You can shoot 4K quality photos with a drone flying for more than 30 minutes on a single charge. Further, drones feature GPS support that makes it easy to take off and avoid crashes. If your drone has a GPS, you can set it to “return to home” so that they can fly back to you whenever you need it.
Besides GPS, modern drones feature better sensors today. These sensors are for air pressure and vision to help them avoid obstacles. Your drone can now fly for a longer distance and a longer time. Further, these drones are lighter, and you may never need to register them with FAA.
Below are some of the top drones for best quality aerial photography and videography.
|Camera||MIA Drone||DJI Air 2s||DJI Mini 2||Autel Robotics EVO II||Ryze Tello||DJI FPV||DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0|
|Camera Megapixels||20 MP||20 MP||12 MP||48 MP||5 MP||12 MP||20 MP|
|Battery Life||27 Minutes||31 Minutes||31 Minutes||40 Minutes||13 Minutes||20 Minutes||30 Minutes|
|Max Range||1 km||18.5 km||10 km||9 km||100 m||10 km||7 km|
The MIA Drone is a new folding drop and the first model from the manufacturer. It sports advanced drone and camera features to rival established drone brands, such as DJI. For instance, you can get up to 28 minutes of flight time with a single charge and fly up to 800 meters. These numbers are the same as you get with household drone brands. The MIA Drone sports a compact construction and weighs less than 250 grams. When folded, the drone measures 7.5 by 14 by 6 cm, which allows you to bring it in a small backup. Even when unfolded, the drone is still compact and flies light.
The MIA Drone offers high-quality photos. It allows you to electrically adjust its two-axis stabilized gimbal for the perfect shots. You can access the shot images in real-time, thanks to the 5G image transmission feature.
Its electronic stabilization gimbal reduces shaking when you start shooting so that your photos appear crisp and detailed. Further, the drone allows you to adjust the shooting angle from the controller by up to 90 degrees to capture more details. This adjustment gives you an eye-level shot without distorted edges. The optical flow positioning mode offered by this camera allows you to shoot more clearly regardless of the shooting conditions.
The image you shoot with the MIA Drone looks clear. You can control the contrast on the images, allowing you to keep the original color of the objects you shoot.
The MIA Drone offers 4K quality videos, which is great quality for fun and professional videos. It offers GPS Intelligent Follow for when you need to shoot bikers and joggers over hills. You can fly it up to a kilometer away from the controller for about 27 minutes.
It transmits the video directly to your phone through an app. You can use the same app to control the flight of the drone and keep track of all video details. With its two-axis stabilized gimbal, you can also shoot 2.7K videos. With its ability to adjust the viewing angle, you also shoot videos over a wider field. The video quality rivals what other brands, such as the DJI, offer.
You can operate the MIA Drone using the installed GPS. The drone allows GPS positioning and GPS Intelligent Follow. These two features are ideal when you are following a subject over mountains and other areas from up to a kilometer away. You can also set the drone to follow you – set the GPS positioning mode and the drone will fly a close distance from the controller and keep taking photos and videos of the user. It transmits photos and videos automatically and in real-time to your smartphone.
When shooting photos near restricted areas, you can set a GPS electronic fence to ensure the drone doesn’t go past a given area.
The Mia Drone has a large capacity battery to last you at least 27 minutes. It is fitted with sensors that detect obstacles from all directions to keep it safe during a flight. Its controller feels easy to use and allows you to keep track of the shooting from your smartphone through the app.
During the flight, the drone shows when the battery power is low and initiates course reversal. It also detects when the drone goes past the set GPS course and flies back home. Even if the drone does not automatically fly back home, you can reverse its course by tapping one key.
When flying the drone indoors, it will automatically switch to optical flow mode. It can track your subjects and frame them and all you need to do is follow. When you fly outdoors, the drone switches between GPS and optical flow mode, giving you the best experience.
Under its rotors, the drone has a brushless motor for a swift flight. The motors and the overall design of the drone offer level 7 wind resistance so that you can fly it against strong winds without losing direction.
