Drone photography and video can take your portfolio to new heights. But first, you’ll need to find a drone that fits your needs and one that you’re comfortable piloting before your work really takes off. At the outset, consider buying a budget or recreational drone to get a handle on piloting these little technological wonders. Believe us, you’ll want to work out the kinks before you put a high-end model in the air. Once you’re ready for a big-person drone, you’ll need to pay attention to four major points, especially if you’ll be using a drone foremost for photographic pursuits.
- Battery life. Endurance just isn’t a trait most drones have. A little over half an hour of flight time is generally the best you can expect. Some drone batteries only give 5 to 10 minutes of flight time. After that, you’ll either have to switch in a backup battery or recharge. Consider the kind of shoots and the duration you’ll be using your drone for before making a purchase.
- Control scheme. Most drones come with a standard video-game-like controller. Others allow piloting through tablets and smartphones. Newer models also accommodate a VR-headset control scheme. You’ll probably want to get comfortable piloting a cheaper drone with a basic control scheme before attempting more complex maneuvering. Just remember, crashes are part of the learning curve.
- Camera/video quality. You aren’t going to be capturing epic overhead views or cinematic flyovers with a drone designed for your 10-year-old nephew. If video is your bag, make sure your camera can capture the level of quality you want. You’ll find higher-priced models that offer 6K video (others provide 4K and 1080p.) The same goes for megapixels, with higher-end models offering up to 24 MP. If fidelity is your biggest concern, make sure you check the camera specs for how many frames per second the camera can handle and what kind of video it can produce while streaming.
- Maneuverability. Finding a device that handles easily and provides steadying technology to keep your video free of that Blair Witch shaky-camera vibe is super important for quality shoots. Also, to mitigate a rocky flight, look out for software that helps keep the camera focused on your subject and can track moving objects.
Our picks for the best drones on Amazon
Top pick: DJI Mavic Air 2 Quadcopter
Point and Shoot
With a tap of a button, this device will hover in mid-air so you can get the best shot or tail a subject. You can capture quality video from up to 6.2 miles away and livestream directly from the camera. DJI
Runner Up: Ruko F11 Pro Drone
Fast and Furious
With a racing design and high-quality image clarity, this device can be programmed to automatically follow a predetermined route. And the 120-degree FOV lens captures a sweeping view. Ruko
Budget Pick: Holy Stone GPS Drone
Fun on a Budget
While it lacks collision avoidance software, this reasonably priced pick still delivers high-quality video, a great camera, and intelligent flight to make sure it returns when the battery is low. Holy Stone
Premium Pick: DJI FPV Combo Quadcopter with Camera
Immerse yourself in the experience with virtual reality goggles, a broad view and video that can record at a speedy 120 Mbps.
The editors at Popular Photography are here to help you choose between the most popular products on Amazon, plus hidden gems our experts think are worth checking out.