Best drone 2019: hotshot drones for stunning 4K video, tack-sharp photos and aerial selfies

The 10 best camera drones for aerial video and photography, from pro UAVs to the best drones for beginners

Best drone 2019
(Image credit: DJI)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best drone (or unmanned aerial vehicle/UAV, as absolutely no-one outside of the military calls them). More specifically, the best camera drone. From beginners to experts, there's a camera-carrying drone for everyone and every budget here, and even with autumn in the air, it's still prime drone-flying time.

In the near future, drones are likely to be regulated even more heavily than they are currently. We're not saying that's a bad thing – it's long overdue, arguably – but that does make right now a good time to buy one.

How do you know which is the best drone for you? There are a number of factors to consider, so let's dig deeper…

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 – that's unprecedented in a T3 buying guide. 

If the more affordable DJI Mavic Air isn't awesome enough for you, the brand’s  Mavic 2 Pro offers up incredible 4K/20-megapixel videos and images from its Hasselblad camera, and is the very essence of fine aerial control and reliability. It’s also highly portable when not flying, as it folds up like a paper plane. It is a touch pricier, though.

DJI's iOS and Android apps are also excellent, and then the dedicated controller is there if you want to take the drone much further than mobile Wi-Fi will allow. 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.  

Parrot, meanwhile, has taken a big step onto DJI's more premium turf with the excellent ANAFI. This insect-like drone rivals the Mavic Air for video quality and features. In several respects, it can't quite match DJI's little flyer – notably there's no obstacle avoidance – but it has a handy ace up its sleeve in terms of pricing: the ANAFI costs around £140 less than its DJI rival.

Parrot has also now launched a first person view version of the Anafi, called, rather aptly, the Parrot ANAFI FPV. This latest iteration puts you in the cockpit for a truly immersive flight experience.

We've rounded up the various Mavics and the rest of the best drones and ranked them in order of preference, for your purchasing convenience.

Buying a drone: what you need to know

Do you want a selfie drone to snap yourself on the beach or a more serious drone for pro-style aerial photography and filming? The quality of the materials, the range and power of the drone, and the specifications of the accessories – primarily the camera – are the main factors that affect a drone's price.

You should be realistic about what you want to achieve and how good a pilot you are. Some of the more pro drones, like the DJI Inspire 2, can be very daunting to fly and have broadcast quality cameras. Crash one of these and you'll be sobbing for weeks.

If all you want is a selfie drone to take the odd photo of you sitting on the beach, we recommend you go for something cheaper and smaller, like the Ryze Tello or DJI Spark, both reviewed below. Alternatively, head over to our Best Cheap Drones guide and dip in there. 

Before we get to the meat of the matter, here's a word or two on safety...

Drone regulations and safety tips

So you don't get yourself into a pickle in a public place, the Civil Aviation Authority has come up with this rather epic guide to safe drone flying:

  • 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 really 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 latest 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, here is our expert guide to the best camera drones available right now, listed in order of excellence, so that you can find the very best drone for you, your needs and budget...

The best drones you can buy today

Best drones 2019: DJI Mavic Air

1. DJI Mavic Air

The best value camera drone you can buy

Battery life: 21 mins
WiFi Range: 80 metres
Transmitter Range: 2.48 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K video and 12-meg stills+Eminently portable+Brilliant little flyer+Affordable

The Mavic Air is a true pocket rocket that excels in every department, and it also won Best Drone at the T3 Awards 2019. It’s quite a bit lighter and smaller than the DJI Mavic Pros 1 and 2 (168mm in length against 198mm and 214mm respectively) and not much bigger than its smaller sibling, the Spark. Figure in the four folding rotor arms and what you have here is the most portable high-quality 4K camera-equipped drone on the market.

The 4K video quality from the Air’s robust 3-axis camera system is simply stunning while its 12mp photos are highly detailed and brilliant for taking aerial landscapes and even selfies. It can also take four styles of panorama images and it does this all by itself. Simply select the panorama function and the drone hovers in one spot while it takes a series of images from different angles (with no pilot input) which it them stitches together to produce a seamless widescreen vista.

Like the Spark, the Air can also 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.

For something so small, you’d be amazed at how well this titchy drone copes in winds as strong as 22mph and even higher. However, be mindful that the drone may struggle in a strong head wind – and sometimes come to a standstill or drift backwards. If this happens, don't panic, and instead flick the switch on the side of the controller to Sport mode. In this mode everything revs up and the drone pitches down at a more aggressive angle so it can cut through headwinds more easily. Sport mode is also great if you just want to fly around at breakneck pace – how does an air speed of 42mph grab you? – but again be mindful that it will take much longer to stop. Hence, avoid leaving braking till the last second or it could be curtains if there's a large obstacle in the way.

The only issue with this drone 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 the Parrot ANAFI is snapping at the its tail, thanks to keener pricing and a roughly comparable flying experience, the Mavic Air is still out in front. It’s such a cheap, reliable, easy-to-fly and unbelievably well equipped travel package. Top marks all round.

