Pro drone camera

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  • We’ve made the Autel Robotics EVO II our pick for anyone who wants a bump in a few specs or to avoid the DJI brand. We still like the DJI’s colors better and find DJI drones quieter and smaller.

July 23, 2021

If you’re an aspiring aerial photographer or videographer, a drone is your ticket to the sky. After 55 hours of research and test-flying 17 models, we think the DJI Mavic Air 2 is the best drone because it combines a high-end camera with the latest autonomous technology for less than $1,000. We also recommend the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mini 2; pilots of all skill levels will find that DJI’s drones are exceptionally reliable and easy to fly. However, it’s worth considering that, although a recent Pentagon report indicates some DJI drones are safe for use, there are ongoing concerns about the security of the drones and allegations that the company provided drone technology to Chinese detention camps.

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 option, 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.

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.

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.

If you are avoiding the DJI brand due to security or human rights concerns, or you simply like the idea of longer battery life combined with the option to zoom, we recommend the Autel Robotics EVO II. The bright-orange drone can fly for up to 40 minutes with autonomous options similar to DJI drones. We also prefer its controller. However, we still prefer DJI drones for their value and image quality. It’s also worth noting that, like DJI, Autel is headquartered in China.

If you’re just getting into drone photography for personal use and sharing on social media, the DJI Mini 2 is a less expensive model that still includes collision avoidance and a 4K camera. At 31 minutes, its battery life comes close to matching that of more expensive models, though its lower quality camera and sensor mean it can’t quite match the quality of their images and video. 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 to not require registration for personal use. 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.

Why you should trust us

A lifelong photography enthusiast, I have chronicled the rise of modern hobby drones by working closely with the industry’s professionals and hobbyists. I’ve studied photography-focused quadcopters—and their smaller, more-agile cousins built for racing—extensively. I have also spent hundreds of hours flying drones in all sorts of environments, and I’m the writer of Wirecutter’s guide to drones under $100. I also have a remote pilot certificate.

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Who this is for

Drones (or, more specifically, quadcopters) are small aircraft that you can equip with a camera for the ability to shoot bird’s-eye-view photos and videos. They could be of interest to any photographer or videographer who wants to reach normally inaccessible spaces that would otherwise require a crane or helicopter, such as those high up in the air or across a body of water.

The drones we cover in this guide might be of interest to certain professionals, including, for example, someone who wants to film a wedding, inspect gutters, or capture footage of a house going up for sale. But professionals shooting a film might want to look at higher-end options that allow specific camera equipment to be mounted on the drone. There are also options for people who want to inspect farmland and industrial equipment, which can call for specialized sensors.

Thanks to improvements in technology and rapidly declining prices, a decent photography drone can cost as little as $400. But if you’re looking for your first drone and want to get used to flying before risking even that much, we have a guide to inexpensive drone models (without nice cameras) that are great for learning.

Regardless of which drone you choose, know that there’s an evolving body of regulations surrounding drone flight and appropriate usage that you should get familiar with before buying and flying.

All of the drones we recommend in this guide are made by companies headquartered in China. Shenzhen, China, a hotspot for technology innovation, is also a hub for consumer drones. At the government level, there are ongoing concerns about the safety of using Chinese technology for surveillance work on US soil. At the hobby and professional level, you’ll have to make a call for yourself based on the sensitivity of your footage. There’s also the matter of allegations of human rights abuses. If you’d like to avoid Chinese drones altogether (though not Chinese parts), you can consider drones from the French company Parrot or US-based Skydio.

How we picked and tested

After reading professional and owner reviews plus speaking to enthusiasts, experts, and manufacturers at the CES 2018 trade show, we decided to consider the following criteria while looking for drones to test:

  • A quadcopter design: Drones shaped like planes do exist, but they’re not as easy to fly as quadcopter models shaped like an X. A quadcopter shape (or alternatives like hexacopters that add more arms) make for the most stable photo and video because they can hold their position in the air steadily.
  • Crash-avoidance sensors: Sensors in drones have come a long way, and there are now some models that can sense obstacles approaching in any direction and adjust their flight path to avoid a crash. This technology removes so much stress from flying that we are willing to consider only those drones that at the very least can sense obstacles approaching from their front, back, and bottom.
  • A high-quality camera: Generally, the more you pay for a photography drone, the better-quality camera you get. We considered only those models that could shoot at least 12-megapixel photos and 4K video.
  • A three-axis gimbal: A good gimbal, which stabilizes a camera attached to a drone with accelerometers and gyroscopes even when you are flying in wind or a jerky pattern, is essential if you want usable footage. A three-axis gimbal is a general industry standard.
  • Long battery life: Longer-lasting batteries tend to be larger and weigh more, so manufacturers try to balance drone size with battery life. But a shorter flight time means fewer shots, shorter videos, and less flexibility. We prefer drone batteries that last at least 20 minutes, and we recommend that pilots pick up a few extras (the batteries are rechargeable) so that they can spend more time in the field flying.
  • Autonomous modes: Any video drone worth buying should have a fail-safe return-home mode that automatically brings the aircraft back to the launch point when you press a button or the drone loses contact with the controller. Additionally, we prefer drones that come preprogrammed with cinematic autonomous-flight modes; at the touch of a button, you can tell a drone to follow you while you snowboard down a mountain, say, or fly in a circle while filming for a dramatic selfie.
  • Portability: The best drones are portable enough to be an everyday tool, which means they are small and light enough to pack into a camera bag or backpack. Some drones accomplish this by having foldable arms that make them more compact.
  • Long flight range: Federal rules say you must always keep a drone within your line of sight. But in special cases, a drone’s ability to fly an especially long distance without losing contact with a controller can be a useful tool.
  • Intuitive controller: Most drone controllers look similar, with two joysticks for controlling flight and a smattering of buttons for specific tasks. Controllers with a built-in screen or an option for attaching a smartphone so you can gain additional abilities with an app can extend their functions even further, often more intuitively.

Using the above criteria, we were able to pare our original testing field in 2016 down to the DJI Mavic Pro, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, the Yuneec Typhoon H hexacopter, the GoPro Karma, and the Parrot Bebop 2. We tested the DJI Spark in 2017 and then the DJI Mavic Air and DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2 in early 2018. In late 2018, we tested the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, and Autel Evo. We tested the Skydio R1 in early 2019 and Parrot Anafi in late 2019. In early 2020, we tried the DJI Mavic Air 2 and DJI Mavic Mini. We tested the DJI Mini 2 in late 2020.

We shot photos and videos with each drone to evaluate camera quality, which also helped us gauge stabilization quality and see whether propellers appeared in any of the shots. We also tried all of the advertised intelligent-flight modes and crash-avoidance systems by flying the drones through trees. We tested maneuverability and controller sensitivity by flying fast with lots of turns.

In 2018, we spent dozens more hours evaluating and testing drone accessories such as backpacks, first-person-view headsets, and landing pads to determine the extra gear that’s truly worth the investment for photography drones.

Our pick: DJI Mavic Air 2

The DJI Mavic Air 2 shown on a bright orange landing pad.

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the best drone for budding aerial photographers and videographers because of its automated obstacle avoidance and 4K camera, as well as how easy it is to fly. It offers all of that for $800 (or $1,000 in the Fly More Combo we recommend because everyone should invest in extra rechargeable batteries), which we think is an impressive value considering the Mavic 2 Pro costs twice as much for a better camera but otherwise older technology. Its three-axis gimbal provides effective image stabilization, and its 34-minute battery life means you need to land less often. The Mavic Air 2’s preprogrammed flight modes and its ability to autonomously return to its launch point and land itself allow both beginners and advanced pilots to get cinematic-looking shots without much effort.

