Sunday , September 26 2021

Top 12 Drones with Camera in 2021 (With Prices) – Droneblog.com

Almost any drone worth its salt these days comes with a built-in gimbal and camera. But that’s not to say that all drones with a camera are created equal. The drones themselves come with a wide range of performance and features, and the cameras on them also come with a huge range of resolution quality and image stability. 

The best drones for 2021 can be classified in the following terms: The DJI Air2S offers the best value for money. The Mavic 2 Pro is best for pro photographers. The Skydio 2 is the best tracking and action cam. The DJI Mini 2 is best for beginners. The Holy Stone HS720 is the best budget drone. 

It can be a bit dizzying to sort through all the multitude of drones for sale with cameras and to know with confidence that you’re getting something worth spending your hard-earned money on. To save you the trouble of doing the sorting yourself, and the frustration of buying a drone only to have it not live up to its billing, we’ve put together a list of the best 12 camera drones available today, in several categories. 

What you can expect to pay for a camera drone

If you’re looking for a really good camera that also happens to fly, I’ve got good news for you. It’s not too hard to find a drone that can give you really high-quality photos and videos for around $800-$1,500. That’s in the same price range as a decent DSLR camera. Not too bad if photography’s your thing and you’re looking to add aerial imaging to your repertoire.

For those just wanting to dabble in some fun flying and take some cool shots, there are plenty of options for decent camera quality drones that won’t break the bank either. The lower-end drones might not give you professional-level photos, and they might lack a few of the fancy flight features, but still offer a satisfying flight experience. Entry-level camera drones that still offer a basic level of photo quality come for around $100-$500. 

Of course, there are a few camera drones that take things to the next level altogether, intended for use by professional filmmakers, mapmakers, and 3D modeling. Not unexpectedly, these enterprise-level camera drones come at an even higher price point for around $3,000-$5,000. 

What to look for in a camera drone

When you’re shopping around for a good camera drone, it can be hard to know exactly which features to compare. So many times it feels like you’re comparing apples and oranges as different brands and models will highlight different aspects of their camera drone (and usually downplay its limitations.

Here are some of the things you should be looking at when buying a camera drone.

Photo resolution

Here you’re looking at the megapixels the camera can capture and record. The higher the megapixel count, the sharper and smoother the image will be, especially when shown on a big screen or printed on a large page or canvas. For those wanting to more than simply dabble in taking a few drone shots, look for at least 12MP photo resolution.  

Video quality

The video quality is again related to the sharpness and clarity of the video when viewed on a large screen. This is often dependent on the number of frames per second (fps) as well as the overall image resolution. If you’re looking for more than a home video quality, the minimum video resolution to look for is 4K. 

Sensor size

This may not be advertised in some camera drone models, and most likely only those that have something to brag about. Sensor size refers to the actual physical dimensions of the sensor. A smaller sensor size will result in decreased light sensitivity and increased sensitivity to digital noise. When we’re talking about consumer camera drones, a 1” sensor is about as good as it gets

Gimbal

The gimbal is the appendage that connects the camera to the frame of the drone. You could have a fixed camera, which would result in very shaky video and blurry photos due to the motion of the drone. For clear images, you need a gimbal that can stabilize the camera. For the best quality photos, look for a 3-axis gimbal. 

Intelligent flight features

For most people out there with a drone looking to get some great aerial shots, the camera and its capabilities take priority over the desire to perfect drone piloting skills. You want good photos and videos, but you don’t have years to truly master flight controls. Thankfully, most decent camera drones come with intelligent features that will do the flying for you, while you program it to get the kind of shot you want. When choosing a drone, consider what automatic flight and camera features it has.

Brands to consider

The most well-known brand when it comes to camera drones of course is DJI. They have led the market and the technology when it comes to camera drones since about 2016. DJI offers quite a few standout models for high quality consumer camera drones, including the Mavic Air 2, the Mavic 2 Pro, and even the DJI Mini 2. 

Don’t fall in the trap of thinking that DJI is the only player in the game, however. Even though they hold a smaller market share, there are several other strong brands that may surprise you with their features, quality and especially price point. 

Very strong contenders when it comes to camera drones are brands such as Parrot, Autel Robotics, Yuneec, and Skydio. These brands each offer extremely capable drones with excellent flight features and high-quality video and photo performance. These brands are priced somewhat similarly to their DJI counterparts, and tend to be preferred by serious photographers.

