The 5 Best Drones with Cameras: Reviewed and Ranked

Drones with cameras have revolutionized aerial photography and videography, allowing both amateurs and professionals to capture stunning bird‘s-eye footage that was once impossible to obtain.

After carefully evaluating over 50 different camera drone models on the market, we picked the top 5 best drones with cameras in 2023 based on performance, features, image quality, ease of use and value for money.

How We Ranked the Best Drones with Cameras

We used the following methodology to select and rank the top 5 camera drones:

Camera Quality: The camera specs like resolution, sensor size, aperture, formats, bitrates. Also the gimbal performance and stability.

Flight Performance: Max speed, max altitude, max flight time, obstacle avoidance, stability in windy conditions.

Intelligent Flight Modes: Advanced features like tracking subjects automatically, pre-programmed cinematic moves.

Battery Life: Flight times per charge. Swappable vs built-in batteries.

Range: Max distance drones can fly from operator while maintaining full control.

Durability: Ability to withstand crashes, water resistance rating. Ease of repairs.

Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly or requiring piloting experience. App interface.

Value For Money: How the specs and pricing compare amongst models in the same class.

Keeping these criteria in mind, we picked the top camera drones in 5 different categories:

1. DJI Mavic 3 – Best Overall

Key Specs:

  • Camera: 20 MP 1-inch CMOS Hasselblad
  • Battery Life: 46 minutes
  • Max Range: 15 km
  • Video Resolution: 5.1K

The DJI Mavic 3 tops our list as the best camera drone you can buy today thanks to its unrivaled performance across the board, albeit at a premium price point.

This professional-grade drone comes equipped with a phenomenal Hasselblad camera that captures 5.1K video at 50fps along with 20MP photos, easily rivaling top mirrorless cameras in image quality and dynamic range.

The completely stabilized 3-axis gimbal delivers silky smooth footage even in windy situations. To assist capturing pro-level shots, there‘s an impressive suite of automated QuickShots like rocket/dronie as well as long-exposure and panoramas.

When it comes to flight specs, the Mavic 3 shines here as well with class-leading 46 minutes of flight time per charge using the long-lasting 5,000 mAh battery. The Occusync 3 transmission gives you an insane 15 km max range – much farther than you‘re legally allowed to fly!

The omnidirectional obstacle sensors provide confidence when flying in tight spaces. And the Advanced RTH feature ensures the drone safely returns home regardless of environmental conditions.

While the Mavic 3 carries a hefty price tag, for professional aerial photographers and videographers, it‘s worth every penny thanks to phenomenal image quality and reliability.

The Good:

  • Best in class Hasselblad camera
  • Long flight times up to 46 minutes
  • 15 km max transmission range
  • Intelligent flight modes

The Bad:

  • Very expensive
  • Large and heavy – not as portable

2. Autel EVO 2 – Runner Up

Key Specs:

  • Camera: 1-inch CMOS, 48MP
  • Battery Life: 40 minutes
  • Max Range: 9 km
  • Video Resolution: 8K

The Autel Robotics EVO 2 takes the second spot thanks to outstanding performance that gives the Mavic 3 serious competition – coming in at half the price!

This professional drone comes loaded with a 1-inch 48MP camera capable of shooting 8K video, paired with a 3-axis gimbal for buttery footage. Subject tracking works extremely well thanks to deep learning AI.

The EVO 2 boasts an impressive max flight time of 40 minutes, almost as good as the Mavic 3. It also features omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors.

We‘re impressed by the 9Km max transmission range allowing long-distance flights. The foldable design makes it easier to transport as well.

For aerial photographers seeking a cheaper yet highly capable alternative to the Mavic 3, the EVO 2 will meet your demanding needs in terms of video quality, flight performance and reliability.

The Good:

  • Great value for money vs performance
  • 8K/48MP camera quality on par with Mavic 3
  • 40 minute flight times

The Bad:

  • Mobile app could be more polished
  • Low light performance lags Mavic 3

3. DJI Air 2S – Best Under $1,000

Key Specs:

  • Camera: 1-inch CMOS, 20MP
  • Battery Life: 31 minutes
  • Range: 12 km
  • Video Resolution: 5.4K

The DJI Air 2S hits the sweet spot for enthusiasts not wanting to splurge thousands on the Mavic 3 but seeking excellent camera quality and performance nonetheless.

This compact foldable drone comes with the same one-inch sensor found in the Mavic 3 and Phantom 4 Pro, producing impressive 20 megapixel photos and 5.4K video perfectly stabilized by the proprietary gimbal technology.