The Mavic Air 2 can sense obstacles from up to 155 feet away as they approach from its front, back, or bottom. Although that left it blind while it was flying up or to the side (the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom tack on sensors for those directions), we still found the feature useful for normal flight; the drone emitted a loud beep and stopped itself when I tried to fly it straight at a tree or slam it into the ground. Obstacle sensing removes stress from the flying experience, both when you’re flying manually and when you’re using any of DJI’s preprogrammed flight options.

The Mavic Air 2’s camera has a ½-inch sensor and 12- and 48-megapixel modes, plus 4K video capture at up to 60 frames per second (for smoother-looking movies compared with the Mavic 2 Pro’s 30 fps, though the Mavic 2 Pro’s larger sensor makes for crisper images and video). In our tests, the Mavic Air 2 took videos that looked sharp without any color-balancing fuss from us; however, we still liked the colors that came out of the Mavic 2 Pro’s Hasselblad lens more. A new feature called SmartPhoto, which recognizes what the camera is seeing and adjusts the colors accordingly, may have been part of the reason, though it was hard to tell what exactly the feature adjusted.

While flying in winds clocking about 10 mph, the Mavic Air 2 was unfailingly stable. It didn’t drift, and it consistently shot steady video, even when it rose hundreds of feet into the air over the Mississippi River. The other Mavic drones we tested performed similarly, except for the Mavic Mini, which warned us about high winds and advised us to land. Like many drones, the Mavic Air 2 uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS satellites, as well as the vision cameras, to monitor movement and altitude changes.

It’s annoying to get into the rhythm of flying a drone and then just a few minutes later receive an alert indicating that it’s time to land and change the battery, which is our main problem with the drones we cover in our guide to inexpensive drones. Battery life should be one fewer thing to think about. With a life of up to 34 minutes, the Mavic Air 2’s batteries are among the longest lasting of any drone we’ve tried. The flight time was so long that we filled its 8 GB of internal memory space before our first battery drained.

Photographers and cinematographers can take their skills further with the preprogrammed flight modes. We most often used ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to follow a subject (or yourself). In QuickShots mode, the Mavic Air 2 can autonomously film in elaborate cinematic ways such as circling around a subject or zooming away from it. Tripod mode, which limits the drone’s speed to 3 mph and softens the controls to prevent jerky movement for cinematic shots, is also useful.

The Mavic Air 2 measures 7 by 3.8 by 3.3 inches when folded—about the size of a large coffee thermos—and weighs 1.3 pounds. Its controller is comparable in size to a sandwich. You can slip both into a camera bag easily or stow them in a purse or backpack.

It’s possible to fly the Mavic Air 2 up to 6.2 miles away, though federal regulations say a drone must remain within your line of sight. It transmits via DJI’s OccuSync 2.0 system, which we’ve found to be reliable.

A person using the controller for the DJI drone.

You can use DJI’s Fly app for drone calibration, camera settings, GPS maps, and intelligent-flight modes. Most important, the app displays a live feed from the drone’s camera so you can frame shots to your liking. It also tracks all of your flight information (which you can replay if you’re trying to repeat a shot), warns you about any flight restrictions in the area, and has built-in video-editing tools. You connect your smartphone to the controller via an included specialized USB Type-C, Micro-USB, or Lightning cable threaded through the side of the left brace—you can use a standard cable instead, but it sticks out oddly and limits motion.

Although you can use the DJI app to control almost every aspect of the drone, you still need to use the controller to pilot it. In our tests, the drone responded nimbly to our controls even while flying in the faster and more agile Sport mode. We also found it easy to adjust the tilt of the drone’s camera with the wheel built into the controller or to hit the specialized buttons that prompt the camera to take a picture or start filming.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Like other China-based brands, DJI has come under scrutiny from the US government over security concerns in recent years. There are also allegations that the company provided drone technology for surveillance of Chinese detention camps. In 2020, the US government placed it on its entity list, meaning US companies could not provide DJI with technology but DJI could continue to sell its drones in the US. A 2021 report from the Pentagon cleared some types of DJI drones for use by the US government, but said nothing definitive about human rights abuses or the safety of the brand’s consumer drones.

While the Mavic Air 2’s front, back, and bottom sensors go a long way toward preventing collisions, we prefer the Mavic 2 Pro’s addition of top and side sensors. We didn’t feel as confident flying amid the branches of a tree with the Mavic Air 2, as it was hard to gauge from a distance just how close the branches were. Additional sensors make for a lower-stress flight.

The Mavic Air 2 also has a smaller camera sensor than the Mavic 2 Pro. We thought the videos it took looked sharp enough for posting to YouTube and social media, but the Mavic 2 Pro’s videos looked even clearer, with better colors.

The controller lacks a built-in screen. Although that isn’t a big deal if you have the drone linked with a phone and boot up the DJI Fly app, which tells you all of the information a controller screen would, it’s a minor thing we missed when we wanted to get in a quick flight without connecting a phone.

Upgrade pick: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Our pick for best drone for photos and video, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, flying outside.

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a worthwhile upgrade if you’re willing to pay more for a better camera and improved obstacle avoidance. Its 1-inch sensor makes for clearer videos and photos, while its Hasselblad-branded camera makes the footage it shoots more colorful. It can also sense obstacles coming from any direction, facilitating somewhat safer flying.

In flight, the Mavic 2 Pro uses sensors to detect obstacles up to 65 feet away approaching from its sides, front, back, bottom, and top; the Mavic 2 Zoom is the only other Mavic drone that senses obstacles coming from any direction. During our testing, the Mavic 2 Pro stopped short when we tried to fly it at a tree, and it flew around a tree blocking its path when we directed it to autonomously return to its launch point. It beeped loudly to warn us whenever we flew close to an obstacle and automatically slowed its descent while landing so that it gently set down on the ground every time. Note that the side sensors on the Mavic 2 Pro work only while you are flying in Tripod and ActiveTrack mode. If you ever do need to fly close to an obstacle for the perfect shot or a more sportslike performance, you can turn off obstacle sensing and avoidance.

The Mavic 2 Pro’s 20-megapixel, 4K camera is branded by Hasselblad, a Swedish company known for medium-format cameras, that DJI acquired in 2017. Considering that this camera is as small as a fun-size candy bar, it can’t capture the same quality as Hasselblad’s larger cameras can. But DJI and Hasselblad did work together on a few features that are notable for a drone, including a 1-inch CMOS sensor that can work in lower-light conditions because it tops out at an ISO of 12,800. The companies also say that they adapted Hasselblad’s method for making colors look more realistic without your having to fine-tune color settings, and that the Mavic 2 Pro captures more colors than other DJI drones. We found that the colors did indeed look truer and brighter than those of the Mavic 2 Zoom, which has a different camera and produced images with a pinker hue. The Mavic 2 Pro shoots 4K video at up to 30 frames per second (weaker than the Mavic Air 2’s 60 fps) with a 100 Mbps max bit rate (the processing speed at which the camera is recording digital media). You can set the aperture anywhere between f/2.8 and f/11.

