A lot of people see drones as a toy, but drones can be a great photography tool, especially if you’re trying to get photos that you’d normally need a helicopter or crane for. Drones can move fast and take great photos efficiently. Some can even pilot themselves to avoid damage, or automatically follow you for action shots. Being able to take pictures from any angle can open up a lot more unique ideas and artistic photos. Especially after some training time with your drone.
What drone to choose? Below are ten of the best drones for photography that we could find. Along with some of the important things that make them unique and help them stand out from other drones on the market.
- The Best DJI Photo Drones
- 1# DJI Mavic Mini 4: Best Drone with Camera
- 2# DJI Mavic Air 2: Best Cheap Drone for Photography
- 3# DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- 4# DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: More Flexibility thanks to Quadruple Zoom
- 5# DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0: Best Drones for Beginners
- 6# Parrot Bebop 2: Drone with Camera Amazon
- 7# Parrot Anafi: Mid Range Photography Drone
- 8# Typhoon H 4K: Drone Photography for Beginners
- 9# Yuneec Typhoon H3: Best Drone for Landscape Photography
- 10# Yuneec Typhoon H Plus: Best Drone for still Photography
- General Buying Guidelines for Drone Photography
The Best DJI Photo Drones
The Chinese technology group Da-Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Co. Limited., DJI for short, was founded in 2006 by engineer and entrepreneur Frank Wang. Since then, the Shenzhen-based company has primarily developed and sold drones for private and professional aerial photography.
Gradually, DJI expanded the product range and, in addition to its well-known quadrocopters for film and photography, now also offers technically sophisticated gimbals and large drones for use in industry and agriculture.
However, we are only concerned with the DJI photo drones here. These are not only popular with photographers because of their good flight characteristics. Rather, it is the cameras from the Swedish manufacturer Hasselblad, to which DJI secured the majority of the rights in 2017, which make the DJI drones particularly popular.
1# DJI Mavic Mini 4: Best Drone with Camera
The DJI Mavic Mini 4 is an ideal entry-level model for drone photography. The mini drone, which can be folded up to the size of a palm, weighs just 249 grams, impresses with its good flight characteristics, and easy handling.
Onboard, the compact quadrocopter has a camera that can be tilted from -90 ° to 20 ° with a 24mm lens (f / 2.8) and an effective resolution of 12 megapixels. In video mode, the DJI Mavic Mini manages 2.7k (2704 x 1520, 30 fps) or Full HD with at least 60 frames per second.
For a cheap beginner drone, the DJI Mavic Mini 4, equipped with hover sensors, impresses with its extremely stable flight behavior and achieves top values with a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. The pace does not break any speed records, but at 46.8 km / h in sport mode, it is enough for at least somewhat faster flights.
The controller of the DJI Mavic Mini 4 is simple and minimalist. The obligatory joysticks (detachable for transport), a return button, a wheel for gimbal control, and the shoulder buttons for taking photos and videos reduce functionality to the essentials.
With its slim weight, the DJI Mavic Mini 4 is just below the magical limit of 250 grams and thus falls under the drone class C0 according to the EU drone regulation of 2020. So you neither need a drone driver’s license nor is the drone required to be labeled.
2# DJI Mavic Air 2: Best Cheap Drone for Photography
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is equally suitable for videographers and photographers. In the price range of semi-professional drones around 1000 dollars, it not only delivers excellent image values but also scores with its quiet flight behavior, a long flight time of 34 minutes, and uncomplicated control.
With its 12 megapixel CMOS, the Mavic Air 2 not only records high-quality videos in 4k at 60 fps. Using interpolation, recordings of up to 48 megapixels are even possible in photo mode. In tests, the DJI Mavic Air 2 even competes with the image quality of its bigger sister Mavic 2 Pro, despite the smaller sensor.
Thanks to its quiet flight behavior and reliably working collision sensors, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is also suitable for newcomers to drone photography. If you still feel unsafe in free flight, you can fall back on various preprogrammed flight maneuvers and capture great scenes.
The tracking function of the DJI Mavic Air 2 is also extremely helpful. In this mode, it follows an object independently or remains aligned with it in free flight. So you can easily film yourself mountain biking or skiing. Those who like to go fast will be happy about the high top speed of 68.4 km/h.
As is typical of the Mavic series, the DJI Mavic Air 2 can also be folded up compactly and transportable. With a weight of 570 grams, however, according to the new EU drone regulation, it falls under the C1 class that is subject to labeling and registration.
3# DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Like all drones in the Mavic series, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro relies on the proven foldable design and is therefore easy to transport despite its high weight of 907 grams. The special feature of this professional quadrocopter compared to the Mavic Air 2 lies in the camera technology.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro comes from the Swedish camera specialist Hasselblad and was mounted in a generously tiltable and swiveling gimbal (-90° to 30° / -75° to 75°). The 20-megapixel sensor in a 1-inch format gives you very good results even in dim lighting conditions with a maximum of ISO 12800. In addition, the aperture can be freely adjusted from f2.8 to f11.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro also performs extremely well in video mode, but unfortunately, the 60 fps is missing in 4k as the icing on the cake. The Mavic 2 Pro is content with 30 frames per second. If you want more you have to shift down to 2.7k. The videos can be saved in 10-bit HLG or 10-bit D-Log format directly on microSD cards up to 128 GB.
In autonomous flight via Active Track mode, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro can cope perfectly on its own thanks to omnidirectional sensors for obstacle detection. If you like to fly yourself, the OccuSync 2.0 technology from DJI gives you a perfect 1080p video signal with a maximum range of 8 km according to the manufacturer.
This is best enjoyed with the optional DJI Smart Controller with an integrated display. So you always have a good picture even in strong sunlight and you can concentrate fully on your 31 minutes maximum flight time without having to worry that your smartphone in the included controller suddenly goes out at 72 km/h.
4# DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: More Flexibility thanks to Quadruple Zoom
- 12 megapixel CMOS
- Camera with zoom function
- Very good picture quality
- Quiet flight behavior
- Good security features
- 8 GB internal storage
- Low noise propeller
- Controller battery life
DJI presents a slightly modified version of the Mavic 2 Pro with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. The real difference lies, as the name suggests, in the camera used. This comes again from Hasselblad, has only 12 megapixels, but a zoom function.
In addition to the double optical zoom of 24 to 48 mm in a small format, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom also offers a double digital zoom. With this, you can achieve 96 mm loss-free with HD recordings. As with other Mavic models, a fast hybrid AF consisting of phase and contrast autofocus ensures the right focus.
Of course, compromises have to be made elsewhere for the zoom. The image quality of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is very good, no question about it. But the waiver of at least 8 megapixels is of course significant for professional use. The maximum ISO value has also been significantly reduced to ISO 3200 in favor of image quality.
Since the housings of both models, apart from the camera and a minimal weight difference of 2 grams, are identical, nothing changes in the excellent flight characteristics. Even with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, you are safe and quiet on the go and can fully concentrate on filming and taking photos.
If you can do without the extremely high light sensitivity and the 20 megapixels of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and would rather have more flexibility in image design, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is recommended to you.
With a recommended retail price of 1189.00 euros, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is also a bit cheaper than the Pro version.
5# DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0: Best Drones for Beginners
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is much more massive than the rather slim Mavics. What brings us directly to the disadvantage: The almost 1.4 kg heavy drone cannot be folded and is therefore completely unsuitable as an “always with you” device or for hiking excursions into nature.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 of course also has its massive advantages and these are, for example, its flight behavior and obstacle detection. The Phantom 4 Pro scans its surroundings with three stereo cameras and creates a 3D map from it. Using infrared sensors, it reliably avoids obstacles up to a speed of 50 km / h.
Of course, DJI also gives the Phantom 4 Pro a powerful camera. This provides you with 20 megapixels in a 1-inch sensor format with a dynamic range of twelve f-stops. On night flights you can take photos with up to ISO 12800. In 4k video mode with a strong 60 fps, the limit is at least ISO 6400.
As usual, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 also offers all kinds of different flight modes. The most ingenious is probably the draw function, in which the drone automatically flies a route drawn on the display with your finger. Gesture mode, which automatically triggers the camera based on certain movements, is also helpful for selfies.
The bottom line is that with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 you get a professional photo and video drone with great features. Only the battery mounted on the outside of the case sometimes engages a little difficult when it is replaced.
The Best Parrot Photo Drones
The French electronics company Parrot SA has existed since 1994 and sells various devices for wireless communication from Paris. In addition to Bluetooth headsets, car hands-free kits, and wireless speaker systems, the Parrot drones are particularly worth a look.
As the company name suggests, the developers at Parrot SA feel absolutely in their element in the air. They have been successfully developing drones for around ten years, which are primarily used in the leisure sector.
With the Parrot Anafi, the French manufacturer finally made the leap onto the market for professional photo drones.
6# Parrot Bebop 2: Drone with Camera Amazon
Light and shadow come together in the Parrot Bebop 2 beginners’ drone, which is extremely nimble at 65 km / h. Flying the small quadrocopter is easy to learn. Thanks to a large number of pre-programmed maneuvers, is a lot of fun. With just under 25 minutes, the maximum flight time is also okay.
