The Top 6 Drone Cameras of 2020
Photography is an art form and a hobby enjoyed by people all over the world. Whether they're capturing global events, gorgeous vistas, or kids' birthday parties, photos shape the way we see the world.
That's one reason drone photography has taken off in recent years. It changes the way we look at and think about the world around us. It literally gives us a bird's eye view in a way previously restricted to pilots and astronauts.
The sudden popularity of drones means the market is flooded, which can make choosing the right drone camera challenging. We've dug deep to help you make an informed decision. If you're in the market for the best drone camera, here are six to choose from.
What is a drone camera?
The idea behind drones cameras is simple. A drone camera is a drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), with a camera mounted. Camera drones can be used for either still photography or videography. Camera drones have been widely integrated into the film industry, where they've been used to replace expensive and unwieldy crane shots. This alone is reason enough to look into a professional drone camera, if you've been thinking of breaking into the film industry.
Our top choice
Our top choice overall is the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (Check price and specs). Our other top choices are:
- Best AI And Waterproof Drone: The PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard
- Best Drone For Travel: The Parrot Anafi FPV
- Best Foldable Drone: The DJI Mavic Air 2
- Best Drone For Professional Photographers And Videographers: The DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2.0
- Best Drone For Professional Optics: The DJI Inspire 2
If you want to look at our other top choices to see which best suits your own needs, read on.
What to consider when purchasing the best drone cameras
A phrase like 'the best drone camera' is going to be a bit subjective. What counts as 'the best' is going to vary from person to person depending on their particular needs.
Before we get into helping you find the best drone for photography, here are some things to think about to help you find the best drone camera.
Size: Drones come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You're going to need to get something a little bigger and more robust if you hope to practice professional drone photography. Bigger drones can support cameras shooting in HD 1080p resolution for 4k video while smaller models boast lower quality imaging.
Battery Life: How long a drone can hold a charge should be one of the main things you think about when you're selecting a drone. Even the best drones can struggle for a flight time longer than 30 minutes. You can always carry extra batteries with you, but that's an extra expense. That money could be invested in a more professional drone.
Brushless Motor: This is another feature you'll see listed in item specifications. Brushless motors are quieter than brushed motors. They also last longer. They're more expensive, but it's often worth it.
Gimbal: More expensive drones have something called an integrated gimbal. It's an internal mechanism that helps keep the drone steady. If you're serious about getting the best footage and photographs possible with your drone camera, you'll want to keep an eye out for drones featuring an internal gimbal.
Range: One final thing to keep in mind when choosing professional drone cameras is what kind of wireless range it features. If you're looking to become a professional drone photographer or videographer, you're going to need a drone with a more extensive range. You should always keep your drone in your line of sight, though, so keep that in mind.
InfoPlease’s research process
We at Infoplease have a stated mission to help people find accurate, reliable information. We usually fulfill that mission by offering reference data, or by presenting educational articles. One area where there's a lot of confusion and misinformation on the internet is is consumer reviews. So, we've decided to offer some useful tips and some reliable data for consumers.
As always, we want to give you the information you need. We’ve considered the experiences of people who use drone cameras and existing reviews on top websites. But, we want to focus in on expert opinions and on the hard facts about each product.
We are not sponsored by any drone camera manufacturers or retailers, But, if you make a purchase through one of the links on our site, we may earn a small commission for it.
Here are our choices for the top six drone cameras of 2020:
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Best General Photography Drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom revolutionized the consumer drone camera industry when it was introduced in 2016. Finally, it was possible to have both exceptional quality and portability. The Mavic 2 Zoom is a foldable quadcopter that can still be easily carried while still featuring professional-quality lenses.
The DJI Mavic 2 comes in two models - Zoom and Pro. The Pro features a lavish 1-inch image sensor, capable of filming in up to 20 MP, 10-bit HDR video, and up to 12,800 ISO. The Zoom is not quite as elaborate while still filming at the respectable resolution of 12 megapixels. The Zoom features a zoom lens, however, making it a great choice for achieving cinematic shots and effects.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom hasn't remained complacent since first entering the market. They've since introduced a Hyperlapse feature, which is aerial photography that can also process movement.
Reviews to Consider:
PCMag: “The Mavic 2 Zoom captures crisp, colorful 4K video. The gimbal stabilization does a superb job keeping things steady, even when the drone is moving and the lens is zoomed in. There are a number of frame rates available—you can shoot at 24, 25, or 30fps at 4K UHD quality.”
Amazon: “DJI made it again. The new Mavic 2 Zoom has everything you will need, from using it as a hobby to a professional piece of equipment. Nowadays, this drone is at the head of the industry with all the specs that it includes. The Zoom version includes the new zoom feature that can be applied to many things, while the Pro version has a more advanced camera that has slightly better quality and fewer features.”
