Best Drone Cameras in 2021

A airplane that is jumping in the air

The best camera drones used to be little more than novelty toys for gadget-heads, but it’s all different now. These days you’re more likely to find the best camera drones in the hands of photographers and videographers both amateur and professional. This is because they allow the user to shoot from creative angles and get unique perspectives that simply wouldn’t be possible with any other camera. Here is a list of the latest drone cameras.

01. DJI Air 2S

A close up of a brick wall

DJI’s new drone combines a pro-quality camera with a compact frame. Non-camera devices with cameras on them, such as drones, tend to be held back by having annoyingly small sensors. So congratulations are due to DJI for sticking a 1-inch sensor in the DJI Air 2S, providing a significant upgrade in image quality and dynamic range compared to a lot of other drones on the market. They’ve done it before, with the larger Mavic 2 Pro, but this is – theoretically – a step down the range. We’re not so sure.

The Air 2S is much more compact than that drone, or any other drone with a 1-inch sensor (sit it next to a Phantom 4 for a real comparison). The DJI Intelligence systems are also coming on apace, with Active Track and avoidance sensors giving the drone more nuanced control than ever over its own trajectory. It’s a huge achievement how much fits into this drone’s slim, redesigned chassis. 

02. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

A propeller plane that is flying in the air

The all-round best drone for photography. There are plenty of fantastic DJI camera drones we could have chosen for our number-one spot, but we’ve plumped for the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. You’ll see more DJI drones throughout this list with different advantages and disadvantages, so why does this one grab the honour of being our top pick? 

The key advantage of the Zoom, as you might have guessed, is the fat that it sports a zoom lens. And not just any zoom lens – a x optical zoom with an effective focal range of 24-48mm. Just as the original Mavic Pro redefined what was thought possible with camera drones, so does the Zoom shake up the landscape again by providing real compositional versatility and the ability to shift perspectives. It also has a cool ace up its sleeve – the Dolly Zoom Quickshot, which simulates a Hitchcockian camera movement to awesome effect.

It’s not a perfect camera drone – the 12MP camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor and top ISO setting of 3200 is a little disappointing. But the Mavic 2 Zoom is a really strong all-rounder that’s probably going to be the best option for the majority of users, and that’s why it’s our pick. If you need something smaller there’s the Mavic Mini. A larger sensor? The Air 2S. A better – well, we’ll stop there. That’s what the rest of the list is for! The bottom line is – if you need an all-around camera drone that’s great at pretty much everything, this is it. 

03. DJI Mini SE

The best way to think of the DJI Mini SE in terms of quality is as a flying smartphone camera from a mid-range device. That, though, is a high standard these days, certainly far higher than toy drones and their shaky video because this drone can hover perfectly thanks to its onboard sensors and has a 3-axis mechanical stabilizer for its camera. 

Tech enthusiasts might feel that the 2.7K video resolution isn’t enough for them, but family members (and anyone watching socially shared versions) would be hard pressed to spot the difference against 4K. The drone also scrapes in beneath the 250g registration barrier and has a much more welcoming entry price than anything else DJI offers, making it a perfect gift. Software-wise the app is intuitive and includes auto land, return to home and some cool orbiting effects which will be sure to earn likes.

These three are currently the best drone cameras.

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