Trying to figure out the best drone to buy right now? We've got good news and bad news. The good news is that in recent years, drones (or unmanned aerial vehicle/UAV, as absolutely no-one outside of the military calls them) have evolved beyond all recognition. The bad news is that there are now so many to choose from that finding the right one can be a bit of a minefield.
This is precisely why we’ve put together this guide. Read on for our pick of the best drones available right now – or more specifically, the best camera drone – including models for every type of flyer and all budgets. But before you browse our top recommendations, check out our short guide to the most important points to consider when buying a drone.
- Just starting out? Try our guide to the best cheap drones for beginners
What is the best drone?
When it comes to the best drones, specifically camera drones, the brand that stands far above the rest is still DJI. This is reflected by the fact that DJI fills numerous positions in our list below, and markedly most of the top spots.
If DJI's eminently affordable and rather tiny Mini 2 isn't awesome enough for you, the brand’s larger Mavic Air 2 is a top low-cost choice that shoots higher quality videos and stills. However, for the ultimate in both video and image quality, no consumer drone holds a candle to the class-leading DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
Fancy flying safely over water? You need the PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard, a compact drone that does more than just fly around.
Of the more 'toy-like' brands, Ryze Robotics Tello is the new leader. It's easy to fly, it shoots decent video and you can even program it yourself.
Buying a drone: what you need to know
In order to figure out which is the best drone for you, it really helps to understand a bit about how different types of drone work. In a nutshell, drones rely on rotors for propulsion and control. The faster these rotors spin, the greater the upward lift. The movement of a drone can be changed by altering the speed of one or more of its rotors.
These rotors are powered by motors which can be 'brushed' or 'brushless'. The difference? Brushed motors use a mechanical process (a 'commutator') to move the magnetic field that turns the rotors. Brushless motors, which are usually found on more expensive drones, are generally preferable, and rely more on electronics, rather than additional physical parts such as the brushes in the commutators, to generate power. This means they generate less friction (and bear in mind that friction slows the motor down), produce less heat and provide better all-round performance.
Another important factor to take into consideration is skill level. Beginners should look for more rugged models, as well as features such as rotor protectors and one-touch recall controls. But don’t make the mistake of assuming smaller, lighter drones are better for beginners – these drones are often designed for those keen to perform complex aerial maneuvers, and might well be trickier to control.
Finally, remember to look for drones with the features you’re specifically keen on, and no more. Opting for a drone which boasts features you don’t need and won’t use, will mean you’ll spend more on a drone which will weigh more and won’t perform in the way you want it to.
Want to know more, a lot more? Check out our separate guide to how to buy a drone.
The best camera drones in order of preference
Boy, life in droneland sure moves at a swift, heady pace. Just when you thought the groundbreaking DJI Mavic Mini you bought last year couldn’t possibly be improved upon in less than 12 months, guess what? Yes, you guessed what, it’s the little Mini’s successor and it’s better in a number of ways, some more dramatic than others.
As with the first T3 Award winning iteration, the pocket-size Mini 2 (DJI appears to have dropped the Mavic moniker for this model) is the perfect quality camera-carrying drone for the masses. At just £419 (£50 more than the Mavic Mini), it’s at the perfect price point for an impulsive pre-holiday purchase and a staggeringly good Christmas present for a loved one. This titchy bird is so small when folded you can hide it behind an iPhone. And to keep everything tidy while in transit (including the fitted props), it comes equipped with a high-quality rubber band that wraps around the the drone’s midriff.
The Mini 2 weighs the same floaty 249g fully loaded, which is still one measly gram shy of the CAA’s new 250g December 2020 regulation (read more on that) for camera-carrying drones. However, while it means you don’t need to pass an online exam, you do now need to register it, stick an ID number on your drone, and pay £9 every year to the CAA for the privilege.
What’s especially impressive here is how DJI’s clever clogs have managed to ramp the camera up to 4K spec and increase its video transmission distance to 10km (6.21 miles) using the company’s renowned OcuSync 2.0 technology (the previous version used WiFi and had a transmission range of 4km), without impacting on the drone’s ultra low weight. This writer can’t imagine what they’re planning next.
