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 Mavic pro, its small elegant design and colour scheme added with the powerful features you would find in the Phantom range, make it my top choice for aerial photography drones.
Why Get a Camera Drone?
Why get a camera drone? For one if you are a lover of nature, take a look at the stunning photos you can take with drones. Also as drones become more popular, there will be more competition between leading drone manufacturers to provide the best and most innovative drones on the market. Thus means lower prices for high-end drones,especially those used for aerial photography.
Prices for drones with HD cameras are also getting cheaper, the Parrot Bebop 2.0 which comes with a 1080p camera can be purchased for less than $500. The DJI Phantom 3 Standard ( surprisingly not on this list) with its 2.7k HD camera and advanced 3 axis gimbal stabilisation can also be purchased at a similar price.
One other reason is that the world of drones now offers people a new career opportunity and aerial photography is where demand is highest. From wedding photography to large sporting events, those who can master taking stunning aerial photography have the opportunity to make a good income from it.
My No.1 Choice- The Mavic Pro
Mavic Pro Features
This is the most powerful compact drone on the market. It’s 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 an industry leading 27 minutes. Some of the creative features built into this drone are ActiveTrack, finely tuned controls that allow for safe indoor flights and gesture control which lets you control the drone with your hand movements. No need for the transmitter when this mode is activated. All in all, this is a great drone for professionals and hobbyists. It is my personal favourite drone.You can read the full review of this stunning drone here.
- 12 megapixels
- Advanced Obstacle avoidance system
- Intelligent flight modes including a new gesture mode
- 27 minutes flight time
- OcuSync technology
DJI Inspire 2
Inspire 2 Features
This is, without a doubt, the most powerful consumer drone currently on the market. In terms of aerial photography/videography,it has no equal. It should be No.1 but the Mavic pro appeals to me more with its slick design and powerful features.The Inspire 2 looks similar to the one but its features are at a whole new level. It has a 2 axis camera at the front and the main camera on its underbelly is stabilised by an advanced 3 axis gimbal. Three cameras are compatible with the Inspire 2. The Zenmuse X4S,the X5S and the X7. All are professional grade cameras.
Both the X4S and X5S can record video footage at 4K 60fps at 100mbps and the X5S can record at an astonishing 5.2k 30fps in CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes. The X4S has a 1-inch image sensor and takes still images at 20 megapixels while the X5S has an advanced micro 4/3 sensor and takes still images at 20.8 megapixels.For image processing, it has been equipped with its own processor, the CineCore 2.0 is situated on the nose of the drone and is the reason why the cameras can record in stunning high definition.It also comes with a 3-way obstacle avoidance system, its forward and downward facing sensors can detect obstacles from 30 meters away whilst infrared sensors on the top can detect obstacles up to 5 meters. This is great when flying in enclosed spaces. If you are a professional photographer and are looking for a drone for aerial photography,this drone is for you.
You can read my full review of the Inspire 2 here.
- 3 Compatible Professional Camera
- Zenmuse X4S – 4K@60FPS – 20 MP
- Zenmuse X5S – 5.2K@30FPS – 20.8 MP
- Zenmuse X7 – 6K@30FPS – 24 MP
- 6 Intelligent flight modes
- Obstacle avoidance technology
- 27 minutes flight time
- Lightbridge technology allows transmission range of over 4 miles
- Body designed to withstand harsh weathers
Phantom 4 Pro Features
Although the Mavic is my top choice, technically there are far better drones for aerial photography and the Phantom 4 Pro is one of them.You can read my full review of the drone here.It’s improved body design makes it more aerodynamic and the magnesium shell has greatly reduced its weight. This makes for a far more stable drone which can resist strong gusts of wind. Its gimbal and the placement of battery makes it more balanced with improved agility whilst also raising the accuracy of the controls.The Phantom 4 Pro boasts a fantastic 4K camera capable of recording 60FPS, with its light bridge technology it can stream HD video straight to any connected device on the controller. With its 20 megapixel camera,you will also be able to take some stunning drone photography.