The Mavic 2 Pro captured more accurate colors than the competition. Video: Signe Brewster

Like the Mavic Air 2, the Mavic 2 Pro is one of the most consistently stable drones we’ve ever flown. In our tests, it hovered accurately and resisted drifting, even when we flew this model in winds topping 20 miles per hour on a river bank. Like its sibling, it uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS satellites.

A close up of the camera on the front of the Mavic 2 Pro drone.

At up to 31 minutes, the Mavic 2 Pro’s battery life is impressive, though it falls a few minutes short of the Mavic Air 2’s battery life. Still, we think anything over the 30-minute mark is enough for you to capture a satisfying amount of footage before you have to land for a battery change. Like the Mavic Air 2, the Mavic 2 Pro has the autonomous follow-me mode ActiveTrack, plus the cinematic QuickShots.

The controller for our pick for best drone for photos and video. It attaches to an iPhone.

The Mavic 2 Pro folds up to 8.4 by 3.6 by 3.3 inches, which makes it slightly larger than the Mavic Air 2 but just as portable. It weighs 2 pounds and doesn’t require any assembly before you fly (aside from removing the camera cover). The controller is the size of an eclair. Though the Mavic 2 Pro is about 50% heavier than the Mavic Air 2, it’s still conveniently sized. You can stow it in a conventional camera bag or even a purse.

You can fly the Mavic 2 Pro up to 5 miles away, though US rules say you or a spotter must always have the drone within your line of sight.

A person holding the folded up Mavic 2 Pro in one hand.

Unlike the Mavic Air 2 controller, the Mavic 2 Pro controller includes a screen, which is useful for monitoring battery life, distance, and connectivity, especially if you’re not using a phone. It also holds your phone below the controller instead of above it, which we think is slightly more awkward for keeping an eye on the live feed from the drone’s camera and tapping around in the DJI Go 4 app. We still found the controller responsive and easy to use, though we preferred the Mavic Air 2 controller’s larger size for easier gripping.

Also great: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone flying.

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom could be a better option for photographers and videographers who care more about having a zoom lens than having extra megapixels. By combining its 24–48mm telephoto lens with a digital zoom, the drone can shoot HD video with up to 4x lossless zoom. That’s useful if you’re photographing noise-sensitive wildlife or interested in achieving cinematic effects that use a zoom. Otherwise, you can just fly any drone toward a subject to achieve a zooming effect.

The drone has a 12-megapixel 4K camera and a 1/2.3-inch sensor, in line with older Mavic drones like the Mavic Air but not as good as the Mavic 2 Pro. It can film 4K video while zooming in up to 2x, but zooming further requires you to film at a max quality of 1080p. We thought the images and video it captured had more of a pinkish tinge and duller colors overall compared with the output of the Mavic 2 Pro. However, we used the telephoto lens to zoom in twice as far as we were able to with the Mavic 2 Pro. We photographed a flower conservatory and a bridge, two subjects that we felt uncomfortable filming from up close. We also used the Mavic 2 Zoom’s new Dolly Zoom effect, an autonomous-flight mode in which the drone flies away from a subject while zooming in on it, giving the impression the subject is standing in place while the background shifts. It’s a neat effect, as long as you don’t overuse it.

The Mavic 2 Zoom offers a few new cinematic options, including a 4x lossless zoom and Dolly Zoom. Video: Signe Brewster

Other than the camera, the Mavic 2 Zoom looks and flies the same as the Mavic 2 Pro. It detects and avoids approaching obstacles, uses batteries that last up to 31 minutes, and remains extremely stable while holding its position in the air. Along with Dolly Zoom, it comes with DJI’s other preprogrammed flight modes, and at 8.4 by 3.6 by 3.3 inches and 2 pounds, it’s small and light enough for you to carry it in the water-bottle pocket on some backpacks. You can fly it up to 5 miles away and view a 1080p preview on a phone screen thanks to DJI’s OccuSync 2.0 transmission system. It also uses the same controller as the Mavic 2 Pro.

Also great: Autel Robotics EVO II

Our pick for best drone that's not from DJI, the Autel Robotics EVO two.

If you’d like to avoid buying a drone from DJI or are interested in an 8K camera and longer battery life, the Autel Robotics EVO II is a worthy competitor to the Mavic 2 Zoom. We’ve tested a few Autel drones over the years and found them just as easy to fly as their DJI counterparts. The company’s well-designed app also includes plenty of autonomous flight modes. However, we don’t think they provide the same value as DJI drones, and we still think DJI drones shoot crisper and more colorful images and video.

Like the Mavic 2 Zoom, the EVO II is capable of 4x lossless zoom (with the option to zoom in as much as 8x). The higher detail of its 48-megapixel, 8K camera and ½-inch sensor would be the main reason to choose it over the Mavic 2 Zoom. However, we preferred the clarity of colors captured by DJI drones across the board.

The EVO II’s other main draw is its 40-minute battery life, which is 9 minutes longer than our favorite DJI drones. It’s rare that we find ourselves wishing for more than 30 minutes of battery life, but pilots who want to take advantage of its 5.6-mile transmission range might find it useful.

Like the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, the EVO II can sense obstacles approaching from any direction and autonomously maneuver to avoid them. We found that its sensors were sensitive enough to detect a chain link fence and white snowman, and in both instances it stopped itself to avoid a collision.

We prefer the EVO II’s included controller over those included with DJI drones. Both controllers include clamps to hold your phone, which displays a livestream from the drones’ cameras, but the EVO II controller holds your phone above while DJI controllers hold it below. When you’re trying to keep your eye on a drone, it’s much better to not have to tilt your head down as far to glance at your phone. We also like the EVO II’s bright orange color more than DJI drones’ matte gray because they’re easier to spot in the air. However, we find Autel drones to be much louder than DJI drones.

We also tested, and enjoyed flying, the EVO II Pro. It has a higher quality camera that makes it more of a direct competitor to the Mavic Pro 2, though we don’t think it provides the same value. EVO II drone cameras are modular; if you later decide to upgrade to the EVO II Pro, you can buy an EVO II Pro camera and swap it with the one included with the EVO II.

Budget pick: DJI Mini 2

DJI Mini 2 again an orange backdrop

The DJI Mini 2 is one of the most basic and inexpensive models DJI offers and is an ideal beginner photography drone. Though it lacks the sensor and camera quality and the range of the Mavic Air 2 or Mavic 2 Pro, the Mini 2 weighs and costs a third as much yet still packs a 4K camera and retains important beginner-friendly features. The drone can take off, land, and return home with the push of a button. It also has a positioning system that’s intelligent enough to hold its location in the air and sense obstacles approaching from the front and back, and its 31-minute battery life is almost as long as that of more expensive models. For a beginner who just wants to start taking photos and videos, the Mini 2 is a bargain.

The Mini 2 can sense obstacles from its front, back, and bottom, which means it can stop itself from flying directly into a tree and automatically slows itself for a gentle landing. It can’t avoid trees or other obstacles approaching from its front, back, or sides like higher-end DJI drones can, so it’s still a good idea to stick to flying the Mini 2 in open spaces until you gain more experience.

It has a ½-inch sensor and can shoot 12 megapixel photos or up to 4K video at 30 fps. The results aren’t as clear as what you can capture on a Mavic Air 2 or Mavic 2 Pro, but they’re nice enough for posting to YouTube and social media. It’s also a huge improvement in image quality for what you can get at this price compared with even just a few years ago.