For the record, the camera itself can now shoot 4K at up to 30 frames per second, 2.7K up to 30fps and 1080p up to 60fps. Granted, there isn’t a great deal of difference between 2.7K and 4K when viewed on a mobile device but you will notice the extra sharpness on a 5K 27-inch iMac. Another cool thing is that when shooting in 4K mode you can engage 4x zoom, something you can’t do with the first model. The camera still shoots beautifully detailed 12mp stills, only this time you can also engage RAW for much more dynamic post-flight Photoshopping.
Despite the size and the same low weight, the Mini 2 is equipped with Level 5 wind resistance (the earlier model is Level 4) and that means it’ll hold its own in a properly stiff breeze. It will also fly for one minute longer (31 minutes in all) which may not sound a lot but that extra minute could be the difference between getting the drone home over a body of water on a low battery and not. As before, the Mini 2 doesn’t have obstacle avoidance but we don’t think this is a deal breaker if common sense prevails.
Oh, one more thing… Where the Mavic Mini only had basic autonomous quick-shot functions like Dronie, Circle, Helix and Rocket, this one can also do Boomerang, 4K Hyperlapse and three types of panorama.
The Mini 2 is available in two packages: the basic bundle – hand controller, flight battery, charger, spare props and a bunch of different phone cables – and the Fly More Combo, which also comes with a fabulous shoulder bag with internal pouch, three batteries, a charger for charging all three batteries at once and three sets of spare props.
If you’ve always hankered after a top-quality camera drone but didn’t fancy the idea of splashing out a fortune, then this is the model for you. With its improved wind resistance, better video transmission, slightly longer flight time and improved camera, this is quite simply the finest, littlest drone in the skies right now.
- Read our DJI Mavic Mini review for our take on the (very similar) previous iteration
The outgoing DJI Mavic Air is still a true pocket rocket that excels in every department, but can the Chinese drone behemoth’s successor compete for airspace?
Against all expectations, the new Mavic Air 2 is actually closer in size to its bigger brethren –Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom – than it is to its predecessor, and a little heavier. It’s not as pretty either, which of course isn’t a problem once it’s in the air. What might be an issue for some is that it is only a few centimetres shorter than the Mavic 2 and much bigger than the Mavic Mini and therefore not quite as portable. Believe us, size is a key consideration with drones and often a deciding factor when it comes to a choice between taking the drone or leaving it at home.
Niggles aside, everything else about this drone shouts BUY ME – its low selling price (£769) included. The Camera is a cracker and sports a half-inch sensor capable of shooting 4K footage at 60fps. The Mavic Air 2’s stills taking capacity is even more impressive – up to 48mp resolution for unprecedented sharpness, clarity and detail. It also comes with a smorgasbord of extra photo and video enhancement tech, including Scene Recognition, Spotlight 2.0 which locks the camera on a subject while the pilot does the flying and the obligatory ActiveTrack for following moving subjects.
The completely redesigned hand controller is another major improvement. Yes, it’s larger than before but it’s really comfortable in the hand and it has a phone mounting system that is way better than the current model’s.
The Mavic Air 2 has a longer battery life too (34 minutes) and in Sport mode it rips across the sky at up to 42.5mph – that’s fast! It also features three-way obstacle avoidance, improved APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) for smoother manoeuvrability around obstacles and a new soon-to-be included flight safety measure called AirSense which informs the drone pilot of any aircraft in the vicinity.
For this writer, the little Mavic Mini is still number one simply because it’s the drone I’m more likely to reach for on a regular basis and not require a licence for, but for sheer outright video and photographic quality, this is inarguably the model to get. Head to our Mavic Air 2 review for more info.
This pro-spec drone is almost impossible to crash given that it has 10 obstacle sensors facing in every direction. To put these omnidirectional sensors to the test, I selected the autonomous ‘Active Track’ follow-me mode on the forever impressive DJI Go 4 app, drew a rectangle around my body on the Samsung S10’s screen (it also works with iOS), hit Go and went for a slow walk between a grove of small trees. The results were frankly unbelievable, scary even – like something out of the ‘Terminator’. The drone automatically ducked and dived as it negotiated a pathway between the leafy branches, never coming to grief despite a few leaf-trimming moments. Even more astonishing was the fact that the footage it shot showed no signs of jerkiness – it was as if I’d been tracked by someone holding a stabilised camera. So, that’s your first reason to buy one.
