DJI are the most popular drone manufacturer in the world, they have engineered some of the best prosumer drones on the market and have become the go-to drone brand for professional photographers and videographers. All of their prosumer drones come with advanced technological features which make them easy to fly. So, which DJI drone is the best for beginners? My views have changed on this over the years, however, in terms of value for money and features, I do believe the DJI Mini 2 is the best drone for beginners.
However, there may be other factors that will determine which DJI drone is best for you as a beginner. For example, if you are a professional photographer and looking to extend your services with drones, then something like the Mini 2 may not be the best option.
Which DJI drone is best for you as a beginner drone pilot will come down to what you want to do with the drone, are you looking to just have fun, or do you intend to use the drone for commercial reasons? Whatever the case may be, I believe the 5 DJI drones I have listed below will have something for everybody.
Do You Need To Register DJI Drones?
This will depend on where you live, if you reside in the USA, for drones that weigh less than 250g, there is no need to register them, and drones above this weight limit will need to be registered. If you intend to use any of these drones for commercial reasons, you will need to obtain the Part 107 certificate. For more information, please visit the FAA drone registration website.
One thing US residents must keep in mind is that the FAA introduced a new test for recreational flyers called The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST for short. It’s a short test that is intended to keep recreational pilots up to date with the basic legal requirements of operating a drone.
For those of you who live in the UK, you will need to register the drone regardless of whether it weighs less than 250g or not. You will need to obtain an Operator ID for registration and a Flyer ID which will require you to take an online test.
What Is The Best DJI Drone For Beginners?
For me personally, as a recreational flyer, it would have to be the DJI Mini 2, it comes with a great combination of value for money, good features and a nice lightweight compact design. This drone can be used for professional photography if that’s what you are looking for and are on a tight budget, but I wouldn’t recommend it and there are better options.
For professional drone photography, I would go with either the new DJI Mini 3 Pro or the Air 2S. Both drones come with large camera sensors and have some impressive features that will please photographers.
Best DJI Drone For Beginners
1. DJI Air 2S
One of the best drones for drone photography, the DJI Air 2S redefined what consumers should expect from a lightweight foldable drone. This drone comes with some exceptional features including a 1-inch image, making it the first drone that costs less than $1000 to come with this feature.
The camera is stabilised by a 3-axis gimbal and captures 20MP images in both RAW and JPEG formats. It has multiple photography shooting modes including SmartPhoto and Panorama HDR, these will allow you to capture HDR images without the need for post-processing.
Videos can be recorded in 5.4k at 30fps and 4k at 60fps with a maximum recording speed of 150Mbps and it supports recording in both H.264 and H2.65 codecs. The camera comes with a 10-bit Dlog-M colour profile that allows it to record over 1 billion colours for HDR videos.
Intelligent features include Hyperlapse, which allows you to record stunning time-lapse videos, Mastershots and Quickshots to create short cinematic videos at the push of a button and several autonomous flight modes including ActiveTRack 4.0, SpotLight 2.0 and Point of Interest 3.0.
The drone also comes with several advanced safety features that includes a 4-way obstacle avoidance system, ADS-B receiver and an automatic return to home function that is activated whenever the battery gets low on charge, or the drone loses connection with the controller.
The drone has a flight time of around 30 minutes, a top speed of 42 mph and a transmission range of 12km.
2. DJI Mini 3 Pro
This is probably the best mini drone on the market, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is everything DJI customers have been asking for since the release of the first DJI Mini drone a few years ago.
The drone is an impressive engineering feat considering its size, weight, and the number of advanced features it comes with.
If you are familiar with the DJI Mini drones, you will notice that the body Mini 3 Pro has a curved design and is strikingly different from the Mini 2 and Mavic Mini. It is a better looking drone and despite the addition of a larger image sensor, large props and sensors for obstacle avoidance, DJI have still managed to keep it under 250g.
One of the main features of the Mini 3 Pro is the camera, it sports a large 1/1.3-inch sensor that can capture 48MP images and is stabilised by a uniquely designed 3-axis gimbal that allows the camera to rotate and capture vertical images which are optimised for social media.
The camera can record videos in 4k at 60fps and 2.7k at 60fps and has a maximum recording speed of 150Mbps.