DJI Mini 2 with controller sitting on an orange backdrop

The Mini 2 is a stable drone that can capture steady video even in windy conditions. We didn’t notice drifting as we tooled around in a field in 5 mph winds. It relies on the same GPS and GLONASS positioning systemas other DJI drones, but we have noticed in other small drones, such as the original Mavic Mini, that they do not have enough power to fight wind as effectively as larger drones.

That tiny size is the Mini 2’s best feature. Because the drone weighs 249 grams, or about half a pound, you don’t have to register the drone with the FAA before flying it for personal use. It’s only 5.5 inches long and 3.2 inches wide, about the same size as its controller. I had no trouble tucking it into my jacket pocket when I moved locations between flights.

You can fly the Mini 2 up to 6.2 miles away, but you need to keep it within sight to comply with the law. Its smaller size and lighter gray color meant it was harder for us to spot from a distance, so we tended to keep it closer than we did larger drones. This drone relies on the DJI Fly app for a live stream from the drone’s camera, access to many of the intelligent-flight modes, and a second location for activating things like auto takeoff and landing.

Some choice accessories for DJI drones

You can have a lot of fun flying a drone by itself, but a few key accessories can make your flights smoother and even more enjoyable. We spent 40 hours researching and testing dozens of drone accessories, as well as interviewing four expert drone pilots, to find the best backpacks, first-person-view headsets, landing pads, and microSD cards for foldable DJI drones. We also recommend picking up some extra batteries to extend your flying time between charges.

A backpack built for drones: LowePro DroneGuard

A person walking outside with our pick for best drone backpack on their back.

Drone backpacks provide a spot for each piece of kit to stay snugly in place; as a result, they make it easier for you to locate items without having to dig through a bunch of gear, and they protect your equipment from damage. That last part is especially important for batteries, which have the potential to burst into flame if you leave them banging around. After considering 22 options and testing four finalists by fitting in three DJI drones of varying sizes and a full kit of accessories—including a controller, batteries, a charger, props, cameras, and a laptop—we think Lowepro’s line of drone bags is your best bet because they each offer the best fit and organization for your gear while still being quite comfortable when fully loaded. (We tested the Lowepro DroneGuard BP 250, which is made specifically for DJI Mavic drones, but any backpack in the DroneGuard or QuadGuard series will perform similarly.)

The entire front of the BP 250 zips open to reveal the main compartment. Movable dividers create smaller spots for core gear such as the drone and its controller, and they allow you to make sure the batteries are safely snuggled in. For good measure, a strap holds the drone securely in place, and a special foam block sits between the drone controller’s two joysticks for a more custom fit. The front cover has elastic bands that are perfect for holding extra propellers or securing cords to keep them from tangling. In our tests, the main compartment was large enough that we could also fit an FPV headset or a disassembled camera body and lens.

An overhead photo of our pick for best drone backpack on the ground with its main pocket open. Inside, you can see numerous compartments and pockets designed for drone accessories.

Three other compartments fit a camera and a tablet, flat items such as prop guards, and larger items such as a camera or an FPV headset. A compartment on one of the front shoulder straps fits a phone. The front of the backpack is also covered in looped straps that you can use to attach a drone, a tripod, or other gear with bungee cords, and two side pockets fit water or sunscreen bottles.

Although the BP 250 has an obvious spot for everything, its dividers are only so flexible—fitting an assembled DSLR, for example, into the main compartment of the BP 250 is impossible. That makes this bag, along with the other DroneGuard and QuadGuard backpacks, a great choice if you plan to use the backpack with only a specific drone, but if you prefer a backpack you can customize to fit multiple drone models, we recommend the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L.

A safe place to land: Hoodman Drone Launch Pad

A round, orange drone launch pad with black markings. A drone is sitting in the center of it.

When you’re flying an expensive drone carrying an expensive camera on its belly, it’s a good idea to protect your investment from water, dirt, and other elements by using a dedicated landing pad. These pads also tend to be a bright color such as orange, making them a useful visual indicator for spotting home when you’re wearing an FPV headset. They also look more professional in videos if you’re producing content for a client.

After testing three landing pads (and a piece of cardboard), we recommend the Hoodman Drone Launch Pad because it’s truly waterproof, it’s easy to set up, and its unique weighted edges keep it in place. Waterproofing is the single most important reason to use a landing pad, and the other two pads we tested (from RCstyle and Fstop Labs) turned out not to be waterproof at all, despite their makers’ claims. Twenty minutes after we sprinkled water across the Hoodman pad, the water was still beaded up and no moisture had seeped through to the other side.

We also like this landing pad’s metal-weighted edges, which prevent it from flying away in windy weather. This feature adds a little more overall weight to the gear you’re carrying compared with the stakes that other pads use, but it makes the Hoodman pad easier to set up and more useful if you’re flying on hard ground such as a rocky field or a parking lot. The center fabric is a pleasing orange color and feels tougher than the material of the other pads we tested.

The Hoodman pad’s 3-foot size made it trickier to fold up than smaller models, but it packs down to 13 inches across and fits nicely into its carrying case. The size of the pad you should buy depends on how large your drone is; Hoodman’s larger, 5-foot size is more than you need for most drones but could be useful for professional cinematography drones. The larger size is also easier to see from the air.

Best microSD card for video and photo storage: SanDisk MicroSDXC card for Nintendo Switch (128 GB)

The SanDisk MicroSDXC card for Nintendo Switch (128 GB) is the best microSD card to use with photography drones because its fast read and write speeds are ideal for shooting 4K video and making quick file transfers. A large capacity is a necessity for a photography drone, and even for a racing drone equipped with a nicer camera—more storage means you won’t have to land a drone early to swap out a card. This SanDisk MicroSDXC card is also inexpensive.

A card from a reputable name in memory storage like SanDisk provides peace of mind, as you can be confident that your videos and photos will be there when you go to upload them to your computer. As we note in our microSD card guide, be on the lookout for counterfeit microSD cards from unknown sellers on Amazon, which are common—we recommend that you buy a SanDisk card directly from the manufacturer or Amazon itself. For more details on the competition, read our guide to the best microSD cards.

How to safely fly a recreational drone

Anytime you set out to fly a drone, it’s important to ensure that you, the pilot, are doing everything safely and legally. Although we can’t provide legal advice, we did speak to experts and consult Federal Aviation Administration and Academy of Model Aeronautics documentation to collect the steps that we consider essential for every recreational pilot.

“The main thing to keep in mind is we’re sharing the airspace with manned full-size aircraft,” said Tyler Dobbs, Academy of Model Aeronautics government affairs representative. “We’re not trying to push things to the limit and do things outside of AMA safety guidelines or the FAA rules. Just have fun but do so within one of the federal paths of operating legally and safely.”

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-drones/

DJI is still selling the Mavic Mini, which was replaced by the Mini 2. The Mavic Mini is $50 cheaper, but it's not worth it at that price. Spend the extra money on the Mini 2 and you'll get a much better deal. If you find the Mavic Mini on sale for $300 or less, then it's a little more sensible. The same goes for the Mavic Air 2, which is still available, but not worth it when the Air 2S is such a step up for not much more money.

Then there's the "toy" drone market. The internet is awash with drones in the $50 to $150 price range. There are two reasons for this. First, well-made drones are still expensive. In that category, even our cheapest pick is $300. But drones also share many components with smartphones, which means chips, camera sensors, and tiny lenses are cheap at the wholesale level. That results in a million knockoffs. Unfortunately, you do tend to get what you pay for.