• Relatively long battery life
• Intelligent features for easy control
• Gesture control features
• High quality 4K videos
• Lacks top sensors
DJI Air 2s
The DJI Air 2s revolutionizes drone photography. It sports a one-inch sensor inside a small package, which they then surround with safety features and compositional aids. This compact drone has several similarities with the DJI Air 2, which the manufacturer released 12 months before the Air 2s. DJI released the Air with a half-inch sensor, which was larger than its predecessor’s but then made the sensor in the 2s and 2 Pro one inch.
If you need a big sensor, the DJI Air 2s offers just that to you. Although the size of the sensor may not mean everything, DJI made the sensor highly functional. The use of AI, subject tracking, and safety features make this drone stand out. Here is a detailed review of what the drone offers.
DJI released the Air 2 with a 48-megapixel camera fitted with a quad-Bayer filter. This is equal to 12 megapixels at 1.2 microns. The Air 2s sports a 20-megapixel camera at 2.4 microns, which beats the Air 2’s camera by far. With the predecessor, the Air 2, you have the option to save a 40-mp file, which is an advantage to photographers and videographers.
The one-inch sensor makes a huge difference when it comes to image quality. Air 2s offers a wider field of view compared to the Air 2 and the Air 2 Pro. You have the option of a digital zoom when you engage some video modes, which allows you to capture the tiniest details from a flying drone.
The Air 2s’s aperture is fixed unlike that of the Air 2 Pro, which is adjustable. This does not make much difference in image quality, and it actually makes the drone easier to use for beginners.
DJI Air 2s offers 5.4K video quality at 30fps, which is appealing to all videographers looking for quality videos. Further, the manufacturer offers digital zoom, which is not available for 10-bit videos, but this is not a problem as digital zoom only impresses those looking for a quick way to share videos. On most days, most videographers will prefer 4K shooting as it allows you to get closer to the subject while avoiding the lens edges. The 5.4K option works best for the most dedicated videographers.
The DJI Air 2s offers impressive video quality at 150 Mbps bitrate – which is better than the 100 Mbps bitrate that the Mavic 2 Pro offers. You can record your videos in 10-bit D-log, which makes video editing unnecessary after the shoot. The camera makes all the adjustments you need during slow-speed filming, so you may never have to activate the Pro video mode.
With DJI Air 2s, you can tap and drag to frame photo and video subjects. Better still, the drone recognizes human beings and creates a frame around them using the ActiveTrack 4 feature. The manufacturer added an upward obstacle sensor to complement the back sensors. This way, the drone can sensor branches and ceilings and stay safe as it flies. With all these sensors, the drone can follow subjects for all the 31 minutes its battery lasts and keep avoiding obstacles. You can set the safety sensors to stop and hover or to re-route when it faces an obstacle. APAS 4 is DJI’s obstacle-avoiding software, and it has sensors in four directions.
The Air 2s is 595 grams heavy – this is 25 grams heavier than its predecessor. However, it feels light when it starts flying. It comes fitted with GPS so that you can set it to return home anytime during the flight. Further, it has LED lights that face down and a transmission system with a range of up to 12 kilometers.
There is no difference between the Air 2s controller and the Air 2 controller – expect improved battery life and better phone grip.
• Offers 5.4K video quality
• Has a one-inch sensor
• Highly portable
• Advanced AI features for intelligent shooting
• Lacks side sensors
• The app can distract you
DJI Mini 2
DJI Mini 2 is a drone for those who want to fly a drone without registering with the FAA. Even in its compact and lightweight construction, it still brings some premium features, such as 4K video, stabilized camera, and it costs less than other drones on its category.
This drone weighs only 249 grams, a gram shy of the 250 grams that would necessitate registration with FAA. Its weight makes it an ideal choice for beginner photographers and videographers. DJI toned down the aesthetics of the drone to keep it simple and light. However, it still features advanced brushless motors, 4K video capture, Panoramas, Raw photos, and a longer radio control range. Its predecessor, the Mavic Mini, suffered controller and motors problems but had a strong airframe. DJI took a different approach and designed better motors and controllers for the Mini 2.
The improvements in the Mini 2 make it a great choice for first-timers while its lightweight makes it ideal for professional photographers.
