- Drones are technically considered unmanned aircraft by the FAA, and there are various laws about where, when, and how you fly them.
- The DJI Mini 2 is a good budget option because it has many of the features of the Mini 3, but you can get it for a few hundred dollars less.
- FPV stands for First Person View. FPV drones come with a headset and controller, allowing you to feel the drone as it flies. Additionally, FPV drones are often designed for racing.
Professional drone footage has officially moved from a photographer/cinematographer’s skillset and repertoire into standard and essential content for movies, home footage, and even wedding content! Almost anything you watch has some sort of drone footage that provides dynamic shots, unique footage, and more to any content. One of the benefits of drones becoming mainstream is that the various buying options have exploded. You can buy pocket drones, control them with your iPhone, and even attach cameras to them with a gimbal. Today, we are going to look at some of the best drones for shooting video you can buy right now, within a few respective categories. These are just opinions (photographers always have their own preferences), but if you are just getting into the market, this is a great place to start.
The 5 Best Drones for Shooting Video
- Best Overall: DJI Mavic 3
- Best Budget Option: DJI Mini 2
- Best Professional Drone: DJI Inspire 2
- Best FPV Drone: DJI FPV
- Best Drone for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok: DJI Mini 3
Best Overall: DJI Mavic 3
The DJI Mavic 3 is truly one of the best drones you can possibly buy right now. Priced at $2,049, the Mavic 3 includes:
- 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera
- 46 Minutes of Flight Time
- Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing
- 15km Max Transmission Range
- Advanced Return to Home
… plus a lot more! The new model includes a larger 20-megapixel 4/3 sensor (Hasselblad, of course) and an incredible ability to track targets at up to 45 mph. Additionally, the Mavic 3 offers 5.1k video res, 4k/120 fps, supports Apple ProRes, and includes the 10-bit D-log color profile for better color profile, particularly in sky coloring.
- With a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera, the sensor provides a 12.8-stop dynamic range that retains more details in highlights and shadows
- 46 Minutes of flight time
- Equipped with advanced Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, letting you fly confidently and safely wherever you are
- 15-kilometer max transmission range, which means you can fly farther to explore and capture more
- O3 Plus Transmission system for smooth and stable live feeds are smooth and stable.
- Smart Return to Home with a new Advanced RTH system whether activated by low battery or the pilot
Best Budget Option: DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 isn’t the newest or the best, but it easily competes with any drone when it comes to bang for your buck. We chose the Mini 2 for a few reasons. First, it’s a generation behind. The Mini 3 is already released and, as we all know, newer generations push the price down of previous generations. While the Mini 3 is nice, you can get the Mini 2 for a few hundred less while only sacrificing a few features.
The Mini 2 includes:
- 12 MPO 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor
- 4:3 and 16:9 image size
- 4k at 24/25/30 fps
- 2.7k up to 60 fps
- 57.6kph in Sports Mode and 36kph in Normal Mode
- 5200mAh battery provides 31 minutes of flight time
- Smart Return to Home (RTH) feature causes the drone to return to its takeoff location with the press of a button
- Shoots DNG raw photos
- 4K/30fps resolution videos while shooting at 100Mbps
Best Professional Drone: DJI Inspire 2
The DJI Inspire 2 isn’t for your everyday user. In fact, most people shouldn’t get one. Still, professions exist where elite and professional content with superb performance is a necessity. In those rare cases, the DJI Inspire 2 awaits.
The primary use-case for the Inspire 2 is for filmmaking, just like the Inspire 1. Some of the features of this drone include:
- HD video transmission systems
- a 360-degree rotating gimbal
- 6K in CinemaDNG/RAW and 5.2K in Apple ProRes
- 4k at 100 Mbps
- a maximum speed of 58 mph
- self-heating technology for low temperatures
- optional accessories
- Efficient workflow
- Sense and avoid
- Spotlight Pro; Compatible with 5.2K Gimbal Cameras
- Intelligent flight modes. Obstacle Sensing Range : 0-16.4 feet (0-5 m)
- Smart return to home.Operating Temperature:-4° to 104° F (-20° to 40° C)
Best FPV Drone: DJI FPV
FPV drones (first-person view drones) are drones that allow a user to wear a headset and immersively control their drone as a pilot. Generally, FPV drones aren’t made for video recording, but most of the good ones include some form of it. If you want an immersive and fun experience and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of video gadgetry, an FPV drone may be perfect for you.
The DJI FPV drone is a newer addition to their lineup and includes:
- Immersive Flight Experience
- 4K/60fps Super-Wide 150° FOV
- 10km HD Low-Latency Video Transmission
- Emergency Brake and Hover
- Specialized remote controls (for a bit extra)
- IMMERSIVE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Feel the thrill of immersive flight provided by the DJI FPV Goggles V2 and DJI FPV’s super-wide 150° FOV, giving you an ultra-smooth, real-time view of your flight.
- FAA Remote ID Compliant - DJI FPV complies with the FAA Remote ID rule. Please check the compliance document below to see the user guide for Remote ID, and you can visit the FAA's website for...