While two of the under-$100 models I've tested were fun to fly, the photos and video they produced were hot garbage. I also have my doubts about their long-term durability. I think most people would be better off buying one of the tiny toy drones above and save up for DJI's Mini 2. That said, if you don't care about creating content, just want to have fun flying, and don't mind taking a risk with a no-name brand of questionable quality, these "toy" drones might be worth a look.

Sours: https://www.wired.com/gallery/best-drones/
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The most popular use case for drones is — you guessed it — photography. Luckily, there’s a drone out there for every type of photographer, and for every type of budget. Most camera drones are made by DJI, but there are also worthy competitors made by other brands.

Whether you’re looking to spend $200 or $2,000 on a drone, you should be relieved to know that in this industry, you can get an incredibly high quality flying robot (WITH a camera attached to it!), for often not much more than just a standard digital camera on its own.

Editor’s note: This piece was last updated on April 25, 2021. Drone technology is rapidly changing, but these are the best drones on the market as ofthis date.

What to expect from a camera drone, by budget

You can get a decent camera drone for $400. If you’re looking for professional image quality (maybe you need to shoot weddings or real estate), expect to spend closer to $2,000 and up.

When it comes to our picks for the best drones for photographers in 2021, DJI dominates the landscape. But consumers must know DJI is the best and have validated our findings with their dollars. Here’s proof: according to an analysis of FAA drone registration numbers by drone market research and data group Drone Industry Insights, DJI had a 76.8% market share in the U.S.

But while this list is dominated by DJI, there’s actually tons of variety for all types of photographers. Find the best drones of 2021 for you, on any budget:

DJI Air 2S

The best overall drone for most photographers: DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S has the perfect combination of new and wildly innovative tech, a high quality camera, a seamless flying experience, smart safety features AND a reasonable price tag.

In most cases, it’s the best deal for your money.

The DJI Air 2S is the latest in the DJI Mavic Air line, which combines the best of both worlds of the Mavic Pro and Spark. It’s about the size of a Spark in flight, but folds up like the Mavic Pro to become even smaller. It has the Spark’s nifty gesture control, but it also has the Mavic Pro’s 4K video. It’s also got great safety features with a collision avoidance sensor on the front and back.

It mostly stands out for its 1” sensor offering 20-megapixel photos and 5.4K video. That’s the same as what you get in the larger, more-expensive Mavic 2 Pro. The sensor also offers a larger pixel size of 2.4μm.

Price: $999

Buy the DJI Air 2S drone now from:

Read more about the DJI Air 2S here.

DJI Mavic Mini review The Drone Girl

The best drone if you don’t want to register or use Remote ID: DJI Mini 2

With the DJI Mini 2, DJI just proved that ‘smaller and cheaper’ doesn’t mean ‘worse’.

To make the Mini 2, DJI stripped out many features on our top pick, the Mavic Air, including sense and avoid. Yet it’s still capable of recording 4K video — particularly impressive given the drone’s small size and low price point.

And that small size is the real standout feature of the DJI Mini 2.

Weighing in at 249 grams, DJI’s Mavic Mini doesn’t fall under the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration if you’re flying for hobby purposes. That means no need to register your drone, and no need to comply with Remote ID rules. The FAA currently only requires drones flying for hobby purposes to be registered and comply with the Remote ID requirements if they weigh 250 grams or more. Again, that makes the Mini much more accessible for people who don’t want to worry about complying (or not complying) with federal laws while flying their drones.

Price: $499

Flight time: 30 minutes

Buy it from:

DJI Mavic Mini The Drone Girl Sally French

The best drone if you’re on a budget: DJI Mavic Mini

This drone is the older model of the aforementioned DJI Mini 2, but it’s $100 cheaper.The video quality isn’t quite as good — 2.7K on the Mavic Mini vs. 4K on the Mini 2 (and most other DJI drones).

But if you’re on a budget, we’re okay with it. This drone’s pricetag is just $399, compared to the more than $1,000 that most of its big sibling Mavic drones go for.

Plus, there are some new features thrown in that photographers should love, including one of my favorites: Cinesmooth Mode.

And again, like the Mini 2, this drone only weighs 249 grams. That’s great for casual pilots who don’t want to worry about registering or Remote ID rules. The FAA currently only requires drones flying for hobby purposes to be registered and comply with the Remote ID requirements if they weigh 250 grams or more.

Price: $399

Flight time: 30 minutes

Read my full review of the DJI Mavic Mini here.

Skydio 2 drone

The best drone for action sports: Skydio 2

This freakishly smart drone has six, 200-degree color cameras. That means Skydio 2 can see everything in every direction so it theoretically never crashes. Whether you’re flying down a pine tree-covered mountain tracking a snowboarder, or you’re navigating down a trail following a biker, this drone is a dream for pilot who need to fly in complicated environments. Skydio 2 shoots 4K video and captures images at 12MP. 

Based in San Francisco, Skydio is also an appealing company to buy from for consumers who prefer to purchase technology from American drone companies.

Price: $999

Flight time: 23 minutes

Read my full review of the Skydio 2 here.

dji mavic pro review drone girl

The best drone for more advanced pilots: DJI Mavic Pro Platinum

 The DJI Mavic Pro provides high quality aerial video, in a small package that will have you wanting to bring it everywhere you go. But, it’s bigger than the Mavic Air.

With that, it has a longer transmission range and longer flight time (30 minutes). It also has 60% noise power reduction for a quieter, more enjoyable flight experience. But, it has fewer obstacle avoidance features than the Air. If you’re a pro pilot, then you’ll love this drone. If you want a little more piloting help, stick to the Mavic Air.

Price: $1,149

Flight time: 27 minutes

See my complete review of the Platinum’s sibling (and slightly cheaper counterpart), the DJI Mavic Pro here.

dji Mavic 2 best drones 2020 photographers hasselblad

The best drone for professional photographers: the Mavic 2

The new DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone launched in 2018 featuring a new 1 inch CMOS sensor and Hasselblad 20 megapixels camera, which was a mind-blowing feat for the most serious of photographers.

The Mavic 2 Pro is also great for photographers who don’t want something as bulky as the Inspire 2 but still demand incredible image quality. It folds up into the size of a water bottle, so it won’t take up much extra space in your camera bag or be a big burden if you’re bringing it out on a shoot.

The Mavic 2 Pro has a three-axis gimbal with a Hasselblad camera (which you won’t find on our top pick for most people, the Air 2S) and 1-inch CMOS sensor and F\2.8 EQV 28mm lens, capable of capturing 4K video and 12MP images.  It also includes the DJI OcuSync transmission system with a transmission of 1080p and a maximum range of up to five miles. We also like this one over our top pic, the Air 2S for pros because the Air 2S shows cropping at higher frame rates (that’s because the Air 2S’s full one-inch sensor is not used in the 4K 60fps mode).

This drone also allows you many more capabilities in terms of adjusting settings. For example, you cannot adjust the aperture on the Air 2S.

One note: for videographers, we do still recommend the lower cost Air 2S over the Mavic 2 Pro, given that its maximum video resolution is 5.4K (versus 4K on the Mavic 2 Pro) and it’s 4K video bit rate is higher at 150Mbps versus 100Mbps on the Mavic 2 Pro).