The Mini 2 has the same camera as the Mavic Mini, a 12 MP camera with f/2.8 sensor. It has a 24mm EFL (Effective Focal Length), but with available Raw format. These features allow professional photographers to reach the best shooting range possible. With the Auto Exposure Bracketing feature, the drone allows you to capture the best shots from any range.
The camera quality is good, but the dynamic range could improve. The flat glass fitted on the optics can catch light during a shoot, but this does not in any significant way affect the quality of the shots. Photographers will love how seamlessly the drone stabilizes the camera. Although a high-speed change in direction can cause a little distortion, overall, the drone performs flawlessly. Better yet, the screen offers an over-exposure warning so that you can do the necessary adjustments.
For wide-angle camera shots, the camera allows 180-degree, 360-degree, and 3by3 panoramas. The 3×3 panoramas offer the widest angle shot at high resolution. After shooting, the drone transmits the images directly to you through the DJI app.
Mini 2 offers 4K video quality, which is a welcome improvement from what the predecessor offers. Although 4K is now standard on most mid-range smartphones, the quality of the video from this drone is impressive. The system can capture 1000 Mbps, which also means you need a bigger SD card to hold your files.
The shooting produces .mp4 files, so the results are appealing enough to share. There is a digital zoom for easy sharing. Like the predecessor, this drone offers QuickShot modes. These are modes that allow you to capture about 10 seconds of video along a certain path. The mode can detect your subject, most people or buildings and other objects that stand out.
From the options menu, you can set the white balance manually or automatically. There is also the anti-flicker that further helps you capture real videos and images from your drone. You can also choose the color of the LED light at the front part of the drone for enhanced shots.
DJI is now a leading brand in drone design, and this is seen in the DJI Mini 2. The blades of the drone open in a specific order and close in the opposite order. It will take a few days for you to get used to that, but once you do, the drone will be easy to fly. When folded, the drone is very compact. Its MicroSD card slot is at the back, just below the battery door.
DJI uses a lighter battery, at 82.2 grams, which has a 2,250 mAh capacity. The battery is not compatible with the Mavic Mini batteries, so you can never upgrade it. When you close the battery door, you can see other features of the compact drone. Above the camera, there are vents that look like sensors, but they are not.
The manufacturer offers advanced global positioning with GPS/GLONASS/Galileo and altitude sensor. There are also three downward-facing optical and distance sensors to avoid collisions. It can hover around or change course when it comes close to an obstacle. Its motors are also strong enough to withstand strong winds. The drone software allows it to detect crosswinds and can hover in winds traveling at 24 mph. All these features and the new advanced controller give you the feeling of flying a bigger drone.
The controller has the same design as seen in the Mavic Air 2 drone. It feels weighty on your hands and doesn’t have the plastic feeling of the Mavic Mini drone. The controller looks less like a gaming controller and offers your monitor or smartphone a firm grip so that you can keep track of the shoot.
Beginners will love the auto take-off and landing features. These two features prevent crashes. The app has great improvements, so you can fly the drone better. You will find it easier to fly the drone indoors where there is adequate light.
• Highly portable
• Easy to fly
• No need to register in USA, China, and other countries
• Raw photos
• Does not allow advanced tracking
Autel Robotics EVO II
The Autel EVO II has several similarities with the DJI Mavic 2, but Autel Robotics sought to outdo the DJI drone line. It offers better resolution and avoids collisions better than the Mavic 2. It may not have the sleek look of the DJI drones, but that doesn’t affect its high video and camera quality.
EVO II takes inspiration from the original Autel EVO. Its predecessor came as the first foldable drone camera from the manufacturer to rival DJI Mavic Pro. It also featured an advanced controller with a color display so that you never had to use your phone to track the flight and shots. Even with these great features, the Autel EVO’s software lacked the usability and shareability characteristics that users need. Its shell also lacked finesse. The EVO II has some of the features of the original EVO, such as the high-vis orange shell, but it offers better features for better videos and photos.
EVO II offers 8K quality shots. Although the camera does not offer panorama modes, the quality of the shots is relatively great. Omitting the panorama modes was odd, especially in a drone that can carry out automated shooting missions and can be used by surveyors.
When not set on automated mapping, the drone camera offers impressive JPEGs with an HDR effect. The shots have a clear geometric distortion towards the edges when you shoot from a wide lens. In bright light, the 48MP camera offers decent shots with enough details.
