With the ability to capture high quality images and videos of landscapes, buildings and events from the air, the best camera drones are now a vital tool to many photographers and videographers.
With a drone camera you can capture footage that previously would’ve required a helicopter, light aircraft or a plane, at a much lower price. You can take photos from a variety of angles at hundreds of meters in the air, stream real-time video from up to 10km away, and even capture HD footage underwater if you have an underwater drone.
But with there now a huge variety of different drones available to buy, finding the best drone camera for you can feel like trying to find your way out of a maze.
How to choose the best camera drone for you:
There are many things you need to consider. Of course, there are the fundamentals like camera quality and transmission distance. Beyond that, things like flight time, piloting features, flight speed and height, the size and weight of the drone, and the quality of the companion drone app are all important.
You also need to find a drone that fits your experience level and budget. While you can purchase a simple camera drone for under $100, the professional ones can cost far north of $1,000.
To help you out, we’ve reviewed the best drone cameras and picked out the top choices for different categories. Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, are looking for an aerial or underwater drone, or anything else, we’re sure you’ll find the best drone for you right here on this page.
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Snaptain A10 – Best Cheap Drone with Camera
- Price: $50 — Available on Amazon here
If you’re looking for the best drone under $100 with a camera, you can’t go wrong with the Snaptain A10.
This cheap camera drone comes equipped with a 720P HD camera, allowing you to capture clear photos and videos from the air. Thanks to the real-time WiFi transmission, you can stream live video to your smartphone as you fly the drone.
Thanks to its smart flight features, this drone is easy to fly and is great for beginners. You can control it with your voice by saying simple commands like “take off”, “landing”, “forward” and “backward”, and you can even control the drone camera with gesture control.
This isn’t just a useful drone for taking pictures, either. It’s also a versatile drone that can perform some fun stunts like 360 flips and circle fly maneuvers. You can also easily create flight paths by simply drawing a path with your finger on the app.
Due to its beginner-friendly flying and affordable price, we also rate the Snaptain A10 not only as the best budget camera drone, but also the best drone with a camera for kids. Thanks to features like headless mode, gravity sensor mode and one key take-off and landing, this drone is also very safe to fly.
- See also: our ranking of the best drones for kids
- Or: we recommend the best stunt drones (all price ranges)
Finally, this HD camera drone is foldable and has flexible blades that make it easy to carry around.
Holy Stone HS165 – Best Camera Drone Under $200
- Price: $139 — Available on Amazon here
Holy Stone is a well known maker of high quality, mid-range drones, and the HS165 is an excellent camera drone that doesn’t break the bank.
For starters, it has a really high quality 2K HD drone camera with a 90-degree FOV (field of view) lens that allows you to capture brilliantly clear photos and video. On top of that, the HS165 boasts 5Ghz fluent FPV transmission which allows you to capture high speed imagery in real-time up to 820ft.
You don’t need to be an expert to fly this drone, thanks to the variety of intelligent flight features. For example, the Follow Me feature means it follows you automatically as it flies, while the Circle Fly feature sees it circle around an object. You can also fly it along a preset path, freeing you up to focus on capturing professional grade footage.
Thanks to the GPS functionality, you can use the altitude hold system so that the drone hovers stably, as well as headless mode, one key take-off and landing, emergency stop and speed switch. It also has a Safe GPS Return Home feature, which means the drone returns to the take-off spot if it loses connection or loses connection.
This drone can fly for up to 28 minutes at a time, which is really impressive for a drone under $200.
Hubsan X4 H501SS Pro – Best Beginner Drone with Camera and GPS
- Price: $180 — Available on Amazon here
If you’re a beginner looking for an affordable yet high quality camera drone, the Hubsan X4 H501SS Pro is an excellent choice.
With a 1080P HD drone camera, this drone is capable of capturing stunning pictures and video as it flies. It also has 5.8 G FPV real-time video transmission, and you can share photos and videos to the 3.7-inch LCD display at any time.
The main reason we’ve selected the Hubsan as the best camera drone for beginners is because of its smart flight features. For example, it offers one key take-off and landing, so it’s really easy for new fliers to get to grips with. It also has a headless mode so that you don’t need to worry about losing control of your drone.
There’s also the GPS positioning system which helps with accurate positioning location and makes the drone easier to fly. The built-in GPS follow me mode even allows the drone to fly itself and capture your adventure.
If the drone ever loses connection from the transmitter, it automatically goes into fail safe mode which means it automatically returns to the take-off spot to prevent any potential crashes.
This drone has a 6-axis gyro which makes it very stable, durable and wind resistant. It offers up to 20 minutes of flight time, which is a really decent amount for a drone in this price range.
We rate the H501SS Pro as the best drone with a camera under $300.
DJI Mavic Mini – Best Mini Drone with Camera
- Price: $499 — Available on Amazon here
DJI is the best known producer of high quality camera drones, and the Mavic Mini is specifically designed for photographers and videographers looking for a small, lightweight camera drone.
Weighing just 249g and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, this drone is incredibly portable. Being easy to carry around isn’t the only advantage of this drone’s small size, however – it also means you can fly it in many places without worrying about the restrictions that surround larger drones.
While it may be small, the Mavic Mini also offers exceptional photo and video capabilities thanks to the 12MP drone camera. The camera is mounted on a 3 axis mechanical gimbal and captures 2.7K Quad HD video, providing incredibly clear and smooth footage.
This small camera drone comes with a dedicated remote controller that maintains a HD video feed up to 2km. The control sticks are detachable and can be stored inside the controller for even more portability.
