The Best Drones for Photos and Video

The Best Drones for Photos and Video

Our pick

DJI Mavic Air 2

DJI Mavic Air 2

The best drone for aerial photos and videos

The Mavic Air 2 packs impressive value for a $1,000 drone by combining DJI’s reliable obstacle avoidance with a 4K camera and great battery life.

Buying Options

$960* from Amazon
$800 from DJI
$800 from Moment

*At the time of publishing, the price was $800.

The DJI Mavic Air 2 combines ease of flight with long battery life and a camera that can shoot 4K video in a package that costs less than $1,000 (we recommend buying the Fly More Combo, which among other things includes three rechargeable drone batteries). The Mavic Air 2’s ability to sense and avoid obstacles approaching from the front, the back, and below, as well as to steadily hold its position even in moderate winds (DJI says it’s safe to fly in winds up to 23.6 mph), lets you focus on your cinematography instead of worrying about keeping the drone steady. It also features DJI smart-flight modes such as ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to autonomously follow and film a subject while still avoiding obstacles. Its 34-minute battery life means you don’t have to land for a battery swap as often as you would with the competition, and at 7 by 3.8 by 3.3 inches folded and 1.3 pounds, the Mavic Air 2 can go with you almost anywhere—it fits exceptionally well in our top pick for drone backpacks.

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DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

A drone with all the bells and whistles

If you want the best camera available on a Mavic drone, the Mavic 2 Pro is our pick.

Buying Options

$1,370* from DJI
$1,420 from Moment
$1,420 from Amazon

May be out of stock

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,600.

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro takes many of the Mavic Air 2’s best features and, for twice the price and a slightly shorter battery life, tacks on a superior 1-inch image sensor and Hasselblad-branded camera (DJI bought a majority stake in the camera brand in 2017), which captures 20-megapixel photographs and 4K videos that look more colorful than those of the competition. It can also sense obstacles from all directions, which means it’s safer to fly than the Mavic Air 2. And unlike the Mavic Air 2, it’s compatible with the DJI Goggles FPV headset we recommend.

Also great

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

For the aerial photographer who needs a zoom lens

A 4x zoom camera makes this a great choice for shooting from afar.

Buying Options

$1,170* from Amazon
$1,170 from DJI
$1,170 from Moment

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,345.

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is a great choice for aerial photographers and videographers who need to work from a distance, whether they’re shooting a child’s soccer match or wildlife. It looks and flies the same as the Mavic 2 Pro, but it trades out the Hasselblad camera in favor of a different camera that can zoom two times optically and two times digitally (with software that avoids losing detail) for up to 4x usable “lossless” zoom. However, filming with more than 2x zoom requires you to shoot at 1080p instead of 4K. You could crop the Mavic 2 Pro’s higher-quality videos to get a similar zoom effect, but that requires you to spend more time processing videos and doesn’t allow for as wide a variety of cinematic filming options. Like the Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic 2 Zoom features DJI’s obstacle avoidance and smart-flight mode tech, plus a 31-minute battery life and a foldable body.

Budget pick

DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini

A solid entry-level drone

Its 2.7K video can’t compete with the video quality of higher-end drones, but it offers intelligent-flight modes and good stabilization at a low price.

Buying Options

$400 from Amazon
$400 from DJI
$400 from Moment

If you’re just getting into drone photography for personal use and social-media sharing, the DJI Mavic Mini is a less expensive model that still includes collision avoidance. At 30 minutes, its battery life comes close to matching that of more expensive models, though it has a shorter range and can’t capture 4K video (just 2.7K). However, it folds up to about the size of a person’s hand and weighs just 249 grams; that’s a bit over half a pound and light enough for the Mavic Mini to not require registration. It still comes with the important features you need from a video drone, such as image and flight stabilization and an included controller, as well as smart-flight modes where the drone flies itself to easily capture cinematic shots.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

DJI Mavic Air 2

DJI Mavic Air 2

The best drone for aerial photos and videos

The Mavic Air 2 packs impressive value for a $1,000 drone by combining DJI’s reliable obstacle avoidance with a 4K camera and great battery life.

Buying Options

$960* from Amazon
$800 from DJI
$800 from Moment

*At the time of publishing, the price was $800.

Upgrade pick

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

A drone with all the bells and whistles

If you want the best camera available on a Mavic drone, the Mavic 2 Pro is our pick.

Buying Options

$1,370* from DJI
$1,420 from Moment
$1,420 from Amazon

May be out of stock

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,600.

Also great

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

For the aerial photographer who needs a zoom lens

A 4x zoom camera makes this a great choice for shooting from afar.

Buying Options

$1,170* from Amazon
$1,170 from DJI
$1,170 from Moment

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,345.

Budget pick

DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini

A solid entry-level drone

Its 2.7K video can’t compete with the video quality of higher-end drones, but it offers intelligent-flight modes and good stabilization at a low price.

Buying Options

$400 from Amazon
$400 from DJI
$400 from Moment

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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