The Best Drones of 2024
By Linus Tan
Updated Jan 2024
Whether you're a photographer, videographer or just someone looking to have fun, the best drones let you get gorgeous aerial footage and capture perspectives you would never be able to get with a standard camera. Here are the best drones that are worth the money.
Best Overall: DJI Mini 3 Pro
✓ 4K resolution
✓ Landscape & portrait mode
✓ Improved obstacle detection
✓ Portable & lightweight
Best Premium Drone: DJI Mavic 3
✓ 5.1K video quality
✓ Impressive image resolution
✓ Superior battery life
✓ Compact and foldable
Best Beginner Drone: DJI Mini 2
✓ Smart navigation
✓ Good battery life
✓ Portable & lightweight
Best Photography Drone: DJI Air 2S
✓ Great image quality
✓ SmartPhoto mode
✓ Obstacle detection & AirSense
✓ Portable & lightweight
#1 Best Overall: DJI Mini 3 Pro
DJI Mini 3 Pro
DJI's latest micro drone is certainly worth getting excited about. The DJI Mini Pro 3 has a lightweight design and an incredibly compact size, yet it still manages to offer 4K image quality. What makes it particularly appealing to some is its ability to flip over and capture vertical video.
The impressive camera of this drone provides a full view with a maximum resolution of 4K. While most drones are used to capture landscape footage, the DJI Mini Pro 3 allows you to take social content shots with just a tap on the screen, flipping it into a portrait orientation. If you're a content creator on social media, this feature is a must-have as you’ll no longer have to compromise the resolution of your videos when cropping them. Additionally, videos can be recorded at 60 frames per second and still images can be taken in DNG format with a 48-megapixel resolution. The footage shot with these drones is accurately lit, featuring vibrant and true-to-life hues, as well as plenty of details.
DJI Mini 3 Pro
The DJI Mini Pro 3 is a great choice for those who want a reliable drone that can handle obstacles with ease. It has upgraded sensors at the front, back and bottom, which enable it to detect and avoid obstacles easily, even when you’re not paying attention. Additionally, the sensors boast automatic flight modes that allow the drone to follow the user's movements, making it a great choice for capturing stunning images and videos with the user in the frame.
The other beauty of the DJI Mini Pro 3 is its lightweight and compact profile, making it extremely portable to take it out with you. Setting up and taking off is incredibly fast, so you can be in the air in no time. The Mini Pro 3 might appear small, but DJI claims it can stay airborne for up to 34 minutes with the standard battery. Nonetheless, many users have reported that the battery life is closer to 25 to 30 minutes with each charge. That said, if you need to power up, switching out the battery is effortless; simply pull it from the rear of the drone and replace it with a new one.
#2 Best Premium Drone: DJI Mavic 3
DJI Mavic 3
The DJI Mavic 3 is a top choice for professionals and photographers looking for great aerial photographs and videos, but it carries a hefty starting price tag. That said, the cost may be well worth it for those looking to get the most out of their aerial footage and battery life.
The DJI Mavic 3 boasts a dual camera that mixes a large, 20MP 4/3rd-size image sensor with a handy 162mm telephoto lens. Its sensor is larger than any other drone in this list, allowing it to capture more light and achieve a greater dynamic range. The Mavic 3 has taken a big leap in video shooting capabilities compared to its predecessor, the Mavic 2. It can now capture 5.1K video with excellent detail and sharpness, even in the most challenging lighting conditions. Additionally, the Mavic 3 is capable of taking stills in raw DNG format at a resolution of up to 20 megapixels, providing users with the highest-quality images.
DJI Mavic 3
The DJI Mavic 3 offers a range of significant enhancements in terms of both efficiency and battery density, allowing it to fly for up to 46 minutes on a single battery. While this number may be slightly lower in real-world conditions, it still represents a notable improvement compared to its predecessor. It is also highly portable, with the ability to be folded up to the size of a large camera lens and easily fit into most backpacks. However, those seeking an ultra-portable solution should look to the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
If you're after superb image quality and a lengthy flight time, the Mavic 3 Pro is perfect for both professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts. No matter your skill level, you can benefit from its features.