There are not so many devices that can play 8K videos at full speed. As such, most people will not quite appreciate the awesomeness of the 8K videos. In most cases, the users of the drone will shoot at 4K, seeing that most devices play 4K videos without any challenges. As long as you can get to 60fps, and you get the subtle HDR effect, the videos will be of great quality. The high-resolution modes help you in cropping the videos after production. Shooting in 4K offers sharp videos, but lacks the crispness of 8K quality videos. However, its digital zoom could use some improvement.
As you shoot, you can make the necessary adjustments on the Autel Explorer app. The app has an intuitive interface. At the bottom of the app’s interface is a bar that you can slide left or right to adjust the frame rate, resolution, and recording format. You can also use the same bar to select automatic or manual exposure. From the top bar of the app, you can choose the flight modes and the record functions and other settings are also available from the app menu.
You may not love the color or the styling of the drone. However, the airframe plays its part. This drone feels more of a professional option than a consumer model. Its hum-back design aids in flight although it affects the aesthetics of the drone. The battery is a huge 7,100mAh to last for up to 40 minutes on air. In practice, this battery will give you about 33 minutes. You may need to change the battery-low warning settings as they come a bit early. These early warnings are good when you want to fly a maximum of nine kilometers, but when doing short flights, or when the drone is following you around as it shoots; the warnings are a bit too early. You can fly the drone at 44mph.
The folded size of the EVO II is almost the same as that of the Mavic 2. However, when the blades unfold, the drone looks a lot larger. It is also taller, thanks to the legs added to the arms of the drone. These arms allow the drone to stand a few centimeters above the ground and also let it take off from a rough surface.
The ruggedness of the drone makes it ideal for professionals shooting across mountains and rugged terrain areas. Besides the ruggedness, the drone features 12 sensors that prevent collisions in all directions. There are two cameras on all sides and at the top. Further, Autel Robotics fits the drone with ultrasonic landing sensors with LED lights for a safe landing. The sensors are always welcome, and they work flawlessly unless you fly the drone at full speed. They help you track your subjects from all sides.
As a videographer, you can use the Viewpoint feature. Here, you only need to set the speed of the drone and then tap on the screen to choose where the drone flies. It is a great feature for slow-speed shooting. With the camera stabilizer, you will capture high-quality shots with great ease. There are also the Precision Flight and Dual Stability features that ensure the drone is stable enough for the perfect shots.
The controller feels like a weak link in its design, but it operates just fine. Its display means you may never need to connect your phone, but it also offers a great grip for your smartphone.
• Available 8K video quality
• 12 sensors to prevent collisions from all sides
• Large 48 MP camera
• Safe landing and take-off legs
• Limits 8K shooting to 25fps
DJI Ryze Tello
Ryze Tello was released in 2018. It is still one of the popular drones for beginners and professionals looking for inexpensive toy drones. Tello uses DJI technology, which means that it has the same features as some of the top drones on the market today. There are three versions of this drone, all of which are easy to fly. The two other versions are Tello EDU and Tello Iron Man Edition.
The body of the drone is plastic, but it is very sturdy. The propeller arms are tightly fixed in place and protected by detachable guards. If the drone crashes into an obstacle, it shuts down the motors to keep itself safe. Unlike other camera drones, Ryze Tello doesn’t have a controller. Instead, you can only control it via the available app. If you still want to use a controller, the drone connects to generic Bluetooth controllers like the ones you use with Xbox and PlayStation. However, the app is easy to use, and you may never have a problem flying your drone.
Camera and Video Quality
If you are taking professional videos and photos, the Ryze Tello does not offer the quality you need. This is why it is a toy drone for people practicing their shots. It records all the photos and videos on your smartphone through the app. Its 720P videos at 30 frames per second and its 5 MP photos are not comparable to the 4K quality videos and photos that modern drones shoot.
Even with the low-resolution shots, the Tello offers one of the best stabilization software. The videos and photos are smoother than what the competitors offer. It doesn’t offer lags and there are no dropped frames when you use the app to capture your shots even when the drone and the phone are far apart.
