7 Best Drones for Aerial Photography

A drone with a gimbal is essential to keep your footage silky smooth. Look for a drone with a 3-axis gimbal for optimal results.

There are versatile dual camera drones available with class-leading image quality. Some have a take-off weight that puts them in Europe’s C1 category, which limits flight restrictions but still allows you to shoot high-quality aerial photos and videos.

Compact and Lightweight Drone

Some of the smallest and lightest drones don’t skimp on features. They can fold down very small, have up to 21 minutes of flight time, and can track one or two subjects autonomously. They also shoot up to UHD 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps), and take 12 megapixel still images.

The camera has a 3-axis all-mechanical gimbal for super-sharp footage and pictures. Some use high-quality sensors but have a higher bitrate for video capture of 100 megabits per second, which gives better color depth and overall image quality than other consumer drones in their class. Some can even capture HDR photos based on three bracketed stills.

Many drones have smart features like automatic subject tracking by drawing a box around the subject on your phone screen, tap-based flight control on your smartphone screen, and the ability to set an automated flight path around a specific subject. Some also have fun modes that fly the drone out from the subject, around them and back to where they started, creating a spherical bird’s-eye view of the locale.

Pocket-Sized Drone with Impressive Features

There are top-rated, pocket-sized drones available with impressive performance and features. Some are more compact than others but pack more into their frame and take better photos and videos. Many also offer flight modes that let the drone automatically follow a subject and capture footage from various angles. Gesture control enables hands-free operation, including taking a selfie with the drone.

Some of the latest drones add improvements like quieter operation, thanks to refinements in motor and propeller design. And some have new modes that drop the top speed and increase the sensitivity on the controller.

High-end drones often have multiple cameras, including a high-resolution main camera and forward-facing optical sensors that handle obstacle avoidance. This keeps your drone safe in case it gets too close to something it shouldn’t be flying into, and helps it land precisely at its take-off point when it’s time to fly home. Some also have new modes that use downward-facing obstacle sensors to maintain a steady altitude over uneven terrain, and gesture recognition to snap a photo when you wave at the drone.

Easy-to-Use Drone with Excellent Camera

There are drones on the market that are easy to use and offer a wide range of features. While they can be expensive, they often have great cameras and gimbals which produce excellent results. Some let you choose between JPEG and raw formats which gives you more control over the final image quality.

The cameras on high-end drones can have a maximum resolution of 20MP which gives high-quality images with excellent detail. Some can shoot in 3 shot bursts in RAW and JPEG formats to give you more flexibility with your editing. There are models with HDMI modules on the controller that allow you to connect FPV (first-person view) goggles for an immersive experience.

Many drones have a number of smart flight modes that make them easier to fly. Features like automatic subject tracking use the drone’s optical sensors to follow a subject automatically. You simply draw a box around what you want to follow and the drone will move to keep the camera centered on it.

Other smart features include point of interest tracking, waypoint navigation and follow modes. These help you capture unique shots and angles from a variety of positions without having to fly the drone manually first.

Popular and Easy-to-Fly Drone

Some of the most popular consumer drones are popular for good reason. They’re easy and fun to fly, and capture beautiful aerial footage. Plus, some models let you view what the camera sees in real time on your mobile device. This is a huge convenience, especially in windy conditions where slight gusts might throw the drone off course.

High-quality gimbals are great for stabilizing the camera and keeping the video footage smooth. Wide-angle lenses cover a large field of view and, although they may stretch objects at the edges of the frame, they are often free of the fish-eye distortion that plagues some other drones.

A big upgrade available in some newer models is the ability to record in 4K resolution. This isn’t just a nice feature for futureproofing; it adds a ton of detail to the footage. It also helps to keep the dynamic range well balanced, preventing the drone from overexposing bright skies or washing out shadows.

Another big upgrade in some drones is advanced wireless technology that provides a direct connection between the controller and the drone. This reduces latency, making for more responsive and stable flight control.

Solid Option for Amateur Aerial Filmmakers

There are solid drone options for amateur filmmakers who want to add aerial footage to their home videos. Some have 4K cameras that can record professional-quality video and 12-megapixel still images, all of which are incredibly sharp on a high-resolution monitor. Many also include advanced 3-axis gimbal stabilization technology to eliminate the jerkiness seen in some previous drones.

Some drones are easy to fly, so even those with only a vague understanding of technology can quickly learn how to use them. Newer models can be more stable than their predecessors and can stay still in the air for minutes at a time. Some are also faster, with high top speeds and fast climb rates.

Advanced drones may add global navigation satellite system support, which can work in areas without a GPS signal. Using this, the drone can tell where it is in relation to its home position, which is helpful for users who live in areas with restrictions on drone flight. It can also be used to trigger a return-to-home feature. Companion apps can also be used to set up virtual barriers or a safe zone for the drone, which is an excellent safety feature to have.

High-End Drone with Superior Performance

Some of the latest high-end drones deliver superior flight time and image quality. They also come with visual subject tracking and large, high-resolution sensors capable of shooting 4K video.

Advanced drones use mechanical shutters to avoid the effects of rolling shutter, and combine that with an adjustable aperture to produce sharp, clear images. New algorithms can recognize subjects automatically, tracking them as they move and adjusting flight dynamics to ensure steady shots. Some drones also have tracking modes that follow the subject while avoiding obstacles or fly alongside it at various angles to capture dynamic portraits.

High-end drones, for instance, this one, see here for the details on their website – often have front and rear sensors for obstacle avoidance and underslung infrared systems for safer indoor flight. They may also support high-capacity memory cards for extended recording, which is more than what most competing drones offer. However, more advanced drones can be heavier and bulkier, making them less portable than other options. In addition, their controls may be somewhat more complex with a significant learning curve. Simulator systems can help, but they won’t teach you everything you need to know. These drones also often require more powerful batteries than most competing models.

Small, Light, and Feature-Packed Drone

Drones are on the wishlist of photographers of all levels and, if used right, can produce incredible images. However, they often come with hefty premiums and higher regulations due to their size. There are some great choices for people who want to get into drone photography with a small, light, affordable, and feature-packed model.

Some smaller drones have very intuitive controls, with standard push-wheels and programmable function buttons. This makes them easy to use for those used to common drone layouts and will help those who have only ever flown a few times get up and running quickly.

Image quality is good in many compact drones, with only minor fall-off in sharpness towards the edges of the frame and some vignette and chromatic aberration, but these can be easily corrected when shooting in Raw and using photo editing software. Video is also well captured with no visible vignette or chromatic aberration, although fast shutter speeds may require ND filters.

Some compact drones feature high-resolution 5K+ cameras and automated flight patterns for professional-looking results at the touch of a button. They often have obstacle avoidance but may not prevent takeoff based on airspace restrictions, so you should always check official sources before flying anywhere.