If you’re not looking for the best that drone photography can offer, but instead want a budget version of a decent camera drone, other brands to consider include Holy Stone, Potensic, Echine, and Snaptain. These offer somewhat lower-end camera features, but still good enough for backyard shots, and at a much more enticing price. 

List of drones in a table:

Drone Photo Video Flight Time Price Point
DJI Air 2S 1” CMOS sensor, 20MP 5.4K  31 min. $999
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Autel Robotics EVO II ½” CMOS sensor, 48MP 8K  40 min.  $1,500
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DJI Mavic 2 Pro 1” CMOS sensor, 20MP 4K 31 min. $1,599
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DJI Mavic Air 2 ½” CMOS sensor, 48MP 4K 34 min.  $799
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Skydio 2 12MP  4K 23 min.  $1,349
check current price on Skydio.com
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, 12MP 4K 31 min. $1,349
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Parrot ANAFI 1/2.4” CMOS sensor, 21MP 4K 25 min.  $699
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DJI Inspire 2 Compatible with Zenmuse X7, X5S and X4S 24MP Up to 6K 27 min. with X4S $3,299 plus camera
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PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard 1/2.8” CMOS sensor 12MP 4K 30 min. $1,183
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DJI Mini 2 1/2.3” CMOS sensor 12MP 4K 31 min.  $449
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Holy Stone HS720 12MP (estimate) 4K 26 min.  $259
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Ryze Tello 5MP 720p 13 min.  $99
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DJI FPV Drone 1/2.3” CMOS sensor 12MP 4K 20 min.  $1,299
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DJI Air 2S

Camera: 1” CMOS 20MP sensor, 5.4K video

Drone frame: foldable frame, 600g

Flight time: 31 min.

Top speed: 42 mph

Transmission range: 7.4 miles (12km) 

Best for: filmmaking, photography, inspections

Flight and camera features: Hyperlapse, MasterShots and FocusTrack, 4 direction environment sensing, OcuSync 3.0 transmission

Downsides: None.

Our top pick for a camera drone considering the quality you get for the price is the DJI Air 2S. This relatively new on the scene drone seems to have it all, with a large sensor for better image clarity and performance in low light conditions, and an outstanding video resolution. 

The lightweight, foldable frame is the DJI Mavic series standard, making for easy portability and good durability. Flight time and speed are what you expect, and the Air 2S also comes with the next generation of Intelligent flight assistance with MasterShots being an upgrade to the QuickShots suite of features. 

Four directional environment sensing means great performance in obstacle avoidance, and the OcuSync 3.0 upgrade means less likelihood of signal interference or dropping. It’s an all-around performer at a fraction of the price of some of the other comparable Mavic models. 

Check current price on Amazon

Autel Robotics EVO II

Camera: ½” CMOS 48MP sensor, 8K HDR video

Drone frame: foldable frame

Flight time: 40 min.

Top speed: 45 mph

Transmission range: 5.5 miles

Best for: Filmmaking, real estate

Flight and camera features: 8K Hyperlapse photography, LiveDeck for live streaming, 360-degree obstacle avoidance, DynamicTrack 2.0, Return to home

Downsides: On the higher end in terms of price for consumer-level camera drones. 

Seeing a non-DJI brand second on our list might be a surprise to some, but the Autel EVO II is definitely the camera drone to give DJI a run for its money. This drone, though lacking the 1” sensor, still comes out with an impressive 48MP photo and an even more impressive 8K video at 30fps.  

Also giving the DJI comparables a jolt is the industry-leading 40 minutes of flight time, not seen anywhere else until you get to enterprise-level models or fixed-wing aircraft. Flight assistance features are rich and helpful, making it easy to capture professional-level video and photos. 

The only real downside to the Autel EVO II is the relatively high price point. Even there, it isn’t any higher than you’re paying for the Mavic 2 Pro, albeit with an arguably less robust camera. 

Check current price on Amazon

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Camera: 1” CMOS 20MP Hasselblad sensor, 4K video

Drone frame: foldable

Flight time: 31 min. 

Top speed: 45 mph (72kph)

Transmission range: 6 miles (10km)

Best for: Filmmaking, photography, inspections

Flight and camera features: Hyperlapse, Adjustable aperture, Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensing, Enhanced HDR photos, ActiveTrack 2.0, QuickShot modes, OcuSync 2.0 transmission

Downsides: Higher price point than other comparable camera drones. 

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is pretty much the industry standard when it comes to professional-quality flying cameras. The main reason for this is the Hasselblad camera, which in conjunction with DJI’s suite of intelligent flight modes and robust obstacle avoidance makes the Mavic 2 Pro a dream to work with. 