The second reason is the stunning three-axis gimbal-mounted Hasselblad camera, which comes fitted with a one-inch CMOS sensor – like that in the Sony RX100 and RX10 series – and an adjustable aperture that goes from f/2.8 to f/11. This is an exquisite piece of kit capable of shooting in several video resolutions, including 4K at up to 30 frames per second, 2.7K at up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps. It also takes strikingly sharp 20 megapixel RAW stills. The Mavic 2 Pro’s camera system supports the 10-bit Dlog-M colour profile for pro-style post-production colour grading and 10-bit HDR video for striking hyper-real footage.
Flight wise, the Mavic 2 Pro is as rock solid and confidence inspiring as we’ve come to expect; at no point will you fear it’ll just fly off into the sunset on its own, never to be seen again. With new, larger motors fitted to its four arms, the drone is now capable of hitting 44mph in Sports mode and – with the aid of a larger battery – able to remain aloft for up to 31 minutes at a time. It’s also really quiet – so hushed you can hardly hear it from just 30 metres away. Its Occusync 2.0 transmission, meanwhile, offers crisp 1080p live streaming from up to five miles away. Like the early Mavic, this one also comes with 8GB of onboard storage along with the obligatory Micro SD card slot. The hand controller is pretty much the same as the original, though it does have an additional three-way speed switch (normal, sports or tripod for slow cinematic shots) for extra convenience.
Heading over to the DJI Go 4 app, the Mavic 2 Pro comes with a cluster of intelligent flight modes, plus the addition of a Hyperlapse function that captures stop-frame visuals over a wide area before stitching it all together within the app. In fact, the only intelligent flight mode missing here is the gimmicky ‘gesture’ hand control.
Find out more in our Mavic 2 Pro review.
If you’re in the market for a do-it-all drone that can fly safely in inclement weather and over water without fear of losing it, then this model takes some beating.
If there was an award for best looking drone, the PowerVision PowerEgg X would walk it – it looks simply fantastic when airborne. Nevertheless, with a feature set that goes beyond any other model on the market, the PowerEgg X isn’t just smart looking, it’s pretty clever too. It performs most of the aerial tasks of the DJI roster – including front obstacle avoidance and autonomous flight modes like return-to-home, follow-me, orbit and timelapse – but goes two stages further by transforming into a hand -held stabilised camera and a tripod-mounted video recorder with motion tracking ability; both configurations have running times of over three hours. The tripod mode works great but the jury’s out on the smoothness of the gimbal when used in handheld mode. It also feels very bulbous in the hand. Indeed, despite the hand strap, it may feel too big for smaller hands.
In transport mode, the PowerEgg X looks like an ostrich egg and it’s about as large as one, too. To use it in drone mode, simply pull off the lower half of the housing to expose the camera and gimbal and two ports for the folding legs to clip into. Now grab the chunky hand controller, clip in your iOS or Android phone, launch the well-designed Vision+ 2 app and fly. The PowerEgg X is as stable in flight as the majority of DJI drones we’ve tested and it will stay in the air for up to 30 minutes which is excellent. Its top speed is a commendable 40mph and its flight range is around 3.5 miles.
As we’ve said time and again, a video and photography drone is only as good as the camera it’s carrying. This one comes with a fixed focus 4K camera with a 1/2.8 inch CMOS sensor and on paper that sounds grand. However, while the footage it produces is undeniably very good, it’s still not up to the benchmark set by DJI. While the centre of the image is pin sharp, there’s a strange softening at the edges of the frame that becomes most noticeable when videoing foliage from higher altitudes. Video shot from lower altitudes of about 80 feet is much sharper, mind, and the same goes for the 12MP stills which are generally excellent. If PowerVision were to equip its next model with a camera as good as – if not better than – those fitted to DJI’s Mavic range, then they may well have a serious DJI killer on their hands.
