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Best drones for photography

By Martin Pratt

Almost all drones come with a camera, but which ones take the best pictures and capture the best video?

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Drones can be equipped with some of the best action cameras around. The best record in 4K and are attached to gimbals, which keep the camera straight even while the drone is moving.

But our testing of DSLR cameras and action cameras has shown that making a camera capable of filming in 4K doesn’t necessarily mean the image will be stellar. Sharp maybe, but any camera can produce images and video with washed out, dull colours - even a 4K one.

If you see a drone primarily as a tool for capturing stunning landscape shots from a previously impossible perspective or as a way to create some thrilling home movies (or even theatrical ones), then you need a drone that takes crystal clear, vibrant footage that won’t blur, regardless of wind speed.

Here are the five drones that we think take the best pictures and the clearest video.

Only logged-in members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking out a £1 trial to Which?.

Best drones for photography

DJI Mavic Pro
Typical price £1,000.00
Which? score 82%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Best Buy
Camera:
5 out of 5
Videos during flight:
5 out of 5
Photos during flight:
5 out of 5
Low light videos and photos:
4 out of 5
Photo resolution (Mp):
Member exclusive
Video resolution (lines):
Member exclusive
Manual orientation of camera in flight:
Member exclusive
Automatic orientation of camera in flight - and this in flight?:
Member exclusive

The 4K camera mounted to this drone captured some of the most impressive footage of any of the models we tested. It achieved five stars in almost every category for photo and video, with the only drawback being a loss of detail in low-light conditions, which is most likely due to the relatively narrow f/2.2 aperture. The drone comes with a three-axis gimbal which compensates for pitch, roll and yaw to keep the camera stable even while the drone is moving.

DJI Phantom 4
Typical price £979.00
Which? score 80%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Best Buy
Camera:
5 out of 5
Videos during flight:
5 out of 5
Photos during flight:
5 out of 5
Low light videos and photos:
3 out of 5
Photo resolution (Mp):
Member exclusive
Video resolution (lines):
Member exclusive
Manual orientation of camera in flight:
Member exclusive
Automatic orientation of camera in flight - and this in flight?:
Member exclusive

This drone was almost faultless when it came to its photos and footage. The 4K camera captured exceptional shots during the day, but detail suffered at night. The quality of the footage isn’t surprising given that the manufacturer describes it as its ‘smartest flying camera ever’. A three-axis gimbal keeps the camera steady even during flight.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Typical price £799.00
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Camera:
5 out of 5
Videos during flight:
5 out of 5
Photos during flight:
5 out of 5
Low light videos and photos:
3 out of 5
Photo resolution (Mp):
Member exclusive
Video resolution (lines):
Member exclusive
Manual orientation of camera in flight:
Member exclusive
Automatic orientation of camera in flight - and this in flight?:
Member exclusive

This drone doesn’t come cheap, but the quality of the footage captured on the 4K camera is worth it. It received the full five stars for colour and sharpness, and the image was super-stable thanks to the gimbal, which compensates for the pitch, yaw and roll of the drone while it’s moving and hovering.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard
Typical price £449.00
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Camera:
4 out of 5
Videos during flight:
5 out of 5
Photos during flight:
5 out of 5
Low light videos and photos:
3 out of 5
Photo resolution (Mp):
Member exclusive
Video resolution (lines):
Member exclusive
Manual orientation of camera in flight:
Member exclusive
Automatic orientation of camera in flight - and this in flight?:
Member exclusive

This is one of the best drones we’ve tested thanks largely to its camera. The 4K video was crystal clear and the images, although not as good as the video, were still impressive. We experienced very little judder and blurring in the images, too, which is due to the three-axis gimbal ensuring that the camera remains still and stable while the drone is moving.

EHANG GhostDrone 2.0 VR
Typical price £829.00
Which? score 52%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Camera:
4 out of 5
Videos during flight:
4 out of 5
Photos during flight:
4 out of 5
Low light videos and photos:
3 out of 5
Photo resolution (Mp):
Member exclusive
Video resolution (lines):
Member exclusive
Manual orientation of camera in flight:
Member exclusive
Automatic orientation of camera in flight - and this in flight?:
Member exclusive

This drone is cheaper than its rivals, but almost matches them when it comes to photo and video quality. The drone was stable, which meant video capture wasn’t at the mercy of the wind and despite some slightly washed-out colours we were impressed with the overall results.

How we test for the best camera drones

The camera makes up a significant part of a drone’s cost. That’s why our testing focuses as much on the camera as the drone itself.

We test the camera in outdoor and indoor conditions to see how well the camera copes in daylight and low-light conditions. By taking the drone outside we can check whether the camera can take stable footage even while wind is buffeting it.

If a camera can’t compensate for the movement of the drone, then shots will be blurry and distorted.

We determine how good the camera is at shooting video and taking still images, so no matter how you intend to use your drone and camera you can find a model that suits you best.

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