One of the many aspects of drones I enjoy is their ability to take stunning aerial photography, and as the industry grows more and more, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the best drone for aerial photography.

Drones are becoming so popular that everyone is getting one. One of the main reasons people are buying drones is because of their ability to show us our world from a bird’s eye view. To see and explore places that previously would have been impossible to explore. Drones with cameras that take awesome photography are increasing, however, one company still dominates the scene. If you have read my reviews, you will know how much I admire the drones by DJI. Well, their drones dominate this list.

My personal favourite drone is the DJI Air 2S, its small elegant design and powerful features make it a fantastic drone for aerial photography. This is not an exhaustive list, there are so many good drones for professional aerial photography that it was hard for me to choose which ones to include and which ones to leave out.

If you do not like any of the drones on this list (unlikely!) check out my list of the best drones with a camera. I also update this list as often as I can because the drone industry moves fast and there is always a new high-end drone release every few months. The list below reflects some of the best drones for photography for the year 2021.

Something else to note is that with many of these drones, you can use them for other commercial reasons and not just for professional photography. One area where drones are being utilised is photogrammetry, photogrammetry is the science of obtaining data about things like an area of land or object through the use of images. It’s a method that is used by many industries like construction, agriculture, mining, and environmental monitoring to gather data for analysis, planning, and decision making.

Some of the key features of a good camera are its sensor size, ISO range, aperture, shutter speed and dynamic range.

According to the popular photography website, digital photography school, the size of a camera sensor is one of the most important attributes when it comes to photo quality.

Larger sensors produce better pictures with better overall resolution and greater dynamic range. They capture more light, which is especially useful if you want to take photos in a low light environment.

For this reason, I have ordered the list based on the size of the image sensor, of course, the image sensor size isn’t everything and the final quality of your images will depend upon your overall skill as a photographer.

If you want to fly drones for commercial reasons or make money through your drone, you will be required to obtain a Part 107 certificate from the FAA. This is a 2-hour exam that covers a wide-range of topics related to aviation rules and will require students to achieve at least 70% from a total of 60 questions.

There are lots of Part 107 prep guides or courses that will give you a better chance at passing the first time.

Some of the most popular include courses from Pilot Institute, Dart Drones and Ground Pilot School. There are also well-received courses on the popular online education platform Udemy.

In the UK, the CAA does not require drone pilots to obtain any kind of certificate, all you need is a Flyer and Operator ID.

However, if you are going to be flying close to people, the CAA will require you to obtain a General Visual Line Of Site Certificate.

The CAA does not oversee the assessment that is required to obtain this certificate, instead, they have a list of approved training organisations that they call Registered Assessment Entities or RAE’s, to carry out the assessment on their behalf. 

Some of the more popular CAA approved training companies include UAVHUB, Heliguys, Coptrz, Drone Pilot Academy and UAV Academy. You can find the full list of RAE’s here.

1. DJI Inspire 2

best drones for aerial photography The DJI Inspire is the ultimate drone for professional photographers, it’s a large drone with a robust design and comes with retractable arms for easier portability. The drone comes with multiple redundancy systems for safer flying which includes a dual battery compartment, dual IMU and barometer. It’s compatible with 2 cameras including the DJI Zenmuse X7 which comes with a super 35 sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range, 24MP and can record in CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes. The drone has a robust design that allows it to be operated in windy and cold conditions and comes with a flight time of 23 minutes and an image transmission range of 7km.

 

Key Features

    • Zenmuse X5s Camera with Micro 4/3 sensor
    • 20.8MP images
    • 12.8 stops of dynamic range
    • Compatible with lenses from Olympus and Panasonic
    • Burst, single shot, AEB and interval photography modes
    • Records videos in 5.2k at 30fps (CinemaDNG) & 5.2 at 30fps (Apple ProRes)
    • Mechanical & Electronic shutter
    • Obstacle avoidance technology
    • LightBridge transmission technology
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • Multiple redundancy systems
    • 27 minutes of flight time
    • 7km transmission range

2. DJI Mavic 3

best drones for aerial photographyThe DJI Mavic 3 is one of the DJI’s most innovative foldable drones and comes with some unique features. The drone is equipped with a unique dual-camera system, on the top is the main MFT camera that has been engineered by legendary Swiss camera makers, Hasselblad. It’s the first foldable drone that is equipped with a 4/3 camera and allows you to capture 20MP images in 12-bit RAW format and record 5k video footage at 50fps and 4k at 120fps. The secondary camera is located on the top and comes with a 1/2-inch sensor that can capture 12MP images and record 4k video footage. This is a telephoto camera and will allow you to zoom in on your subject matter without compromising on quality. The Mavic 3 comes with an improved autopilot system, a better obstacle avoidance system, a longer image transmission range and a leading flight time of 46 minutes.

