Photography enthusiasts have been looking for ways to take clearer and more stunning pictures. The more adventurous ones have bought a camera drone to achieve shots that you will not be able to shoot with a handheld camera. As more and more people give their cameras wings, manufacturers are scrambling to come up with their own camera drone offerings.
What are the best camera drones that you can buy right now?
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 How to Choose the Best Camera Drone
- 2 The Best Camera Drones of 2018
- 3 Side-by-side comparison of the best camera drones for 2018
- 4 Final recommendations: The best camera drones for 2018
How to Choose the Best Camera Drone
There are some things that you should look for in a camera drone. First is that it should have a good quality camera. There are now airborne cameras that deliver 4K resolutions, but for most people, an excellent full high-definition camera would suffice. You should temper your expectations, as well. Most drone cameras will have smaller sensor sizes than regular cameras. Camera drones will also have no zoom lens.
It will help if you look at the sensors included for a camera drone. These sensors help you keep your investment safe as they help avoid collisions and accidents during a shoot. What’s more, you should be aware that having a camera drone will need a good range for controlling your camera over Wi-Fi or radio signals.
The Best Camera Drones of 2018
There are a lot of things that you would like about the DJI Spark. For one, it is very affordable with a lot of nifty features that can help you get Instagram- or Facebook-perfect photos. You can shoot videos with full high-definition, with resolutions of 1080 pixels.
The biggest draw of the DJI Spark is how good it is in following the subject around. You can also take snapshots just by using gestures. You can launch the drone from the palm of your hand and then use gestures for it to take your picture.
The DJI Spark does not include a controller, but you can buy one. A controller is an optional accessory that also helps widen the limited range of the drone. The drone also comes with several flight modes that allow it to create amazing videos using only a few taps. Using the mobile app, you can automatically edit videos and add filters.
The DJI Spark uses a 1/2.3 inches CMOS sensor that gives you HD videos and photos with a 12-megapixel resolution. The wide-angle lens is consistently vivid and sharp. This drone gets a 4.1 stars rating out of 5.0 on Amazon. Verified customers love the tons of features that DJI packed into such a small drone. Others praise the DJI Spark for how easy it is to fly. What’s more, you would love the app with its likewise many features. However, there are some complaints that the DJI Spark suddenly drops to the ground for apparently no good reason.
This drone is great for selfies, but may not be a good camera drone for professional videographers as it only has two axis gimbals. The DJI Spark comes in five colors and is priced nicely with the controller and less without. Check out the latest rates here!
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
DJI defies all expectations by giving you a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that delivers 48 megapixels and 4x zoom. You can also use a 2x optical zoom. Using the remote controller, you can attach a smartphone to see what the camera is seeing with the real-time live view.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom can give you more than 30 minutes of flight time, and it can go as fast as 44 miles per hour. It includes a three-axis gimbal that helps you counter vibrations and get steady shots. It also features 8 gigabytes of storage, which you can extend up to 128 gigabytes when you pop in an SD card.
This camera drone has some other features that you would love, including the dolly zoom effect, which gives you a vertigo-inducing zoom of the background while keeping the foreground relatively not moving. You can also get stunning time-lapse photos and videos and images in HDR. The Mavic 2 Zoom has a 3,850 mAh battery that gives it a flight time of 31 minutes.
Parrot Anafi Drone
If you are not yet ready to spend a hefty price on a camera drone but still want a 4K camera, then you should consider getting the Parrot Anafi Drone. The Parrot Anafi Drone puts the manufacturer on the map when it comes to high-end drones. It gives you 4K videos and 21-megapixel photos that will surely wow your friends and clients. It comes with a battery that delivers 25 minutes of flight time. It also boasts a 180-degree tilt gimbal as well as 2.8x digital zoom.
This is a foldable and very portable drone. It measures 9.4 by 6.9 by 2.6 inches when fully unfolded and weighs only 0.7 pounds. It is straightforward to use because you can invoke automatic landing, take off and even tell it to return home using the onboard GPS sensor. The controller is also very handy, with an intuitive design that feels just right when you hold it.