The superior camera quality gives a more vibrant color profile to other comparable camera drones, and also comes with variable aperture and focal length controls. This higher level of precision and control is what makes this the top choice of many photography professionals. 

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DJI Mavic Air 2

Camera: ½” CMOS 48MP sensor, 4K (60fps) video

Drone frame: foldable

Flight time: 34 min.

Top speed: 42 mph (68 kph)

Transmission range: 6 miles (10km)

Best for: photography, construction, inspections

Flight and camera features: 8K Hyperlapse, HDR photo and video, ActiveTrack 3.0, QuickShot modes, 3 direction environment sensing, OcuSync 2.0 transmission

Downsides: Smaller camera sensor can lead to more digital noise, and less light sensitivity.

If the Air 2S hadn’t come out, the Mavic Air 2 might have been our top choice for the best camera drone for the money. At just $200 cheaper than the Air 2S, it comes with a smaller sensor but is fairly comparable in most other ways. 

A few other differences include the older generation intelligent flight features, which still are nothing to sneeze at. That and the less robust obstacle avoidance make it easy to see why the Air 2S outshines the Mavic Air 2. Still, if you want to save a little bit of cash, the Mavic Air 2 is an excellent camera drone with an impressive track record. 

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Skydio 2

Camera: 12MP photos, 4K (60 fps) HDR video

Drone frame: compact, but not foldable

Flight time: 23 min.

Top speed: 36 mph

Transmission range: 2 miles (3.5km)

Best for: filming sports and action

Flight and camera features: 4K navigation sensors and NVIDIA advanced AI processing for unbeatable obstacle avoidance. Skydio Beacon (optional add-on) makes for easy, almost hands-free flight controls. 

Downsides: Shorter flight times, slower top flight speeds and lower transmission range is a limiting factor in how you can use the Skydio 2. 

Despite the fact that the Skydio 2 is still a fairly unknown drone, and despite its smaller camera size and photo resolution, it still makes it to the top half of our list of best camera drones. The reason for this is the impressive AI features that make the Skydio 2 unbeatable when it comes to object tracking and obstacle avoidance. No other drone can follow through complex environments like this one. 

If you’re looking for a flying action cam to film your athletic exploits, the Skydio 2 is the best drone for the job. The Skydio Beacon also makes it easy to give basic commands to your drone as it follows you, without having to play around with a standard controller or even a phone app. 

The reason the Skydio isn’t higher on our list is the relatively shorter flight times and a more limited suite of flight assistance features than you would get with a Mavic. 

Check price on Skydio.com

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Camera: 1/2.3” CMOS 12MP sensor with 2x optical zoom, 4K video

Drone frame: foldable

Flight time: 31 min.

Top speed: 45 mph (72kph)

Transmission range: 6 miles

Best for: photography, inspections

Flight and camera features: Hybrid autofocus, ActiveTrack 2.0, QuickShot modes, Super resolution feature, Hyperlapse, Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors, Enhanced HDR photos, OcuSync 2.0 transmission.

Downsides: 12MP sensor won’t give you quite the high standard of image clarity as some of the other high-end camera drones. Zoom feature may not be all that useful. 

As excellent of a camera drone as the Mavic 2 Zoom may be in its own right, the problem with it is that it gets lost a little bit in the noise of all the other standout features of similar drones. 

It’s basically the same drone as the Mavic 2 Pro, but without the high-end camera. Instead, it has a 2x zoom feature for close-up detail without having to get too close. It also has the same flight assistance features as the Mavic 2 Pro, and the same basic performance. 

Where it falls short by comparison is in the sensor size, having only a 1/2.3” sensor with resulting lesser image quality. With all this, it comes in at a higher price point than either the Mavic Air 2 or 2S, and so just ends up seeming like not much of a bargain by comparison. 

Check current price on Amazon

Parrot ANAFI

Camera: 1/2.4” CMOS 21MP, 4K video

Drone frame: foldable, 320g

Flight time: 25 min. 

Top speed: 35 mph

Transmission range: 2.5 miles

Best for: Filmmaking, construction, utilities inspection

Flight and camera features: 5-axis stabilization for smooth imaging, 3x zoom and 180-degree camera tilt, extreme temperature and high-wind resistance, VR headset compatible, Object tracking, return-to-home failsafe features. 

Downsides: Does not have the same level of assisted flight/camera features as some other models. However, these can be replicated through other flight control apps such as Litchi or Autopilot. 