There are 2 colour profiles for video recording, the 8-bit D-Cinelike for HDR videos and normal mode which require no post-processing enhancement.
The camera can record 4 different time-lapse videos via the Hyperlapse feature and comes with the intelligent Mastershots and Quickshot video recording mode.
A major upgrade the Mini 3 Pro comes with is the 3-way obstacle avoidance system, which many thought would be included with the Mini 2 drone.
Another intelligent feature that was missing with the previous Mini drones is the autonomous flight modes such as ActiveTrack and Point of Interest.
The drone has an internal storage capacity of 1.2GB and there is a micro SD card slot that can take memory cards with a maximum capacity of 512GB.
The Mini 3 Pro is compatible with 2 controllers, the standard RC-N1 and the new DJI RC controller which comes with a large 5.5-inch screen. Both controllers use DJI’s latest transmission technology which allows for a transmission range of 12km.
There are also 2 types of batteries that powers this drone, the standard intelligent battery provides it with a flight time of 34 minutes, while the intelligent plus battery provides 47 minutes of flight time.
3. DJI Mavic Air 2
I personally think this is the best budget-friendly drone for photography, the Mavic Air 2 comes with the perfect combination of a great looking drone that is lightweight and compact and still comes with most of DJI’s innovative features.
The drone costs less than $800, making it one of the best drones in its price range and a great option for drone photography.
The drone camera is one of the standout features, it comes with a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor that can capture 12MP and 48MP still images in RAW and JPEG formats.
The Mavic Air 2 was the first drone to come with DJI’s SmartPhoto technology, this photography mode combines scene recognition, hyperlight and HDR for high-quality images that require no post-processing enhancement.
There are several other photography modes including HDR Panorama which allows you to capture 4 types of panorama images in 48MP.
One of the best features of this camera is its ability to record 4k video footage at 60fps with a maximum recording speed of 120Mbps. This was a huge improvement over one of DJI’s flagship drones, the Mavic 2 Pro which could only record 4k videos at 30fps.
Intelligent features include 8k time-lapse videos, 6 Quickshot modes that allows you to capture short HD video footage at the push of a button and a 3-way obstacle avoidance system.
There are also 3 autonomous flight modes that includes ActiveTrack 3.0 and an automatic return to home feature.
The drone uses DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology for a transmission range of 10km and has a flight time of around 34 minutes.
4. DJI Mini 2
The Mini 2 is my personal favourite drone for recreational use, although I believe it is good enough for professional photography and is definitely the best drone in its price range.
The drone comes equipped with an HD camera that can capture 12MP images in RAW and JPEG formats and has multiple photography modes including AEB and panorama.
The camera can record videos in 4k at 30fps and 2.7k at 60fps and has a maximum recording speed of 100Mbps.
It comes with a decent zoom function with the ability to zoom in 2× at 4k, 3× at 2.7k and 4× at 1080p.
The drone comes with the Quickshots intelligent video recording mode and automatic return to home feature.
Although intelligent flight modes such as ActiveTrack and Point of Interest are not included within the DJI Fly app, they can be accessed via a third-party app called Litchi, this is also the same for the DJI Mini SE.
Flight time is around 30 minutes and the transmission range is 10km.
5. DJI Mini SE
The Mini SE is the successor to the discontinued Mavic Mini, it comes with nearly identical features, however, the main difference is the body. The Mini SE has the same body as the Mini 2, this gives it a little more stabilisation in windy conditions.
Apart from that, all the specs are the same as the original Mavic Mini, however, it is much cheaper than the original DJI Mini drone and is DJI’s cheapest HD camera drone with GPS capability.
Its sports a 1/2.3-inch image sensor that can capture 12MP images and record 2.7k video footage.
The camera is stabilised by a 3-axis gimbal and comes with a flight time of 30 minutes as well as a 4km transmission range.
The drone does have a couple of intelligent flight features, it has an automatic return to home function and comes with the intelligent Quickshot video recording mode.
There is no intelligent flight modes like ActiveTrack and Point of Interest, however, they are available with a third-party flight app called Litchi. This is a paid app and is available for both iOS and Android devices.