Some of the features that the Parrot Anafi Drone offers include slow motion and Hyperlapse. There is also the follow-me feature that tells the drone to film without you having to pilot it. Then there is the geofence and the find-my-drone features. This camera drone has a 2,700 mAh battery that gives you 25 minutes of flying time.
This drone gets a rating of 3.8 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon. Verified buyers like how well this drone works, as well as its ability to deliver on the promised features. They also love the six special flight modes and the sturdy build of the drone. While costing less than half as the DJI Mavic 2, users think that this can be a worthy rival.
However, there are complaints about how this drone does not have collision avoidance sensors and how flimsy it is. Others reported that their drones broke only after a few flights. Some of the features are also not available unless you purchase them from the app.
Pricing for the Parrot Anafi Drone is available on Amazon. Check out the latest rates here!
DJI Mavic Air
If you like the Parrot Anafi, but you do not like that it leaves all the obstacle avoidance to you, then you will love the DJI Mavic Air. The DJI Mavic Air has object avoidance features as well as a course correction technology. This camera drone is packed with sensors that can quickly determine if it is going to meet a wall soon. Then it does its best to avoid flying onto obstacles.
You would love how this drone looks, as well as its stellar camera. It delivers 4K videos with 60 frames per minutes and gives you still photos with resolutions of 12 megapixels. This portable camera drone can capture slow-motion videos, HDR images, and 180-degree panoramas, along with other features. This drone has a 2,375 mAh battery that delivers 21 minutes of flight time.
Customers on Amazon give this camera done a rating of 3.7 stars out of 5.0. They like how steady the drone is and how reliable it is in everything – from its flight to the quality of videos and photos it takes. However, some people complain about the overheated chip warning that appears after a few minutes of flying. The DJI Mavic Air does a lot of computations in trying to avoid a collision, and so it drains the battery quickly. It only gives you around 20 minutes of flight time.
Pricing for the DJI Mavic Air is available on Amazon Check out the latest rates here!
DJI Inspire 2
This list is looking more and more like a DJI catalog, but the company does produce some of the best drones out there. Another DJI entry is the Inspire 2, which gives you a great flying camera. Its coup de grace is that it uses a camera with a one-inch sensor, the same size as the sensors you find on some of the best camcorders and DSLR cameras out there.
The DJI Inspire 2 gives you the best photos and videos, thanks to its M4/3 sensor that delivers 20.8 megapixels for the pictures and 5.2K resolution for the videos. It has up to 12.8 stops in dynamic range, a Cendence controller and a bright monitor. Furthermore, the DJI Inspire 2 has a 4,280 mAh-dual battery that delivers up to 27 minutes of flying time.
There are three Inspire 2 variants, each one having its own set of featured cameras. The Inspire 2 sells for a high amount, the Standard costs more. Meanwhile, you can buy the Inspire 2 Professional for a lot higher price. (Check out the latest rates here!) If you want professional quality footage, then you should get the DJI Inspire 2. It gives you live 1080 pixel broadcasts, with high-definition interlaced videos. It is built rather well and is one of those drones that allow for interchangeable lens. You might not like how expensive it can get, plus the dual battery that it uses. The DJI Inspire 2 gets a rating of 3.3 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon.
The Ryze Tello uses DJI technology and proves that you can get a good quality flying camera without paying too much or without needing a big drone.
Measuring 6.0 by 5.0 by 4.0 inches, it is a handy camera drone that you can take anywhere. It flies so easily that you can even launch it from your palm. It delivers photos with five-megapixel resolution and 720-pixel high-definition videos. It also comes with several features, such as the EZ Shots and electronic image stabilization, both of which are processed by an Intel processor.
Other features you would love include the auto takeoff and landing, the low-battery protection, the visual positioning system, and the failsafe protection. You can also use Scratch to program your Tello. The Ryze Tello is a good camera drone for beginners, as it is close to impossible to crash it. It is straightforward to fly and comes with nifty features that more advanced users would appreciate. It has a 1,100 mAh battery that delivers a flight time of 13 minutes and can fly up to 328 feet away.