A solid, all-around performer, the Parrot Anafi comes with a competitive sensor for professional quality photo and video. The impressive gimbal stabilization (both physical and electronic) makes for reliably smooth shots as well. 

One place the Anafi really stands out is with its weather and wind resistance. Though not waterproof, it can withstand high and low temperatures, and remain stable in strong winds, making it a good choice for flights in extreme conditions. 

If you’re looking for the ready-made packaged camera shots that come with DJI’s lineup of drone models, you may be disappointed here. While it does offer some intelligent flight features such as object tracking (which the Mini 2 doesn’t have), you may be left to your own devices to create those cinema-style shots. 

Check current price on Amazon  

DJI Inspire 2

Camera: Compatible with X7, X5S and X4S. Up to 6K video, 24MP stills.

Drone frame: Transforming design in arms

Flight time: 23-27 min. (payload dependent)

Top speed: 58 mph (94 kph)

Transmission range: 4.3 miles (7km)

Best for: Filmmaking, construction, utilities inspection

Flight and camera features: Spotlight Pro tracking with Quick Shot and Composition modes, obstacle avoidance optimized in Waypoint and Point of Interest modes, QuickSpin, TapFly and ActiveTrack intelligent flight modes, smart return-to-home, two-directional obstacle avoidance sensors.

Downsides: Expensive drone that requires the camera as an additional purchase. Obstacle sensing in only two directions makes the obstacle avoidance feature less robust than in other models. 

The Inspire 2 is creeping into the enterprise level of camera drones, and as such, it comes at a premium. Tack on top of the already high price point of the drone the fact that you need to buy another expensive camera separately, and this drone becomes cost prohibitive to all but the most dedicated professionals. 

Accessibility aside, the Inspire 2 really is inspiring in terms of what it can do performance-wise. The stability and image quality are top level, and the processing ability of the drone makes it easy to put that imagery to best use. Intelligent flight is assumed, making even complex professional missions easy to achieve. 

The one almost surprising lack in this drone, perhaps due to its relative age, is the absence of a more robust obstacle sensing system. However, if we assume that only experienced professionals are going to spring for the Inspire 2, the risk of collision inherent for more amateur operators is hopefully not going to be an issue. 

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PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard

Camera: 1/2.8” CMOS sensor 12MP, 4K video

Drone frame: foldable. Can be used as a tripod mount or handheld camera as well as a drone.  

Flight time: 30 min.

Top speed: 40 mph

Transmission range: 3.7 miles

Best for: filming sports and action, hobbyists

Flight and camera features: Facial recognition through AI and deep learning to track subjects, SyncVoice Technology to record sound remotely and automatically sync with video, gesture controls, obstacle avoidance, 3 axis gimbal stabilization, high level of wind resistance and weather resistance. Waterproof and able to land and take off from water. 

Downsides: Lacks some of the intelligent flight features that many other camera drones have, resulting in less professional looking video shots. 

This surprising drone is more than just a drone. Billed as an AI visual tracking camera that also happens to be a drone, the PowerEgg also operates as a handheld camera and comes with a tripod arrangement. This unusual combination sets this apart as a multifunctional camera device.

The camera quality and function of the drone is quite good, and the flight performance is surprisingly good for a drone that is meant to be used as a handheld camera as well. The intelligent facial recognition is the defining feature of the PowerEgg, and holds its own against most of the competition.

Also unique about the PowerEgg is its weather, water and wind resistance. With the upgrade to the Wizard package, you get true water resistance, and floats that allow you to land on and take off from the water.

The only apparent lack here is the absence of intelligent flight and camera modes to help you achieve high-level video shots. This was apparently sacrificed in the quest for facial and object tracking.

Check current price on Amazon

DJI Mini 2

Camera: 1/2.3” CMOS sensor 12MP, 4K video

Drone frame: foldable, less than 250g

Flight time: 31 min. 

Top speed: 35 mph

Transmission range: 6 miles (10km)

Best for: hobbyists, photography

Flight and camera features: Weighs less than 250g so avoids registration requirement for hobbyists, high level of wind resistance, OcuSync 2.0 transmission, 4x zoom, QuickShots intelligent camera and flight modes, Smart return to home. 

Downsides: The Mini 2 doesn’t come with obstacle avoidance or follow me features. 

The DJI Mini 2 is really at the top of the list when it comes to amateur and hobbyist camera drones. While it can of course be used by professionals, the price point puts it in a range that is much more attractive for non-professionals, while still having a high quality camera capable of producing really excellent photos and videos.