The improved gimbal eliminates undesirable vibration and sudden movements when in flight so that the camera can capture distortion-free images and video footage.The drone has advanced sense and avoidance technology this piece of technology is especially useful for new flyers as it will stop them crashing into objects. This drone has a lot of features to offer and will make a brilliant addition to your photography equipment.
- 20 MP
- 4 Way Advanced Obstacle avoidance and 5 way obstacle sensing system
- Top speed of 45 mph
- 30 minutes flight time
- Dual Redundancy features
- Intelligent flight modes
- Over 4-mile range
Inspire 1 Features
The DJI Inspire 1 Pro is one of my top choices for aerial photography and videography, you can read my full review of this stunning drone here.DJI without a doubt are the industry leaders in drone manufacturing and the Inspire 1 is one of their most advanced drones but has to make do with the 4th place on this list.The inspire 1 comes with Zenmuse X3 camera which can record in 4k@25FPS. It can also take really good still images in 12 megapixels. However,if the Zenmuse X3 is not up to your specs,the Inspire 1 is also compatible with the following cameras:
Its landing arms are made from strong durable carbon fibre and they retract when in the air, giving the camera an unobstructed aerial view for stunning photos and video footage.The controller has a range of around 3 miles and is easily paired with a tablet or smartphone. Its Lightbridge technology gives the user the ability to stream HD video straight to the tablet or smartphone without much lag.This is a feature rich drone that will make a good addition for aerial photographers.
- 4K@25FPS (X3 Camera)
- 5 Compatible cameras
- 12 MP
- Top speed of 49 mph
- 18 minutes flight time
- Retractable legs
- Over 3-mile transmission range
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro with RealSense™.
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro Features
Yuneec have been building RC aircraft’s for more than 15 years, although like many other drone manufacturers, they have had to sit under the growing shadow of DJI.Read my full review of the Typhoon H.Despite this, they have produced some magnificent drones, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is one of their flagship drones geared towards the professional photographer.
This drone comes with a host of advanced features that are expected of smart drone nowadays. It has a 4K camera that can record at 30FPS and can take 12 MP still images. The camera can rotate a full 360° so you will not miss a shot whichever way you are facing.The drone comes with an ST16 personal ground station controller that has a built-in 7inch LCD HD screen. It also comes with Yuneec’s innovative one hand controller, the typhoon wizard. The transmission range is a cool 1.6 km and the controller also has a slot for Micro sd card to record your stunning aerial footage.
- 12 MP
- 3 axis gimbal
- Top speed of 44 mph
- 25 minutes flight time
- ST16 Controller with a integrated 7 inch sceen running on
- Intel® RealSense™ Technology for advanced obstacle avoidance capability
Autel X-Star Premium
Autel X-Star Features
The Autel X-Star is a legitimate alternative to the DJI Phantom 3, not only is the design modelled after DJI’s popular drone but it also comes with many of the advanced features.This is Autel robotics flagship drone and it does not disappoint. It made from durable plastic, comes with a 3-axis gimbal and 4K camera that has a 108° field of view. It can shoot in UHD at 40fps and takes 12 mp images.
It comes with a top speed of 16m/s and a flight time of around 25 minutes which is similar to the DJI Phantom 3 professional. The gimbal and camera can be removed for more flight time.It also has several safety features that make it a good drone even for beginners. Its intelligent batteries has two preset failsafe features. At 25% battery capacity the drone will automatically return home and at 10% it will land on its current location.Also, comes with geo-fencing technology that will also be useful for beginners by limiting the distance and height the drone can be flown.
