed than the usual forward view from the cockpit.
If you take aerial photos for a living, camera quality is essential. Camera brands and models that professionals use will produce better results than consumer cameras.
If you’re a vlogger mainly focusing on the audio commentary, the audio quality will matter more than the visual quality. If you have quality audio, it is much easier to provide compelling narration to provide better context for the visuals.
Are you taking still photos?
If you are also taking still photos, there are extra considerations to remember. Although many cameras easily handle still images and video, some only handle video content.
When standard screen ratio is best
Standard screen ratios are sufficient for many pilots. Standard ratios are adequate for the task if you’re documenting a flight with photos for personal use.
Most photos taken with a standard screen ratio display well on social media. Where social media sites are the medium of choice for photo-sharing, any camera that takes social media-ready photos is ideal for personal use.
When you might prefer panoramic views
However, some locations, such as areas with stunning scenery, are best shared using a camera with panoramic or widescreen views. Examples of sites that look best with panoramic views include the Grand Canyon, the Smoky Mountains, and Mount Rushmore.
What type of audio quality do you need?
Planes are very noisy places, which makes the audio quality more critical. Airplane engines, combined with the wind, can make it challenging to get clear audio.
Most action and 360-degree cameras cannot capture clear audio. Pilots who need to capture clear, crisp sound from the cockpit must consider an external microphone.
Many pilots choose to feature communication with air traffic control (ATC) in their video content. A compatible audio cable helps make these communications easier.
How will your camera mount?
Camera mounts are more important than many realize because the mounts are not universal. Ensuring the camera is easy to mount with existing equipment will save you a lot of frustration.
Some pilots may prefer pocket cameras that do not require mounting. Cellphone and tablet holders will accommodate cameras in these circumstances.
The Top Choices for Cameras for Pilots
1. The Best Streaming Camera: GoPro HERO9
The GoPro HERO9 offers superior resolution of up to 5K. You’ll enjoy the excellent detail made possible with a 26.6 mp sensor.
Photos taken with this camera have a 20 mp resolution, easily putting them in the professional class. A feature I enjoy is the camera’s ability to select the best photo processing for the shot that you are taking.
The rear touch screen helps make zooming effortless for this camera. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the front display was the easier image framing.
This camera has a 30% longer battery life than comparable cameras. One thing that matters to me in a camera is not having to switch out batteries constantly.
The video stabilization feature for this camera is one of the best I’ve encountered. All the settings allow for boost and camera leveling.
2. The Best 360-Degree Action Camera: insta360 ONE X2 360 Degree Waterproof Action Camera
The insta360 ONE X2 360 Degree Waterproof Action Camera makes it easy to shoot your pictures first, then choose the best angle later. This feature is beneficial for some of my favorite flight locations to photograph.
I like the horizon leveling and stabilization features working without a gimbal. The features are superior to those of previous cameras that I have owned.
Another feature I appreciated was the invisible selfie stick, ideal for drone-like and third-person vantage points. The selfie stick will disappear during your photo edit.
This camera is waterproof to 33 ft, offering better protection in a worst-case scenario. Accessories that come with the camera include a battery, charge cable, user manual, and pouch.
3. The Best Pocket Camera: DJI Osmo Pocket – Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with Integrated Camera
The DJI Osmo Pocket – Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with Integrated Camera is one of the best pocket-sized cameras I have found for cockpit use to date. This camera has a 144-minute battery life for capturing all the best shots.
I appreciate the 3-axis gimbal that helps keep everything steady at all times. This gimbal is perfect for low-lighting and long-exposure settings.
This camera features 4K video and 64 mp photos resolution. One of the effects of the resolutions is providing cinematic quality.
This camera features four microphones for an enhanced audio experience. The audio can be easily enhanced based on the camera’s direction and focus.
I enjoyed the effects that you can add for use on social media. There is also an artificial intelligence (AI) editor for providing music and transitions.
4. The Best One-Touch Operation Camera: TACTACAM 6.0 Action Camera
Although the TACTACAM 6.0 Action Camera is a popular hunting and outdoor camera, it also excels in aviation. The zoom lens that magnifies up to eight times is one of the exceptional features.
Key features include:
- One-touch operation
- Integrated display screen
- Image stabilization
- Low-light sensor
I like how this camera also features enhanced options such as auto-focus. Loop recording, a moveable red dot, and time-lapse features help add to the overall quality of recorded content.
Downloading the Tactacam app to your phone offers a range of remote features. These features make sharing adventures on your trip even easier.
5. GoPro MAX 360 Waterproof Action Camera
When using the GoPro MAX 360 Waterproof Action Camera, I was impressed with the 50-piece accessory kit. Everything I needed was here, along with accessories I might not need but are nice to have.
You can choose between a single and double lens for 360-degree views. There is a full range of editing tools to create video content that is easily shareable from a phone.
One of the things I liked was having six microphones perfect for 360-degree video shots. The directional audio is ideal for pilots who enjoy vlogging about their adventures.
Your needs will help determine which of the best cameras for pilots is correct because the solutions are not one-size-fits-all. Cockpit views are amazing, regardless of the camera that you choose, and provide perspectives unlike anything else you’ll see while in the air.