The Mavic 2 Pro also has a sister drone, the Mavic 2 Zoom, which utilizes a two-time optical zoom camera with a 12 MP 1/2.3” CMOS Sensor.

Price: $1,499

Flight time: 31 minutes

best drones photographers pro DJI Inspire

The best drone for pro photographers who need a sturdier drone or the ability to broadcast live: DJI Inspire 2

The DJI Inspire 2 has an image processing system records at up to 5.2K in CinemaDNG RAW, Apple ProRes and more. This drone also has obstacle avoidance on two sides for safety.

It is also an ideal drone for live broadcasters, because the drone’s video can be broadcast live using its dedicated 1080i50 and 720p60 transmission signal, simply by plugging the remote controller to the satellite truck.

Price: $2,599

Flight time: 27 minutes with dual-battery system

Drone photography FAQs

Even if you’re a photo pro, there are a number of terms and concepts specific to drone photography that you should know.

What is a gimbal? A gimbal is crucial to keeping your aerial footage silky and steady. Without a gimbal, your videos will look shaky and every tiny movement will appear jarring to the viewer. If your drone doesn’t have a gimbal, don’t buy it.

What’s considered “good” flight time or long battery life? This might not be the answer you want to read, but here it is: “it doesn’t matter.”  Given LiPo battery technology and how far it can be pushed (ahem, Samsung exploding phones) don’t expect a photography drone to fly longer than 30 minutes. Though, one drone in this guide, the Mavic 2 does have an impressive max flight time of 31 minutes. Instead, just buy some spare batteries!

Do I need to register my drone? Yes! Learn more about drone registration in our Getting Started Guide here.

Do I need a license to fly? Maybe. If you’re flying commercially, you definitely do. If you’re just flying for fun, you probably don’t need a license. Find out more about how you can get your drone pilot’s license from the FAA here.

Related

Sours: https://www.thedronegirl.com/2020/03/23/best-drones-photographers-2020/

DJI may be about to upend the world of aerial photography yet again — by introducing a drone with drastically improved battery life and two cameras instead of one. DroneDJ and leaker Jasper Ellens are both independently reporting that the Mavic 3 Pro is real, coming this November, and it sounds like it’ll have some significant improvements over the three-year-old Mavic 2 Pro and even the Mavic Air 2S introduced earlier this year.

While DJI’s standard-sized drones have typically topped out at just half an hour in the air before requiring a battery swap or recharge, DroneDJ’s source says we’re now looking at up to 46 minutes of flight time. And that’s despite the additional hardware on board: an entire second camera (with its own sensor and lens) so you can have telephoto and wide angle capabilities in the same drone.

In 2018, you had to pick between the Mavic 2 Pro with its 1-inch sensor and adjustable aperture or the Mavic 2 Zoom with a 24mm-48mm telephoto lens, but the Mavic 3 Pro will apparently be the best of both worlds. First, it’s got an even larger Four Thirdssensor behind its 24mm f/2.8-f/11 camera, and second, the telephoto lens in front of its new 1/2” secondary sensor stretches out to 160mm for a 15-degree field of view. (The telephoto lens doesn’t zoom in and out by itself itself, but we’re effectively talking about a 6x zoom if you switch between the two cameras.)

The sensors are 20-megapixel and 12-megapixel respectively, if you’re talking stills, and appear to offer 5.2K video.

It also seems the drone can charge directly from a USB-C cable, like DJI’s Mini drones, instead of having to pop out the battery first. Weight wise, we’re apparently only looking at a slight increase from 907g (Mavic 2 Pro) to 920g for the new Mavic 3 models.

Yes, models, because like 2018’s Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, it appears there’ll be two of them again — a Mavic 3 which currently also appears to go by the name Mavic 3 Pro, and a “Cine” model which will reportedly feature a built-in SSD and comes with both a “1Gbps Lightspeed Data Cable” (presumably to get that footage off the internal drive) and a new version of DJI’s Smart Controller (the one with the integrated screen) with upgraded OcuSync video transmission for 15km (over 9 miles) of maximum range — up from 10km on the Mavic 2 Pro and 12km on the Air 2S.

Both sources say the Mavic 3 Pro should start at $1,600, the same price the Mavic 2 Pro costs today, but could easily cost another $1,000 for the Cine package. Today, the existing DJI Smart Controller costs $750 all by itself.

Ellens says these drones are coming on November 15th.

Sours: https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/23/22690821/dji-mavic-pro-drone-leak-twin-cameras-four-thirds

Camera pro drone

Phantom 4Pro

Visionary Intelligence. Elevated Imagination.

PHANTOM 4Pro V2.0

Quieter Flight and Updated Transmission System

LEARN MORE
  • 4dB Noise Reduction
  • OcuSync

Camera with 1-inch 20MP Sensor

The onboard camera has been redesigned to use a 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. A custom engineered lens made up of eight elements is arranged in seven groups, it is the first DJI camera to use a mechanical shutter, eliminating rolling shutter distortion which can occur when taking images of fast moving subjects or when flying at high speed. In effect, it is as powerful as many traditional ground cameras. More powerful video processing supports H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps, both with a 100Mbps bitrate. Advanced sensors and processors ensure everything is captured with more image detail and the image data needed for advanced post-production.

Learn more about the sensor, video recording, lens and shutter

The Phantom 4 Pro's camera system improves upon everything that made the original Phantom 4 so iconic. Every aspect has been significantly upgraded, including the sensor size, resolution, and image processing system, making it the most powerful Phantom to date. Users can also adjust aperture from f2.8-11 for more versatile imaging.

1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS

Sensor size is more important to image quality than the number of pixels because a larger sensor captures more information in every pixel, improving dynamic range, signal-to-noise ratio, and low light performance. The 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor in the Phantom 4 Pro is almost four times the size of the Phantom 4's 1/2.3in sensor. It uses larger pixels and has a maximum ISO of 12800 as well as increased contrast. It is good enough for images to be used immediately, while also capturing enough detail for advanced post-processing.

PHANTOM 4 PRO1”PHANTOM 41/2.3”

* Effective Pixel Area

  • Color Sensitivity

  • RAW SNR 18%

  • Dynamic Range

PHANTOM 4 PROPHANTOM 4

Image Comparisons

  • 1/2.3 Inch Sensor    1s    F2.2    ISO 100    EV 0.0

    Download
  • PHANTOM 4 PRO     1/2s    F2.8    ISO 100    EV 0.0

Production optimized 4K

An enhanced video processing system allows video to be captured in cinema and production optimized DCI 4K/60 (4096 x 2160/60fps) at a bitrate of 100Mbps, enabling you to get high-resolution slow motion shots. The Phantom 4 Pro also supports the H.265 video codec (Maximum resolution 4096X2160/30fps). For a given bitrate, H.265 doubles the amount of image processing as H.264, resulting in significantly enhanced image quality. Record in the high dynamic range D-log mode to make the most of this image data for color grading.

Bitrate

Frame Rate

Codec

H.264H.264 / H.265

PHANTOM 4PHANTOM 4 PRO

High resolution lens

The resolution and contrast of a lens is critical to image quality, because only a quality lens can capture sharp, vivid photos at high resolutions. The brand new Phantom 4 Pro camera has an aerial optimized F2.8 wide-angle lens with a 24mm equivalent focal length. It features eight elements – 2 aspherical – arranged in seven groups that fit into a smaller, more compact frame. Its images are consistently detailed with low distortion and low dispersion, ensuring that photos and videos are sharp and vivid. For the first time ever with a DJI camera, MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) results have been made public, so people can get a better understanding of lens performance.