• DJI Mavic Air review

best drones 2019: Ryze Tello

2. Ryze Tello

Best cheap drone - this budget camera drone is a sky-going bargain

Battery life: 13 mins
WiFi Range: 100 metres
Max camera resolution: 720p/5 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Steady flier+You can program it
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS-Doesn't fold

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. It didn’t win the T3 Award for Best Budget Drone for nothing.

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). 

•Buy the Ryze Tello for just £99 from Currys

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.

Best drones 2019: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The best pro-quality drone

Battery life: 31 mins
Transmitter Range: 5 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/20 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Excellent Hasselblad camera+Stunning 4K video and 20-meg stills+Eminently portable+Rock solid flyer
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier than other models

Before we tell you about this benchmark bells-and-whistles model, let’s put a few things into perspective.

To give you some idea of just how far DJI has progressed in the sphere of camera-carrying drones, just five years ago this writer and a mate spent a ridiculous £5,000 on a DJI S-900, a monster drone designed for carrying DSLR-style cameras. This drone had no mobile app integration and was fitted with a huge and very delicate gimbal, more wires than a BT street box and a massive strap-on battery. It also came with a crap monitor that produced a very glitchy low-res video stream from the not-very-good Sony NEX-7 camera attached to the gimbal. The whole package had to be transported in a box big enough for a lawnmower and it took about an hour to set it all up. Flying it was a terrifying experience. Granted, the visuals it produced were better than the DJI Phantom model of that period, but they still lacked decent sharpness and detail. Fast forward just four years and even the company’s pocket-sized Mavic Air produces video and stills a hundred times better than that hulking pile of Meccano, and for a fraction of the price.

Which brings us to the current state of play. The Mavic 2 Pro looks identical to its predecessor, though it is 16mm longer, 8mm wider and 173 grams heavier. You can certainly feel the extra weight when you hold it in the hand. In fact, it feels almost too heavy to fly. Put another way, you wouldn’t want it to fall out of the sky because you suspect it might punch a gapping hole in the ground as it disintegrates into a zillion pieces. 

Just as well, then, that it’s 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 much quieter than any previous DJI drone – 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. Yes, five miles! 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 new 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.

This writer is still inclined to hold the DJI Mavic Air at number one, simply because it’s such a convenient and capable little movie maker (and it's cheaper). But if you’re considering taking your aerial cinematography and/or photography to a whole new professional level, then this is unquestionably the best model to get your mitts on.

 As the slightly annoying but hugely popular YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat puts it, ‘it’s no longer a case of which drone to buy, but which DJI to buy’. And this one is undeniably the company’s most complete portable cinematic package to date.

best drones 2019: DJI MAVIC 2 ZOOM


Best drone for shooting long-range video

Battery life: 31 mins
Transmitter Range: 5 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+2x optical zoom+Lush 4K video+Obstacle avoidance
Reasons to avoid
-Lower resolution stills-You may not use the zoom much

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 the world of YouTube 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.

Best drone 2019 - Parrot ANAFI

(Image credit: Parrot)

5. Parrot ANAFI

Almost as good as the Mavic Air, and a tad cheaper, but it can't steal the crown

Battery life: 25 mins
Range: 2.4 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/21 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Great 4K video and 21-meg stills+Very portable+Stable flyer+Excellent camera zoom
Reasons to avoid
-Slow battery charging-No obstacle avoidance

Parrot’s foldable 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 Mavic Air, with an RRP of £629.99, and proves only a little less enjoyable to use and fly. 

Like the Mavic Air, 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. Firmware updates have improved the GPS and Wi-Fi so they're now seemingly unshakeable. The 2.4-mile range is excellent, though bear in mind that no drone should ever be flown further than line of sight. It’s the law, dude. 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 (five more minutes than the Mavic Air) 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 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 the DJI Mavic Air, which is still the best drone in the sub-£1,000 price band. However, Parrot's competitive pricing should mean it does very well – and deservedly so.

• Parrot ANAFI full review

Best drones 2019 – DJI Spark

(Image credit: DJI)

6. DJI Spark

Best selfie drone

Battery life: 16 mins
WiFi Range: 100 metres
Transmitter Range: 1.2 miles
Max camera resolution: 1080p/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Takes great selfies+Comparatively affordable+Flies superbly
Reasons to avoid
-Propeller arms don’t fold-Only shoots 1080p-Gesture mode can be hit and miss

DJI’s cute little Spark is smaller and lighter than its closest cousin, the Mavic Air. However, because its propeller arms don’t fold, it won’t fit in a jacket pocket like the folded Mavic Air will. Even so, this air-snap gizmo is still incredibly portable and probably the smartest selfie drone in existence right now, available in five lush colours.

The Spark comes with front obstacle avoidance and is rock steady when flown indoors or out. Its camera shoots very acceptable 1080p video and 12-megapixel photos and is equipped with a two-axis mechanical stabiliser for relatively smooth video footage. The battery provides around 16 minutes of flight time, which can be considered quite decent for a drone of this size.

