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The best camera drones in 2021

Best camera drones: Silhouette of Man using drone to monitor the city at the evening, city sunset background.
(Image credit: Montri Nipitvittaya / Shutterstock)

Investing in the best camera drones can take your photography to new heights – literally – no matter if you're an amateur or professional.

By attaching a camera to an easily-control drone, you can take stunning aerial photography and footage without having to use ladders, scaffolding or even helicopters and planes.

These devices are easy to control, so you don't need specialised training – though we recommend you practise before attaching any expensive equipment to them. Many drones are controlled via handsets or even apps on your smartphone, and many come with AI features to help you fly them, maintain height and avoid collisions.

Some drones will come with cameras installed. Others will allow you to install your own. This is a better option if you already have a camera you rely on.

Before you invest in a camera drone, make sure you read up on the laws and regulations surrounding them in your area. You'll want to make sure you comply with them – and that you do so safely as well. Looking for something more ground-level, look at our guide to the best cameras in 2021

The best camera drones in 2021

Image of the DJI Air 2S from an angle

(Image credit: DJI)

01. DJI Air 2S

The best camera drone overall

Specifications
Weight: 595g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Flight time: 31 minutes
Range: 8km-12km
Reasons to buy
+Large 1-Inch sensor+Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-No adjustable aperture

DJI makes some of the best drones money can buy right now, and the DJI Air 2S is, in our view, the pinnacle of its products. It takes features found in other DJI drones, like a lightweight design and excellent camera, which makes it a brilliant drone for photographers looking for a light drone that can take some fantastic shots.

It comes with a 20MP 1-inch sensor, and that allows you to shoot incredible shots, as well as take 5.4K video (though at 30fps). The photography and footage you can take with this drone is seriously impressive, and it's got an excellent design as well. More accomplished photographers may miss some advanced features, but for most people, this is a truly excellent device. It is expensive, though.

Image on white background of the DJI Mini 2

(Image credit: DJI)

02. DJI Mini 2

The best affordable camera drone

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 2,250 mAh
Range: 5.8 GHz: 10km (FCC); 6km (SRRC)
Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks features

The DJI Mavic Mini 2 fixes a lot of its professor's flaws, especially when it comes to the lack of 4K and small range, yet it retains the compact size. With an increased range, beginner-friendly QuickShot modes and improved image quality, the DJI Mini 2 is a fantastic choice for people who want a camera drone, but can't justify the high prices usually associated with them.

It now comes with support for raw photos, and images look better than ever, and while it's still quite pricey, it's almost half the price of the DJI Air 2S above. Its compact size means it's easy to carry around with you as well, which is perfect for photographers who like to be out and about when taking photos.

Product shot of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone on white background

(Image credit: DJI)

03. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The best high-end camera drone

Specifications
Weight: 907g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Flight time: 3,950 mAh
Range: 8km
Reasons to buy
+One-inch 20MP sensor+Easy to fly
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a brilliant drone for professional photographers and videographers, and while it is very expensive, if your job involves taking breath-taking aerial shots, then it's well worth investing in. This is the flagship drone from DJI, and comes with a 20MP sensor, RAW support and adjustable aperture, which gives you pretty much all the control you need to make your photos and videos look their very best.

It can also shoot in 4K at 30fps, and it's remarkably easy to get to grips with. As we mentioned, this is an expensive camera drone, so it's only suitable for people who want to take pro-grade footage. For other people, there are more affordable camera drones out there - but none impress us quite as much as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 

(Image credit: Autel)

04. Autel EVO II

The best ultra-high resolution drone

Specifications
Weight: 1174g
Wing span (unfolded): 397×397mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 8K @ 25fps
Camera resolution: 48MP
Battery life: 40 minutes
Max Range: 9km / 5.5mi
Max Speed: 72kph / 44mph
Reasons to buy
+8K resolution+48 megapixel camera
Reasons to avoid
-8K may be overkill

What's this, a drone on our list that's not a DJI? Yep, this isn't an error, believe it or not, there are other companies that make excellent camera drones. The Autel EVO II is a fantastic professional drone that can challenge the DJI Mavic 2 Pro when it comes to picture quality.

In fact, there are a few areas where the Autel EVO II beats the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. For a start, it's able to shoot in 8K. This offers incredible detail, and while 8K TVs are still rather niche, it's a format that will continue to grow, so you could consider this drone to be future-proof. If you're shooting in 8K, the frames per second is reduced to 25fps, but it can also shoot in 6K at 50fps and 4K at 60fps. 

The Autel EVO II also benefits from omnidirectional collision sensors, which makes it easier and safer to fly. It's expensive, and some of its features will be overkill for many, but if you're looking to take drone shots at incredible resolutions, this is the one to get.

(Image credit: Powervision)

05. PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard

The best waterproof camera drone

Specifications
Weight: 860g / 1.9lb
Dimensions (egg): 178 x 102 x 102mm
Dimensions (drone mode): 427mm diagonal
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 4K @ 60fps
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 30 minutes (dry mode)
Max Range: 6 km / 3.7mi
Max Speed: 65kph / 40mph
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Can land in water
Reasons to avoid
-Small image sensor

The PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard is an incredibly versatile camera drone, as it can be used as a gimbal for cameras, and it has A.I subject tracking, which can really help with shooting footage of moving objects.

Best of all, with the Wizard kit, you can install a water-proof case that allows you to use this drone in the rain and other wet conditions. There's also landing gear that allows it to land safely in water, which makes it a great camera drone for use in beaches and over lakes. You need to install these before use, but it's worth it if you want to make sure it's safe to use over water.

It also takes great footage, which is the most important thing. It can take 4K video at 60fps, which is double what some drones on this list are capable of, and while it is expensive, there's lots to like about this great camera drone.

(Image credit: Drocon)

06. Drocon Ninja DC-014

The best under-£100 camera drone

Specifications
Video resolution: 1280 x 1080
Range: : 50m
Flight time: : 6-8 mins
GPS: : No
Weight: approx. 90g
Dimensions: 109 x 109mm open / 140 x 69 x 30mm (folded)
Reasons to buy
+Easy to control+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Will drift in wind-Not the most robust

If you're looking for a super-cheap camera drone below £100, then the Drocon Ninja DC-014 is a great choice. It's light and easy to control, and it comes with a built-in camera. You can also adjust the angle of the camera - though you have to do this manually when it's on the ground.

The drone transmits the footage to your phone, which then records it, and the results are impressive considering the budget nature of this drone. Of course, at this price it is lacking some features, such as GPS, and due to its low weight, it can be blown about in strong winds, but it's easy to use and impressively cheap. This is a great camera drone, then, for beginners and kids.

(Image credit: ZLRC)

07. ZLRC Beast SG906 Pro 2

Another great budget drone

Specifications
Video resolution: 2048 x 1080 video
Stills resolution: 12 megapixels
Range: : 1200m
Flight time: : 26 mins
GPS: : Yes
Weight: 552g
Dimensions: 283 x 253 x 70mm (open); 174 x 84 x 70 mm (folded)
Reasons to buy
+Powered 3-axis gimbal f+GPS sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

This is a budget drone that punches above its weight. It comes with a powered 3-axis gimbal, which ensures your footage and photographs are clear and steady - which is a feature often found in more expensive drones.

It also has an attractive design with foldable arms and propellers, which makes it easy to carry around with you, and the camera uses a Sony sensor that can shoot at 2048 x 1080p at 24fps. That's not the highest of frame rates, but many films are shot at 24fps. It can also take12 megapixel stills, and there's a downward-facing 720p camera as well.

You control the drone via the HFun Pro app, which offers plenty of settings, and allows you to record footage direct to your phone or tablet, or by using a MicroSD card.

(Image credit: DJI)

08. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

The best drone for serious photographers

Specifications
Weight: 1375g
Dimensions: 350x350xmm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 4K @ 60fps
Camera resolution: 20MP
Battery life: 25 minutes (5870mAh)
Max Range: 7km / 4.1mi
Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph
Reasons to buy
+Large image sensor+Subject tracking
Reasons to avoid
-Large

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a feature-packed camera drone that's a great investment for professional photographers and filmmakers. It's now quieter than ever, comes with a a large sensor and also offers subject tracking as well.

It also uses a new OcuSync radio system that transmits live 1080p footage to monitors. It's a big beast, which means it can be difficult to transport unless you have a car or van with plenty of space, but it features a rugged design which means it can outlast many of its competitors.

It's an expensive bit of equipment, so it won't be for everyone, but it offers features and build quality that many other camera drones simply lack, which is why it's made it onto this list.