Cinewhoops are a newer class of drone designed to carry a small HD camera (GoPro or Insta) typically in subject driven cinematic settings with ducts or prop guards to protect the subject from prop strikes.
There were some very significant improvements made in flight performance during 2021, mainly in motor sizing (shifting from tall narrow motors to short fat ones) but also in frame design (removable arms which deal with vibrations better and are much more serviceable) and duct design (molded for better durability and more aerodynamic for better flight performance).
Prop Size Selection
The main deciding factor for which prop size to go with (2.5″ vs 3″ vs 3.5″) is payload, so for naked GoPro’s/Bones or DJi Action 2 a 2.5″ to 3″ prop is recommended and then for a 100+ gram camera like the GoPro Hero’s a 3″ or 3.5″ prop will be a better choice. Efficiency is another factor here and may help you narrow down your choice as bigger props will typically get you longer run times with the sacrifice of a bigger frame and more weight.
When cinewhoops first came out there were very few micro motors with enough stator volume to lift such a heavy platform, and the only real options were 1408’s and 1507’s. These are extremely tall and narrow motors which were fine on the 250ish gram rigs they were designed for but they run into a problem with cooling on heavy builds where you need a minimum of 500 grams of thrust all the time to just get off the ground. The solution was a much wider flatter stator commonly called “pancake” motors, so all of the recommendations here are for 2004 – 2304 motors which make a truly incredible improvement in the performance of these rigs.
Ducted vs Prop Guards
There are many opinions on the duct vs prop guard debate but one of the main factors to consider is the safety of your subject, so if you will be flying around talent a duct is a must but if flying around cars or talent with gear on to protect against prop strikes a guard will more than likely be sufficient.
There is very little to no thrust increase from ducts since it’s almost impossible to get the gap between the tip of the prop and the wall of the duct tight enough without seriously impacting the reliability.
Light weight vs Heavy Weight
As more and more cinewhoops were released many manufacturers focused on durability which increased the weight and noise (more thrust = more noise) significantly while negatively impacting flight performance. The extra weight causes the cinewhoop to “slide” around much more making hitting tight gaps consistently more difficult so there’s a definite compromise to that extra durability much like with heavier 650+ gram freestyle builds. These heavier cinewhoops would make sense for flying freestyle and bashing into things or for racing but we don’t really see them being used for that very frequently so they’ve been left off of this page.
Thanks to Ahren Ciotti for his help picking parts for this list. Ciotti is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable with this class of quadcopter, and I couldn’t have made this page without him. Please visit his YouTube channel and website – CiottiFPV.com.