Drone vs Helicopter: Which One Is Better?

This is our comparison of the drone vs helicopter.

Drones and helicopters, or RC (radio-controlled) helicopters, are excellent devices for capturing fantastic aerial footage.

Many photography and filming companies utilize these flying devices, and each has pros and cons.

However, drones are exceedingly popular currently due to their continuous advancements. A drone vs. helicopter: Which one is better?

Generally, a drone is better than a helicopter. Drones are more stable, making them easier to fly; the main reason many choose them for aerial photography and videography. Also, the increased stability yields better control and maneuverability.

Thus, drones are ideal for recreational and commercial purposes.

Our article compares the two aircraft to help you identify the better option that suits your needs and which one can be used efficiently. Let’s get started.

Drone vs Helicopter: Which One Is Better?

Drones do better than helicopters in most aspects, such as stability, which eases their flying. However, drones have some limitations that pull them behind helicopters.

Let’s look at the different metrics of the two devices for better understanding.

  • Efficiency
  • Control
  • Ease of use
  • Flight time
  • Speed
  • Range and altitude
  • Purposes
  • Composition
Metric
Drones
RC Helicopters
Efficiency
8/10
6/10
Control
9/10
7/10
Ease of Use
8/10
6/10
Flight Time
7/10
6/10
Speed
6/10
8/10
Range and Altitude
7/10
Purposes
9/10
7/10
Composition
8/10
7/10

Efficiency

Both are efficient in different dimensions. Drones’ propulsion systems are typically more efficient and have longer flight times. Helicopters have higher maneuverability and vertical takeoff and landing capability.

Also, drones’ costs have lowered significantly, increasing their accessibility, while helicopters are more expensive.

Hence, drone vs. helicopter efficiency depends on your preferences and needs, such as maneuverability, cost, and flight experience.

Control

A drone’s software and GPS systems allow it to fly out of sight. You only need to focus more on the remote control’s screen than the aircraft.

A simple press of the return-to-home button brings the drone back to the takeoff point.

A helicopter is more hands on and relies on the control inputs. Hence, you must continually watch over your device to ensure it performs as expected.

Ease of Use

Drones have more flying ease than helicopters. The devices’ multiple rotors make it easier to control them than the helicopter’s single rotor.

The latter causes toppling and tilting when the helicopter is at high speed.

Modern drones have onboard software that enhance stability and make them even easier to control.

Helicopters lack this feature, making them more difficult to control—however, some pilots like this challenge.

Flight Time

Camera drones’ flight time ranges between 10-30 minutes on average. However, some top-notch professional models have extended batteries that can go up to 40-50 minutes.

Your specific flight time depends on the battery capacity and environmental conditions. Also, a heavy camera can significantly reduce flight time.

Helicopters have a flight time of up to 16 minutes. A single-battery device can fly for 8-10 minutes, while a two-battery one is 16-20 minutes.

Speed

80 mph is the average speed for drones. Some can accelerate to 186 mph in a few seconds, with the highest speed exceeding 217 mph.

An RC helicopter has a speed of 100 mph, and the fastest can go up to 200 mph or more.

Only try the high speeds after mastering the controls to prevent the helicopter’s damage.

Range and Altitude

Small, lightweight consumer drones with small batteries have a 1-2-mile range. The range of the large, heavy drones with large batteries is 10-20 miles.

Factors like designs, drone type, transmission technology, nature of flying area, and weather determine the specific range.

Drones’ altitude limit is 400 feet in many countries, but some drones can go up to 33,000 feet.

The helicopter’s range is 30-50m and an altitude of up to 10,000 feet. However, they also have a legal ceiling of 400 feet.

Purposes

Both aircraft are suitable for recreational and aerial photography. Most drones have cameras, but you’ll need to buy one separately for a helicopter.

Nevertheless, drones are better for transportation, surveillance, filmmaking, and fishing, among other tasks. There are also remote-controlled toy helicopters for kids, like the Syma S107G.

Composition

Drones have a limited composition. You can only view the subject and its surroundings through the controller’s screen. Additionally, most drones only shoot landscape photos.

A helicopter provides a panoramic view, allowing you to anticipate light and scene changes. They can shoot portrait and landscape photos and have almost endless compositions.

Parting Shot

So, drone vs helicopter, which one is better? Our review shows drones have the upper hand.

Stability is the most outstanding feature that keeps drones ahead of their counterparts, which enhances easy flying and maneuverability.

Still, drones are more efficient, controllable, easier to use, and can fly longer than the helicopter when fully charged. They’re more popular for handling tasks other than photography and recreational activities.

Helicopters have better composition and can produce portrait and landscape images. Most drones can only do landscape.

If you are looking to have fun and also do professional work, drones are the best way to go. If you are looking for a challenge or want to try a different type of flying, helicopters would be a good option.

FAQ

While both drones and rc helicopters can be efficient in their respective designs, drones tend to have simpler and more streamlined configurations that may offer higher efficiency, especially in terms of energy consumption and flight dynamics.

However, the specific efficiency of each aircraft will depend on factors like design, propulsion system, payload, and flight conditions.

If you are talking about the manned helicopters drones offer more efficiency when it comes to energy consumption, though they have limitations like limited battery power and area of coverage.

Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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