If you’re a photographer, videographer, or content creator, you are likely quite familiar with drones. The small aircraft allow photo and video buffs to shoot and capture large amounts of high-quality image material or data from a bird’s eye view, or other creative perspectives. Drones are excellent at capturing footage that can make any video feel even more cinematic. It’s no surprise the market has grown red hot with plenty of competition in recent years, so if you’re looking for the best drone out there, StudyFinds is here to help.
Previously, drones were mostly known to be used by the military or government for surveillance or operations, but personal usage of drones has increased dramatically. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global drone camera market was valued at $3.33 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $23.59 billion by 2027.
Drones, of course, are being utilized for all sorts of practical uses. Many companies are turning to the aircraft for everyday services, such as parcel or food delivery. First responders say drones may even be used for rescuing heart attack victims and are now key to finding missing hikers lost in the wilderness.
Essentially, a drone consists of a camera that is attached to a flying body that can be controlled and piloted remotely. The best drone combines a variety of factors, such as camera quality, sensor and GPS capability, and weight. If you’re looking for a great gift for the camera or tech enthusiast in your life, a starter drone might be the perfect surprise. But which model should you choose? StudyFinds went to work to find the best drones on the market. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which drones consistently rated the highest.
The List: Best Drones, According to Experts
1. DJI Mini 3 Pro
This drone is powerful for the price and size, with superior camera quality and an array of features and sensors to ensure a smooth flight. “The DJI Mini 3 Pro is the most powerful and, in our book, best compact drone you can buy,” writes TechRadar. “For the money, you get a far superior camera, obstacle avoidance sensors, and a range of features that you’d normally only find on larger drones.”
Besides being equipped with excellent obstacle avoidance technology, the DJI Mini 3 Pro handles low light situations very well, producing professional quality footage with minimal noise. “Three-way obstacle sensors, automated flight modes, and 4K60 video round out the feature set. We especially like the APAS function, an autopilot that can navigate through complex spaces all by itself, for low-to-the-ground use,” writes PC Mag.
Popular Mechanics agrees: “Ultra lightweight (fewer than 249 grams), the Mini 3 Pro is a foldable, high-powered drone. On board, you’ll get 4K/60 fps video, 48MP photos, True Vertical Shooting, a gimbal that rotates 90 degrees, focus tracking, and time lapse mode. It can fly up to 34 minutes and has forward, downward, and backward sensors to avoid obstacles.”
2. DJI Mavic 3
The DJI Mavic 3 comes at a higher price point but is worth the investment if you are a photography or videography enthusiast looking to get the best footage possible. “Get more footage on a single charge with the DJI Mavic 3. This state-of-the-art drone boasts a max flight time of 46 minutes and a range of 15KM, while its omnidirectional obstacle sensing allows you to maneuver the drone around objects with minimized crash risk,” writes Popular Mechanics.
The drone has a 4/3rd-size image processor that is comparably larger than any other drone of its caliber, allowing it to capture more light so images have better dynamic range. “The DJI Mavic 3’s relatively high starting price of $2,000 makes it significantly more expensive than others on this list, but if you’re a professional or enthusiastic photographer wanting superb photos and videos from the sky then it’s an investment that might be worth making,” adds CNET.
Who’s it made for? PC Mag says, “The Mavic 3 is ideal for cinematographers, indie filmmakers, vloggers, and other creative professionals. The drone is heavy enough to require FAA registration and you need an operator’s license to use it for paid work, but it’s still small enough to carry in a shoulder bag. ”
3. DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is perfect for traveling, as it can fold up compact and delivers 34 minutes of flight time on a single charge, better than most drones at this price point. “The Mavic Air 2 offers a significant upgrade from the popular Mavic Air, which is itself an outstanding drone. If there’s a do-everything, one-size-fits-all drone, this is it,” writes Money Crashers.
The Mavic Air 2 offers GPS functionality and programmable flight paths so you have complete control. “This is the drone for people who want more than the Mini 2 has to offer, but don’t want to buy a Mavic 3. This drone is perfect even for the most demanding high-end consumer. For the price, the Mavic Air 2S is superb. You get a flying, stabilized 5.4K camera that can stay in the sky for close to 30 minutes, and capture amazing film footage,” says ZDNET.
According to Popular Mechanics, “It takes 48MP pictures and 4K HDR videos, and can even livestream directly from the drone’s camera in 1080p resolution. Plus, it can sense obstacles in three directions for safer (and smarter) flying.”
4. Autel Evo Lite+
The Autel EVO Lite+ is a perfect contender to go up against the DJI line, with versatile sensors and video that can be captured in Standard and Log Color in 5.4K up to 30fps, 4K up to 60fps, 2.7K up to 60fps and HD up to 120fps. “The Lite+ features a folding design that makes it much more compact for transportation and storage. Folded, the drone is 210×123×95mm and 427×384×95mm unfolded, alongside a weight of 835g,” writes Space. “It’s not the smallest or lightest drone available, but the trade-off here is improved image quality, more advanced camera functionality and more power.”
Many drone pilots tend to go with Autel as an alternative option to previous security concerns DJI drones were known to have with the storage of personal identification information. “This easy-to-fly drone offers a 6K camera and 40 minutes of flight time, and unlike DJI drones, it has no known security concerns. This drone can fly for up to 40 minutes with autonomous options similar to those of DJI drones,” says NY Times.
How does it compare to other models? PC Mag explains, “The Autel Evo Lite+ uses a Type 1 sensor camera for picture quality that’s competitive with the DJI Air 2S, with the additional benefit of a variable aperture to cut incoming light without the need for ND filters.”
5. Ryze Tech Tello
This mini drone is a suitable choice for users who want a starter model to learn the basics of drone piloting. “While the Tello’s 5MP camera produces JPEGs and 720p video, it may give an affordable entry point for beginners to fly a drone and get a feel for how they operate without the risk and anxiety of crashing a much more expensive model,” writes Advertising Review.
While it doesn’t have the best video quality or flight time, it’s still considered the best model for gifting or for those who aren’t sure if the world of drones is for them and want to take that first step. “It beams 720p video back to a phone in WiFi range (100m), or 5mp photos, which are recorded by the App. This data link also provides you with a battery warning, and the drone is capable of taking off and hovering using its 14-core processor and in-built sensors,” adds Digital Camera World.
PC Mag likes this model for kids: “This is the one drone on the list that’s safe enough for tweens and teens to fly. The Tello doesn’t have much power and its 720p camera isn’t one you’d ever use for a vlog. But its low cost is appealing to parents shopping for a learning toy, even if some kids might just prefer flying around to programming commands.”
You might also be interested in:
- Popular Mechanics
- Advertising Review
- Digital Camera World
- NY Times
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
The Air 2 and Air 2S are not the same. Which one are you referring to in section 3?