Now comes the really, really good bit. It’s true to say that the Holy Grail of drone flying is probably some kind of waterproofing and floatation device because flying over water normally requires balls the size of Mars. Although most modern drones are exceedingly reliable in flight, there’s no telling what may happen when over water – bird strike, motor failure, exhausted battery, heavy rain, etc. Well the Wizard version we’re reviewing here comes with two robust strap-on floats and a fully waterproof housing that protects the entire body and camera. Yes, the camera will need to shoot through a clear plastic dome which does create some subtle video and photo aberrations but the extra reassurance of having a floatable drone is something not to be sniffed at. Another brilliant thing is that it can also land and take off from calm water and fly in both rain and snow, wind speed permitting.
So that’s the PowerVision PowerEgg X in an, er, eggshell. It’s a lovely looker, it flies reliably for long periods of time, is easy to control and you can even use it as a steadicam or tripod-mounted video tracker. Add the wherewithal to fly confidently in crap weather and over large bodies of water and you have the first true all-rounder. But, while the video quality is easily good enough for most budding aerial cinematographers, the camera itself is a bit of a disappointment. If PowerVision gets that small but significant facet dialled for its next model (whenever that may be), it could really give DJI a run for its money.
If you’re looking for a titchy but very well equipped ‘selfie’ type drone that stays in the air for 13 minutes at a time, comes with digital image stabilisation, shoots video in pretty decent 720p, snaps 5mp stills and hovers on the spot without the aid of GPS, then consider this remarkable little contender from Ryze.
If you think the Tello is the first drone to reach the higher echelons of this page that doesn’t have any connection to DJI, then think again because most of the electronics inside this remarkable entry-level model are produced by none other than, you guessed, DJI. This is a very good thing because, aside perhaps from Parrot, DJI’s flight controllers and other electronic gubbins are the industry benchmark for efficiency and reliability.
The Tello weighs just 80 grams and measures 98mm at its widest point. In other words, it’s small enough to tuck in a jacket pocket despite not being foldable like the DJI Mavic range. Although designed for indoor flying, this little craft is also adept at flying outdoors, as long as it’s not too windy (without GPS on board, it could drift with the breeze and may not make it back to you).
To fly it, simply launch the Tello app on your phone, select hand launch, throw it into the air and steer it using the virtual joysticks. Everything the camera sees is streamed to the phone and, because it has digital stabilisation, the footage it shoots is remarkably smooth (not Mavic smooth but stable enough nonetheless). Like the similarly styled DJI Spark, the app also comes with a few pre-programmed ‘EZ Shots’ including circle and dronie (flying away from the pilot while automatically filming at the same time). The Tello has a 100 metre range – more than enough distance for most videography and photography purposes – and for those who want a drone that does aerobatics, it will do that too.
But here’s the really clever bit. Using the separate Tello EDU app (iOS and Andoird), it’s possible to program the Tello to perform a series of manoeuvres with no real-time input from the pilot. Just drag a series of named colour-coded ‘blocks’ (‘take off’, fly forward’, ‘land) into a specific order and the Tello will follow the commands. This is an incredible development because it’s actually teaching kids (and adults) the basics of robotics in an easy and fun way.
The other really cool thing about this drone is that it only costs £99. That’s less than a hundred nicker for a programmable drone that’s a doddle to fly, shoots stabilised 720p footage and takes decent photos. Now that’s progress for you.
Rather like a car manufacturer launching different variants of the same model, DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom has the same DNA as its stablemate the Mavic 2 Pro. Both birds are the same size and pretty much the same weight (the Pro is a measly 2g heavier), and they’re both equipped with the same multi-directional obstacle avoidance systems and the very same internals. In fact, the only difference between the two is the camera they’re equipped with.
Where the Pro comes with a Hasselblad camera replete with one-inch sensor for professional, high quality aerial photography, the Zoom forfeits image resolution in favour of a 2x optical zoom with a 35mm format equivalent focal length of 24-48mm. However, when it comes to 4K video, both models boast the same rosy specs (4K at up to 30fps, 2.7K at up to 60fps, 1080p at up to 120fps), so this is the model to buy if you plan to shoot far more video than you do stills.
You might not use the zoom facility much, mind, but it certainly comes into its own when you want to shoot animals without scaring the shit out of them or getting closer to an interesting subject without straying into private airspace – or simply grabbing a money shot without having to fly beyond line of sight (illegal, as it happens).