 

Key Features

    • 4/3 CMOS sensor with 24m lens & 84° FOV
    • f/2.8-f/11 adjustable aperture
    • 100-6400 ISO Range (video & photo)
    • 20MP images in 12-bit RAW format
    • Records videos in 5.1k at 50fps, 4k at 120fps
    • 200Mbps
    • 12.8 stops of dynamic range
    • Hasselblad natural colour technology
    • 10 Bit Dlog colour profile for HDR videos
    • 1/2-inch CMOS sensor on the second camera
    • Telephoto 162mm lens with 15° FOV
    • 12MP images
    • Records videos in 4k at 30fps
    • Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system
    • 46 minutes of flight time
    • 15km transmission range

3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

best drones for aerial photographyThe Mavic 2 Pro is an exceptional drone for aerial photography, it’s a foldable drone that weighs less than 1kg, so if you are a travel photographer, this drone will be suitable for you as it is easy to carry around. DJI’s Mavic drones are some of the best-looking drones on the market and the Mavic 2 Pro is no different. The drone comes with a Haseblad engineered camera that is equipped with a 1-inch sensor and also comes with Hasselblads Natural Colour Solution for improved colour details. The camera can record video footage in 4k at 30fps and 2.7k at 60fps and comes with a recording speed of 100Mbps.  It supports multiple photography modes and comes with a 10-bit Dlog colour profile for HDR videos. Other improved features include autonomous flight modes, increased flight time and an image transmission range of 10km.

 

Key Features

    • 1-inch CMOS sensor with adjustable aperture 
    • 28mm lens with 77° FOV
    • Records video footage in 4k at 30fps and 2.7k at 60fps
    • 20MP still images (RAW+JPEG)
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-12800 (Manual)
    • Video ISO – 100-6400
    • Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution
    • 3-axis mechanical gimbal
    • HDR support for images
    • 10-bit Dlog colour profile for HDR videos
    • 31 minutes of flight time
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • Obstacle avoidance technology

4. Autel Evo 2 Pro

best drones for aerial photographyThe Evo 2 Pro is an exceptional drone that comes with many impressive features and is a good alternative to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Its equipped with a very good camera that comes with a big 1” sensor and can capture 20MP images in both JPEG and DNG RAW. It comes with an adjustable aperture and has an ISO range for photos of 100-12800. The drone can record video footage in 6k at 30fps and comes with a 10-bit A-log colour profile for HDR videos. It has a flight time of 40 minutes, comes with several autonomous flight modes, an obstacle avoidance system and a transmission range of 9km.

 

Key Features

    • 1-inch CMOS sensor with 28.6mm lens & 82° FOV
    • Adjustable aperture
    • 20MP still images
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-12800 (Manual)
    • Video ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-6400 (Manual)
    • Records videos in 6k at 30fps, 4kat 60fps and 2.7k at 120fps camera
    • 10-bit A-log colour profile
    • Support for HDR images
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • 40 minutes of flight time
    • 360° obstacle avoidance system
    • 9km transmission range

5. DJI Mavic Air 2S

best drones for aerial photographyThe DJI Air 2S is a foldable drone that weighs less than 600g and, like all lightweight drones, is easy to transport. The new 1-inch CMOS camera, which can capture images in 20MP and record video footage in 5k at 30fps and 4k at 60fps at a speed of 150 megabytes, is one of the best improvements to this drone, particularly for photographers. A 4-way obstacle avoidance system protects the drone from crashing into things, an added level of protection is its Airsense system that receives ADS-B signals from aeroplanes and helicopters and displayed on the app. Other features include the new DJI iteration of its OcuSync transmitting system, which offers a 12km range of controls, triple GNSS modules, 31 minutes of flight time, and a flight mode called Mastershots, allowing you to record high-quality videos even if you are an inexperienced drone pilot.

 

Key Features

    • 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor with 22m lens & 88° FOV
    • Fixed f/2.8 aperture
    • 20MP images
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-12800 (Manual)
    • Video ISO – 100- 3200 (Auto), 100-6400 (Manual)
    • Records videos in 5.4k at 30fps, 4k at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps
    • 10-bit D-Log colour profile for HDR videos
    • 150Mbps
    • 4-way obstacle avoidance technology
    • Autonomous flight modes
    • 3-axis mechanical gimbal & electronic image stabilisation
    • 31 minutes of flight time
    • OcuSync 3.0 transmission technology
    • 12km range

6. DJI Phantom 4 Pro

best drones for aerial photographyThe DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2 is a beautiful drone that is easy to operate thanks to its advanced flight technology and comes equipped with many intelligent features. This is a powerful drone that comes with an exceptional HD camera, it has a 1-inch CMOS sensor, comes with a mechanical shutter and captures 20MP images and 4k videos at 60fps. The camera can record in 10-bit Dlog colour for HDR videos and has multiple photography shooting modes. Other features the Phantom 4 Pro comes with include obstacle avoidance technology, intelligent flight modes, enhanced image transmission system, 30 minutes of flight time and 10km range.