If you are looking for a drone with the features of the Phantom 3 Pro but do not have the budget for one, the Autel X-star is a superb alternative. You can read my full review here
- 12 MP
- 25 minutes flight time
- Ge0-Fencing technology
- Intelligent batteries with failsafe technology
- 35 mph top speed
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Phantom 3 Pro Features
DJI have a few on this list, that is because they are without a doubt the leading drone manufacturers in the world today. They are consistently innovating and have a knack for knowing exactly what their customers want. The DJI Phantom 3 has 4 models and they are all exceptional drones and any would make for a great choice for photography.You can read the full review of the Phantom 3 Professional here, although this isn’t the most advanced one. The other range in the Phantom series is the standard version, advanced and 4K.
The Phantom 3 Pro, as its name suggests, is mainly for experienced drone pilots. It is a great drone for aerial photography as it shoots in HD 4K video. Its Lightbridge technology also lets you stream live HD feed straight to your tablet or smartphone.It has an average flight time of around 23 minutes and can be controlled from a range of 5km. Like all the phantoms in this series, it also comes with 5 autonomous flight modes.
- 12 MP for still images
- Top speed of 36 mph
- 23 minutes flight time
- Vision positioning system
- 3.1-mile remote control range
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K
Yuneec Q500 4K Features
Yuneec’s most popular smart drone is the typhoon 4k, whilst not as feature heavy as the typhoon h pro, it still holds its own in the competitive field of drone photography. You can read my full review of the Yuneec Q500 4K here.It comes with an advanced 3-axis gimbal which alongside the 4K camera produces stunning distortion-free images.
The drone’s controller has a host of controls including a built-in 5.5-inch LCD HD screen. The screen gives you access to vast amounts of data including flight mode, speed, altitude, battery status, distance from home and much more.It is programmed with a few autonomous flight modes including watch me, follow me and return home.The drone comes with a device called the SteadyGrip, this handheld piece of equipment can be used to take footage of areas far closer to the ground and were flying a drone can be problematic. It’s used in conjunction with a smartphone and the 3-axis gimbal camera. Read my full review of the Typhoon Q500.
- 12 MP
- Top speed of 18 mph
- 25 minutes flight time
- 3 Intelligent flight modes
- ST10 Controller with 5.5 inch LCD screen
3DR Solo Drone
3DR Solo Features
The 3DR solo is one of the best-looking drones on the market and truly the first smart drone. It has been designed with the future in mind because you can upgrade camera gimbals and it is compatible with GoPro 3+ and GoPro 4. A full review of this awesome drone can be read here.The 3DR solo team worked directly with Sony to produce a custom camera that would work well with their proprietary software called site scan.It is the first drone to come with intelligent modes, they are:
- Orbit – You set the drone to video or photograph a specific object and it will orbit it.
- Selfie – Not much explanation needed for this, set the drone camera on you and take an awesome selfie.
- Follow me – Another self-explanatory mode, set the drone to follow a specific target and it will follow provided it is within wi-fi range
- Cable cam – You set a route on your smartphone or tablet for the drone to follow and it will automatically follow that route. No need to for the controllers.
- Compatible with GoPro Hero 3,3+ and 4
- Sturdy build
- Top speed of 55 mph
- 23 minutes flight time
- 1/2 mile control range
- Sleek design
Parrot Bebop 2.0
Parrot Bebop 2.0 Features
The only drone without a 4K camera in this list, although that shouldn’t deter you from choosing this drone for aerial photography. Its 1080p camera delivers sharp and crisp images and you will be able to stream live footage straight to your smartphone. You can read a full review of the Bebop 2 here.
It has a 3-axis digital gimbal for stabilised distortion-free images and 180⁰ fisheye lens for a wide field of view. The drone is primarily controlled with your smartphone or tablet through the Freeflight app. However, to achieve greater signal range, you can purchase the Sky Controller which will give you a range over 1 mile.Although it doesn’t come with many of the advanced features of the other drones on this list, it still packs some good features and would make a good choice for drone photography.
- HD Camera
- Digital stabilisation
- Feature-rich App
- 25 minutes flight time
- Top speed 35 mph