Until recently, aerial photography (and videography) was a costly proposition requiring helicopters, airplanes, or build-it-yourself rigs. Thanks to inexpensive drones this is no longer true, and it's not surprising that so many photographers have discovered drone photography and the unique perspectives it can provide.

All of the products in this guide fall into the 'buy and fly' category, meaning they require no extra components or customizations. Our picks are ready to fly right out of the box or with minimal assembly. Options range from personal 'selfie' drones to advanced models capable of producing Hollywood-grade photos and video.


Our pick: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is our top pick for professionals or enthusiasts aiming to capture the highest quality imagery possible with a small, foldable, compact drone that can be taken anywhere. The first consumer-grade drone to feature a Hasselblad camera, the 20MP 1"-type CMOS sensor also takes advantage of Hasselblad's Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology to ensure increased color accuracy.

This model includes DJI's very robust OcuSync transmission system, a 3-axis mechanical gimbal to stabilize the camera, and the 10-bit Dlog-M color profile as well as 4K 10-bit HDR video support. It can capture UHD 4K/30p, 2.7K/60p, and HD/120p footage with a 70° Field of View, and video can be recorded using either H.264 or H.265 codecs at up to 100Mbps. Quickshots settings including Hyperlapse, plus an improved Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) which detects obstacles on all sides of the aircraft and enables it to fly around them, allowing the pilot to focus on capturing stellar footage.

The Mavic 2 Pro is ideal for most professionals and serious hobbyists interested in creating crisp, clear, detailed imagery. Professional cinematographers may want to look at an Inspire while those looking to get a close up of an object from a distance might prefer the Mavic 2 Zoom.

Alternate pick – most travel-friendly: DJI Mavic Mini

The DJI Mavic Mini is our top pick for users for whom portability and fun outweigh absolute image quality. This affordable, ultra-compact model is small enough to be a true 'take anywhere' drone. Despite its small size it boasts 30-minute battery life and includes a 3-axis gimbal for smooth, stable video recording.

It can record 2.7K/30p video using a 40 Mbps codec, generating pleasing video footage, though photos are limited to Jpeg format. The Mini includes several of DJI's QuickShots settings including Dronie, Rocket, Circle and Helix.

Between its minuscule size, long battery life, and pleasing photos and video, the Mavic Mini should meet the needs of most casual users and travelers. If getting the absolute best image quality possible is your top priority, however, take a look at our top pick with a larger image sensor.


We considered all of the drones below when selecting our winners. Choosing the right drone is a very personal choice that depends on the specific combination of factors that matter most to you, so take a look at all the drones for a detailed breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses.

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