One of the most enticing aspects of the Mini 2 for some is the fact that it doesn’t have to be registered with the FAA. Since it weighs in under the 250g limit requiring registration, it squeaks through, at least for recreational flyers. However, if it is being used for commercial purposes, the Mini 2 still has to be registered, regardless of weight. 

One area the Mini 2 falls short is it’s lack of the follow me or ActiveTrack features. These were left by the wayside in an effort to achieve a lightweight drone. If you’re not looking for a drone that can track you and film your pursuits, it’s no big deal, especially as the drone still comes with an impressive lineup of other intelligent flight and camera features. 

Check current price on Amazon 

Holy Stone HS720

Camera: 4K camera

Drone frame: foldable

Flight time: 26 min. 

Top speed: 20 mph (estimate)

Transmission range: 3000 feet (5G wifi) 

Best for: hobbyists, beginners

Flight and camera features: Follow me, auto return to home, GPS assisted intelligent flight, multiple sensors for hovering stability. 

Downsides: This is more of a basic, entry level camera drone, and noticeably lacks a robust camera, and has only a few basic intelligent flight modes. No obstacle avoidance, and susceptible to strong winds. 

Situated comfortably in the mid-range of hobbyist drones, the Holy Stone HS720 is still a solid, budget-friendly choice for those looking to get started with aerial photography. While it does have a 4K camera for video, not all 4K cameras are created equal. It can give you some decent, home video style footage, though the lack of intelligent flight modes makes it hard to achieve cinema style shots. 

The Holy Stone HS720, however, does offer enough features such as follow me and return to home to put this a bit above your very basic entry level drone. And its flight time of 26 minutes is also a cut above what you normally find in an entry level drone. 

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Ryze Tello

Camera: 5MP camera, 720p video

Drone frame: not foldable, but extremely lightweight at 80g

Flight time: 13 min. 

Top speed: 17 mph (8m/s)

Transmission range: 328 feet (100m)

Best for: hobbyists, beginners, kids

Flight and camera features: Throw & Go and Bounce take-off features, VR headset compatibility, aerial stunts and flips, EZ Shots intelligent flight features, auto-landing when connection is lost, vision positioning for hovering stability, mobile programming app that supports Scratch for programming, and DIY accessories.  

Downsides: The Ryze Tello verges on the edge of the toy drone category, with very limited flight and camera performance and a comparatively short flight time. 

The only reason the Ryze Tello makes our list of best camera drones is the fact that it does have a fairly impressive photo resolution camera on it for the size of drone that it is. The video quality is not great, but you can still get some cool aerial footage due to the intelligent flight and camera features.

This is definitely a good choice for beginners and even for kids wanting to get their feet wet with aerial photography, especially since it could really be classified as a toy drone. And at 80g, it is well under the limit for registration. 

Another added attraction for the Ryze Tello as a drone for kids is the fact that it can be used as an introduction to programming. Via a computer app, you can create commands for the drone to follow using Scratch, which can then be observed immediately in the drone’s actions. And at less than $100, it’s a great bargain. 

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DJI FPV Drone

Camera: 1/2.3” CMOS sensor 12MP, 4K video

Drone frame: not foldable, 3-blade propellers

Flight time: 20 min.

Top speed: 87 mph (140kph)

Transmission range: 6 miles (10km)

Best for: FPV, racing, hobbyists

Flight and camera features: Three flight modes (M-mode, N-mode and S-mode) to give different levels of users the right level of control. Optional motion controller for an entirely different way to control the drone. Emergency Brake and Hover, Smart Return to Home, obstacle sensing, OcuSync 3.0. 

Downsides: May be more of a speed-machine than many photography hobbyists are looking for, making it harder to control for beginners. Doesn’t have any tracking or follow me modes. 

The DJI FPV drone is really not built as a camera drone, but as a racing and FPV drone. However, it does come with quite an impressive camera, comparable to that of the Mini 2, or even the Mavic Air 2. In order to get cinematic style footage, you’ll probably have to slow down the top speed quite a bit, which seems a bit of a waste of potential.

If your intent is to film your racing exploits, however, the DJI FPV drone is one of the best. It has a very competitive top speed of 87 mph, and you can get a high-resolution video of the entire flight to boot. 

If you’re just looking for a drone that can take professional quality imagery, this one probably isn’t the drone for you. But if you are a bit of a speed demon and thrill seeker, the DJI FPV drone certainly does deliver. 

Check current price on Amazon


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