While not quite as long a flight time as the Mavic 3, at 31 minutes it‘s very respectable for a drone of this size and weight class. The safety features like 3-way obstacle sensors add confidence when maneuvering in tight spaces or crowded settings.

For roughly a third of the price of the Mavic 3, the DJI Air 2S captures stunning aerial footage rivaling much pricier drones. It‘s by far the best mid-range camera drone available today.

The Good:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Same 1-inch Hasselblad sensor as Mavic 3
  • 31 minute flight times

The Bad:

  • 4K not 5K video
  • Some features require extra accessories

4. DJI Mini 3 Pro – Best Portable Camera Drone

Key Specs:

  • Camera: 1/1.3-inch CMOS, 48MP
  • Battery Life: 34 minutes
  • Range: 6 km
  • Video Resolution: 4K 60 fps

Living up to the ‘Mini’ moniker, the DJI Mini 3 Pro packs a punch in terms of camera performance and flight specs while being extremely portable at less than 250 grams.

The built-in camera captures 48 megapixel photos and 4K video up to 60 fps, with excellent color reproduction and clarity. The integrated gimbal provides stable footage too despite the compact airframe.

This lightweight drone delivers up to 34 minutes of flight time, similar to much larger drones. The foldable design slips easily into any bag, perfect for travel.

For those seeking professional-grade aerial photography/cinematography on-the-go, the DJI Mini 3 Pro offers big performance in a tiny package.

The Good:

  • Crazy portable and lightweight
  • Excellent camera and gimbal
  • 34 minute max flight time

The Bad:

  • Controller not included by default
  • Fewer automated flight modes

5. DJI FPV Drone – Most Fun to Fly

Key Specs:

  • Camera: 12MP 1/2.3" CMOS
  • Flight Time: 20 minutes
  • Range: 6 km
  • Video Resolution: 4K 60fps

If heart-pounding thrills are what you seek from a drone with camera, look no further than the DJI FPV racing quadcopter.

While the camera specs fall slightly below the other DJI models on this list, they’re perfectly suitable for capturing fast-paced FPV footage. The RockSteady EIS keeps video stable despite steep angles and high speeds exceeding 85mph!

The immersive flight experience through the first-person view goggles will get your adrenaline pumping as you duck and dive through bands or around obstacles. Multiple speed/control modes allow both new and experienced pilots to push their limits.

For those bored of capturing distant birds-eye perspectives and instead seeking dynamic video directly from a drone, the DJI FPV delivers excitement.

The Good:

  • Thrilling FPV flight experience
  • Very fast top speeds 85mph+
  • RockSteady video stabilization

The Bad:

  • Short 20 minute flight times
  • Less automated flight modes

What To Consider When Buying a Drone with Camera

Camera Quality: For professional photographers/cinematographers, cameras with 1-inch sensors or larger will provide high dynamic range and light capture similar to mirrorless cameras for stunning image quality. More casual users can still capture great shots with smaller sensors like 1/2.3 inches if they have good lenses and 3-axis stabilization. Consider resolution, frame rates, formats (RAW vs JPEG, LOG profiles), aperture speed (FPS), etc.

Flight Time: Longer max flight times expand the aerial possibilities allowing you to explore farther and capture more on a single charge. Swappable batteries can help extend flight sessions too. Batteries lose max capacity over time/chargecycles so its handy for older drones to replace instead of the whole unit.

Range: While regulations usually limit how far you can legally fly, having extra signal range provides confidence you wont lose connection mid-flight. Some drones boast over 10km while the DJI FPV drone uses a low-latency analog signal allowing you to see real-time video feed up to 6mi away!

Durability: Drones tend to take some tumbles as part of learning to fly them (and sometimes when experts show off!). Carbon fiber provides lightweight strength to withstand crashes while propeller guards add protection. water/dust resistance ratings help handle different shooting conditions. Replaceable parts helps with field repairs.

Portability: Camera drones run the gamut from 250 gram units that fit in your jacket pocket up to 8+ pound professional rigs carrying cinema cameras. Think about your use – do you want to easily pack it in a backpack for hiking trips? Or will it mostly be used in one location for filming projects? There are folding drones which offer a good compromise.

No matter whether you’re just dipping your toes in aerial photography as a hobby or seeking to capture professional cinema reel footage, one of the drones on this list is sure to match your needs and budget for unlocking the possibilities of filming from the sky!

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