* An MTF chart is used to measure the ability of a lens to reproduce contrast and resolve details. Low spatial frequencies reflect overall contrast, and high spatial frequencies reflect detail resolution. Both are measured in lp/mm. Image Height indicates the distance of a given point on the lens from the center of the sensor. MTF 100% indicates perfect performance.

Sagittal

Meridional

Capture Every Moment

Aerial imaging is not only used to capture landscapes; it brings new perspectives to everything from action scenes to motor racing. Capturing objects moving at high speed has always been a challenge for flying cameras using an electronic shutter. This is why the Phantom 4 Pro is the first DJI Phantom to use a mechanical shutter and a large-aperture prime lens. A mechanical shutter with a max speed of 1/2000s eliminates rolling shutter distortion which can occur when taking images of fast moving subjects or when flying at high speed. The electronic shutter has also been improved with a max shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, and a new Burst Mode shoot capable of shooting 14 fps at 20 megapixels to catch the perfect moment.

Mechanical Shutter

Electronic Shutter

User Gallery

Photo Credit: Mei Xu . Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro+

Photo Credit: Jianjun Wang. Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Photo Credit: Andy Yeung. Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Photo Credit: Manish Mamtani. Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Photo Credit: Pat Kay. Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Photo Credit: Ray Collins. Shot On DJI Phantom 4 Pro

5-Direction of Obstacle Sensing

FlightAutonomy is expanded with an additional set of high-resolution stereo vision sensors placed at the rear in addition to the pair placed at the front as well as infrared sensing systems placed on the left and right sides. This network creates a total of 5-direction of obstacle sensing and 4-direction of obstacle avoidance, protecting the Phantom 4 Pro from more obstacles and giving filmmakers the confidence to capture more complex images.

Learn More About 5-Direction of Obstacle Sensing

6-camera navigation system

Three sets of dual vision sensors form a 6-camera navigation system that works constantly to calculate the relative speed and distance between the aircraft and an object. Using this network of forward, rearward and downward vision sensors, the Phantom 4 Pro is able to hover precisely in places without GPS when taking off indoors, or on balconies, or even when flying through windows with minimal pilot control. In the unlikely event that front and downward sensors are unable to operate, the aircraft can still hover in place using the rear stereo vision system. The Phantom 4 Pro also is able to fly in complex environments at a flight speed of up to 31mph (50kph) while avoiding obstacles in its path. In Narrow Sensing Mode, the Phantom 4 Pro narrows its sensing scope enabling it to see in more detail and fly through small spaces.

What is FlightAutonomy

FlightAutonomy is an advanced aerial intelligence and flight automation platform. It is made up of a complex network of ten component groups including seven cameras — forward, rearward and downward dual vision sensors and the primary camera — an infrared sensing system, dual-band satellite positioning (GPS and GLONASS), two downward facing ultrasonic rangefinders, redundant IMUs and compasses, and a group of powerful, specialized computing cores. The Phantom 4 Pro acquires a real-time view of its environment and information about the height and position of nearby obstacles to create a 3D map it can locate itself within. The IMU and compasses collect crucial flight status, speed and direction data, while redundant IMUs and compasses monitor critical data and rule out possible errors, dramatically enhancing the reliability of flight.

Infrared sensing system

The Phantom 4 Pro is the first DJI aircraft to use an infrared sensing system. Placed on the left, and right sides of the aircraft, these measure the distance between the aircraft and any obstacles using infrared 3D scanning. When in Beginner Mode and Tripod Mode, these sensors have a horizontal field of view of 70° and a vertical field of view of 20°, providing a wide view of the scene to the sides of the Phantom, and a maximum range of 23ft (7m). Traditional ultrasonic sensors only have a detection range of 3-5m and may be confused when affected by propeller vibration. The infrared sensing system is able to sense larger areas and measure the distance between the aircraft, identifying the closest objects accurately while avoiding interference, providing more reliable sensing and protection.

Remote Controller with Built-in Screen

A 5.5in 1080p screen integrated with the Phantom 4 Pro + offers 1000 cd/m2 of brightness, more than twice as bright as conventional smart devices. As the DJI GO app is built into the screen, hardware and software can be fully optimized, allowing you to edit and share instantly. A five-hour battery life makes the Phantom 4 Pro + a complete aerial imaging solution. The integrated upgraded Lightbridge HD video transmission system supports dual frequencies for greater interference resistance and a maximum video transmission range of 4.3mi (7km)*.

*Unobstructed, free of interference, when FCC compliant.

Learn More About Remote Controller with Built-in Screen

NEW LIGHTBRIDGE VIDEO TRANSMISSION SYSTEM

The Phantom 4 Pro controller integrates an upgraded Lightbridge HD video transmission system that adds 5.8 GHz transmission support. The ability to choose between 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz allows pilots to cut through interference and eliminates image lag caused when flying in an area with extensive 2.4GHz frequency use. Normally, Wi-Fi video transmission systems use a 2.4GHz frequency to work with a controller using a 5.8GHz frequency as this prevents interference that can occur when both use the same frequency. If using the same frequency the video transmission system and the remote controller will interfere with each other, causing image lag.

The Lightbridge HD video transmission system used in the Phantom 4 Pro uses TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) to transmit signals, allowing it to send controller signals and receive video transmission signals at the same frequency. When switched on, the Phantom 4 Pro evaluates local signal levels, automatically choosing the transmission frequency with the lowest level of interference. This ensures the optimum range of a maximum video transmission of 4.3mi (7km)*.

2.4GHz

FCC: 7000 m

CE: 3500 m

SRRC: 4000 m

5.8GHz

FCC: 7000 m

CE: 2000 m

SRRC: 4000 m

*Unobstructed, free of interference, when FCC compliant.

ULTRA-BRIGHT SCREEN

A 5.5in 1080p screen integrated with the Phantom 4 Pro + offers 1000 cd/m2 of brightness, more than twice as bright as conventional smart devices. It makes bright, vivid colors easily visible in direct sunlight. As the DJI GO 4 app is built into the screen, a mobile device is not required, simplifying pre-flight preparations. Integration of an HDMI port, Micro SD card slot, microphone, embedded loudspeaker, and Wi-Fi connection allow images to be edited inside DJI GO 4 to be shared almost instantly. Its five-hour battery life makes the Phantom 4 Pro + a complete aerial imaging solution.

Draw is a brand new technology for waypoint control. Simply draw a route on screen and the Phantom 4 Pro will move in that direction while keeping its altitude locked. This allows the pilot to focus on camera control and enables more complex shots. There are two Draw modes that can be used in different scenarios.

Forward: The aircraft follows the route at a constant speed with the camera facing in the direction of flight.
Free: The aircraft only moves along the route when instructed. In this mode, the camera can face in any direction during a flight.

The Phantom 4 Pro automatically recognizes subjects, follows and captures them as they move, making it easier to get complex shots.

Following fast-moving objects can be very challenging, but advanced image recognition algorithms used by the Phantom 4 Pro allow it to recognize and track the object while keeping it in frame. This new algorithm also recognizes more subjects, from people to vehicles to animals, and will adjust its flight dynamics to match, ensuring smoother shots.

Pilots can now choose between:
Trace – Follow behind or in front of a subject, avoiding obstacles automatically.
Profile – Fly alongside a subject at a variety of angles to get profile shots of the subject.
Spotlight – Keep the camera trained on a subject while the aircraft flies almost anywhere.