The Ryze Tello gets a rating of 4.0 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. Customers love its responsiveness and the auto-flight modes. It is effortless to fly and generally safe from accidents. The videos and photos are just okay. Some complaints talk about the controller not pairing or not having the advertised range. Pricing for the Ryze Tello depends on the accessories you choose when you buy it. (Check out the latest rates here!)
If you love the outdoors, then you probably have a GoPro to film your adventures. The problem with GoPro is that you will need to mount it, so all your footage comes from one viewpoint. That can get a little boring by the time you film your fifth or sixth video.
What’s more, most GoPro footages are uncomfortably close. Sometimes, all you see is somebody’s face and not much else. Then you have the shaky footage. How about a GoPro that follows you around, recording your activities while also taking in more of the view? This is what Skydio R1 does. It is a camera drone that can fly on its own. Surprisingly, this drone does not come with a controller.
You just pair it with your smartphone and then take it out of the box. Open the mobile app and then tap on “launch.” The Skydio R1 will fly and then follow you around. It will also avoid any obstacle. So go right ahead and run under a canopy of trees; the Skydio R1 will safely be behind you and film everything.
You can use the smartphone app to change the position of the drone and do some minor controlling, but the Skydio R1 is designed to follow you on its own. You do not have to drive it. It ducks under street signs and it avoids colliding against trees. It can avoid just about everything, even if it is flying backward.
It can also follow you in a moving vehicle.
The Skydio R1 does not have GPS. Instead, it uses an array of cameras to see where you are going and if it is going to hit anything. This is partly the reason why it has a weird design. It has a long and slim body with four propellers at the sides. There is a propeller guard that keeps all those spinning little fellows safe and that also houses the cameras.
As such, this camera drone can prove to be very unwieldy. It measures 13.0 by 16.0 by 1.5 inches, almost as large as a pizza box. But aside from deftly following you around and avoiding everything in its path, your videos look excellent, too, with up to 4K resolutions. The Skydio R1 is available on the Skydio online store.
Side-by-side comparison of the best camera drones for 2018
To make it easier for you to choose the best camera drone, here is a side-by-side comparison of the ones that made it to our list.
|Model||DJI Spark||DJI Mavic 2 Zoom||Parrot Anafi||DJI Mavic Air||DJI Inspire 2||Ryze Tello||Skydio R1|
|Price||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)|
|Dimensions (inches)||5.6 × 5.6 × 2.2||12.7 × 9.5 × 3.3||9.4 × 6.9 x 2.6||6.6 x 7.2 x 2.6||18 x 21 x 12||6.0 x 5.0 x 4.0||13.0 x 16.0 x 1.5|
|Folded dimensions (inches)||N/A||8.4 × 3.6 x 3.3||9.6 x 2.6 x 2.6||6.6 x 3.3 x 1.9||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Video resolution||1080p||4K HDR||4K HDR||4K||5.2K||720p||4K|
|Max frame rate (fps)||30||30||30||60||24||Max frame rate (fps)||30|
|Camera resolution (megapixels)||12||12||21||12||20.8||5||8|
|Battery life (minutes)||16||31||25||21||27||13||27|
|Max Range (miles)||0.1||5||2.5||6.2||4.1||0.1||0.1|
|Max Range with controller (miles)||1.2mi||5||2.5||6.2||4.1||0.1||0.1|
|Max Speed (mph)||31||44.7||35||43||58||18||25|
Final recommendations: The best camera drones for 2018
It seems that, as a brand, DJI has been making some of the best camera drones around and that it has always had a product in the best list for years now. If you need something other than a DJI, the Skydio R1 is a good proposition with its artificial intelligence, great image and video quality, and obstacle avoidance technology. There are also budget buys that deliver excellent high-definition videos such as the DJI Spark and the Ryze Tello.
Overall, however, you should buy the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom for its 4K HDR video resolutions, 12-megapixel photos, and long flight times. If you want a more affordable drone, you can get the Parrot Anafi Drone or the DJI Mavic Air.
Further read, The Best Nano Drones Available
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!