Of course, one of the first things most new owners will do is select the DollyZoom function from the Mavic 2 Zoom's submenu and bore YouTube users with a surfeit of Vertigo-style snippets of themselves standing in front of a large subject like a monument or a mountain, while the whole background lunges forward behind them as if it were pumped up on steroids. It’s a brilliant effect used by Hitchcock, Spielberg and other directors but it will wear thin.
Perhaps the most attractive thing about the Mavic 2 Zoom is its price. It’s £250 less than the Pro and yet it shoots the same quality video while sharing the same superb flying characteristics. However, there may come a time when you wish to shoot some ravishing RAW hi-res aerial stills to impress the masses on Flickr, Pexels and 500px. If that’s the case, we’d recommend opting for the Mavic 2 Pro instead.
This feature-packed, hi-tech drone does it all, although it's certainly been designed with intermediate-advanced photographers in mind – the drone's camera, mounted on a 3-axis stabilising gimbal, records video at 4k resolution up to 60 frames per second (up there with the new DJI Mavic Air 2) and has a recording speed up to 100mbps in an H.264 or H.265 codec. The camera's one of the best we've seen on a drone at this price point, making it easy to catch more detail and colour, even when filming at high speed, and a generous number of sensors help you avoid other objects while also making it wonderfully easy to land.
We're also particularly impressed with the 3.3-inch OLED screen which has been integrated into the controller. This, coupled with the drone's compact, foldable design (unusual for one packed with such an impressive range of tech) makes it ideal for those who love to dash out the door with their drone at a moment's notice.
While it's not cheap, the large number of accessories it comes bundled with means this prosumer drone is excellent value for money.
Despite its replacement reviewed above, the DJI Mavic Air is still a true pocket rocket that excels in every department – it also won Best Drone at the T3 Awards 2019. It’s a lot lighter and smaller than the DJI Mavic Pro 2s and not much bigger than its smaller siblings, the Mini and earlier Spark.
The 4K video quality from the Air’s robust 3-axis camera system is very impressive and its 12mp photos are highly detailed for such a small camera. It can also take four styles of panorama images.
The Air can be controlled with palm gestures or a mobile phone; handy additions for those times when you can’t be bothered to dig out the supplied hand controller. That said, flying with the hand controller is far and away the most satisfying way to operate it. It also lets you fly much further – up to 4km (2.48 miles) away and back again on a battery that lasts around 21 minutes. Believe us, that's more than enough time to film an opus.
The Mavic Air’s hand controller is smaller than the Mavic Pro’s and it doesn’t come with an LCD screen so you’ll need to rely solely on the data and picture feed to your smartphone or mini tablet (iOS or Android). But that’s no big issue as long as your mobile has enough battery.
The element we love most, though, is the addition of obstacle avoidance sensors on the rear as well as to the fore and below the craft; having so many safety features makes flying more confidence inspiring than ever, especially in confined areas. However, beware of relying on obstacle avoidance if flying near trees with sparse foliage as the sensors may not detect a wayward branch.
The only real issue with the Air is the irritatingly high-pitched noise it makes – rather like a swarm of angry mosquitos. But luckily, there’s a solution in the form of some third-party propellors from the fantastically named Master Airscrew. Available in three shiny colours – black, puce pink and sky blue – Master Airscrew’s Stealth Propellors are not only quieter than DJI’s stock props, but the sound frequency they emit is lower and a lot easier on the ears. We followed the instructions that came with the package and changed the Mavic Air’s ‘gain’ settings, and the result was a much quieter flight with zero affect on the craft’s handling and stability.
Although it’s being superseded by the Mavic Air 2, this is still a reliable travel package that’s fun to fly and very well equipped. Keep an eye on prices because it’s likely to be heavily discounted in the coming weeks and months.
- Read our full DJI Mavic Air review
The foldable Parrot ANAFI is the first drone to take on DJI's squadron of premium consumer camera drones, and not get shot down. It's a handy amount cheaper than the outgoing Mavic Air, and proves only a little less enjoyable to use and fly.
Like the Mavic series, this drone collapses for easy transport but it’s not quite as pocketable due to its 244mm length when folded. Still, it comes in a great transport case that’ll easily fit in a small shoulder bag. At just 320 grams, the Anafi is 110g lighter than the Mavic Air. Should it ever fall out of the sky, it is less likely to sustain major damage. Theoretically, at least.