- 4K/60FPS VIDEO: The DJI FPV aircraft can record 4K/60fps video at up to 120 Mbps, capturing crisp details that make footage look as exhilarating as the flight.
- ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES: An auxiliary bottom light, Smart Return to Home (RTH), Low Battery RTH, and forward and downward obstacle sensing are all integrated into DJI FPV to help ensure a safe...
- BRAND-NEW S MODE: Get the dynamic look of FPV footage easily in S mode. This hybrid flight mode combines the freedom of flying manually with the simplified controls of previous DJI drones.
Best Drone for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok: DJI Mini 3
The DJI Mini 3 is nearly identical to the Mini 2 in size, just with a lot more punch. With its reduced size, upgraded sensor, and optional vertical shooting, we think that the Mini 3 is the perfect option for anyone looking to upgrade their social media or YouTube game.
Part of what makes the Mini 3 so great is its ability to turn the camera sideways, allowing for true vertical shooting. For anyone tired of cropping 16:9 for use on Instagram and TikTok, this camera will make all the difference. Additionally, with it priced competitively, there’s a reason they are currently on backorder. The features include:
- It weighs Less than 249 g
- Tri-Directional Obstacle Sensing (Forward/Backward/Downward)
- Record Up to 4K/60fps Video and 4K/30fps HDR Video
- 34-min Max Flight Time
- True Vertical Shooting
- FocusTrack (ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest)
- Care-free Creation - Weighing less than 249 g, Mini 3 Pro doesn't require registration in most countries and regions. The foldable and compact design also makes it easy to carry on any adventure.
- FAA Remote ID Compliant - DJI Mini 3 Pro complies with the FAA Remote ID rule. Please check the compliance document below to see the user guide for Remote ID, and you can visit the FAA's website for...
- Perfect Portraits in a Tap - The redesigned DJI Mini 3 Pro offers True Vertical Shooting for portrait shots, ideal for social media. The gimbal rotates 90, so you don't have to compromise image...
- Sweet Air Time - Enjoy an extended flight time of up to 34 minutes and capture and explore more of your surroundings. Upgrade to the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus (sold separately) and enjoy...
- Fly with Confidence - DJI Mini 3 Pro features tri-directional obstacle sensing and APAS 4.0, bringing unrivaled safety to the Mini series.
How To Pick the Best Drone For You
Picking a drone isn’t always easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are the basic things to remember when looking:
- Use case
- Long-term viability
The most crucial factor when picking a drone is asking yourself the question: What am I going to use this for? This simple question can help you limit (or expand) your options according to what you need a drone for.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer who wants to add some new and dynamic video clips to your catalog, you probably don’t need the Inspire 2. Still, you are going to need something with a lot of scope and the ability to operate in a variety of environments, especially if you do elopement photography. On that note, elopement photography often requires extensive travel, making a quality mini drone that is portable a plus!
Using that example, going through your various use case scenarios can help you identify the type of drone you need before you ever worry about the budget.
Once you have figured out your ideal use case, you can then work on a budget. If you can only set aside a few hundred dollars every few months and want to purchase a drone in the near future, it’s probably best to stay away from the high-end stuff unless you want to finance it. Additionally, if you have recently come into some cash, you may be able to splurge on something a bit pricier, knowing that you can utilize it to its fullest extent.
Like most things in the tech world, new models are always coming out and “replacing” the old ones. Thankfully, things don’t progress as fast as these companies would have you believe. While capturing drone video footage in 6k is really cool and allows for some great cropping options, it isn’t necessary for the vast majority of people. Most screens are just now becoming 4k compatible, phones included. On the flip side, you want to make sure that you buy something that will last you for a while. 1080p is still the industry standard in many instances, but 4k isn’t as niche as it once was and you would be better served to get a drone that offers that expandability in the future. Like most things, finding a balance of “nice vs necessary” is important if you are on a budget.
What To Know Before Buying A Drone
Buying a drone is a big deal! Like any big purchase, doing your homework before you buy is important. There are a few things you should know when buying a drone, especially if it’s your first time.
First, it’s important to know the laws in your area and where you plan to be shooting. Drones are technically considered unmanned aircraft by the FAA, and there are various laws about where, when, and how you fly them. In many places, certain frequencies are even outlawed. It isn’t complicated, but a quick Google search with your state/city could be really valuable.
A second piece to consider is the type of controller the drone uses. For many drones, a simple iPhone is all that is needed, but for others, separate remotes may be necessary. Additionally, if you have an outdated phone, application support may be a problem. If your drone has its own controller, make sure you know how/if it transmits its video. If the controller doesn’t have a screen, how do you intend to control it when it’s not within eyesight, etc.
Finally, consider the extra costs. Whether it’s extra attachments that you end up wanting, spare batteries for extended filming, or an upgrading carrying case, the extra costs can add up. Once you get a drone, the urge to splurge will hit you, and it can be really fun! Just make sure you don’t go broke, even if you can get some luscious panoramic shots now.
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