Flight Time: 31 Minutes
Video Resolution: 4k video 3840×2160 24/25/30p
Folded: 214×91×84 mm (length×width×height)
Unfolded: 322×242×84 mm (length×width×height)
PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard
Best AI And Waterproof Drone
The PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard integrates some of the most cutting-edge features of any drone on the market. Most notable is their facial recognition software, which allows for complex subject tracking shots. This is on top of their already legendary waterproof capabilities. PowerVision even makes submersible drones, so if you're looking for a UAV that can take stunning underwater photographs and video, look no further. This also means you can make aquatic landings as well as fly in the rain.
The PowerEgg also features a camcorder mode. This means it can operate as a handheld or tripod-mounted camera in addition to a drone camera. It's like getting three cameras for the price of one.
Some find that the PowerVision's sensor might be slightly too small. There's little need to worry, however. The PowerEgg can shoot up to 60fps in the right light. The only other complaint that some have about the PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard is that the camcorder mode doesn't have a built-in Record button. You'll still need to use the smartphone app to start recording. The PowerEgg's other noteworthy features more than makes up for this minor inconvenience, though.
Reviews to Consider:
Digital Camera World: “The PowerEgg X is a fantastic bit of kit, with some minor let downs which software and firmware updates will no doubt address. For video and high-frame-rate stuff there’s nothing like it (assuming the light is OK), but for photographers more concerned with stills images are only OK. That keeps it from being a 5-star drone, but in normal operation this is still one of the best machines on the market and, if you’re a watersports or action fan, the PowerEgg X Wizard is not just the only option – it’s a great one too.”
Amazon: “We finished a road trip to Grand Canyon recently and took the drone along with us, since its size is very reasonable and easy to be packed. I was shocked by the picture quality and how much the drone can do for us. Although I was a little bit worried about the take off and land function as we are beginners, but it all worked out well. The drone was used for more than 20 times already and did not get any quality issues so far and the charger also works great.”
Flight Time: 30 Minutes
Video Resolution: 4k video 3840 x 2160p at 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
Dimensions: 25.0 x 19.0 x 5.0" / 63.5 x 48.3 x 12.7 cm
Parrot Anafi FPV
Best Drone For Travel
The Parrot Anafi FPV doesn't try to do everything well. Instead, they've focused on what makes them special and doing it really well. The Parrot Anafi FPV's main claim to fame is its portability. It's very lightweight and foldable, converting to a small, easy-to-carry size. A rugged fabric case completes the day, making the Parrot Anafi FPV our vote for the best drone for travel.
The Parrot Anafi performs all of the regular drone functions admirably as well. Automated take-off and a GPS-based return-to-home function are two standout features, to give you an idea of how easy the Anafi is to operate. One minor downfall is that the Anafi only features an X- and Y-axis. This means that sharp turns need to be executed with the smartphone app.
The Parrot Anafi FPV has recently released a "first-person view" kit. This is a pair of first-person goggles, which makes for an immersive flying experience. The first-person view kit, a rugged body, and an accessible price point make the Parrot Anafi FPV worthy of making your list of best drone cameras to consider.
Reviews to Consider:
Digital Camera World: “Chasing the top spot in the global drone market, Parrot’s Anafi had to be pretty special, and it was, with still-unmatched features like the full 180-degree tilt on the gimbal and batteries with built-in USB charging ports. The addition of FPV might seem frivolous fun at first, but it actually improves things from a photographer's perspective as well as being a great deal of fun. The addition of some long-requested software features are just the icing on the cake.”
Amazon: “This is a fantastic little drone. It is light and extremely portable. It has a great camera with an outstanding 3x zoom. It has a true 25 minute flight time. It has a half-dozen special flight modes as well as the essential GPS position hold and smart RTH. This is the first drone on the market that can honestly compete with the DJI Mavic. Today I flew both the Anafi and the Mavic for several hours. The Mavic has twice the flight range, but the Anafi is competitive or better in just about every other aspect. Overall, I prefer the Anafi as my "travel drone" now.”
Flight Time: 26 Minutes
Video Resolution: 4K Video 4096x2160 24fps, 4K UHD 3840x2160 24/25/30fps
DJI Mavic Air 2
Best Foldable Drone Of 2020
Our second entry from DJI of the best drone cameras for 2020 blends portability and performance. The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a marvel of clever engineering. It's a quadcopter that folds up to a slight 180×97×84mm while only weighing 570g.
The DVI Mavic Air 2 is a fully capable professional drone camera, however, despite its slight stature and light weight. It shoots in a full 60fps for 4k video. It also features an impressive 48 megapixel display. The DVI Mavic Air 2 even outperforms other drones in a number of ways, even if they're bigger or more expensive. It's got some of the best sensors on the market, for instance. Front and rear sensors assist the DVI Mavic Air 2 in obstacle avoidance, preventing the drone from accidentally running into walls and trees.