The Spark can be operated in three ways: using hand gestures, a mobile device or, for much greater range (up to 1.2 miles), a dedicated hand controller. While not designed for high-quality videography, it still shoots excellent footage. 

It’s also reassuringly tough as nails, as was aptly demonstrated at a DJI event when one was accidentally flown at full speed – that's 50kph – into a tree. The only thing damaged was a prop; everything else, camera included, worked perfectly. Another great reason to consider snapping one up.

best drones 2019: Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Pack

7. Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Pack

Best toy or beginner drone – VR-like control via headset is a bonus

Battery life: 25 mins
WiFi Range: 100 metres
Transmitter Range: 1.2 miles
Max camera resolution: 1080p/14 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Very stable+Comes with First-Person View goggles
Reasons to avoid
-Only digital camera stabilisation-Limited range-Lots of bits to pack

If you want to engage in the thrill of FPV flying (First Person View) then this lightweight, low cost GPS-equipped flyer is probably your best starting point. Along with the drone itself, it also comes with a pair of Parrot's own Cockpitglasses and a dedicated Skycontroller 2 hand controller. Simply clip your phone (Android or iOS) into the goggle slot, pair the Bebop with it and the camera on the front of the drone streams live footage straight to your peepers. FPV flying is highly immersive but also quite scary the first time you do it. Nevertheless, if you can learn to trust the visuals you're looking at, you'll soon get the hang of it.

The Bebop 2 flies for up to an impressive 25 minutes per charge and is equipped with an emergency cut-out feature that stops the rotors as soon as they come into contact with an obstacle, which should help prolong its life. It’s also light enough to survive the occasional crash.

The Bebop 2 is equipped with a digital camera stabilising system rather than the mechanical type used on the DJI fleet. Nevertheless, it keeps the image surprisingly steady and allows the user to pan down without the camera actually moving. The resulting 1080p video isn't as sharp or detailed as the Mavics and ANAFI but still perfectly acceptable for beginners or those who aren't too fussed about video quality.

best drones 2019: Zerotech Dobby drone

8. Zerotech Dobby

Another selfie-drone contender

Battery life: 9 mins
Range: 100 metres
Max camera resolution: 4K cropped/13 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Smaller than a phone+Decent still images+Good value
Reasons to avoid
-Camera can't be tilted remotely-Poor video quality-Struggles in stiff breeze

This folding pocket drone is smaller than an iPhone and nearly £200 cheaper than the DJI Spark although, it should be said, it doesn’t sport nearly as many features. 

Dobby is easy to get off the ground and can fly up to 100 metres away via Wi-Fi from any iOS or Android device. Just unfold the prop arms, sync your phone and open the DoFun app. Now launch Dobby from the ground or toss it out of your hand and tap one of its intelligent flight modes – face/target tracking, video selfie, orbit and somersault. You can even control it with your voice, though I can’t see many British people over the age of 12 using this feature in public.

Dobby can shoot in 4K but only when digital stabilization (EIS) is off. As soon as you switch EIS on – and you need to, realistically – the image is cropped to 1080p. Also, because the camera’s angle can’t be controlled from the app, you’ll need to tilt it manually to your preferred angle before take off. 

Dobby takes pretty good 13 megapixel stills but, because its camera doesn’t have a gimbal, you do get an awful lot of rolling shutter (jelly-like movement) when shooting videos. This is fixed to some degree by the tiny ND filter they now ship with the drone but it’s still far from perfect. 

In a nutshell, the supremely portable Dobby may not be much use as a cinematic video drone unless there's almost zero wind, but it is brilliant for taking selfie snaps and short video bites.

•Buy the Zerotech Dobby from Discount SLR

best drones 2019: DJI Inspire 2 drone

9. DJI Inspire 2

The best drone for pro-grade cinematography

Battery life: 27 mins
Transmitter Range: 4 miles
Max camera resolution: 5.2K/24 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Sensational camera system+Dual controller option+58mph top speed
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy for trekking with-Inevitably expensive

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.

Best drones 2019: Parrot Mambo FPV

10. Parrot Mambo FPV

A fun toy drone for flying indoors

Battery life: 6 mins
Range: 60 metres
Max camera resolution: not quoted
Reasons to buy
+Cheap and cheerful+Rock-steady indoor flight+It shoots 720p video
Reasons to avoid
-Short flight times

The aerobatic Parrot Mambo is a master of stability and a great drone to practice on. 

Indoors or in a windless outdoor space, this little fella hovers so perfectly that you could pop off to put the kettle on and when you return it’ll still be in the same spot (don’t try this outdoors, mind, or the wind will cause it to drift).

However, what really elevates this little drone is the recently added FPV pack option, which gives you a Mambo's eye view of you lounging on the beach, via your phone's screen, similar to the Bebop 2 above. The goggles are not the last word in comfort or high-tech, but the first-person view does definitely make flying it easier and more exhilarating. 

You’re not going to get ravishing aerial footage out of this drone – it doesn’t have a camera stabiliser for a start – but if you hold the drone steady while it’s in flight, its little clip-on camera will shoot surprisingly decent 720p footage and perfectly adequate stills.