Despite it looking like a dragonfly, the Anafi was apparently inspired by the humble bee. Accordingly, it has its three-axis gimbal and 4K/21 megapixel camera mounted directly in front of the drone. This means the props will never appear in shot when the drone is moving forward at high speed. It also means the camera can be pointed 90˚ upwards for a unique perspective that few other drones offer.
The new Parrot FreeFlight 6 app for iOS and Android is very well designed and easy to get a handle on. Granted, it doesn’t allow for as many camera, flight and gimbal tweaks as the DJI Go 4 app, but it’s perfectly acceptable for first-time users. The HD image quality streaming from drone to phone is pretty impressive.
In flight, the Parrot ANAFI is not as confidence inspiring as the Mavic Air – it loses quite a few points straight off by not having any obstacle avoidance. Nevertheless, it’s easy to control and very stable in flight, even in a stiffish breeze. One very noticeable improvement over the Mavic Air, is how quiet it is. In fact, it's so quiet you can hardly hear a thing while it’s hovering just 20 metres above your head. At 33mph, it’s also quite sprightly, but only in Sport mode.
On the plus side, the battery provides up to 25 minutes of flying time and can be charged via USB-C from any compatible portable charger. On the minus side, it takes hours to charge, so you might want to consider investing £90 in a spare battery.
Having tested it in the field (literally), both video and photo quality seem on par with the Mavic Air 1 and in low light shooting it’s arguably a bit better. It doesn’t offer as high a frame rate as the Mavic Air (30fps in 4K vs the Mavic Air’s 60fps in 2.7K) but the 4K video and 21 megapixel images its 1/2.4-inch Sony CMOS sensor produces are tack sharp, with excellent detail and contrast. The camera also supports HDR (High Density Range) shooting and Adobe DNG/RAW formats for more efficient post-production editing.
The controller’s gimbal rocker switch is nothing like as tactile as the Mavic Air’s finger wheel, which makes slow, gentle tilting of the gimbal extremely tricky. Nevertheless, practice makes perfect.
Overall, Anafi isn’t up to the benchmark set by DJI, but Parrot's competitive pricing should mean it does very well – and deservedly so.
- Read our full Parrot ANAFI review
RED5 is Menkind's in-house brand, but don't let the fact that it's not a dedicated drone brand put you off – this model rivals many of those with a similar price tag, and packs a decent punch with both battery life (17 minutes) and transmission range (150 metres). It's another drone which is great for those testing out their drone photography skills – the onboard camera produces crisp HD 1280 x 720p video, and features such as altitude hold, critical return, route planner and follow-me modes allow you to concentrate on your photography skills, rather than worrying about your drone disappearing over that distant hill.
The one downside is that it's not the most rugged of drones, although if you're the type of flyer who loves to dash out of the house with their drone at short notice, this probably isn't a problem. It's incredibly light and compact, and folds into itself for easy transportation. Good value.
If you’re looking to get into FPV (First Person View) flying but want a drone that shoots much better aerial footage than the budget-priced Parrot Bebop 2 model reviewed below, then you might want to give this package a whirl.
The ANAFI FPV package includes the drone itself (reviewed above in case you missed it and in much more detail here), a Skycontroller 3 hand controller and a pair of Parrot's Cockpitglasses 3. All three items come neatly packed in a small and stupendously well designed grey herringbone backpack.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, FPV is a bit similar to normal flying where the images from the drone’s front-mounted camera are streamed live to a mobile phone. However, in this instance, the phone is clipped into the supplied goggles which you obviously wear on your head. This means you cannot see anything other than what the drone’s camera is pointing at. It’s a very strange, disorientating sensation at first but once you get used to it, it’s probably the closest you’ll get to feeling the experience of actually flying – without killing yourself in the process.
However, FPV does have its caveats: 1) you may feel nauseous; 2) your sense of depth may be affected so your first flights should always be in a wide open space with no obstacles around; 3) you can only see ahead so avoid flying backwards for more than a few metres at a time; 4) you won’t see that squadron of crows bearing down from behind; and 5) you’ll have no idea if someone has crept up on you with a view to nicking your belongings.
