The Best Drones for Photos and Video

27 Oct.,2022


RC Thrust Test

If you’re an aspiring aerial photographer or videographer, a drone is your ticket to the sky. After test-flying 19 models, we think the DJI Mavic Air 2 is the best drone because it combines a high-end camera with the latest autonomous technology for less than $1,000. We also recommend the DJI Mavic 3 and the DJI Mini 2 . Pilots of all skill levels will find that DJI’s drones are exceptionally reliable and easy to fly.

It’s worth noting, however, that even though a recent Pentagon report indicates some DJI drones are safe for use, there are ongoing concerns about the security of the drones, as well as allegations that the company provided drone technology to Chinese detention camps. Android users will also have to download the company’s DJI Fly app directly from the website.

For less than $1,000, the DJI Mavic Air 2 package combines ease of flight with long battery life and a camera that can shoot 4K video (we recommend buying the Fly More Combo option, which, among other things, includes three rechargeable drone batteries). The Mavic Air 2 can sense and avoid obstacles approaching from the front, back, and below, as well as steadily hold its position, even in moderate winds (DJI says it’s safe to fly in winds up to 23.6 mph). So you can focus on your cinematography instead of having to worry about keeping the drone steady. This model also features DJI smart-flight modes such as ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to autonomously follow and film a subject while also avoiding obstacles. Its 34-minute battery life means you don’t have to land for a battery swap as often as you would with the competition. And the Mavic Air 2 can go with you almost anywhere: At 7 by 3.8 by 3.3 inches folded and 1.3 pounds, it fits exceptionally well in our top pick for drone backpacks.


The DJI Mavic 3 takes many of the Mavic Air 2’s best features and, for 2½ times the price, tacks on a superior 4/3 image sensor and Hasselblad-branded camera (DJI bought a majority stake in the camera manufacturer in 2017). This model captures 20-megapixel photographs and 5.1K videos that look more colorful than those of the competition. It also has a 46-minute battery life—the longest of any drone we’ve tested.

If you’re just getting into drone photography for personal use and sharing on social media, the DJI Mini 2 is a less expensive model that still includes a 4K camera. Its battery life, at 31 minutes, comes close to matching that of more expensive models (though the Mini 2 has a lower-quality camera and sensor, so it can’t quite match the quality of their images and video). This model folds up to about the size of a person’s hand and weighs just 249 grams; that’s a bit over half a pound and light enough to not require registration for personal use. The Mini 2 still comes with the important features you need from a video drone, such as image and flight stabilization and an included controller, as well as smart-flight modes (in which the drone flies itself to easily capture cinematic shots).