To capture the best shots, you need to fly the drone as close to the phone as possible. As the drone flies close to the 10-meter height and the 100-meter distance, the strength of the Wi-Fi diminishes and the quality of the videos and photos becomes poor. Both the recorded and the live view shots will become choppy when you fly a long distance.
The drone can only fly for 13 minutes, which is relatively low. It has three batteries, which do not help keep it in the air longer.
When shooting indoors, the Tello hovers about a meter above the ground and maintains that height and position all the time during the shoot. It will not suffer drift problems that affect other drones in its class. More advanced drones using DJI technology have GPS to maintain their position, but Tello has a Vision Positioning System. This system has an infra-red sensor with a small camera on its underside for accurate hovering. You can fly it up to 10 meters high.
The technology may not be as advanced as GPS, but it offers great stability to rival the GPS-enabled drones. Its movements are smooth and accurate and the drone shows a fast response to your inputs. When you fly indoors, you have total control over the flight. When flying outdoor, the drone is challenging to control. At less than 100 grams heavy, the drone is affected by wind currents. Even the slowest wind speeds can affect the video shooting ability of the drone. This is a common issue with all lightweight drones.
Its positioning system helps keep it stable, but even then, you will get better shots when you fly the drone in an open space on a calm day. Otherwise, stick to indoor shooting.
You can set the Tello on any of the two flying speeds. Even when flying at top speed, it still offers great maneuverability. You can also set it on one of the many pre-set flight modes as seen on the screen of the app. Some modes, such as the Circle and the 360 modes are great as they allow you to take stable shots when the drone is spinning or rotating in a circle. Other modes are only fun, such as the Throw and go, which you set when you need to toss the drone into the air and start shooting, or the 8D Flips, which is a mode that flips the drone in eight directions.
• Easy to fly
• Highly portable and does not need registration to start flying
• Offers great image stabilization in clam weather
• Several controls
• Affected by the slowest winds
• Video quality poor at distance
• Does not come with a controller
The DJI FPV Combo drone is not a device for everyone. DJI did not build this drone with photography and videography as the focus, but it still offers amazing shots. The DJI First Person View drone seems to change the DJI rules of flying drones. FPV is like Virtual Reality where you see the action through goggles. The first goggles came out in 2017. These were based on the manufacturer’s Ocusync system, and it was able to produce IMAX-quality images. The speed at which the images came to the goggles was also fast and there were no latency issues.
The second production of the goggles was in 2019. DJI released the HD FPV goggles that paired with a camera, making them ideal for bikers and the racing community. These goggles came along with better FPV videos for professional racers.
After the release of the second set of advanced goggles in 2019, the racing community appreciated the new remote control and the camera recorder, but the drone came at a higher price compared to established brands, such as FatSharks. This FPV offers impressive features. Its price range means it is not a drone for everyone, but professionals in the racing community will find it handy. The drone is also heavy at 795 grams, which means it has to be registered before you can fly it anywhere.
If you are in the racing community and still want to capture great photos and videos, the installed camera will help you get quality shots.
The Camera and Video Quality
The DJI FPV has a 12 MP camera and offers 4K video quality at 60 frames per second. This is the same video and picture quality you would get from some of the leading drones on the market. Its main lens offers 150 degrees field of view, which makes it easy to capture footage and record it on the A2 MicroSD card. You will need two SD cards – one for the goggles and another for the drone.
Given that you will shoot videos and photos at very high speeds, the drone only works best in good light. Its CMO sensor offers high-quality shots, but you still need good lighting to capture the quality of shots you need.
It is easy to navigate through the camera settings on the app that comes with the drone. However, the drone does not offer the wide host of features you would expect from a video and photos drone. Instead, it has so many flight features to keep it stable during a race.
The drone is different from any other drone that DJI offers. For starters, it features a very loud fan, thanks to the high speed of the flight and the fact that it keeps recording high-resolution videos and keeping the sensors on. All these functions stress the processor, and this is why the fan operates loudly. However, the drone has the same sensors you would expect to see on any DJI camera drone, including altitude, GPS, and back sensors. With these sensors, even if the controller fails, the drone will still hover and not crash.
