Drone aerial photography is, wait for it, taking off.
Whether you’re using them for recreation, to build an aerial service business, or to integrate UAS into your existing business or organization, the goal of this article is to explore the best Rdrone copter price on the market today.
01. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The all-round best drone for photography
Weight: 905g | Dimensions (folded): 214×91×84mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 322×242×84mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 4K HDR 30fps | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 31 minutes (3850mAh) | Max Range: 8km / 5mi | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph
US$1,180VIEW AT AMAZON
US$1,295View at AmazonSee all prices (9 found)Very portableOptical Zoom (on the Zoom model)Great software featuresExpensiveNo 60fps for 4K
DJI’s Mavic Pro changed what was possible with the best camera drones back in 2016, making it possible to fold and carry a decent-quality lens without being overly heavy or bulky. It could capture 4K (at a maximum of 24fps) and introduced a handy fold-out controller that seemed to have more in common with a PlayStation than bulky radio controllers from their hobby era.
By 2020 the folding Mavic series is split into four. From cheapest to most expensive that’s the Mavic Mini, Mavic Air 2, Mavic 2 Zoom & Mavic 2 Pro. The final two have identical airframes but radically different camera units. The Zoom is our favorite because it features a 2x optical zoom lens (with an effective focal length range of 24-48mm). This gives real creative options in terms of lens compression. This is highlighted by the drone’s unique feature, the Dolly Zoom quickshot, in which the aircraft simulates the Hitchcock classic camera move.
There is a price to pay though; the zoom sits infront of a 1/2.3” 12-megapixel camera which tops out at 3,200 ISO. Even at launch this was a little disappointing, though 4K video at up to 30fps and 100mbps are great quality, and DJI’s app provides a great balance of functionality and power. The only real complaint about the Mavic 2 is the lack of 60fps at 4K, and the fact the side sensors don’t really do much except give a false sense of security.
02. Autel EVO II
With 8K video, this might be more than you need!
Weight: 1174g | Wing span (unfolded): 397×397mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 8K @ 25fps | Camera resolution: 48MP | Battery life: 40 minutes | Max Range: 9km / 5.5mi | Max Speed: 72kph / 44mph
US$1,495VIEW AT AMAZONUS$1,789.99View at AmazonUS$1,949View at AmazonSee all prices (4 found)8K video quality48 megapixel cameraOmnidirectional sensors8K shooting is limited to 25fps
Like the Mavic 2, Autel’s second EVO is offered with different camera choices, in theory at least (supply has been erratic in its early months, but then 2020 hasn’t been an easy year). Both are built around a heavy, rugged-looking (but average feeling) orange airframe which eschews sleek consumer-friendly design for simple practicality. It’s a bit chunkier than the Mavics, but it can fly for longer and is bigger unfolded).
While Autel Explorer, it’s partner app, lacks some of the polish of DJI’s equivalents, it does bring all the tracking options you might want. Moreover it has the huge advantage of being optional: there is a 3.3-inch OLED screen in the remote meaning you can fly without connecting the phone at all. Another big plus is that the drone has omnidirectional collision sensors which it uses in normal fight (the Mavic 2 has side-sensors, but only uses them in some automatic modes). Intended for professional work, the drone also lacks DJI’s big-brother geofencing.
So far the ‘lesser’ 8K model is the one widely available – with the 6K ‘Pro’ model following and the dual infrared-enabled version to come. Why is 8K ‘lesser’? In fact it uses the same Sony IMX586 half-inch imaging chip as featured in the Mavic Air 2, while the 6K pro sports IMX383 1-inch sensor (that’s four times the area) and can output 10-bit footage and a variable aperture. It’s also worth noting that 8K is limited to 25fps; 6K to 50fps and 4K to 60fps.
03. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
A brilliant camera in a quality package
Weight: 907g | Dimensions (folded): 214×91×84mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 322×242×84mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 4K HDR 30fps | Camera resolution: 20MP | Battery life: 31 minutes (3850mAh) | Max Range: 8km / 5mi | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph
US$1,329VIEW AT AMAZON
US$1,649View at AmazonUS$1,729View at DellSee all prices (11 found)1-inch sensorReliable airframeGreat software featuresExpensiveNo 60fps for 4K
2020 saw the arrival of the Mavic Air 2 with a host of improvements to the Mavic line which make the Mavic 2 Pro more of a speciality aircraft than before, but whichever way you look at it the stills and, in lower light, the video remain unbeaten (without spending a good amount more and throwing portability out of the window).
Given DJI’s ownership of Hasselblad the camera branding might be seen as a gimmick, the 20 megapixel stills from the 1-inch sensor are unquestionably far better quality than those from smaller sensors (including the Mavic 2 Zoom). Manual controls allow up to 128,000 ISO to be selected and video can be output in real 10-bit (great for pro colour grading) and in HDR, and there is a ƒ/2.8-ƒ/11 aperture
Each pixel on the sensor is still bigger than on all but the EVO II Pro from this list, so low-light stills and video look gorgeous, and the higher detail is also useful for surveyors and 3D mapping, both of which the Mavic handles easily thanks to integration with Drone Deploy (in fairness similar integration is available with other drones). The range of automated flight modes in the DJI drones, like ‘Hyperlapse’ (timelapse) are all well-implemented and easy to learn, making the Mavics very effective creative tools when operated alone.
04. PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard
Best waterproof drone and best A.I. camera drone
Weight: 860g / 1.9lb | Dimensions (egg): 178 x 102 x 102mm | Dimensions (drone mode): 427mm diagonal | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 4K @ 60fps | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 30 minutes (dry mode) | Max Range: 6 km / 3.7mi | Max Speed: 65kph / 40mph
US$1,249VIEW AT AMAZONSee all prices (2 found)Waterproof & water landing modeAudio-sync recording optionCamcorder mode a nice option to haveNo record button in camcorder modeSmall image sensor
PowerVision is certainly an inventive company – as its awards shelf will testament – and it has been making underwater drones as long as flying ones, so the PowerEgg X shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did. Their original PowerEgg was a stunning product, yet rather than revising it, PowerVision opted to go back to the drawing board. They created an altogether new egg which could be used as a drone, a hand-held or tripod-mounted camcorder making use of the gimbal for stability and A.I. for subject tracking, and – in the optional ‘Wizard’ kit – a beach-ready drone which can land on water or fly in the rain.
Photographers will rightly worry that the 4K camera doesn’t have as bigger sensor as, for example, the Mavic, but in good light it’s capable of 60fps – double the frame-rate of the DJI, making it great for. It’s adaptability means it’s arms are completely removable but, thanks to the folding props, setup takes no longer than a DJI Phantom. The A.I. camera mode is good, but it would really benefit from a ‘record’ button like a traditional camcorder – you need to use the app.
The waterproof mode means attaching a housing and landing gear which does take a minute or two, and covers the forward-facing collision & object tracking sensors, but there is nothing on the market that can touch it so it’s hardly something to complain about. This is the drone that GoPro should have made.
05. DJI Mavic Mini
The best drone for the beginner
Weight: 249g | Dimensions (folded): 140×82×57mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 2.7K at 24 or 30fps | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 30 minutes (2400mAh) | Max Range: 4km / 2.5 miles | Max Speed: 47kph / 29mphUS$399VIEW AT DELLUS$469View at Amazon
US$499View at AmazonSee all prices (16 found)Very portableRegistration-free in USA, UK, Canada, China and moreEasy-to-flyManual controlsNo 4K video
With the original Mavic in 2016, DJI created a new category of folding prosumer drone, small and light enough to take nearly anywhere but with a good camera. Back then the limit was technology; now a new artificial dividing line has been added by regulation. Most of the major markets for drones – China, USA, UK and more – now require the registration (for a modest fee) of any drone weighing more than 250g (8.8oz). A simple web visit will secure you approval to fly a larger aircraft, but those new to drones, or looking to try the experience with minimal fuss, are understandably reluctant.
Unwilling to see their market stop growing, DJI’s R&D team have performed miracles to shave as much weight as possible from their existing designs, and have managed to trim the price at the same time. The key sacrifice has been video quality – the Mavic Mini can “only” capture at 2.7k (about half the number of pixels as 4K) and at 40Mbps, so the video has slightly more compression artifacts than that from a Mavic 2 Zoom, for example. It has also dispensed with the collision sensing systems on its bigger brothers. These sacrifices mean lighter computing components on board, as well as the benefits from the overall miniaturization. The latest firmware update enables manual exposure on the Mavic Mini.
The drone nonetheless has a 3-axis camera stabilization gimbal, meaning footage looks super-smooth, and DJI’s usual software has received a tidy-up to make it more vlogger/instagrammer friendly, so this can easily become your compact ‘FlyCam’ (as DJI’s marketing team are desperate for you to call it). It features ‘QuickShots’ – pre-programmed selfie-friendly clips – so you can get amazing shots without too great a learning curve. The resolution isn’t an issue for online sharing, though professionals will want to look a little further up the chain for their work (but will still want one of these in their bag when they’re traveling). At 12 megapixels, stills are broadly similar to a decent phone (but of course from rather more interesting angles!).
06. Parrot Anafi FPV
The foldable Anafi is the best drone for travel
Weight: 310g | Dimensions (folded): 244×67×65mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 240×175×65mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 4K HDR 30fps | Camera resolution: 21MP | Battery life: 25 minutes (2700mAh) | Max Range: 4km / 2.5mi | Max Speed: 55kph / 35mph
US$763.39VIEW AT AMAZONSee all prices (2 found)Very portable4K @ 100Mbps with HDR180° vertical-turn gimbal and zoomOnly 2-axis controlSome features are in-app purchases
Parrot wasn’t really a contender in the high-end aerial video market until the Anafi arrived in mid-2018, but it was definitely worth the wait. Rather than push up prices and weight with sensors of questionable use (and the processing power to handle their data), Parrot leave the business of avoiding obstacles very much to the customer. In exchange, though, it’s managed to keep the portability and price manageable, helped by the fact a great hard-fabric zip case is included so you’ll be able to shoot just about anywhere.
The carbon-fiber elements of the body can feel a little cheap, but in reality this is one of the best built frames on the market, and very easy to operate thanks to automatic take-off, landing, GPS-based return-to-home, and an exceptionally well-built folding controller with a hinged phone-grip, one that seems so much easier to operate, and so much more logical, than recent contenders from DJI.
The only niggles are that the gimbal is only powered on two axes, relying on software to handle sharp turns, which it only does quite well, and that for some reason Parrot charge extra for in-app features like follow-me modes that DJI include as standard. On the plus side, that gimbal can be turned all the way up for an unobstructed angle most drones can’t manage and the system even features zoom, unheard of at its price point.
A new Parrot Anafi FPV kit has been recently introduced, which combines this drone with head-up display (‘first-person view’) goggles for a fully immersive flying experience. While the addition of FPV might seem a novelty at first, the economical implementation means that anyone considering an Anafi can afford to sample it – and we genuinely believe it would be a shame to miss!