At £649, the ANAFI FPV is pretty good value but the jury’s out on the quality of the visuals the camera ports to the screen – they were bit too fuzzy and pixilated in my opinion, and that was using an iPhone 11. Yes, they were perfectly acceptable to fly by and view the terrain ahead and below, but it was a bit like wearing 3-D glasses (the two side-by-side images never really slotted perfectly together, even after fiddling with the lens distance controls). The upshot is that you may experience a sensation of double vision which will almost certainly cause you to remove the goggles and rest the eyes for a few minutes.
FPV flight is an acquired taste and this package makes a very fair fist of it. However, you do need to be aware of the pitfalls lest you spend the extra outlay only to abandon the goggles after your first few flights. On the other hand, if you’re sure it’s the road you want to go down, then go for it. What could possibly go wrong?
When it comes to producing the very best cinema-quality aerial footage, there is simply nothing out there to touch the Inspire 2. In fact, the only reason this drone isn’t higher up our chart is because it is pricey with a capital P and large with a capital L. It also weighs a hefty 4.25kg, so you can forget about sticking it in your hand luggage.
The Inspire 2 is made from carbon fibre and magnesium and its dual battery system, four huge motors and 13-inch propellers will take it to a top speed of 58mph and a flight time of up to 27 minutes. The landing gear is retractable, allowing pilots, or a second camera operator, to shoot a full 360º panorama. It also comes with forward, downward and upward-facing obstacle avoidance sensors for extra confidence when flying in tricky locations.
The Inspire 2’s pro-spec CineCore 2.0 image processing system is housed in the nose of the craft which means only the camera’s lens and sensor are attached to the gimbal.
This reduces weight and allows for easy camera swapping. And speaking of cameras, the Inspire 2 comes with a choice of five different models, from the compact Micro 4/3 Zenmuse X5 to the ultra high-end Zenmuse X7, which features a Super 35 Sensor capable of shooting in 5.2K Apple ProRes. Needless to say, the imagery this stunning cinematic system produces is of the very highest order. But, phew, it sure is costly.
Potensic's D80 Dual GPS Brushless Drone is a great option for those keen to get to grips with drone photography. It’s packed with features that make it ideal for beginners, whether that's the Point of Interest function, which programmes the drone to fly clockwise around a single point and provide a comprehensive image of the object it’s circling around, or the option to set custom-designed flight paths. The latter allows you to use Potensic’s app to programme your drone to follow pre-set routes, and it’s a great way to test out your drone’s capabilities.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking this drone is for beginners and intermediates only – there are plenty of features to keep more accomplished flyers entertained, and with an impressive 300 metre transmission range and 20-minute battery life, you’ll enjoy plenty of flying time. We also love the fact it’s got a brushless motor, which is tougher and more long-lasting – ideal for those of you planning to put your drone through its paces.
New drone regulations: what you need to know
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has some new regulations regarding drone ownership and flying. In a nutshell, as of 31 December 2020, all owners of drones fitted with a camera (even those under 250g like the DJI Mini) are, by law, required to register online as a drone operator (no online exam is required). Registration costs £9 and must be renewed annually. Pilots of camera drones weighing 250g or more will also need to sit a new 40-question online education test (pass mark is 30).
Read the full guidelines, and register as a drone operator, at register-drones.caa.co.uk.
So you don't get yourself into a pickle in a public place, there's also some basic rules you need to follow:
- Don't fly near airports or airfields
- Remember to stay below 400ft (120m)
- Observe your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property
- Never fly near aircraft
- Enjoy responsibly
We'd like to think that nobody needs to be told any of the above. And in truth, anyone who does fly a drone near aircraft probably deserves to go to prison. Sure, we don't know that a drone can bring down a 747, but we are very sure that we also don't want to test the theory. Ever.
If you're in doubt about drone regulations and are confused about where you can and can't fly your drone, head to the Civil Aviation Authority website and gen up on the current drone regulations. You can also check out Drone Code UK, which has a handy downloadable PDF with essential information regarding drone flying rules.
Now, with those stern words out of the way, you can head back to our expert guide to the best camera drones available right now, listed in order of excellence. Or simply peruse this handy list of the cheapest prices on those drones.