Beginners looking for a first drone that also has camera capabilities, the UDI U818A HD is one of the top options. It’s at a price point where beginners can feel comfortable with learning to fly, and can start to get a feel for aerial photography and videos.

The blue UDI U818A HD
The blue UDI U818A HD

UDI upgraded their camera from 90’s camcorder level to 1280×720 HD in the new HD model. You will have the ability to experience things from the drone’s point of view, which opens up a whole new drone flying experience.

The UDI U818A HD, with its tongue twister inspired name, hits a sweet spot between more expensive camera drones and recreational micro drones.

Similar to micro drones for recreational flying, the control of the U818A is firmly in the pilot’s hands. There are no GPS tracking or hover functions, so the computer-aided training wheels are not included. It is a designed decision — learning to fly manually is more liberating and the pilot will have a genuine feel for how a quadcopter flies and its controls.

One downside to this is that the camera image will have motion blur when the quadcopter is turning. However much of the shakiness is absorbed by the quadcopter frame and the video is quite steady when the drone isn’t turning.

The U818A is a great model to begin exploration into camera drones for photography and cinematography. It is the drone equivalent of a newborn opening its eyes for the first time — a bit blurry but full of wonder.

UDI u818a quadcopter
The U818A is great for outdoor use


There are two flight modes – one that limits turning and climbing speed and one that doesn’t. The limited mode is great for first-time fliers so the controls can be understood by practice without sending the drone careening into a wall.

The U818A also helps you learn tricks. It has a backflip button as well as a stunt mode. The backflip button, which the designers call the 360 Eversion button, automates a backflip when you press it. Just remember to throttle up after it flips so you don’t flip into a faceplant.

The stunt mode allows you to use the right stick to do somersaults. Simply pull and release the right stick. There’s no computer automated land or hover, so be aware of the space around you doing tricks.

The UDI U818A transmitter design sticks to its RC roots
The UDI U818A transmitter design sticks to its RC roots

The frame of the quadcopter is light, flexible plastic that includes rotor guards in a single piece. With these, there’s a chance of recovery from light collisions. It’s minimally designed, with the electronics, battery, and camera under the central hub.

It sports 5.25 inch diamater rotors, which uses a small screw to be attached to the motors. It’s more troublesome to replace, but also makes them secured more tightly. The size of the rotors and drone in general, combined with its light weight makes it prone to winds.

Charging two batteries at the same time
One charge, double the flight time.

Like most drones in its category, it has a Li-Po battery lastingĀ 8 minutes-ish. One thing to note, there is no warning when batteries are low. It’s hard when you’re having fun flying, but you’ll quickly have a feel for how long it lasts. UDI includes 2 batteries, and a charger that charges both simultaneously.

The camera records to a 4GB sd card that comes in the box, in mp4 format.

For a more medium sized manual drone that really flies great, the U818A HD is the top option. There is a reason why the original was the top selling drone on Amazon. Add to that an HD camera to introduce you to the world of quadcopter filming too, and you got yourself a full drone experience.

If you’re looking for a quadcopter that can stream FPV video, UDI recently released their U818A-1 Discovery with WiFi FPV, keeping much of the physical features of the U818A, since it performs so well.