There’s also the companion DJI Fly app that allows you to easily capture cinematic shots. It has some super features; for example, using the CineSmooth mode slows the drone’s flight speed and movements for added precision.
You can also take advantage of the variety of QuickShot modes, including Circle, Helix and Rocket, which see the drone executive preset motions while recording. It automatically generates short videos which you can then instantly share on social media. The app is simple and intuitive, and it has flight tutorials that are especially helpful for beginner fliers.
You can fly the DJI Mavic Mini for up to 30 minutes per charge.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
- Price: $599+ — Available on Amazon here
The second DJI entry on this list, the Mavic 2 Zoom is the best drone camera if your priority is zoom capability.
This drone is powered by a 1/2.3 inch 12MP drone camera with up to 4x zoom, including 2x optical zoom (24-48mm), which allows you to capture incredibly dynamic perspectives in both photos and videos. The incredible zoom ability of this drone also allows you to capture footage while maintaining a safe distance from buildings, animals and so on.
The 48mm telephoto lens compresses your perspective in comparison to a 24mm lens, which enhances the parallax effect to produce a classic cinematic look.
The Hybrid autofocus feature combines phase and contrast detection, providing higher focus accuracy and increased focus speed. The Mavic 2 Zoom even has an autofocus tracking system that captures sharp footage when zooming in and out.
It also offers Dolly zoom, where the drone dollies either toward or away from an object while zooming in the opposite direction. With 1080p video transmission at a distance of up to 10km, you can fly far and wide with this drone as you capture everything from wide-angle to mid-range shots.
As well as a powerful camera, this drone also offers powerful flying capabilities. It can fly for up to 31 minutes with a max speed of 44mph per hour. Like other DJI camera drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom has a 3 axis gimbal to help you capture steady footage even when flying at speed.
Gladius Mini – Underwater Drone with Camera
- Price: $1,199 — Available on Amazon here
If you’re looking to capture high quality footage underwater, the Gladius Mini is certainly one of your best options.
This drone is specifically designed to be used underwater and has a 4K UHD drone camera for capturing footage in lakes and oceans. This, along with the F3.0 lens and two x1200 Lumens LED lights, allows you to take 12MP photos and record 1080p video.
- We also have a ranking of the best underwater drones
The Gladius Mini comes with an easy-to-use control that allows you to precisely control the drone as it moves under water. As well as controlling the direction, you can also easily speed up and adjust the LED brightness using the controller. You can also use the Chasing app to control the drone with your smartphone or tablet.
It also has smart control features such as the one touch Depth Lock Mode which means the drone hovers at the set depth while you capture the footage you want.
With speeds of up to 4 knots and an incredible dive depth of 300 ft, this 4K camera drone is perfect whether you’re taking underwater photography, diving, fishing, yachting or anything else. There’s also the adjustable Tilt Lock feature which allows you to maneuver the drone at ±45 degree angles to capture different perspectives.
The Gladius Mini weighs less than 5.5lbs and has a size of 8.9 x 15 inch, so it’s fully portable.
Autel Evo II – Incredible 8K Resolution Camera Drone
- Price: $1,799 — Available on Amazon here
Autel Robotics is one of DJI’s main competitors in the professional camera drone market, and the Evo II is its flagship model.
This is partly due to the fact that it boasts the title of the world’s first foldable 8K camera drone. The incredibly 48MP interchangeable drone camera with a 1/2 inch CMOS sensor records in resolutions up to 7680 x 4320 – that’s 16 times more pixels than HD and four times more pixels than 4K!
With the 8K camera, you can zoom deep into scenes and crop to 4K without losing any quality. The drone can also capture HDR videos at a distance of up to 9km while capturing every detail in rich color.
The HDR video with 16 explore values control combines into a single frame long, medium and short term exposures. This adds dynamic range and a 10-bit color depth that captures over 1 billion colors, offering incredible post production flexibility without losing any of the rich detail in shadows and highlights.
Another feature that’s unique to Autel drones is the Hyperlapse mode. This allows 8k photos to be shared immediately from the drone without any post processing. JPEG and RAW files are recorded simultaneously, allowing you to capture hyperlapse footage with a single click.
The Autel Evo II comes with a 7100mAh rechargeable battery that provides up to 40 min flight time in forward flight and 35 min while hovering.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Overall Best Drone Camera
- Price: $1,599 — Available on Amazon here
DJI is the industry leader when it comes to camera drones, and the Mavic 2 Pro is a perfect example of why that is. This is an exceptionally high quality drone that offers all the photography and videography capabilities you could ask for.
This drone boasts a L1D-20c Hasselblad drone camera with a 20 MP CMOS sensor, allowing you to capture aerial shots in incredible color detail. The sensor’s active sensing area is four times more effective than the original Mavic Pro and also performs much better in low-light thanks to an extensive ISO range with a max of 12800.
In terms of video, the Mavic 2 Pro has 4K 10-bit HDR support, meaning you can plug it into a 4k HLG TV and it will immediately play back footage with the correct color tones.
One of the best things about this drone is that it supports a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile. This system records over 1 billion colors and retains more detail in both highlights and shadows, allowing you to capture the most subtle gradations and providing more flexibility in post production.
There’s also the adjustable aperture which helps the drone capture excellent images in different lighting conditions. You can set the aperture to f/2.8 in low light so that it lets more light in to capture brighter photos, while in well-lit conditions you can set it to f/11 to lower the shutter speed for smoother video.
The Mavic 2 Pro isn’t just one of the best camera drones in terms of image and video quality, but it’s also one of the most powerful. With 31 minute battery life, up to 44mph speed, this drone offers quality photography across a variety of different environments.