#3 Best Beginner Drone: DJI Mini 2
DJI Mini 2
An ultra-compact drone that's so tiny it fits in the palm of your hand, the DJI Mini 2 is an ideal drone for beginners and experienced fliers.
At 249g, the Mini 2 is incredibly lightweight that many dubbed it a take-it-anywhere sky camera. The DJI Mini 2 features a three-axis stabilised camera on the front whereas, on the back, you'll find a USB-C port and an exposed microSD card slot. Although the Mini 2 lacks sports obstacle avoidance sensors, it makes up for it with sensors at the base which detect when a surface or obstruction is in the way.
The best thing about the DJI Mini 2 is its reliable stabilisation even in the windiest conditions. What's great is that even as it whizzes across three modes, Cine (slow), Normal (medium) and Sports (fast), the horizon level doesn't level off, maintaining fantastic-looking footage throughout. Video resolution has been bumped from 2.7K to 4K. This means more room to crop and zoom.
DJI Mini 2
The DJI Fly app offers simple navigation but also more depth for seasoned drone hobbyists. From a take-off and land button, a map shortcut and a shutter release button to a gallery shortcut and a toggle between photo and video, everything a casual drone flyer need is found on the main interface. Other handy readings include remaining record time, battery percentage, height and exposure compensation. For the pros, there are expanded options to delve into switching refresh rates, overexposure warnings and gridlines.
Within the app, you can choose between a range of shooting modes like Photo, Video, Pano and Quickshot. There are also three panorama options (traditional, 180-degree and 360-degree) and five QuickShot modes which fly the drone according to pre-defined flight paths (Rocket, Helix, Boomerang, Dronie and Circle) as it follows the subject. On a single charge, the DJI Mini 2 runs for 30 minutes of flight time. However, if you purchase the Fly More pack that comes with three 2,250 mAh batteries, you get 90 minutes in the air.
#4 Best Photography Drone: DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
Combining a 20MP 1-inch sensor and the hyped digital zoom, the DJI Air 2S is the best drone for photography.
The Air 2S features a folding design where the rear arms can be rotated and the front arms swing out, adding to its portability. It comes with a controller that has a telescopic grip to attach to your phone. Basic camera controls, except toggling from video to stills, releasing the shutter or using anything you've programmed the FN button to do have to be done through the DJI Fly app.
Where the DJI Air 2S delivers fantastically is image quality. It features a 20MP 1-inch sensor and an 88-degree field of view. Yet, reviewers remarked how the images appear softer. Despite that, the DJI Air 2S shoots up to 5.4K video, ensuring images are sharp across every frame. We're not strangers to experiencing reduced image resolution as a product of digital zooms. But, DJI ensures the Air 2S maintains excellent pictures.
DJI Air 2S
The video colour profiles (Normal (8-bit), HLG (10-bit) or D-Log (10-bit)) are versatile enough to cater to both hobbyists and professionals. Enthusiasts can opt for the Standard footage which looks great without editing required whereas pros can compile aerial footage into a workflow where colour grading is embedded.
The SmartPhoto mode will appeal to photography beginners. What it does is captures high-quality images and utilise deep learning and scene analysis to apply either of the three options (HDR, Hyperlight or Scene Recognition) that best suits your photo. Another standout feature is the FocusTrack mode where the drone tracks a subject based on a route you determine and Spotlight 2.0 where the camera is locked as it tracks the subject in the frame.
The DJI Air 2S has two safety features. Firstly, there are obstacle sensors on the front, rear, bottom and top that can recognise objects from further away. Then, there's AirSense which upon receiving signals from nearby helicopters and planes will have their locations displayed on-screen in the Dji Fly app. Finally, the GEO 2.0 geofencing system keeps drones away from locations like airports. DJI reports that the Air 2S has an estimated 31 minutes of flight time.
Drones are no longer just a waste of money or a toy for big kids. In addition to their use in photography and videography, they offer many ways to support businesses and even create a community of drone enthusiasts. From delivering goods to providing aerial surveys, drones are becoming increasingly popular and are being used in a variety of ways. Moreover, they are becoming more accessible to the public, with many hobbyists taking up the hobby and participating in drone-related events.
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