Unfortunately, the Parrot Bebop 2 is less convincing with its camera. A fixed fisheye lens with a 180 ° field of view and an aperture of f2.3 is used here. Behind it sits a 14-megapixel sensor, which records photos in a maximum resolution of 3800 x 3188 pixels or full HD videos with 30 fps.
The Parrot Bebop 2 also lacks a stabilizing gimbal for the camera. Shake is only compensated digitally, which unfortunately sometimes leads to noticeable image errors in videos. The image quality can hardly inspire in difficult lighting situations.
If you are looking for an easy to understand and compact drone to get started with or to practice on, you can definitely try your luck with the Parrot Bebop 2. The Parrot Bebop 2 is also definitely suitable as a fun sports device. Unfortunately, the drone is not recommended for ambitious photographers and videographers.
7# Parrot Anafi: Mid Range Photography Drone
After the Parrot Bebop 2 was unfortunately not able to convince, we have to break a lance for the French manufacturer at this point. The Parrot Anafi combines everything a good drone should have and can easily compete with the well-known competition from DJI.
The compact folding design makes the Parrot Anafi a constant companion, and it not only flies quietly but also extremely quiet. The only disadvantage: With the Parrot Anafi you have to fly a little more carefully. The drone dispenses with all environmental sensors except for a floor sensor.
If you don’t mind that, you’ll get a flying eye with a good 21 megapixel CMOS from Sony. A digital zoom gives you a focal length of 23 to 69 mm for photos and 26 to 78 mm for videos. The image quality of the photos could be a bit better. The videos in 4k with 30 fps or Full HD with 60 fps look great.
A special feature of the Anafi: the camera, which is stabilized in the 3-axis gimbal, can be swiveled vertically by 180°. In combination with various pre-programmed flight maneuvers, this enables you to make cool changes of perspective. You can take extremely dynamic tracking shots, and, last but not least, the opportunity to film upwards.
With the Anafi, Parrot provides you with just under 25 minutes of flight fun. You can creatively draw on unlimited resources at speeds of up to 50 km / h. With due caution, of course, due to the lack of collision sensors. But caution should always be a top priority when flying with drones.
The Best Yuneec Photo Drones
Yuneec International Electric Aviation Ltd. is a relatively young company based in Jinxi. In 1999, the company first started developing model airplanes. Soon expanded, and finally switched to the production of electric drives for airplanes.
Innovative aviation technology has always been Yuneec’s hobbyhorse. So it is hardly surprising that the Chinese company soon discovered aircraft for private use in addition to electrically powered aircraft and helicopters.
Yuneec now has various drones suitable for aerial photography on the market. From the compact leisure drone to the professional hexacopter, there is the right model for every application and every price range.
8# Typhoon H 4K: Drone Photography for Beginners
With a total weight of only 385 grams, the Yuneec Breeze 4k is clearly one of the transportable mini drones for taking short snapshots on the go. The maximum flight time of only 12 minutes would also be too short for everything else.
Yuneec itself advertises the small Breeze 4k as a selfie drone. The 13-megapixel camera with a field of view of 117°, which can be tilted from 0 to 90°, is definitely sufficient. The Breeze 4k also has 4k video (30 fps). The results don’t look bad for a drone in this price range.
Integrated image stabilizer and stable flight behavior ensure blur-free and sharp video clips. Clear image errors only occur when the camera is panned very quickly. The photo quality of the Yuneec Breeze 4k is only okay, but is easily sufficient for social media.
Controlling the small photo drone is a bit fiddly. Yuneec does not have a controller here, all functions are controlled directly via the smartphone via the app. If you want to use the Yuneec Breeze 4k primarily as a selfie drone, you won’t have any problems with it. This method is rather unsuitable for free-flying.
9# Yuneec Typhoon H3: Best Drone for Landscape Photography
The Yuneec Mantis Q comes in the classic design of a compact drone. The foldable arms and rotors and the low weight of 480 grams make the Mantis Q the ideal travel companion at first glance. But what about technology?
In tests, the Yuneec Mantis Q received consistently positive comments for its flight characteristics. In addition to the usual automatic modes (tracking, point of interest, selfie, etc.), the drone has voice control and can be controlled manually using the controller. With a top speed of 72 km/h and a flight time of 33 minutes, the Yuneec Mantis Q achieved very good values here.
Unfortunately, the camera with 13 megapixels and a field of view of 117° (corresponds to 21.5 mm focal length) reveals significant weaknesses. The photos usually appear cloudy and washed out and show clear vignetting. Even RAW files are difficult to recover in post-processing.
