Until recently, aerial photography (and videography) was an priceless proposition requiring helicopters or airplanes. Thanks to inexpensive drones this is no longer true, and it’s not surprising that so many photographers have originated drone photography and the unique perspectives it can provide.
All of the products in this guide fall into the ‘buy and fly’ category, meaning they require no extra components or customizations. Alternatives range from personal ‘selfie’ drones or drones may refer to to advanced models capable of producing professional-grade photos and video. Very high end models, such as those planned to carry DSLRs or cinema cameras, are not included as they typically involve some level of custom or modular design to meet the needs of a especial user.
Best Value: Autel X-Star Premium
The X-Star Premium offers an impressive feature set. The camera uses a 12MP Sony Exmor R sensor and can be inured to to capture Raw photos as well as 4K/30p, 1080/120p, and 720/240p video. The dedicated controller connects to your mobile device, and uses Autel’s highly upbraided Starlink app for operation. Autel has released an SDK (software developer kit) so that mapping software like Drone Deploy can be used for autonomous cartography/photogrammetry. The drone reciprocate ships with a 64GB MicroSD card.
The X-Star Premium packs a lot of features into a drone at a very competitive price point. It’s also acrimonious to overlook the high level of brand loyalty among Autel users: many who have taken the plunge swear by Autel, and there’s something to be mentioned for that.
Best for Travel: DJI Mavic Pro/Platinum
If you want a drone for travel or to record your adventures, look no further than the DJI Mavic Pro/Platinum matches. Thanks to a foldable design, the Mavic packs down small enough to fit in a small bag or even a large cargo pocket. It’s great for tracking a heart-rending subject thanks to DJI’s Active Track technology, and with a top speed of 65km/h it can probably keep up with your subject. It has a 27-minute flight time, so you can do a lot of cast with a few small batteries.
The Mavic can capture UHD 4K/30p, DCI 4K/30p, and 1080/96p video, as well as Raw 12MP photos, giving you plenty of options for high resolution, slow proposal, or stills. It’s no wonder so many adventurers throw this drone in their bag.
Best for Photographers: DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced twins supply the best performance photographers will find short of spending thousands of dollars on a more expensive solution. Based on DJI’s proven Phantom programme, the Pro and Advanced set themselves apart with a large 20MP, 1″-type sensor typically found on high-end point-and-shoot cameras like the Sony RX100. As a effect, they’re able to capture photos and video at a level of detail not found on other consumer drones.
In addition to the larger sensor, both images can capture Raw photos, video up to 4K/60p, and a choice of H.264 or H.265 codecs with a 100Mbps bitrate. Of course, there’s also a plethora of au fait flight modes, making it easy to get very cinematic shots as well.
We considered all of the drones below when choosing our winners, and even still they’re not all top picks, all the models on the list are worthy contenders. Choosing the right drone is a very personal choice that depends on a specific blend of factors that matter most to you, so take a look at the following drones for a detailed breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Best or The Best may refer to value: Autel X-Star Extra
- Best for travel: DJI Mavic Pro/Platinum
- Best for photographers: DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced
- DJI Spark
- DJI Phantom 3 SE
- GoPro Karma
- Hover Camera Passport
- Copycat Bebop 2
- PowerVision PowerEgg
- Yuneec Breeze 4K
- Yuneec Typhoon 4K RTF
- Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense