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?
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 three drones that we think take the best pictures and the clearest video.
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Best drones for photography
It’s not always the case that you get what you pay for, but it’s true with this drone. It costs a pretty penny but, with a Best Buy-worthy score of 82%, it’s the best drone we’ve tested - and worth the high price. The 4K camera mounted to its underside captures stunning, stable images, and the unit is wonderfully simple to fly. The supplied remote control makes manoeuvring an intuitive affair, and take-off and landing are easy. Battery life sounds meagre at 23.5 minutes, but that’s actually excellent for a drone, and the battery charges to full in 68 minutes. Still, it’s probably worth packing a few spares.
This compact drone weighs just 430g, making it easy to transport and to pack away afterwards. It's straightforward to set up - we had ours up in the air within 25 minutes of taking it out of its box - and the controls work well. The drone has built-in obstacle avoidance sensors plus a return home feature in case it loses contact with you or runs low on power. The stills and video cameras are both excellent though battery life could be better - consider our top rated drone if you want to keep your device airborne for longer.
If you're looking for a compact drone that doesn't weigh a ton, this is a perfect candidate. Setting it up is simple, as the camera and propellers are already attached to the drone when you get it. Flying it is just as easy; it responds quickly and accurately to remote controller commands and descends to land once it hits a critical low battery warning. Where camera quality is concerned, it takes good photos but its videos are even better, producing footage with bright colours and sharp details. The only hiccup with this model is its disappointing battery life, lasting only 13 minutes of flight before a critical battery warning begins.
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.