It's got a max speed of 68kph/42mph. This, in combination with a newly redesigned controller, make the DVI Mavic Air 2 a joy to fly. The DJI Mavic boasts a longer flight time than other drones on the market, as well, with an impressive 34 minute battery life.
Reviews to Consider:
PCMag: “With a compelling mix of imaging, stability, and safety features, DJI's Mavic Air 2 is the best drone you can buy for under $1,000.”
The Verge: “If you’re looking for an intermediate drone that’s easy to fly but still capable of capturing compelling photos and video, DJI’s Mavic Air has long been the go-to model. It’s small, light, and has enough technology on board to make both flying and shooting with it a joy. It also costs less than a thousand dollars.”
Flight Time: 34 Minutes
Video Resolution: 4K Video Ultra HD 3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
Folded: 180×97×84 mm (Length×Width×Height)
Unfolded: 183×253×77 mm (Length×Width×Height)
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
Best Drone For Professional Photographers And Videographers
The DJI Phantom has been a high point of drone technology since first hitting the market. The first DJI Phantom was the first UAV to feature an internal gambil, for instance. The DJI Phantom's hefty construction and extreme capabilities might be a bit intense for the hobbyist, but if you're looking to get into professional drone photography, you'd do well to consider the DJI Phantom 4 V2.0.
The DJI Phantom 4V2.0 features four propellers, making for virtually silent flight. This alone makes it an attractive choice for videographers looking to get quiet footage. The internal gambil ensures smooth shots, tracking, and panning, as well. You'll even be able to see what you're shooting in the quality it's being filmed in. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 boasts an impressive, ingenious radio system for transmitting the display at a full 1080p.
Reviews to Consider:
Camera Labs: The Phantom 4 Pro+ V2.0 is a truly stunning piece of technology, although it still feels a bit like a stopgap simply because of the other arrivals from DJI. Set aside the additional nagging feeling that a Phantom 5 will be along, perhaps with an optical zoom soon-ish, this machine remains incredibly capable. The intelligent flight modes and collision detection are nice to have, but the star of the show is the camera with 1-inch CMOS sensor, f2.8 lens, up-to 1/2000 sec mechanical shutter, 11.6 stops of dynamic range and 100Mbps 4K recording.
Amazon: “It's a little intimidating at first, but this baby is easy to fly and avoids most obstacles - won't even allow you to proceed if something is in the path ahead (within a few feet of course) depending on what flying mode you are using. (no avoidance in "sport" mode)”
Flight Time: Approx. 30 minutes
Video Resolution: 4K Video 3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
Dimensions: 350 mm diagonal, without propellors
DJI Inspire 2
The Best Drone For Professional Optics
If you're looking for a drone camera to deliver the highest-quality photographs and video, the DJI Inspire 2 should be at the top of your list.
The DJI Inspire 2 features an impressive array of functions and features. First and foremost is the interchangeable lens system. The DJI Inspire 2 features several customizable camera options, from the static front-facing cameras to multiple Zen muse x5 and X5R cameras. The customizability makes this drone a top pick for filmmakers and photographers of all stripes.
On top of this, the DJI Inspire 2 features two remotes. The first is your standard operating remote. The second is for the cameras themselves, letting you get a number of shots just not possible with other drones. You can even switch back and forth between the cameras, as you can film with the front-facing cameras and the Zen muses. The Inspire lets you shoot in multiple formats as well, including CinemaDNG and ProRes, with multiple storage options for the DJI Inspire 2, also. It features back-up hard drives, so you won't have to worry about running out of storage space.
In terms of usability, the DJI Inspire 2 has some of the best flight controls on the market. There's even a backup flight transmission system in case you lose primary contact with the drone during flight. It's an ideal investment if you're not concerned with cost.
Reviews to Consider:
PCMag: “If money is no object, the DJI Inspire 2 is the best drone you can buy, delivering Raw video capture at 5.2K quality, superb build quality, and top-end performance.”
Digital Trends: “When DJI released the original Inspire drone, it was an instant hit with filmmakers. Up until that point, if you wanted a drone that could carry a decent camera, you had to build it yourself — but then DJI came along, and suddenly anyone with $3,000 could get their hands on a pro-level 4K camera copter that was ready to fly straight out of the box.”
Flight Time: 27 Minutes
Video Resolution: 5.2K/30fps in CinemaDNG 12bit, 5.2K 30fps Apple ProRes 422 HQ, 4K 30fps Apple ProRes 4444 XQ
Dimensions: Diagonal, 23.8" / 60.5 cm, without propellers