In the racing community, the hovering feature may not come in handy. However, you can disable the return to home, hovering, and other features to keep the drone in the air for as long as the race lasts. You can switch to the N (Normal) mode for drone shots or the S (Fast) mode for races or the M (Custom) mode where you choose the settings you need for the drone. All these settings allow you to set the drone in an aggressive flying style.
Unlike other racing drones, this one has a gimbal, which ensures the camera is stable. This gimbal makes the drone less rugged compared to other drone setups for the racing community. As such, even when you are racing, always keep the collision sensors on to avoid a costly repair.
The goggles and the drone have their own batteries and charger. Although these goggles are high quality, they look aggressive and rugged. You can adjust their eyepieces horizontally, which is more than what other goggles allow. It will take getting used to adjusting the menu with the screen on your eyes. There is a four-way button and a back button that you can use for all the controls.
The controller looks like that of PS5 and feels comfortable on your hands. Besides, you also get a motion controller, which is like a detached joystick for easy drone control. You can use its bug red button to instantly stop the drone.
• Amazing 4K video quality with 60fps
• High definition First Person View
• Fast flights with fun modes
• Gimbal for smooth camera shots
• Advanced collision sensors
• The battery has limited life
• Controller has no phone mount
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
The Phantom drones are DJI’s line of professional drones. DJI released the first Phantom in 2013, and they have continuously upgraded the devices to offer better videos and photos. When they first came out, the Phantom was an upgrade of consumer quadcopters to make them better for filmmaking. They are easy to use. They have since added several features and improvements to make the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.
This model has more collision avoidance features, including Obstacle Avoidance, Active Track, and Terrain Follow. The performance of the camera beats all other cameras in its class but still falls short of what DJI offers in the Mavic 2 Pro. Besides the collision and crash avoidance features, there are several other flight and photography, and videography features for professionals.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a one-inch sensor that enhances the quality of the photos and videos taken. All your shots will be highly impressive as evidence that aerial filmmaking is on another level. Its 24mm lens can open up to f/2.8 and as low as f/11 for clean and crisp images all the time.
When you set it on Photo mode, the drone’s camera can handle an ISO range of between 100 and 3200 in Auto mode and up to 12800 in manual mode. When you switch to Video mode, the camera offers the same ISO range as in the Photo Auto mode and up to 6400 when on manual mode.
You will enjoy the 20 MP photos the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 captures, which is a great improvement from its predecessor. Videos are also high quality with 100 Mbit 4K quality. You get 24/25/30 frames per second with the 4K footage, but 60 fps is also available. The sharpness of the images is the best in the class. When you shoot at 1080p, the camera shoots at 120fps.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 offers a smooth flight. It can fly at speeds of up to 45 mph when you switch to S-mode and can transmit images and videos from up to 4.3 miles away. Its battery lasts for about 30 minutes
Users find the DJI GO 4 app easy to use. It has an assortment of features, including illustrations and diagrams for ease of use. However, the app might crash once installed on specific devices and may sometimes lose connection during a flight.
You will spend more to get the high-quality videos and photos that this drone has to offer. However, if you can spend that $1,500, you will enjoy the good quality filming that professionals get.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a portable drone, but it is not the most compact from the manufacturer or on the market. It comes with a sleek reusable case that accommodates all the accessories you need to capture the best shots.
The materials used to construct the drone are light in weight, but the drone still feels rock solid. Before you start your flight, charge the drone and the controller. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to charge the drone, but the controller charges in 3 hours 40 minutes. The controller allows you to attach your smartphone to it so that you can keep good track of the flight and the filming.
Further, the controller has two antennae, control sticks, LED indicators, a power button, and a return-to-home button. All these features are ergonomically placed to make the controller easy to use. Several other features and controls include a gimbal dial, flight mode switch, sleep/wake button, camera settings dial, and video recording button among others.
• Stabilized images
• Easy to operate
• High-quality camera and video
• Several controls and settings
• Controller has a problem syncing with other devices
• The drone is large
Which Drone is Good for You?
What do you want to do with your drone? Are you a professional or beginner photographer? The answers to these questions, and your budget, will determine the best drone for you. Total beginners can go with the Ryze Tello, while professional filmmakers can pick the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, and the racing community to pick the DJI FPV.