Unfortunately, the same problem also applies to the video mode of the Yuneec Mantis Q. This is compounded by the fact that the electronic stabilization is only active in Full HD mode. 4k quality as a purchase argument is thus nullified by annoying shake.
All in all, the Yuneec Mantis Q can definitely be fun if flying is in the foreground. However, if you primarily want to film and take photos, you should keep your hands off the Mantis Q. And use it as an alternative to the Parrot Anafi or an inexpensive Mavic variant.
10# Yuneec Typhoon H Plus: Best Drone for still Photography
The Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is absolutely profitable in all disciplines. In a direct comparison, the large hexacopter with a fighting weight of just under 2 kg even takes on the otherwise mostly unbeaten competition from DJI.
What is striking about the Typhoon H Plus is the completely balanced relationship between drone and camera technology. No compromises are made or compromises are made here, but rather the best possible technology is used.
The absolute highlight of the Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is clearly the most freely movable gimbal, in which the 20-megapixel camera is placed. You can tilt the camera between -90° and 15° and swivel it through a full 360°. The field of view is 91°, which corresponds to a focal length of 23 mm.
The imaging performance of the 1-inch image sensor also meets professional requirements. Only photos in high ISO ranges (maximum ISO 6400) show slightly annoying image noise. In return, videographers will be happy about the 4k video mode with 60 frames per second.
Thanks to the 3-axis image stabilizer and smooth flight characteristics of the Yuneec Typhoon H Plus, recordings remain blur-free even at a top speed of 72 km / h. Forward obstacle detection by ultrasound and save landing with 5 of 6 rotors ensures safety in the event of a defect.
The Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is also optionally available with RealSense technology.
General Buying Guidelines for Drone Photography
I hope this article was able to help you choose the right aircraft. You will soon achieve your own results in drone photography. So that you have long-term fun with this hobby and are legally on the safe side. Please pay attention to the following points!
Take out insurance before your first flight!
Probably none of you would get behind the wheel of a car uninsured. When flying a drone, you should see yourself as an active road user. Especially with aircraft, serious injuries, or serious damage to property belonging to third parties can quickly occur in the event of an accident.
Therefore, you should make sure that in the worst case you don’t have to be liable for yourself. Most liability insurances do not directly cover accidents with drones. But normally additional services can be booked in addition to the existing insurance package without any problems.
Be sure to note the takeoff weight of your drone!
According to the currently applicable standard, all drones over 250 grams take-off weight (weight when ready for operation including battery) are subject to labeling. This must be done by means of a fire-proof sticker on which the name and address of the pilot are noted.
In addition, depending on the weight class, you must be able to show a so-called drone driver’s license (from 2 kg). Even apply for an ascent permit (from 5 kg) at the state aviation authority. Current information on the EU drone regulation can be found at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
Always fly in sight and under 100 meters!
Even if most drones have a significantly greater range and some manufacturers also advertise with them. The maximum flight altitude and the maximum distance to the pilot are regulated by law!
Even during automatic flight maneuvers, such as circling objects, visual contact with the drone must always be maintained. The maximum flight altitude of 100 m may only be exceeded with special permission.
For flying with video glasses, which of course makes direct visual contact impossible, the BMVI has exemptions. Here you can fly with a “spotter”, another person who keeps an eye on the drone.
Observe the compliance with no-fly zones!
If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to fly on model airfields. But flying a drone is usually not a problem even over uninhabited areas. However, the following areas are taboo for drone flights:
- Police and fire brigade locations
- Main traffic routes and waterways
- Constitutional bodies, federal and state authorities
- Industrial plants
- Residential plots
- Nature reserves
Flight bans apply not only to the location directly, but also to the immediate vicinity. You should keep a minimum distance of 1.5 km to such areas. The drone app from German Air Traffic Control is very helpful in order not to accidentally fly into a no-fly zone.
Be careful when taking photos and videos in public!
When taking photos with a smartphone or digital camera, Section 59 of the copyright law usually applies. According to this, such recordings fall under the so-called “panorama freedom” and are legally harmless if the following points are observed:
- The motif is in a public and freely accessible place
- The subject can be used freely and is not reserved for private use
- The motif is permanently in a public place (be careful with temporary art installations!)
- The subject can be photographed from a public place without tools
The last point is relevant for drone photography because with the drone as a technical aid you leave the “I” perspective and thus also the area of freedom of panorama. If you want to publish your image material, you should urgently ensure that you do not violate any copyrights (recognizable buildings, etc.) or personal rights of recognizable people.