 

Key Features

    • 1-inch CMOS sensor with 24mm lens & 84° FOV
    • F/2.8-f/11 adjustable aperture
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-12800 (Manual)
    • Video ISO – 100-3200 (Auto), 100-6400 (Manual)
    • Mechanical & electronic shutter
    • 20MP images 
    • Records videos in 4k at 60fps, 2.7k at 60fps
    • 100Mbps
    • Multiple photography modes
    • 10-bit Dlog colour profile for HDR videos
    • Obstacle avoidance technology
    • 30 minutes of flight time
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • 10km transmission range

7. DJI Air 2

best drones for aerial photographyOne of the smallest and lightest drones that can be used for professional photography, the Mavic Air 2 comes with most of DJI’s innovative features and costs less than $800. This is a well-engineered drone, it looks fantastic and weighs just over 500g. The Mavic Air 2 comes with an HD camera that can record video footage in 4k at 30fps and capture images in both JPEG+RAW. It comes with HDR support for videos and photos for more colour details and better overall image quality.  It has a hyperlapse mode that will allow you to capture 8k time-lapse videos. The drone has one of the longest flight times for any consumer drone at 34 minutes and comes with DJI’s enhanced transmission technology which will allow you to record video footage from 10km. Along with the Sir 2S, this is the best budget-friendly drone for photography.

Key Features

    • 1/2- inch CMOS sensor with 24mm lens & 84° FOV
    • Fixed f/2.8 aperture
    • 48MP & 12MP images
    • Photo ISO – 100- 3200 (Auto, 12MP), 100-6400, (Manual, 12MP)
    • Video ISO – 100-6400
    • Multiple photography modes including SmartPhoto, Burst, AEB
    • Records videos in 4k at 60fps, 2.7k at 60fps
    • 120Mbps
    • D-Cinelike colour profile for HDR videos
    • 3-way obstacle avoidance technology
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • 34 minutes of flight time
    • 10km transmission range

8. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

best drones for aerial photographyThe Mavic 2 Zoom is similar to the Pro version, however, it comes with an inferior camera and hence the reason it is slightly cheaper. However, it is still a very good camera that can record in 4k at 30fps and capture 12MP still images. It also has a super-resolution feature that will allow you to take amazing landscape photography in 48MP. One of the best features of this camera is its 4*optical zoom which will allow you to get up and close to your subject matter with little loss in quality. Apart from the camera, the drone comes with pretty much the same features as the Mavic 2 Pro.

 

Key Features

    • 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 24 mm lens & 83° FOV
    • f/2.8 – f/3.8 aperture
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Manual), 100-1600 (Auto)
    • Video ISO – 100-3200
    • 12MP still images
    • 48MP super-resolution images (landscape photography)
    • D-Cinelike colour profile for HDR videos
    • Records 4k videos at 30fps, 2.7k at 60fps
    • Obstacle avoidance technology
    • 31 minutes of flight time
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology
    • 10km transmission range

9. Autel Evo 2

best drones for aerial photographyThe Autel Evo 2 is very similar to the Pro version but with some differences, the main one being the camera. This version comes with a camera that has a smaller sensor but still comes with some impressive features. The camera can capture 48MP images and record 8k videos at 25fps. The camera can record HDR videos and images and is stabilised by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. It comes with several autonomous flight modes, has an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system and has a flight time of 40 minutes.

 

Key Features

    • 1/2-inch CMOS sensor with 25.6 mm lens & 79° FOV
    • Fixed f/1.8 aperture
    • 48MP images
    • Photo ISO – 100-3200 (Auto)
    • Video ISO – 100-6400 (Auto)
    • Multiple photography modes
    • 10-bit colour profile for HDR videos
    • Records 8k videos at 25fps, 6k at 30fps, 4 at 60fps
    • 120Mbps
    • Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system
    • 40 minutes of flight time
    • 9km transmission range

10. DJI Mavic Pro Platinum

 

best drones for aerial photography This is one of the most powerful compact drones on the market. Its foldable design makes it the perfect drone companion for travelling with. The drone comes with a 4K camera stabilised by an advanced 3 axis gimbal. The gimbal eliminates any shake or sudden movements by the Mavic to give you ultra-crisp HD video footage. With its 12 megapixel camera, you will be able to take beautiful aerial images. The controller has a range of 7km and the flying time is 27 minutes. Some of the autonomous flight modes built into this drone are ActiveTrack, waypoint, orbit and Tap fly. The drone is a few years old and DJI have discontinued production but you can still purchase from third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and eBay.

 

Key Features

    • 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 26mm lens & 78.8° FOV
    • Fixed f/2.2 aperture
    • 12MP images
    • HDR support for images and videos
    • ISO Photo – 100-1600
    • ISO Video – 100-3200
    • Records 4k videos at 30fps, 2,7k at 30fps
    • Obstacle avoidance technology
    • Intelligent flight modes
    • 27 minutes of flight time
    • 7km transmission range