Fly in any direction visible on-screen with a simple tap. Tap anywhere on-screen to smoothly adjust the direction of flight while automatically avoiding obstacles * and tap the screen again or use control sticks to change direction. A new AR route function shows the aircraft’s real-time flight direction for reference as its route is adjusted. As it can be difficult to control altitude, course, speed and camera pitch simultaneously using joysticks, TapFly Free allows a pilot to set the direction of flight, allowing them to turn the Phantom 4 Pro or tilt the gimbal as required without changing the direction of flight. In total, there are now three TapFly modes:

TapFly Forward – Tap to fly in the selected direction
TapFly Backward – Tap to fly in the opposite direction of the tap, i.e. tap in the bottom right corner of the screen to fly backward towards the top left.
TapFly Free – Lock the forward direction of the Phantom without locking the camera direction allowing it to turn as it flies.

*Obstacle Avoidance is not available with TapFly Free

In its upgraded Return to Home mode, the Phantom 4 Pro can automatically choose the best route to return home depending on environmental conditions. It records its route as it flies, allowing it to return along the same route avoiding obstacles if the control signal is disconnected.

Based on its altitude at the time of disconnection, the Phantom 4 Pro is also able to adjust its flight path to avoid obstacles it has seen during its flight. At takeoff, the Phantom 4 Pro will record the scene below and compare its recording with what it sees as it returns, for more precise landing. It can also detect the ground to see whether there is suitable spot for landing. If any obstacles are found, or there is water on the ground, it will alert the pilot and hover at an appropriate height, helping the aircraft to land more safely.

Using Gesture Mode, selfies can be captured easily using a few gestures without the remote controller. Advanced computer vision technology allows the Phantom 4 Pro to take instructions through gestures. The subject simply lifts their arms when facing the camera and the aircraft will recognize this movement by locking on and placing the subject in the center of the frame. When ready for a photo, the subject holds their arms out to signal the aircraft. A three second countdown will begin, making time to strike a pose, allowing moments to be captured without the remote control.

Different productions require different flight characteristics, and the Phantom 4 Pro offers three modes for flight: P, A and S. Switching between them allows pilots to get the control they need, whether they seek smoothness, simplicity, intelligent navigation or speed. In Position Mode, TapFly, ActiveTrack, obstacle sensing and positioning features are available. Sport Mode adds extra agility and higher speed, reaching 45mph (72kph). Atti Mode switches off satellite stabilization and holds the Phantom 4 Pro’s altitude. It is ideal for experienced pilots looking to capture smoother footage. Tripod Mode, which limits speed to 4mph (7kph) provides precision control for fine framing and indoor flying. Both the infrared sensing system and vision sensors are enabled in these modes for a safer flight experience.

Using brand new DJI Lightbridge HD video transmission technology, the Phantom 4 Pro has a maximum transmission range of 4.3i (7km)*. Before each flight, it scans a range of available frequencies to find and use the one with the least interference. By supporting 2.4GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands, it gives you more reliable control. Tightly integrated with DJI GO 4, Lightbridge video transmission also sends vital flight statistics in real time, and can be used to quickly download photos and videos to connected mobile devices.

The Lightbridge video transmission system uses advanced transmission technologies and can automatically adjust to environmental conditions. It ensures high quality, low latency image transmission across its range and offers pilots a better shooting experience. Traditional analog video transmission occupies a larger bandwidth and is more susceptible to interference. It also suffers from poor image quality and short range. Wi-Fi transmission also compares poorly, suffering from low latency, lengthy re-connection times, and short transmission distances due to the high cost of more powerful Wi-Fi transmission.

* Unobstructed, free of interference, when FCC compliant.

The Phantom 4 Pro features dual compass modules and dual IMU units, making it more reliable when compared to many hexacopters and octocopers. Compasses and IMUs are important sensors to ensure a stable flight and the Phantom 4 Pro constantly compares the data it receives through both pairs. This data is run through advanced algorithms to check accuracy and any inaccurate data is simply discarded without affecting flight, keeping flight steady and reliable.

Professional aerial imaging benefits from longer flight times. The Phantom 4 Pro has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, providing more time in the air to capture the perfect shot. The DJI GO 4 app shows battery lifetime and calculates remaining flight times according to distance traveled and more. It will give alerts when it reaches a minimum safe amount required for a safe journey back to the takeoff point. An advanced battery management system is also in place to prevent overcharging and over draining. When placed in longer term storage, batteries will discharge power to maintain good health.

When shooting aerials, the remote controller is responsible for most physical controls including piloting and capture. However, more challenging shoots require a real-time video feed, vital flight statistics and advanced settings. These are traditionally handled through a smart device, making the smart device essential to aerial imaging. The DJI GO 4 app is optimized for aerials and is updated along with the aircraft to ensure all features are supported. It can be used on smart devices and is available to be integrated into the DJI CrystalSky monitor, providing simple and convenient control.

Using the DJI GO 4 app, a large number of Intelligent Flight Modes are available. It also provides access to full manual camera controls, including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, image formats, and more. Any changes in DJI GO 4 will appear almost instantly on-screen. Vital flight data and video transmission status are easy to check in-app, further enhancing control efficiency and convenience.

DJI GO 4 includes editing features for quick editing and sharing to social media and even live streaming. After each flight, flight routes and data are automatically recorded and synchronized to the attached DJI GO 4 account, keeping it readily accessible for you to review. Both flight logs and data are easy to record and review.

AIRCRAFT

PHANTOM 4 PRO

PHANTOM 4 ADVANCED

PHANTOM 3 SE

Product PositionEntry-Level Professional Drone with Powerful Obstacle AvoidanceEntry-Level Professional DroneEntry-Level Drone
Weight (Battery & Propellers Included)1388 g1368 g1236 g
Max Flight TimeApprox. 30 minutesApprox. 30 minutesApprox. 25 minutes
Vision SystemForward Vision SystemBackward Vision SystemDownward Vision SystemForward Vision SystemDownward Vision SystemDownward Vision System
Obstacle SensingFront & Rear Obstacle Avoidance Left & Right Infrared Obstacle AvoidanceFront Obstacle AvoidanceN/A
Camera Sensor1’’ CMOSEffective pixels: 20 M1’’ CMOSEffective pixels: 20 M1/2.3’’ CMOSEffective pixels: 12 M
Max. Video Recording Resolution4K 60P4K 60P4K 30P
Max Transmission DistanceFCC: 4.3 miFCC: 4.3 miFCC: 2.5 mi
Video Transmission SystemLightbridgeLightbridgeWi-Fi
Operating Frequency2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz *5.8 GHz transmission is not available in some regions due to local regulations.2.4 GHz2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz

*5.8 GHz transmission is not available in some regions due to local regulations.

CONSUMER DRONES COMPARISON

Phantom 4 Pro
  • 1'' 20MP CMOS SENSOR
  • 4K 60FPS
  • up to 30-min Flight Time
  • 5-Direction of Obstacle Sensing
  • 2.4&5.8Ghz Dual Frequency Control Signal, up to 7km range

VISIONARY INTELLIGENCE. ELEVATED IMAGINATION.

From 

Where to Buy

Prices on the official website are for reference only. Visit the DJI Online Store to see the most up-to-date prices.

Sours: https://www.dji.com/phantom-4-pro
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